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The Search News Round Up: Partial Match Domains Rise in UK SERPs, 94% of Google Penguin Victims Unrecovered, Matt Cutts on Press Releases, and More

Kat Cole

Search engine optimisation is one of the most challenging – and exciting – industries to be employed in, for new updates and developments occur almost daily. As such, the practise is constantly changing and evolving, keeping SEO engineers forever on their toes! Keeping up to date with all the latest announcements can be difficult for even the most observant individuals though, and missing vital information can potentially be devastating for digital campaigns.

Here then, for your convenience, is Fresh Egg’s first SEO News Round Up of 2013. This week, it appears the prevalence of partial match domains (PMDs) in UK search results are on the up, and it was revealed 94% of Google Penguin update victims have not recovered. Matt Cutts also dismissed the influence of press release links on rankings, and Google revealed it is currently testing a ‘Quick View’ button for mobile platforms. Additionally, there have been concerns regarding ‘webpage not known’ appearing for some AdSense analyses.

Phew!

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll elaborate…

Partial match domains appear to be climbing back up UK SERPs

Google has been trying to reduce the strength of exact match domains (EMDs) in search results for a while now, but earlier this week Andy Francos of Intelligentpositioning.com claimed partial match domains (PMDs) are starting to creep back into the top spots, in one particular industry (undisclosed).

EMDs were once an ideal for securing high rank for related queries, regardless of the site’s quality or usefulness for the end user. Should it be discovered the PMD rise in SERPs is applicable across other industries, this could upset those who have worked hard to ensure their less-obviously named URLs provide the best solution, compared to competitors from the same vertical.

Francos has tweeted head of Webspam at Google, Matt Cutts (@mattcutts), about his observation but he is yet to receive a response.

94% of Google Penguin update victims have not recovered

Towards the end of 2012, Barry Schwartz of SEroundtable.com published a poll asking the site’s readers whether their own or their clients’ website visibility had recovered from the damage caused by Google’s link-based algorithmic filter ‘Penguin’, unleashed in April.

Google Penguin victims recovery pie chart
Image credit: SEroundtable.com

The poll’s results reveal of the 64% hit by the update, just 6% had fully recovered. While 13% of those polled said they had ‘partially’ recovered, a significant 81% said they had seen no reclamation whatsoever.

While these figures are interesting, it is important to note they may be skewed by the fact those who answered the original poll may not be the same individuals responding to the latter.  There are also, of course, many websites out there which are not cared for by SEO agents. Unless the visibility of such sites was being measured by someone, the update’s impact – if any – may have gone unnoticed.

These figures then, are not representative of Penguin’s affect across the entire web.

Matt Cutts: press release links do not boost rankings

Matt Cutts: Google's Head of Webspam
Image credit: Ted.com

Matt Cutts took a few minutes out of his Christmas Day to comment on a thread in the Webmaster Help forum, discussing the affect links included in press releases might have on key term ranking positions:

“NOTE: I wouldn't expect links from press release web sites to benefit your rankings, however."

Considering the large number of press release distribution networks on the web, Cutts’ short comment is not too surprising.  Many links could be acquired through the over-utilisation of press releases and these specialist networks, and so the devaluation of included links would prevent potential black hat SEO.  This devaluation has not been confirmed by Google, but this – and previous – comment from Cutts’ is indicative.

That’s not to say press releases are not helpful to SEO and digital marketing campaigns however. If you are promoting a genuinely interesting story or development, those exposed to your press release may link to, or socially share, the original source, i.e. the relevant page of a website. This in turn may aid the search engine visibility of said website.

Google tests Quick View button for mobile platforms

Orlando SEO and internet marketing consultant Wissam Dandan discovered Google is currently testing a ‘Quick View’ button for mobile platforms, and declared this to his followers via Google+. Instead of loading full websites in mobile browsers – potentially wasting valuable time and data – the button instead loads a more concise version.

Barry Schwartz, who reported Dandan’s findings on SEroundtable.com, has contacted Google for further insight regarding this feature. A spokesperson for the engine has simply responded:

“We’re always working on ways to make the web faster, especially on mobile devices — this is one of the experiments we’re running."

It will be interesting to see if Quick View becomes a permanent addition for Google’s mobile search.

‘Webpage not known’ appearing in AdWords

There have been some reports this week of AdWords users seeing webpages in their campaigns reported as ‘webpage not known’. While this isn’t the most major of problems currently, users employed to care for the PPC of certain websites could potentially lose recognition (and therefore money) for resulting conversions in the future.

Google is yet to respond to these reports.



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