Weekly SEO news: 24 February 2015
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

"Link building is dead" is something that you might have heard from several SEOs during the last few weeks and months. It's true that search engine optimization has changed a lot. But are links really not important anymore? Or are some people just drawing the wrong conclusions?

In the news: Google's close exact match variation has a lower conversion rate, how to fix hacked sites, why reviews are hard, and more.

Table of contents:

We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and that it helps you to get more out of your website. Please pass this newsletter on to your friends.

Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Backlinks are dead, or are they?
"Link building is dead" is something that you might have heard from several SEOs during the last few weeks and months. It's true that search engine optimization has changed a lot. But are links really not important anymore? Or are some people just drawing the wrong conclusions?

Are backlinks still alive?

Backlinks are dead, long live backlinks!

Links are a very important ranking signal for Google. Links are so important that Google puts a lot of effort into detecting bad backlinks. If you hear someone saying "link building does not work anymore", the person actually says "link spamming does not work anymore."

The automatic links that might have helped your website in the past will get your website penalized today. Automatically creating backlinks in bulk does not work anymore. Faking social network profiles to get backlinks does not work anymore. Spamming forums and article websites with fake or low quality content to get backlinks does not work anymore. Automated link networks do not work anymore.

To make things clear: spamming does not work anymore!

However, this has nothing to do with real backlinks. Real backlinks from good sites are the best thing that can happen to your rankings.

Things, not strings: what does Google mean with that?

Google's ranking concept is "things, not strings". That means that the context of a link is important. The links that point to your website should come from pages that are related to the topic of your own website. Google has been saying this for years but now they are serious about it.

If all of the links that point to your website contain exactly the same keyword, you can be sure that this will trigger an 'unnatural links' filter.

If the links to your website contain keywords that are related to the topic of your website, Google will find your website relevant for that topic.

Google is serious about this and that's good news for you

Some people still think that they can trick Google's algorithm with the 'brand new secret method that will get your site on Google's first result page with just a few mouse clicks.' These spam tools do not work anymore and it is very likely that your website will be penalized if you fake links and other things.

Links that require human intervention are the links that Google considers in the ranking algorithm. Quality is much more important than quantity.

A handful of high quality links are much better than hundreds of automatically created backlinks.

The tools in SEOprofiler help you to build backlinks as efficiently as possible. While it is not possible to automate the link building process, the tools can make your life much easier:

  • they help you to get rid of bad backlinks (link disinfection)
  • they find suitable high quality websites for you
  • they help you to separate the wheat from the chaff
  • they help you to save time so that you get more things done
Invest your time wisely. If you haven't done it yet, try SEOprofiler now:

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week
Google close variant exact match conversion rate 52% lower than true exact match
"In late-September last year, Google rolled out mandatory close variant matching (CVM) to all phrase and exact match keywords. The change forced phrase and exact match keywords into auctions for queries that were deemed to be closely related to each keyword, such as plurals and misspellings. [...]

We see that close variant exact match search terms see a conversion rate of just 48% that of true exact match search terms, while close variant phrase match conversion rate was 86% that of true phrase match. These differences in conversion rate exist for both branded and non-brand keywords."

GoogleGoogle case studies: fixing hacked sites 

"Hacked sites can harm users by serving malicious software, collecting personal information, or redirecting them to sites they didn't intend to visit. Webmasters want to fix hacked sites quickly, but unfortunately recovering from a hack can be a complicated process."

Why reviews are hard – a look at the numbers

"Reviews are hard. Particularly at Yelp. Most Americans have no desire to leave a review. When you combine that fact with fragmented market share and review site policies it becomes even more difficult."

GoogleHow Google determined our right to be forgotten

"Google has acted as judge, jury and executioner in the wake of Europe’s right to be forgotten ruling. But what does society lose when a private corporation rules public information?"

Why won’t Google talk about mobile [ads] like everyone else?
"Google has remained relatively cryptic in the way it discusses mobile advertising performance, and unlike its competitors, has refused to break out mobile ad results. [...] Why doesn’t Google tell the market what’s going on in its mobile ad business? Perhaps no good can come of it."

Search engine newslets

  • .gb.com domain names are now toxic.
  • DuckDuckGo now supports instant answers in more languages.
  • Google Mobile tests a new loading effect.
  • Google's co-founders are about to sell $4.4 billion worth of shares.
  • Google tests search result pages without URLs.
  • Google News: title tags & H1 tags should be consistent for ranking.
3. Recommended resources

Everything you need

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  • automatic weekly website audits
  • tools for keyword research and analysis
  • competitive intelligence tools
  • automated ranking checks
  • website analytics
  • tools for spam-free link building
  • link disinfection tool
  • social media monitoring
  • white-label reports (web-based and PDF)
  • and much more.

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4. Previous articles
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