Monday, October 28, 2013

Matt Cutts about SEO and Future of Google Search

latest google updates

Matt Cutts kicked off day two at Pubcon with another of his signature keynotes, dispelling myths, talk about spammers and about Jason Calcanis’ keynote from day one, at the influence of the audience.

First, Cutts spoke about Google’s “Moonshot changes,” which he bust down into these areas:

•    Knowledge graph
•    Voice search
•    Conversational search
•    Google now
•    Deep Learning

He exposed that Deep Learning is the ability to make relationships between words and apply it to more words, and how it can help improve search and the nuances of search queries.
Deep Learning in Regular and Voice Search

He explained that voice search is varying the types of search queries people use, but also that it can be refined without repeating earlier parts of the user’s search queries. It does this when it knows the user is still penetrating the same topic, but drilling down to more details.

Next up, Cutts spoke about Hummingbird and he feels that a lot of the blog posts about how to rank with Hummingbird are not that applicable. The fact is, Hummingbird was out for a month and no one noticed. Hummingbird is above all a core quality change. It doesn’t impact SEO that much, he said, despite the many blog posts claiming otherwise.
Of most interest to some SEOs is that Google is looking at softening Panda. Those sites caught in grey areas of Panda--if they are quality sites--could see their sites start ranking once more.

Google is also looking at boosting authority throughout authorship. We have seen authorship becoming more and more significant when it comes for search results and visibility in those results; Cutts confirmed this is the direction in which Google will continue to move.
Google on Mobile Search Results

Next, he discussed the role of smartphones and their shock on search results. This is completely an area SEOs need to continue to focus on, as it is clear that sites that are not mobile-friendly will see a negative impact on their rankings in the mobile search results.

Smartphone ranking will take numerous things into account, he explained:

•    If your phone doesn’t display Flash, Google will not illustrate flash sites in your results.

•    If your website is Flash heavy, you need to consider its use, or ensure the mobile version of your site does not use it.

•    If your website routes all mobile traffic to the homepage rather than the internal page the user was attempting to visit, it will be ranked lower.

•    If your site is slow on mobile phones, Google is less likely to rank it.

Cutts was attractive clear that with the significant increase in mobile traffic, not having a mobile-friendly site will seriously impact the amount of mobile traffic Google will send you. Webmasters should begin prioritizing their mobile strategy immediately.

Penguin, Google’s Spam Strategy & Native Advertising

Matt next talked about their spam strategy. When they initially launched Penguin and the blackhat webmaster forums had spammers bragging how they weren’t touched by Penguin, the webspam team’s answer was, “Ok, well we can turn that dial higher.” They upped the impact it had on search results. Cutts said that when spammers are posting about wanting to do him physically harm, he knows his spam team is doing their job well.

He did say they are continuing their work on some specific keywords that tend to be very spammy, including “payday loans,” “car insurance,” “mesothelioma,” and some porn keywords. Because they are highly profitable keywords, they attract the spammers, so they are working on
Spam networks are still on Google’s radar and they are still bringing them down and taking action against them.

For PageRank devotees, there is some bad news. PageRank is updated internally inside Google on a daily basis and every three months or so, they would push out that information to the Google toolbar so it would be visible to webmasters. sadly, the pipeline they used to push the data to the toolbar broke and Google does not have anyone working on fixing it. As a result, Cutts said we shouldn’t wait for to see any PageRank updates anytime soon--not anytime this year. He doesn’t know if they will fix it, but they are going to judge the impact of not updating it. The speculation that PageRank could be retired is not that far off from the truth, as it currently stands.

Communication with Webmasters, Rich Snippets, Java & Negative SEO

Google continues to boost their communication with webmasters. They made new videos covering malware and hacking, as Google is seeing these problems more and more, yet not all webmasters are understandable about what it is and how to fix it. They are working on with more concrete examples in their guidelines, to make it easier for people to determine the types of things that are causing ranking issues and point webmasters in the right direction to fix it.

Cutts worried that he is not the only face for Google search. They have 100 speaking events per year and do Hangouts on Air to educate webmasters. They hold Webmaster Office Hours, to boost communication and give users the chance to engage and ask questions of the search team.

Google is becoming smarter at being able to read JavaScript, as it has absolutely been used for evil by spammers. However, Cutts cautions that even though they are doing a better job at reading it, don’t use that as an excuse to create an entire site in JS.

Matt also says negative SEO isn’t as common as people consider and is often self-inflicted. One person approached Matt to say a competitor was ruining them by pointing paid links to their site. Yet when he looked into it, he exposed paid links from 2010 pointing to their site, and said there was no way competitors would have bought paid links back in 2010 to point to their site, since. the algorithm punishing paid links wasn’t until a couple years after those paid links went live.

The Future of Google Search: Mobile, Authorship & Quality Search Results

On the future of search, he again stressed the importance of mobile site usability. YouTube traffic on mobile has skyrocketed from 6 percent two years ago, to 25 percent last year, to 40 percent of all YouTube this year. Some countries have more mobile traffic than they do desktop traffic. Cutts reiterated, “If your website looks bad in mobile, now is the time to fix that.”

Google is also working on machine learning and training their systems to be able to understand and read at an elementary school level, in order to improve search results.

Authorship is another area where Google wants to develop, because tying an identity to an authorship profile can help keep spam out of Google. They plan to squeeze up authorship to combat spam and they found if they removed about 15 percent of the lesser quality authors, it dramatically increased the presence of the better quality authors.

During Q&A, Cutts discussed links from press release sites. He said Google recognized the sites that were press release syndication sites and simply discounted them. He does stress that press release links weren’t penalized, because press release sites do have value for press and marketing reasons, but those links won’t pass PageRank.
In closing, Cutts said they are keeping a close eye on the mix of organic search results with non-organic search results

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