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FEATURE:
Bruce Clay's SEO Action Items for Google's Assault on Aggressive SEO

SURVEY:
Tell Us What You Think About the SEO Newsletter to Help Us Shape Future Editions!

BACK TO BASICS:
Getting to Know Google's Social Analytics

SPECIAL EU NEWS:
Popular SEO Training Course Hitting Europe Soon

INTERNATIONAL:
Google Cracks Down on Over-Optimisation and Unnatural Linking

THE USUAL: Coverage of this month's
hot topic, education matters, shuffles, shindigs, attaboys and word on the wire.

  Bruce Clay's SEO Action Items for Google's Assault on Aggressive SEO 

Author: Virginia Nussey
 

With an analysis of how Google's latest efforts to stamp out spam may shape SEO strategies, industry veteran Bruce Clay weighs in on the over-optimization issue. Included in this video interview are Bruce's thoughts on the following:

  • What Google means by referencing "organic" and "inorganic" links in a response to a reinclusion request.
  • How a future SERP may be made up of 3 organic results, 3 paid results and 3 local results.
  • Why decreased organic real estate requires increased relevance, explaining Google's efforts to improve organic ranking algorithms.

read more

  SURVEY:
Tell Us What You Think About the SEO Newsletter!

We want to continue to make the SEO Newsletter as relevant as possible for you for many years to come, so your opinion counts! Please take a moment to give feedback in this anonymous, 12-question survey so we can continue to deliver great content to you and provide an experience you look forward to each month. And thank you for your continued readership!

 
  BACK TO BASICS:
Getting to Know Google's Social Analytics

Author: Jessica Lee
 

Google recently rolled out new social reporting in Analytics, allowing for more insight into how social media marketing drives conversions. In this article, we cover:

  • An overview of the individual reports and how they can assist in better reporting of social media ROI.
  • How you can now tie monetary value to conversions in Analytics coming from social media activities, and find out what part of the conversional funnel social plays.
  • Understanding the new features that identify what social networks are proving to be the most valuable to your goals, who is sharing your top content and how they are sharing it.

read more

  SPECIAL EU NEWS:
Take SEO Training on Your Holiday in Milan

Author: Bruce Clay Europe
 

Business and pleasure promise to play well together this June in Milan, Italy. In the same week that Bruce Clay's SEO training returns to Europe, Milan is host to Fashion Week, giving SEO Training guests the opportunity to make the trip a holiday, soaking up culture, fashion and SEO all at once. In this interview with Bruce Clay Europe, managing director Ale Agostini reveals:

  • Why marketing professionals, business owners and Web designers are just some of the people who should take an SEO Training course to improve online business this year.
  • Why businesses focused solely on paid search can take SEO training to learn tactics and strategies to boost traffic and marketing performance.
  • How attending an intensive two-day SEO workshop offers an enticing option for your summer holiday: roll some business strategy into your summer vacation for a double-duty, guilt-free affair.

read more

  INTERNATIONAL:
Google Cracks Down on Over-Optimisation and Unnatural Linking

Author: Adam Dominik
 

Google’s never-ending war against webmasters artificially manipulating search engine rankings continues to rage. In this article by Bruce Clay Australia, you'll learn:

  • When Matt Cutts announced that Google is working on search ranking penalties for websites engaged in "over optimization".
  • Why some webmasters have seen warning notifications in Google Webmaster Tools about unnatural links.
  • How a blog network, Build My Rank, that coordinated paid link exchanges was removed from Google's search index as a result of the network's manipulative tactics.

read more

  Hot Topic

What's Important to Google? Nearly 100 Algorithm Updates Help Us Understand

What do Porky Pig, lice and freedom have in common? They're all code names for the nearly 100 updates Google has made to its search algorithm in the past couple months. Yes, Google is hitting the quality of its search results hard and targeting everything from links and images to freshness and local results, and much, much more. 

In fact, as recent as this week, many site owners are seeing heavy impacts to their sites, leaving many to wonder if it's the result of those algorithm changes being implemented more aggressively, or if it's the result of the "over-optimization" rule we keep hearing about. 

Let's take a look into some of the highlights of those updates for February and March 2012.

Updates related to local search results includes the "Venice" update, which Google says "improves the triggering of Local Universal results by relying more on the ranking of our main search results as a signal." In a post on the SEOmoz blog, Mike Ramsey of NiftyMarketing showed the impact of this on organic localized results.

In another local-focused update, videos in YouTube are now more locally relevant. According to Google, the update code named "Suggest" performs a function similar to the following example: "For the query [lady gaga in ] performed on the US version of YouTube, we might predict [lady gaga in times square], but for the same search performed on the Indian version of YouTube, we might predict [lady gaga in India]."

