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  SEO Newsletter | Volume 140 | January 20, 2016 This Month's News

Today Is Penguin Awareness Day & the Google Penguin Update Is Imminent


Yesterday, Google spokesperson Gary Illyes said that the next Penguin Update is just weeks away. Are your backlinks ready?

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43 Reasons SEOs Can't Fear Change: 2016 Digital Marketing Predictions

Author: Bruce Clay, Inc.

There's a word for fear of change: metathesiophobia. The way search, media, technology and consumer behavior change from week to week, it's not a phobia that SEOs can afford to harbor. Instead, digital marketers race to get ahead of competition, ahead of algorithm updates, and ahead of upcoming technologies with early adoption and forward-looking strategy.

Where to start the race of 2016? Right here. Bruce Clay, Duane Forrester, David Szetela, and digital marketing ​trend-watchers share their predictions for the online marketing industry this year. Read for predictions by:

  • Bruce Clay – 20-year SEO veteran calls out apps, millennials, and local search revenue as drivers of change.
  • Duane Forrester – HTTPS, podcasts and search from Facebook and Amazon make an appearance in this former Microsoftie’s predictions.
  • David Szetela – Facebook, Instagram and Bing display are big winners in the “Pay-Per-Click Marketing: An Hour a Day” author's picks, but read to find out who he bets against.
  • Cindy Krum – With mobile changing everything about digital marketing, you'll want to read this mobile tech expert's take on 2016.
  • Dan Petrovic – The international SEO's predictions echo a familiar theme — content quality — backed by some interesting new research out of Australia.
  • Marcus Tandler – User experience is Tandler's hot topic in Germany, with conversion optimization cooling off — read why.
  • Maddie Cary – U.S. Search Awards 2015 Young Search Professional of the Year dubs 2016 the year of removing resistance, with PPC predictions to back it up.

Read more

  Back to Basics

SEO, PPC & Content Virtual Conference: 2015's Liveblog Recap

Author: Bruce Clay, Inc.

On the BCI blog, we publish updates to keep digital marketers current on new tactics and evolving perspectives. To do so, we send livebloggers to major digital marketing conferences so readers can get the 411 from the industry's search marketing, content, conversion and advertising experts. This year, we covered more than 85 sessions live from six conferences.

We packaged up the most high-impact liveblogged sessions of the year to create a virtual conference so you can follow along with the real-world challenges and solutions shared by the search engines and marketers at in-person educational events. Choose the tracks that interests you:

Read more


Hot Topic


Everything You Need to Know About SEO & User Satisfaction

UX is Google's priority, so it had better be ours, too. Everyone with a hand in digital marketing — from business owners to brand managers, PPC wizards to SEO savants, content strategists to social media marketers — needs to care about user experience. User experience constitutes every instance a user interacts with your brand. As UX expert Kim Krause Berg put it, user experience is "empathy for every human, using every device and every software application and every search engine wanting to provide what humans want, in every environment, with an understanding of the limitations of age, bandwidth, Internet availability, use cases and business requirements specific to one’s business or web page intent.”

Last week, Bruce Clay, Inc. hosted #SEOchat on Twitter and we spent the hour focusing on user experience with industry experts including Berg, Duane Forrester, Robert Ramirez, Virginia Nussey, Kristi Kellogg, Casie Gillette, Lisa Buyer, Michelle Robbins and Eric Lander. They talked about broad UX concerns, such as:

  • Who is responsible for UX within an organization
  • How to identify UX problems on a site
  • The biggest UX mistakes businesses
  • Brands doing UX right

Then they dove deeper into specific issues affecting UX, including:

  • How to decrease load time
  • Strategies to keep people scrolling
  • How to optimize for voice search with natural language
  • Which engagement objects are working best
  • Creating images that don't look like stock photo garbage
  • Creating videos with a limited budget
Find out what the experts had to say in this recap: What Is UX? Who Owns User Experience Optimization? What You Need to Know About SEO & User Satisfaction from #SEOchat.

Education Matters


SEO Training by Bruce Clay

On Feb. 29, 2016, Bruce Clay is teaching a one-day SEO Training workshop at Search Marketing Expo (SMX) West. SMX West is a premiere digital marketing conference held in San Jose every year. Bruce Clay’s workshop includes eight hours of teaching on topics ranging from how search engines work to how to use Bruce Clay Inc.’s proprietary SEOToolSet. Attendees receive a free year's subscription to the tool set, a copy of “Search Engine Optimization All-in-One For Dummies” by Bruce Clay, and discounts on Bruce Clay’s SEO classroom training courses. Use the discount code WS-BC10 to receive a 10 percent discount. Register now for SEO Training by Bruce Clay.

