22 Jan 2016

Penguins, Pandas, and Algorithm Updates, Oh My! Weekly Forum Update

seochat-wmw-cre8asite-threadwatch-roundupGoogle’s recent core algorithm update, along with the discovery that Panda is now “core,” have really shaken the SEO beehive.

Let’s begin by making an important distinction: Google made a core algorithm update, yes, but it had nothing to do with either Panda or Penguin.

In an entirely separate event, Google announced that Panda is now part of its core ranking algorithm.

These two separate events somehow got tangled around themselves in knots this week.

Now that the dust has settled, we have some fantastic discussions about this and other topics to share with you!

Bing Keyword Planner Now Enhanced With Version 2

Let’s start off slow with a pleasant announcement from Bing. Version 2 of its keyword planner is now live, and it brought some new features to the table.

Competitive insights, benchmarking, custom ad groups, keyword bids, and more. It’s only available in the United States for now. You can find a link to the full features list, as well as a venue for discussion, over on WebmasterWorld.

Clearing Up Confusion About the Core Algorithm

When Panda was announced as being “core,” some confusion arose over what that meant. Many consider the core algorithm to be “automatic,” that is, they believe it updates in real time. Based on that, some speculated that Panda was also real time.

However, we now know that to be untrue. Check out an article from Search Engine Land, shared via Threadwatch, about Andrey Lipattsev’s comments on the matter.

“It is less about the functionality… and is more about how we perceive it,” he says.

Being core is sort of like Google saying that they trust Panda to take the car out to a party and be back by midnight.

Google Confirms January 2016 Core Algorithm Update Was Not Panda

Two announcements – Panda being core and an update to the core algorithm – happened very close to each other. This was another source of confusion online. If the core algorithm was updated, some wondered, did that also mean that Panda was updated? We know the answer now – no, it wasn’t. But there’s still a lot to discuss.

Some users of WebmasterWorld who have been eagerly awaiting a Panda update did see improvements. If they weren’t Panda related, what could they be?

“I don’t know whether the absence of Panda updates in this past weekend’s update is relevant at all to the question of reported Zombie traffic, but I suggest some re-examination of what we’re identifying as Zombie traffic might make sense,” writes user Robert Charlton.

Further, he asks,

“Any sightings, eg, of changes that suggest how RankBrain is being incorporated?” Ahhh yes… remember RankBrain and the Zombie epidemic? Here’s a thread with a lot to unpack!

Google Search Share is at its “Smallest Since 2008”

2008 was a very different time, but this year it seems oh so familiar. Google is not only at its smallest search share since that year, but Yahoo is also at its highest since 2009.

In this report on Threadwatch, you can check out a great article from Bloomberg and forum discussion from SEO Chat.

What we’re all watching for is whether Apple Safari also moves to Bing – that’d be a big change, since Safari has more than half of the mobile traffic in the USA!

For more about this year’s Bing vs Google slugfest take a look at this article on SEO Chat as well!

Penguin is Likely Weeks Away

Along with the confusion about Panda this week, there was some chatter about Penguin. On Twitter, Gary Illyes answered that Google is “aiming for launching Penguin this quarter, but we don’t have a more precise timeframe.”

Will a real-time Penguin finally be the death of negative SEO? What are your expectations, hopes, and fears? Share them with the users of SEO Chat!

And while you’re there, take part in the SEO Chat Penguin Update Betting Pool! We’re putting honor and forum points on the line to see who can predict the exact date of its announcement!

A Well and Proper Disavow

On Cre8asiteforums, user WPMuse brings an interesting question to the table.

“I came here looking for [disavow] tips due to all the rumblings that Penguin is going to update again,” they write.

But when analyzing their site, they discovered that many of the “bad” links were from sites that no longer exist, or the links don’t seem to exist, or they’re links in the code or content scraped by Reddit and other aggregators.

“How do you know what to disavow when most if it seems like BS? None of these links were garnered by any effort of the site owner,” they write.

There’s also a fantastic discussion to be had about scraping and how to protect your data!

Can Google Grab Meta Titles from External Anchor Text?

SEO Chat user ryandiscord is working on a side project. For this project, they disallowed all in their robots.txt. After this, they made some external links. To their surprise, the anchor text of those links was being used as the title of ryandiscord’s site in SERPs.

So, when Googlebot can’t read a website does it look to external anchor text to find a title? Interestingly, the answer may be yes according to Google’s guidelines. Check this one out for the full experiment and thoughts from our users!

Secret Onboarding for Fun and Profit!

Users of Cre8asiteforums are discussing the covert onboarding performed by Microsoft on its own users back in 1992. An article on The Next Web says that Minesweeper was a creative way of transitioning users away from the keyboard and towards the mouse. Same with Solitaire, but with new mouse functions.

User iamlost says that these techniques aren’t just fun – they could be useful, too.

“Let’s say you have an order form that requires multiple inputs… how about an obvious big green checkmark beside each completed input choice? It ‘says’ success! It encourages continuing, completing the order.”

How can you make the processes of your own website more fun, imaginative, and – therefore – profitable?

Google Testing App Installs Direct From Mobile SERPs

Let’s end our weekly update by returning to a popular topic from last week – the marriage of the mobile web and app traffic.

As a test, Google is opening the door for some mobile users to install apps straight from their search queries. WebmasterWorld admin engine wonders why Google would leapfrog the Play store like this.

“…I’m assuming the company has built in some sort of protection from malicious apps which might make it into the SERPs, but not get into the Play store,” he writes.

The “install” button seems to appear for everyone, but only select few users can do a direct installation. The rest are redirected to the Play store… for now.

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