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Google Helps Webmasters, Then Measures Your Users

by Dave Langdale on October 22, 2012

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In this week’s SEO Newsletter, you’ll find everything from Google’s new disavow tool to a ‘world first’ free fall attempt. It’s informative, interesting and will almost certainly leave a lasting impression. But if you just want to read lists about celebrities, there’s that too.

Google Brings Out Disavow Tool

Following the release of Penguin, many companies found themselves on the receiving end of an ‘unnatural links’ warning from Webmaster Tools. You may have even been among this select group and, while staring despairingly at your drop in traffic through tear-stained fingers, had the same thought: “Well, that’s great, but what can I do about it?”

The answer before this week was infuriatingly vague and caused infinitely more problems that it solved. You could have tried asking the webmaster of the low quality site pointing links to your page if they could be removed, sure. But then you’re relying on them to a) not ignore your email and b) not charge you for the privilege.

Now though, you can take matters into your own hands with Google’s new disavow links tool. By uploading a file with the list of inbound URLs you’d like disavowing, you can instruct Google to ignore them. It’s a welcome relief for website owners everywhere, including those who were hit by Penguin and others who were on the cusp.

Although it comes with a strong warning that the tool is only useful for those that have received the ‘unnatural links’ warning message and isn’t meant for the average site owner, you can be sure that many will experiment with it anyway to see the effects on rankings and traffic.

The Knowledge Graph Expanded

The knowledge graph is a visually interesting feature from Google that adds extra contextual information to the sidebar of your search. For example, if you searched for “Matt Damon” you might get a quick bio from Wikipedia, a shortlist of movies he’s appeared in and a range of related topics that other users searched for.

Previously only available in America, it has now ambled over to the UK shores and set up stall in a host of innovative ways.

One of the most interesting is a scrollable list function for thusly structured search terms. While ‘Matt Damon’ returns the standard knowledge graph results, searching for ‘Matt Damon films’ presents an additional interactive header banner with every film he’s been in.

It’s not Earth-shattering news. But it kills a few hours when you’re supposed to be writing a newsletter.

Google’s New Lengths

Not wanting to break the trend of Google-only news items this week, this next piece concerns the search engine giant’s ever growing propensity for identifying exactly what you do during your time on the web.

A recently granted patent describes how Google will use certain markers to measure how long it takes for a user to read a page.

Now it’s not clear what they will use this marker for. But, whether it’s to be added as a ranking factor or used as an extra measurement section for Webmaster Tools, judging by the sinister Imperial March style direction they have been moving in, the likelihood of this having a bearing on ad placements is a fairly safe bet.

Felix Baumgartner Has One Record Left to Break

Over 7 million people tuned into the ground breaking 127,000ft jump by Felix Baumgartner on Sunday 14th October and marvelled as he broke the multiple records set by the famous Joe Kittinger some 50 years ago.

Yet there’s one record he failed to break: the world’s shortest free fall. That record is held by the chaps at Slim Jim and was broadcast across America shortly after Felix’s amazing stunt.

All we can hope now is that, over the next 6 years, Felix can train as hard as possible to try to beat this record too.


Image source: Nasa Earth Observatory and Mo Riza on Flickr.

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