By: David Aziz
More control over you profile
Before when you wanted to update your status or share something you would have to share it with all of your friends. The main problem with this is not all content relates to the same group of people. Now you can share and tailor your posts to users that relate to what you are sharing. There is also a “View Profile As” option which lets you change the appearance of your profile for certain users. This gives you much more explicit control over who sees what’s on your profile as well.
Remove unwanted tags
Before when you were tagged in photos or posts you would get a notification and then it would show up in your news feed. Now when you are tagged in something you will receive a notification that gives you the option to approve the tag. Users will also be able to remove content from their profiles, remove tags and or request that content be taken down by others. With photos you now have the option to review and approve or reject any tag someone tried to add to your photos and posts as well.
Change your mind after you post?
Before when you posted a status update, you couldn’t change who could see it. Now after posting something you can change who can see the post after the fact. If you changed your mind or accidently posted something to the wrong group have no fear you can adjust it with the inline control at any time.
After hearing about these updates I thought to myself “Well this looks familiar.”Is this Facebook’s response to Google+’s circles? Although Facebook says the features have nothing to do with Google+ It’s not surprising that we would see Facebook roll out new features to their privacy settings that are closely related to that of Google+. A major reason why some users are migrating to Google+ is because they can express themselves the way they want without having to worry about parents, colleagues, would-be employers, and so on. After Facebook alters their privacy setting this might not be the case anymore. The fact that Facebook has a huge following and it is the biggest social network might steer people to stay on Facebook instead of moving to Google+. So will this “kill” Google+? Google+ is not going anywhere, there is a lot of room to grow and I’m sure they have a lot more up their sleeve that will change the way we view social media for the better.
By: Ryan Miller
Until yesterday, Google’s +1 Button for website publishers and the Google+ profile accounts were completely separated. You could +1 a link, but it would only be added into the +1 tab on your profile, with no further interaction available. If you wanted to share a link with your circles on Google+ you had to manually copy the link and submit it into your stream.
Today, Google announced they are rolling out [link needed] the ability to use +1 Buttons to share content with your circles via your stream on Google+ Profiles. This makes the +1 Buttons much more valuable for publishers and bringing the +1 Button a little closer to operating like Facebook’s Like and Share buttons.
So how does it work? Visit your favorite website that has the +1 Button installed, find a page you want to share and click the +1 button. This will add the link to your +1 Tab under your Google+ Profile, as it always has.
Now, the dropdown box will change, and give you the opportunity to share the link to your Google+ stream, though you do not have to share websites you +1. You will be given the full functionality of sharing a link as if you were on your Google+ account, including adding comments, and choosing what circles you want to share the link with.
After you’ve filled out the information, share the link and it will instantly be added to you stream.
While this functionality makes it a lot easier to share content with your circles, there is still some disconnect between the +1 Button and activity on your Google+ stream. Currently, it appears that any additional +1s the link receives within your stream, will not translate to the total number of +1s seen on the corresponding page, unlike the current incarnation of Facebook total Likes, which combines the number from all sources. It is unknown at this time whether that will change in the future.
If you have not already added the +1 Button into your website, this new integration is a great reason to embrace +1. If you already have the +1 Button on your site, there is nothing you need to do to your code, as Google is rolling out the update to operate within the already existing embed code. Google is rolling this change out over the next day, so if you do not see it now, you will very shortly.
By: Ryan Miller
One of the more debated issues when building a website’s URL structure is whether to use dashes or underscores as a separator. The debate and issue has been contested for years, and stemmed from an announcement that Matt Cutts made back in 2007 saying that Google was now treating both dashes and underscores as separators, only to have Google come back a week later saying they were still not treating underscores as separators.
It has now been four years, and Matt Cutts has returned to finally put the confusion and debate to rest in a must-see four minute video on YouTube:
In essence, Google *still* sees dashes as word separators and underscores as a phrase joiner and there are no plans in the foreseeable future to change that. This means that if the structure of the URL was the only ranking factor, a URL that contained the text “horror-movies” could rank for a search of “horror” or “movies” while a URL with the text “horror_movies” would only rank for a search of “horror movies”
Of course we know that the URL structure is only a very small piece of Google’s ranking algorithm. For webmasters who are just beginning to build a website, it is recommended that dashes be used within the URLs. However, if you have an established website that uses underscores and is ranking well within Google, trying to change to dashes could do more damage than good to your website.
So hopefully this will finally end the confusion and debate; dashes and underscores are still seen as performing different functions in the eyes of Google. But what of Bing you ask? Bing, as they have since they were Live Search, does not differentiate between dashes and underscores in their URL ranking features.
By: Ryan Miller
Today Twitter announced via their blog that they are rolling out two new tabs within twitter.com for logged in users to see recent activity amongst those they follow.