SEO Training Courses Standard and Advanced

Your next opportunity to take our renowned classroom SEOToolSet Training course in ​the greater Los Angeles area will be March 14–18. This week-long program includes a three-day Standard course and a two-day Advanced SEO course with the opportunity to become certified in the SEOToolSet. Register now to learn the latest online marketing strategies to improve your business.

Bruce Clay Talks SEO Today and Beyond on Search Talk Live

On Feb. 16, Bruce Clay will be sharing his industry knowledge on the digital marketing podcast Search Talk Live. Hosted by Robert O’Haver and Caleb McElveen, the show will give Bruce an opportunity to share his insight on SEO today and his predictions for the coming years.




Alphabet (Google) hired Gabriel Stricker to head up communications and public affairs for Google Fiber, the high-speed Internet service that's quickly spreading across the U.S. Stricker was formerly with Google as its director of global communications and public affairs before spending three years as chief communications officer for Twitter, a position he left in July 2015. Google also hired Caroline Atkinson to lead its global policy team. As Google currently faces probes by U.S. and foreign regulators, Atkinson's experience as a foreign emissary for President Obama may be beneficial. She stepped down last month from her position as White House deputy national security advisor.

Google has formed a new virtual reality division and made Clay Bavor its dedicated VP. Bavor formerly served as VP of product management overseeing consumer apps like Gmail, Drive and Docs, a responsibility that has shifted to Diane Greene, the former cofounder and CEO of VMWare who became a Google senior vice president in November 2015 in charge of the search giant's cloud computing business.

Sameer Samat has stepped down as president of Jawbone to return to Google, where he will be handling product, engineering and user experience for Google Play. Samat was previously a VP of product management at Google, before leaving to join Jawbone in May 2015.

Apple made some big shifts in its management team. Jeff Williams is being promoted to chief operations officer; formerly SVP of operations, Williams oversaw Apple's supply chain and the development of the Apple Watch. Meanwhile, Apple's SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller is expanding his role to also lead the increasingly important App Store across all four platforms. The company also hired Tor Myhren as its new VP of marketing communications. In Myhren's former position as worldwide chief creative officer and president of the New York ad agency Grey New York, he helped create campaigns such as the E*Trade talking baby and has garnered many industry awards for his work.

Yahoo is losing two more executives this month. A former VP in Yahoo's corporate development unit, Steve Fan, is going to China's Tencent as its director of strategic initiatives. Also, Yahoo's global head of public policy and deputy general counsel, Takedra Mawakana, has accepted a move to eBay as its new VP of governmental relations.

Twitter has hired Jeffrey Siminoff, Apple's former head of diversity, to replace Janet Van Huysse as its vice president of diversity and inclusion. Twitter has also pulled Google's former director of gaming content for YouTube, Rodrigo Velloso, to head its new gaming vertical, @TwitterGaming., HubSpot's popular marketing industry forum, has hired Casey Henry as its manager. Henry, who formerly worked for Moz and then Wistia, says his “main focus will be on growth, engagement, and retention.”

Zander Lurie has been chosen as the new CEO of SurveyMonkey, filling the vacancy left when predecessor Bill Veghte exited the company after disagreeing with investors over its direction. Lurie had already been serving as the interim executive chairman after the tragic death of David Goldberg in 2015.

Twitter's vice president of design, Mike Davidson, announced he is leaving the company after three years. His February departure will be “to take the 1st break from work in my life,” according to his announcement tweet.

AOL web search is now powered by Bing. As of Jan. 1, Bing provides organic search results and paid ads to AOL properties worldwide and exclusively in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. The switch increases the Bing Network's market share of ads served across mobile, tablet and PC traffic. Previously, Google provided both organic and paid search results to AOL.




Beyond the shindigs we highlight below, you can find more than 100 Internet marketing events happening around the world in our updated Digital Marketing Conference Calendar.

SMX West 2016 is coming to San Jose, California, March 1–3. Our team will be there! Arrive a day early and learn from Bruce Clay himself at the one-day SEO Training Workshop on Feb. 29. Use the discount code WS-BC10 to get 10 percent off registration. Be sure to say hello!

The Digital Marketing Strategies Summit comes to Las Vegas Jan. 26–28.

