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Bruce Clay, Inc. Newsletter
  SEO Newsletter | Volume 136 | August 27, 2015 This Month's News
  Reddit AMA

The Godfather of SEO Answers All Your Questions


SEO Godfather AMA.jpg      

What has Bruce Clay seen in nearly two decades in SEO? Everything. Head over to Reddit for an AMA thread that's loaded full of actionable SEO information. Ask Bruce's advice about a problem you're having on your site, or learn from the questions and answers posted there now, like:

  • Is my content less likely to rank if my subdirectory structure is three levels deep?
  • What do you think about private blog networks (PBNs) as a link building tactic — is that black hat?
  • Did you really coin the phrase SEO? How did you get your first customers? And what was your pitch?

Go to Reddit


Google Local Search Results Now Dominated by Ads. Is This the End of Organic Local SEO?

Authors: Robert Ramirez and Virginia Nussey

Google results have changed so much in the last month that it might just be time to call the end of organic local SEO. Yes, it's that serious. We're maintaining an updated report of changes to how Google presents results for location-based queries. Read about:

  • Fewer local results: Where seven local listings were once shown, now we see three results in the Google local pack. Less organic local-focused real estate will drive local businesses to ads.
  • A new type of search ad for the local space: Google is beta testing Home Service ads. These ads are a set of enhanced results that get the added trust signal of Google's explicit recommendation. "Connect with trusted and experienced professionals in your area," the ad set pronounces.
  • Ads dominating mobile SERPs: Three ads are all a mobile searcher can see before scrolling when looking at a mobile Google results page, whether local in intent or non-localized.

Read more

  Back to Basics

Backlink Analysis: How to Judge Good Links from Bad

Author: Paula Allen

"How-to" alert. In nitty-gritty detail, we outline the step-by-step process our SEO analysts use to analyze backlinks and slate them for removal or disavowal. Will you keep the link? Are you getting traffic from it? Is a link nofollowed? Is the anchor text overoptimized? The questions to ask during backlink evaluation are included along with:

  • The tools to use to score your site's backlinks.
  • Criteria for judging the quality of a backlink and its relevance to your site.
  • A flowchart that visually illustrates the various stages of backlink analysis.

Read more


Hot Topic


18-Minute Video Interview with Danny Sullivan

Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land founding editor, was interviewed live on video this week, sharing his thoughts on what SEOs need to be paying attention to today and the topics that will be trending at SMX East. (Get your ticket to SMX East today and save 10 percent on any pass and workshop with the code SMX15BRUCECLAY.)

Danny is joined by Search Engine Land Paid Search editor Ginny Marvin to cover topics like:

  • The top things that SEOs and paid search marketers should focus on for the rest of the year
  • What's fresh at SMX East this year, and what Danny and Ginny are most looking forward to
  • How Danny got started in SEO in 1996 — and what he did before SEO
  • The pros and cons of direct answers and Google's new "Book an Appointment" feature

This rare opportunity to hear what the year's SEO trends are from Danny himself is 18 minutes not to be missed. You can read the transcript on the blog, or watch the video below.

The interview is the first in a series leading up to next month's SMX and Pubcon conferences. We're excited to be featuring live video broadcasts with Google's Gary Illyes, Moz's Rand Fishkin, iPullRank's Mike King and other leaders in digital marketing.

The next scheduled conference preview video interview is with Wizard of Moz Rand Fishkin. Subscribe to Bruce Clay, Inc. on YouTube to watch all the videos as they happen, or join us for the live Google Hangout on Air with Rand Sept. 1 at 1:30 p.m. PT.


Education Matters


Bi-coastal SEO Training from BCI

Want an in-person refresher from Bruce Clay, Inc. on the latest SEO tactics and best practices? Are you looking to expand your knowledge of digital marketing? If so, we’ve got you covered. Join one of our upcoming SEO training courses to learn the latest technical SEO advantages that we use to power our clients ahead of their competition.

