Vanessa Fox

Vanessa Fox

Vanessa Fox is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. She built Google Webmaster Central and went on to found software and consulting company Nine By Blue and create Blueprint Search Analytics< which she later sold. Her book, Marketing in the Age of Google, (updated edition, May 2012) provides a foundation for incorporating search strategy into organizations of all levels. Follow her on Twitter at @vanessafox.


Super Bowl 2014: How We Searched

I know, I know. Kids today are all about the hashtags and the Twitters; but it turns out, we’re pretty good multi-taskers and are still really into searching, too. As has been the case all six years I’ve been looking at how the Super Bowl impacts how we search, we use Google (and Bing and […]


The Curious Case Of Bing Search Results In Google Search Results

Over the weekend, Bill Hartzer noticed that some Google searches returned Bing search results. As of last night, Google search results are once again Bing-free. What happened? Taking a closer look, the Bing search results weren’t URLs, which are correctly blocked by Bing’s robots.txt file. They were coming from This pattern is not […]

Bing SEO

What The Government Shutdown Means For .gov SEO

As part of the US government shut down, many .gov sites have also shut down, replaced by messages like this: “Due to the lapse in federal government funding, this website is not available. We sincerely regret this inconvenience.” But one day, the government will start up again and government agencies will once again focus on ensuring […]


The Definitive Guide To Technical Mobile SEO

At SMX Advanced, I moderated a panel about technical SEO. Google’s Maile Ohye spoke about SEO best practices for technical implementation of mobile sites based on how Google crawls, indexed, and ranks mobile content and presents it to searchers on mobile devices. She also talked about Google’s recent announcement that the mobile user experience is […]


Google Launches Help Center For Hacked Sites

Google has just launched a help center for hacked sites, complete with step-by-step instructions and videos that outline each part of the process. The videos feature Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google (and her Googler colleagues), who told me “we wanted to connect our capability to detect and alert site owners of their hacked […]


Super Bowl Commercials 2013 Edition: For Search Visibility, Most Brands Bought AdWords Too

Super Bowl commercials aren’t typically about direct purchases. Brands run them to create awareness and buzz and to make us feel all soft and fuzzy towards them through our adorable-foal/hot actor reunion-induced tears (thanks a lot, Budweiser!). For the last five years, I’ve tracked where advertisers are trying to send viewers, where those viewers are […]


Searching for The Super Bowl Start Time: 2013 Edition

Surely every organization managing an event site knows at this point that people want to know what time things start. And that those potential viewers are likely to turn to Google to find out. This year, Google just provides the answer right at the top of the page: February 3rd at 3:30 pacific. Just as […]


The Lead Up To the Super Bowl: How Are We Searching?

Since 2009, I’ve been writing articles here on Search Engine Land about how Super Bowl commercials influence online behavior and how well (or not) advertisers have taken advantage of that online opportunity. One clear trend has been that each year, these commercials trigger increased online activities. This is both because each year, we are more likely […]


Will [Not Provided] Ever Reach 100% In Web Analytics?

With the news today that Chrome is moving to secure search, marketers may be wondering about the larger picture of using search data in Web analytics. The searches people do that lead them to a site is valuable data to an organization. What other data source do we have that gives us direct access to […]


Google Updates Their Webmaster Guidelines To Include Details On Rich Snippet Abuse

Google has published “information for webmasters” as least as far back as 2001. The original information included “do’s and don’ts” and “fact and fiction”. In 2003, Google expanded this information to include a specific set of “webmaster guidelines”:   In 2006, became Google Webmaster Central, and the information for webmasters became a complete help […]


Yahoo BOSS Expands To Offer Geolocation Data

Yahoo’s Build Your Own Search Service (BOSS) has recently expanded to include geolocation data from two Yahoo services: Placefinder and Placespotter. BOSS is Yahoo’s Search API, available for a fee based on usage. From the blog post, it sounds like Yahoo is closing down Placefinder and Placespotter as standalone, free services, and is incorporating them […]


Is Google’s Synonym Matching Increasing? How Searchers & Brands Can Be Both Helped & Hurt By Evolving Understanding Of Intent

In the beginning, Google matched the words in a searcher’s query to the words on a web page and ranks those pages (roughly) based on how many external links each had. Over the years, Google’s algorithms have evolved  in numerous ways, including with how Google figures out what the searcher is really looking for. Now, […]


Google “Reveals Index Secrets”: Charts Indexing of Your Site Over Time

Yesterday, Google webmaster tools launched Index Status (available under Health) that charts the number of indexed pages for your site over the last year. Total Indexed Count Google says that this count is accurate (unlike the site: search operator) and is post-canonicalization. In other words, if your site includes a lot of duplicate URLs (due […]


Bing Launches Way to “Disavow” Links, But Why?