Bruce Clay brings his SEOToolSet Training to India once per year, and the course always sells out. This year's opportunity is coming up quick: Feb. 2–4 in Gurgaon.

Search Engine Watch's new Connect conference (from the people who formerly ran ClickZ and SES) is set for Feb. 4 and 5 in Miami, Florida.

Social Media Strategies Summit happens Feb. 9–11 in Las Vegas.

Social Media Week events take place the week of Feb. 22–26 in multiple cities: Hamburg, Germany; Jakarta, Indonesia; Lagos, NIgeria; and New York City.

The SearchLove conference comes to San Diego, California, Feb. 23 and 24.

Want to ramp up your SEO knowledge and tools for the new year? There's no better way than by attending our SEOToolSet Training Course. Sign up and come to Southern California March 14–16 for Standard and March 15 and 16 for Advanced.


Sound Bytes


Like what you read? 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.

What’s Trending in Local Marketing and Voice Search

Discover the six major trends shaping location marketing for 2016, including apps, location data, beacons and more. Bruce and the BCI team also discuss how voice search is changing SEO.

SEO in 2015: Mobilegeddon, Millennials, App Deep Linking, RankBrain and More

In this final 2015 episode, the SEM Synergy hosts reflect on things that impacted SEO and how to direct 2016 growth accordingly — the biggest events and takeaways from 2015.

Google Search Quality Rating Guidelines Demand Usefulness

Google’s newly released set of guidelines gives digital marketers a watchword and goal: usefulness. Is your website helpful and truly mobile-friendly?

Social Media for Business: PR Pro Lisa Buyer Talks Social Secrets

Listen to this interview with author, speaker and owner of The Buyer Group agency Lisa Buyer talking about the mindful business movement, creating space to improve productivity, and her secrets for maximizing your social media efforts.




Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced he will personally fund $100 million to start a new educational philanthropic fund, the Hastings Fund. His first gifts, totalling $1.5 million, are earmarked for the United Negro College Fund and the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley.

This month we're celebrating the 20th anniversary of Bruce Clay, Inc. It was 20 years ago that Bruce Clay, who would later be among those credited with coining the term search engine optimization, started figuring out how websites could show up in search results. Those Wild West days predated even Google (which started in 1998), and Bruce started out at his kitchen table, personally writing the first computer program for page analysis. Many years and thousands of clients later, BCI is a renowned brand with offices around the world and a thriving consulting, training and tools business. Congrats on a milestone anniversary, Bruce.


Word on the Wire


Google confirmed an update to its core ranking algorithm occurred the second weekend in January. According to Google rep Gary Illyes on Twitter, this update did not relate to Penguin. SEOs are still waiting for the promised change to make Penguin apply in real time, which Google's John Mueller said would be rolled out as early as January. Whatever the cause, many webmasters experienced dramatic ranking shifts especially in local results around Jan. 10; see the discussion over at Local Search Forum for insights.

Google's John Mueller clarified that we won't notice any future Panda updates because the Panda algorithm is now part of the core search ranking algorithm, evaluating website quality on a rolling, continual basis. To further clarify Panda, Google provided many quotes to enable author Jennifer Slegg of The SEM Post to pen the recent definitive guide to understanding Panda, which is essential reading for SEOs.

Google expanded the structured data properties available for article rich snippets from 3 to 17, with most properties now required for marking up articles. Google has confirmed that it changed its structured data guidelines for articles in preparation for AMP, and has also added an AMP Articles filter to the Structured Data Testing Tool to help webmasters know whether their web pages comply with the new article markup requirements.

HTTPS is still on Google's radar. In mid-December, Google announced that it would prioritize indexing the secure (HTTPS) equivalent of a web page (assuming it meets certain conditions), even if a link leads Googlebot to the HTTP version. Further, Google search results will favor the HTTPS version of a page if both exist.

Google announced a new API for querying the Knowledge Graph database to find out what entities it considers relevant. Results from the Google Knowledge Base Search API may contain web pages as well as people, books, companies, films, and more. Google also said it will replace the Freebase API and the Freebase Suggest Widget at some point.

Google Search Console has a redesigned front end. Based on user studies, Google reorganized support resources to better answer users' needs and also added three new pages, a step-by-step ​webmaster troubleshooter, a curated list of the most popular Google Webmaster resources, and a new Google Webmaster Events calendar to show people when the next Office Hours hangout or Google speaking appearance is scheduled.

