Jun 21 2011

Google on Duplicate Content Concerns Regarding Blog Posts on the Home Page

As you may know, Google’s Matt Cutts often posts videos on the company’s Webmaster Help YouTube channel, answering user questions. He linked to one today about duplicate content concerns and having blog posts on your home page. The question was, …

Jun 13 2011

Google’s Matt Cutts on Why Amazon Often Ranks Well

If you search for products a lot, using Google, there’s a fairly good chance you’ve seen Amazon at or near the top of the results pages quite a few times. Someone sent a question about this to Google, and Matt Cutts used a Webmaster Help video to discuss the subject. The question was phrased as: “Search for a physical product usually ranks Amazon #1, even though it may not provide the best user experience. What is being done to prevent large corporations from dominating search engine results?” Matt’s responded by saying, “I think in general, not to call anybody out, but I think Amazon does have a relatively good user experience in general. I wouldn’t necessarily agree that Amazon always ranks number one for every physical product.” “So typically when I do a search for a book, Amazon is up there, but if there is an official homepage for a book, it often ranks very well, and sometimes number one as well,” he continued. “The interesting thing is not every book has a home page. This is something that still surprises me. You’ll have a very savvy author. They’ll have a webpage, but they may not have a landing page or a page dedicated to that specific book. Sometimes it’s just a lack of savviness.” He brought up one book that he had recently looked at, noting that no other content about it was on the web, other than Amazon, GoodReads, and Google eBooks. “The best answer is, make sure there is an actual page for your product,” said Cutts. “In general, Google does try to figure out what are the official home pages whether it be for governments, universities, or states or whatever, and we try to make sure we return those when possible.” “We are mindful of whenever users do a search, and then they complain to us, if they complain that they’re not finding an official homepage for a product, then that’s something that we do take into consideration,” he said. “In general, we do look at the number of links. We look at the content of the page, and if one particular website is able to get a lot of links, because a lot of people thank it’s a great site, then in general, usually it should rank relatively well, and I think that by itself isn’t necessarily a problem.” Looking at this a little bit myself, I did find that a search for my wife’s book, “The Fireman’s Daughter” did return an Amazon result within the first few results (a band with the same name is ranking above it), while the landing page for the book from the actual publisher is buried 5 pages in. There are pros and cons to Amazon outranking this page. She makes more in royalties if the book is purchased directly through the publisher, but on the other hand, the Amazon brand also lends a bit of trust from the user’s perspective, as not as many people will be familiar with the publisher itself (this may be a different story with some more well-known publishers). The question is not just about books though. Looking at it from the perspective of the average online store, the consumer trust factor likely plays a big role in Amazon’s rankings. Remember Google’s list of questions you could use to assess the quality of your site? It included something like “Would you feel comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?”

Jun 9 2011

New Google Panda Update Approved, On the Way

Google’s Matt Cutts spoke in a Q&A session with Danny Sullivan at SMX Advanced this week, and discussed the Panda update, among other things. A lot of sites have been critical of Google for returning results that are scraped versions of their orignal content. Cutts is quoted as saying in a liveblog of the session, “A guy on my team [is] working on that issue. A change has been approved that should help with that issue. We’re continuing to iterate on Panda. The algorithm change originated in search quality, not the web spam team.” He says there’s another change coming soon, and that he still doesn’t know when Panda will be launched fully internationally (in other languages). He also says they haven’t made any manual exceptions with Panda. You may recall that the Mac blog Cult of Mac was hit by the original Panda update, and then after exchanging some dialogue with Google the site ended up getting some new traffic. Matt says, however, “We haven’t made any manual exceptions. Cult of Mac might have been confused because they started getting all this new traffic from blogging about it, but we haven’t made any manual exceptions.” Yesterday we looked at some poll results from Search Engine Roundtable that found 4% of sites were saying they had fully recovered from the Panda update . Some other sites have been finding partial recovery. Image credit: Search Engine Roundtable On the prospect of sites having recovered from the update, Matt is quoted as saying, “The general rule is to push stuff out and then find additional signals to help differentiate on the spectrum. We haven’t done any pushes that would directly pull things back. We have recomputed data that might have impacted some sites. There’s one change that might affect sites and pull things back.” You may also recall Google’s list of questions that webmasters could use to assess the quality of their content. Cutts talked briefly about those questions, saying, “It could help as we recompute data.” He also said that what is being called “Panda 2.2″ has been approved but has not yet been rolled out. “If we think you’re relatively high quality, Panda will have a smaller impact. If you’re expert enough and no one else has the good content, even if you’ve been hit by Panda that page can still rank.” That says a lot about original content.

Jun 8 2011

Google on How Much Content You Should Have On Your Home Page

The latest Google Webmaster Central video from Matt Cutts talks about home page content. Given issues like content depth and site speed, which Google has brought up a great deal in recent memory, the content on your home page is …