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Penguin 4, With Penguin 2.0 Generation Spam-Fighting, Is Now Live

The fourth release of Google’s spam-fighting “Penguin Update” is now live. But, Penguin 4 has a twist. It contains Penguin 2.0 technology under the hood, which Google says is a new generation of tech that should better stop spam.

Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s Web spam team, announced the new Penguin 2.0 update during This Week in Google (Episode #199). He referenced the earlier video of himself talking about the next generation Penguin update, and said this is being rolled out “within the next few hours.”

Webmasters and SEOs: expect major changes to the search results. Matt specifically said that 2.3% of English queries will be noticeably impacted by this update.

Cutts later posted more details about this roll out on his blog. He explained that the launch is now complete, including for non-English languages, and that “the scope of Penguin varies by language, e.g. languages with more webspam will see more impact.”

Previous Penguin Updates:
Penguin 4? Penguin 2.0? We name each release of Penguin in sequential order, so it’s easy to know when one happened. The list so far:

Penguin 1 on April 24, 2012 (impacting ~3.1% of queries)
Penguin 2 on May 26, 2012 (impacting less than 0.1%)
Penguin 3 on October 5, 2012 (impacting ~0.3% of queries)
Penguin 4 on May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
But after the first release, the second and third still were data refreshes of the same basic Penguin algorithm with only minor changes. This fourth release is a major change, so big that Google has referred to it as Penguin 2.0 internally.

YouTube Celebrates 8th Birthday With 100 Hours of Video Every Minute

YouTube Logo
YouTube has been serving its clips of animals, planking, people falling over and monkeys in sheepskin coats for eight years.

The video streaming website launched eight years ago with a single video. Bought by Google in 2006, YouTube now has more than a billion unique monthly visitors who watch more than 6 billion hours of video every month.

"Today, more than 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute," said YouTube in a blog post. "That's more than four days of video uploaded each minute! Every month, more than [one] billion people come to Youtube to access news, answer questions and have a little fun. That's almost one out of every two people on the internet."


YouTube last week announced a pilot program for a small group of partners that will offer paid channels, with subscription fees starting at $0.99 per month.

5 Pillars of a Successful Modern Web Design


To compete successfully in today's new media landscape, simply having an optimized website isn't enough. You must now consider a number of new factors when designing your website. These factors include modern design and content, usability and conversion, and search and social media.

Not only has the SEO technological market changed with new on- an off-page SEO considerations, the way the consumer views and consumes content and changed. New and modern aesthetic, design, and navigational considerations are being built into the architecture of new website builds.

Building Outside of a Silo

Gone are the days when a web developer builds a site, the SEO consultant optimizes the site, a conversion expert looks at the site, and then the business owners review the site.

To make your new website work for your business it essential that a marketing led approach is implemented that involves technical, search, social, usability, and design teams.

Objectives are set by the business so that your site reflects not just your brand but also meets your business objectives and conversion goals.

Start Point – Understanding Business and User Objectives

Understanding your market, clients, potential users, and competitive environment is a large project management task that should kick off your design and build process and ensure your site matches what potential customers/users are looking for.

How many times have you seen a beautifully designed website that just doesn't do what you need it to? The information isn't there, the structure isn't there, it's slow, it's hard to navigate, and it doesn't appear in the search results.

Vice versa, websites that are well optimized can look outdated, less engaging for the user and, given the recent focus on quality and content Google, lacks the relevant content that the user is looking for. Go overboard on "optimization" and your site may even get flagged as spam by Google and kicked out of the search results.


It's important that you start by defining goals and conversion points for each page, part, and section of your new website. Calls to actions should be defined and put in place for each section of content that answers your users needs and wants. It is then time to hand over to the design, SEO, and usability project team.
The 5 Pillar Approach

Modern day web design involves multi-department, multi-function, and multi-skill set approaches. SEO and content is a core part of the design and build process.

However it is also important to ensure you understand factors such as how design impacts SEO, the link between usability and SEO, how readability impacts SEO and the differences between content and information and technical architecture.