Google also focused on better local results for news in an update that helps people find more locally relevant Google News results and higher quality sources. In updates related to geographic data, Google's "Maestro, Maitre" states, "We have a number of signals that rely on geographic data (similar to the data we surface in Google Earth and Maps). This change updates some of the geographic data we’re using." We have yet to see how this could potentially affect searches related to local businesses.

Google stated it also improved the handling of queries with both navigational and local intent. Google states, "Some queries have both local intent and are very navigational (directed towards a particular website). This change improves the balance of results we show, and helps ensure you’ll find highly relevant navigational results or local results towards the top of the page as appropriate for your query."

In addition, Google launched an entirely new system for finding results from a user's city more reliably. Google states that it is now "better able to detect when both queries and documents are local to the user."

Freshness and quality continue to be a target for Google, as recent updates show the search engine's never-ending commitment to relevance. The following updates to freshness and quality were made during the months of February and March:

  • A Panda update refreshes data in the Panda system, making it more sensitive to recent changes on the Web.
  • Improvements to freshness that helps Google surface fresh content in the results faster than before.
  • Data refresh for the related searches signal. Google states this update leads to more relevant queries for users to try with regards to related searches.
  • An update to Panda that keeps results related to quality sites fresher. Google states, "Like many of the changes we make, aspects of our high-quality sites algorithm depend on processing that’s done offline and pushed on a periodic cycle. In the past month, we’ve pushed updated data for 'Panda,' as we mentioned in a recent tweet. We’ve also made improvements to keep our database fresher overall."
  • Improvements to freshness in Video Universal results that is better able to detect "stale" videos and return fresh content.
  • Improvements to processing for detection of site quality that refreshes the way Google detects site quality with "greater confidence in our classifications."
  • A more precise detection of old pages improves the detection of stale pages in Google's index by relying on more relevant signals so fewer stale results are shown.

Continuing to place importance on quality content outside of just text, Google updates focused on image results and include signals for surfacing fresher images as they appear on the Web; finding highly relevant images, even if those images are on pages that are lower quality; providing better image results in Universal Search; better promotion of "reasonably sized" images on high-quality landing pages; and expanding the size of images index in Universal Search for more relevant images on a larger set of searches.

And although the updates related to linking weren't as frequent in the list, they are perhaps very impactful, and certainly caught the eye of the SEO community. In addition to the following link updates, Google made a whole slew of updates to the way sitelinks are served up. Notable updates to the way Google evaluates links include:

  • Tweaks to handling of anchor text. Google turned off a classifier related to anchor text (the visible text appearing in links) because its "experimental data suggested that other methods of anchor processing had greater success, so turning off this component made our scoring cleaner and more robust."
  • Link evaluation. (And this one could be significant.) Google states, "We often use characteristics of links to help us figure out the topic of a linked page. We have changed the way in which we evaluate links; in particular, we are turning off a method of link analysis that we used for several years. We often rearchitect or turn off parts of our scoring in order to keep our system maintainable, clean and understandable."

SEOToolSet Version 5
 
  Education Matters

(This is a new section you'll see monthly where we talk about education in the Web marketing industry -- observations, tips and more.)

In an ever-changing industry such as Web marketing, you simply can't afford to not stay on top of developments in order to bring the most cutting-edge tactics to your clients and employers. And conferences are a leading form of continuing education in the Web marketing space.

Over the past few years, we've seen an increased emphasis on additional training at conferences, outside of the traditional speaker sessions. Bruce Clay, Inc. became the SEO training partner for many of the major conferences including Search Marketing Expo and Search Engine Strategies, where we provide one-day training workshops.

This course was the first of its kind for those events, and continues to host sold-out rooms, showing there's still much of the population that needs to grow their skill set in even what some may think is the most basic form of Internet marketing: SEO.

Another interesting shift over the past couple years is the expectations of those who cruise the exhibit halls at conferences. Increasingly, there is a demand for more educational-focused interactions and collateral.

Theater presentations, which are held in the exhibit halls, draw crowds of those who may not have purchased full-event access to the sessions, so the bar is being raised for that content as well. This is why many of the same speakers and topics you’d find in the sessions appear in the theater presentations in the exhibit halls.

More and more, we're seeing exhibitors handing out publication-type materials, not just brochures. Collateral like white papers and magazines that give in-depth, how-to, tactical information on a given topic are becoming the norm.

The takeaway? We're in an age of knowledge transfer and quality content. Think about ways you can raise the bar on the content you’re giving away, and how your business can add value to your communities on an ongoing basis. Keep in mind that your competition is certainly doing it if you aren’t.

Bruce Clay, Inc. has always taken the stance of knowledge transfer, evident in the kinds of information we give away in our training courses. Whether it's our one-day conference training workshop or our week-long classroom training in Southern California, we provide the community with education that matters to their bottom line.

If you're interested in learning more about what we have in store for training, check out the "Shindigs" section below or go to our SEO Training page.

