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Dominate Google Local Serps or Rich Snippet & Author Spam?


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Mid September Google announced a new algorithm meant to allow more domains to appear in search results so one domain would not just dominate the SERPs.

Google has also been cracking down on rich snippet spam too and many of us have seen organic STARS removed from listings where we use legit and appropriate hReview markup. PLUS some folks have trouble consistently getting their author image to show up in the SERPS.

So given everything above, I was pretty surprised to see this search results page.

Top 4 Spots in Google for "male breast reduction Santa Rosa ca"



To be very honest, have not had time to analyze this. Have not looked at the code on the site or anything. Just wanted to throw it out there for group discussion.

I discovered this example in a post by Mike Wilton, over at SearchNewsCentral:

The Ugly State of Google SERPs: Rich Snippet Abuse

So now I turn to you fellow search geeks. What say you on this chaotic state of rich snippets?

Is rel=?author? sitewide perfectly acceptable until Google makes a clear stance, or is it an area to tread lightly? Furthermore, do you think Google should be accepting the aggregateRating schema from a website where ratings can be manually generated?
Some marketers I know would be pretty proud of themselves if they got this type of results for a client. I can almost hear them say "Boo-ya Local Domination!" :p But many would think this crosses one or more lines. And if you were trying to rank a client for these keywords in this market, my guess is you would not be too happy with this guy dominating the top 4 spots like that with images and stars on every page.

What do you think?
 
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Ya my stars have not showed up for awhile now. I've used my own site for testing and they showed for quite awhile but stopped a couple months ago.

Someone said if you rotate reviews so the content is fresh Google will show stars again sometimes, but I tried it and it has not worked for me so far.
 

Mike Wilton

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Thanks for sharing the post Linda. This post has definitely sparked a bit of a debate, in fact the SEO behind the poster site for the post actually swung by and left his two cents on the matter in the comments.

The bottom line is that Google has left much of the rich snippet markup guidelines for interpretation, which is why I am looking forward to seeing the final version of the recently leaked updated webmaster guidelines, which I wrote about today (Abusing Semantic Markup? Leaked Webmaster Guidelines Update May Suggest Your Days Are Numbered - Mike Wilton | Internet Marketing Blog).

I'd love to hear the thoughts of some of the forum members on this. Am I one of the few with this view on the use of rich snippet markup, or are there others out there who share my views?
 
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Hey Mike, thanks for the reply and for letting us know about your new, related article.

I had not been back over to see the replies til you posted to let me know. Cool that Dino stepped up and posted. Glad he got a new client.

Like I just said over there, even though in my post I asked the question Smart marketing or rich snippet spam - quite honestly my underlying motivation for the post was a little different. I know lots of local marketers that have been trying to get their legit rich snippet stars to show up again, so knew my readers would have some interest.
 
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Yep. That would be me, Linda. Like Mike said, while experimenting with schema, I landed myself in the "poster child" position for the "Rich Snippets" debate. Heck, all you guys had to do is shoot me an email and ask me what is going on - my link is at the bottom of my clients' sites and I am always happy to discuss Local SEO strategies & implementations :)

Actually, I wish I were dominating Local results for my client. A competitor manages to get two first and second place listings for nearly every common search term. You just happened to pick one of the search terms where we are currently ranking #1.

Anyway... please read my response(s) to Mike over on The Ugly State of Google SERPs: Rich Snippet Abuse | Search News Central

I just made an interesting correlation. That being; yourself, Mike and I all service medical professionals on a Local level. Perhaps we can put our heads together and brainstorm a viable means offer unbiased patient reviews - without relying upon 3rd party sites. What do you think - even remotely feasible? Seems like even with the niche review sites, there is a high level of implicit "trust" we are instilling in them to validate and supply legitimate reviews - good or bad. I know for a fact that a handful of negative reviews for some of my clients on 3rd party medical professional review sites were not left by an actual patient. Bummer.

I look forward to continuing the discussion.

Linda, I didn't catch this one as a "shared" post - did I miss it? If so, my apologies.

Dino
Sonoma County Web
 
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Hey Dino, Thanks for stopping by

Yep. That would be me, Linda. Like Mike said, while experimenting with schema, I landed myself in the "poster child" position for the "Rich Snippets" debate. Heck, all you guys had to do is shoot me an email and ask me what is going on - my link is at the bottom of my clients' sites and I am always happy to discuss Local SEO strategies & implementations :)
Like I said "To be very honest, have not had time to analyze this. Have not looked at the code on the site or anything. Just wanted to throw it out there for group discussion."

I spend so much of my time working at the Google forum, doing deep dive to research on problems there, that here sometimes I just uncover, share and hope the community will dig in and discuss.

"I didn't catch this one as a "shared" post - did I miss it?"

Tweeted: Twitter / CatalystLocal: Dominate Google Local SERPs ...
Scooped: Dominate Google Local Serps or Rich Snippet Local SEO News | Scoop.it
FB: http://www.facebook.com/LindaBuquet

Thanks again for stopping by and sorry I didn't have time to research deeper or contact you. Like I said, just thowing it out for the community to discuss, especially those interested in rich snippets.
 