1. Design

You would be surprised how many websites haven't caught up with times in terms of modern day design. A disproportionate amount of spend has been placed on marketing and over optimizing that, in reality, needs to be balanced with advanced usability and clean, simple, engaging design.

Finding the right balance between design that looks modern yet simplistic in nature, informative and engaging for the user and maintainable for SEO performance is the bedrock of success.

One of the biggest challenges designers face is juggling visual representation, HTML and CSS elements. A traditional designer normally has a totally different view of how a website will look compared to a marketer or SEO person. One looks for beauty while the other looks for findabilty, readability, and crawability.

We're seeing the rise of modern design techniques such as flat design (two dimensional design for two dimensional screens) with Apple design looking to replace all of the software on your iPhone and Mac with clean edges and flat surfaces. This ties in with responsive design but more on that later.


When designing your site, make sure it reflects what your users want.
Make it easy to navigate.
Be creative and build a modern, flat look and feel.
The Search Engine Watch website is a great example of modern design with creative, yet simple elements, in it's navigation systems – like the NYC subway system

  • Ensure design and content match and complement each other.
  • Utilize webfonts such as Fontdeck and Font.com to add modern style with typography and crawabilty.
  • Utilize copy, text, and images alongside content to create content rich pages.
2. Usability

Inbound traffic is key to a marketers goals and SEO represents a large part of that activity. It is important to also blend your SEO strategy and web design with actually usability – what happens once users hit your site.

Many years ago web projects were built with SEO, content, design and usability as sub projects. Usability was focused purely on the user interface, accessibility, technical and QA testing. A fragmented relationship with marketers focused on conversion-oriented design was a common occurrence.

Modern marketing and design utilizes both SEO and usability skill sets and for many the usability versus SEO balance is a organizational issue that can be solved via effective project management.

It is also important to understand the difference between information architecture and technical architecture.

Information architecture relates to the labeling of website content to support usability and I will talk more about this in the Content and SEO sections of this post. 
Technical architecture relates to more SEO related labeling such as crawlabilty, indexation, canonicalization, and robots exclusion.
As Shari Thurow, Omni Marketing founder and SEO director, explained in a Level 433 interview:

"SEO is a subset of information architecture. Most SEOs are clueless about information architecture. They constantly confuse information architecture and technical architecture. On a website, information architecture is organizing, labeling, and connecting content so that it is easy to use and easy to find.

"The information architecture process should occur long before the technical process of website development."


Utilize user experience and eye-tracking studies and incorporate the findings into your interface.

  • Ensure you have clear and concise headlines to capture readers attention.
  • Ensure your site speed and response time is rapid. A two-second delay can lose you a user and a sale.
  • Focus on readability – typography, color, text, images and backgrounds. Make sure the colors and fonts you use are easy to read and your information architecture uses subheadings to logically outline your content.
  • Keep the navigation simple and ensure the page looks and reads well – spacing, margins, and landing pages.
The easier you make your content to read, the easier it is for users to understand, connect, and share – this is essential for SEO and organic links.

3. SEO

This is where marketing and technical departments should align. The reality has been, that due to differences in left and right brain thinking, this never really used to happen.

As modern marketers and designers evolve this relationship, it is essential that core on-site SEO principles are built into technical architecture. Artistic influence needs to be balanced with search engine friendly structure.


Build friendly URLs and a friendly URL structure so search engines know what your page is about.
Build HTML and XML site maps to ensure search engines correctly index your site during the crawling process.
Write post titles that are relevant and descriptive.
Avoid splash and Flash menus – they make look nice but search engines struggle to read their content/embedded text.
Use relevant anchor text links. Although terms such as "click here" or "learn more" look like clear call to actions, that doesn't mean the search engines know this is important.
Always use the image ALT attribute and fill in the description to help your images rank as search engines can not "see" images. In fact, in the USA it is considered an act of discrimination against those with disabilities, as described in ADA 508 (the Americans with Disabilities Act). Target actually lost a several-millions-sized lawsuit because they weren't using alt attributes.
Properly employ heading tags and avoid using too many H1 tags – they may look nice to a designer, but not to a search engine.
Utilize images in moderation to complement without distracting users away from the content.
Ensure you optimize your site for mobile and tablet search.
4. Content

Content is what connects every element of the design and build process. Content is core to everything that we do from both a technical and a marketing perspective. All good design should be focused around quality content and copy and is included in all five pillars of this process.


