When I sit with my clients that are successful business owners, they often say give me one or two major things that I can work on that will do the most good for my search results.  This is meant with that in mind. I only took the most important item from each category each month and a handful of PPC items.  I want this to be an effective and easy read, and not overwhelming.

ORGANIC & LOCAL small business CALENDAR 2014


Organic Search: Guest Blog Posting is outlawed by Matt Cutts of Google. It can still be argued that this can be done properly, but as a spam tactic, the less ethical versions of this are clearly frowned upon, and as is often the case with Google, anything close to the edges on this can also get punished.

local search: Yelp announced 285 businesses punished for fake reviews.  Fake reviews are being penalized, and the engines and local venues are getting better at figuring it out, especially Yelp and Google.


Organic Search: By February “Not Provided” reached over 80% of organic search. The days of seeing our specific keywords show up in our analytics are over.  Tools have since come up to help monitor our keyword traffic.

Local Search: Google adds menus to restaurant search results.  Restaurant owners take heed, this is important to be available.


Organic Search: Google changed its results page designThe new design increases the font size, removes underlines, and changes the way ads are labeled in search results.

Local Search: Google releases updates to make bulk updates easier for multiple location businesses.


Organic Search: Heartbleed bug was found causing privacy concerns for security software and millions of websites, causing more security concerns.  Helping feed the need for secure sites (https)

Local Search:  The latest Local Search Study from comScore/Neustar Localeze/15 Miles comes out. Local searches on mobile devices are most likely (78%) to result in a purchase


Organic Search: Panda 4.0 update rolled out to punish poor content.  Nevertheless, many small business scammers still not punished for “cheap, duplicate town pages”. Big sites like Ask.com punished significantly.

Local Search: Blumenthal estimates 20% of businesses have claimed their Google local page.  Just doing this puts you ahead of 80% of owners.


Organic Search: Authorship photos in search were removed. After a few years of pushing authorship and stressing it, this appears to be the first step of taking it away.

Local Search: Google My Business rolls out on desktop and mobile. I was actually in a meeting with Google when this happend. This was a major update replacing the Places for Business dashboard. Google My Business consolidates management of local, social, and paid activities and lets businesses manage their Google presence from one portal. Google has re-branded their local service multiple times in recent years, but this seemed to be the best and most helpful update. 


Organic Search: Matt Cutts, face of Google’s search algorithm, goes on what is supposed to be temporary leave, but has continued to this day.  He was a great leader and someone that I respected and appreciated. Interested to see what comes in 2015.

Local Search: “Pigeon” update comes from Google. This is a significant local algorithm change designed “to provide a more useful, relevant and accurate local search results that are tied more closely to traditional web search ranking signals” and to enhance “distance and location ranking parameters”.Local Pack results disappeared from many location-targeted SERPs, resulting in increased presencefor directory sites.  Yelp saw significant improvements in particular. In many cases this is the reverse result and actually helps big business directories and hurts local businesses who now have to advertise in the big directories for presence.  See what happens when Cutts leaves.


Organic Search: As mentioned in the heartbleed virus issue, Google officially announced using HTTPS as a ranking signal, encouraging everyone to move from HTTP to HTTPS. Google wants to show it is taking privacy more seriously.

Local Search: On the heals of the Google Pigeon update, major maps update from Bing, adding “hundreds of Streetside images, 3D city images and new high resolution aerial images”


Organic SearchSearchmetrics released 2014 ranking factors highlighting quality content, page architecture, and user signals seeing the biggest increases in affecting ranking.  Keyword links and social signals both went down in importance. 

Local Search: Google upgrades My Maps to allow users to make custom maps with small businesses.


Organic Search: Google refreshed the Penguin algorithm after a very long wait. This algorithm is known for  targeting web spam, over optimization and unnatural links. Those that were penalized by the last Penguin update and had fought to get back in Google’s good graces, finally got to be forgiven.  There were many complaints in the industry that this was taking too long and was unduly harsh. 

Local Search: Moz released the 2014 local ranking factors study, showing, despite the big Pigeon update this year, the factors were mostly similar, other than proximity being more prominent.


Organic Search: Mobile friendliness became a more official factor as Google rolled out the mobile-friendly search label for mobile search results and a mobile friendly test tool in Google Webmaster Tools. Mobile friendliness is becoming increasingly important and should be a high priority in 2015 for those that are not. 

Local Search:  Facebook adds a new Places directory at  Facebook Places, designed to help users discover local Facebook business pages.


Organic SearchBing released its version of Panda. As is often the case, they also did a better job of explaining what good content is. 

Local Search: Google updates Google My Business quality guidelines.  Descriptors allowed in February are again forbidden.






2014 Small Business Search Marketing Year In Review
Article Name
2014 Small Business Search Marketing Year In Review
Google Certified Partner and SEM Specialist
With all of the typical annual review columns out there this week, I wanted to put together the year of significant news in organic and local search for smaller business companies that are trying to make it in the search world. I hope you get something out of this and can use it to structure your plans for 2015.
Jeremy Skillings