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Return On News: Penguins, Pandas, and Pirates, Oh My!

It has been quite a while since we’ve published a curated list of posts in our Return On News series. Since it has been a hot week or two for news items, I thought I’d pull one together today to help catch you up on all the latest developments.

If you haven’t seen Return On News before, it is a simple concept. Essentially, I and @ReturnOnNow are continuously on the lookout for great content to share. Based on what we post to Twitter and other social networks, and the engagement / clicks we get from that content, we sometimes pull it together into a list post like this one.

Return On News: The Latest in SEO, SEM, Content, and Social Marketing

With such a busy two weeks of news, we start this edition out covering the latest algorithm updates from Google. Then we’ll move on to other topics, such as why one of the world’s leading blogging and content marketing brands is jumping ship from Facebook altogether, and why Google’s desktop advertising revenue is in decline. So without further adieu, let’s get on with Return On News.

Panda 4.1 Analysis and Findings – Affiliate Marketing, Keyword Stuffing, Security Warnings, and Deception Prevalent

We first learned that Google Panda 4.1 was rolling out during the last week of September. Now that it has been live for several weeks, it’s time to understand what its impact was and whom it hit.

In one of the more insightful posts I’ve seen about 4.1, Glenn Gabe covers off his observations across a range of websites. The upside is that some good sites were able to recover in the wake of 4.1. On the flipside, affiliate marketing took another blow across the bow. As might be expected, doorway and shallow pages were problems. Deception was again hammered, which is a good thing. Read more about the findings via the lin above.

Google Releases Penguin 3.0 — First Penguin Update In Over A Year

Barry Schwartz announced on Search Engine Land that Google Penguin 3.0 was officially rolled out on Friday, October 17, 2014 (confirmed by Google). This should come as no surprise – Mark Trapenhagen shared the news that we were “weeks away” from the 3.0 release back in early October (which worked out to one week in reality), based on comments from Google’s John Mueller himself. Barry’s post was updated on October 20 to indicate that Google confirmed the update is complete, so we are off and running.

Based on a YouTube video from Charles Floate analyzing the early “returns” of Penguin 3.0, it looks like some automated and tiered link building tactics are being heavily targeted. He specifically called out links from non-niche Web 2.0 sites and link spam from tools like GSA Search Engine ranker and SEnuke. If you’ve been using these tools to build links to your most important website, you probably started this week in a not-so-nice manner.

After More Than Two Years, Google Finally Releasing New “Pirate Update” To Fight Piracy

Back in 2012, Google rolled out an update that the industry collectively refers to as their “Pirate” update. This algorithm modification was aimed at penalizing sites that were in violation of copyright laws. Based on most of what I’ve seen, a large share of the sites hit by Pirate were giving away or selling creative assets such as movies and music.

Unfortunately, they only ran it that one time. Sites that went live afterward or started stepping outside the lines since 2012 have been able to operate without concern. Those sites are on notice – the update to Pirate is coming out at some point this week. Read more about the history and expected impact at the link above.

Why Copyblogger Is Killing Its Facebook Page

In a surprise announcement to many inbound marketers, content and blogging thought leaders Copyblogger recently announced that they’re done with their Facebook page. True to their word, the page is no longer available, so they wasted no time.

This was announced in the blog post by Erika Nepoletano linked above. I must say, it’s a great read if you are in the social and content marketing game. Based on their analysis, this looks to be the right decision for Copyblogger. What keeps you on Facebook with a branded page? Is it paying off for you, or is it time to re-evaluate your strategy?

Desktop Search to Decline $1.4 Billion as Google Users Shift to Mobile

In this research summary from eMarketer, one point is crystal clear: Mobile is overtaking desktop as we speak. The trend forecasts out to 2018, and we see a steady decrease in desktop ad spend, as well as a rather significant uptrend in spend on mobile (on a percentage basis anyway).

Everyone knows that mobile is growing fast. With the release of the iPhone 6, the leading smart phone manufacturers have all come out with their own version of the “phablet.” As the platforms start to become interchangeable over time, the trend will become even more obvious.

At risk of sounding like a broken record, get serious about mobile! Time isn’t running out; it’s already happening. Are you caught up or still far behind?

This is a Big Problem on Many Websites. Here Are 6 Simple Ways to Fix

In a guest post on the Jeff Bullas blog, Elena Dobre calls attention to one of the most important statistics for understanding the quality of traffic on your website: bounce rate (i.e. how many visitors land on a page on your site, and exit the website before viewing any other pages or posts).

This has long been an accepted proxy for quality of traffic (or quality of experience on the website). Elena not only reviews why you should care about bounce rate. She also covers the likely causes for an inflated bounce rate, and then offers six suggestions for ways to improve it over time. If you’re struggling to pull conversions from your own website, this post is worth a read.


This edition of Return On Now was a challenge, because October has been one busy month of content for us! We hope you find these posts as valuable and interesting as we did. Until next time, namaste.

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As Founder and President of Return On Now, Tommy Landry provides the vision behind our SEO and SEM methodologies. With over 25 years of business experience and a deep understanding of modern internet marketing techniques, he spends his time providing hands-on consulting, insightful content, and engaging public speaking appearances to Online Marketers of all skill levels.
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