Nov 27 2012

Google Explains Basics Of Paid Links In New Video

Google put out a new Webmaster Help video today about paid links. There’s no new information, and most of our readers can probably skip this one, but essentially, Cutts is just explaining to the uninitiated the difference between a paid link that passes PageRank and an advertisement link, which does not. Clearly, this is still something that comes up with people new to the game. This was, after all, a direct response to a user-submitted question. This is still an important part of online marketing that any webmasmter needs to know, so it’s probably a good thing to keep it in the conversation. If you fall into the camp that is still learning the basics, and you want to know more about Google’s guidelines, and paid link policies specifically, start here .

Nov 21 2012

Matt Cutts Says His Blog Has Helped Him Get Into The Webmaster Mindset

This week, we’ve already seen Google release a Webmaster Help video with Matt Cutts talking about SEO, and the prospect of having it renamed something else to shed negative connotations. Today, Google has put out another video of Cutts talking about SEO. This time, Cutts is responding to the following question: “Have you learned something about SEO that you wouldn’t know if you haven’t had your blog?” He says that something he didn’t expect from having a blog was that it helped him step into the mindset of a webmaster or a site owner “a lot better”.

Nov 20 2012

Matt Cutts On Whether Or Not SEO Should Be Called Something Else

Google put out a new Webmaster Help video today. This time, Matt talks about whether or not “search engine optimization” should be renamed. “A lot of the times when you hear SEO, people get this very narrow blinder on, and they start thinking link building, and I think that limits the field and limits your imagination a little bit,” says Cutts. “It’s almost like anything you’re doing is making a great site – making sure it is accessible and crawlable, and then, almost marketing it – letting the world know about it.” “So it’s a shame that search engine marketing historically refers to paid things like AdWords because otherwise, I think that would be a great way to view it,” he says. “You could also think about not search engine optimization, but search experience optimization. Would users like to see the snippet on the page? Do they land? Do they convert well? Are they happy? Do they want to bookmark it, tell their friends about it, come back to it? All those kinds of questions.” “Unfortunately, SEO does have this kind of connotation for a lot of people, and we’ve seen it in media, like CSI type shows where somebody says they’re an SEO and people have this ‘worthless shady criminals’ kind of view – somebody called SEOs that, and I don’t know how to escape that, because there are a few people who are black hats, who hack sites and give the whole field a bad name, and there are a few people who sell snake oil, who give the field a bad name. And unless people drive those guys out of our midst, we’re gonna have this somewhat bad, shaky reputation for SEO,” he says. “At the same time, if you change the name to something else, all the people will just come along, and a few of those will be bad actors as well,” says Cutts. “If you have a few bad apples then that will sort of change the reputation of whatever new name you pick, so in my personal opinion, the best way to tackle it would be, you know, think about it in broad terms, or maybe think about how can we differentiate the great stuff that people do making their site faster, more accessible, helping people with keyword research, all that sort of stuff – marketing in different ways.” Do you think SEO should get a new name? What would you call it?

Nov 19 2012

Matt Cutts On How Quickly You Should Hear Back About Reconsideration Requests

Google’s Matt Cutts has posted a new Webmaster Help video talking about reconsideration requests – specifically, how long they should take. In the video, he responds to the following question: I’ve been waiting for 2 months to hear back regarding a reconsideration request. Is this normal? There is no one I can contact about it. He says that’s not normal, and that you could show up in the webmaster forum and ask what’s going on. “What I would do is, I would actually do another reconsideration request, and I would mention, ‘Hey, I didn’t hear back. What’s going on here?’” he says. “When you do a reconsideration request, you should get a sort of confirmation message pretty quickly that lets you know we got the reconsideration request,” says Cutts. “If you don’t see that, then maybe something went wrong in the submission – the form didn’t go through or something along those lines. Much faster than two months – the backlog can vary, so it can be a week, or it can be several days if we have a lot of people all doing reconsideration requests, maybe after we just started sending out a new type of message, for example.” “You should hear back with one of roughly three different replies,” he continues. “The replies are basically: yes, we think you’re in good shape so your reconsideration request has been granted; it might be no, we think you still have some work to do, and so that’s the sort of thing where it’s like, okay, you need to keep improving the site; it can also, in some situations, be you don’t have any sort of manual issue at all, and you should hear back very quickly about that.” “Sometimes, you flip the coin and you don’t land on heads – yes, or tails – no,” he says. “You sort of get the very side of the coin, and in that in case, you’ll get something that says we have processed your reconsideration request. Typically what that means is there might have been multiple issues. So maybe one issue is resolved, but there’s still another issue or we moved from something where we thought the entire domain was not as good to maybe we’re more granular. So that just mans, okay, there’s still some issues, but more of them have been resolved.” Last month, Cutts did another video about reconsideration requests in which he said the company was experimenting wiht ways to make them better. Here are some additional tips on reconsideration requests from Google.