Make sure you copy is clear, concise and relevant.
Ensure your copy and content says what you need it say in an easily digestible format.
Utilize white space to emphasis and break different aspects of your content.
Organize your content – date, time, geography, location, topic, and target audience.
Utilize all your sales and marketing assets and make them easy to find.
Further reading:

Eliminating Tension Between Content Writing And Web Design
The Synergy & Benefits of Optimizing Content as You Write

5. Integration

Organizational integration the key to success when building a website that works for your business. I have highlighted examples, in the further reading sections, how many of the disciplines in this process overlap. For example, integration relates to design (see responsive design below), content relates to technical CMS systems and design and SEO and so forth.

responsive-design-phone-desktop-tabletAs people consume content on a combination of desktop, mobile and tablet devices integrating your website design across multiple devices is becoming very important.

Responsive web design involves having one website for every screen and for many is seen as the future of web design. Earlier, I mentioned Apple and the rise of flat design.

The first (and best, IMO) was exhibited by Microsoft and it is worth noting that Apple still relies heavily on Skeuomorphics, which is digital design that visually looks and behaves like real-world objects. This lends to a fair amount of shading, gradation, and other such detail that at core is the antithesis of flat / 2d design

Social media also plays huge role for your website performance. This is far more than just adding buttons to your site. It is important to integrate and link campaigns from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn so that people engage more on your site also. Ensure you providing "Share" options on your website which can also give you organic links and traffic.

Yahoo! Integrating Tweets into its Newsfeed

In the latest in an ongoing series of moves to shake things up, Yahoo announced a new partnership with Twitter Thursday that will see select Tweets being folded into the Yahoo newsfeed.
“Updates direct from politicians, celebrities, media outlets, and other publishers have become an important source of real-time news and information,” explained Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer in a company blog post. “Tweets have become an important information source for many of our users, so we are thrilled to announce our partnership with Twitter to bring Tweets directly into the Yahoo! newsfeed.”
In its current form, the Yahoo newsfeed aggregates news content from across the web. News stories are funneled into different categories such as ‘news,’ ‘entertainment,’ ‘sports,’ or ‘local.’
The plan to integrate Twitter assumedly involves introducing relevant Tweets into the appropriate news stream category. It’s not yet clear what sort of criteria will be used in determining which tweets make it into the newsfeed. However since many users these days turn to Twitter for the most up-to-the-minute updates, Yahoo’s integration with Twitter seems to make pretty good sense.
Recent events such as the Boston Marathon bombing/manhunt and the Cleveland kidnapping case have bolstered Twitter’s status as the place to go for the most recent updates on breaking news stories.
It’s also not yet known whether Tweets appearing in the newsfeed will be curated by editors or selected by an algorithm. Mayer, for her part, revealed few specifics in her blog post; simply stating that, “As users explore our nearly endless stream of content, we will seamlessly include relevant and personalized Tweets alongside stories from Yahoo! and our other sources.”
However it ends up playing out, it looks like a potential big win for both parties. Yahoo will potentially become more interactive while also benefiting from being more closely aligned with Twitter, a platform that embodies the new social media focused web just as Yahoo once epitomized the essence of the 'old' web. Twitter meanwhile, will get its content before the eyes of Yahoo users who may not yet be using the micro-blogging site.
It’s also unknown what sort of avenues will be opened, if any, for sponsored Tweets to make their way into the Yahoo newsfeed.
The integration is set to be rolled out over the next couple days to desktop and mobile devices.

10 Essential WordPress Plugins to Improve SEO & Usability


After you've installed WordPress and covered the basics of improving WordPress for SEO and the user experience, it's time to go a bit deeper. Many great plugins are available to help your WordPress site when it comes to SEO, usability, and conversion. Here are 10 great plugins – most of which are available for free.

1. WordPress SEO by Yoast


Download this plugin now and use it on every WordPress site you own. This plugin, in my opinion, is as important as the WordPress installation itself. It's also extremely easy to use.

