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  SEO Newsletter | Volume 149 | October 18, 2016 This Month's News

How to Optimize for Google Home NOW #OKGoogle

Author: John Alexander

Google Home, the latest voice-controlled home virtual assistant, made its debut this month.

The future of digital marketing will undoubtedly be affected by the rise of Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple Home. With smart home technology eradicating the need for a screen, let alone 10 blue links, how can brands and businesses optimize for search?

Read on to find out:

  • How Google Home will impact interaction with search results
  • How Google Home will change your SEO strategy
  • Why being an indispensable resource and understanding your analytics are more important than ever

Read more

Back to Basics

Watch Out for These New AdWords & Analytics Features, Tools & Data Announced by Google

Author: Kristi Kellogg

Want to know what new features are slated for release in Google Analytics and AdWords?

Advertisers need to know about these changes, straight from the mouth of Google VP of AdWords, Jerry Dischler:

  • Expansion of the store visits metric which helps businesses track online visits driven by digital activity
  • Changes to remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) including cross-device retargeting of search and display ads
  • Roll out of demographic targeting (gender and age) for search ads
  • Similar audiences for search available in beta

Everyone should test the new features and tools for analytics platforms announced by Google's measurement and analytics senior director, Babak Pahlavan:

  • A new metric, session quality score, in Google Analytics which predicts the likelihood of a visitor making a transaction on your site or app
  • A free version of Optimize 360, a testing and personalization product
  • A free version of Data Studio, a collaborative report builder
  • Additional data sources in Tag Manager

Read our report of all these changes as they were announced live and on stage at the search marketing conference SMX East.

Read more

Hot Topic

What to Think about the Real-Time Penguin Update & Google's Mobile-Focused Search Index

Author: Paula Allen

The launch of the link-analyzing algorithm Penguin 4.0 as a real-time part of Google’s core ranking algorithm on Sept. 23 was welcome news to SEOs.

Website owners who'd cleaned up link profiles properly during the nearly two years since the last Penguin update could finally recover from the algorithmic penalties that had suppressed their rankings for so long. We've been gratified to see many of our clients see marked improvement in Google SERP rank.

In the age of real-time Penguin, Google now devalues low-quality links rather than demoting the web page.

It's a gentler Penguin than we've known before, and smarter too. The algo can identify spammy links pointing to a web page and discount them on the fly. But this does NOT mean, as many have suggested, that bad incoming links are no longer a concern.

Google still holds websites responsible for their own link profiles. At Pubcon last week, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes clarified that disavow files should not be removed. Recommendations have not changed for using Google's disavow tool whereby you can tell the search engine which linking pages or domains should be ignored. Sites with a lot of low-quality incoming links still need to prune them.

Illyes also said that manual actions can discount ALL links (good and bad) to a site if there's evidence of "clear search manipulation." So if you have a high percentage of low-quality links, a disavow file can still help you prevent penalties.

Secondly at Pubcon, Google announced a coming change: Google’s primary index will soon switch to the mobile index. This is big news in SEO, especially for sites with thinner mobile content than desktop. Mobile versions of pages will be crawled more often and determine ranking once this rolls out.

Education Matters

Live Reports Offer Digital Strategy Fire Power for Link Building, Voice Search & eRetail


Want to know what Googlers, Microsofties and brilliant marketers across the globe are excited about in digital? We do, too. That's why we sent our social media editor to liveblog key sessions at Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East.

From SEO to PPC, content marketing to social media, here are eight articles to help you think about strategy in new ways:




Third Door Media, known for its SMX conference series and publications Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, launched an editorial site focused on marketing technology, MarTech Today.

Hold on to your hardhats. Google acquired Urban Engines, which is like Google Maps for the world of internet connected devices and the environments they reside in. MarTech Today describes the Urban Engines map as a "tool [that] might resemble predictive analysis married to a network optimization tool."




Beyond the shindigs we highlight below, you can find hundreds of SEO, content marketing, paid search and social media marketing events happening around the world in our updated Digital Marketing Conference Calendar.

Search Engine Journal Summit comes to New York on Nov. 2. It's an "intimate day of learning and networking features industry-renowned experts focusing on digital marketing initiatives tailored for SEOs."

