Nov 25 2013

Google’s Cutts Talks Link Limits

Google has put out a new Webmaster Help video about how many links you should have on a page. In summary, Google used to advise people not to have more than a hundred links on a page, but now you can get by with more than that. According to Cutts there’s no real limit, though there might be. Just don’t have too many. But don’t worry about it too much. Confused? That’s because there’s no real answer here. The basic gist is just: be reasonable. Of course that’s subjective, but here’s what Cutts says: He says, “It used to be the case that Googlebot and our indexing system would truncate at 100 or 101K, and anything beyond that wouldn’t get indexed, and what we did, was we said, ‘Okay, if the page is 101K, 100K, then, you know, it’s reasonable to expect roughly one link per kilobyte, and therefore, something like 100 links on a page.’ So that was in our technical guidelines, and we said, you know, ‘This is what we recommend,’ and a lot of people assumed that if they had 102 links or something like that then we would view it as spam, and take action, but that was just kind of a rough guideline.” “Nonetheless, the web changes,” he continues. “It evolves. In particular, webpages have gotten a lot bigger. There’s more rich media, and so it’s not all that uncommon to have aggregators or various things that might have a lot more links, so we removed that guideline, and we basically just now say, ‘Keep it to a reasonable number,’ which I think is pretty good guidance. There may be a limit on the file size that we have now, but it’s much larger, and at the same time, the number of links that we can process on a page is much larger.” “A couple factors to bear in mind,” he notes. “When you have PageRank, the amount of PageRank that flows through the outlinks is divided by the number of total outlinks, so if you have, you know, 100 links, you’ll divide your PageRank by 100. If you have 1,000 links, you’ll divide your PageRank by 1,000. So if you have a huge amount of links, the amount of PageRank that’s flowing out on each individual link can become very, very small. So the other thing is it can start to annoy users, or it can start to look spammy if you have tons and tons and tons of links, so we are willing to take action on the webspam side if we see so many links that it looks really, really spammy.” If you’re concerned about having too many links on a page, Cutts suggests getting a “regular user,” and testing it out with them to see if they think it has too many links. So, in the end, just ask a friend, “Hey man, do you think this page has too many links?” Problem solved.

Nov 21 2013

Matt Cutts Asks What You Want To See From Webmaster Tools

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, has taken to his personal blog to ask people what they would like to see Google Webmaster Tools offer in 2014. So here’s your chance to have your voice heard. Cutts lists fourteen items himself as things he could “imagine people wanting,” but notes that he’s just brainstorming, and that there’s no guarantee any of these will actually be worked on. Among his ideas are: making authorship easier, improving spam/bug/error/issue reporting, an option to download pages from your site that Google has crawled (in case of emergency), checklists for new businesses, reports with advice for improving mobile/page speed, the ability to let Google know about “fat pings” of content before publishing it to the web, so Google knows where it first appeared, better duplicate content/scraper reporting tools, showing pages that don’t validate, showing pages that link to your 404 pages, show pages on your site that lead to 404s and broken links, better bulk URL removal, refreshing data faster, improving the robots.txt checker, and ways for site owners to tell Google about their site. Even if we don’t see all of these things come to Webmaster Tools in the near future, it’s interesting to see the things Cutts is openly thinking about. The post is rapidly accumulating comments from Webmasters, so Google will certainly have plenty of ideas to work with. What do you think Webmaster Tools needs more than anything? Image: Google

Nov 20 2013

Cutts Talks Disavow Links Tool And Negative SEO

Google has put out a new Webmaster Help video discussing the Disavow Links tool, and whether or not it’s a good idea to use it even when you don’t have a manual action against your site. Google’s Matt Cutts takes on the following question: Should webmasters use the disavow tool, even if it is believed that no penalty has been applied? For example, if we believe ‘negative SEO’ has been attempted, or spammy sites we have contacted have not removed links. As Cutts notes, the main purpose of the tool is for when you’ve done some “bad SEO” yourself, or someone has on your behalf. “At the same time, if you’re at all worried about someone trying to do negative SEO or it looks like there’s some weird bot that’s building up a bunch of links to your site, and you have no idea where it came from, that’s a perfect time to use Disavow as well.” “I wouldn’t worrying about going ahead and disavowing links even if you don’t have a message in your webmaster console. So if you have done the work to keep an active look on your backlinks, and you see something strange going on, you don’t have to wait around. Feel free to just preemptively say, ‘This is a weird domain. I have nothing to do with it. I don’t know what this particular bot is doing in terms of making links.’ Just feel free to go ahead and do disavows, even on a domain level.” As Cutts has said in the past, feel free to use the tool “ like a machete “.