Our SEO training courses are in-person and interactive. We encourage participation and questions from attendees as we demonstrate SEO philosophies, techniques, tools and case studies. Whether you attend our conference workshop or full 4.5-day course, you will walk away with a to-do list to improve your websites.

There are different SEO education opportunities throughout the remainder of this year.

  • One-day SEO training workshop in New York City on September 28, 2015
    You can use our special promo code, SMX15BRUCECLAY, to get 10 percent off the price of Search Marketing Expo (SMX) conference passes and/or training workshops.
  • Full SEOToolSet® training in Simi Valley, CA, in December
    The dates are December 7 ​– 11, 2015, which includes our Standard and Advanced courses. You can sign up for Standard only, which takes place December 7 – 9, 2015, or attend both courses and stay in SoCal for 4.5 days.

So much has changed in search over the last several months, and it’s important that you stay up-to-date. Among the many topics we include in our curriculum, you can expect answers to these questions:

  • Is your website mobile-friendly?
  • Can your website easily be spidered?
  • Are you handling disavow files properly?

We just completed a major overhaul of our training material to accommodate all of the changes and evolution in the industry. We beefed up our instruction on mobile SEO, added more information on penalty recovery and have new insights on local search engine optimization. And starting December 2015, our Advanced SEOToolSet® course will not only cover many technical topics, but will also include live website reviews so attendees can see our methodologies in action.

To learn from the team who wrote the book on SEO, register today at




Google Inc. has formed a new parent company called Alphabet Inc., overseeing a collection of wholly owned subsidiary companies that include Google. Larry Page's announcement post names Sundar Pichai as CEO of Google, while Page becomes CEO and Sergey Brin president of Alphabet. Alphabet stock will continue to trade under GOOG and (on NASDAQ) GOOGL, though beginning in the fourth quarter Google's financials will be reported separately within Alphabet's segmented reports.

Twitter's management team remains in flux after former CEO Dick Costelo stepped down in June. Two more executives announced they are leaving the company: Christian Questlian, vice president of product management, will be going to YouTube, and Todd Jackson, product director, will move to Dropbox.

The local reviews and ads site Yelp announced that its long-time chairman, Max Levchin, has resigned to pursue other interests. The news came simultaneously with Yelp's report of a second-quarter loss of $1.3 million.




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.


Content Marketing World comes to 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 happens 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 Digital Summit Detroit event for digital marketers happens Sept. 22 and 23 in Detroit, Michigan.

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.

On the East Coast, Washington, D.C. is the site of Predictive Analytics World for Government Oct. 13–16, and McLean, Virginia hosts Digital Summit DC on Oct. 13 and 14.

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.

Also in London, MarTech Europe happens Oct. 20 and 21.


An eMetrics event called Building Business Capability is set for Las Vegas Nov. 2–6.

Dublin, Ireland is the setting for Web Summit, happening Nov. 3–5.

ad:tech New York hits the Big Apple Nov. 4 and 5.

The Big Data & Marketing Innovation Summit takes place Nov. 5 and 6 in Miami, Florida.

The brand-focused marketing event Incite Summit takes place in New York City Nov. 12 and 13.

Social Media Week is coming to several locations internationally Nov. 16 to 20: Chicago (U.S.), Santiago (Chile) and Torino (Italy).

The State of Search Conference comes to Dallas, Texas, on Nov. 16 and 17.


Sound Bytes


Like what you read? Then you might enjoy the weekly digital marketing podcast SEM Synergy with host Bruce Clay. Here are the latest episodes available to stream. Subscribe on iTunes to get new episodes sent straight to your mobile.

1. FTC Update's Effect on Social Media Marketing
Social media marketers: The FTC has changed its guidelines and there are a few things that pertain to you. In this episode, Bruce Clay and team discuss new FTC guidelines that require ads and promotions be called out as such. Product mentions and influencer marketing may be affected.

2. Misuse of Structured Markup Can Trigger a Penalty
There's a right and wrong way to do schema. Doing it the wrong way can potentially get your site penalized. Tune in to hear what can happen if you misuse structured data. The team also discusses Facebook's authorship tag and how it affects businesses and bloggers.

