Figuring out what’s going on in the SEO world has become much more complicated since Google quit formally announcing updates last year.

That doesn’t mean the SEO train has slowed down or that SEO devotees have stopped attempting to read Google tea leaves.

Here are a few SEO updates from January 2014 you’ll want to know about.

Affiliates Warned About ‘Thin Content’

Google is warning affiliate marketing sites to be very careful about what they’re calling, “thin content.”

Chris Nelson, the head of Google’s search quality team, posted up the warning on his blog and sounds pretty serious about the matter. He says there’s been a major uptick in scraped content from affiliates and Google won’t take the transgressions lightly.

The warning was aimed specifically at adult content affiliates, but everyone in the affiliate marketing world should be avoiding thin and scraped content.

Google Webmaster Tools Update

In what’s being called, “the first Webmaster Tools update of 2014,” Google now allows users to see exactly how many clicks and impressions each keyword generates.

It’s a big leap for analytics junkies and is, according to Authority Labs, “…as close as we’re currently going to get to seeing solid traffic data for specific keywords.”

Cutts Says ‘Take it Easy On Guest Blogging’

Google webspam chief Matt Cutts has long been a proponent of guest blogging as a link building technique but that was then, and this is now.

In a recent blog posting Cutts said that too many SEOs were abusing the practice and, “…over time it’s become a more and more spammy practice, and if you’re doing a lot of guest blogging then you’re hanging out with really bad company. ”

He said abuse is so widespread that he’s even received requests to post paid links. (That’s some seriously bad marketing.)

Though he didn’t lay out specifics, he did suggest that a day of reckoning is coming for spammy guest bloggers and that, “Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space.”

New Microsoft CEO to Beef Up Bing?

Bing’s inability to really compete with Google on any meaningful level has always been something of a head scratcher. After all, the company has pretty much unlimited resources.

What it hasn’t had is the full support of the software giant’s executives and that could change if Satya Nadella is elevated to the company’s top spot.

According to a report on, Nadella is a big Bing supporter and would beef up the struggling search engine’s stature at the company.

So look out Google.

First Update of the Year?

SEO forums lit up early in the month with signs of an update of some kind around 9th of January.

SEO Roundtable reported lots of chatter about fluctuations in traffic, but talk of the update died out almost as quickly as it started.

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