Matt Cutts Talks SEO for Google: 9 Things You Should Expect This Summer

Thursday, May 16, 2013 5:05
Posted in category Google

The latest Google Webmaster video features Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts talking about what webmasters can expect to see in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google, particularly changes combating black hat web spam from many different angles in a variety of areas.

Here are nine search and SEO changes webmasters will likely see – although, as always, Cutts warns nothing is set in stone and it should be taken with a grain of salt.

1. Next Generation of Penguin – Penguin 2.0

This update is to try and target more black hat web spam. The new Penguin 2.0, which is the name Google uses internally for the next gen Penguin, will be much more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0 and it will go deeper and have a larger impact than the original.

2. Advertorials

Many advertorials (a.k.a., native advertising) violate Google’s quality guidelines. More importantly, they should not flow PageRank.

Google is planning to be a lot stronger on their enforcement of these types of paid links and advertising, disguised as “advertorials”. Cutts did clarify there is nothing wrong with advertorials, simply that they don’t want them to be abused for PageRank and linking reasons. If you use advertorials, Cutts suggested that they should be clearly marked and obvious that it is paid advertising.

3. “Payday Loans” in .co.uk

Cutts mentioned that this is a problematic search, and there are others like it, so they are tackling it a couple of different ways. For those that play in that space, however, you’re out of luck since Cutts isn’t revealing exactly how they are dealing with it, just that it will be happening.

He said that they are targeting specific areas (another example he included was porn queries) that have traditionally been more spammy.

4. Devaluing Upstream Linking

Again, Cutts isn’t going into details about this, but they are working on making link buying less effective and have a couple ideas for detailed link analysis to tackle this issue.

5. Hacked Sites

They want to roll out a next generation of hacked detection, as well as being able to notify webmasters better. They would like to be able to point webmasters to more specific information, such as whether they are dealing with malware or a hacked site, and to hopefully clean it up.

6. Authority

If Google’s algorithms believe you or your site is an authority in a particular area, they want to make sure those sites rank a little bit higher than other sites.

7. Panda

They are looking for some additional signals for sites that are in the “gray area” or “border zone”, and looking for other signals that suggest the site truly is high quality, so it will help those sites who have been previously impacted by Panda.

8. Changes to Cluster of Results From the Same Site

If you’re doing deep searches in Google, and going back 5, 6 or more results pages deep, you can see the same site popping up with a cluster of results on those deep pages.

Google is looking into a change where once you have seen a cluster of results from the same site, you will be less likely to see more and more from that same site as you go deeper. Cutts mentioned this as being something that came specifically from user feedback.

9. More Information for Webmasters

Cutts said they want to be able to keep giving webmasters more specific and detailed information via webmaster tools. He mentions specifically example URLs to help webmasters diagnose problems on their site.

He believes that the changes will really make a difference with the quality of the search results, as well as impact the amount of spam that is showing up.

Bottom Line

Cutts says if you are focused on high quality content, you don’t have much to worry about. But if you’re dabbling in the black hat arts, you might have a busy summer.

Google’s Major Penguin Update Coming In Weeks. It Will Be Big!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013 5:02
Posted in category Google

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On Friday, Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts announced on Twitter that the Penguin update we are expecting this year, will be coming in the next few weeks.

 

Matt Cutts said, “we do expect to roll out Penguin 2.0 (next generation of Penguin) sometime in the next few weeks.”

 

This has sent shockwaves through the webmaster and SEO industry over the weekend. We know the next generation Penguin update is a major revision to the existing one. Matt said the previous ones were minor updates. To take you back, we had an update on May 24, 2012 andOctober 5, 2012. Matt said on Twitter that those were more minor, he would have named them 1.1 and 1.2 and that Google is naming this new update version 2.0.

 

We are calling it the 4th update to Penguin, but yea, this is expected to be huge. We past the anniversary of the Penguin update and many SEOs and webmasters have yet to recover.

 

Now with the next generation update, many SEOs are hopeful of recovery but terrified that their efforts will end up being futile. Why? Well, even if they did manage to clean up their sites and do everything to warrant a release of the initial Penguin algorithm, with the new algorithm in place, who knows what else they may have triggered.

 

Danny Sullivan has an excellent write up on this Penguin release and the history around it.

 

Trust me, I will be all over this when I see signs in the forums about this update. So stay tuned, brace yourself and trust me – webmasters will survive and grow from this.

 

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster HelpWebmasterWorld and DigitalPoint Forums.