3. Wielding Free SEO Tools: How to use SEOToolSet Lite
Get to know SEOToolSet Lite, a free suite of tools for SEOs and businesses. See how to use the tools to do everything from analyze keywords and tag information to identify what's broken and needs fixing on a page.

4. Link Building in the Penguin Age
The BCI team looks at how to perform link building while Penguin's watching. This episode also covers updates on Right to Be Forgotten news, and what Right to Be Forgotten means for SEOs.

5. Dealing with Google Panda 4.2
How might the latest Panda update benefit previously penalized sites? What should you do if your site was hit in the latest Panda update? Hear more in this episode. Plus, think deep on the topic of of how to marry of technology and creativity in digital marketing.

6. The 2015 Online Marketing Industry Survey and Google+ Changes
Moz released its biannual Online Marketing Industry Survey and Ranking Factors Study for 2015. Learn the most heavily weighted ranking factors according to the survey respondents and what Bruce thinks of the findings. The second half of the show is focused on the most recent changes to Google+.

7. Panda 4.2, Local Pack Changes and SEO Risks
As Panda 4.2 continues to make waves, the Bruce Clay, Inc. team stands by to answer your questions. This episode also covers Google's updates to the Local Pack and the SEO problems that you might face with infinite scrolling.




Google is leading the fight against patent trolls, people who sue over patent infringement without ever building something of their own. The search giant is giving away a pair of patents and two years of membership in the LOT network (a group recently founded by Google, Dropbox and other tech companies) to 50 qualifying startups or developers in order to help them fight attacks by patent trolls.

Pinterest publically announced goals for hiring women and minorities in the technology industry plagued by criticism that it lacks diversity in the work place. In a blog post announcing the program, Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp wrote: "By sharing these goals publicly, we're holding ourselves accountable to make meaningful changes to how we approach diversity at Pinterest (...) We'll also be sharing what's working and what isn't as we go, so hopefully other companies can learn along with us. Over time, we hope to help build an industry that is truly diverse, and by extension more inclusive, creative and effective."


Word on the Wire


A new Panda update is finally here, but rolling out slowly over months "not to confuse people, but for technical reasons." Google confirmed that Panda 4.2 began about July 18. Panda is the search engine's algorithm update that penalizes sites with low-quality, thin content pages that don't meet Google's quality standards. Since almost 10 months elapsed since the last Panda update, webmasters who made site improvements in the interim hope their efforts will start paying off.

Google released a new API (application program interface) for developers to use to pull data from the Search Analytics tool in Google Search Console. Secondly, Google discontinued its Autocomplete API as of August 10, an interface that some had used for keyword research though it was an "unpublished and unsupported" feature.

Twitter content is showing up in Google SERPs again! Google announced that real-time tweets are now included in desktop searches.

The local pack results in Google have shrunk from a 7-pack to a 3-pack. The full address, phone number and link to the local business's Google+ page have been removed; the interface retains "photos, reviews and prices" according to a Google source. Local-SEO experts such as Mike Blumenthal expect increased exposure for the top 3 local results and decreased visibility for all lower-ranking sites.

Many webmasters received warnings through Google Search Console that "Googlebot cannot access CSS and JavaScript" on their sites. The search engine said that blocking access to these resources could lead to "suboptimal rankings."

The private photos management software within Google+ was discontinued as of August 1. Taking its place is Google Photos, the standalone app launched in May that similarly allows users to back up, edit and create private photo albums but with additional features such as automatic tagging of the elements in the picture. Other Google+ changes are happening, including the ability to operate Google products from a private, non-social Google account that does not have to be tied to a Google+ profile. Most recently, Hangouts got its own independent web app location at, still offering voice and video calls and text chat for free, but no longer requiring users to access the feature through the Google+ social network. As for that, Google VP Bradley Horowitz has said that Google+ will receive "a slew of" planned enhancements and continue as a network where users around the world can "connect around the interest they love."

