google pigeon update, Google's 'Pigeon' Update Impacts Local Businesses, Google's Pigeon Update

Pigeon: New Google Local Search Update

Reecently, Google released a pretty significant local search algorithm update. Google told us there was no internal name for the update, but now that we see that it was fairly significant, we decided to give it a name: Pigeon.
Pigeon is the name we decided on because this is a local search update and pigeons tend to fly back home.
When the Google Panda update launched, there was no official name from Google, so we named it the “Farmer” update. A few days later, Google told us they internally named it the Panda update. So we switched names from Farmer to Panda to avoid that confusion.
Since this update was nameless at Google, we named it the Pigeon update so that we have a name to reference in the future.
Google has released a new algorithm to provide a more useful, relevant and accurate local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals. The changes will be visible within the Google Maps search results and Google Web search results.
The core changes are behind the scenes, but it does impact local search results rankings and some local businesses may notice an increase or decrease in web site referrals, leads and business from the change.
Google told us that the new local search algorithm ties deeper into their web search capabilities, including the hundreds of ranking signals they use in web search along with search features such as Knowledge Graph, spelling correction, synonyms and more.
In addition, Google said that this new algorithm improves their distance and location ranking parameters.
The new algorithm is currently rolling out for US English results and aims to provide a more useful and relevant experience for searchers seeking local results. Google didn’t share any details about if and when the update would roll out more widely in other countries and languages.
Google has not commented on the percent of queries impacted by this algorithm update, nor if certain web spam algorithms were deployed in this update.
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Ad Sitelinks, Introducing Dynamic Sitelinks, Sitelinks - Webmaster Tools

Introducing Dynamic Sitelinks

Whether it’s shopping for a TV or planning a trip, people perform multiple searches when completing activities online. Sitelinks have long helped to connect people to the content they’re looking for by linking to specific pages on your websites — directly from your ad, with just a single click.

Today, we’re introducing dynamic sitelinks: automatically generated sitelinks that appear below your ad text, connecting potential customers to relevant pages on your website more easily. This is another example, like seller ratings, of AdWords tools adding value to your ads while saving time and simplifying campaign management.  However, it’s important to continue adding and optimizing sitelinks because impression share for dynamic sitelinks will be low. In fact, the sitelinks you set up will always show, except for the few instances when the dynamic sitelink might perform better. 

Dynamic sitelinks will begin rolling out globally today. Clicks on dynamic sitelinks are free — you’ll still be charged for clicks on the headline of your ad and other ad extensions. And while they typically boost the average performance of an ad, advertisers always have the option to disable.

We’re constantly working on ways to improve the ad experience for our users and advertisers. Sitelinks enhance this experience by increasing the relevance of your ads and the relevance of the user experience you deliver after the click. 

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How to protect your brand identity, How to Protect Your Business Brand Equity, How To Protect Your Business Name, Protecting Your Brand, Protecting your brand identity

Protect Your Brand’s Identity

As a small business owner, you’re already swamped. You’re so busy and the last thing that you want to concern yourself with is protecting the brand image and identity of the company you fought so hard to build. But, your brand’s image is one of the most important factors in determining your success. Which is why it is absolutely necessary to make sure it’s protected at all cost.

What is Brand Identity and Why is it Important?

A brand, as defined by the American Marketing Association, is a “Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.” In short, it’s how the public views and feels about the values, products/services and personality of your brand. How important is a brand’s identity? Well, would Nike be the same without its Swoosh and “Just Do It” tagline? Would Facebook be the same if it weren’t blue? We could bore you with more examples, but you think you get the gist.
Screen Shot 2014 06 25 at 3.24.55 PM 380x269 How To Protect Your Brands Identity

Screenshot taken June 2014
If you’ve created a great brand identity, here’s positive results you’ll see:

  • Makes a great first impression.
  • Distinguishes you from the competition.
  • Increases brand awareness.
  • Establishes brand loyalty and trust.
  • Delivers the products/services you promised.
  • Inspires employees.

How to Develop Your Brand Identity

Understanding the importance or brand identity is one thing. Actually developing and putting it into action is a completely different task. HubSpot put together the incredible “Marketer’s Guide to Developing a Strong Brand Identity.” Here is a brief synopsis, but we recommend you bookmark it for future reference. Before developing your identity, do some research and perform a SWOT Analysis. This will help you understand your exact place in the market. Once you are aware of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats your company faces, you can begin to develop your brand identity, which includes five steps.
These steps are creating:

  • A Vision Statement: where you want your company to be in the future.
  • A Mission State: describes the purpose of your company.
  • Essence: the emotions that people associate with your company.
  • Personality: how does your brand speak, act, etc.?
  • Position or Value Proposition: describes how your brand benefits your audience.

