Dec 24 2012

How To Rank #1 In Google: The Best Of Matt Cutts 2012

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Dec 19 2012

Matt Cutts Offers Holiday Security Tips, Impersonates Dinosaur

Google has put out a new Webmaster Help video. This time, it’s just Matt Cutts offering some “holiday tips,” which simply advise you to take security precautions with your data, and use Google’s Chrome browser. As an added bonus, he does impersonate a dinosaur near the end. Find more recent videos from Cutts here .

Dec 18 2012

Google Is “Very Resistant” To Negative SEO

Negative SEO has been a big topic in the search industry this year, particularly since the Penguin update and Google’s link warnings to webmasters. Many have wondered how easy it would be for their competitors to trick Google into making their sites look like parts of “bad neighborhoods’”. It didn’t help much when Google changed the wording in its Webmaster Tools help center to make it seem more possible that this could happen. Eventually, Google launched the Link Disavow tool, which lets webmasters tell Google to ignore certain links or links from certain domains. In theory, this should be a good tool to combat negative SEO if you’re actually experiencing it. According to Google, however, it’s very unlikely that you are experiencing it. This was the topic of a new Webmaster Help video from the company, which features Matt Cutts discussing negative SEO and the Link Disavow tool. “From the very beginning, we have to think about, when we design an algorithm, or when we take action on sites with the manual web spam team, we try to think about, ‘Okay, is there some way somebody could frame somebody else? Some way that person A could hurt competitor B?’ or something like that,” says Cutts. “So we try really, really hard to design algorithms that are robust, and that are resistant to that sort of thing. Any algorithm that we’ve done in recent years – that the web spam team has worked on – we do try to walk through those cases and make sure that we’re resistant to that sort of thing.” “At the same time, as Google has gotten better at assessing, you know, the quality of backlinks, and taken stronger action on a lot of link networks (especially both public and private link networks) earlier this year, a lot more people are thinking about their back links – how do they clean up their backlinks?” he continues. “And some people are asking about, what if people try to do negative SEO, which is ‘Google bowling,’ or they try to point links to a site to make that site rank lower. Again, most people don’t have to worry about this. If you’re just a regular mom and pop – you’re a small business, this is not the sort of thing where you’re likely in any way, shape or form to run up against this. In my experience, there’s a lot of people who talk about negative SEO, but very few people who actually try it, and fewer still, who actually succeed.” For people who are in competitive niches, who are really worried about this Cutts suggests using the Link Disavow tool .

Dec 17 2012

Matt Cutts Is Surprised People Are Still Being Duped By “Dog Fart Jr.”

Google has put out a new Webmaster Help video. This time, Matt Cutts shares his biggest surprise of the year for the web spam team. “I would probably say the sheer number of people who continued to be snookered by snakeoil salesman products…that promise to instantly rocket you to number one,” says Cutts. “I would expect that in 2012, people would be a little bit more skeptical about that, especially after we do a pretty good job of finding various link networks, different ways of spamming Google – all that sort of stuff.” “A lot of the times, black hat guys will use a particular technique, and when it looks like it’s reaching the end of its lifespan, they’ll package it up, they’ll sell it to you in an ebook, or they’ll sell it to you as a script package, or a recurring service, or a link network that you can subscribe to,” he says. “And I’m like, I don’t get why people would believe this, and they’re like, ‘Well, there’s two other guys on the forum who say that it’s great,’ and it’s like, well, they’re named Dog Fart Jr. and Black Hat Assassin, and the package that you’re thinking about buying is spam forum software. You think those guys don’t know how to make sock puppet accounts that say, ‘Yeah, this is great, has anybody else used it?…I love it!’” Google sure does love the ol’ “Dog Fart” reference .

