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  SEO Newsletter | Volume 133 | May 27, 2015 This Month's News

The Complete Guide to Disavowing Links for Google and Bing

Author: Melanie Saxe

The search engines’ disavow links tools are needed in today’s link penalty environment. As with all powerful tools, they come with questions about proper use and concerns for abuse. It doesn’t help that site owners have no insight into disavow data held by Google and Bing. As is often the case, SEOs have become comfortable with the unknown.

Here, get a clear map of disavow links tool best practices, including:

  • How to tell if you need the search engines’ disavow tools and the benefits of using them
  • Some drawbacks and limitations of the disavow links tools today and workarounds coming soon
  • How to create and submit a disavow file to Google and how to use the Disavow Links tool from Bing

Read More

  Back to Basics

SEM Keyword Research 1-2 Punch: AdWords Keyword Planner & SEOToolSet Keyword Tools

Author: Diana Becerra

Brace yourself for a detailed guide to two powerful keyword research tools: the Google AdWords Keyword Planner and the SEOToolSet® Keyword Suggestions tool

Learn how to use the AdWords Keyword Planner and SEOToolSet Keyword Suggestions tool together for greatest effect, allowing you to:

  • Get keyword suggestions based on seed keywords and info to help you decide what's a good keyword.
  • Vet keywords by checking to see if they're actually used and when ​they were used most in the last year.
  • Expand your keyword list with new, relevant keywords​ and opportunities you're not currently aren't aware of.

Read More


We're Hiring Top Search Marketing Talent


bruceclay-michaelshore-squareWe are on the hunt for talented, energetic and experienced marketing professionals to become valuable members of our consulting team. Candidates interested in positions working out of our main offices in Southern California should have one to two years of experience.

Please apply on LinkedIn: SEM analyst


Hot Topic


Google Confirms One Algorithm Update, While a Local Shakeup Remains Unconfirmed

Google rankings are as rocky as the San Andreas Fault of late. Google reps confirmed one algorithm update occurred in late April, early May. This week, SEOs are also buzzing about big changes affecting local SERP listings, though no official word has come from Google yet.

General Quality Update

Significant changes to Google’s search results were first recognized by SEOs and webmasters in early May. Was it another Panda update, perhaps Penguin? The online publication Search Engine Land asked Google PR reps, who denied an update had occurred until, days later, Google admitted making a change “to its core ranking algorithm in terms of how it processes quality signals.”

SEL coined it the Quality Update, while before Google’s confirmation it had been referenced by some in the industry as the Phantom Update. In one analysis, Glenn Gabe of G-Squared Interactive said many of the sites he had access to seemed to be impacted due to content quality problems, and described the hits as very “Panda-like.” Thin content, stacked videos, and poor quality supplementary content as well as poor design and low-quality user generated content were common qualities of affected sites.

While it might be difficult to pinpoint every content quality problem targeted by the Quality Update, it doesn’t mean online marketers are left completely in the dark. Google has preached the importance of quality content since the dawn of the search engine and this latest update reflects Google’s quality guidelines.

Local Results Upheaval

Many webmasters have noticed that local search results have shifted in Google web and map searches over the past week, even displaying “weird” results. MozCast, which measures SERP volatility, is reporting a significant increase in local packs. Of note, real estate searches ("real estate [+ keyword]") saw local packs disappear when Pigeon hit, but it looks like those local packs have returned.

There has also been talk about how local results are less likely to show up if geo-modifiers are not used in the query. Previously, a searcher who set his or her location using the “Search Tools” function would get local listing results if location-specific results were suggested by the query intent. For example, if you are a searcher looking for “fitness centers” in New York, you used to be able to set your location to New York and perform the non-geo-modified query “fitness centers” and see New York results. Now Google seems to be ignoring the location settings and returning results based on a user’s IP (or other). There are also indications that Yelp took a beating with this update, losing a lot of visibility in local results.

Google's John Mueller stated that nothing has changed with Google's geotargeting​; Gary Illyes later confirmed that Google has received many reports and is looking into ​what happened. SEL has theorized that the issue could be a side effect of ​the recent fix for Google Maps.

These latest upheavals in Google are a reminder that the only long-term SEO strategy is one that steers clear of algorithm chasing and aims to provide the best content for users.


