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theEweekly Wrap

Cutts clarifies webmaster warnings – UK Facebook habits – Osborne’s 4G controversy

Cutts moves to clarify Webmaster Tools warnings

Google webspam chief Matt Cutts took to YouTube on Monday to address rumours surrounding a batch of Webmaster Tools notifications sent earlier this year.

It had been suggested that the vast majority of the 700,000 warnings sent out to webmasters in the first two months of 2012 dealt with evidence of unnatural links Google had spotted. However, Cutts refuted these claims, saying only around three per cent of the messages mentioned that topic.

Instead, he indicated that around 90 per cent of the notifications concerned 'black hat' SEO techniques, and declared himself unhappy that the rumours surrounding unnatural link warnings had circulated.

Link warnings have long been a hot topic for webmasters, with Google having to clarify a previous round of link-related messages back in July. Many webmasters were unsure how to react after Cutts branded them "link advisories" rather than warnings, leading to widespread confusion around linking strategies.

This time around, Cutts did not go into exactly which black hat practices were targeted by the emails, leading some commentators to criticise him for being too vague.

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UK Facebook habits revealed

Facebook has been doing some research into its UK users, and its findings reveal a few surprising statistics.

Twenty-seven million people in this country use the social network every month, spending an average of seven hours on the site. Facebook claims that one minute out of every five spent online in the UK is down to them.

However, it seems social networking may not be the young person's game that many thought. While a quarter of users are under 25, a further 30 per cent are over 50 years old.

It does appear that younger users are more regular visitors to their page, with two thirds of 18 to 24-year-olds visiting several times a day.

The average friend count was revealed to be 130, and from a business perspective it is how users interact with these friends which is arguably the most interesting part of this study.

Facebook found that 16 per cent of users purchased a product on the recommendation of one of their social network friends. Furthermore, 23 per cent were persuaded to try out a new bar or restaurant and 36 per cent went on to listen to some new music, proving how effective a good social media campaign can be.

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Chancellor criticised over 4G

George Osborne faced a backlash in the wake of his autumn statement after it appeared he included as yet unclaimed 4G auction funds in his figures.

The Chancellor claimed on Wednesday that government borrowing was down, but faced a barrage of questions at the end of his speech.

Labour MP Ian Austin took to Twitter later in the day to explain what the problem was. He claimed that Mr Osborne's declaration factored in the estimated £4 billion the government is hoping to receive from the upcoming auction of Britain's 4G spectrum to a selection of the largest mobile companies.

However, as the auction has not yet happened it is clear that no such funds have materialised, and Mr Austin further suggested that without this money borrowing was actually up by around £2 billion.

Mr Osborne has since responded in a bullish interview with the BBC's Today programme, in which he denied using 4G sales predictions to skew his figures.

4G has been a hot topic in the UK for some time, with the January 2013 auction the source of much debate. EE already offers a 4G service (although this has been much maligned since its launch), while O2, Vodafone and Three are expected to join in with the bidding process.

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Written by James Riches

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