On Wednesday, popular SEO toolset provider Semrush made an announcement that could change the course of the company entirely: It had acquired SEO training platform Backlinko for an undisclosed amount. To any SEO expert – or anyone who’s ever Googled an SEO-related question – both these names are well-known. Actually, “well-known” is an understatement. This is the SEO equivalent of McDonald’s acquiring Beyond Meat: Suddenly, it has a whole new cohort of customers.
In the announcement, Semrush said,
“The desire to acquire Backlinko was fueled by Semrush’s commitment to inspiring both the current and next generation of digital marketers. Today’s marketers require not only the highest quality tools, they also need best-in-class training from real experts and practitioners in the field.”
Semrush itself has always been a destination for SEO insights, thanks to its education hub, Semrush Academy. But for easy-to-understand training on everything from the simple to technical sides of SEO, Brian Dean’s Backlinko is on another level. Backlinko, for one, draws in half a million organic visits every month. Dean’s robust online resources have helped millions of SEOs, marketers and laypeople of varying expertise. And now, that audience essentially belongs to Semrush.
With the acquisition, Dean and his Backlinko team will work on growing the Semrush Academy by creating and curating brand-new content for the platform. Currently, there’s no word on what might happen to the Backlinko.com site itself in the future. But Dean did say in a tweet that he would be working on Backlinko on a part-time basis.
How has the SEO community reacted to the news? As Search Engine Land reported, it’s been with some skepticism. Many SEOs have been questioning the motivation behind the acquisition. Is it purely for a strong backlink profile? And how much would that be worth, in Semrush’s eyes?
But considering the fact that Semrush Holdings Inc. shares were up 5.5 percent once publications caught wind of the announcement, it’s difficult to believe Semrush didn’t know exactly what it was doing. Either way, we’re intrigued to see Semrush Academy’s next moves with Dean at the helm.
An Austrian Data Regulator Has Determined Google Analytics Is a Breach of GDPR: A small Austrian medical website, NetDoktor, which uses Google Analytics (GA) to monitor its users and track data, has inadvertently found itself at the center of an ongoing battle between U.S. laws and Europe’s detailed privacy regulations, as reported by Wired. NetDoktor, like millions of other websites, collected GA data which then passed through Google’s servers, ending up in the United States. And therein lies the problem. Austrian data regulator Datenschutzbehörde in December last year said this breached the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as the data being received by the U.S. was not adequately protected against access by U.S. intelligence agencies. Last week, the regulator’s official decision that the data was not properly protected was published. This case study illustrates the fraught relationship between European regulators and U.S. tech giants – and also reminds us that all eyes are still very much on Google.
Yoast SEO Is Live for Shopify: Yoast SEO, the much-loved WordPress plugin, launched on Shopify on Tuesday. The plugin makes SEO for Shopify easier than ever, offering the same features for Shopify sites as it does for WordPress, from SEO analysis and automatic structured data to social media previews. If anything signals the meteoric rise of eCommerce, it’s this. The launch also means that eCommerce business owners can take full advantage of search engines’ ever-increasing suite of shopping features and rank for relevant search results – without needing to have an agency partner. Yoast SEO for Shopify is live across 27 languages, and a 14-day free trial is yours for the taking. If you’re an eCommerce business owner, you have everything to gain from taking advantage before deciding if it’s worth the $29/month (which it most likely will be).
Here’s How Google Handles Synonyms: How does a search engine like Google understand synonyms? Is it an automated process, or do humans have a hand in building the algorithm’s knowledge of how words are related? This is what a viewer asked Google’s John Mueller on the latest Search Central office-hours hangout. And Mueller revealed that the process is entirely automated. Because Google sees 10-15 percent of queries that are brand-new and never-been-searched every single day, no humans can manually create code that teaches Google which words are synonyms. It would be impossible to keep up. But if you’re interested to learn more about exactly how Google understands similar words, Mueller recommends watching a year-old video by Paul Haahr, a Google engineer, which explains in detail a few of the real-world issues Google has run into with synonyms and what the team of engineers learned from it.
Two Unconfirmed Algorithm Updates Send the Search World Into a Spin: Not again! It’s looking likely that Google released an (unconfirmed) algorithm updated last weekend on Jan. 14 and 15. This would be less difficult to come to terms with if it didn’t come three days after another unconfirmed update. Could we have been handed two in a row? In the SEO realm, stranger things have happened. Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable has been staying abreast of community chatter and gathering up what the Google tracking tools are saying. Judging from volatile tracking charts and lots of anecdotal evidence, it seems pretty certain that something strange is afoot. No word yet on what type of sites have been hardest hit, but we’ll keep an eye on community feedback to figure out what may – or may not – have happened.
Ahrefs Launches a WordPress Plugin: Looking for yet another reason to opt for WordPress as your content management system (CMS) of choice? Ahrefs is handing it to you on a silver platter. The company announced its brand-new WordPress plugin in a blog post published last Monday. Not intended as a replacement for other SEO tools, the plugin focuses specifically on content audits, showing you how each article on your blog performs for any target keyword of your choice. The result is based on data not only from Ahrefs but also Google Analytics and Google Search Console, so you’re getting a full picture of how your blog is performing. The blog also gives a detailed walkthrough of installing the plugin and analyzing your report. By the looks of it, it’s just the thing to get your 2022 content marketing strategy off to a strong start.
Editor’s Note: “SEO News You Can Use” is a weekly blog post posted every Monday morning only on SEOblog.com, rounding up all the top SEO news from around the world. Our goal is to make SEOblog.com a one-stop-shop for everyone looking for SEO news, education and for hiring an SEO expert with our comprehensive SEO agency directory.
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