Education Matters


Summer School in Europe

Will you be in Europe this summer? Bruce Clay's acclaimed SEOToolSet Training returns to Milan, Italy, on July 14 and 15. This training opportunity comes to Europe only once a year. Whether you're a European SEO or an international​ visitor on holiday, you won't want to miss this opportunity to learn more about:

  • The anatomy of a website
  • The way search engines work
  • Technical SEO concepts
  • Mobile SEO strategy
  • Internal linking strategy (siloing)
  • Optimizing for universal search

During this two-day course, you'll also be able to directly ask Clay questions, an invaluable opportunity. All students also receive a subscription to the newest version of our SEOToolSet software, the book "Search Engine Optimization All-In-One for Dummies," and a ​wealth of take-home training material.

The course will be taught in English and translated into Italian. Lunch and snacks will be provided daily. Sign up and find more information here.




Twitter announced it is putting CFO Anthony Noto in charge of marketing as well as finance.

Carly Fiorina, who became the first woman to head a Fortune 100 company when she was CEO of HP from 1999 to 2005, has announced her intention to run for president of the U.S.

Long-time Google head of policy and communications Rachel Whetstone has agreed to join Uber as its SVP of policy and communications, a position currently held by David Plouffe, a former advisor to President Obama. Plouffe will remain at Uber in a more externally focused, chief advisory role.

Google has decided to rebrand Google Webmaster Tools as Google Search Console to include more types of people who could benefit from using these free tools. Two days after the announcement, the search engine rolled out enhancements to the renamed product: two new tools geared specifically for app owners.

Google clarified that someone has replaced Matt Cutts as head of its web spam fighting team, although the person is not intended to act as a Google spokesperson in the way Cutts did and was not named. Officially, Cutts remains on leave.

Facebook has hired former FCC chairman Kevin Martin to be the vice president, mobile and global access policy, for Martin is known for being a net neutrality proponent during his 2005–2009 term with the FCC; most notably, he proposed censuring Comcast for limiting peer-to-peer Internet traffic. That expertise should help deal with government regulators around the world as it strives to expand Internet service globally.

Facebook has acquired Tugboat, an audience management platform for small to medium publishers. The Tugboat team will join Facebook and the service shut down.

Verizon Communications is buying AOL for $4.4 billion. According to AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who will continue to lead operations after the merger, what started as an operational deal between the two companies turned into an acquisition deal that propels them "as fast as possible" toward new revenue in mobile video streaming (TV, etc.) and mobile advertising.

Vox Media has acquired technology news publisher ReCode, a move that strengthens Vox’s expanding lineup, which includes SB Nation and The Verge.




Here is a roundup of Internet marketing conferences happening soon. For a schedule of events throughout 2015 across the globe, check out the Digital Marketing Conference Calendar brought to you by Bruce Clay, Inc. Click the image below to go to the full calendar.

digital marketing conference calendar


SMX Advanced is almost here! This top industry event ​comes to Seattle, Washington, June 2 and 3. Bruce Clay is the official SEO training partner of Search Marketing Expo. ​The conference is sold out, yet there’s still time to register for the one-day Bruce Clay SEO Training Workshop on June 4. Tip: Save 10 percent ​if you sign up with the code SMXA15BRUCECLAY.

The ecommerce-industry event IRCE happens June 2–5 in Chicago, Illinois.

eMetrics Summit Chicago happens June 8–11 and includes events on Predictive Analytics for Business and for Manufacturing.

Social Media Week hits Los Angeles June 8–12, where our own Kristi Kellogg will present a Master Class on the advantages and opportunities of Twitter chats.

Social Media Today’s Social Shake-Up conference comes to Atlanta, Georgia, June 9 and 10.


Your next opportunity to take Bruce Clay, Inc.’s SEOToolSet® Training in Southern California is July 6–8 for the standard course, July 9 and 10 for advanced. Thousands of people worldwide have learned SEO through this renowned classroom-style SEO training course, which includes a full subscription to our new power tools, SEOToolSet 6. Find out more on our training page.

The MozCon search and marketing conference takes place July 13–15 in Seattle, Washington.

The Digital Publishing Innovation Summit comes to New York on July 16 and 17.


Content Marketing World comes to Cleveland, Ohio, Sept. 8–11.

