Feb 28 2013

Matt Cutts Talks Location And ccTLDs

In Google’s latest Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts discusses location and ccTLDs. Specifically, he responds to the following user-submitted question: We have a vanity domain (http://ran.ge) that unfortunately isn’t one of the generic TLDs, which means we can’t set our geographic target in Webmaster Tools. Is there any way to still target our proper location? “We’ve seen this trend – as the domain name space gets a little more exhausted in .com, people get creative, and so Matt Mullenweg at WordPress grabbed ma.tt, for example, which is a really creative URL, but something that people don’t think about is: what is .tt? Or what is .ge?” says Cutts. “It’s Georgia, you know, there’s a lot of startups that have been using .io, which is the TLD for the Indian Ocean, I believe. So you have to think hard about is it the case that this is going to be known as an international area? If your’e just using .es because you can find some cool word that ends in .es, most people using that domain are targeting Spain. So that is our assumption – that you’re targeting Spain.” He says that some people want .li to be associated with Long Island, but it’s really associated with Lichtenstein, and that’s how Google views it. “In some sense, it comes down to a little bit of a call about when a domain becomes truly generic. When it becomes appropriate for the entire world. So .co, which used to be, I think, Columbia, might be more generic now, where everybody’s using it as if it is another .com, but some domains, I would put some thought into. Just because it’s a cool URL, a lot of the times we’re going to be looking at it and thinking, ‘Hmm, this is actually related more to Lichtenstein that it is to Long Island, and so even though people want to do a Long Island business, we’re more likely to think that it’s in Lichtenstein.” He goes on to suggest that you post on Webmaster forums and “rally your case,” and do a blog post that says, “.iO is mostly startups, and this should not be related to this country…” Still, he says, Google has to look at the data and look at the domains that are in use, and make a judgment call.

Feb 26 2013

Matt Cutts Says You Should Use Autocompletetype On Web Forms

In the latest Webmaster Help video, Google’s Matt Cutts answers his own question: Can you explain a little bit about the proposed “autocompletetype” attribute? Is this something I should add on my web forms? “The basic idea is lots of websites have forms,” says Cutts. “You type in your name – your first name, your last name, your address, your street address, your postal code – all this sort of stuff. And it’s a real pain to fill out those forms. If you’re a business owner or a publisher, the easier you can make it to fill out those forms, the more likely it is that people will do purchases or sign up for your newsletter, or whatever it is that you’re interested in. So it’s highly recommended that you make it easy for people to fill out those forms.” “You take your existing web form, and Google Chrome (hopefully other browsers will pick this up as well) has proposed a standard called ‘autocompletetype,’ so you can say, ‘autocomplete type is street address’,” he adds. “It doesn’t change your form elements. Your variables are still the same, so you’re only adding. It’s not as if any of your forms are going to break. But by annotating your forms with the correct type of thing that you expect people to fill in with the browser’s autocomplete, Chrome will know exactly how to fill out your forms.” He says it’s a “tiny” amount of work, and as a result, users will “whisk” right through your form. There’s no down side, he says. Also, for some reason, there’s a clip from a Who song at the end of the video.

Feb 25 2013

Wondering What Percentage Of PageRank Disappears Through 301 Redirects?

Google’s Matt Cutts discusses loss of PageRank from 301 redirects in the latest Webmaster Help video. Specifically, he answers the following user-submitted question: Roughly what percentage of PageRank is lost through a 301 redirect? After providing some history about the context of this question, Cutts says, “I sent an email to the team who is in charge of this, and of course the implementation of this can very over time, but this has been roughly the same for quite a while. The amount of PageRank that dissipates through a 301 is currently identical to the amount of PageRank that dissipates through a link. So they are utterly the same in terms of the amount of PageRank that dissipates going through a 301 versus through a link. So that doesn’t mean use a 301. It doesn’t mean use a link. It means use whatever is best for your purposes because you don’t get to hoard or conserve any more PageRank if you use a 301, and likewise it doesn’t hurt you if you use a 301.” He is careful to point out that this could change in the future. “That’s the current implementation,” he says. “We don’t promise it will be that way for all time and eternity, but I don’t see any reason why in particular it would change.”