Also, if you haven't already, make sure to use Yoast's Google Analytics plugin.

2. Simple URLs


This plugin is great. You can track outbound links and control them completely right within the WordPress backend. If you add Disallow: /go/ into your robots.txt file it will also stop any authority from passing through the link itself.

You can use this plugin to keep track of these outbound links. For example, if you have affiliate links on your site, you can calculate a conversion rate from knowing the number of clicks to the number of people who purchase something via the affiliate link.

3. RB Internal Links


Although this plugin hasn't been updated in more than two years, it still should be included in every WordPress installation. This plugin helps with internal linking.

RB Internal Links is great because it uses the post ID to link internally rather than the URL itself. This means that if you want to change the URL of a page or post, then the URL will be updated dynamically.

This cuts the risk of internal 404 pages that can harm SEO for internal pages, as well as ensuring that no visitor reaches a page that does not exist.

4. NextGen Gallery and Lightbox Plus:


These two plugins have been combined into one entry because they work hand-in-hand. Lightbox Plus uses Colorbox – a lightweight jQuery image gallery script that is the friendliest for performance and doesn't hinder on-page SEO. Although Lightbox is included as an option within NextGen itself, Lightbox Plus offers a lot more options for the appearance and behavior of Lightbox's execution.

NextGen as a plugin is all you need when it comes to image gallery management. You can define lots of things such as the image's title and alt tags, which solves any SEO image problems.

Its flexibility into WordPress themes is great too, as you can add templates to use with the shortcode NextGen offers (more information on using NextGen templates can be found here). So, for example, I may use my own image gallery viewer and want it to output a certain way so I create my own NextGen gallery template called gallery-alexmoss.php and upload it into a subfolder of my theme called nggallery.

Below is a template I have developed to work with Twitter's Bootstrap image carousel:

<?php if (!defined ('ABSPATH')) die ('No direct access allowed'); ?><?php if (!empty ($gallery)) : ?>

        <div id="<?php echo $gallery->anchor ?>" class="carousel slide">

 <ol class="carousel-indicators">

 <?php $activenum="0"; foreach ( $images as $image ) : ?>

 <li data-target="#<?php echo $gallery->anchor ?>" data-slide-to="<?php echo $activenum; ?>"<?php if ($activenum=="0") {echo ' class="active"'; } $activenum++; ?></li>

  <?php endforeach; ?>


            <div class="carousel-inner">

 <?php $activenum="1"; foreach ( $images as $image ) : ?>

            <div id="ngg-image-<?php echo $image->pid ?>" class="item<?php if ($activenum=="1") {echo " active"; } $activenum++; ?>" <?php echo $image->style ?>>

<img title="<?php echo $image->alttext; ?>" alt="<?php echo $image->alttext; ?>" src="<?php echo $image->imageURL; ?>"  />

<div class="carousel-caption"><h4><?php echo $image->alttext; ?></h4><p><?php echo $image->description; ?></p></div>


  <?php endforeach; ?>


            <a class="left carousel-control" href="#<?php echo $gallery->anchor ?>" data-slide="prev">&lsaquo;</a>

            <a class="right carousel-control" href="#<?php echo $gallery->anchor ?>" data-slide="next">&rsaquo;</a>


<?php endif; ?>

5. Widget Logic


This plugin works specifically with your widgets. When installed, an extra option is added into each widget where you can define exactly where that widget should/shouldn't appear. This is great when you want to control what content appears in which sections of the site.

Here are a few examples of widget logic you can use:

is_category(X) || (is_single() && in_category(X)) - if viewing Category X or a post within Category X.
is_archive() - if viewing any archive page.
is_page() - if viewing a page.
!is_page() - if viewing anything other than a page. Note that the use of ! turns the condition into if is not.
When you use this plugin ensure that you are confident with using some PHP code as incorrect use can lead to potential problems.

6. Members


You may find that the default user roles provided by WordPress aren't enough for you to control the access that you want. This plugin adds flexibility to edit existing user roles as well as adding additional user roles. The plugin also comes with easy to use widgets and shortcodes so you can limit content based on the user's role.

