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  SEO Newsletter | Vol 130 | February 24, 2015 This Month's News

Bada BING, Bada Boom! Man at Center of Microsoft Backtrack Heard ‘Round the Search World: Exclusive Duane Forrester Interview

Author: Kristi Kellogg

Bing's Duane Forrester is the mind behind Bing Webmaster Tools and the vehicle of the search engine's webmaster outreach. Last October, Forrester found his name on a layoff list of 3,000. Search marketers who adore Forrester for his straight-talking, webmaster championing, laid-back demeanor were by turns shocked and annoyed. How could the No. 2 search engine spare its most public figure and PR Ace? What did the move say about Bing’s attitude and support for the search marketing community? In December, Microsoft put any doubt of its commitment to search and the online business community to rest by admitting mea culpa and returning Forrester to his previous seat.

In this exclusive interview, learn from Forrester first-hand about:

  • What happened behind closed doors to return Forrester to his role at Bing
  • His recommended process for a mobile usability audit
  • His favorite conference memories, including his initial meeting with Matt Cutts

Read More

  Back to Basics

3 Free SEO Tools for Keyword Research, Competitor Analysis & Organic Optimization

Author: Chelsea Adams

Looking for free SEO tools? Bruce Clay, Inc. offers 10 free organic optimization tools to help you analyze your own web properties, as well as the properties of your clients and competitors.

This month we’ve highlighted three of our free tools on our blog. These tools perform competitive research, on-page optimization, and keyword research. Select from the list below to run the tool, read about the data provided and learn how to use the data in your SEO strategy:

Want more? You can access all 10 of our free SEO tools from our SEO tutorial. They’re all free, all the time, no login or signup required.

Access All Free Tools in the SEO Tutorial


We're Hiring Top SEO Talent


The name Bruce Clay is synonymous with SEO, and we are offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with the man himself and become a valuable member of our consulting team. We are on the hunt for a talented, energetic and experienced senior SEO analyst to work in our main offices in Southern California. Interested candidates with at least 5 years of experience should apply through LinkedIn.


Hot Topic


Link building remains a controversial subject among SEOs. While the term "link building" might cause people to think of black hat techniques like spam, purchased links, and other deceptive practices, many feel that link building is still a necessary part of SEO that can be accomplished in an above-board way. Only two things are universally agreed upon — links seen as relevant and natural can help your website rank, but unnatural links can hurt it (courtesy of Penguin).

Link building became a hot topic this month when Google’s webmaster trends analyst, John Mueller, addressed it in a recorded conversation. During the English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout, someone asked Mueller the direct question, "Is link building in any way good for webmasters?"

Mueller answered, "In general, I’d try to avoid that." He then said that if you have good content "that stands on its own," you can do things to make it easier for people to link to it — make sure the URLs are easy to copy and paste, or put a little widget on your page. These passive steps are as far as Mueller recommends a webmaster safely go.

He warned that trying to build links could do more harm than good. "We do use links as part of our algorithms, but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site than it actually helps."


Education Matters


Since its launch in 1999, Google's enriched the search experience to include more media, to be more personal, and, as a number of recent feature rollouts indicate, to answer searchers' queries directly on the results page. This move by Google to provide direct answers (answers directly on a Google SERP) has been a cause for concern among SEOs with a chief aim at receiving click-throughs from a SERP. Rather than fearing direct answers, learn about how marketers can use direct answers as an SEO opportunity.

Direct answers come in a variety of forms. You may have noticed some of these newer features of the Google results page and wondered what to call them. To help alleviate some confusion, here we define and describe some SERP features that provide direct answers, and the underlying system that powers them, the Knowledge Graph.

What's that Box on My SERP?

  • Knowledge Graph
  • Upon its release in 2012, the Knowledge Graph changed Google's relationship with searchers and the web. The Knowledge Graph is the underlying system that allows Google to understand the meaning of people, places and things, known as entities, by understanding their connections. "Things not strings" and "concepts not keywords" are mottos that describe Google's computational capabilities with the Knowledge Graph versus without it. It's now common to see Google providing searchers with answers to their queries directly on the search results page, thanks to the Knowledge Graph.