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I just made an interesting correlation. That being; yourself, Mike and I all service medical professionals on a Local level. Perhaps we can put our heads together and brainstorm a viable means offer unbiased patient reviews - without relying upon 3rd party sites. What do you think - even remotely feasible?
Oops sorry, tired. Missed that part. I don't actually work on client projects any more. Only do consulting/training to support other consultants and SEOs now. But when I did do Local search, you are right I specialized in Dental.
 

Phil Rozek

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Just to throw in my two cents VERY quickly (there?s a lot I and probably everyone else can say about this):

Google decided to support rich snippets ? particularly Schema. Their choice. They?re smart folks, and knew that big fat gray areas would pop up when it came to the real-life uses of it. They can crack down whenever they?d like ? and even have done so to a certain extent with testimonial/reviews markup (not showing stars in the SERPs for testimonials on the homepage). At this early stage, not even Google has determined exactly what is acceptable and what isn?t. For the rest of us, I think it?s a Justice Potter Stewart ?I know it when I see it? deal.

Provided that all of the testimonials are (1) real and (2) requested without offering incentive ? or, better yet, offered spontaneously by clients ? I think it?s pretty hard to be UNethical in one?s use of rich-snippet markup.

By the way, I?ve corresponded with Dino on a couple of occasions to ?talk shop,? and I can affirm that he?s careful to walk the fine line between making a client?s search result ?pop out? a little and overdoing it. I?ve dealt with lots of people who look for shortcuts or cheap temporary wins, and he?s definitely not one of those people. *Not* that anyone here or elsewhere was implying otherwise :)
 
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By the way, I’ve corresponded with Dino on a couple of occasions to “talk shop,” and I can affirm that he’s careful to walk the fine line between making a client’s search result “pop out” a little and overdoing it. I’ve dealt with lots of people who look for shortcuts or cheap temporary wins, and he’s definitely not one of those people. *Not* that anyone here or elsewhere was implying otherwise :)
Thanks for adding that last part Phil as I never meant to imply anything, so glad it didn't sound that way.
 

Mike Wilton

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Thanks for chiming in on this Phil. Again, I want to reiterate that my intent was never to blast Dino, or even the doctor. In my original post we edited out the doctors name, URL, and image. It just so happened that when it made it to the forums the identity was revealed. Dino and his client sort of became the poster children for a bigger issue I have been seeing evolve in the SERPs.

You're right, Google hasn't really been very forward with how to properly utilize rich snippet markup, which was part of my point in the post, however I definitely feel that if you read between the lines you can get a sense of what the intent is and how to should and shouldn't be used. Maybe it's my opinion, but even if a doctor has positive unsolicited testimonials, I don't feel it warrants five star reviews across the board. But maybe I'm alone in this thinking.
 
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In my original post we edited out the doctors name, URL, and image. It just so happened that when it made it to the forums the identity was revealed. Dino and his client sort of became the poster children for a bigger issue I have been seeing evolve in the SERPs.
Sorry Mike and Dino, just realized I never explained how this post came about.

I researched enough when I 1st read Mike's post to dig up the SERPs and look. But only made mental note it was an example of hReview stars in the SERPs and quadruple top rankings. Forgot where I found it or what the gist of the article was.

Then a few days later someone asked if I'd seen review stars showing up lately. And I said ya, check this out and could not remember where I found the example, but remembered the keywords so pulled it up and and showed them the SERPs.

Then I thought, this would make an interesting blog post and again by then I'd forgotten where I originally got the example. (I look at SO much stuff and at 60 years old, senior moments are the norm these days.) :eek:

Did screenshots, wrote most of the post.

Then at last minute realized I should go digging to try to figure out where I saw the example to begin with, so I could credit the source. Can't even remember how I tracked down the source because the KWs were not in the article. I think I had to just search in history to find it. Or maybe in Reader, not sure. Then just added a quick link and quote. Didn't really at that time key into the fact the name was blurred out in Mike's posts and was not really trying to out anyone or anything. It was just a quick after thought to credit source before I posted. (One of those rushed news days when I was trying to pump out 5 articles at once. Sorry.)

So anyway, that's how it unfolded. Not as a follow up to Mike's story - but as a interesting SERP example I found in my bookmarks and wanted to share - with a quick link to source tacked on at last minute.

If the sequence of events were different and my post (in my head and the chain of events) STARTED with Mike's post. If I read his post and thought, that's interesting I want to expand on it or talk about it - I would have used the blurred image and not been so explicit and the whole focus of the article would have been different. But again I wrote the whole article around the SERPs example - then trying to be fair and credit source went back to figure out where I found it to begin with.

Anyway, hope that makes sense and clarifies a little and sorry Dino if it put you in the limelight in a way you didn't appreciate. Was not my intent.
 

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