7. Use Google Libraries


This very simple plugin that substitutes JavaScript libraries called locally on your own server with Google's own CDN. This saves on bandwidth, keeps using compressed versions of the scripts, and increases the chance that a user already has these files cached and therefore increases the general performance of your site.

8. W3 Total Cache


While we're on the subject of performance, W3 Total Cache is the most powerful and comprehensive caching plugin available. This plugin handles everything from combine and minification for both CSS and JS to HTML linebreak and comment removal, disk caching, browser caching and more.

It's useful to test any settings out to ensure that there are no issues once enabled and deployed but most of the time W3 plays ball with your WordPress installation.

9. Gravity Forms


This is the best plugin available. Although paid (from $39), this plugin is a must have on any WordPress installation and pays for itself.

This plugin handles all kind of form generation and management from basic contact forms to complete content management. There is so much you can do within Gravity Forms that I can't cover it in this post alone. Some examples of how you can use Gravity Forms:

Basic contact forms: Also includes seamless integration with CAPTCHA
Contact forms with email routing: This is great for larger companies. Based on options filled out in the form, email is routed to a different address saving time sifting through a generic email address
MailChimp integration: You can use any form's email input and send that information to MailChimp directly through an add-on available (only for people who purchased the developer license) using MailChimp's API.
Creating content: Forms can actually generate posts or pages within your site. You can create a form that populates all the data needed to publish a new post or page, including the title, excerpt, body, featured image and more.
Another great thing about Gravity forms is that all entries are stored and viewable within the backend of the site meaning that some forms don't even need to have email notifications upon submission. Not enough for you? You can also export all entries as a CSV file, as well as being able to import and export all forms for you to backup or transfer to other sites.

10. Twitter Feed Pro:


This is my own plugin. This paid plugin ($19.99) outputs a Twitter feed based on a number of settings using the shortcode. You can output your latest tweets or someone else's (or a combination), view replies and public mentions, view favorites of any username or search for any term or hashtag. There are also many options for customizing the look and feel of how the tweets are output.

There are two reasons I mention this plugin.

First is that tweets use HTML to output tweets rather than using jQuery (as this is the only other way to do so via Twitter's official embedded timeline widget).

Additionally, this plugin is fully compatible with Twitter API v1.1. Some other plugins or Twitter Feed options within WordPress themes use v1.0 of the API which will retire on June 11. If you want to know more about this issue, I have written about Twitter API v1.1 and its implication.

5 Kickin’ New Google AdWords Features to Try

A whirlwind of upgrades, information, and new features have been spilling out of Google AdWords of late. Consider these five new features that will have advertisers and PPC managers excited about the progress.

1. Upgraded Sitelinks

With the launch of the enhanced campaigns in AdWords, we're also seeing upgraded sitelinks. In the past, a set of sitelinks were created at the campaign level. Now individual sitelinks can be created and then assigned to ad groups, the “override” at the ad group level offers the ability to mix and match and gain a precision new to the ad extension feature.
Mobile specific sitelinks open up opportunities for additional massaging with a local emphasis like directions or local specials. Scheduling sitelinks is great for promotions, and anything seasonal.

2. New Keyword Planner

We reported on the recent announcement of the keyword planner in April and are really looking forward to this new feature. The keyword planner takes the old keyword tool we all know and love and bumps it up to the next level by combining the keyword tool and traffic estimator.
The functionality is very similar, but improved. In-line you can change the match type before adding to your plan, and the tool gives traffic estimates in line next to the keyword.
Also available is a feature to multiply keyword lists to get estimates. Combine two or more lists of keywords automatically into new keywords, and then get performance estimates for the new list. This can save you the time of manually combining keywords.
I can see a great application of this being to easily add geo or purchase modifiers to a campaign.

3. New Google Display Planner

Google's new Display Planner has the look and feel of AdWords with additional data and estimates of the Google Ad Planner. Advertisers can find topics, interests, or placements to target with information on audience opportunity.
AdWords tells you how many “cookies” are available to target, as the cookie is representative of a device that's been cookied, rather than a person. Impressions per week estimates are also a great piece of information.