  • Knowledge Graph Box
  • A Knowledge Graph box is a SERP feature that appears on the right side of a results page, displaying Knowledge Graph information about an entity, if relevant to a query. You'll see a Knowledge Graph box on a Google SERP for a famous person, a world landmark, and just about anything you'd expect to find an entry for in an encyclopedia, or today's equivalent, Wikipedia. Information presented in a Knowledge Graph box includes images, a brief description, and fast facts.

  • Brand Box
  • A brand box is a type of Knowledge Graph box that is specifically connected to and furnished by a brand’s Google+ page. Like a Knowledge Graph box, a brand box will appear on the right side of a results page. In the brand box you can find information about a brand pulled from Google+, a recent post pulled from the brand’s Google+ page, the number of Google+ followers the brand has, and a button that allows you to follow the brand on Google+ right from the SERP results. Not all brand boxes are alike and yours may only contain all or just a portion of the information listed here.

  • Answer Box
  • If you've ever seen Google satisfy your query directly on the SERP, you've likely seen that information served in an answer box. For instance, search for "how many inches in a foot" and you get a direct answer "1 foot = 12 inches" contained within an box at the top of the results page. There are hundreds of types of answer boxes in the wild. Type a question into the Google search bar and while you may not know what to expect, now you know what that answer box is called.




Google’s SVP of Knowledge Alan Eustace, who has been with the search giant since 2002, is retiring.

Leaving her position as vice president of technology for Google-owned Nest Labs, Yoky Matsuoka is joining Twitter as its VP of technology and analytics.

Another Google executive, Udi Manber, is leaving Google after nine years as a VP of engineering working on search and subsequently YouTube. His new position at the National Institute of Health will involve "improving access to medical knowledge."

Kevin Rose has announced he’s leaving his part-time role as a partner at Google Ventures. The investor and Digg co-founder plans to focus on his startup, North Technologies, which has just shut down its first experimental product, the Tiiny social photo app.

BuzzFeed is acquiring GoPop, a San Francisco startup whose current product is an app that combines photos into animations to produce "visual conversation."




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.

Registration is now open for SMX West 2015, coming to San Jose, California, Mar. 3–5. Our team will be there — we hope you will, too! Arrive a day early and learn from Bruce Clay himself at the full-day SEO Training Workshop on Mar. 2, Use the discount code BRUCECLAYSMXW15 and get 10 percent off your conference registration.

The Digital Marketing Innovation Summit hits New York City on Mar. 19 and 20. Special for SEO Newsletter readers: Use code BCLAY20 and receive a 20 percent discount on any two-day pass!

Mobile design and user experience conference ModevUX takes place in Arlington, Virginia, March 23 and 24.

Facebook's f8 conference for developers is scheduled for two days this year, Mar. 25 and 26, in San Francisco, California.

Social Media Marketing World takes place in San Diego, California, Mar. 25–27.

The MarTech conference is coming to San Francisco Mar. 31 and Apr. 1.

Pubcon Austin is set to return to Austin, Texas on Apr. 20.

The Social Tools Summit is scheduled for May 12 in Boston.

Copyblogger's content marketing summit Authority Rainmaker meets in Denver, Colorado, May 13–15.

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




Amazon has contracted to fund a large wind farm in rural Indiana that will help power its massive cloud computing business. Amazon’s announcement makes good on its commitment last November to start using clean, renewable energy, as other tech companies such as Google, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook already do. Case in point: Apple announced it will build new data centers in Ireland and Denmark that will run on 100 percent renewable energy, at a cost of nearly $2 billion.

Google is donating $775,000 to nonprofit CODE2040 to help fund free training and other programs supporting diversity in the technology industry.

Ride-sharing innovator Uber released a report conducted with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) saying that in California alone, drunk-driving crashes have dropped by 60 per month among drivers under 30 in the markets where Uber operates. That’s roughly 1,800 crashes prevented since Uber’s launch in July 2012. Some warn that the evidence shows correlation but not necessarily causation.

Pope Francis I hosted a Google+ Hangout on Air to connect with children around the world who have special needs and disabilities. The Feb. 5 event marked the second time the pope has used this technology to host an HOA.