In its twentieth year, ad:tech takes place in New York Nov. 2 and 3. The conference is geared towards professionals working in marketing, technology and media who want to think in new ways, build strong partnerships and define new strategies.

INBOUND, with keynote addresses by Gary Vaynerchuk and Alec Baldwin, takes over Boston Nov. 8–11.

Social Media Week has conferences around the globe Nov. 14–18. If you're in Chicago, Rotterdam, Santiago or Sydney, don't miss out on a week of social media marketing strategy sessions from digital marketing leaders.

If you're in Raleigh Nov. 16 and 17, you're in luck! The Internet Summit will be in full swing. The Internet Summit provides attendees with real-world, practical solutions happening at the crossroads of marketing, analytics, user experience, and emerging technologies.


Sound Bytes


Like ​our newsletter? Enjoy the weekly digital marketing podcast SEM Synergy with host Bruce Clay. Here are the latest episodes available to stream online or download to your podcast app. Subscribe on iTunes to get new episodes sent straight to your mobile.

Where Social Media is Headed: Leading Social Media Marketers Talk Snapchat, Twitter, Live Video and More

Social media marketing leaders Lisa Buyer, Melissa Fach and Jabez Lebret talk Snapchat, Facebook Live and Twitter. Buyer, Fach and Lebret lead a social media masterclass each year at Pubcon Las Vegas — in this interview with Kristi Kellogg and Virginia Nussey, they share some of their top strategies for engaging customers on these social platforms. Listen in for their thoughts on where Twitter is heading, creating Snapchattable moments, and much more!

Keeping Content Fresh and Up-to-Date

Google has plainly stated that content that demonstrates expertise, authority and trust ranks best. Keeping your content fresh and up-to-date is a key contributor for all of these signals. Listen as Bruce Clay, Virginia Nussey, Kristi Kellogg and John Alexander discuss how to keep your content up-to-date at all times!

Principles of Influence

The author of one of the most influential books on persuasion, "Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion," is at it again with "Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade." In his latest book, Dr. Robert Cialdini shares another valuable principle of marketing: unity. As the seventh principle, unity adds to and completes the original six: reciprocity, commitment, social proof, authority, liking and scarcity. Duane Forrester, Paula Allen, Kristi Kellogg, and John Alexander discuss Dr. Cialdini's seven principles of marketing and how they're still necessary in digital marketing today. The team also covers the most recent industry news, including Twitter's update to the character count, warnings related to widgets, LinkedIn conversion tracking, and more.

The Penguin Update: Adjusting Your Expectations

It's been nearly two years since the last Penguin update, a little too long if you have been waiting for another update to experience a boost in traffic and revenue. Bruce Clay has another opinion. In the first half of the show, Bruce shares why he believes we should adjust our expectations when it comes to the next Penguin refresh. Duane Forrester, Virginia Nussey, and Kristi Kellogg also join the discussion. In the second half of the show, the Bruce Clay team talks about Apple’s latest technology, including iPhone 7 and iOS 10, and how it affects consumer behavior and internet marketing.




Sixteen major players in media, including Google, Facebook and The Washington Post, recently came together to form the Coalition for Better Ads. The aim of this group is to make the digital experience better for users (and discourage people's desire for ad-blocking software). This doesn't, however, signal the eradication of ads, but a move toward a global expectation of better and more useful ads that actually engage users.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, announced they are pledging $3 billion to "work together to cure, prevent or manage all disease within our children's lifetime." Chan said the couple spent two years researching the initiative, talking to scientists and doctors. They've set up an independent research facility in San Francisco called Biohub, which will develop new tools to measure and treat disease. Leading scientists and engineers from UC San Francisco, Stanford University and UC Berkeley will work together toward the bold goal of eradicating disease by the end of the century.

Google has produced a new font called Noto, a huge open source font family that includes the entire Unicode library of characters, spanning more than 110,000 characters and 800 languages. Google undertook the project to create a font that could support all languages and make Android and ChromeOS more accessible to people worldwide. Typography experts from Monotype and Adobe participated in the project, which took five years to complete. Google’s Noto font was named for “no more tofu,” referring to the symbols that appear when a user’s system cannot display foreign characters properly. The entire Noto font library is available for free in part or in whole, and the open design source files can also be downloaded.

