Weekly SEO news: 19 February 2013
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Google's new disavow links tool cannot be used to hurt other websites. Google's Uli Lutz explained this in an online discussion. Should you use Google's disavow links tool with your website?

In the news: the latest search engine statistics, information about Google's email notifications, Australia has the highest PPC prices, and more.

Table of contents:

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Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Google: the disavow links tool does not hurt other websites

An online discussion on Webmasterworld.com shows the statement of Uli Lutz, who works for Google's search quality team in Germany.

Google

A webmaster asked Uli if it was possible to accidentally hurt a friend or a good resource by including it in a disavow link report. The main statements of Uli Lutz are:

  • You don't have to worry about damaging other people with the disavow links.
  • Hurting other websites with the disavow links tool is not possible.
  • If you want to disavow many links from the same website, there's a site-wide disavow option.

Should you use Google's disavow links tool?

You should only use Google's disavow links tool if Google sent you a notification that your website was penalized for unnatural links. Even then, it's very likely that Google's Penguin update already disavowed all inorganic links that point to your site.

If your rankings dropped after the Penguin update, that's because the unnatural links don't count anymore. The Penguin update probably added an internal rel=nofollow to all unnatural links that point to your site.

The following will happen if you report links to your website with Google's disavow links tool:

  1. Any links that you report with the disavow links tool will count as rel=nofollow links in your link profile, i.e. Google won't consider them at all.
  2. As you cannot know which links Google considers spam, you might acidentally remove good links that point to your website. That can have a negative effect on your website rankings.
  3. After using the disavow links tool, you have to ask Google for a reconsideration request. That means that you are self-reporting your website for spam.
  4. Google will take a closer look at your website to find spam.

If you did not spam Google, there's no need to use the disavow links tool. Using the tool is a confirmation that you spammed Google in the past and that you know it.

What you can do to recover from the Penguin update

Since Google's Penguin update, automatically created low-quality links don't work anymore. Google discounted these links and there's no need to invest time in sending Googel a confirmation that they discounted the right links. Better invest your time in the following:

  1. Try to get natural backlinks from other websites that have a higher quality than the previous backlinks.
  2. Vary the anchor texts that are used in the links to your site. Of course, the links that point to your site still should contain words that relate to your topic. Do not use exact match anchor texts.

That's all there is to it. It's all very easy: Google doesn't want to be tricked. If you tried to cheat Google in the past with shady backlinks and shady search engine optimization methods, then it will take some time until your website recovers.

If you used white-hat SEO methods to promote your website then there's nothing to worry about. Don't fall for shady SEO services that offer quick and fully automatic solutions. If you want to get results that last, use SEO tools that play by the rules.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

New statistics: Google's market share at 67%

"Google Sites led the U.S. explicit core search market in January with 67 percent market share (up 0.3 percentage points), followed by Microsoft Sites with 16.5 percent (up 0.2 percentage points) and Yahoo! Sites with 12.1 percent. Ask Network accounted for 2.8 percent of explicit core searches, followed by AOL, Inc. with 1.7 percent."



Matt CuttsVideo: which notification messages does Google send?

Google's Matt Cutts answers this question in a video.
Google sends hundreds of thousands of messages each month to webmasters.

90% of those messages are black hat related, 4% are notifications of content that have little or no value add, 3% are hacking notifications, 2% are about link buying, 1% are about link selling.



Google+ Local quality guideline update allows for multiple departments

"Google has just rolled out an update to the local business listing guidelines that once again allow for support of individual departments within hospitals, universities, local governments AND businesses as long as they have unique phone numbers and a unique forward facing presence."



John MuellerGoogle: block level links aren't that good for us

In an online discussion, Google's John Mueller said that you shouldn't link whole blocks on your web pages:

"That usage would be fine with us - we'd still pick up the link, and would be able to associate your text as an anchor with that. We're pretty flexible with parsing HTML, so you could probably even use this with HTML4.

That said, the clearer you make your anchor text, the easier it is for us to understand the context of the link, so I wouldn't necessarily always use a whole paragraph as the anchor for all of your internal links."

Australia cost-per-click highest in the world

"Another report has shown Australia to be the most expensive cost-per-click market globally for ads served, paying five times than some emerging markets and 30% more than New Zealand. [...]

Japan is the next most expensive (71c/56c/43c), whilst in Brazil the costs are 18c/12c/9c each, with even New Zealand (61/63/31) faring better."


Search engine newslets
  • Social user report: women trump men across all social platforms except Twitter.
  • Half of Google’s search traffic comes from partners.
  • Discussion: Other websites steal your content? Add links to your site.
  • Baidu: The Google of China with Facebook-eque problems.
  • Privacy issue: Google forwards email addresses to app developers.
  • Bing Ads new reporting UI.
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3. Recommended resources

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