Apr 29 2013

Matt Cutts On The SEO Mistakes You’re Making

In the latest Webmaster Help video from Google, Matt Cutts discusses the biggest mistakes that a lot of webmasters are making when it comes to SEO. The top mistake, he says, is not making your site crawlable, which includes not having a domain. After that, it’s not including the right words on the page. Think about what the user is going to type, and include those words, he says. Going further, also have the things that people would be likely to look for on the page. For example, include your business hours. If you’re a restaurant, inlclude a menu in plain text – not just a PDF. The third thing is that people are thinking too much about “link building” when they should really just be thinking about creating compelling content and maketing (including things like talking to newspaper reporters). The fourth thing is the lack of good titles and descriptions. Make sure you include something that makes people actually want to click on the search result, and something that will be helpful, should users bookmark the site. “Something that lets them know you’re going to have the answer they’re looking for – something that makes them understand this is a good resource,” says Cutts. Finally, the other big mistake is not taking advantage of webmaster resources, including (but not limited to) Google’s own Webmaster Tools. Cutts also suggests following Google’s blogs and webmaster videos, attending search conferences, talking to people online (including in Google’s forums), and even mentions Blekko’s link tool. Basically, just follow the SEO industry.

Apr 24 2013

Google Has People Scared To Link To Their Own Content

Some webmasters are afraid to link to their own content, for fear of Google penalizing them. Google’s Matt Cutts addresses the following question in today’s Webmaster Help video: Suppose I have a site that covers fishing overall (A) & I make another fishing site that solely focuses on lure fishing (B). Does linking to A from B violate guidelines? I’ll make sure both have high quality content & disclose that they’re both owned by me. “Just linking from A to B is not a violation of our quality guidelines,” says Cutts. “If you only have two sites, they’re thematically related, a person on A would be interested in B…then it makes perfect sense to link those two sites. The problem gets into [when] you don’t have two sites, but you have fifty sites, or eighty sites, or a hundred and fifty sites, and then suddenly linking all of those sites starts to look a lot more like a link network and something that’s really artificial, as opposed to something that’s organic.” “So if you really do have just a small number of sites – you can count them on one hand – and they’re all very related to each other, it can make perfect sense to link those together,” he continues. “It’s when you start to get a lot more sites – you know, you don’t need 222 sites about car insurance. It looks a little weird if you have howdoigetmycarinsurance.net and wheresthecheapcarinsurance.com…I’m making these domain names up, so I’m not saying these particular site owners are bad – maybe they’re great. Who knows? But if you have 222 different copies of that, usually you’re not putting as much work into each individual site, and so as a result, you’ll end up with shallow or superficial sites, lower quality content, you’re more likely to see doorways…that sort of thing.” This isn’t the first question Cutts has addressed regarding people linking to their own content in recent days. In another video, the user asked about internal links leading to lower rankings because of the Penguin update. See his response here . These questions being addressed a year after the Penguin update came out shows that people are being really cautious, and perhaps fearful of Google when it comes to simply linking to their own stuff.

Apr 22 2013

Google Talks Keeping “No Results” Pages Out Of Index

Google’s Matt Cutts takes on an interesting question in today’s Webmaster Help video: What is being done to detect and remove results from larger sites when they don’t have unique content that is relevant to a query (e.g. yelp.com results with no reviews, Facebook “business” pages that weren’t actually created by the business)? Cutts says he likes the question, but wouldn’t just restrict it to larger sites. “In general, we look at the value add, or you know, whether there’s some compelling value add, even at a page level, and we try to write algorithms to reflect that, but it is the case that sometimes you will find pages that get indexed that say, you know, ‘Zero reviews found,’ and so there’s basically no content to actually base your opinion on when you visit that page,” says Cutts. He continues, “So even starting back in 2009, I found a blog post that I did – ‘Give Google Feedback on No Results Pages,’ and so if people – it was a complaint even back then – people didn’t like having empty review sites, where you click through and it says there are no reviews for that product. So either do a spam report or show up at the forum or you might even still be able to use the form that I mentioned in that 2009 blog post.” He adds, “But basically, we are happy to say, ‘Hey look, if you are even doing search, and there’s no search results on that page, that’s the sort of thing that users get really angry about – they complain about. And so that is the sort of thing that, under our technical guidelines (if you look at our quality guidelines), we do say that we’re willing to prune out those sort of search results.” Here is the blog post he references. Here is a link to Google’s Quality Guidelines .

