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  SEO Newsletter | Volume 135 | July 22, 2015 This Month's News

19 Fresh Thoughts on Link Building & Disavow Shared by Top SEO Minds from John Mueller to Neil Patel

Authors: Paula Allen and Virginia Nussey

Among search engine optimization folks there are a couple questions that continually spur on conversation, and one of them is: Link building — is it black hat? The last few weeks have seen a ​surge of articles and online chats talking about link building and its proper place in search engine optimization. ​These link building discussions bring to light the battle-worn wisdom of knowledgeable, go-to search engine optimization minds, like John Mueller and Neil Patel.

We've harvested 19 fresh thoughts on link building, link cleanup and disavowal, covering:

  • Link building today — its current definition and role
  • Natural vs. unnatural links — staying in Penguin’s good graces
  • Disavow files — tools and techniques for backlink cleanup

Read more

  Back to Basics

FAQs on How to Use Google Search Console

Author: Melanie Saxe

Whether you’re new to Google Search Console (formerly called Google Webmaster Tools) or have been using it for years, you might have a question or two about its functionality and capabilities. In last month's Back to Basics article we showed you how to set up a Google Search Console account for your website, which lets you access webmaster tools that tell you how Google views your site and help you pinpoint areas of improvement. This month, as a follow up, we've answered frequently asked questions about how to use the tools and reports available in Search Console. You'll read about:

  • How to see the average position of your highest-ranking pages for the top 50 queries bringing traffic to your site
  • How to see your website's traffic and average ranking position for the top 1,000 landing pages
  • Available filters by date range and device type, including desktop, feature phone and smartphone

Read more


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Bruce Clay, Inc. is growing. Grow with us! We have openings for a range of roles and talents we rely on to keep moving forward, including SEM manager, SEO analyst, SEM analyst, web designer and client communicator. Take a look at the positions we're hiring for on our employment page and get in touch!

Apply on LinkedIn for the SEM manager position.


Hot Topic


Incidences of referrer spam have been way up lately. A referrer usually identifies where someone visiting your website came from. This recent spat of referrer spam refers to false visit counts from non-human "ghost referrers" polluting Google Analytics data. Sites you've never heard of may be showing up in your top 10 referrers list — Semalt,, and are among the commonly seen culprits. These spammy sites may use bots or just exploit a glitch in Google's software to send a visit code directly to your site's log.

Why do they do it? It seems that the purpose of referrer spam is to attract your attention, since webmasters are likely to go check out a site that's sending them traffic. It's basically a deceptive form of advertising.

The false traffic data from referrer spam creates myriad problems for webmasters looking at analytics. Inflated traffic counts cause bounce rate to artificially rise and conversion rates to appear lower than it truly is. This frustrates SEOs who need to prove results. It also impacts website owners who rely on accurate counts in order to make marketing decisions.

A Solution for Referrer Spam?

Several third-party referrer spam solutions exist, but the issue is widespread and increasing. SEOs have been hoping and expecting that Google would fix the problem at the root.

Finally, we have received a response from Google. At the MozCon conference this month, Google representative Adam Singer addressed the subject. As Jennifer Slegg reported, Singer said that "they realize the spam referral issue in Google Analytics is an issue and they are working on solving the problem." This is great news; now we just have to wait.


Education Matters


For the past nine months, Bruce Clay and team have been ​composing the third edition of "Search Engine Optimization All-in-One for Dummies." The book will be available in stores, online and for Kindle on August 17, and you can pre-order your copy now. One of the major changes in this latest version is the addition of mobile ​SEO activities, from navigation design to mobile redirects and content delivery by device.

Here we're publishing a quick-hit checklist for mobile SEO, a taste of the many helpful resources you'll find in the book.