Nov 18 2013

Matt Cutts Discusses Duplicate Meta Descriptions

Google has released a new Webmaster Help video featuring Matt Cutts talking about duplicate and unique meta descriptions. Cutts answers this submitted question: Is it necessary for each single page within my website to have a unique metatag description? “The way I would think of it is, you can either have a unique metatag description, or you can choose to have no metatag description, but I wouldn’t have duplicate metatag description[s],” Cutts says. “In fact, if you register and verify your site in our free Google Webmaster Tools console, we will tell you if we see duplicate metatag descriptions, so that is something that I would avoid.” “In general, it’s probably not worth your time to come up with a unique meta description for every single page on your site,” he adds. “Like when I blog, I don’t bother to do that. Don’t tell anybody. Ooh. I told everybody. But if there are some pages that really matter, like your homepage or pages that have really important return on investment – you know, your most featured products or something like that – or maybe you’ve looked at the search results and there’s a few pages on your site that just have really bad automatically generated snippets. We try to do our best, but we wouldn’t claim that we have perfect snippets all the time.” No, believe it or not Google is not perfect (as Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt also reminded us ). Cutts concludes, “You know, in those kinds of situations, then it might make sense to go in, and make sure you have a unique handcrafted, lovingly-made metatag description, but in general, rather than have one metatag description repeated over and over and over again for every page on your site, I would either go ahead and make sure that there is a unique one for the pages that really matter or just leave it off, and Google will generate the snippet for you. But I wouldn’t have the duplicate ones if you can help it.” Some will probably take Matt’s advice, and start spending a lot less time bothering with meta descriptions. Just remember that part about looking at the search results and making sure that Google isn’t displaying something too weird, particularly if it’s an important page.

Nov 14 2013

Here’s One Thing That’s Wrong With The New YouTube Comments

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Google recently implemented a new commenting system on YouTube , which integrates Google+ into comments on YouTube video pages. Maybe you’ve heard about it. As you know, a lot of people haven’t taken too kindly to the change, and have voiced all sorts of complaints. Personally, I can see both positives and negatives, but it’s obvious that a lot of users (including the all important video creators) are upset. One thing about the change that is clearly making the system less effective as a discussion platform is the way that people share content on social media in general. People are sharing links to YouTube videos on Google+ without thinking about what they’re saying being a comment on YouTube. If they are thinking about that, they’re not trying very hard. Let me illustrate this in an example. There’s a new Google Webmaster Help video in which Matt Cutts discusses blog comments and link spam . Cutts is the kind of guy who when he says something, a lot of people are interested. That means a lot of people are going to share this video. And they have been on Google+. They want to share it with their followers. Sometimes, they’re just saying what the video is, and sharing it. For example, one user’s comment while sharing the video was, “Matt Cutts dishes out advice on commenting with links, and recommends using your real name in comments.” And that’s fine for Google+. In fact, it makes tons of sense. You’re explaining the video you’re sharing, so your followers know what it’s about, and can decide whether or not they want to watch it. As a YouTube comment on the actual video page, where people are already watching (or have already watched) the video, it doesn’t make sense. How is a comment that is basically a description of the video a good point of discussion? As I write this, that’s the top comment (out of 66) for the video. And there are a bunch of others that essentially do the same thing. So yeah, this is a pretty cut and dried example of the new commenting system destroying the discussion around a video. It’s basically more like trackbacks than comments. While Google obviously wants to see more engagement on Google+, I really can’t see this particular approach having much of a positive impact. In fact, it’s causing people to hate Google+ and write songs about how much they hate it .

