Hello my friends, and welcome to another week of SEO news! September has gotten off to a fantastic start in SEO news and there was just a ton of stuff this week. I highlighted the best for you, so I hope you enjoy this week’s Smattering!
- Matt Cutts’ Blog Migrates To HTTPS, But Uses 302 Rather Than 301 – A little while back, Google announced that it would give minor ranking boosts to sites using HTTPS rather than the typical HTTP. Recently, it was discovered that Matt Cutts’ own blog had been migrated from HTTP to HTTPS, but for some reason this had been done using a temporary 302 redirect rather than a permanent 301 redirect. Sure enough, my own testing found that http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/ indeed redirects to https://www.mattcutts.com/blog/ using a 302. As Cutts himself is on something of a sabbatical, it’s unclear whether he’s responsible for this, or if someone else caused it.
- 503 Error Code Not Enough To Prevent Removal If Site Sees Extended Downtime – For some time now, Google has suggested that if your site is experiencing unexpected downtime, try and serve a 503 Service Unavailable header code rather than a 404 Error code. This way Google knows it’s a problem with the site rather than a broken page. However, someone who had a 503 on their site found it removed from Google’s index, and complained to Google’s John Mueller on Twitter about it. Mueller replied that since the site had been down for two months and users would start to blame Google for leading them to a downed site, they removed the site from the index entirely. Apparently, “If a site is down for a couple of weeks, I think most users would assume that it’s gone for good. 503 or not…”
- The Only Way To Recover From Penguin Is An Algorithm Refresh – According to a recent post by John Mueller in Google’s Webmaster Help forums, recovering from a Penguin penalty requires that Penguin be refreshed. That means you can work tirelessly to solve whatever problem put your site in the doghouse, but you won’t see the results until Google decides to refresh the algorithm, which might take who knows how long. Kind of frustrating, but it’s good to know regardless.
- Google Working On Speeding Up Penguin Refreshes – Speaking of which, John Mueller – wow, he’s been busy lately – also confirmed that Google is working to make Penguin refresh a lot faster than it currently does. Apparently it’s been close to a year since the last refresh, but Google is working to “speed things up” as Mueller said. That’ll be a comfort to people working to get out from under a Penguin penalty, as mentioned in the last story.
- New Analytics Benchmark Reports Rolling Out – Google announced that over the next few weeks, it’ll be rolling out benchmark reports (available in the “Audience” section) which will allow webmasters to compare their results with a wide variety of others. These include 1,600 industry categories and 1,250 markets, and can include metrics such as location or device. This will likely be very helpful to webmasters and site owners looking to compare how their site is doing to others in their industry. I personally can’t wait to try it on my own blog.
- Bing Launches URL Keyword Stuffing Spam Filtering – Bing announced it recently launched a spam filtering mechanism that helps filter out spammy URLs littered with keywords. This is a common black-hat technique, and apparently has affected about 3% of searches across the search engine.
- Ruling: Yelp Not Obligated To Publish Positive Reviews – Recently, a case was brought to a federal appeals court against Yelp by small business owners claiming the local search giant extorted advertising payments by manipulating reviews. Last week, the case was thrown out of court. The resulting ruling specified that small business owners aren’t entitled to have positive reviews on their Yelp pages. Attorneys for the small businesses said this would lead to less trustworthy reviews on the service. Yelp replied by saying anyone who claims the service alters business ratings for money is either misinformed or has “an axe to grind”.