Dec 12 2012

Google On Reconsideration Requests: Tell Us About The Link Network Or The SEO

Google put out a new Webmaster Help video today. This time Matt Cutts talks about what to include in a reconsideration request, which you may have to submit if Google has caught you violating its quality guidelines. “The goal of your reconsideration request is to, number one, to tell Google you’ve stopped whatever violations of the quality guidelines were happening – paid links, cloaking, scraping, you know, doorways – whatever it was, you need to make a clear and compelling case that that has actually stopped,” says Cutts. “That behavior is no longer going on, and that you’ve cured that as much as possible. So, if you were doing paid links, you’ve gotten as many of those paid links pulled down as you possibly can.” “The second aspect of a reconsideration request is to basically give us a good faith assurance that it won’t happen again,” he continues. “You don’t want to say, ‘Oh, well this site looks like it’s reformed, okay, we’re going to lift this manual action,’ and then they immediately go back to spamming or doing their old tricks. So, what you want to do is step into Google’s shoes, and say, ‘Okay, what would best convince Google that we’ve turned the corner, and this behavior has stopped, and that we’ve cured whatever was going on, and it’s not going to happen again.’” “Great things to include: things like details of the sorts of sites that you were contacting if you were removing links, for example, if you used an SEO, and they really just shot you in the foot because they were doing all sorts of unethical things…that’s the sort of thing where I would give us details about that,” he says. “Tell us about the link network or the SEO.” The more stuff you can include to make your case, the better chance you have of success. In another recent video , he talked about how quickly you should hear back about the requests. In another one , he noted that Google is experimenting with ways to make reconsideration requests better.

Dec 11 2012

Matt Cutts Talks 301s vs. rel=”canonical”

Google put out a new Webmaster Help video today. In this one, Matt Cutts responds to the following submitted question: In the 2009 rel=canonical video, you suggest using rel=canonical when we CAN’T use a 301 redirect. But 301s hurt performance; they require browsers to make an extra round-trip to my servers. Shouldn’t I use rel=canonical everywhere, instead of 301s? “You are the master of your domain, so you can choose whether you use a 301 or whether you use a rel=canonical,” he says. “That’s your call. Most of the time though, I would recommend using the 301. That’s because everybody knows how to deal with it. Browsers know how to deal with it. All search engines pretty much know how to deal with it. If there’s some new little startup, they might not know how to deal with rel=canonical – if they’re doing their own search engine, for example.” Was that “master of your domain” thing another Seinfeld reference ? “Another thing to sort of keep in mind is, usually when you’re doing a 301, it’s because your’e going to some new place on your site, but you’re typically not doing a 301 on every single interaction that your browser has,” he says. “Normally, it will be your browser lands somewhere, you do a 301 to the new location, and then that functionality continues just fine. So it’s usually just a one time pop. It’s not like it’s a huge amount of extra work. “The other thing is, if you’re moving to a new location, your users will look at the address bar, and they’ll notice where they are, so they’ll want to have a good mental model of where they are on your site,” he says. “So there’s a lot of good cognitive reasons and reasons why it might make sense to use a 301.” Here’s what Cutts had to say about rel=”canonical” when we interviewed him when it was announced. Here , he talks about reasons Google might skip it.

Dec 10 2012

Google’s Matt Cutts Talks About “Unique” Content

Google has put out a new Webmaster Help video. This time, Matt Cutts answers a question about an ecommerce site that has about 1,000 product pages. The question, as Google translates it, essentially boils down to: How can I make the pages on my site unique? “Okay, let me give you a little bit of tough love…the question should not be, ‘I have n pages. How can I make them unique?’ The question is, ‘How many pages can I make that are high quality that provide value to users?’” Cutt says. “If you can’t manage to have a thousand pages, and have something unique – something different than just an affiliate feed or whatever on each page of that site, then why should your thousand pages, which are, again, maybe just rewarmed content of an affiliate feed, rank compared to someone else’s thousand pages of that same affiliate content?” Watching the video, something tells me Matt’s a little tired of answering questions like this.