Apr 17 2013

If You’re Dumping A Ton Of Pages On The Web, Do It Gradually, Says Matt Cutts

Google posted a new Webmaster Help video today. This time, Matt Cutts addresses a question posed by fellow Googler John Mueller, who asks: A newspaper company wants to add an archive with 200,000 pages. Should they add it all at once or in steps? Cutts says, “I think we can handle it either way, so we should be able to process it, but if we see a lot of pages or a lot of things ranking on a site all of a sudden, then we might take a look at it from the manual web spam team. So if it doesn’t make any difference whatsoever to you in terms of the timing of the roll-out, I might stage it a little bit, and do it in steps. That way, it’s not as if you’ve suddenly dropped five million pages on the web, and it’s relatively rare to be able to drop hundreds of thousands of pages on the web, and have them be really high quality.” “An archive of a newspaper is a great example of that,” he adds. “But, if it’s all the same to you, and it doesn’t make that much of a difference, I might tend to do it more in stages, and do more of a gradual roll-out. You could still roll them out in large blocks, but you know, just break that up a little bit.” So it doesn’t sound like you’re going to have any major problems if you do it all at once (provided you’re not actually spamming Google with low quality content), but you might be raising a red flag with the web spam team, so it’s probably better to err on the side of caution, as Cutts suggests.

Apr 16 2013

Matt Cutts On Penguin And Internal Links

In the latest Webmaster Help video from Google, Matt Cutts responds to a question about Penguin’s effect on internal links that use the same anchor text. The exact question is: Do internal website links with exact match keyword anchor text hurt a website? These link help our users navigate our website properly. Are too many internal links with the same anchor text likely to result in a ranking downgrade because of Penguin? “My answer is typically not,” says Cutts. “Typically, internal website links will not cause you any sort of trouble. Now, the reason why I say ‘typically not’ rather than a hard ‘no’ is just because as soon as I say a hard ‘no’ there will be someone who has like five thousand links – all with the exact same anchor text on one page. But if you have a normal site, you know…a catalog site or whatever…. you’ve got breadcrumbs…you’ve got a normal template there…that’s just the way that people find their way around the site, and navigate, you should be totally fine.” He continues. “You might end up, because of breadcrumbs or the internal structured navigation, with a bunch of links that all say the same thing, that point to one page, but as long as that’s all within the same domain, just on-site links, you know, that’s the sort of thing where, because of the nature of you having a template, and you have many pages, it’s kind of expected that you’ll have a lot of links that all have that same anchor text that point to a given page.” Long story short, this isn’t an issue you should have to worry about. Like with everything else, just don’t abuse it and make it an issue.

Apr 15 2013

Matt Cutts Thinks You Should Consider Giving Up News

An interesting Twitter exchange between Googlers Matt Cutts and Tim Bray: Follow @mattcutts Matt Cutts @mattcutts A great article about why you should consider giving up news: http://t.co/p32BilNFxc   Follow @timbray Tim Bray @timbray @mattcutts Except for, the world is run by people who care about what’s going on in it. Want to be one of them, or not?   Follow @mattcutts Matt Cutts @mattcutts @timbray all I know is the two times I’ve given up news/social media for 30 days have been among my most productive months.   Reply  ·   Retweet  ·   Favorite 10 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto If you follow the adventures of Matt Cutts, you no doubt know that he regularly engages in “30 day challenges,” in which he spends a month focusing on some goal. For January, his challenge was “no news, no Twitter, fewer emails, and no social media in general”). It was a quiet time for Google algorithm update news to say the least. “In general, when I wanted to hop onto Techmeme or Google News or Hacker News or Twitter/Nuzzel, instead I opened up my to-do list,” Cutts wrote of his experience. “As a result, I got a ton of stuff done in January. I quickly learned that if something important was happening, I’d hear about it from someone else.” The article Cutts points to in the tweet above comes from The Guardian, and is called, “News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier”. According to that, news: misleads, is irrelevant, has no explanatory power, is toxic to your body, increases cognitive errors, inhibits thinking, works like a drug, wastes time, makes us passive, and kills creativity. It’s an interesting read. I’ll give it that.

Apr 11 2013

Google On Buying Spammy Domains: Don’t Be The Guy Left Holding The Bag

In the latest Webmaster Help video from Google, Matt Cutts takes on an interesting topic. Can you buy a domain that has been penalized by Google for spam, clean it up and recover rankings? Well, it depends, and Cutts explains why. “This is a tricky question because on the one hand there’s algorithmic spam, and then there’s manual spam, and all manual spam does have an eventual time out, so if you were to completely clean up all the content on the domain, [and] do a reconsideration request, in theory, that domain can recover,” says Cutts. “However, on the algorithmic side, if there are a ton of spammy links that the previous owner built up, that can be a little bit hard to go through, and try to clean up and get all those links taken down, and make a list of all those links.” He continues, “The way to think about it is, there are a lot of spammers out there that do basically what’s known as a ‘churn and burn’ tactic, where they just use as many techniques to try and make a domain rank as they can, and then as soon as that domain is awful or bad, or Google has caught it, then they sort of movie on, and they go on to some other exploit, and they try to tackle it with another domain. Now what you don’t want to do is be the guy who gets caught left holding the bag.” Long story short: how bad do you really want this domain?