The inbound marketing conference Inbound 2015, put on by HubSpot, happens Sept. 8–11 in Boston, Massachusetts.

The two-day SearchLove event happens Sept. 10 and 11 in San Diego, California.




Google is taking seriously its efforts to increase diversity inside the company and throughout the tech industry. This year alone, $150 million will be spent on initiatives related to training and diversifying its staff, as well as long-range preparing of more women and minorities for tech careers.

Apple has made major announcements showing its environmental commitment to using only renewable resources for its paper needs and future product packaging. In April, the company bought 36,000 acres of private forestland in Maine and North Carolina. In May, partnering with the World Wildlife Fund, Apple purchased a million acres of forest in China.

On April 23, 2015, Bruce Clay wed Wendy Halderman in a private ceremony in St. Lucia. The couple honeymooned on the remote Caribbean island known for its crystal clear waters and mountainous beauty. Congratulations to the newlyweds! Read more about their story on Google+.



Word on the Wire


A U.S. federal appeals court ruled that the National Security Agency’s phone surveillance program, which collects logs of Americans’ phone calls in bulk (as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed nearly two years ago), is illegal. Meanwhile, the Senate is deciding whether to renew or revise three expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, including the one that the NSA interpreted as allowing its phone surveillance; Section 215 is set to expire June 1.

Google officially confirmed that searches on mobile devices exceed the number of searches on desktop computers in 10 countries, including the U.S. and Japan. Speaking of mobile search, the mobile-friendly algorithm update dubbed "Mobilegeddon," which Google rolled out worldwide beginning April 21, did not have the apocalyptic impact on rankings that people had feared, though some sites did lose rankings in Google mobile search results.

Google will be shutting down its PageSpeed Service effective August 3, 2015. Website owners will need to move any sites hosted on PageSpeed Service to a new DNS by that date. (Note: This does not affect Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.)

In Google Webmaster Tools, the new Search Analytics report went live for all accounts. A replacement for the popular Search Queries report (which will continue to be available for three additional months), Search Analytics offers better filtering options and, according to Google, more accurate data.

Google+ launched a new feature called Collections, which lets users gather content related to a certain topic or passion (similar to Pinterest pins). Other people can follow a collection that interests them whether or not they follow the person or page that set it up.

Google AdWords Vice President of Product Jerry Dischler announced AdWords innovations in a livestream broadcast on May 5, including new advertising offerings in three vertical markets — cars, hotels and mortgages — as well as improvements to Dynamic Search Ads and the reporting dashboard for automated bidding.

Retailers and others can now include Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs) to display with their YouTube videos, controlling exactly how the ad looks and when it appears. Google’s new TrueView for shopping also helps marketers pinpoint the moment when a viewer decides to convert.

In coming weeks Google will introduce a Buy Now button that can go in mobile search ads, according to the Wall Street Journal. A mobile searcher could click the Buy Now button to go straight from a SERP to a Google-provided product purchase page complete with customizing options such as size and color. Unlike affiliate networks, Google will not charge anything extra to be the marketplace; revenue will be generated just as with AdWords, on a pay-per-click basis. The new functionality pits Google against retail giants like Amazon and eBay, who are also some of Google’s top advertisers.

Google released the results of a study on ad injectors, which are programs that insert unwanted ads, or replace existing ads, in web pages as an infected user browses the web. Ad injector programs pose a security threat to users, rob publishers of advertising revenue, and also cause more Chrome user complaints than any other issue. Besides raising awareness, Google’s research has enabled the company to take action combating ad injectors in Chrome, AdWords, and other Google platforms.

In local SEO news, Google has launched the ability to show local business orders and appointments in Google Search or Google Maps results. Searchers can click links to reserve a table, place an order, or accomplish other actions directly in the SERP. Local businesses must enable this feature in their Google My Business dashboard; available actions use third-party booking and ordering services.

Google Maps fell victim to spam attacks and pranks by people taking advantage of ​Map Maker’s openness to crowdsourced input. Google shut off Map Maker temporarily starting May 12. When the system became active again, more egregious edits slipped through, resulting in many map locations being returned for racist and vulgar search queries. Google apologized and ​promised to apply "Googlebomb" protection to Google Maps.

