Weekly SEO news: 6 November 2012
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Google's new disavow links tool is seen as the cure for all SEO problems by many webmasters. Should you use this tool? Are there any risks and does it make sense to invest your time in Google's disavow tool? Could this be a trick of Google?

In the news: Matt Cutts talks about subdomains and subdirectories, the latest paid search marketing statistics, Bing introduces a quality score impact tool, and more.

Table of contents:

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Best regards,
Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Is Google's disavow links tool just  a trick? Be careful.
Google's new disavow links tool is seen as the cure for all SEO problems by many webmasters. Should you use this tool? Are there any risks and does it make sense to invest your time in Google's disavow tool? Could this be a trick of Google?

Google disavow links tool

What is Google's disavow tool?

Google's recent algorithm updates penalized links that had too many automatically created low quality backlinks. Websites that used bulk-submitters that created forum profile backlinks, blog comment links, etc. saw a dramatic drop in their rankings.

The problem is that all websites sooner or later get backlinks from dubious websites (content scrapers, etc.). Some webmasters also panicked that their competitors could harm their website by creating low quality backlinks to their site.

Google's disavow links tool enables you to tell Google that some links to your website should not count.

Should you use Google's tool?

Google recommends that you should only use this tool if you know what you're doing: "We don’t recommend using this tool unless you are sure that you need to disavow some links to your site and you know exactly what you’re doing."

According to Google, the disavow tool is only a suggestion to Google and it does not mean that the links will be ignored. Google also says that it will take several weeks until they process your request. Basically, Google says that they will continue to judge the links as they seem fit.

Could this be a trick?

Instead of penalizing websites with low quality backlinks, Google could simply ignore these links. Is it possible that the websites that were penalized simply didn't have enough good backlinks? It might be that the rankings just dropped because the low quality links do not count anymore.

If you use Google's disavow links tool, you show Google several things:
  • You know that your website has low quality backlinks.
  • You are actively using SEO methods to promote your website.
  • You know that some of these methods might be spammy.
Some people think that using the disavow tool might be seen as admission of guilt. If you want to tell Google that you are (or have been) a spammer, then the disavow links tool might be a good way to do so.

There are better ways to invest your time

Ask yourself if it is really necessary to remove a link to your site. You might end up removing links that are helping your site.

The time that you invest in removing alleged bad backlinks is better invested in building new high quality backlinks. You can also use that time to improve the content of your website.

Show Google that your website is good. That's better than trying to show them that your website is not bad.

Spamming is not the same as search engine optimization

Google's recent updates mainly targeted people who thought that search engine optimization was the same as spamming. Search engine optimization is not about tricking search engines.

It is about optimzing your web pages so that searchers, search engines and businesses get the best possible results. Good search engine optimization leads to a win-win-win situation.

If you didn't spam Google in the past, there's no need to use Google's disavow links tool, even if some backlinks to your site seem to have a low quality. Better focus on things that you can influence.

Use IBP to get high quality backlinks and optimize the content of your web pages so that your website gets the best possible rankings on Google and other search engines.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week

Matt CuttsVideo: should I structure my site using subdomains or subdirectories?

Google's Matt Cutts answers that question in a video. He says that both methods are roughly equivalent and that you should go with the method that's easier for you.

Previously, Google treated subdomains as individual domains. This was abused by spammers so Google now treats subdomains just like subdirectories of the domain.

State of paid search

"Google remains the dominant search engine; however, Yahoo!-Bing outperforms Google QoQ in traffic growth – evidence of growing competition in the search engine marketplace. Yahoo!-Bing’s click traffic increased by 9.6 percent in Q3 2012, while Google’s click traffic only increased by 0.7 percent. [...]

In the consumer goods industry, overall clicks were up 9 percent YoY. The share of clicks on smartphones and tablets jumped from 4.9 percent in Q3 2011 to 21.1 percent in Q3 2012 (a 331 percent increase YoY). In consumer services, click traffic on mobile devices increased by 117 percent and CPCs increased by 19.3 percent in Q3 2012."

GooglerGoogle casts a big shadow on smaller web sites

"Google rose by technological innovation and business acumen; in the United States, it has 67 percent of the search market and collects 75 percent of search ad dollars. Being big is no crime, but if a powerful company uses market muscle to stifle competition, that is an antitrust violation. [...]

The goal is to encourage them to stay in power by continuing to innovate instead of excluding competitors."

Click-through rates on Bing higher than on Google

"Most reports cited an increase in search spend anywhere from 13% to 29% year over year, partially driven by an overall increase in click volume. Kenshoo noted that click-through rates on the Yahoo! Bing Network were 29% higher than Google.

Marin found that Yahoo! and Bing are continuing to show solid growth in aggregate click volume, with an increase of 9% year over year, as well as a 9% increase in click-through rate."

Bing introduces quality impact tool for paid search ads

"'What do I get out of improving my Quality Score?' is a common question among advertisers; soon Bing Ads will answer this question via a new feature named Quality Impact. 

Based upon the competition for the targeted traffic and the traffic volume, we will advise you the additional impressions you could gain by improving your Quality Score."

Search engine newslets
  • Eight ways to search on Windows 8.
  • Google loses Australia 'gangland' defamation lawsuit.
  • Facebook tests non-social marketplace ads in news feed.
  • [Chinese search engine] Baidu income soars but mobile success will take years.
  • We need Apple and Google to work together again.
  • Yelp Makes the switch to Apple Maps.
  • French government seeks to charge Google EUR1 billion in taxes.

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