Web Search & Marketing Newsletter - September 2012
Welcome to the latest issue of our monthly newsletter, which covers news, tips and advice on effective website marketing techniques and trends.
The first article this month reviews the recent release by Bing of a "disavow links" feature in their Webmaster Center and why business website owners should consider this useful addition as a development tool to protect themselves from potentially malicious link activity.
Next, we also consider Google's response to this new feature from Bing, by including an update within their own webmaster tools, to the alerts sent to webmasters and why it's important for website owners or marketers to consider these as a useful service to help review and develop their website.
In the final article this month, we examine the differences in mobile and desktop search results and why these can be significant for Search Engine Optimisation strategies in the future.
You can read more below, or you can also browse through previous editions of the newsletter, either by month or by subject. You can also follow us on Twitter for the latest developments during the month, or follow our Facebook page for updates.
On to this month's edition...
Bing Releases a "Disavow Links" Tool for Webmasters
The Bing Webmaster's blog recently announced the addition of a "Disavow Links" feature that now allows Webmasters to protect their sites from malicious link building that could result in a website's rankings being penalised on that search engine.
The incidence of this type of negative link building to impact a competitor's website is not that widespread, but with Google's increasing focus on targeting bad links, it could be an issue for some companies, or there may be a need to review past link building programs that might have used sites that are now being seen as poor quality.
So this new Bing tool is very useful as it enables the person responsible for a business's website indexing to tell the Bing search engine that their site shouldn't be associated with un-trusted links to it from another particular website. It can be used to submit a page, directory, or domain URLs that may contain links to the business's site that seem "unnatural" or appear to be from spam or low quality sites. In turn, Bing may use this information to identify sites that are seen as low quality within its index.
There is no limit on the number of links that can be disavowed via this tool and it's great to protect against fraudulent link building activities by any competitors. Until now there was no way to protect a site from unwanted links added by competitors to diminish the trust vote by Bing and subsequent search engine positions. There probably won't be dramatic changes in rankings as a result of using this tool, but the information shared does help Bing understand more clearly the intent around links pointing to your site.
So this is a good response from growing industry demand for the inclusion of such a feature within Bing's Webmaster Tools. It shows that Bing is actively responding to such requests, which will increase their favour within the SEO industry in the future and SEOs are already requesting that Google implements a similar tool within its own version of Webmaster tools.
If you'd like to know more about how the "Disavow Links" tool can benefit your website, contact us now for more information.
Google Updates Webmaster Tools Alerts
Google recently responded to Bing's addition of the "Disavow Links" tool for Webmasters by announcing new notifications in its version of Webmasters tools about un-trusted ("spammy" or artificial links) links to a website.
Previously, Google sent out a broad alert to Webmasters in severe cases, when it believed a site had been engaging in a widespread pattern of link spam over a long period of time. This notified the Webmaster that their trust in the entire site had been reduced due to these unnatural links and that they should be removed before submitting a reconsideration request for the site with Google.
The new version of the alert service tries to alleviate concerns amongst site owners by making it clear that for a specific incident, Google will take targeted action on the unnatural links, instead of the site as a whole. So anyone that gets the new message can tell what type of action has occurred. The new alerts also lack the yellow exclamation mark that older messages have, which tries to convey that they're addressing a situation that is not as severe as the previous "we are losing trust in your entire site" messages.
So although Google have made a good effort to alert Webmasters that their site may have a potential issue – one that's worth some investigation - without overly stressing them, this isn't quite as an effective approach to the un-trusted link issue that Bing has provided, that actually allows those links to be disavowed.
Google also recently announced the addition of search query alerts. Webmaster tools processes the data for a website and tries to detect events that are the most interesting for site owners. So alerts for search query data have been added into that category, with the existing ones about crawl errors.
The search queries feature in Webmaster Tools shows, among other things, the search result impressions and clicks for your top pages over time. For most sites, these numbers follow regular patterns, so when sudden spikes or drops occur, it makes sense to alert the Webmaster to look into what caused them. This is a very useful addition to the alerts provided by Google, although wisely, they're still working on the "sensitivity threshold" of the messages, in response to feedback they receive.
Contact us now if you'd like more information about how the Google Webmaster tools alerts can improve the performance of your website on search engines.
Differences in Mobile and Desktop Search Results
It's a little known fact that Google mobile search results (whether tablet, feature phone or smartphone) can be different results from those on Google from a desktop computer. SEO practitioners therefore need to take note, as at present, there are at least 16 known differences between smartphone results and desktop ones.
Many of these differences don't affect core web search results and many users just aren't going to notice or care that smartphone search results are slightly different than desktop ones. But, for those interested in the targeting of SEO, it's not possible to ignore these if the aim is to get the maximum amount of traffic from the rapidly expanding source of mobile search.
One of the most interesting differences is that local results are more likely to appear, and higher up, in mobile results. So this makes Google+ Local optimisation essential if you have a local business, especially one with multiple outlets.
Another notable difference is that the clickthrough and bounce rates are more likely to vary in mobile listings. According to Google, this is because mobile users scroll more than desktop users, but there's still a 90% drop off in CTR in mobile search results after position 4. So it's very important to have a higher ranking within the mobile search results to attract a good volume of traffic.
More of these differences can be examined here, but the main point to consider is that mobile SEO is going to become increasingly important. So it's necessary to be aware that these differences between mobile search and desktop search results exist, in order to ensure that a business's SEO is performing at its peak on all targeted devices.
If you'd like to how the Web Marketing Workshop can improve the SEO of your business on all devices in the future, contact us for more information.
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We hope you've found this month's newsletter useful. Please contact us if you need any more information on the items covered, or our advice on any aspect of your website's performance. Also, if there are any issues you would like to see in future editions of this newsletter, please submit your suggestions to us.