SOPA Stalls In Congress, Search Engines Are Beating Content Farms, Google Gets Sued, & More

SOPA Stalls In Congress, Search Engines Are Beating Content Farms, Google Gets Sued, & More

This Week’s Industry News

Compiled By Rocket Clicks Staff

The Stop Online Piracy Act Stalls By The Side Of Congressional Highway

With the Congressional holiday recess approaching, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was not taken up for a vote in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. This development means that the controversial bill most likely will drop from headlines for at least a month; until Congress returns from their winter break.

Source: Washington Post

Study Indicates Google, Bing Have Pillaged Content Farms

Content farms were the Death Star to Google/Bing’s Rebellion (I’m well aware there are flaws in this analogy), and a recent study has declared an explosive victory for the search engines. The Google Panda update largely focused on killing the content farm presence in their search results.

A New Scientist article explores a University of Glasgow computer scientist’s research into popular queries known to return articles from content farmers. He found that, in most cases, this generic content has been effectively eliminated from Google’s search results. Cue the medal ceremony for Matt Cutts, Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and the rest of the Google Rebellion!

Source: New Scientist

STUDY: Long Tail Keyword Optimization Is Alive And Well

In News Of The Obvious, Yet Still Validation-Worthy, long-tail keyword SEO often yields consistently high rankings and conversions. A recent Conductor study determined users that land on a page from a long-tail query are two and a half times more likely to convert, versus head term searchers. The trick here, of course, is figuring out that ever evasive, supremely popular long tail keyword.

Source: Search Engine Watch

Study Finds People Often Use Search Engines To Discover Local Businesses

According to a recent PEW Internet study, 60% of U.S. adults get news and details about local businesses, not including bars and restaurants. Of that 60%, 47% use the Internet (36% search engines, 16% special websites, 1% social networks). The report also includes numbers on other forms of local business engagement, and it shows how valuable local citations and an enhanced online presence can be for a diverse range of businesses.

Source: Search Engine Watch

AT&T Hits 4G Overdrive With Wireless Spectrum Deal

AT&T has expanding its 4G capabilities by purchasing wireless spectrum to the tune of $1.9 billion. With the purchase, AT&T can now offer 4G LTE broadband to over 300 million U.S. bandwidth-addicted users. The transaction can be seen as a consolation victory after the wireless company’s flopped deal to buy T-Mobile, as AT&T is now closer in service quality to Verizon, the wireless providing industry leader.

Source: Mashable

Google Webmaster Tools Includes Author Stats

Google Webmaster Tools now allows you to view content impressions and clicks on articles linked to your Google profile through a tool called “Author Stats.” The feature is located under the “labs” section.

Source: Search Engine Land

Google’s ‘Author: Search’ Option Removed From Google News

In a move directly correlated to its rising reliance on the rel=author tag, Google has eliminated the ability to search for an author in the query box through the author: firstname lastname command in Google News. Google is pushing the rel=author markup, although it currently isn’t very prominent in the Google News section.

Source: Search Engine Land

Brands Love Google+, But The Follower Fruits Are Scarce

Where there’s a social network, there’s a branding opportunity. That conventional wisdom certainly has applied to Google+, which recently unveiled its business pages for brands. However, the sea of Google+ users don’t seem to be biting, according to some research from Simply Measured. They determined that, while 61 of the Interbrand Top 100 Brands have Google+ pages, only 13 have more than 5,000 followers. Google+ is obviously very young, but with an estimated 40 million users, it appears that the already over-saturated social media world may be tiring of constant interactions with companies.

Source: Mashable

Speaking Of Google+ Brand Pages…They Are Showing Up In SERPs

As if Google needed any other controversies about anti-trust competitive advantage, they have begun integrating Google+ brand pages into search results based on branded terms. Most of the early reports of this behavior involve huge companies (AT&T, T-Mobile, Macy’s, etc.), so it’s unclear if this is just a test or if it will be rolled out for all decent-sized brands.

Source: Mashable

U.S. Senators Want FTC To Look Deeper Into Google’s Search Practices

Google continues to draw the ire of the U.S. government, as Senators Herb Kohl and Mike Lee have called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s potential bias towards serving up its own products over their competitors. The FTC is currently investigating Google, but having bi-partisan political support doesn’t hurt. Interestingly enough, independent studies have found that Bing has more of a personal bias than Google.