Feb 19 2013

Google Talks About Phone Number Spam Again

Nearly a year ago, Google’s Matt Cutts took to Google+ to discuss phone number spam. “I wanted to clarify a quick point: when people search for a phone number and land on a page like the one below, it’s not really useful and a bad user experience. Also, we do consider it to be keyword stuffing to put so many phone numbers on a page,” he said. “There are a few websites that provide value-add for some phone numbers, e.g. sites that let people discuss a specific phone number that keeps calling them over and over. But if a site stuffs a large number of numbers on its pages without substantial value-add, that can violate our guidelines, not to mention annoy users.” This is the image he was referring to: Today, Google released its latest Webmaster Help video, which features Cutts talking about the subject once again. It’s short and sweet, and basically serves as a reminder that Google will take action on this kind of thing:

Feb 12 2013

Matt Cutts Goes Back In Time To Tell Gmail User About Old Feature

Google’s Matt Cutts has proven once again that no user-submitted question is too mundane to warrant an answer. In the latest “Webmaster Help” video, Cutts semi-mockingly responds to the question: It would be a really great feature to mark an email as important in Gmail. Will this ability ever be added? After “going back in time to add that feature,” and “using the time machine,” (which involves some Wayne’s World-esque hand gestures and sound effects) he discusses Google’s Priority Inbox feature, which was launched in 2010 . Cutts has never been particularly uptight in these videos, but in recent ones, he seems to really be cutting loose. See these recent videos of Cutts impersonating a dinosaur.

Feb 11 2013

Google On How To Figure Out Which Links To Remove

For the past year or so, webmasters have been receiving a great deal of messages from Google about unnatural links pointing to their sites. You may know exactly which links Google doesn’t like, but there’s also a good chance you may not. As we’ve seen, a lot of people have gone on link removal request rampages, greatly overreacting , and seeking the takedown of legitimate links out of fear that Google might not like them. In the latest Webmaster Help video, Google’s Matt Cutts discusses how to figure out which links to get removed. The video is a response to this user-submitted question: Google Webmaster Tools says I have “unnatural links,” but gives little help as to which specific links are bad. Since I have never purchased links, I don’t know which ones to have removed, and I’m scared of removing good ones, which will hurt my traffic. Suggestions? “We’ve tried to become more transparent, and when we were saying, ‘Links were affecting the reputation of an entire site,’ we would tell people about that,” says Cutts. “And more recently we’ve been telling people, and opening up and saying, ‘Hey, we still like your site. Your site, overall, might be good, but maybe there’s some individual links to your site that we don’t trust.’ Now, the problem is that we weren’t, at that time, giving specific examples. So one feature that we rolled out is the ability to sort by recent, discovery of links, so you can actually get the date of when we discovered a link. So if you sort that way, you can look for the recent links. But a feature that we are working on – we are in the process or rolling out – is that we will actually – we will basically give you examples.” “So it’s a…you know, as we’re building the incident whenever a webmaster analyst or something like that is saying, ‘Okay, these are links not to trust,’ they’ll include an example link,” continues Cutts. “You might get one, you might get two, you might get three, depending, but basically it will give you an idea of the sorts of links that we are no longer trusting. Now, it’s not exhaustive. It’s not comprehensive, but it should give you a flavor, you know. Is it a bunch of widget links? Were you doing a bunch of keyword-rich anchor text in article bank or article marketing type stuff? Maybe you weren’t trying to do paid links, but maybe you hired an agency, and it turns out they were doing paid links, and you didn’t realize it.” “I would look in the text of the messages,” concludes. “Over time, we’re working really hard on trying to include an example or two link, so that when you get that message, you have an idea of exactly where to look.”