Dec 5 2012

Matt Cutts Talks About Fighting Webspam Around The World

Google put out a new Webmaster Help video today. This time Matt Cutts talks about the company’s efforts to fight webspam on a global scale, as opposed to just in the U.S. and in English. The video was a response to the user-submitted question: Europe is small compared with USA, so will Google get a webspam team for smaller markets? “It turns out we actually do have a webspam team based in Europe (in Dublin, in fact), and they’re able to handle webspam and tackle spam reports in a wide variety of languages, so on the order o well over a dozen – dozens of languages, because there’s a lot of smart people there,” says Cutts. “So we actually have people on the ground in a lot of different offices around the world, and we also have engineers in Zurich. We have an engineer in Hong Kong, but there’s a lot of people who have native experience…people who think about spam in Russia, but also a lot of people in Dublin, who have done a fantastic job dealing with, you know, if an algorithm misses something, they’re there to find the spam. They know the lay of the land. They know who the big players are, and they’re really quite expert.” “But if there’s some kind of really unique link spam going on in Poland, for example, there’s a person there, and those people are on top of that situation,” he adds. “So, I think it’s important that Google not be just a U.S.-centric or an English-centric company. We want to be international. We want to deal with all different languages, and it is the case that we might not have webpam full-time on every single language, but you would be pretty shocked at the number of languages that the webspam team collectively is able to fight spam in.” Webspam is always a big issue for Google, but it’s been a particularly big issue in the search industry this year, thanks to Google’s launch of the Penguin update, designed to algorithmically tackle sites violating Google’s quality guidelines. In another video from Google this week, Cutts said that about 90% of the messages Google sends out to webmasters are about black hat webspam. More recent Webmaster Help videos from Matt Cutts here .

Dec 4 2012

Google Results Estimates Are Only Accurate To About 3 Digits

Google put out a new Webmaster Help video responding to a user-submitted question about Google’s estimated numbers for results on queries. The specific question was: How reliable is the site: query and why does the total count sometimes change from page 1 to page 2? “I wouldn’t really put it in terms of the “site:’ query,” responds Google’s Matt Cutts. “Instead, I would pivot, and narrow, and focus down on the results estimates. So there’s a few things to note. If you haven’t noticed, you should notice that results estimates are only accurate to about three significant digits. So, they are estimates. As we’re looking for queries, at some point, we say we have enough to constitute the first page, and we see how far we’ve gone through our posting list – the amount of data we have. Therefore, we can estimate, there’s about this many results left.” “Now, when you click from page one to page two, suddenly you’re going deeper so you have a better estimate or you have a slightly different estimate because you’re starting to look not just a little bit of the way through all those documents,” Cutts continues. “You’re actually starting to go deeper and deeper. So, it’s relatively common for our results estimates to change, going from our page one to page two, typically becoming more accurate. So it’s not usually a factor of the ‘site:’ query. It’s usually a factor us digging deeper through our data, and as a result, we have a better, or at least a different estimate for how many results there are.” View more recent videos from Cutts here .

Dec 3 2012

Matt Cutts: Only 3% Of Those 700K Messages Were About Unnatural Links

Google has put out a new Webmaster Help video with Matt Cutts doing what he does best – busting myths about Google. Google sent out a lot of messages to webmasters this year, and a lot of them were about unnatural links. However, not as many of them as you might think were actually about that. “Today, I wanted to debunk a particular message that I’ve heard around on some black hat forums, where they say, ‘Google sent out over 700,000 unnatural link warnings,’ you know, earlier this year,” says Cutts. “That’s not the case, and I wanted to give you a lot more context and explanation.” “Tiffany, a member of the webspam team, was at a search conference, and she showed a graph and basically explained that we had sent out over 700,000 messages in January and February,” he explains. “A lot of people misinterpreted that and said, ‘Oh, these are all about unnatural links,’ because we were taking action on link networks at the time, so everybody assumed that those messages were all about unnatural links. That’s not true. It turns out, roughly 90% of the messages we send out are about black hat, and we had just started adding that functionality, which was why it had grown a lot, and we were deciding to remark on it. So, out of the 700,000 messages that we sent in January and February of this year (2012), over 600,000 of them were about black hat. That’s like pure spam. You know..anybody can look at a site and tell, this is clear cut egregious…nobody wants to see this stuff.” “It turns out, only about 3% of the messages that we were sending out were related to unnatural links,” he says. “So under 25,000 messages of the 700,000 messages we sent out were actually about unnatural links.” Cutts says 25,000 is a relatively small set of people. It still seems like a lot to me.