Nov 14 2013

Matt Cutts Talks Blog Comments And Link Spam

If you run a blog, you no doubt come across spammy comments with links in them frequently. You may know that this can hurt your page in Google, but sometimes people leave comments with links that are actually relevant to the conversation. Perhaps they want to illustrate a point, or discussed the topic at length in their own blog post that they want to share. Perhaps it’s a relevant YouTube video. Are you allowing these types of comments in? Are you putting a nofollow on all comment links? Should they really be nofollowed if they are in fact relevant? Google’s Matt Cutts talks about comments with links in a new Webmaster Help video, but from the perspective of the person leaving the comments. A user submitted the following question: Google’s Webmaster Guidelines discourage forum signature links but what about links from comments? Is link building by commenting against Google Webmaster Guidelines? What if it’s a topically relevant site and the comment is meaningful? “I leave topically relevant comments on topically relevant sites all the time,” says Cutts. “So if somebody posts, you know, an SEO conspiracy theory, and I’m like, ‘No, that’s not right,’ I’ll show up, and I’ll leave, you know, a comment that says, ‘Here’s a pointer that shows that that’s not correct,’ or ‘Here’s the official word,’ or something like that. And I’ll just leave a comment with my name, and I’ll often even point to my blog rather than to Google’s webmaster blog or something like that because I’m just representing myself. So lots of people do that all the time, and that’s completely fine.” “The sorts of things that I would start to worry about is, it’s better, often, to leave your name, so someone knows who they’re dealing with rather than you know, ‘cheap study tutorials’. You know, or ‘fake drivers license,’ or whatever the name of your business is,” he continues. “Often that will get a chillier reception than if you show up with your name.” “The other thing that I would say is if your primary link-building strategy is to leave comments all over the web to the degree that you’ve got a huge fraction of your link portfolio in comments, and no real people linking to you then at some point, that can be considered a link scheme,” Cutts adds. “At a very high level, we reserve the right to take action on any sort of deceptive or manipulative link schemes that we consider to be distorting our rankings. But if your’e just doing regular organic comments, and you’re not doing it as a, you know, ‘I have to leave this many comments a day every single day because that’s what I’m doing to build links to my site,’ you should be completely fine. It’s not the sort of thing that I would worry about at all.” I doubt that this video will do much to change people’s commenting habits, and prevent excessive comment spam, but at least it’s out there. Bloggers are going to have to continue being aggressive with comment moderation and/or use nofollows on comment links if they don’t want spammy links making their pages look bad. Of course, if the spammy comments are there, the page will still look bad to users, and Google doesn’t want that either, regardless of whether or not links are passing PageRank. At the same time, if you’re leaving a comment with a link, and aren’t trying to influence Google’s rankings, you shouldn’t really care if your link is nofollowed, right?

Nov 6 2013

Matt Cutts Talks Responsive Design Impact On SEO

Google has put out a new Wembaster Help video. In this one, Matt Cutts discusses responsive design and its impact (or lack thereof) on SEO. He takes on the question: Does a site leveraging responsive design “lose” any SEO benefit compared to a more traditional m. site? Cutts says, “Whenever you have a site that can work well for regular browsers on the desktop as well as mobile phones, there’s a couple completely valid ways to do it. One is called responsive design, and responsive design just means that the page works totally fine whether you access that URL with a desktop browser or whether you access that URL with a mobile browser. Things will rescale, you know, the page size will be taken into account, and everything works fine. Another way to do it is, depending on the user agent that’s coming, you could do a redirect so that a mobile phone – a mobile smartphone, for example – might get redirected to a mobile dot version of your page, and that’s totally fine as well.” He notes that Google has guidelines and best practices here . This includes things like having a rel=”canonical” from the mobile version to the desktop version, and stuff like that. He continues, “In general, I wouldn’t worry about a site that uses responsive design losing SEO benefit(s) because by definition, you’ve got the same URL, so in theory, if you do a mobile version of your site, if you don’t handle that well and you don’t do the rel=’canonical’ and all those sorts of things, you might, in theory, divide the PageRank between those two pages, but if you’ve got responsive design, everything is handled from one URL, and so the PageRank doesn’t get divided. Everything works fine, so you don’t need to worry about the SEO drawbacks at all.” And that’s about the size of it.

Nov 4 2013

Cutts: Use Schema Video Markup For Pages With Embedded YouTube Videos

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There is a lot of webmaster interest these days in the impact schema markup has on content in search results. Today’s Webmaster Help video from Google addresses video markup. Matt Cutts takes on the following submitted question: Rich snippets are automatically added to SERPs for video results from YouTube. Is it recommended to add schema video markup onsite in order to get your page w/embedded video to rank in SERPs in addition to the YouTube result or is this redundant? Cutts says he checked with a webmaster trends analyst, and they said, “Yes, please get them to add the markup.” He says, “In general, you know, the more markup there is (schema, video or whatever), the easier it is for search engines to be able to interpret what really matters on a page. The one thing that I would also add is, try to make sure that you let us crawl your JavaScript and your CSS so that we can figure out the page and ideally crawl the video file itself, so that we can get all the context involved. That way if we can actually see what’s going on on the video play page, we’ll have a little bit better of an idea of what’s going on with your site. So yes, I would definitely use the schema video markup.” There you have it. The answers Cutts gives in these videos aren’t always so straight forward, but this pretty much gives you a direct answer, and one which can no doubt be applied to other types of content beyond video. Use as much markup as you can, so Google (and other search engines) can understand your site better.