Nov 14 2012

Matt Cutts On How Google Interprets Links To URLs Ending With Campaign Tags

Google is really pumping out the Webmaster Help videos lately. Today’s features Matt Cutts responding to the following user question: Will Google interpret links to URLs ending with a campaign tag like ?hl=en ( as a link to or to a completely different page? What bout the SEO effect of inbound links? “The team that really does the core indexing does a great job of canonicalizing, which is picking from different URLs and combining them together in the right way,” says Cutts. “So, if you’re using sort of standard URL endings – URL parameter tags, tracking tags, stuff like that, often times we’ll be able to detect that those are the same page, and that they should really be combined in some way.” “If that’s not the case, we like to talk about the KISS rule (the Keep It Simple Stupid rule). If you don’t trust a search engine to get it right, you do have a lot of different options,” he says. “So, you can always, for example, use rel=”canonical” whenever you land on a particular page. If it’s a tracking URL, and you don’t want it in the index at all, in theory, you could record that that particular landing page was hit on the server, and then do a 301 to whatever the final page is going to be, and we also provide a free tool in Google Webmaster Tools Webmaster Console at, that basically lets you say, ‘These URL parameters matter. These URL parameters don’t matter.’ So, when you see a URL with a particular set of parameters, you can strip these parameters out, and you’ll still get the same content.” “So if you do use something non standard, and you see it being an issue, maybe a URL showing up twice in Google’s search results, that is something where I’d recommend checking out our URL parameter tool or consider using rel=”canonical” or a 301 redirect,” Cutts concludes. This has little to do with the actual subject at hand, but I found it somewhat amusing how horrible the YouTube transcript was for this video. For example, it says: “So the crawl team the team that really does the court indexing they do a great job of canonical ie sandwiches picking from different your elves and combining them together and the right way so you think sort of standard you were all indian side you were a printer tax cutting taxes like that…” Just a heads up. You may actually want to watch these things rather than rely on the transcripts.

Nov 13 2012

Matt Cutts On How Google Handles Site-Wide Links Both Algorithmically And Manually

If you’re interested in how Google treats site-wide backlinks, you’ll be interested in a new Webmaster Help video Google posted today. Matt Cutts takes on the following question: Are site-wide backlinks considered good or bad by Google? Or do they just count as 1 link from the whole domain? “On the algorithmic standpoint, typically I’ve said before, if we have like keywords – the first keyword counts some, the next keyword counts a little bit, but not as much, the third keyword not as much…so even if you do keyword stuffing – even if you throw a ton of keywords – at some point, it becomes asymptotically diminishing returns, and it doesn’t really help you anymore,” says Cutts. “You can imagine the same sort of thing, you know, if we see a link from a domain, we might count it once, but if we see 50 links from a domain, we still might choose to only count it once. So on an algorithmic side, we do a pretty good job of compressing those links together.” “But then there’s also on the manual side,” he continues. “So, imagine that you have a Polish website, and then you see a site-wide link in English talking about, ‘Rent cheap apartments,’ you know. To a regular person, that looks pretty bad. So, certainly it does happen that you have site-wide links – maybe you have a blogroll or something like that, but if I were a manual webspam analyst, sort of doing an investigation, and we got a spam report, you’re an English site, and you’ve got a site-wide Polish link or something like that or vice versa, it looks commercial or it looks off-topic, low-quality or spammy, then that can affect the assessment on whether you want to trust the out-going links from that site.” See more recent videos from Cutts here .

Nov 12 2012

Matt Cutts Talks Guest Blogging (Again) And Article Spinning

Last month, Google put out a Webmaster Help video about guest blogging, and its effects on links. Now, Matt Cutts (who discussed the topic in that video) has appeared in another related video. This time, he responds to the following question: Currently, guest blogging is the favorite activity of webmasters for link acquisition. Due to its easy nature, lots of spammy activities are going on like article spinning etc. Is Google going to hammer websites for links acquired by guest blogging? “It’s funny, because I did a video – another video recently about guest blogging, and it was sort of like saying, ‘Well, can’t it be an okay activity?’ and I was sort of saying, ‘Well, if you get a really high quality blogger it can, but this is the flip side,” he says. “And I want to sort of specifically address it as well. If you were doing so many guest blogs that you’re doing article spinning, and likewise, if you’re allowing so many guest bloggers that you allow things like spun blogs, where people aren’t really writing real content of their own, then that is a pretty bad indicator of quality.” “If your website links to sites that we consider low quality or spammy, that can affect your site’s reputation, so the short answer is yes,” says Cutts. “Google is willing to take action if we see spammy or low quality blogging, guest blogging, whatever you want to call it. It’s basically just placing low quality articles on the site. And so, I would be cautious about using that as a primary link acquisition strategy, and if you have a website where you’ll just let anybody post, probably the kinds of links that you get embedded in those articles, as a result, might affect your site’s reputation. So, do think about that.” See Matt’s previous video on the topic here .

