SEO headlines 23/03/12

This week's SEO news in brief: Google bringing in a new penalty, How to go viral on Pinterest, Firefox blocks Analytics data and more.

New over-optimisation penalty on the way

During a Q&A session, Google's Matt Cutts has revealed that Google are working on a new penalty to lower the ranking of websites which have focused too closely on trying to win at SEO instead of creating the best content.

While he didn't go into specifics, he mentioned, "We are trying to make GoogleBot smarter, make our relevance better, and we are also looking for those who abuse it, like too many keywords on a page, or exchange way too many links or go well beyond what you normally expect". The change to the algorithm is likely to occur in the next few weeks or months. Don't worry, any website who focuses on user experience over keyword density, probably won't be affected.

Going viral on Pinterest

Reaching 10 million users in January, it seems like Pinterest is the next Twitter. If you don't know, Pinterest is basically a social network for "pinning" images which interest you to your page. So if you want to jump on the bandwagon early, Colby Almond has provided a great insight into the effect of content going viral on Pinterest and how he achieved it.

In the heyday of Digg, Colby could achieve up to 40,000 visits by his content reaching the homepage. With Pinterest he managed 200,000 visits, with an average time on site of over 2 minutes, in comparison with 10 seconds from Digg traffic.

Colby's tactic for gaining Pinterest traffic is to create what he calls "instructorgraphics". These are step-by-step guides in a graphical form. The key element is to make the image larger than 2,500 pixels long. This ensures that Pinterest users will have to visit your website in order to read the instructions. Very clever.

Rich snippets & poor webmasters

Another critical look at Google from SEO Book, points out how Google is encouraging websites to use rich snippets with the incentive of more noticeable search result listings; but then the website is stung, by Google using the information in the snippet so that users don't need to visit the providers website.

Firefox hides Google search data from webmasters

In a bid to increase piracy for Firefox users, Mozilla are testing methods of using SSL to prevent data sent to Google becoming available to 3rd parties. Most web users are always happy to hear about increased privacy but for website owner, it is likely to result in a reduction in data available to them through analytics software.

The real worry is that other browsers won't want to fall behind in the "we care more about privacy" wars, and if they all jumped on the bandwagon, we could lose most of our search query analytics information.

Google removes Chrome penalty

After 60 days, Google has lifted the self-imposed penalty it gave itself when paid-for-links were discovered pointing to the browser's download page. If the penalty for breaking Google's rules only last 60 days, that doesn't seem like much of a deterrent in comparison to the benefits of a high ranking.

In spite of this, at Tari digital we will continue with our ethical SEO – you can be sure Google would be less tolerant of others breaking the rules.

Wikipedia appears in search results 46% of the time

Back in February we pointed to some research that showed Wikipedia pages appeared in the results of searches for single word nouns, 99% of the time. A new study has come in this week which has assessed the visibility of Wikipedia on more typical types of searches. Instead of just studying the results of searches like "cat", the new study also includes searches like "funny Valentine's cards". The new research found that Wikipedia appeared in just 46% of search results on page one, much less than previously estimated.

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