Once you’ve developed a strong brand identity, you can begin to create everything from logos, taglines, signs, packaging, and figure out how to market your brand so it will reach your intended market.

How to Protect Your Brand’s Identity

Now that you’ve developed an identity and created logos and slogans that clearly define your company, it’s time to make sure it’s protected.


If you want to spread brand awareness, keep customers up-to-date with the latest happenings or simply have potential customers learn more about your brand, then you need a website. Obtaining a domain name for your website is one of the most effective and cost-effective ways in protecting the identity of your brand. GoDaddy, for example, offers domain names currently for $12.99, which is a small price to pay to make sure that your brand reaches its intended audience. When choosing a domain name take the advice of Rand Fishkin from Moz. He suggests that your domain be unique, short, easy to remember, easy to type, and fulfill expectations. He also suggests that you purchase .com, .net and .org versions for branding. This will prevent anyone else from riding your coattails. Because there are so many domain names being used, make sure that it’s available, which you can do when purchasing a domain in GoDaddy or any other domain registrar.  Even Google is getting in the domain game. Also keep in mind that there are now other options out there instead of just the traditional .com, .net and .org. Domains are getting very specific to include industry or location. Don’t be surprised to see everything from .club to .rentals to .vegas in the coming years.


If you’ve created a logo, piece or music or any “original works of authorship,” then you should have it copyrighted. This makes sure no one else can profit or display your work without consent. A copyright can also ensures another company doesn’t steal something like your logo. This will help set your brand apart from your competitors. You can learn more about copyrights and how to register by visiting the United States Copyright Office.


If you’ve invented something really unique and revolutionary, then you’ll want to get a patent. A patent can be granted to an inventor “to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States.” Just keep in mind that patents have an expiration date. This means that your inventions is protected for a certain amount of years until made available to the public. Visit the United States Patent & Trademark Office for more information and how to apply.


Speaking of trademarks, the United States Patent & Trademark Office defines this as “a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.” While you don’t have to register for a trademark, you should take advantage of the benefits. Registering for a trademark basically puts the public on notice that this particular symbol or phrase belongs to your company. Just as with a copyright, this sets you apart from everyone else. Before registering for a trademark, make sure that it’s free to use by searching the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS).

Legal Assistance

Everything from copyrights, patents, legal assistance to having employees sign contracts or non-disclosure agreements can get very confusing if you’re not familiar with the laws. If this is the case, then it may be worth hiring an attorney to ensure that your brand is legally protected. Before hiring a lawyer, you should brush up on legal jargon and the general rules that protect your brand. You may not have to a lawyer, at least at the time. This could be a life saver if you’re on a tight budget. But, this will also make it easier to work with a lawyer if/when needed. I suggest that you review the suggestions from a site like The site provides helpful resources, such as a directory of lawyers who specialize in this field in your particular niche.

Monitor Your Brand’s Online Reputation

One of the best ways to make sure that your identity is intact is by paying attention to what people are saying about your brand online. There are numerous free tools available that allow you to analyze what people are saying about your brand, keeping up with trends and how effective your marketing campaigns are. Social MentionTweet ReachAddictomaticGoogle Alerts and this handy tool from Go Fish Digital that searches complainant sites can all be valuable assets in protecting your brand’s identity. You can also use Image Raider to discover if anyone online is using your images.

Make Sure Everyone is on the Same Page

Making sure your employees set examples for your brand is priceless. The last thing that you want is for an employee to not believe in the brand’s values or go off on a social media rant that offends people. At the end of the day, this all reflects poorly on your brand. If you don’t have the budget to hire an agency or social media manager, then at least make use of free resources like Hootsuite to manage all of your social media accounts from one location. There’s also a team management facility that can be used if several people are updating your social media accounts.   Finally, make sure everyone involved in the brand delivers a consistent brand image and puts the brand first.

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How to Write Title Tags For Search Engine Optimization, meta title tag google, Tips for Title Tag Optimization, Tips To Write Titles

Bing Explains How They Choose The Title Tag For Your Web Pages

Despite your best efforts to define the title tags for your web pages, Bing may take it upon themselves to serve a different title in the search engine results pages (SERPS). Bing explains their process for choosing title tags in a blog post published this week.
In the post, Bing says that their goal is to “help the user complete their search tasks as efficiently as possible.” In order to do thisTo do this, Bing will do the following things in the SERPS:
  • Titles will be optimized based on relevance to the individual user.
  • Entire snippets may be optimized as well.
  • Even the display URLs may be optimized at Bing’s discretion.