Word on the Wire


On Feb. 26, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will vote on net neutrality rules proposed by Chairman Tom Wheeler. The proposal would reclassify broadband Internet access service as a telecommunications rather than information service under Title II of the Communications Act, a move that President Obama supports. Most technology companies praise the FCC plan, which would give the commission greater legal power to regulate Internet service providers and enforce an open Internet for consumers, while ISPs predictably oppose the change. Congress is pressuring the chairman to release the proposal for public review.

President Obama’s 2016 budget proposal includes $14 billion for cybersecurity to better protect networks (public and private) from hacking threats.

The White House’s Summit on Cybersecurity and Consumer Protection met at Stanford University on Feb. 13. Speakers included President Obama as well as Apple CEO Tim Cook. Originally broadcast live, the entire event can be viewed on YouTube.

A study by digital security firm Gemalto says that data breaches, particularly caused by identity theft, increased 49 percent from 2013 to 2014, with almost 1 billion data records compromised in 1,500 attacks in 2014.

A report by Alcatel-Lucent found that malware in mobile devices increased by 25 percent in 2014, up from a 20 percent increase in 2013, meaning that approximately 16 million devices worldwide have been infected by malicious software.

Microsoft unveiled its next-generation Windows 10, an operating system that will enable "universal apps" that work across platforms including PCs, phones, tablets and Xbox. A free upgrade will be available for Windows 7 and 8.1 users within the first year of launch, and the switch to a software-as-a-service model will provide future updates for free through the cloud.

Microsoft also showed off the revolutionary

Wanting to eliminate hoaxes and untrue information from its news feed, Facebook will enable users to report a post as a "false news story." Stories flagged as false will have reduced distribution.

Startup video channel Vessel promises 20 times more revenue for video posters. Run by Jason Kilar (former head of Hulu), Vessel charges viewers $2.99/month to subscribe and shows videos three days before they appear elsewhere.

YouTube is cracking down on sponsorships and product placements that do not give YouTube a cut of the revenue. A simple text disclaimer is allowed, but YouTube no longer permits overlays of sponsor logos or product branding on videos unless the sponsoring company has a "full Google media buyout."

Snapchat is seeking $500 million in funding based on a valuation of $16 to $19 billion. If obtained, the valuation would make the social app the third highest valued venture capital-backed startup in the world.

In other Snapchat news, the service is testing a new local Our Story feature that enables only people in the local vicinity of a story to see it.

Google’s share of the U.S. search market dropped by 1.6 percent in December as a direct result of Firefox’s switch to Yahoo as its default search engine. Simultaneously, Yahoo’s search share increased from 10.2 percent to 11.8 percent, according to comScore data.

AdWords advertisers that use tracking parameters in URLs got welcome news when Google announced "upgraded URLs" that can split the landing page portion of the URL from the tracking information, so advertisers can update their ads without stopping and resubmitting them.

Google AdWords updates are now documented on one page, similar to release notes, for advertisers’ reference.

Google announced the next four urban areas where its super-fast Internet service, Google Fiber, will be offered: Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennesee; and Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte, North Carolina. Meanwhile, other carriers are responding to the competitive pressure in Kansas City, where Google Fiber already operates. Dominant provider Time Warner has already tripled its speed at no extra charge to customers, and AT&T announced plans to offer its Gigapower service at a matching price and speed to Google’s.

Googlebot can now support crawling of locale-adaptive pages, web pages that change the content depending on the user’s country or language settings.

Google stepped into the role of content creator this month by adding health information to its Knowledge Graph. The fact-checked content, which includes symptoms, treatments, and facts about the illness or condition that have been reviewed and approved by medical professionals, now appears at the front of search results

Russia’s competition watchdog opened a case against Google Inc. to determine whether it has violated anti-monopoly laws in Russia. Yandex (Russia’s largest search engine) had filed a complaint that Google was restricting competition on its Android smartphone platform.

Twitter CEO Dick Costelo confirmed that Twitter and Google have a deal to reconnect the "firehose" delivering tweets directly to Google for search results, which would extend the platform’s reach beyond logged in users. Costelo said it may take months to launch.