Google took away the Recent Posts section, which used to display an excerpt of the business’s most recent Google+ post, from the local-business Knowledge Panel in search results pages.

Twitter announced plans to acquire marketing technology firm TellApart, which is expected to enhance Twitter’s direct response, cross-device advertising capabilities.

Twitter’s live streaming video app, Periscope, has been released for Android with some enhanced features compared to the previously released iOS version.

Twitter has been spotted testing a new user-interface feature that makes it easier to follow new people without having to go to their profiles first. The feature is a new person icon below a tweet next to the usual reply, retweet and favorite buttons.

The first implementation of Google’s promised Twitter firehose surfaced last week. Google is making real-time tweets appear in mobile search results on the Google app (on Android and iOS) and on in English in mobile browsers.

Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will be the last version of Windows software. Instead, Windows 10 will be delivered as a service that includes incremental and ongoing improvements. Release date is expected to be summer 2015, probably in late July.

It turns out that Microsoft was the mystery buyer trying to buy Salesforce; however, negotiations fizzled when the two couldn’t agree on a price.

Apple may be building a search engine of its own. The company is ramping up investment in developing Spotlight, its search feature, and its contract with Google as the default search provider for Apple’s Safari browser will expire at year end. Internally, Apple’s web search development is being led by the team it acquired in 2013 with social media search firm Topsy. Finally, a newly added support page confirms the existence of Applebot, "the web crawler for Apple."

Bing announced that its search engine will implement a mobile-friendly algorithm update sometime in the coming months. It will work similarly to Google’s recent update that made mobile-friendliness a ranking signal for mobile search. Already, “mobile-friendly” labels are appearing in Bing mobile results, and the search engine laid out four factors that determine mobile friendliness.

Deep linking into apps is now available on Bing, which says it supports markup in addition to markup.

Yahoo released a revamped version of Flickr, its photo-sharing service. New features include automatic uploads from mobile devices to private libraries, and Magic View, which enables Flickr to analyze the pixels in an image and automatically categorize it by subject.

Spotify is preparing to start streaming podcasts and short videos in addition to music. New content from media partners (including ESPN, ABC, Jimmy Kimmel, HowStuffWorks and others) will move Spotify beyond just audio to become a channel for news and entertainment.

Facebook introduced Instant Articles, interactive and fast news content from established news publishers that’s available only in the Facebook iPhone app for now. Nine initial partners include The New York Times, BuzzFeed, BBC News and National Geographic. Though Facebook has arguably the largest mass media audience ever, many publishers have felt uneasy jumping in. Facebook’s announcement addresses their fears by allowing publishers to monetize articles with their own ads (and keep 100 percent of the revenue) or with Facebook Audience Network ads (and share the revenue). In addition, Instant Articles content does not have to be published exclusively on Facebook, and publishers get to "track data and traffic through comScore and other analytics tools."

Creating yet another way to increase the number of news items in the News Feed, Facebook has been testing a new Add a Link feature, which lets mobile users do keyword searches and find website links to share. It’s a search engine that effectively keeps the user within the Facebook app and bypasses Google.

Facebook introduced the Platform, an open platform that allows developers to create services that integrate with Websites and apps must meet certain specifications and guidelines to keep them simple and data-efficient (e.g., no video, high-resolution images, Javascript, etc.) so that operators can sustainably bring the Internet to unconnected parts of the world.

Ads in the Facebook News Feed can now contain a Call Now button, so mobile users can contact a business directly. The new button is the latest enhancement to Facebook’s local awareness ads, which benefit local businesses.

In international news, China’s dominant search engine, Baidu, quietly shut down its search service in Japan at the end of March. The company has instead been investing heavily in mobile search and apps, especially targeting the untapped market of Indonesia, where only 24 percent of the population has ever accessed the Internet.

Nokia Oyj is selling its global mapping technology, called HERE. Among the many bidders, Uber has teamed up with Baidu (the Chinese search engine) to try to win the mapping business.

Last, we’re excited to announce Bruce Clay ​Middle East, a new office in the U.A.E. that will serve the Middle East. Bruce Clay, Inc.’s global Internet marketing locations now include the U.S., Europe, Japan, India, Brazil and Dubai. If you’d like more information on our consulting services, please call us toll-free at (866) 517-1900, or internationally at (805) 517-1900.

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