Nov 7 2012

Matt Cutts Talks Parked Domain Content

Google has released a new Webmaster Help video. It’s another one of those in which Matt Cutts answers his own question. This time, it’s: I have a parked domain and want to launch a new website on it. Are there any pitfalls I should avoid? Should I keep my domain parked or put some sort of stub page there? “Google does have a parked domain detector,” says Cutts. “You’ve probably seen this – where you land on the page, and there’s the lady with the backpack smiling at you, and it’s like, ‘Click here to learn about whatever,’ and those pages aren’t as useful. Users don’t like to see them, and they complain when they do see them, so we do have a parked domain detector that we run, and then when we detect that a page is parked, or a domain is parked, then we try not to show those pages in our search results.” “The fact is that if you leave your domain parked right up until you launch, it might take a little while for us to recrawl that page and reprocess it, and for the parked domain detector to really believe that it’s no longer parked,” he continues. “So, my advice advice would be, once you buy a domain, if you do intend to put something there (you know, a month, a few weeks…whatever, beforehand), just write a paragraph or two or three, and say, ‘This will be the future home of xyz. We’re going to be the world’s number one source of red widgets or blue widgets or green widgets,’ or whatever it is that you’re planning to do.” “Even if it’s mysterious, just make sure that you write a paragraph of text or two,” he adds. “It’s not just an empty page or like a completely empty web template, because we do try to detect that sort of behavior.” He notes that if there is already some kind of content, Google won’t have to learn that the page is not parked, when you’re actually ready to launch.

Nov 6 2012

Matt Cutts On Why Google Shuts Down Products: It’s Not Malice (Though This Is An Unofficial Explanation)

Google released an interesting Webmaster Help video today. This time, Matt Cutts takes on the topic of Google shutting down products, which is rather timely, considering that Google is getting ready to shut down homepage backgrounds , and a number of people are upset about it. The user-submitted question is: “Matt, we often hear about Google ‘killing off’ products. Why do you guys do this? Are you just being mean or “out to get” us SEOs? Sounds like there is something bigger going on. Could you please elaborate?” Cutts says he asked the user what they meant, and they gave him the example of the Wonder Wheel and iGoogle. Cutts says this is an informal opinion, but then proceeds to respond, “In my experience, Google is pretty good about trying to explore the space. We want to try out new things. Unless you’re trying things out – like if you’re trying to ski, and you never fall – then you’re not really pushing yourself hard enough. So we do try out a bunch of different ideas. At the same time, some of those ideas are not going to work out.” When you can see that a particular project is “not going to succeed,” he says, it might be time to put those resources (machines or engineers) into a different project. Sometimes, he says, something just doesn’t get enough traction over time. “It can also be the case that maybe you build a product, and then the internal infrastructure that we use changes over time…evolves. I like to joke that the half life of code at Google is about six months. If you wait six months and go back to a particular section of code, like half of it will have changed. So there’s a lot of stuff going on internally under the hood to make our systems better at Google, but if you happen to fork off, and you’re on a strange little evolutionary path, so to speak, and then after a while people are like, ‘Oh, that is three generations behind our current technology, and we don’t even know how to get back to where we were before,’ then sometimes it’s easier to think about shutting down that project or rewriting it with newer technology or folding that functionality into a different thing.” “It’s not malice,” he assures us. That’s really only part of his answer, so watch the video for the rest, but he does make the point that if it has enough users, it’s unlikely that Google will shut it down. It’s unclear how many people are using background images.

Nov 5 2012

Cutts Does Customer Support In Latest Webmaster Video

Google has put out a new webmaster help video with Matt Cutts. The basis of the user-submitted question isn’t even accurate, and Cutts still took the time to make the video and answer it. This goes to show that there is a solid chance that Google will answer your questions when you send them. The question was: The Webmaster Tools “Fetch as Googlebot” feature does not allow one to fetch an https page, making it not very useful for secure sites – any plans to change that? “So, we just tried it here, and it works for us,” said Cutts. “You have to register, and prove that you own the https site, just like you do with an http site. Once you’ve proven that you control or verify that you are able to control that https page, you absolutely can fetch. You need to include the protocol when you’re doing the fetch, but it should work just fine. If it doesn’t work, maybe show up in the webmaster forum, and give us some feedback, but we just tried it on our side, and it looks like it’s working for us.” How’s that for customer support? They must be getting close to the end of this batch of videos.