The Search News Round Up: Webmaster Tools Fix, “Not Selected” Removed, Free Bing Exam and Cutts Clarification
The past week has been full of little news nuggets, though we’ve been spared any huge revelations. Check out this week’s Search News Round Up below.
Google fixes Webmaster Tools link reporting bug
Last week’s headline news was the fact that up to 75% of links reported in Google Webmaster Tools were disappearing on some sites. Only via the Webmaster Help forum was any response given, and the subsequent fixing of this apparent bug has been similarly unheralded. Nonetheless, webmasters have started seeing their link counts returning to normal – though full propagation may take a few days. Neither the bug nor the fix will have any effect on your website’s actual visibility.
Google removes “Not Selected” from Webmaster Tools
Staying with Webmaster Tools news: don’t go looking for the ‘Not Selected’ filter. Google has quietly removed it because “[it] was causing more confusion than actually helping webmasters with their sites”. URLs marked ‘Not Selected’ were those that redirected to other pages, those that included a canonical reference to another page or those that were found to contain content substantially similar to a preferred URL. However, Google appeared to change its definition in December, leading to noticeable (sometimes dramatic) drops in the number of ‘Not Selected’ URLs reported in Webmaster Tools. This may have been the greater source of confusion. SEO commentators have also suggested that the feature was useful in identifying crawling issues.
Bing Ads Pro Accreditation Exam updated, now free
The official training and certification for Bing’s pay per click advertising platform has seen an overhaul, and has had its price reduced from $15 to being entirely free. Significantly, exams through the Adwords equivalent – the Google Certification Programme – cost $50. The move will likely motivate more search marketing professionals into achieving Bing Ads Pro Accreditation, further eroding perception that sometimes paints the engine as something of an ‘also ran’.
Improvements to the exam include four new sections (29 total) and adjustments to the format of the exam (lack of time restriction) and the professional directory that accredited personnel are added to.
Cutts to provide unnatural link examples, reveals webspam team messages
Webspam team lead and SEO punching bag Matt Cutts has posted two videos to the YouTube GoogleWebmasterHelp channel, clarifying two aspects of webspam team procedure. Firstly, he offers a promise of help in the case of the unhelpful “unnatural links” message in Google Webmaster Tools. Sites that fall foul of this are told that they have “unnatural links”, but no specifics on which links are bad. To assist, Google will now be sending examples of types of links with the unnatural links notification. He also recommends sorting links in Webmaster Tools to show the most recently noticed: if you receive a notification, the bad link is most likely to appear near the top of this list.
On the subject of messages, Cutts also clarified just how many different notifications Google issues. There are approximately 10 different types of message:
- In January and February, 90% of messages were regarding black hat tactics
- 4% of messages were issued because of content that offered “little or no added value”
- 3% related to hacking activity
- 2% related to link buying
- 1% related to link selling
Also in the news:
- Linkresearchtools.com announces Google Disavow support
- The Ahrefs tool has been updated to allow sorting of anchor text backlinks by referring domains
- Animated AdSense animated ad blocks have been spotted in the wild
- comScore reveals that general search activity rose 11% in January over December in the US