Through the LinkNYC public-private project that Google has a share in due to its acquisition of Sidewalk Labs, Inc., more than 7,500 payphones throughout the New York area are being replaced with wi-fi enabled kiosks called Links. Each Link powers free wi-fi to people within a 150-foot radius and offers free Internet browsing, USB charging, and phone calling anywhere in the U.S. Advertising space on each Link should provide revenue to the city.

Google began showing Product Listing Ads (PLAs) in image searches on mobile phones, for advertisers with PLA shopping campaigns opted in to the search partner network.

Bing announced Keyword Planner v2, an enhanced version of its Keyword Planner tool that is available to Bing Ads users (just in the U.S. for now). The updated tool offers four new capabilities: additional competitive insights and benchmarking, customizable ad group and keyword bids, a new source of keyword suggestions, and the ability to customize a time range of up to 24 months for search volume data.

Pinterest is making its promoted pins available to all U.S. businesses this month.

Facebook has quietly begun testing a local business feature that lets users find local service Pages and read their Facebook reviews and ratings. Available only for desktop (Facebook has a “Nearby Places” feature for mobile), the feature has not been officially announced, but news of it caused shares of Yelp and Angie's List to drop.

Facebook Live is being rolled out to selected iPhone users in the U.S. as a test. The network's live video-streaming app, previously available only to certain celebrities, will compete with the popular Meerkat and Periscope apps. In addition, the company said it is testing a new mobile sharing tool that lets users easily broadcast a live video.

Topsy, a popular free tool for Twitter and social media analytics, is no more. Apple, which bought two years ago, shut down the site on Dec. 15.

Apple may owe as much as $8 billion in European back taxes from sales made between 2004 and 2012. The European Commission investigation is expected to wrap up in March. Apple has said it will appeal an adverse ruling.

Apple has decided to phase out its iAd sales team. Publishers using the iAd platform will be able to sell their own advertising space and keep 100 percent of the ad revenue.

Yahoo has been reducing costs quietly as part of its restructuring efforts, including laying off 14 percent of its staff over the past year. The company is expected to do a massive layoff of at least 10 percent of its remaining workforce (now numbering just over 10,000 people) this quarter.

Amazon said it gained three million new Prime members during the week before Christmas. Internationally, Amazon China has registered to be able to ship freight goods by sea to U.S. customers directly from Chinese manufacturers.

In the wake of concerns expressed by users and others including a U.S. congresswoman, the creators of the social media app Stolen have decided to shut down the app, which allowed users to "own" peers with Twitter accounts, whether they signed up for the service or not.

ICANN may transition its oversight from the U.S. government to a 16-member board, says Fadi Chehade, chief executive of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Plans will be announced next month and likely go into effect after the Sept. 30 contract end date.

Fulfilling a promise made last year at its developer's conference, Microsoft has open sourced the ChakraCore JavaScript engine, which powers the Microsoft Edge browser.

An unconfirmed report says that Microsoft is buying mobile ad platform InMobi for $2 billion, reportedly beating out competing bidders Google and Yahoo. Acquisition of the InMobi network, which the India-based company says reaches 1 billion people globally per month, would greatly expand Microsoft's mobile advertising footprint.

Skype for Windows users can now communicate via talk and text with people who speak many different foreign languages, thanks to the new Skype Translator feature.

Globally, PC shipments were down by 8.3 percent in the fourth quarter 2015 compared to the previous year, according to Gartner. Of the top five PC companies, only Apple showed an increase, with PC sales up 2 percent year-over-year.

Chinese search engine Baidu is eyeing investments to expand its business in India. According to Tim Yang, head of Baidu in India, the company is in talks "to buy, merge or invest" in multiple companies including Zomato, Bookmyshow and Big Basket. In addition, Baidu's MoboMarket app store is developing new local-language versions to compete with Google's Android Play Store, which currently holds 90 percent of the Indian mobile phone market.

Twitter launched conversational ads, a new ad format that encourages users to talk about the brand on Twitter by embedding calls to action in a Promoted Tweet. Also, a new brand enthusiast gallery format was previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this month. This feature will offer advertisers a way to collect user tweets that favor the brand and its products, select relevant tweets, obtain user permission, and then display the comments in a carousel-like format below an ad.

Hot Topics




Sound Bytes


Word on the Wire




Top Blog Posts

The Digital Marketing Conference Calendar: 100+ Events Across the Globe, Updated for 2016

Ultimate Guide to Real Estate SEO: 7 Ways to Earn Traffic & Leads

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


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