Source: Search Engine Land

Google’s Facebook Query Problem

Remember last week when we determined that Bing users love searching for Google on the competing search engine? Apparently, Facebook is Google’s Bing (if that makes sense). Hitwise has released their top 10 most searched for queries of 2011, and Facebook occupies 40% of the list. Obviously, Google is the dominant predator in the search engine wild, so this revelation isn’t extremely detrimental to anything other than Google’s pride. It is somewhat funny, however.

Source: Search Engine Land

buySafe Serves Google With Lawsuit For Trusted Stores Program

Google has run into the law quite a bit throughout 2011, so it’s only fitting they close the year out with a new lawsuit for their Trusted Stores Program. buySafe is suing the search engine mothership for a multitude of things, including patent infringement, stealing business information, accosting buySafe customers to start using Google Trusted Stores, and offering higher search rankings if companies use Trusted Stores.

Source: Search Engine Land

Google’s Panda Update Goes Into Hibernation

Google has announced it plans to shelf any Panda updates until after New Year’s Day. Todd Bailey at Search Engine Journal predicts that keyword density ratios, keyword and supporting term relevancy, and broken links will fall victim as prey to Google’s Panda in 2012.

Source: Search Engine Journal

Google Gets Back Together With Mozilla … For Another Three Years

Google’s Christmas present to Mozilla came a little early, as they agreed to renew a contract that makes Google the default search engine displayed every time someone opens the Mozilla Firefox browser. The deal lasts for three years, which could theoretically save Mozilla, considering 98% of their revenue is from these kinds of partnerships.

Source: Search Engine Land

How Much Are Your Twitter Followers Worth?

The number is about $2.50 per month of following, according to PhoneDog, a recent company lawsuit aimed at an ex-employee that kept all of his Twitter followers curated during his time at the company. Noah Kravitz (no relation to Lenny) is being sued for $340,000 for a total of 17,000 Twitter followers, and Kravitz said the company told him he could keep each of them if he promised to keep tweeting about PhoneDog.

Source: Mashable

Google Estimates 400 Million Google+ Users By Start Of 2013

Google+ is claiming it will have around 400 million users by the end of 2012. That prediction itself isn’t so much a newsworthy topic, as we have no way of knowing the accuracy of their current estimations. The real story here is Google’s paywall strategy with keyword data; more Google+ users means less keyword data unless you use Google AdWords.

Source: Techi

Small Website? Don’t Worry About A Sitemap, Says Google

An XML Sitemap is to Google as car insurance is the American drivers: If you don’t have it, don’t expect anything good. However, on its Webmaster Tools forum, Google recently confirmed that smaller sites are very easy to index, and thus don’t require a sitemap. You still need car insurance if you drive a Mini Cooper, though.

Source: SE Roundtable

Hydrogen Fuel Cells Could Become Power Source For Future Apple Products

Thanks to two current Apple patent applications, your future Apple products could be powered by hydrogen fuel cells. Apple is working to design fuel cells that are smartphone/tablet-friendly, and the solution may lie in creating a system that powers and receives power from a rechargeable battery in a computing device. If successful, this breakthrough would extend the life of a single charged battery for potentially multiple weeks.

Source: Mashable

Notable Commentary

Toasting To 2011

A Half Century-Worth Of The Best Citation Sources For Local Businesses

Local search is increasingly important, and pretty much blanketed across every “what to expect from SEO in 2012” list. Myles Anderson has compiled an Excel-friendly rundown of the best citation links for U.K. and U.S. local businesses, ranked from most relevant in the eyes of Google to least relevant.

Analysis By: Myles Anderson, Search Engine Land

Search Engines Are Getting Better With Single-Word Search Queries

One-word search queries have grown in popularity by 6.9% over the past two years, according to Hitwise. Coupled with the rising personalizing nature of search results, it’s evident that Google and Co. are getting increasingly better at serving up relevant websites regardless of the query’s specificity. Paul Burani tackles some of the potential causes of these vague tendencies, and why they just may continue as we head towards the future.

Analysis By: Paul Burani, earch Engine Watch

The Main Theme Of The 2011 Digital World Is…Secrecy

Throughout, 2011, there was a common headline trend surrounding Internet secrecy, those who seek to protect it, those who often violate it, and those who say one thing and do another. EFF has compiled a list of the most important stories concerning how the government and private companies have addressed this ever-present issue in the digital age.

