The SEO News Round Up: Fair Competition, Links and Mobile Usage

In our second week of regular updates, Google takes a week out of making wholesale updates to their algorithm and changes to the way they display (not that we’re complaining). However, they have released snippets that could be significant to those working in relevant verticals. This week, there were updates to weapons-related searches and extended site wide links as well as Matt Cutts explicitly stating the need for links to help rank sites (as building links is such a big part of an SEO's repertoire); let’s begin with that.

"Don’t write the epitaph for links just yet"

A quote from our friend Matt Cutts at the SMX Advanced conference has led us to delve deeper and read between the lines of what Google obviously still uses as a primary ranking factor. Google has so far been unable to harness social signals for ranking sites effectively, and thus continue to rely on a plethora of techniques that they just can't do without.

During the video, a shorter two minute version of what must have been a lengthy conversation, Cutts veers away from the question and even paraphrases the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams- “Space is big” - before leading into something just that little bit more helpful:

"When you look at the actual percentage of no-follow links on the web, it's a single digit..."

The natural backlink profile is something of a necessity at the moment, and one of the facets of a natural backlink profile is obviously a certain percentage of no-follow links. Perhaps we can read a little deeper into this quote by Cutts and apply it to our own campaigns. I won’t be getting ahead of myself, but in any case cheers, Matt.

The EU starts to fold to Google

It’s no secret that Google is pulling every trick in the book to fight against the complaints to the competition commission made originally by Foundem, but with an enterprise as large, powerful and agile as Google, the complaints made in 2010 in their most part hold little relevance to the state of today’s search engine.

Four areas of concern have been raised to contest Google’s market dominance:

  1. The neutrality of Google’s search results have been called into question and whether Google’s favouritism to its own products over competitors’ is one that still continues today. Google is changing the way they display their shopping results and PPC ads, but it seems that these ’tests’ have been overlooked. At the same time, I sympathise with Google: the job of keeping people on their site is as important to them as it is to keep people able to easily find those of others.
  2. Google’s use of third party reviews in Places in a plagiarism case. Google look to have since addressed this with the inclusion of the Zagat review function found in the Google+ Local listings.
  3. Google’s AdSense policies in the way they are offered and carried out by the companies using them. This author is a behind the times when it comes to European antitrust cases but, as Ben Edelman has previously summed up, there is more than meets the eye with the case at hand.
  4. The portability of AdWords campaigns, which ties in companies, which has been pointed out by Microsoft for some time.

The challenge for Google will be to prove that the changes they have made effectively quash the allegations made to the competition commission. However, it can be expected that the ongoing complaints against Google will never stop, especially not while they introduce their comparison service and changes to Google Shopping.

Call me maybe? But only after you’ve surfed the web and checked Facebook

In a press release by O2 on the data used on O2 handsets, the way we use our mobile phone is changing, shifting towards the way we would generally use our home computers as more and more people start to look at sites on their phones. As such, it is more important than ever to make websites accessible for smartphone users.

How long we spend using our smartphones (by activity) each day

The research phase of the buying cycle can quite easily take place on a mobile, and while transactions may be more frequent on a home computer, purchases on mobile are getting easier;  by the time they get to a computer, many consumers have already made a decision.

The importance of smartphone accessibility is obvious, with users expecting a well-rendered site on every device they use. The best agencies can construct an optimised mobile site that will render on multiple devices in such a way as to ensure you can capture the audience at whatever stage of the buying cycle.