Weekly SEO news: 7 February 2012

Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Backlinks are still Google's most important ranking signal. That's why many businesses buy links to artificially improve the rankings of their websites. This can be very risky because Google doesn't like paid links at all. Google has several ways to detect paid links.

In the news: Google's January algorithm changes, a Google statement about 404 spam links, Google has a new 'above the fold' filter and more.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Can you take the risk? How Google detects paid links

Backlinks are still Google's most important ranking signal. That's why many businesses buy links to artificially improve the rankings of their websites. This can be very risky because Google doesn't like paid links at all.

Avoid risky tactics

If you use paid links to promote your website, you put your rankings at risk. Google has several ways to detect paid links:

1. Your competitors can send spam reports

On its information page about paid links, Google encourages webmasters to report the paid links of other sites:

"If you see a site that is buying or selling links that pass PageRank, let us know. We'll use your information to improve our algorithmic detection of such links."

2. Google's manual spam fighters can find the links

Google employs people who do nothing else than judging the quality of Google's search results. They also employ people who look for spam and paid links.

3. Google's algorithm can detect the links

Based on the paid links report, Google could develop algorithms that can detect paid links automatically:

"We'll use your information to improve our algorithmic detection of such links."

Matt Cutts, head of Google's webspam team, said in several of his blog posts that Google's algorithms had been able to detect paid links before they were reported in a manual spam report.

It is difficult and time-consuming to get good backlinks to your website. That's why backlinks play such an important role in Google's ranking algorithm. The backlink tool in IBP can help you to streamline the link building process so that you get good backlinks as efficiently as possible.

Avoid fully automated link building systems. These link building systems have been created to game Google's algorithm and that's why Google will downrank your website as soon as they find out that your website participates in such a link system.

Play by the rules

If you want to get lasting results, use SEO tools that play by the rules. You can analyze the backlinks of your website and the websites of your competitors here.

 

2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Google's January algorithm changes

"In 2011, we launched the Panda algorithm change, targeted at finding more high-quality sites. We improved how Panda interacts with our indexing and ranking systems, making it more integrated into our pipelines. We also released a minor update to refresh the data for Panda. [...]

We made several adjustments to the freshness algorithm that we released in November. These are minor updates to make sure we continue to give you the freshest, most relevant results."



John MuellerGoogle: 404 spam links to your site don't hurt your rankings

"I have never seen a case where bad links pointing to URLs that return 404 have ever caused a website any noticeable problem in web-search. 404s are a part of the internet, they're expected to be seen when a non-existent URL is crawled.

There's no reason that I can think of where it would make sense to count 404s against a site."



Google: page layout algorithm change

"We’re launching an algorithmic change that looks at the layout of a webpage and the amount of content you see on the page once you click on a result. [...]

Sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience. Such sites may not rank as highly going forward."



Cheaper clicks from AdWords coming?

"Innovations in mobile marketing, social advertising, and ecommerce marketplace strategies are resulting in more choices for shoppers and online retailers alike. [...]

Most online retailers treat their pay-per-click campaigns as afterthoughts. This produces time-limited opportunities for well-managed campaigns to lower their per-click costs."

Related: Would Google miss your advertising dollars?



GoogleWhy Google thinks SPYW is a good idea and you probably don’t

"Using SPYW to take the collective wisdom of your social network of Google employee/friends to influence your search results is a really good idea.

When your friends aren’t Google employees, are not the smartest people on the planet, and in some cases are narcissistic and generally a lot more self interested, using your social graph to influence your search results is somewhere between stupid and insane."



Is Volunia Italy’s answer to Google — or just hot air?

"Volunia is a search engine that indexes and maps out the web and then ranks it through a mixture of algorithms and the opinions of visitors. Marchiori alluded to the fact that it was intended to be like GPS for the web — but said it does not use semantic technology."



Where social media advertising dollars are spent

"Facebook continues its dominance in ad campaigns with 89% of agencies planning to utilize the medium for clients (followed by Twitter (39%), YouTube (36%), LinkedIn (21%) and Google Plus (18% - up 28% over 3Q 2011).

Related: Google remains king as search spending climbs



Search engine newslets

  • In January, the upward trend for Chrome halted and Chrome lost .17% share on the desktop. Internet Explorer gained 1.1% and Firefox dropped 1%.
  • Google’s new privacy policy may violate HIPAA.
  • Bing: our favorite features.
  • I switched to Bing on my iPhone and I kind of liked it.
  • Google tests a new version of the black bar.

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3. Success stories

Tell other readers of this newsletter your success story!

Let us know how IBP has helped you to improve your website and we might publish your success story with a link to your website in this newsletter. The more detailed your story is, the better. Click here to tell us your story.



IBP

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4. Previous articles

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