The search marketing industry’s own version of the Oscars, Search Engine Land’s Landy Awards, doled out well-deserved honors for best search initiatives in a variety of categories. Two individuals won for Search Marketer of the Year: Jennifer Johnstone of Piston Agency and Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting. Congratulations to all!


Word on the Wire


Google enhanced Search Console with a new AMP testing tool that lets sites check for problems with their AMP’d pages. If any issues are found in the AMP or structured data markup, the tool pinpoints the HTML code where the error was found.

The SEO community noticed that something changed in Google local search results as of Sept. 1 and has since analyzed the effects of what’s being called the Possum Update. The update increases visibility for businesses located just outside a city; filters out businesses based on address and affiliation; and factors in the searcher’s location and specific query more heavily. With Possum, Google has become more sophisticated in filtering out spam and diversifying results in the local 3-pack and Local Finder (map) results.

YouTube launched a social publishing feature named Community, which is currently in beta with 12 creators. Community gives content creators a way to interact with their audience through text posts, images and GIFs as well as videos, and fans can comment and give thumbs up/down.

Google reviews now show a ”Helpful?” button that people reading a Google My Business review can click. It’s not clear yet how Google may use the data.

Google has consolidated all of its 19 blogs to make it easier for people to find all the official news from Google in one place: The Keyword. The punny name is “a nod to the origins of search.”

Google AdWords now offers click-to-text ad extensions, a feature that’s been in beta testing for several months.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced a new R&D facility will open in Yokohama, Japan, to focus on artificial intelligence and “deep engineering.” Cook said that the iPhone’s future is heavily based on AI.

Facebook now offers Blueprint Certification for social media marketers taking its online training course, which includes mastering advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.

Workplace by Facebook, formerly called Facebook at Work, has exited beta and launched globally. Any company or organization can now connect its employees and participants using the various Facebook features. Workplace will also include a new feature in the coming weeks called Multi-Company Groups, a shared place to collaborate with another organization’s Workplace members.

Instagram is changing the way ads behave on the network with several changes this month. Calls to action in link ads will be highlighted in blue if a user views the ad for four seconds, and CTA text can be enhanced (with price, app store rating or URL) and repeated as a comment. Video ads get an even bigger change: “when people unmute a video they’ll be taken to the destination URL while the video continues to play at the top of the screen.”

Twitter may be up for sale, according to CNBC sources. Twitter’s board is in favor of an acquisition, and the company may be looking for formal bids soon. Potential buyers showing interest include Google, Salesforce, Microsoft, Verizon and even Disney; Twitter stock rose 20 percent in one day on the reports.

Twitter has made Moments available for all users, as the social network promised back in August. The feature enables people to curate tweets together to produce a story that can be viewed as a whole.

Social media company Snapchat introduced a new product called Spectacles and simultaneously changed the company’s name to Snap Inc. Spectacles are video-recording sunglasses that can upload 10-second videos wirelessly to the Snapchat app. The product is expected to have a limited release in the U.S. this fall and cost about $130.

Snapchat is helping users fight story overload with a new feature called Playlists, a way for users to select certain friends’ stories and have them auto-advance. Simultaneously, the Stories feed no longer auto-advances, and the Discover section (a mix of text and video stories from big publishers) is being demoted below friends’ stories. Post-roll and interstitial ads can be inserted in the Playlists and Stories sections to monetize the site.

Amazon is cracking down on incentivized reviews. Amazon previously allowed reviewers to post about a product they received for free or at a discount, as long as this was disclosed. But the site’s community guidelines now prohibit incentivized reviews (except those arranged through its Amazon Vine program) for all product categories except books.

Yahoo’s sale to Verizon for $4.83 billion may be in jeopardy in light of last month’s disclosure that in 2014, 500 million Yahoo accounts were exposed in the largest cybersecurity data breach in history. Then in early October, news spread that Yahoo had secretly complied with a U.S. government request to scan incoming emails for specific information. An unnamed source told the New York Post that Verizon is seeking up to a $1 billion discount in the purchase price.

Hot Topics




Sound Bytes


Word on the Wire




Top Blog Posts

Keep It Fresh: Steps for Updating Your Website Content

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Learn How to Optimize for Voice Search Now


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