Current SEO Updates: Focus on the User, Google Updates, Guest Blogging, Broken Links
Google + Doubles Users
Companies who have yet to jump on board with Google + should be paying strong attention to this social avenue and amping up their +1 presence with quality content.
Focus on the User
The launching of Google’s Search Plus your World ruffled feathers around the Internet. Most publicly was Twitter slamming Google for not including Twitter content, aka tweets. In revolt of Google’s eclectic search results, some smart engineers from Facebook, Twitter and Myspace (among others) teamed up to create “Focus on the User,” a tool that instantly “googles Google to see if Google finds a result more relevant than Google+.”
The Focus on the User bokmarklet works in Firefox and Chrome, and temporarily enables the functionality to show additional social results that are available.
The bookmarklet is super easy to use and pretty fun. Check it out.
SEOmoz Directory Database
Looking for quality directories to add your site to? SEOmoz updated their directory database, saving lots of time researching for niche directories. The only bummer is you need to be a pro member to access the full database.
Google Page Layout Update
Google made an algorithmic change that evaluates a page’s layout and the content-to-ads ratio above the fold. Although this change will affect less than 1% of searches globally, if you have a site that contains many ads above the fold, then you should strongly consider reducing or removing them and adding quality content above the fold.
Additionally, different screen resolutions or sizes will come into play. You can use Google’s browser size tool to help visualize the ratio on your pages.
Ethan Lyon from SEOmoz created a fabulous tool that scans Twitter for the queries “guest post” or “guest author” and automatically parses the data into a nice, organized report of guest blogging opportunities.
This is a helpful tool for any link builder or in-house SEO looking for guest blogging connections. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/want-guest-post-links-find-them-via-twitter-tool
Broken Links Do Not Penalize
We actually have been asked this question before from clients if broken external links can negatively affect a site, and if you too have ever wondered about linking out to 404 pages, then you might be happy to know that they won’t. John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, confirmed this on a Google Webmaster Help thread.
It is however a lame user experience and consideration should be taken to clean them up or minimize them.