 

Update: Here is a video from Matt Cutts where he talks about Penguin 2.0, and many other topics. It was released today:

http://youtu.be/xQmQeKU25zg

 

Matt Cutts Finally Announces Link Disavow Tool For Google Webmaster Tools

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 17:50
Posted in category Google

After months of anticipation, Google’s Matt Cutts, at PubCon in Las Vegas today, finally announced a new tool in Webmaster Tools to disavow links.

Cutts made comments at SMX Advanced back in July, indicating that a tool would be on the way, and it is now here.

In text on the tool itself, Google says, “If you believe your site’s ranking is being harmed by low-quality links you do not control, you can ask Google not to take them into account when assessing your site.”

“You might have been doing blog spam, comment spam, forum spam, guestbook spam…maybe you paid somebody to write some low quality articles and syndicate those all over the place with some very keyword rich anchor text, and maybe Google sent you a message that says, ‘We’ve seen unnatural links to your site or we’ve taken targeted action on some of the unnatural links to your site,’ and so as a result, you want to clean up those backlinks,” Cutts says in the video.

First and foremost, he says, they recommend getting those links actually removed from the web. Of course, that’s easier said than done.

Google says in a help center article:

PageRank is Google’s opinion of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other sites. (PageRank is an important signal, but it’s one of more than 200 that we use to determine relevancy.) In general, a link from a site is regarded as a vote for the quality of your site.

Google works very hard to make sure that actions on third-party sites do not negatively affect a website. In some circumstances, incoming links can affect Google’s opinion of a page or site. For example, you or a search engine optimizer (SEO) you’ve hired may have built bad links to your site via paid links or other link schemes that violate our quality guidelines. First and foremost, we recommend that you remove as many spammy or low-quality links from the web as possible.

If you’ve done as much work as you can to remove spammy or low-quality links from the web, and are unable to make further progress on getting the links taken down, you can disavow the remaining links. In other words, you can ask Google not to take certain links into account when assessing your site.

Update: Google has now put out an official blog post about the tool. In that, Webmaster Trends Analyst Jonathan Simon writes:

If you’ve ever been caught up in linkspam, you may have seen a message in Webmaster Tools about “unnatural links” pointing to your site. We send you this message when we see evidence of paid links, link exchanges, or other link schemes that violate our quality guidelines. If you get this message, we recommend that you remove from the web as many spammy or low-quality links to your site as possible. This is the best approach because it addresses the problem at the root. By removing the bad links directly, you’re helping to prevent Google (and other search engines) from taking action again in the future. You’re also helping to protect your site’s image, since people will no longer find spammy links pointing to your site on the web and jump to conclusions about your website or business.

If you’ve done as much as you can to remove the problematic links, and there are still some links you just can’t seem to get down, that’s a good time to visit our new Disavow links page. When you arrive, you’ll first select your site.

According to a liveblogged account of Cutts’ speech, he says not to use the tool unless you’re sure you need to use it. He mentioned that Google, going forward, will be sending out more messages about examples of links Google is distrusting. He also says not to disavow links from your own site.

Regarding those link messages, Cutts says in the video that these are only examples of links, and not a comprehensive list.

The tool consists of a .txt file (disavow.txt), with one URL per line that tells Google to ignore the site. You can also use it to block a whole domain by using a format like: domain:www.example.com.

Cutts apparently suggests that most sites not use the tool, and that it is still in the early stages. Given that link juice is a significant ranking signal for Google it’s easy to see why Google wouldn’t want the tool to be over-used.

It can reportedly take weeks for Google to actually disavow links. In a Q/A session, according to the liveblog from Search Engine Roundtable, Cutts said you should wait 2-3 days before sending a reconsideration request after you submit a disavow file. When asked if it hurts your site when someone disavows links from it, he reportedly said that it typically does not, as they look at your site as a whole.

Danny Sullivan blogs that “Google reserves the right not to use the submissions if it feels there’s a reason not to trust them.”

Users will be able to download the files they submitted, and submit it again later with any changes. According to Sullivan’s account, Cutts said the tool is like using the “nofollow” attribute in that it allows sites to link to others without passing PageRank.

That’s good to know.

A lot of SEOs have been waiting for Google to launch something like this for a long time. Perhaps it will cut down on all of the trouble webmasters have been going through trying to get other sites to remove links. At the same time, we also have to wonder how much overreaction there will be from webmasters who end up telling Google to ignore too many links, and shooting themselves in the foot. This will be a different era, to say the least.

Just be warned. Google’s official word of caution is: ” If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.”

The information Google uses from the tool will be incorporated into its index as it recrawls the web and reprocesses the pages it sees.

Google currently supports one disavow file per site. That file is shared among site owners in Webmaster Tools. The file size limit is 2MB.

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