Feb 6 2013

Here’s Why Google Doesn’t Turn Off Toolbar PageRank

Now that Google’s Matt Cutts is back online , he’s been steadily putting out new Webmaster Help videos on a daily basis. It will be interesting to see how long this continues. Today’s is particularly timely considering Google just pushed out a toolbar PageRank update (the first of the year). Cutts responds to the following user-submitted question: Why don’t you switch off the PageRank Toolbar feature? It is widely used by link sellers as a link grading system. Why do you continue to display PageRank publicly? It appears to have little relevance, except to spammers. “My rough answer is: there are a lot of SEOs and people in search who look at the PageRank toolbar, but there are a ton of regular users as well,” says Cutts. “You would be really surprised at how many just regular people have the Google Toolbar, and user PageRank as a way to figure out…how reputable at something…I know it seems kind of strange, but it also seems strange that nofollow is only a single digit percentage of links on the web. We get into our tunnel vision, and we sort of say, ‘Oh, well no one else uses the PageRank toolbar,’ but the fact is a lot of people do.” He continues, “Now, one interesting twist is Chrome doesn’t really have a PageRank toolbar feature built in, and Internet Explorer 10, as I understand it, doesn’t allow toolbars or add-ins, or as Microsoft calls it, it provides an ‘add-in free experience,’ so if IE 10 becomes more popular, eventually it might be the case that the Google Toolbar is not as commonly used, and in that case, it might be the case that, it might be such that over time, maybe the PageRank feature is not used by as many people, and so maybe it will go away on its own or eventually we’ll reach the point where we say, ‘Okay, maintaining this is not worth the amount of work.’” He says Google will probably continue to support the feature as long as people are using it. With IE 10, however, he says, “the writing is on the wall,” so they’ll see how that affects things in the future (particularly for Windows users).

Feb 5 2013

Matt Cutts Talks Referer Spam In Latest Video

Google’s Matt Cutts is back online, and cranking out the Webmaster Help videos . He tweeted a link to the second of the latest series today, and this one is about referer spam coming from a YouTube video. The user-submitted question is: Why does a certain YouTube video appear to be visiting my blogspot blog? Take this video for example, it keeps appearing in my Blogger Dashboard as a referral.. Cutts says they looked at the video, and found in the comments that there were multiple people complaining about the same problem – that the video spammed their blog. “This is an instance of what we call referer spam,” he says. “A referer is just a simple HTTP header that is passed along when a browser goes from one page to another page, and it normally is used to indicate where the user’s coming from. Now, people can use that, and change the referer to be anything that they want. They can make it empty, or there are some people who will set the referer to a page they want to promote, and then they will just visit tons of pages around the web. All the people that look at the referers see that, and say, ‘Oh, maybe I should go and check that out.’ And the link – whenever there’s a referer – it doesn’t mean that there was necessarily a link, because you can make that referer anything you want, so there are some people who try to drive traffic by visiting a ton of websites, even with an automated script, and setting the referer to be the URL that they want to promote.” He notes that some of the other comments on the YouTube video say that its creator is well known, and has no reason to spam people. Cutts notes that it doesn’t necessarily have to be coming from the actual creator. “The thing to know is that there’s no authentication with referer. Anybody can make a browser, and set the referer,” he says. “You can’t automatically assume it was the owner of that URL if you see something showing up in your dashboard.” Basically, you should just ignore it, he says.

Feb 4 2013

For Developing News Stories, Google Says It Prefers One Page To Separate Articles

After taking a month off , Google’s Matt Cutts is back online, and has put out a new Webmaster Help video. This one talks about news sites, and how to approach developing stories. The user-submitted question being addressed is: Do you have any specific tips for news sites, which have unique concerns compared with commercial sites? For example, if I have a developing news story, should I keep updating the same page, or create a new one when the content changes? Cutts prefers the same page route, keeping the information on a single page updated. “If it were me, I would tend to have one page because that’s where all the PageRank can accumulate,” he says. “People don’t get confused. Sometimes you even see people doing multiple stories over several days, and they don’t link those stories together, so from one story you can get to the other story, so you sort of lose a few people through the cracks that way.” “Marissa Mayer [former Googler/current Yahoo CEO], in the past, has talked about having living topics, or topic pages, that are really like exhaustive entries about a specific area or type of breaking news,” he says. “You can see something like Wikipedia as another example, where they have one page that just gets richer and more developed. At some point, a news story is over, and you want to move on to creating a new page, but given a certain story, often, I think it can be helpful to add updates, and add more information on the same URL.” He goes on to recommend reading Google News documentation and research more about what works for that. He references the recent news_keywords meta tag Google announced (without mentioning it by name), and suggests using authorship. The part about PageRank is interesting, and certainly worth considering, but unfortunately, he doesn’t get into how Google (or Google News) treats old articles that are updated (in terms of the freshness element), or the best ways to get these old articles in front of their audiences on their second, third, or fourth (etc.) rounds. Of course, there’s always social media, but in terms of search, it’s not that always that simple.