Twitter launched two new features: group direct messages and a mobile video camera that lets mobile users capture and edit video to share in tweets. Twitter also announced plans to start syndicating promoted tweets on other platforms, which could signal the beginning of a Twitter ad network and a new revenue stream for the company.

Twitter also announced TweetDeck teams, which allows multiple users to manage a Twitter business account using their own TweetDeck logins.

Twitter’s fourth-quarter financials revealed the lowest growth rate of monthly active users ever (1.4 percent). Twitter said that though 8 million MAUs were added, 4 million users were lost due to a problem in Apple iOS 8. Concern for the growth rate overshadowed the company’s stellar quarterly earnings of $479M, its highest ever.

Twitter is putting its Crashlytics analytics information into a standalone Answers dashboard, so that non-developer staff can see how their Twitter feed and their user base are doing.

Many technology companies’ financials for the last quarter of 2014 soared. Facebook’s fourth quarter financial reports showed an "insane" $3.6 billion in total advertising revenue, with mobile ads accounting for 69 percent. Facebook’s total revenue for 2014 was $12.5 billion. Similarly, LinkedIn posted Q4 revenue of $643 million, up 44% from fourth quarter of 2013, largely fueled by content-marketing "sponsored updates" income. In other news, Google’s Q4 earnings drew a mixed reaction: the quarter’s $18.1 billion revenue was the highest on record and 18 percent above the previous quarter, though it missed projections by 2 percent and CPC (cost per click) revenue was down. Meanwhile, Amazon’s earnings per share of $0.45 more than doubled predictions, and sales were up 20 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year.

Facebook has announced a new hyperlocal feature called Place Tips, which puts information at the top of a user’s feed about a particular place they are at, such as a museum, restaurant or landmark. Initially, the feature is rolling out in the New York area to iPhone users.

Facebook now lets you specify a legacy contact who can manage your profile after you die.

Now advertisers can take out Product Ads on Facebook. Ads can show single or multiple products, and targeting can be by interest, user location, or behavior. System can automatically stop showing ads when product is out of stock.

Yahoo’s search market share increased for the second month in a row since Firefox’s decision to replace Google with Yahoo as the browser’s default search engine. Yahoo went from 8.6 percent of U.S. searches in Nov. 2014 to 10.9 percent in Jan. 2015, according to StatCounter data. Correspondingly, Google’s U.S. search share fell during the same period from 77.3 percent of U.S. search share in Nov. to 74.8 percent in Jan.

Yahoo showed its commitment to mobile at its first-ever mobile developer conference by announcing a new Yahoo Mobile Developers Suite that combines analytics, search and advertising components.

Uber has reportedly opened a robotics factory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to develop its own driverless taxis. The location facilitated hiring 50 top scientists from nearby Carnegie Mellon University, and also permits some secrecy away from tech rivals in Silicon Valley. The plan puts the company in direct competition with one of its biggest investors, Google, and may cause Uber to eject Google executive David Drummond from its board of directors.

Google rolled out a new layout for news-related search results in its mobile app. A carousel feature can display within the vertical list of results that groups together all subject-related content (articles and videos) from a selected news website. Google says it is still making additional news sites available.

Pinterest is readying a ’Buy’ button powered by Stripe that will enable people to process payments and make purchases on the site. Rollout is expected sometime this year.

Lenovo was caught preloading Superfish software in new computers. Besides causing third-party ads to be injected in Google search results in the Internet Explorer and Chrome browsers, Superfish may also have installed its own secure certificate that could decrypt secure requests and eavesdrop on users’ secure connections. Lenovo has discontinued preloading Superfish, and the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security urges consumers to remove the software.

A new comScore study claims that over half (57 percent) of Latin American smartphone owners are on Twitter. That’s a high percentage compared to overall 23 percent of U.S. adults online who are on Twitter.

The just-launched LinkedIn Lead Accelerator expands the company’s Marketing Solutions platform to let businesses segment their audience and deliver ads and content to various groups across the web, purportedly moving customers through the entire sales cycle.

Hot Topics





Word on the Wire





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