Cut the Links?
Since the Penguin algorithm changes, SEOs have been worried about a couple of things in particular. Firstly, they are concerned that all the illicit link-building tactics that their client’s previous SEOs engaged in (because, of course, they would never do such things themselves) are now going to have a negative consequence on a site’s ranking. The second major concern is that competitors can take advantage of Google’s scrutinizing of backlink profiles to deliberately create “bad links” and incur a penalty.
To allay some of those fears Google have released a tool that will allow webmasters to disavow those incoming links that might be causing their sites to be flagged by Google as engaging in bad link-building practices.
The Disavow Tool allows webmasters to upload a text file of domains and URLS that Google will then disregard, in much the same way that they disregard nofollow links. This is a somewhat out of character move for Google, who, as acolytes of the algorithm, prefer to rely on machine intelligence to winnow out the chaff. As usual, Google will take these link lists as a strong signal, rather than as an instruction that they are bound to follow.
That wily fox Matt Cutts once again set about the clucking SEOs this month with a Twitter announcement that Google were making changes to their algorithm focusing on page layout.
Google uses aspects of page layout as one of the signals that determines SERP ranking. They are especially concerned that, all else being equal, they don’t rank pages highly when the ‘above the fold’ portion of the page does not contain useful content for visitors. What that generally means is that they would rather web site owners didn’t fill the part of the page that first appears to visitors with adverts and bury the content further down the page.
Unfortunately, Google, with their usual lack of clarity, has failed to stipulate exactly what constitutes good content ‘above the fold’, but the common sense approach is usually best. Google tend to attempt to put themselves in the place of their users, and ask what is that user likely to find most useful. They may get that wrong fairly frequently, but absent any better data, this is probably the best approach for website owners too.
Google have introduced a new tag management service that allows website owners to streamline the process of managing analytics, advertising, and conversion tags on their site.
Anyone working in online marketing will be familiar with the headaches involved in managing the snippets of code that need to be included in sites to provide the necessary metrics for tracking site performance. Often these tags have to be tweaked or added and removed fairly frequently, and coordination between marketers and webmasters is often not as seamless as it might be.
With Google’s new tag manager, web developers will be able to add one code snippet to a page, and then allow marketers to manage the rest from a dashboard. Google Tag Manager has the potential to significantly increase the responsiveness and flexibility of tracking a site’s analytics. The new service includes a number of features to streamline the process of adding and monitoring tags, including easy testing to ensure that tags added to a page are functioning as they should, version control so that users can roll back changes should they need to, and multi-account and user permission provisions, so that marketing agencies can manage the analytics and conversion tracking snippets on their client’s sites.