4. Ad Group Mobile Bid Adjustments

Mobile bid adjustments for AdWords enhanced campaigns are made at the campaign level. You could see how the same bid adjustment may not be applicable to all ad groups. No worries! Between now and the next few weeks, Google is rolling out ad group level mobile adjustments.
It's good to see a granular level of customization. Depending on past performance, if one ad group has CPCs much different from the rest of the campaign, use the ad group level bids to even the playing field and limit losses.

5. AdWords Upgrade Center

Recently released, the upgrade center for enhanced campaigns can make upgrading easier for advertisers. With just a few clicks, several campaigns can be updated.
However, do a little research before taking the easy way out. In this tool, AdWords has a default bid setting “Use the Google-suggested default, calculated for each campaign”. If you know your mobile CPCs are a percentage of spend, use that to guide you and avoid defaulting as much as possible.
The upgrade center rolls out to all accounts over the next few weeks, accessible from the left nav bar on the Campaigns tab.
Many of these updates are now available to experiment with and others will be released in the next few weeks. What are your favorite new features, tools, bells and whistles in Google AdWords?

Matt Cutts Talks SEO for Google: 9 Things You Should Expect This Summer

Matt Cutts
The latest Google Webmaster video features Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts talking about what webmasters can expect to see in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google, particularly changes combating black hat web spam from many different angles in a variety of areas.

Here are nine search and SEO changes webmasters will likely see – although, as always, Cutts warns nothing is set in stone and it should be taken with a grain of salt.

1. Next Generation of Penguin – Penguin 2.0

This update is to try and target more black hat web spam. The new Penguin 2.0, which is the name Google uses internally for the next gen Penguin, will be much more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0 and it will go deeper and have a larger impact than the original.

2. Advertorials

Many advertorials (a.k.a., native advertising) violate Google's quality guidelines. More importantly, they should not flow PageRank.

Google is planning to be a lot stronger on their enforcement of these types of paid links and advertising, disguised as “advertorials”. Cutts did clarify there is nothing wrong with advertorials, simply that they don't want them to be abused for PageRank and linking reasons. If you use advertorials, Cutts suggested that they should be clearly marked and obvious that it is paid advertising.

3. “Payday Loans” in .co.uk

Cutts mentioned that this is a problematic search, and there are others like it, so they are tackling it a couple of different ways. For those that play in that space, however, you're out of luck since Cutts isn't revealing exactly how they are dealing with it, just that it will be happening.

He said that they are targeting specific areas (another example he included was porn queries) that have traditionally been more spammy.

4. Devaluing Upstream Linking

Again, Cutts isn't going into details about this, but they are working on making link buying less effective and have a couple ideas for detailed link analysis to tackle this issue.

5. Hacked Sites

They want to roll out a next generation of hacked detection, as well as being able to notify webmasters better. They would like to be able to point webmasters to more specific information, such as whether they are dealing with malware or a hacked site, and to hopefully clean it up.

6. Authority

If Google's algorithms believe you or your site is an authority in a particular area, they want to make sure those sites rank a little bit higher than other sites.

7. Panda

They are looking for some additional signals for sites that are in the "gray area" or "border zone", and looking for other signals that suggest the site truly is high quality, so it will help those sites who have been previously impacted by Panda.

8. Changes to Cluster of Results From the Same Site

If you're doing deep searches in Google, and going back 5, 6 or more results pages deep, you can see the same site popping up with a cluster of results on those deep pages.

Google is looking into a change where once you have seen a cluster of results from the same site, you will be less likely to see more and more from that same site as you go deeper. Cutts mentioned this as being something that came specifically from user feedback.

9. More Information for Webmasters

Cutts said they want to be able to keep giving webmasters more specific and detailed information via webmaster tools. He mentions specifically example URLs to help webmasters diagnose problems on their site.

He believes that the changes will really make a difference with the quality of the search results, as well as impact the amount of spam that is showing up.

Bottom Line

Cutts says if you are focused on high quality content, you don't have much to worry about. But if you're dabbling in the black hat arts, you might have a busy summer.
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