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Hello folks, and happy Wednesday! We’ve moved the Smattering to Wednesdays because that better matches when I do the news for our internal teams. Because of this, we have two weeks worth of SEO news for you guys to feast upon! I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for reading!



Google News:

  • Google Releases First Top Heavy Algorithm Update In Over A Year – Back in 2012, Google launched the Top Heavy algorithm, which was to punish sites that put too many ads above the fold, as users want to get right to content without scrolling past a bevy of ads. The algorithm was released in January, 2012, with one update following in October of that same year. Recently Google released a new update to the Top Heavy algorithm that, according to their own blog post, should affect about one percent of searches, and warns site owners not to make their sites top heavy by loading them with ads “to an excessive degree”.
  • Cutts: Comments With, ‘Bad Grammar Won’t Affect Rankings’ – In a recent Webmaster video, Google’s Matt Cutts said that comments with poor grammar that aren’t spam won’t affect rankings. If your posts themselves have bad grammar, however, that could be a factor in how well your site ranks. Also, letting spam comments through could also hurt your rankings, so avoid letting those through if possible.
  • Possible Bug Found In URL Removal Tool – On the Google Webmaster Helpt-google-404-1303660172 Forums, one unfortunate webmaster who found their site hacked tried to use the URL removal tool to remove specific URLs only to find their entire site had been removed instead. Google’s John Mueller said their engineering team would look into the matter, but until a fix is posted, use this tool with caution.
  • German Link Network Targeted For Removal, With More To Come – Shortly after a French link network was penalized by Google, Matt Cutts tweeted that an unnamed German link network has now also been targeted, along with their clients. He then said that there is “more to come in Germany”, meaning Google has found more German link networks to target and penalize. More on this as we have it.
  • Google Autocomplete Causes Trouble In The UK For Racist Suggestions – According to an article in the Daily Mail Online, Google’s autocomplete searchgoogle-autocomplete-featured suggestions are once again causing folks to be upset, this time for apparently racist suggestions in relations to specific British cities. According to the article, this happened when people types “Why is Bradford…” or “Why is Leicester so…” they would see racist suggestions, though I couldn’t confirm this myself. No word from Google on when or whether this will be fixed.
  • Bloomberg: Google Now Second Most Valuable Company In America – Bloomberg.com recently reported that Google’s market capitalization has increased to $393.5 billion, putting them ahead of Exxon Mobile at $392.6 billion. However, this still puts Google around $72 billion behind Apple, which has a market value of $465.5 billion. Bloomberg attributes Google’s rise to an increase in technology companies on the global business stage, as well as Exxon Mobile dropping in both revenue and sales over the past year. It’ll be interesting to see if Google can close the gap with Apple at all.
  • Google Earns $16.86 Billion In Revenue In Q4, 2013 – Google reported that their revenues in Q4, 2013 totaled $16.86 billion, up seventeen percent from Q4, 2012. Some reasons for these increases includes a thirty-one percent increase year over year in aggregate paid clicks along with an eleven percent decrease in cost per clicks year over year.
  • $1 Billion Could Be Forcibly Paid To Patent Troll By Google – As part of a patentLaw-Concept-300x270 settlement case with multiple companies, including Yahoo and Microsoft, a court awarded not only a set amount, but ongoing royalties to a well-known patent troll company called Vringo. Vringo claims they hold patents that allow ads to be placed in organic search results. As part of the royalty settlement, if the math Search Engine Land did is right, Google alone could wind up paying between $800 million and $1 billion. As we saw in the last story, this is a fraction of their quarterly revenues, but still, it’s a lot of money.
  • Google Begins To Target Rich Snippet Spam – Google recently began sending out notifications to webmasters via Webmaster Tools warning them that “Spammy structured markup” had been discovered on their website. This includes markup that is “invisible to users, marking up irrelevant or misleading content, and other manipulative behavior” that can violate Google’s guidelines. While rich snippet spam has been a problem ever since its inception, this is the first time Google has apparently taken manual action against it, which is an excellent thing.
  • Google Makes Music Videos More Prominent In SERPs – Google recently changed the way music videos are presented in music-related search results. Now if you search for, say, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” video, the first result will be a large screenshot of the video, which you can then watch on (where else?) YouTube. Google says it supports multiple sources, however, but my tests took me almost entirely to YouTube. It doesn’t work right in every instance, either, but when it works, it makes that video very prominent. Whether this will be beneficial to searchers is still in question.

Other News:

  • Bing Announces Bitcoin Conversion Tool – Following in the heels of Yandex, Bing recently announced that they have launched a native bitcoin conversion tool in their search engine. Now typing “one bitcoin”, for example, will show you the exact dollar amount of one Bitcoin, which as I write this is over $672.
  • Yahoo Partners With Yelp To Improve Local Results – The Wall Street Journal isyelp-files-ipo reporting that Yahoo has partnered with Yelp in order to improve their local search results. This will eventually include reviews, and photos embedded within Yahoo search results, though there’s no word on when this will be implemented.
  • Rumor: Yahoo Eyeing A Return To Search – Rumors are beginning to surface that Yahoo is undertaking two projects – codenamed “Fast Break” and “Curveball” – that would let Yahoo take back control of both their organic and paid search products. It’s been long rumored that CEO Marissa Mayer isn’t thrilled with Yahoo’s current search deal with Microsoft, but apparently that deal ends in March. We’ll have to wait and see how this all pans out, but it would be interesting to see Yahoo regain control over their own search results.
  • 2013 The Worst Year Yet For Data Breaches – According to findings from the non-profit group Online Trust Alliance (OTA), they found that 740 million personal records were exposed in 2013, making last year the worst on record for personal data breaches. This includes high-profile breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus and other companies, for which the group took to task for not having better data security. The OTA also recommended all companies that handle personal data have a Data Incident Plan to better handle data breaches more quickly and efficiently.
  • Twitter Beats Expectations With $243 Million In Revenue In Q4 – Twitter had aTwitter-Large-300x150 better-than-expected quarter and year. For Q4, 2013, they had $243 million in revenue, up 116 percent year over year. Yearly revenue totaled $665 million in revenue, $220 million of ad revenue, an increase of 121% year over year. Interestingly, seventy-five percent of ad revenue was from mobile sources. However, Twitter announced that user growth is slowing, which may harm its long-term financial outlook.

That’s it for this week’s Smattering, it should be enough to tie you over till next Wednesday when I’ll be back with more exciting SEO news!


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