The Mobile SEO Checklist

  1. Choose a Mobile Platform: When designing your mobile site, choose between dynamic serving, separate serving or responsive design (Google's preferred method) — or some combination of the three.
  2. Optimize for Crawling and Indexing: Make sure search spiders are able to discover, crawl and index your mobile-specific content — and discern it from your desktop-specific content — by using Google Search Console's Crawl Errors report.
  3. Optimize for Page Load Speed: Speed is paramount on mobile — Google prefers above-the-fold content to load in under a second. Use front-end optimization to get your speed up to snuff.
  4. Optimize Design for Mobile User Experience: Did you know 61 percent of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they've had trouble accessing from their phone? Design your mobile site with the mobile user in mind. Pay attention font size, tabs, clear calls to action, etc.
  5. Implement Analytics to Track Mobile Conversion GoalsImplement analytics for your mobile site so you can understand what's working and what isn't. Look at micro-conversions and device-specific bounce rate. Streamline reporting by setting up a custom mobile campaign dashboard.
  6. Optimize Content for Mobile: Use your phone to visit your mobile site and put yourself in the mobile user's shoes. Is your content easily read without excessive scrolling or zooming? Are your calls to action front and center? Is the content length hitting the sweet spot?
  7. Test Your Site Regularly: Does Google see what you think it sees? Use the Fetch As Google tool in Google Search Console to make sure your usability features are working properly. Check on this regularly.



Through acquisition, Google has picked up 20 technical staff members of Homejoy, an online service connecting customers with house cleaners. Though Google's plans are unknown, there's speculation that a new feature may be in the works to connect home services providers (house cleaners, plumbers, roofers, etc.) with people searching for home improvement terms, right in the results.

Google is building its own online video-gaming service after losing the bidding war with Amazon to acquire Twitch. The new YouTube Gaming app and site are scheduled to go live this summer, beginning in the U.S. and U.K.

Google confirmed that it acquired Agawi secretly sometime last year. Agawi's technology enables users to stream an app from the web without having to download it. Since mobile users' time spent on apps (which don't require search) is rising, some speculate that app streaming would help Google preserve its search-based revenue and win the war against apps.

The SurveyMonkey board is gaining a new member: Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. Her late husband, Dave Goldberg, was CEO of SurveyMonkey for six years until his death in early May. Sandberg wants to "help to realize Dave's dream of building a lasting company that will impact the way we all do business for years to come."

The social media analytics tool Twtrland has been rebranded as Klear ( and has added analytics for Facebook and Instagram as well as Twitter.

Microsoft has realigned its senior executive team around its core strategies, notably merging its hardware and software divisions to create a new Windows & Devices Group, which will be led by Executive VP Terry Myerson. Three senior-level executives will be transitioning out as a result of the restructuring: Stephen Elop, Kirill Tatarinov and Eric Rudder.

Dick Costelo stepped down from his position as CEO of Twitter, though he remains on the board. Current chairman of the board and Twitter cofounder Jack Dorsey is acting as interim CEO while a selection committee searches for Costelo's replacement, which may end up being an internal candidate. Costelo's departing words as CEO warned that government "regulation is a threat to free speech" in social media.




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.

SMX East comes to New York Sept. 29–Oct. 1, with special workshops offered Sept. 28. It's your chance to learn SEO from Bruce Clay himself at the Bruce Clay SEO Workshop, all day Sept. 28! Save 10 percent on any conference registration using the discount code SMX15BRUCECLAY.

The one-day SEJ Summit Silicon Valley takes place July 22 in Mountain View, California.

Content Marketing World hits Cleveland, Ohio, Sept. 8–11.

Hubspot's inbound marketing conference Inbound 2015, is happening Sept. 8–11 in Boston, Massachusetts.

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

Social Media Week events are happening around the globe from Sept. 14 to 18, in London, Miami, Mumbai, Rotterdam and Sao Paulo.

In the UK, the search marketing event BrightonSEO comes to the Brighton Dome on Sept. 18.

The social media-focused SocialFresh Conference is set for Sept. 23–25 in Tampa Bay, Florida.

The eMetrics Summit Boston is happening Sept. 27–Oct. 1, and includes events on Predictive Analysis for Business and for Healthcare.

The DMA 2015 event &THEN is set for Oct. 4–6 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Pubcon Las Vegas 2015 descends on the Las Vegas Convention Center Oct. 5–9.

The US Search Awards happens in Las Vegas on Oct. 7, where Bruce Clay, Inc. proudly sponsors the bar for the evening.

Toronto, Canada, is hosting InboundCon 2015, a Canadian inbound marketing conference, on Oct. 8.

Washington, D.C. is the site of Predictive Analytics World for Government Oct. 13–16.

A digital marketing conference called BOLO (Be On the Look Out) takes place in Tempe, Arizona, Oct. 18–20.

