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Choosing an SEO Agency Post-Penguin
Author: Jessica Lee

Google's Penguin update changed how things are done in the search world — around the world. In Europe, some businesses are just now guarding themselves against Google's aggressive actions toward manipulative marketing practices. With insight into how to vet an SEO agency, Bruce Clay Europe's Ale Agostini explores:

  • What to ask an SEO agency to uncover questionable practices.
  • How hands-on a business needs to be to expect results from their agency.
  • The level of education required for businesses to enable their own success.

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  Back to Basics
How to Gain Insider Expertise as an Outside SEO Agency
Author: Virginia Nussey

As an SEO, you help clients be seen as subject matter experts online. In order to make informed decisions about their online marketing strategy, you have to be a subject matter expert yourself — on their subject. This 5-step study guide for becoming an expert on any topic shows you:

  • How to set goals and progress in an orderly fashion in your laser-focused research.
  • What you can learn from your client, your customer and search if you know where to look.
  • How your SEO, conversion and social strategy will benefit from your expertise.

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Myth-Busting the SEO Agency Relationship
Author: Michael Bochel

Matching expectations between an SEO agency and client is key to a successful working relationship. There are, however, some misunderstandings that come up repeatedly, hindering collaboration. Bruce Clay Australia knocks down these obstacles by illustrating:

  • How to remedy misconceptions about SEO dark arts.
  • The 2 critical components of a successful agency-client relationship.
  • 5 tips for getting the most from your SEO agency.

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  Hot Topic
A Sponsored Stories Storm at Facebook

Facebook is counting on ad units Sponsored Stories and Promoted Posts, along with rising mobile use, to raise revenues following a rocky post-IPO showing. A rumble started with criticism that Facebook's quest for cash was being done at the expense of the user experience. Facebook responded that anti-spam updates were behind the decreased visibility.

Tech journalist John Batelle, explained that what page owners and users may be witnessing is akin to a "weather event." It's an occurrence that results from an ecosystem's changing ranking patterns and the period of flux that occurs before stabilization. In the search industry, we're very familiar with such weather events playing out in Google:

"Early last year Google made a major change to its algorithms that penalized what it believed was lower quality content. Dubbed 'Panda,' the changes targeted 'content farms' that cranked out SEO friendly pages as AdWords bait. This had dramatic effects on many sites that specialized in 'gaming' Google. It also hit sites that weren’t necessarily playing that game — updates like Panda often create collateral damage. Over time, and as it always does, Google fine-tuned Panda until the ecosystem stabilized. I believe that Facebook is now learning how to manage its own weather."

A pending court ruling will likely require Facebook to build in more privacy and allow users to opt-out of Sponsored Stories.

SEOToolSet Version 5

  Education Matters
Tap Into Your Agency’s Knowledge Base

Few things impact an SEO agency’s client more than the educational process. While some clients want a set-it-and-forget-it relationship, those who take the time to learn from their SEO agency reap the rewards of fruitful dialogue and knowledge-based decisions.

The right SEO agency relationship should serve as a support system, but it should also serve as a knowledge center. While professional relationships rarely last forever, the long-term SEO partner should have transferred enough knowledge so clients are equipped moving forward — whether it’s having the wisdom to know what they need when they look for a new agency or when they decide to manage their SEO in-house.

At Bruce Clay, Inc. we require our clients to attend our SEO training as part of the agreement with us. This is so they have deep insight into the SEO methodologies the company was founded upon, so they better understand our recommendations, and so we can have an open dialogue about the site and what we should tackle next.

If you’re currently in a professional relationship with an SEO agency, or looking to partner with one soon, ask what sorts of resources are available to you from an educational perspective during your engagement, and take advantage of those as much as you can.


Zynga confirms layoffs estimated by TechCrunch to be about 160 full-time employees, in addition to “sunsetting” 13 games.

Chief revenue officer at Yahoo!, Michael Barrett, is on his way out after Googler Henrique de Castro steps in as COO, "effectively eliminating Mr. Barret's position" reports

Speaking of Henrique de Castro, Yahoo's new COO is getting on board to the tune of $56 million reportedly, including stock options, a six-figure salary and annual bonus structure.

Priceline plans to buy Kayak, the travel search engine, for $1.8 billion. Kayak is a member of the anti-Google lobbying group, and according to the report by Search Engine Land, Priceline is not.

The acquisition of digital marketing agency Quaturo by BlueGlass positions the company to launch BlueGlass UK, based in central London.

Ogilvy Engage, a major marketing firm in Melbourne, is investing in its social marketing branch, OgilvyEngage. The company plucked Lelde McCoy to head the growth of the national department. Replacing McCoy as managing director of the Melbourne office is Alexandra Kelly.


The newly updated SEOToolSet® standard and advanced training and certification course takes place in Simi Valley, Calif., from December 3 to 7.

Ragan PR and Social Media Summit is a one-day digital communications conference in Cary, N. Car., on November 30. Attendees who can't be there in person can also attend virtually via summit webcast.

Tampa, Fla., hosts BlueGlass X 2012, a digital marketing conference, on December 3 and 4.

SMX hosts a social media marketing exhibition and education event in Las Vegas from December 4 to 6.

Bruce Clay Australia presents one-day SEO training course in Brisbane, Australia, on November 30.


Oxford Dictionaries awarded its word of 2012 title to GIF. A compressed file format introduced 25 years ago, this year was significant as it gained verb status in suit with increased prominence in memes and pop culture.

YouTube announced plans to "kick-start the ecosystem" through a second round of funding to select major content producers. The funds come after a first round that indicated the type of content that succeeds in an online, short-form video platform — specifically content about humor, music, cars and sports geared toward a younger demographic.

An interview with Google's Matt Cutts offers additional direction and more detailed explanation on the workings of the newly launched link disavow tool. In the interview Matt describes scenarios in which you'd use the tool — for instance, only in cases of manual action against a site — as well as how long after implementation one can expect to see improvement.

  Word on the Wire

Apple released a smaller version of its popular tablet computer, iPad Mini. Starting at $329 for the 16GB model, the iPad Mini is poised against competitively priced tablets on the market.

Facebook retired Questions from general use, a feature that lets users create multiple answer and fill-in-the-blank polls, although it is still available for use in Groups and Pages.

The concept of "magic keywords" was introduced by DuckDuckGo founder Gabriel Weinberg after research by the search engine revealed trigger words morphing search results in Google. Search results that fail to represent a diverse point of view and instead confirm a user's biases is one worrisome effect.

Factors for calculating a page's "reachability" score are outlined in a patent recently granted to Google. Reachability predicts the amount of time a searcher accesses a primary resource and also the time spent on secondary sources that link to it.

On October 17, Google Shopping moved to a pay-to-play system where results are generated from the pool of Product Listing Ads advertisers. As part of the transition and ahead of the holidays, Google has made educational resources available for those looking to advertise within the search engine's shopping vertical for the first time.

In a survey of national brands conducted by local marketing company Balihoo, 47.3 percent of respondents say they'll be investing more in local marketing next year than they did this year. Mobile tactics were reported to be the big gainer in terms of budget, while "local search registration" and "local website tactics" are expected to decline.

  SEOToolSet Updates

Each month, our developers make improvements to SEOToolSet V5 to ensure users have a more efficient experience. The following updates were made this month.

  • Changes to Italian Translation.
  • Fix bug in Research Summary where a subset of URLs were not being reported correctly.
  • Fix a data collection bug in the Ranking Monitor that caused the monitor to crash due to a race condition.