For years, Google’s webmaster guidelines have noted that attempts to manipulate Google’s algorithms with artificial external link profiles (paid links, link schemes and the like) are violations and that Google may take action (by removing the site from the index or lowering its ranking).  This year, Google starting alerting site owners with “unnatural links”, recommending […]


Google Webmaster Tools Expands Query Data to 90 Days

Today, Google has expanded the historical search query data to 90 days. The number of queries reported has increased as well: the report will now list the top 2,000 for each day of the selected date range (vs. the previous top 1,000). This is great news, as this is data not available anywhere else and […]

Bing SEO

No, Bing Doesn’t Support Pagination Attributes to Consolidate Pages In A Series

Last week, the Bing Webmaster blog published a post about how Bing handles rel=”next” and rel=”prev” attributes. On the surface, it seemed as though Bing was announcing that it now supported these tags in the same way Google does. Last September, Google announced support of the rel=”prev” and rel=”next” attributes to designate paginated content, which enables […]


Google Webmaster Tools Crawl Errors: How To Get Detailed Data From the API

Earlier this week, I wrote about my disappointment that granular data (the number of URLs reported, the specifics of the errors…) was removed from Google webmaster tools. However, as I’ve been talking with Google, I’ve discovered that much of this detail is still available via the GData API. That this detail was available through the […]

Google SEO

Implementing Pagination Attributes Correctly For Google

Google’s latest blog post provides details and a video from Maile Ohye about how they handle the pagination attributes within a page’s source code. You can use these attributes to indicate pages in a series (such as a multi-page article or set of product listings), which enables Google to cluster the pages into a single entity […]


Google Webmaster Tools Revamps Crawl Errors, But Is It For The Better?

Google has just revamped the crawl errors data available in webmaster tools. Crawl errors are issues Googlebot encountered while crawling your site, so useful stuff! I originally started this article by writing that in most cases, these changes are for the better and in only a few (really maddening) cases, useful functionality has been removed. […]


Is SEO Killing America?

Last week at the Tools of Change conference, Clay Johnson, author of the new book The Information Diet gave a keynote talk titled “Is SEO Killing America“. Sigh.  If you’ve been involved in search for any length of time, your first reaction may be, this again? Haven’t we done this before? Once or twice? Clay’s […]


Did Super Bowl Advertisers Take Advantage of Search Interest?

Over the past couple of days, numerous stats and figures have been published about how Super Bowl advertisers took advantage (or not) of social media this year. But commercials also drive people to search engines, which in turn (when things go right) can lead potential customers to advertiser web sites where rather than talk about […]


When Is the Super Bowl Start Time? The NFL Finally Gets It Right

Super Bowl 46 kicks off on February 5, 2012 at 6:30pm EST on NBC. Amazingly enough, I found this information by searching on Google and clicking on the second result: Amazing because every year, football fans flock to search engines searching for the start time, and until now, organizations like the NFL, the playing […]


Google Webmaster Tools Adds Useful Download Options

Google webmaster tools data is helpful stuff, but has been somewhat tough to download and use. Last month, Google made things a bit easier by providing a Python script for downloading search query data (as this report isn’t available as of yet through the API). Now, they’ve added new download options that significantly add to […]


Panda Update 3.0 Live & Panda “Flux”

On around September 27th, Google launched what’s being called 2.5 of its Panda algorithm. On October 5th, Google’s Matt Cutts tweeted: “Weather report: expect some Panda-related flux in the next few weeks, but will have less impact than previous updates (~2%).” Panda-related flux? Indeed, this seems to be the case, with site owners reporting Panda-related […]


Pew Internet: Diving Into How We Access Local News

In studies of the evolution in how Americans seek out news, the trends tend to be that we use search and other online methods for staying informed. The consistent exception is how we access local news. Despite the proliferation of hyperlocal blogging (my own neighborhood’s West Seattle Blog being an excellent example of how hyperlocal blogs […]

Google News

Google News Launches “Standout” Tag for Featured Content

Today at the Online News Association conference, Google introduced a new link rel attribute that news organizations can use to mark their best work. You can mark up to seven pieces of content per week. Google News will use this information as a signal for labeling news stories as “featured” on the Google News home […]


Google Provides New Options for Paginated Content

At SMX Advanced earlier this year, a hot topic was the use of the rel=”canonical” attribute in conjunction with pagination. Maile Ohye of Google noted that the rel=”canonical” attribute was not intended to cluster multiple pages (articles, product lists, etc.) to page one of that series (although it can be used to cluster multiple pages […]


Google Retires The Googlebot-News Bot

Today, Google announced that they will no longer be crawling news sites with Googlebot-News and instead will crawl news sites with Googlebot, the same bot that crawls sites for web search. However, you can still block your content from being indexed in Google News by disallowing Googlebot-News in robots.txt or using a meta robots tag. […]


Google Panda Update 2.4: Panda Goes International, In Most Languages

Google has just announced that their “Panda” rankings changes, first launched in the United States in late February and rolled out to English language indices internationally in April, have now launched internationally in all languages other than Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Their post notes that for non-English indices,  this change impacts 6-9% of queries (vs. […]

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