How To Preserve Your Title Tag In Bing’s Search Results

  1. Make the HTML Title relevant to the queries that would be used to search your site without being overly long or repetitive. Avoid generic titles like “Home” or “About Us”.
  2. If you embed OpenGraph, etc., make sure it is consistent with the title you want, and that all the fields are correct, for example that your site name is correct.
  3. If your site is listed on or other directories make sure the entry is correct.
  4. Don’t block web crawlers.

When optimizing titles, URLs, and snippets, Bing follows complex set of rules that involve combinations of multiple pieces of information.
Long titles might get truncated to fit in the available space. Bing may also incorporate pieces of information in the title based on what it has learned of searchers’ preferences. For example, Bing knows that users like to see business names in titles, so the name of your business may be moved to the front of the title tag.
Bing explains that in some cases they may use other pieces of information from a web page such as OpenGraph annotations, or prominent text extracted from the page. Bing may even use external data sources such as anchor text.
If you put extra time and care into choosing the perfect title tag for your web pages, and would rather Bing not change them on you, then Bing offers the following suggestions:
Bing also suggests that the way you represent your site is consistent across the web. That means wherever you reference your URL you should ensure that any meta data associated with it is correct and matches the way you want it to be represented.

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Best Blogging Tips, Blogger Tips and Tricks 2014, Smart Blogging Tips, Universal Blogging Tips

Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company Blog

company blog is a great way to engage your customers, showcase your company and demonstrate your industry expertise to prospects. However, you have to provide useful, engaging content for the platform to have real use.
Good blogs are a goldmine of value for both your readers and your company. To learn what successful online writers include on their company blog, we asked 17 startup founders and YEC members for suggestions.

A Solution to Their Biggest Problem

Laura Roeder Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogCustomers come to you to solve a problem — what is it? Use your blog to help them solve this problem. Start with the most common questionsyour customers ask you and make each blog post a useful, easy-to-understand explanation. Basing your blog on real customer queries will ensure you’re writing content that they actually want to read.

Detailed How-To Videos

John Rood Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogHow-to content is incredibly valuable, and video is often the most popular format for this kind of content. Ask your sales or marketing team what the biggest problems or most popular questions are, not just about your product but within your industry as a whole.

Visual Stories and Infographics

Rob Fulton Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogPeople respond to posts that are visual, so including not just your story to explain where you came from, but also demonstrating your effectiveness as a company through an infographic will take you far. These are the kind of things that get reblogged — I would even go as far as hiring a graphic designer to do it up for you. Trust me, it works!

Your Vision and Mission

Trevor Summers Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogPresumably, you are spending a lot of time solving a hairy problem that is valuable to someone. What is the problem, who does it affect, why is it painful, what is your vision for a solution, why does it change the world, and why should people care? Sell the dream and sell the vision. People are inspired by vision and someone taking on the world.

What They’ve Asked For

Brooke Bergman 150x150 Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogAsk your customers and prospects what they want to read about. While you might have an idea, you might be missing out on a bigger topic that they’re interested in. You don’t really know until you ask.

Empowering Content

Jon Cline Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogPeople read blogs to get solutions or expand knowledge about topics they are already familiar with. Creating something that helps a person fix a problem empowers them to be independent. That is one of the best features of the Internet, and a big part of why people use it. They want information that empowers them to make life easier or better.

Educational, Informational Content

David Ehrenberg Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogFocus on educational, informational content that isn’t promotional. Also, address what needs you see when working with clients. What are their pain points? What do they care about most? Always consider how you can provide information that alleviates pain points and fills a need. That’s what the best content does.

Reverse Engineer Your Competitor’s Best Content

Brett Farmiloe1 Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogFind content from your competitors that has already done well. Take what you find and make it even better. You can find the top content from your competitors by going to Moz’s Open Site Explorer and plugging in a competitor’s website. Click the Top Pages tab, find the content with the most links, and you’ll discover the content customers will actually care about.

Industry Stats

Maren Hogan1 Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogThe more numbers, the better. CEOs and decision makers are going to want their information fast and easy. Industry stats that are relevant to your buyers are the easiest way to get their attention. “5 Stats that Will…” or “The 11 Stats that You….” Titles like that quickly inform the reader that what’s inside is relevant to them.

