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August 9th Roundup
Kevin Davis

Google Opens Up About Manual Penalties

Google has finally opened up about manual penalties, revealing what manual penalties exist and notifying webmasters via Webmaster Tools if they have been applied. This marks a major shift in Google’s approach to penalties. While encouraging, one has to wonder whether this is a response to too many queries from webmasters seeing if they have a penalty, rather than a fundamental shift in their approach to penalties. Let’s hope it’s the latter and Google is waking up to the fact that their lack of transparency only leads to confusion.

It’s understandable that Google can’t reveal specific thresholds, especially for automatic penalties, but it makes no sense for webmasters to not even know whether or not they’re being punished. If Google’s real goal is to shape webmaster behavior, clear presentation of penalties in Webmaster Tools is really the most effective way to accomplish that. Yes, SEOs will use that information to feel out Google’s thresholds for penalties, but the previous status quo certainly hasn’t precluded the cat-and-mouse game between Google and SEOs.

New Google Maps Ad Format

Google has announced a new ad format for the bottom of Google Maps searches on mobile . Given the well-documented uncertainty that local businesses have had to deal with in terms of Google Maps results showing incorrect locations, or worse yet, not showing the business at all, this may be a compelling option for converting potential brick-and-mortar customers. The one sticking point may be that seeing the business information counts as a full CPC cost-wise. That probably opens a lot of possibility for high-cost with low return. On the one hand, this makes sense, since conversions will be digitally untrackable for the most part, but it does seem like a sub-ideal pricing model. If only anyone used Google Wallet…

Major Generational Divide On Twitter

The Verge covered a new Pew study showing that consumers aged 65+ have social network adoption rates only 29% lower that the overall average. Twitter adoption, however, varies massively between 18-29 year olds (with a 30% adoption rate) and 65+ year olds (with a 5% adoption rate). This generational divide, while not entirely surprising, shows how starkly different age demographics can be from one social network to another.