The first new tab, denoted as @yourusername, combines already existing data including your “@mentions, favorites, follows, and more on you and your Tweets” into a more eye-catching stream of information that provides avatar images and icons based on the actions taken on your tweets. For Twitter users that actively monitor which of their followers retweet and favorite their tweets, this should be a welcome consolidation of information.
The second tab, denoted as Activity, features a new way to track recent actions such as “favorites, follows, retweets and more” taken by those you follow. Of particular note in this new stream of information is seeing which Twitter accounts you follow have begun following, and the ability to follow those accounts straight from your Activity thread. If you follow friends or someone in a particular field, this tab could alert you to accounts of interest that you may benefit from following as well.
Looking at the screengrab above, you can see that the stream batches accounts that Twitterer has recently followed. This can potentially give you a vantage point on accounts of particular interest. Say you are following a Twitter account because they are a business competitor, this may give you a better ability to stay toe-to-toe with who they are following and interacting with. Or maybe you are following an account because you may suspect them of attempting to unnaturally gain followers by following large batches of accounts at once. The Activity tab could give you an easier bird’s eye view how many accounts they are following in a small window of time.
Is this Twitter’s starting attempt at providing a more visually interesting interface and additional data to compete against Facebook and Google+ or trying to lure users back to interacting with Twitter directly through twitter.com rather than an app? Time shall tell.
Do you think these new tabs will affect how you use your Twitter account?
By: Ryan Miller
In late July Google gave their Places Profiles a major facelift, including cleaning up how the profile data is presented, removing the 3rd party reviews of the location and most importantly removing the citations for the business, or to define it another way, where else on the web the business was being listed.
The update, however, is only an interface change within Google Places, and is not an algorithmic change in the way that Google ranks local listings. Citations for businesses from authoritative websites, such as Yelp.com or MLive.com’s Business Listings, with consistent data are still as important today for local ranking success as they were last month.
In this POV, we will discuss some of the visual changes that business will see within their Google Places profile, why citations remain an important piece of local optimization and the methods you can use to show prospective clients where else their business is (or isn’t) listed when discussing local SEO products.
With the new layout, Google is putting a much greater emphasis on users writing reviews using their Google account:
And while they have removed the text reviews that were previously being imported from 3rd party websites, they are still providing links to these websites, along with a total count of the reviews, beneath their own:
Business listings (citations) on other websites that Google crawls for their Places profiles are the equivalent of external links pointing back to a website. External citations are like votes of confidence for a business. The more there are, from authoritative business listing websites, the better understanding Google has that the business is relevant to search queries.
But it is not just having the business listed on other websites, it is equally important the information is consistent on other websites, and matches the information that Google has, including name, address and phone number.
Finding Citations Post-Update
Prior to the update it was very easy to see the citations, or lack thereof, that Google had crawled and indexed for a business. While this information is no longer directly provided, we can still find the references that Google is seeing with a bit of work.
One way to find where a business is listed on the web is to simply do a search query using the business’s name and phone number.
Remember to put quotes around the phone number, so that Google will only return results for the entire number, and not pieces of the phone number. In the example above searching “451-4677” will *only* return results that have all seven numbers, while searching 451-4677 would return results with just 451 or 4677 as well.
This can be done live along with prospective clients to show how many places they are being listed, where they are not listed, and any inconsistency in data that may be negatively affecting the authority of their Google Places profile.
This method could also be used to search for competitors of the prospective client, as a way to show websites where the competitor is listed when the prospect is not. This search should be done ahead of time so that you can point out any potential glaring omissions from well-known websites that a local SEO product would allow the client to be listed on.
Another way to get a list of citations for a business is to use WhiteSpark’s Local Citation Finder Tool which can be found on http://www.whitespark.ca/local-citation-finder/. Please note you will need to create an account to use this tool. WhiteSpark has a free account set-up available, though it does limit the number of searches you can do in a 24-hour period and provides only a partial list of citations. A Pro account provides more searches per 24-hour period and returns a full list of citations.
Once you have an account, to find the prospective client’s citations via WhiteSpark, use the search by phone number tab which can be found here:
Just fill in the data for the prospective client, and the results will be mailed to the email address you used to create the account. Please note that WhiteSpark takes approximately 1 hour to return the data, so you would need to do this in advance of speaking with the prospect. This tool can be used just as easily to collect data on the prospect’s competitor.
While Google may have removed the transparency of what other websites it is seeing a business being listed on, this does not mean that it has reduced or eliminated the importance of business listings elsewhere on the web from their algorithm. Google still relies on these listings to understand a business’s listing information, its overall reach and relevancy to potential searchers.
At the same time, it is equally important that the Google Places profile be fully filled out and optimized for the business. Now that a business cannot as easily see where and how it is listed elsewhere, using a local SEO service that both optimizes their Places profile and ensure consistent publication of their address and contact information is a vital tool to help ensure maximum reach and visibility.