Analysis By: Trevor Timm, EFF

The Best Citations For Localized SEO Strategy

As local search continues to tug at the SEO universe like a black hole, local citations become extraordinarily valuable for a website’s localized reputation. Search Engine Land briefly comments on the Google Places eye-tracking study before offering a good list of link targets worth pursuing for a citation.

Analysis By: Erin Everhart, Search Engine Land

Looking Into The 2012 Link Building Crystal Ball

Link building guru Eric Ward offers some of his predictions for the state of link building in 2012. Links have always been the gold standard of authority in the eyes of Google, and Ward touches on the rising significance of social links, the decreasing influence of directories, and the lowered importance of anchor text.

Analysis By: Eric Ward, Search Engine Land

A Six Pack of 2012 Tech World Predictions

As you’re probably now aware, there’s a major reflection/premonition theme going on with this week’s Industry Update. This one comes to us from Mashable, where Lance Ulanoff offers a six-pack of predictions for where the tech world may be heading in 2012.

Analysis By: Lance Ulanoff, Mashable

2011’s Ten Most Viewed YouTube Videos

Everyone loves viral videos, and most of the ones that make up the most viewed ones on YouTube this year should not be surprising. I’ll give you a hint what the top one is: Its title includes a day that ends in “Y.”

Analysis By: Brian Anthony Hernandez, Mashable

The 2011 Winners, Losers In The Tech World

Mashable has a list of the top winners and losers across all realms of the technology industry. Some of the losers are fairly depressing, mostly because the royal “we” is one of them, but it’s hard to argue against any of these rankings, which could provide some valuable insight into where the industry is headed to start 2012.

Analysis By: Lance Ulanoff, Mashable

Expect Big Things From Online Videos In 2012, But Not These 12 Things

Internet videos have exploded in popularity over the past few years, and as such, people are rushing to offer every possible prediction for where it will go next. However, Tech Crunch has a list of the 12 predictions you should toss in the trash when discussing the path of online videos through 2012.

Analysis By: Ashkan Karbasfrooshan, Tech Crunch

The President Has A Crack Internet Marketing Team

Any Internet marketer worth his weight in gigabytes knows a good squeeze page when he/she sees one. Jeremy Schoemaker looks at some landing pages for President Barack Obama, and concludes that he knows how to hire a pretty darn good marketing team.

Analysis By: Jeremy Schoemaker, Shoe Money

Email Is Still Very Popular, And Marketing Through It Is Still Valuable

If SEO and PPC are the television and Internet news of the online marketing world, then e-mail marketing is the radio medium. Despite the former two dominating the most recent trends in Internet marketing, e-mail outreach is still valuable for a multitude of reasons. If anything, studies have shown that people interact with e-mail as much or more than they ever have, thanks to smartphones and tablets.

Analysis By: Pamela Parker, Marketing Land

INFOGRAPHIC: Brain Atrophy, Thanks To Social Media

By now you’ve probably heard about (and forgotten) the recent study that determined the average attention span has plummeted from 12 minutes to five seconds. Search Engine Journal has hosted an infographic that explains how, and why, your brain switches its wiring the more you engage in social networks.

Analysis By: Melissa Fach, Search Engine Journal

IBM Thinks Machines Will Read Our Minds Soon

That headline sounds fairly scary, right? Apparently it’s a bit sensationalized, according to IBM Senior Inventor Kevin Brown. The reality is that IBM has predicted mind-reading technology will become a huge technological development within the next five years, and it really isn’t as science fiction-style freaky as you may think.

Scientific American expands on these predictions in a podcast; specifically, the use of biometrics as a replacement for username and passwords. That would bring us one step closer to harvesting all of that turbinium on Mars.

Analysis By: Peter Pachal, Mashable

Don’t Google These Celebrities If You Want To Avoid A Computer Virus

No one has mastered the Trojan horse sneak attack better than cyber criminals (other than the Greeks themselves, of course). Wired has a list of the 10 celebrities most likely to infect your computer with a virus, should you choose to Google and then click on one of their featured websites. The list includes (in order): Heidi Klum, Cameron Diaz, Piers Morgan, Jessica Biel, Katherine Heigl, Mila Kunis, and more.

Analysis By: Charlie Burton, Wired