Digital Marketing News Round Up: April Fools' Day, Squidoo, Instant Preview, Matt Cutts on Selling Links and iTunes Struggle with Indexation

Written by Will Barnes - 08 Apr 2013

This week has seen a number of notable occurrences in the digital marketing world, as well as a bumper selection of industry-appropriate pranks to get it off to a flying start.

Search engines jump on April Fools' Day (again)

April Fools’ Day is a date used by digital companies to let off some steam and engage in a bit of harmless mischief. This year there was once again no shortage of tomfoolery from the likes of Google, Bing and even straight-laced ”computation knowledge engine” Wolfram Alpha. Google were the heavyweights with multiple pranks including Google Nose and showing fake traffic from the International Space Station in Google Analytics.

As lighthearted as the day is meant to be, Bing decided to use the opportunity to poke fun at Google by switching to a rather more basic version when people used it to search for the term “Google”. Bing claimed they “decided to go back to basics, to the dawn of the internet, to reimagine Bing with more of a 1997, dial-up sensibility in mind.


Squidoo starts nofollowing

Squidoo, the community lens creation site, has over the last few days rolled out a nofollow tag for all their external links. In recent months the site has been struggling to keep its organic visibility looking healthy, with this likely being their attempt to discourage spammers from using Squidoo. There is a silver lining to this cloud for SEOs, however, as Squidoo will be allowing a select few influential members access to the follow tag.

Squidoo's official announcement said that “eventually we hope to start giving our best (and most trusted) lensmasters “follow” privileges on a case-by-case basis.” Hopefully the site will see an increase in visibility in the coming months as the change starts to have an impact.


Google removing instant preview?

Google appears to be planning on removing instant preview from their SERPs. According to SEO Roundtable, a webmaster at noticed that his results were displaying a drop-down menu with the options ‘Cached’ and ‘Similar’ instead of instant previews.

Although this may simply be an example of A/B testing, it seems likely that Google is going down this route as it would stop advertising in the right-hand column from being hidden by a webpage preview. As well as indicating a potential loss of faith in feature from Google, this would also be great news for people who work in PPC as it could result in a higher clickthrough rate.


Matt Cutts on selling links

Matt Cutts is answering users' questions again, his latest video responding to a question about sites that sell links. One user asked: “If some site that is linking to my site gets penalised for purchasing links, will my site get affected by that penalty?

Cutts’ short answer is no, saying that “the value of that link that the site was providing... just goes away.” However, it would seem likely that if that link existed in the first place you were perhaps already benefiting from it, so the link being devalued it could affect your site’s visibility as a result.

iTunes struggles with indexation

iTunes app pages have been recently struggling with organic visibility. This issue becomes clear when searching for popular iOS apps, for example the term “the Simpsons Tapped Out iPhone app” returns zero results from Apple on the first page of Google and actually shows an Android result in fourth position.

Search Engine Land claims this might be the result of duplicate content issues in the iTunes store but, even if it isn’t, surely the takeaway here is to not rely solely on app stores to promote your applications and instead build a brand and online presence around your product?  There may be some anti-trust and even intentional competitor hiding issues going on here…