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Hey folks, welcome to 2015, and happy New Year! I hope y’all had a fun, joyous, and rejuvenating holiday season! Now that the holidays are over though, it is back to work, and that means monitoring the latest in SEO news! I am happy to help with this Smattering of the latest happenings. 😉

Google News:

  • Google Domains Opens To All US Residents – Google Domains launched an invite-only beta last June. The service – which allows folks to buy a domain for $12 a year to start and comes bundled with services from partners such as Wix and Squarespace – has now opened for all US residents to use. If you’re outside the US, you can sign up to a mailing list in order to be notified once the service arrives in your neck of the woods.


  • Google’s John Mueller: Getting Good Links Can Remove Penguin Penalties Without Disavowing – In a recent Hangout, Google’s John Mueller – who’s filling in rather nicely for Matt Cutts in this role – was asked a hypothetical question. Could a user’s link profile overcome any problems from Penguin if they strived to acquire more good, solid, quality links through more natural methods rather than disallow whatever low quality links they might have (regardless of whether the webmaster either ignored or didn’t know about the disallow command)? Mueller said that Google’s algorithms take such factors into account and, if it sees it’s on the way to improvement, that penalties could slowly whither away as well.
  • Analyst: Google Possibly Making Moves Toward Auto Insurance Comparison Tool – According to an analyst at Forrester named Ellen Carney, her research is pointing toward signs that Google is gearing up to launch an auto insurance comparison tool/website in the US soon, having launched the successful Google Compare tool in the UK in 2012. Carney points to an entity called Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc. that’s already authorized to do business in more than half of the states in the US, along with the ability to work with other insurers in several other states. It’ll be interesting to see if this does launch, and what it will do to auto insurance services that also do the exact same thing.
  • Webmaster Tools Messaging To Receive Update Soon – Google’s John Mueller commented in a Hangout recently that the messaging functionality of Webmaster Tools is about to get an update to both its content and its layout. Apparently they’ve received many complaints of messages not being clear, especially in regards to disavowing links. As a result of these complaints, Google will be updating how the messages are presented along with their text. Not sure when these updates will be happening, but hopefully it’s soon.
  • Google’s Search Share Drops 2% In One Month After Firefox Switches To YahooGoogle’s search share dropped from 77.3% in November to 75.2% in December of last year, following a switch on Firefox’s part to use Yahoo as its primary search engine. Yahoo, in turn, saw about a 2% jump. While 2% is quite a lot, let’s keep in mind that Google is still at 75% overall, which means they didn’t fall far from their seat as king of the hill.


Other News:

  • Instagram Leads In Growth, Facebook Leads In Engagement Among Social Networks – New research from the Pew Research Internet Project finds that while Facebook has hit a plateau with its growth, its engagement is massive with around 70% of its users engaging with the site on a daily basis, up from 63% the year before. The winner in growth is Instagram, which apparently grew 9% last year, meaning 26% of all adults in the US use the photo sharing service. This was followed by Pinterest at 7%, LinkedIn by 6%, and Twitter by a paltry 5% amount of user growth year-over-year.


  • Firefox Users Manually Switching To Google After Yahoo Becomes Default Search Engine – In an interesting counterpoint to the article above, research firm RKG found that when Yahoo first replaced Google as Firefox’s default search engine in Firefox 34, paid search clicks on Yahoo rose to around 43%. Apparently, however, that number has dropped severely in just the past month, down to 36%, due to users forcibly switching back to Google manually within Firefox’s options. RKG’s Mark Ballard even estimates that Yahoo’s share in paid search clicks from Firefox users will continue to drop as users switch back to Google. Fascinating stuff.


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