SEO News - February 2015

19 February 2015

There’s been lots going on recently in the world of SEO, so here’s a quick update on some of the biggest news from the last couple of weeks.

Missing & Delayed Data

The last two weeks have seen problems across both Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, with Analytics data for the 9th February going missing, and Webmaster Tools search query data not updating for several days.

Both of these issues are now resolved and data has returned for the majority of users. Google replied to Barry Schwartz with the following message on the 13th:

“We're sorry for our unusually bad case of the Mondays. We've fixed the issue and no data was lost. Analytics users should start seeing any missed information by the end of the day.”

In addition, the Webmaster Tools International Targeting reports are also delayed, with people reporting that they haven’t seen any updated data since the 20th January. Google say they are looking into it, so we’ll be keeping an eye on this to see if it’s simply an error or the start of some bigger changes to how Google provides data through Webmaster Tools.

Twitter Allowing Google Access to Firehose

After three and a half years, Twitter has given Google access to its data stream - known as firehose - once again. This means that Google now has the ability to index tweets immediately after they are posted. Bloomberg has reported that Google and Twitter engineers are already working on the project and that it will go live in the first half of 2015.

This change will have a massive impact on Google’s search results and the importance of tweet content within the ranking algorithm. There will no doubt be much speculation over whether retweets, favourites and number of followers will become a ranking factor, although this is doubtful due to the potential to be abused by spammers.

Read the full story at Search Engine Roundtable.

Google's John Mueller advises against Link Building

Last Friday John Mueller, a trends analyst at Google, answered the question, "is link building in any way good?" during a Google+ hangout. It’s rare for Google employees to openly speak about link building practices, and his response was certainly interesting:

“That is a good question. In general, I’d try to avoid that. So that you are really sure that your content kind of stands on its own and make it possible for other people of course to link to your content. Make it easy, maybe, put a little widget on your page, if you like this, this is how you can link to it. Make sure that the URLs on your web site are easy to copy and paste. All of those things make it a little bit easier. We do use links as part of our algorithm but we use lots and lots of other factors as well. So only focusing on links is probably going to cause more problems for your web site that actually helps.”

Skip to 55:40 in the video below to watch it yourself:

Michael Martinez of SEO Theory responded with an article stating:

“Links have never been the sole way to build search referral traffic in Google and other major search engines…But link building for the Web is just fine. Whether you use the “rel=’nofollow'” attribute or pre-emptively disavow any links that you place for yourself or just let nature take its course really doesn’t matter in the overall scheme of things. I say that because John has occasionally made a good point about the time that people invest in link building: most people could put that time to better use.”

OF course, Google are never going to advocate link building as their primary goal is to provide useful, relevant and natural search results, which can obviously be manipulated when extreme or spammy link building tactics are undertaken across a particular sector. However, it’s obvious that link building is a large part of the Google algorithm, since the signals it provides are so useful.

Building links for the sake of building links is a one-way ticket to a penalty, so it’s important that your SEO focus remains on content, PR, relationship building and brand awareness, of which links and subsequent traffic increase are a nice by-product.

If you want any more information on how DBD Media can help you with your SEO strategy, then get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.