In this week's Weekly HubFeed we will discuss the latest news surrounding Google's Penguin Update, social signals and ranking, and Google Maps Local Search Ads.

Also available on YouTube.

Good afternoon and welcome to the Weekly HubFeed, where we unpack the important digital marketing news for Main Street businesses. I'm Chad Hill, and I'm joined by Adam Stetzer.

Good morning, Chad. It's great to be with you all.

Google Penguin Update

Awesome. Well, we're gonna jump right in here. We've got three stories that we want to cover. We want to lead with another update on Google's Penguin update. So this past week, John Mueller came back on a live Webmaster hangout and mentioned that Penguin is getting closer and closer. So we do not yet know what that means, but Google has been delaying this for quite a while.

Penguin, again, for those of you who don't know, is the nickname for the algorithm launch in 2012 that is aimed at spamming tactics or tricks used to get better rankings, things like primarily related to unnatural links and manipulative link building tactics. And as Google has evolved, so has this desire to provide a better user experience. And the latest that they're working on with Penguin is rather than it being an update that happens on an annual or semi-annual basis, they're trying to roll it into the core algorithm so that we aren't left waiting for them to make these updates. So, Adam, what does this mean for small business?

Well, this matters to Main Street businesses quite a bit. I mean, these algorithms, Chad, can really wreak havoc on your rankings, and long-time SEOs know this. If you've been around and lived through the 2013 Penguin updates, they were particularly strong, less so in 2014, though we haven't seen anything for a couple years. So the bottom line here is it reinforces this message that we say all the time and most SEOs say all the time, "Try not to take shortcuts. Definitely don't engage in buying links and other things that Google really, really doesn't like, and know your link profile."

You need to be doing link audits. You need to be seeing what's happening. We've got a link audit tool. Several other firms do as well. You should be engaged with that or have someone on your behalf engaged with that to understand what you might have in the closet in terms of what links are in there that you might have to carve out to the light of day and really clean up. But there's good news here that hopefully this will be the last time that we have to wait a long time for an update and things will get more real time.

Social Signals and Ranking

Moving on to the second story we are covering today. We're talking also, Chad, about social signals and ranking. There have been a lot of studies about how social media does or does not impact ranking. And Google has said many times that they don't use social signals as a ranking factor. Yet I know that there's been some experiments trying to disprove or show that it isn't 100% true. Well, Gary Iles said it again, he's from Google, said again in a tweet this week that social signals once again do not directly impact ranking.

Yeah. And this matters, of course, to small business because there's really a lot of confusion out there about what are the factors that really matter. And Google, for a long time, has said, "Create great content, and that will earn you links." Well, it will actually earn you social shares, which then in turn will earn links over time, and that will then move you through the rankings. And this idea has been disproven several times.

Last summer, Moz and BuzzSumo did a study where they looked at the correlation between social shares and links and showed that it was zero, that there was no correlation between shared content and it getting links. So I think it's very important to understand what are the direct signals that lead to rankings, and improvement, and organic placement and which ones aren't. Again, we're not at all saying that social media isn't important, but as a direct ranking factor, it, again, has been shown that it is not a direct ranking factor.

Google Maps Local Search Ads

So we're gonna move on to the last story here. The last story is covering some updates to Google Maps and their local search ads. So this is probably not a big surprise for a lot of people, but Google recently announced that they are going to be rolling out local search ads for Google Maps. And we're going to put a screenshot up here in a minute on this, but what this is going to do is that in the typical search results, we just had Google change the top ad so that now there are four search results at the top of the page, which was then in many cases for local searches followed by three map results and then by organic results.

What this is going to be doing is adding a fourth map result, but it's going to be a paid ad. So there'll be four ads at the top in the Google Maps section, so now there's five ads. And, of course, we see this trend continuing. The idea here is to allow users to see these ads without them being a distraction. Features like promoted pins, pins that pop up on Maps will also be a part of this, and the local search ads will appear in Google Maps app and the mobile desktop and tablet map site. So, Adam, what does this mean for small business?

Well, this can impact you directly. Your customers are searching for you on mobile, so if you are not there, you are missing an opportunity to connect. Google hasn't said specifically, Chad, when they're gonna roll these changes out. But it is anticipated in the next few months, so we're advising small businesses to be prepared. Enable your local extensions in your AdWords account. It's a good housekeeping practice. Make sure that all the listing information is correct and make sure your Google My Business page is accurate. We know this is real important.

And as the opportunity arises here, advertise on Google Maps. It's another way to get in front of your customer. Well, that wraps up our Weekly Hub feed. We really appreciate you joining us to hear us live here on YouTube. And we ask that if you found this information useful, please check out our YouTube Channel for more videos. We'll see you back here real soon.