In conjunction with the Google+ changes, Google announced changes to YouTube. The comment ranking system has been improved to reduce "junk" comments, and comments posted on YouTube no longer simultaneously appear in Google+. In coming weeks, people will be able to set up a YouTube channel without needing a Google+ account.

In Google search results, a new experimental feature lets users book an appointment with a local service provider right from the knowledge panel about that business. Google calls this Place Action Forms, and it's available for businesses connected with Demandforce automatically.

Google has begun testing ads for home services, initially appearing in results of San Francisco-area searches for plumbers and locksmiths. Google's entry into the competitive home services advertising market will impact existing providers such as Angie's List, Yelp, Thumbtack and new entrant Amazon Home Services.

Google confirmed it now displays three text ads for some queries at the top of mobile results, which crowds organic listings (including, in some cases, the local pack) out of the above-the-fold view. Secondly, a site's mobile search result can now contain expandable sitelinks, enabling users to click to access additional navigation links to important or relevant site pages (of the search engine's choosing).

Mobile users hate interstitial ads, according to empirical data collected by Google. Smartphone users trying to get to an app's content abandoned the attempt 70 percent of the time when presented with a full interstitial ad to download the mobile app. Google found that showing the same call to action in a small banner at the top of the screen was much more effective and didn't alienate users.

App indexing may cause Google search results to include a suggestion to download an app, even when the person doesn't have that app installed, if the search engine thinks the application would answer the searcher's query. This new development was revealed in a Webmaster Office Hours this week.

Internationally, Europe's Right To Be Forgotten (RTBF) legislation came a step closer to censorship this month when a UK regulator ordered Google to remove links to subsequent media stories that talk about Google's removing links. The search engine has 35 days to comply or face enforcement fines, but may also appeal.

If you've noticed your Google Search Console Sitemap reports showing a lower-than-usual count of indexed pages, it may just be due to a reporting bug. Google rep Gary Illyes says the company is looking into it.

YouTube launched a new player, with a user interface across many platforms that is "less in the way" and provides a "transparent" player with "auto-hiding controls," according to a Google representative.

Google AdWords has made it easier to set up display ad campaigns no matter your experience level. A new Marketing objective interface takes people through the process of setting up a campaign that meets their goals.

Sponsored video ad tests have been spotted within search results pages for Google as well as in Bing and Yahoo.

Many webmasters have noticed a drop in organic traffic from Bing lately. That is because Bing has migrated to HTTPS encrypted search for users. As a result, keyword data is now unavailable for most Bing traffic (similar to Google's [not provided] after moving to secure search in 2011). Unlike Google's rollout, however, Bing has also shifted its reporting of organic traffic into the category of referral traffic from in analytics.

Twitter direct messages are no longer limited to 140 characters. The ability to write longer DMs (up to 10,000 characters) should particularly benefit companies and organizations that use Twitter for customer service.

Twitter released new event targeting features to help advertisers interact with audiences connected to a live event.

Facebook announced a new feature called Live within Facebook Mentions. Available only to "public figures with verified Pages," Live is Facebook's answer to Meerkat and Periscope, enabling influencers to share live video, engage with their fans in real-time, and then automatically post the video to their Facebook page.

Facebook continues to build its mobile advertising business. Autoplay video ads have been lucrative within Facebook, so this month the company expanded its available ad types to let third-party app developers in the Facebook Audience Network use autoplay video ads to help monetize their apps. In addition, publishers who already use full-screen interstitial ads can now deliver Dynamic Product Ads (which personalize ads based on the products users have previously viewed), Carousel Ads (allowing up to five images within each ad unit), and Click-To-Play Video ads.

Facebook has started testing animated GIFs in ads and Page posts, rolling it out for "a small percentage" of Facebook Pages to start with.

Also in development is Facebook M, a digital assistant currently being tested as a feature within Facebook Messenger. The company said M will go beyond similar AI-based services (Siri, Cortana and Google Now) by actually carrying out tasks for you such as making a purchase or giving a friend a gift.

Hot Topics




Sound Bytes


Word on the Wire





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