At the end of February, I went to SearchFest – Portland’s annual digital marketing conference. There were speakers from all over the country giving their insight into the most up-to-date strategies for online search marketing. I had many great takeaways including information about the next Google algorithm update and the role that Yelp seems to be playing in search.
The Value of Being Mobile-Friendly
Starting April 21st 2015, Google is going to start looking at the mobile-friendliness of a site as a ranking factor. With more and more people accessing the internet on smartphones and tablets, they want to make sure that websites returned in search results are configured properly and are viewable. The left-right scrolling and tap-tap-tapping to make text larger will no longer suffice.
Making a site mobile-friendly is not just about making it responsive. You must also make sure that tap targets (buttons, links, form fields) are large enough for a user to easily tap on a touchscreen.
Some web development companies are offering a service to create separate mobile sites. Other than the fact that Google doesn’t recommend this, the other significant downside is that the user experience is not consistent across devices. Not only do the sites look different, users might miss content because of different page organization.
If you’re wondering how your site measures up for mobile-friendliness, enter your site URL here.
A snippet from the Google Feb 26th announcement:
“This change will affect mobile searches
in all languages worldwide
and will have a significant impact in our search results.”
Read the full announcement here.
Will Yelp may make a difference to your business?
One delightful Q & A session at SearchFest was with Mike Blumenthal – AKA Professor Maps. He is an expert in local search and author of the blog “Understanding Google Maps & Local Search.”
He talked about recently noticing how many search results are returning Yelp pages in the #1 search position when the searched term is used in the review. I did my own test for “coffee shop Beaverton” and check out at the results:
I tried this with “carpet cleaner Beaverton” and “gas stations Beaverton” (and quite a few more) and surprise, surprise, the Yelp reviews are showing up at the top. It looks very much like Google is giving priority in search rank to the Yelp reviews that include the searched term.
Before you run out and set up a Yelp account, know that it’s a bit challenging to actually get reviews to show up. If the reviewer has only reviewed one site and that site is yours, it is very unlikely you’ll see it published. If the reviewer’s social connections are deeply connected to yours, their review is likely to get filtered out. Essentially, Yelp doesn’t want business owners going out and asking for reviews. They want to show reviews by Yelp users who have a lot of Yelp friends or who have already left lots of Yelp reviews. Here is Mike’s blog on Getting Yelp reviews when all else fails.
Why are Yelp reviews relevant?
Ranking in local search is about your local prominence and of course, Yelp is uniquely situated to give information about local companies.
Note that Yelp reviews are also only productive in certain industries. Mike is of the mind that “it’s an under-35 platform, great for restaurant reviews, house repair, and plumbing – but not so valuable for industries like cosmetic surgery.”
To see if your business might benefit from having reviews on Yelp, just search your industry and include a local term. If Yelp reviews are prominent, it may be worth the effort to get some Yelp action going…