Your Personal Side

Kim Kaupe Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogA great way to get customers to read about your company is to supplement your article with a photo of you. In addition to the service and products you provide, customers want to see YOU, the creator, the person who is going to solve all their problems. It’s why successful business owners, from Steve Jobs to the owner of your local dry cleaner, are able to connect with their consumers on a deeper level.

Write About Your Why

Sean Kelly Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogOne thing customers and prospects will actually want to read about on your company blog is your “why.” Simon Sinek talks about this and calls it the “golden circle.” To find your “why,” answer these questions: What’s your purpose or cause? What do you believe in? Why do you get out of bed in the morning? Lastly, why should anyone care? People care more about what you believe than what you do

Whatever People Ask on Your Sales Calls

kelsey Meyer Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogTake notes on what people ask on sales calls. Use those questions to craft your first articles. Don’t make it a Q&A about your company, but instead use the questions to educate your potential customers on the industry as a whole and how your company fits into the mix. Use the blog to educate and engage first, and sell second.

Not Your Product

Jared Feldman Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogWe’re a software company. Our releases are very exciting to us, but our readers and customers want to know the problems our software can solve. Our blog is a place where we write interesting stories that just happen to use our software to draw conclusions.

Short Customer Success Stories

Seth Talbott Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogPeople crave storytelling, and that is doubly true in marketing. Craft your message around success stories that weave in your most critical value propositions so that your potential customers can picture themselves as actual customers and emotionally connect with what you can do for them.

Your Competition

Mitch Gordon Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogSurprise your readers by writing a well-balanced blog post about how you compare to your competition. If they’re better than you at something, admit to it. Writing an article like this will also force you to honestly self-evaluate your company. What are you doing better or worse than your competition. Transparency is almost always a good thing in the long run.

Stories About and by Real People

Michael Seiman Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogPeople want to know what motivates those around them and hear stories about their successes and failures. We have a section of our blog called The CPXians, which allows our employees to write about anything they want — life hacks, personal career journeys, “pro tips” on impressing clients, predictions, etc. Our marketing team publishes what fits our brand voice and we keep our site visitors engaged.

An Explanation of Industry Lingo

Bj%C3%B6rn Stansvik 150x150 Keeping Readers Interested: 17 Things to Write About on Your Company BlogIf you work in a highly technical industry or one that has lots of acronyms or industry jargon, simplify your content by providing a blog post that educates the reader on your industry. That way, when they call you to discuss your services, they can feel confident they are speaking your language.
Featured Image: Rawpixel via Shutterstock
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Take up the fight against negative SEO

How to Immunize a New Website Against Negative SEO

Negative SEO is something of a boogeyman. Some will say it doesn’t exist. Some say it exists, but it’s largely ineffective. Some are in awe of its power, claiming it’s capable of taking down even top ranked sites. Still others claimed to have personal experience with it, either as a victim or as part of a history with black hat SEO. On black hat forums, it’s regarded with reverence, just another tool in the toolbox.
The way negative SEO works is by simulating unnatural link building activity against other sites. By showing Google that thousands of junk links are being built in an attempt to manipulate your website’s rankings, it’s possible that Google can penalize and/or deindex your site completely – when you have done nothing wrong.
Whether or not it’s a threat, and whether or not it’s effective at trashing a young site, it’s worth taking steps to immunize your site against it.
Simple: the techniques used to protect yourself against negative SEO are, for the most part, the same techniques you use to build positive SEO. Think of it like a number line, with a brand new site starting at zero. If you build up to 15, the -10 hurts, but doesn’t leave you in the hole while a hit of -10 from a position of 1,000 may not even be felt. By building an authority site, Google will know it’s less likely that you’re manipulating rankings with junk links, and your rankings will be less likely to plummet from these attacks.
So, to protect yourself from negative SEO, take up the following tips and put them into use. Many of these tips work equally well on a new or an established site, though some are basic steps for building a new site.

Establish Website Security

The most dangerous, and most insidious, negative SEO attacks are those performed through hacking your site.
Screen Shot 2014 07 25 at 10.43.24 AM 380x221 How to Immunize a New Website Against Negative SEO
Any breach of your security is bad, but it’s made even worse when the hacker does nothing overt. It’s one thing when they take down your pages, trash your databases and vandalize your account. It’s quite another when all they do is insert a few hidden spam links on your pages, install themselves as an admin user and leave. If they worked quickly and quietly, you might not even notice until you start receiving penalties for bad links or hidden text.
To prevent this kind of attack, make sure your passwords are strong and unique. Make sure your host has up to date web security, and that any infrastructure you have installed is up to date. This means, in particular, keeping WordPress and any commerce platform you use updated. Use security plugins as well, whenever possible. The additional security won’t hurt.
If your blog is going to have multiple authors, or you have other people working on your site but who don’t need admin access, limit the permissions on their accounts. Only those who absolutely need admin access should have it.