 
  Shuffles

Yahoo! recently had a round of massive layoffs, approximately 2,000 employees. The company recently announced a restructuring of the company with three primary divisions: "consumer," "regions" (serving Yahoo! advertisers) and "technology," the infrastructure and platform division. It retains the Yahoo! search product.

Dell is expanding its desktop virtualization products with the acquisition of cloud computing company Wyse.

AOL is selling 800 patents to Microsoft for just around $1 billion, but will continue to hold around 300 patents and patent applications.

Facebook bought popular mobile photo app Instagram for $1 billion. Says Mark Zuckerberg of the deal, "Now, we'll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests."

Chief branding officer of Web marketing company Outspoken Media, Lisa Barone, stepped down from her role. The details of her next move were undisclosed.

New digital agency Analogfolk has announced a swathe of senior hires, 14 staff in six months, to deliver on recent new business wins.

Digital media and marketing training outfit Digital Chameleon has hired ex-New Digital Media executive Matthew Bates as commercial director.

 
  Shindigs

Social Media Strategies Summit takes place in Chicago April 18 to 19.

The sold out BlueGlass LA Internet marketing conference returns to Los Angeles on April 23 and 24.

SMX Toronto will take place April 25 and 26 with training and workshops taking place April 23 and 24.

The newly updated SEOToolSet® standard and advanced training and certification course will take place in Simi Valley, Calif., from May 14 to May 18. The next classroom session is held July 16 through July 20.

SMX Advanced hits Seattle June 5 and June 6, with Bruce Clay's one-day SEO training workshop on June 7.

The three-day SEO training course in Sydney presented by Bruce Clay Australia is fast approaching! Register for three-day SEO training in Sydney May 7 May 9, 2012. The next one-day training in Sydney is July 31, 2012.

Bruce Clay Europe will present a two-day SEO training course in Milan, IT, from June 20 to June 21.

Bruce Clay Brazil hosts its first two-day SEO Training course in São Paulo on July 30 30 and July 31. For more information, call (11) 8211-4830.

Stay tuned for more details on a two-day SEO Training course in India coming this fall. 

 
  Attaboys

Facebook game WeTopia has harnessed social gaming for a good cause, turning players' points into monetary donations for real-world charities. Since its release in November, the free game has built two schools, donated food, water, shoes, coats and vitamins, and funded an after-school program and a mobile health clinic. There are currently 800,000 players, a number expected to grow to more than 60 million by year's end.

Social graph analysis tool Klout launched a website called Klout for Good, which allows users to invite their networks to support charity organizations.

Google is inviting an open dialogue about the positive power of the Internet in project Take Action, Start Something. Internet users are asked to finish the sentence "The Internet is the power to" via Google+, Facebook or Twitter with the tag #OurWeb.

Kimberly-Clark is launching the second phase of a campaign for its forest-friendly toilet roll brand Kleenex Cottonelle built around mum bloggers and social bookmarking site Pinterest. The Pin to Make A Difference campaign will see mum bloggers take part in a "pinning competition" – basically, using Pinterest, mum bloggers will be invited to pin their tips on how to run a more sustainable household.

 
  Word on the Wire

In a WebProWorld forum, a moderator who goes by the handle "williamc" discusses how Google is deciding what sites it deems as using unnatural linking and cites comment spam, or lack thereof, is a cue. Williamc states, "This is the first time this has been seen anywhere yet."

The long-anticipated cloud-based storage "Google Drive," or GDrive for short, is rumored to be finally launching this month and offers 5GB of free storage, outdoing its rival Dropbox.

In other Google news, the company is set to launch a third-party commenting system that ties into the Google+ platform, and is said to have the ability to index comments in Google search. Sources speculate this is just one more push to making users integrate with Google+.

An Australian court finds Google responsible for misleading ads placed by its advertisers. The ruling only applies to Australia, as the debate goes on about whether or not Google should be responsible for all the content displayed, or if it's merely a publisher.

Facebook and Yahoo! play a game of "tag you're it" as each fires off claims over patent infringements in recent lawsuits. Yahoo! stated that Facebook's recent counter attack was "nothing more than a synical attempt to distract from the weakness of its defense."

Less than four months of Groupon going public, and it's already facing a shareholder lawsuit that claims shareholders were allegedly tricked into buying the Groupon stock at artificially high prices.

Review site Yelp has added two search filters for greater control when looking for local businesses that meet a searcher's criteria. Now businesses can be categorized as the self-descriptive "Liked by Vegetarians" and "X-Somethings," which lets users search for businesses popular with consumers of certain age groups.

Social search is increasingly integrated in the search engine results. The Google+ Pages are displayed on the SERP, which allows companies to have more than one official result on Google. According with a recent analysis by Searchmojo, over 50% of the Fortune 100 have a Google+ Page. In Italy just the 15% of firms in the Stock Exchange (FTSE-MIB 40) have a Google+ Page. By starting now with social search optimization, you may guarantee a huge advantages compared with competitors.