SearchLove London is coming to that grand city Oct. 19 and 20.




WordStream received a Boston Business Journal's Best Places to Work of 2015 award for the medium-sized business category. Congratulations to Founder Larry Kim and the whole WordStream crew.

Facebook's annual Innovation Competition honored adMixt's Flightplan self-service ad tool with the Innovator of the Year award. Several other winners were Facebook marketing partners Datalogix, and Brand Networks, whose products overcame "unique obstacles" in vertical markets.


Word on the Wire


In mid-June, Google representative John Mueller confirmed an algorithm update was rolling out that was not Panda- or Penguin-related. 

Google mobile search results can now include more types of content in a carousel format, according to an announcement on Google+. Users can swipe left and right to see results such as "Pinterest pins, Vines, Houzz idea books or Food Network recipes" in addition to news publisher's content.

In AdWords news, Google announced several improvements to mobile PLAs (product listing ads), including expandable shopping ads to show more product details, a new design for "top-rated" or "best" product searches, new product review cards to answer search queries with "reviews" or "recommendations," more local inventory ads, and new Google Now in-store cards. In addition, the long-anticipated buy button has arrived, but it's actually a "Buy on Google" message; this Purchase On Google feature is initially available on iOS and Android mobile devices.

Innovative messages have been spotted in Google Shopping as Google seems to be testing ways to add value to its product listing ads (PLAs). Text messages such as "Great price," "Value alert" and "Percent off" have appeared, sometimes in place of another element such as review stars. In addition, snippets of reviews that Google has gathered from many review sources have been showing up in product knowledge panels (which Google calls "product card units"). Clicks on the reviews snippets leading to the advertiser's site are billed the same as any click in the product information.

Within Google search results, a new type of answer box shows quotes by famous people if you search for a name and the word "quotes" after it. Google does not cite or link to sources for these quotations.

Knowledge Graph panels in Google search results no longer show a brand's most recent Google+ post, eliminating a previous advantage of being active on the Google+ platform for brands. Google made this change "to provide consistency", since Google+ posts can show up within the main search results along with tweets and other social media posts.

Google has started issuing manual penalties to websites for having spammy structured markup, schema markup that seems manipulative because it's applied to invisible text or irrelevant content, for example.

Google rep Gary Illyes announced that Google's documentation on breadcrumb schema markup has been updated (reportedly in response to many requests) to explain how to implement markup on sites with multiple breadcrumb paths.

When Wikipedia made the move to secure all its sites as https, its typically first-page search rankings shifted (some up, some down).

Google is fighting several battles internationally. In Europe, the search engine is complying with Europe's right-to-be-forgotten ruling, delisting links in the local, European search results for people whose requests meet the criteria set up by the EU Court of Justice. However, France has ordered Google to remove the delisted search results from all Google properties (including, not just its French subdomain. France's data protection authority, CNIL, may impose sanctions on Google if the search engine does not comply within 15 days. Meanwhile, a court in Canada has denied Google's appeal of a ruling that would force Google to remove Canadian RTBF listings globally, as well.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a right to be forgotten bill that is broader than its European forerunner. Russia's law puts the responsibility on search engines to find all the links where an erasure request applies. The dominant search engine in Russia, Yandex, had protested the proposed bill by saying it was "much less well thought through" than the EU's and would unconstitutionally restrict people's ability to access reliable information. Revisions were made to the bill such as giving search engines 10 days, rather than 3, to comply with an RTBF request, and adding some criteria for approving requests. Russia's RTBF bill will go into effect Jan. 1, 2016.

Google announced that it will honor requests to remove from search results revenge porn, which refers to nude or sexually explicit photos posted without the subject's consent. Here's a link to the request form.

The U.S.-based consumer-protection group Consumer Watchdog has filed a petition with the FCC to enact "right to be forgotten" style laws in the U.S. The petition argues that RTBF is feasible because Google is already doing it in Europe, and that the principles underlying RTBF already exist in other areas of U.S. law and should be extended to search results.

The European Court of Human Rights has settled an appeal of the Delfi AS v. Astonia case by deciding that news websites can be held liable for unlawful content (such as hate speech) in user-generated comments. This ruling has troubling implications for freedom of expression in Europe.