Create and Use Social Profiles

To combat negative SEO, you need to build traffic, links and an audience. One of the primary ways to do this is through social media. Social media marketing is far too complex a subject to cover in a subsection of a single article, but suffice it to say creating your profiles and keeping them active is a good start.
Social media profiles 380x251 How to Immunize a New Website Against Negative SEO
For a brand new site, you probably don’t need more than just the basic Facebook-Google+-Twitter combo.
The goal is to establish yourself a presence and reputation independent of your own site. No negative SEO attack, no matter how powerful, is going to cause Twitter to drop from the rankings.
An active set of social profiles also helps keep you in contact with your users, if your site is attacked and brought down or force off the first page.

Implement Authorship

Even though Google cut out the primary incentive many webmasters had for establishing Authorship – that is, the profile pictures in search results – they didn’t cut all value from the service. Authorship is designed to give you as an author a reputation separate from that of your site.
Ideally, with Authorship, you will be able to establish more of a reputation as a legitimate blogger and webmaster. If your site is a victim of negative SEO, you can maintain Authorship as a sign of legitimacy. In a sense, you’re telling Google that, hey, this isn’t your fault, you’re trying to fix the problem. It might not do much, but every bit helps.

Create Content in Volume

Every piece of content is important to your site. Content pulls in links. Content attracts users. Content provides value that keeps users coming back. Content also provides landing pages for the negative SEO links that bombard your site in a linkspam attack.
It’s important to have a high volume of content, even right out of the gate. Sites with few pages are easier to hit with negative SEO, for a couple of reasons. First, fewer pages means that one page going down is a higher percentage of the site going down. Second, fewer pages means fewer legitimate incoming links to balance out the negative links. Lastly, “thin” sites are typically lower quality and spammier, which could give Google the wrong impression when your site starts receiving a ton of junk links.
If possible, start your blog at five posts per week, one each weekday. This gives you weekends to prepare and deal with other tasks, while still maintaining a high volume of content. Of course, all of your content needs to meet the standards of the web. Make sure it’s high quality, sufficiently long, and deep enough to provide unique value and insight.

Build Organic Links

Organic links come in all shapes and sizes, with a range of varied anchor text, from both high and lower quality sites and in both followed and nofollowed forms. A varied and robust link profile is necessary to combat a linkspam attack, which tends to focus on a single set of anchor keywords and a few bad domains. Their weapon is volume; yours is quality and variety.

Be Proactive with Disavowing Links

Google’s Disavow Links tool is about the only actual Google-provided resource you have to combat negative SEO.
Disavow links tool 380x255 How to Immunize a New Website Against Negative SEO
Be proactive in using it. Make sure you have Google Analytics attached and verified, and keep an eye on your incoming links. If you begin to notice hundreds or thousands of unexpected incoming links from bad domains, make note of those domains.
Rather than disavowing individual links, make use of Google’s function for disavowing entire domains.
This way, if you have 1,000 incoming links from various subpages on one domain, you can disavow them all with one entry.
This can save an incredible amount of time, and catches any future links from that domain.

Improve Any Targeted Pages

When you’ve reached a certain critical mass on your site in terms of content, you’ll notice any negative SEO attack tends to target weak points. They’re trying to point out flaws in your site and make it harder to distinguish between where the negative SEO attack ends and the natural flaws in your site begin. Scrutinize which pages they’re targeting and take steps to improve them.

Build an Online Reputation

Take the time to network with other bloggers in your industry, particularly those with established sites and positive reputations. You don’t want to accidentally reach out to the shady competitor buying the negative SEO attack. You also don’t want to cloister yourself off and avoid outside contact altogether.
By building a robust online reputation, you gain the trust of other bloggers, who will be more willing to assist you in recovering your site. They won’t be able to do all the work for you, of course, but they can offer a well-placed link to help you on your way. They may also have advice of their own from dealing with an attack, which might help you.
In the end, the only way to truly prevent a negative SEO attack is to be too strong to bring down. Unfortunately, the only way to reach that level is with a significant amount of time and investment. Your goal is to make it through the vulnerable early stages of website growth as quickly and as legitimately as possible.
Image Credits
Featured Image: Jason Baker via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Image #1: Christophe Verdier via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Image #2: Jason Howie via Flickr (Creative Commons)

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