Apr 9 2013

Matt Cutts On Web Hosts That Host Spam

In the latest Google Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts discusses whether or not a site that is hosted by a hosting service that also hosts spam, has to worry about a negative impact on rankings. The answer is pretty much no, but he talks about some “corner cases” where it’s a little more complicated. “Typically a hosting company has a lot of different stuff on it. Some of it will be good. Some of it will be bad,” says Cutts. “There will be some spam, but just because you happen to be on an IP address or using a hosting company that also hosts some spam, that doesn’t mean that you should be affected.” “There have been a very few situations…I remember several years ago there was a really bad hosting company,” he says. “I’m not even sure whether you would call them a hosting company. It was something like 27,000 sites of porn spam and like two legit sites. On one IP address…so if you were one of those two legit sites…in order to catch the 27,000 porn sites…you know, that was something where we were like, ‘Well, okay that’s really pretty excessive.’” He says they haven’t looked at IP address in a “long, long time” in terms of gathering sites. In most situations, you don’t have to worry about it.

Apr 8 2013

Why Google Changes Your Rankings Over Time

There has probably been at least one time when you noticed that one of your pages used to rank for a certain search query, but then later dropped for some unexplained reason. Matt Cutts, in the latest Google Webmaster Help video, talks about why this might be the case. Cutts responds to the following submitted question: When we create a new landing page with quality content, Google ranks that page on the top 30-50 for targeted keywords. Then why does the rank get decreased for the next 2 to 3 weeks? If pages didn’t have required quality, then why did it get ranked in the first week? “That’s a fun question because it sort of opens up how writing a search engine is kind of a complex task,” says Cutts. “You’re basically trying to make sure that you return the best quality result, but you also have to do that with limited information. For example, in the first minute after an earthquake, you might have different people, you know, saying different things. You know, ten minutes after an earthquake you have more information. An hour after an earthquake you have a lot more. With any event that has breaking news, it’s the sort of thing where it can be hard to know, even if multiple people are all saying the same thing, and one person might be the original author, one might be using that RSS. It can be difficult to try to suss out where was this content appearing originally.” “And over time – over the course of hours, or days, or weeks – that gets easier,” he continues. “But it can be harder over the course of just minutes or hours. So a lot of the times whenever you see something ranking for a while, we’re taking our best guess, and then as more information becomes available, we incorporate that. And then eventually, typically, things settle down into a steady state. And then when there’s a steady state, we’re typically able to better guess about how relevant something is.” As Cutts goes on to note, Google finds that freshness is deserved for some queries, while evergreen content works better for others. In my experience, Google struggles with this a lot, but seems to give more weight to freshness more often than not. Of course, I’m typically writing about newsy topics, so that makes sense to some extent (though there are plenty of times in researching topics that freshness gets a little too much weight).

Apr 2 2013

Matt Cutts Answers A Good Question About Paid Link Penalties

The latest Webmaster Help video is once again about the topic of paid links, but this time it’s about the effects of a paid link penalty on an innocent site that happened to be linked to by a site that was caught selling links. Matt Cutts responds to the following submitted question: If some site that is linking to my site gets penalized for purchasing links, will my site get affected by that penalty? “Normally what happens is when we find a site that’s selling links, we say, ‘Okay, this is a link seller,’” says Cutts. “It’s PageRank goes down by thirty percent, forty percent, fifty percent as a visible indicator that we’ve lost trust in that domain, and it typically loses its ability to send PageRank going forward.” “So for example, suppose we have a selling site that is selling links to a buying site, and the selling site also happens to link to you,” he continues. “The sort of situation that might happen is we find out that that’s a link seller, and as a result, we just don’t trust the outgoing links from that site. So the most likely scenario is if there is a link-selling site, and they get caught for selling links, and they just happen to be linking to you, the value of that link that the site was providing, it just goes away. So it’s the sort of thing where maybe you were benefiting – getting a little bit of PageRank from that site. Now, since we don’t trust that site, you wouldn’t be getting that benefit.” “So typically, it’s not the sort of thing where you get affected by that penalty in the sense that you get demoted or anything harsh like that,” says Cutts. “It’s just you no longer get the benefit of the link from that site because we don’t trust it anymore.” Here’s another recent video in which Cutts talks about paid links.