What’s New for September 10, 2013 – Google Keyword and Disavow Tools, Email Scanning

Google Keyword Tool is Officially Out to Pasture

An SEO resource has changed, and not everyone is happy about it. The Google Keyword Tool has been replaced with Google’s new Keyword Planner, and the landscape for Keyword Research has changed. Users will be required to log into an AdWords account to use the tool, and will not be able to access match type data for search volume, device targeting data, or global versus local searches.

The bright side of the change is that users are able to retrieve keyword search volume data down to the city level; can upload up to 10,000 keywords to access performance data; and search volumes by ad group, landing page, and many other categories established by the user.

Time and Google slow for no one, and once the grumbling about having to learn a new system is over, users will be able to continue to conduct online advertising business as usual.

Google Keyword Tool

Google Argues For Email Scanning

Google is asking a judge to dismiss a class action lawsuit, filed in May, that says Google “unlawfully opens up, reads, and acquires the content of people’s private email messages” in violation of California’s privacy laws and federal wiretapping statutes. The lawsuit also alleges that Google scans messages sent to active Gmail users from non-Gmail users who never agreed to the company’s terms and conditions.

Google has openly admitted that it targets its advertising based on words that show up in Gmail messages, and defends its actions by stating that no humans read any of the email, and the process is 100% automated. Consumer Groups contend that email has an expectation of privacy that should be preserved.

Another piece in the ongoing saga of privacy versus online advertising efficiency.

Google’s Link Disavow Tool: More Harm Than Good?

Many Webmasters and SEO firms have used Google’s disavow tool that launched almost a year ago to overcome penalties brought on by the Google Penguin. Now Google itself has come out and unequivocally stated that use of this tool may actually harm search rankings.

Google’s Eric Kuan from the search quality team said:

“The disavow backlinks tool should be used with caution since it can potentially harm your site’s performance. However, if you see a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links point to your site, and you’re confident that the links are causing issues for your site, you can use the disavow tool to disavow those links. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.”

Be judicious in how you employ the link disavow tool. You may inadvertently neutralize links that are helping your site to rank and do more harm than good.

Bottom Line: This has definitely been a Google Update. I applaud the fact that the search giant is making an effort to communicate more and help to access information in an orderly and helpful way. The privacy issues will be a source of controversy for years to come. The courts, The Federal Trade Commission, and even foreign governments have gotten involved. The factor that will cause any gigantic online entity to pay attention is decreased traffic or market share. Until that happens, I truly do not believe that significant change will occur in online privacy policies.

Eric Van Cleave is a Partner in Zenergy Works, a Santa Rosa, California based SEO, Online Marketing and Website Design and Development Firm.

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