To celebrate Google Earth's 10-year anniversary, Google released a new Voyager layer for Google Earth to share images collected by the Voyager space probes. Desktop users with the Google Earth app and updated Chrome extension can view five new sections: Street View, Earth View, 3D cities, satellite imagery updates, and a highlight tour of your choice of Voyager images.

Facebook is expanding its News Feed algorithms to account for other user-interest indicators beyond likes, comments and shares. Video rankings will take into account whether audio and full screen are activated. For other types of content, Facebook has added time spent on stories as a ranking factor.

Facebook ad billing is changing. Likes, shares and comments no longer count as "clicks" in Facebook's cost-per-click billing; instead, advertisers will be charged only for user actions like click-throughs to another site, installs and other calls to action. Secondly, for video ads, the company is trying out a new cost-per-view option that charges only if a video ad is viewed for 10 seconds (the normal time to qualify as a view is 3 seconds). The new 10-second payment option is being auctioned as part of a global test for big-brand advertisers.

Authorship is alive and well, at least on Facebook. Articles shared on Facebook can now show the name of the author and publisher in a linked byline beneath the story preview (of a link post). Users can jump to the writer's page or profile and potentially follow them. Publishers need to implement the author (or publisher) meta tag on their websites to take advantage of this new Facebook feature, although Yoast explains that Facebook author tags have been in the Yoast SEO plug-in for WordPress since Facebook first started supporting them two years ago.

Microsoft has redesigned Bing video search to offer larger thumbnails and a cleaner, larger view than competitor YouTube.

Microsoft has decided to stop handling its own display advertising sales in the coming weeks. Display ads on mobile, video, etc. will be provided by AOL (in the nine biggest market countries) and by AppNexus (in the rest of the world). Microsoft VP Rik van der Kooi stated that the company's commitment to search is "very deep," asserting that Bing represents a multibillion-dollar business that is already "sustainable and standalone."

Twitter will increase its 140-character limit to 10,000 characters for direct messages, which are private. This change will especially benefit companies and others who use DMs for back-and-forth customer service.

Twitter now provides campaign insights for advertisers to see aggregate demographic data about the people their ads reached vs. engaged, and then apply filters to better target their ad audience.

Twitter announced it is testing products and places collections, which could be the start of ecommerce on Twitter. You can see these collections by visiting the Twitter pages of a select group of brands and influencers who have curated posts and content. To access the new feature on iOS or Android, you must update your Twitter app.

To show more people the best of Twitter, the company is planning to release Project Lightning, a new feature that will curate currently trending event-based collections of tweets, images and videos and show them to logged-in and logged-out users across a number of syndicated platforms as well as on the Twitter app.

To "accelerate Twitter's internal machine learning efforts," the company has acquired machine-learning technology firm Whetlab. Twitter's specific plans have not been disclosed; however, recent job listings show that Twitter plans to bolster its artificial intelligence capabilities by building a new Twitter Cortex team that will "build, scale and maintain the backbone of our online learning systems."

Twitter is trying to open doors to Cuba to give Cubans access to the microblogging service via text message on mobile phones. Internet service remains slow in the country and reaches only an estimated five percent of the population.

Yelp has started outing businesses for review fraud. The review site now shows the incriminating evidence within a business's profile if they were "caught red-handed" trying to compensate someone for writing a review.

Apple posted a job listing looking for editors for Apple News, which leads many to think that the new app will rely on human editors to find and curate news stories.

Pinterest began rolling out its promised Buyable Pins in the Pinterest app, initially for iPhone and iPad. The new feature enables people to buy products directly in the app. Pinterest does not take a cut of the purchase transactions, and is counting on retailers' wanting to promote their Buyable Pins through ads.

Yoast announced a new free plug-in for WordPress called Yoast Comment Hacks, which bundles five previously separate modules all aimed at improving the comment system in a WordPress site.

The newly available .sucks top-level domain attracted at least 3,400 early registrants (at about $2,500 per domain), including many big brands and celebrities. The TLD is now open to the public.

Yahoo has been spotted displaying Google search results in Yahoo Search. The company confirmed it is testing other providers besides Bing, something that is allowed under Yahoo's recently renegotiated contract with Microsoft.

New Java installs will set Yahoo as the user's search engine and home page by default because Yahoo signed a three-year agreement with Oracle that is aimed at increasing Yahoo's user base.

Hot Topics





Word on the Wire





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