Weekly SEO news: 9 December 2014
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Negative SEO has become a problem. While most webmasters know that other websites can be damaged by adding low quality links to these sites, there are more things that your competitors can do to hurt your Google rankings.

In the news: responsive web design does not lead to higher rankings, Yahoo's market share increases, ways to get your competitors delisted, 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. Beyond bad backlinks: how competitors can hurt your rankings

Negative SEO has become a problem. While most webmasters know that other websites can be damaged by adding low quality links to these sites, there are more things that your competitors can do to hurt your Google rankings.

negative SEO beyond links

What is negative SEO?

Negative SEO describes the things that other persons can do to lower the position of your web pages on Google.

Negative SEO started to occur following Google's Penguin update when it became common knowledge that Google would apply penalties for manipulative links. Some persons started to build artificial backlinks that pointed to competitors to trigger Google penalties for the the competitor websites.

Fortunately, webmasters could counteract these negative SEO links by disavowing these bad links.
The next level of negative SEO: faking bad user experience
It seems that the next level of negative SEO has started. Bartosz Góralewicz from Poland discovered more things that your competitors can do to damage your web page rankings.

By faking bad user experience, he managed to damage the rankings of one of his web pages that had very good rankings before (position 1 and 2).

He created a bot that searched for the keyword on Google and clicked on a random website in the results. The bot did not click on his own website, thereby massively lowering the click-through-rate of the website.

Within a few days, the rankings of his web page plummeted. During the test, he monitored other factors closely to ensure that the lost visibility wasn’t caused by something else.

protect your site

What do you have to do now?
To make sure that your website does not become the victim of negative SEO, it is essential to do the following:
  1. Regularly monitor the positions of your web pages. Otherwise, it might be too late when you notice negative changes.

  2. Monitor the backlinks that point to your website. The link disinfection tool will show you bad links that point to your site.

  3. Make sure that the onsite optimization of your web pages is spotless. The website audit tool and the Top 10 Optimizer can help you to optimize the pages of your website.

  4. Avoid index bloats. Many sites either have issues with pagination or filters due to various sizes or colors of their products. If you do not use a correct robots.txt file, search engines might index several variations of the same page. The website audit tool can help you to identify these duplicate content problems.
Tracking your web pages and links is important. Fortunately, the tools in SEOprofiler help you to do this as efficiently as possible. If you haven't done it yet, try SEOprofiler now and find out how SEOprofiler can help your site to protect your rankings:

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week
Google: responsive web design does not lead to higher rankings
In a discussion in a webmaster forum, Google’s Zineb Ait Bahajji made clear that websites with responsive design do not get higher rankings than other sites:

“We do not rank responsive web design sites better than sites using other configurations (separate site for mobile or dynamic serving). […] Google does not favor any particular configuration as long as the page(s) and all page assets are accessible to all Googlebot user-agents.”

BingFirefox deal is good for Yahoo's market share

"Yahoo usage on Firefox 34 in the US on the 2nd December was 29.4% compared to 9.6% for the previous version Firefox 33. Google search usage by Firefox users dropped from 82.1% to 63.5% as they upgraded from version 33 to 34. Bing declined slightly from 6.5% on Firefox 33 to 5.8% on Firefox 34."


ComScore: Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day ever

"Cyber Monday reached $2.038 billion in desktop online spending, up 17 percent versus year ago, representing the heaviest online spending day in history and the only day ever to surpass $2 billion in sales. The weekend after Thanksgiving also reached a major milestone as it saw its first ever billion-dollar online shopping day on Saturday, while Sunday’s sales just fell short of the $1 billion mark."


Yahoo2014 Yahoo year in review

"An epidemic scare, an ice-cold challenge, a celebrity's attempt to break the Internet: These are just some of the year's top stories, obsessions, and personalities based on a billion searches. Take a look at what the world was searching for in 2014 and in years past."

Related: Ask.com's top searches for 2014, most searched on Bing in 2014



Defamatory threats to have chilling effect on link builders?
"Google agreed to remove malicious links from the SERPs that damaged the reputation of a UK businessman. [...]

If someone doesn’t like what you write about them, and they file a legal action with Google, your pages containing those comments could be removed from Google’s search index as a result. Put simply, publishing anything that could be seen as defamatory could result in pages being removed from Google.

What’s to stop someone from hiring a third party to start participating in forums and dropping lies about people, so that the site gets nailed with Defamation Removals?"

Search engine newslets

  • Links within Google Webmaster Tools missing (alternative: OpenLinkProfiler.org).
  • US paid search spend strong this November with revenue rising Thanksgiving week.
  • An interview with Tomer Sharon, Senior User Experience Researcher at Google about UX, mobile, and life at Google.
  • For the holidays, Google breaks its no updates rules, gives out fresh Penguin updates.

3. Recommended resources

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  • link disinfection tool
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4. Previous articles
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