Jan 30 2014

Google To Writers: Don’t Upload Articles To Directories

Google has put out a new “Webmaster Help” video advising webmasters and writers against submitting articles to online article directories. It’s been pretty well-known that Google isn’t incredibly fond of these types of sites for a while now, but the search team is still getting questions about it, so head of webspam Matt Cutts had some advice to share. “I think over time, article directories have gotten a little bit of the worst name,” says Cutts. “So just to refresh everybody’s memory, an article directory is basically where you write three, four, or five hundred words of content, and then you’ll include a little bio or some information about you at the bottom of the article, and you might have say three links with keyword-rich anchor text at the bottom of that article, and then you can submit that to a bunch of what are known as ‘article directories,’ which then anybody can download, or maybe they pay to download them, and they’ll use them on their own website. And the theory behind that is that if somebody finds it useful, and puts it on their webpage, then you might get a few links.” He continues, “Now, in practice, what we’ve seen is this often turns to be a little bit of lower quality stuff, and in fact, we’ve seen more and more instances where you end up with really kind of spammy content getting sprayed and syndicated all over the entire web, so in my particular opinion, article directories and just trying to write one article and just syndicating it wildly or just uploading it to every site in the world, and hoping that everybody else will download it and use it on their website – I wouldn’t necessarily count on that being effective. We certainly have some algorithmic things that would mean that it’s probably a little less likely to be successful now compared to a few years ago, for example. My personal recommendation would be probably not to upload an article like that.” Google’s Panda update, launched in 2011, had a particularly devastating effect on a lot of article directory sites . It’s hard to imagine anybody being able to get much out of this kind of article submission in the post-Panda world. In fact, Google is even advising against guest blog posts (for SEO) these days for pretty much the same reasons it advises against article directories. Guest blogging, you would think, would tend to cater a little bit more to the higher quality side of things, but that doesn’t appear to be how Google views it. Of course, Google’s advice assumes that all the articles you’d upload to a directory would be low quality. There’s no way anyone could ever submit high quality content, right? Image via YouTube

Jan 29 2014

Google Announces Action On Another ‘Link Network’

Google has steadily been taking out link networks that violate its quality guidelines whenever possible, and Matt Cutts announced on Twitter that they’ve taken care of yet another one. This time it’s the French network Buzzea. Today we're taking action on a French link network that violates our quality guidelines (Buzzea). — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) January 29, 2014 @karthik1990kr thanks. Pretty wild that we've been crystal clear about this behavior since 2005: http://t.co/N8RLKhwFDS — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) January 29, 2014 Interestingly, Buzzea’s home page now displays this: Buzzea put out a press release addressing the situation. Obviously it’s in French, but here’s a snippet from the Google Translated version: Indeed, Buzzea is an advertising network that sells items before providing any relevant content to users and facilitating navigation through the links they contain, which is characteristic of any item online. It is important to understand that advertisers are not only trying to work through their SEO Buzzea. They wanted above all to improve their image and credibility by taking advantage of the reputation of bloggers recognized in their respective fields and their editorial quality, in the image of traditional sponsorship. Buzzea The team would like to highlight the fact that we are not the main victim of this decision which will impact on a case by case thousands of publishers removing their perhaps their main source of income, which we deeply regret . It is a sacred step back for a dynamic and passionate blogosphere approached professionalization. If you are one of the publishers Buzzea is talking about, it’s probably not a good day for your own rankings. In the ongoing link network battle, Cutts indicated on Twitter that Germany will soon be an area of focus. Image via Buzzea

Jan 28 2014

Google To Well-Established Sites: Don’t Coast On Your Laurels

Google has released some new advice to webmasters of well-established businesses with domains that have been around for a long time. Keep up with the times, or you’ll be left behind. Said advice comes in the form of a “Webmaster Help” video from head of webspam, Matt Cutts. A webmaster asked, “I have been in business for over 14 years with my domain, and see much newer domains passing me. Any algorithms to protect older domains/sites in business from newer sites with more spam?” Cutts decided to “answer a slightly different question,” leaving off the “more spam” and simply focusing on the older domains vs. newer domains aspect. “The advice that I’d give to you as the owner of a site that’s been around for fourteen years is to take a fresh look at your site,” he says. “A lot of times if you land on your site, and you land on a random website from a search result, you know, even if they’ve been in business for fifteen years, fourteen years, sometimes they haven’t updated their template or their page layout or anything in years and years and years, and it looks, frankly, like sort of a stale sort of an older site, and that’s the sort of thing where users might not be as happy about that.” “And so if you do run an older site or a very well-established site, I wouldn’t just coast on your laurels,” he adds. “I wouldn’t just say, ‘Well I’m number one for now, and everything is great,’ because newer sites, more agile sites, more hungry sites, more sites that have a better user experience – they can grow, and they can eclipse you if you don’t continue to adapt, and evolve, and move with the times. So I wouldn’t say just because you are a domain that’s well-established or has been around for a long time, you will automatically keep ranking. We’ve seen plenty of newer domains and businesses bypass older domains.” Of course it’s unclear whether or not the person asking the question actually had an old, stale site. There are over 200 signals Google takes into account, but “keeping up with the times” is clearly going to have to be something businesses need to consider if they hope to maintain a significant online presence. This probably doesn’t necessarily mean complete design overhauls every year, but perhaps some gradual tweaking is in order as time goes on. What are those outranking you doing better than you? Image via YouTube

Jan 20 2014

Matt Cutts Just Declared Guest Blogging ‘Done’

“Stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done,” says Google’s Matt Cutts. Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, took to his personal blog on Monday to basically declare the death of guest blogging , or at least the death of any favorable view of it from Google. He shared an email he received from a “content marketer” offering a guest blog post in trade for “a dofollow link or two in the article body,” which Cutts calls a “clear violation of Google’s quality guidelines.” He says Google has been seeing more and more reports of this type of thing. “Ultimately, this is why we can’t have nice things in the SEO space: a trend starts out as authentic. Then more and more people pile on until only the barest trace of legitimate behavior remains,” he writes. “We’ve reached the point in the downward spiral where people are hawking “guest post outsourcing” and writing articles about “how to automate guest blogging.” “So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy,” he adds. “In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.” Early comments are a little critical of this stance. One equates it to “throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” in the sense that this takes too broad a view, and would be detrimental to guest bloggers who actually offer legitimate, quality content on legitimate, quality sites. “Maybe Google needs to up their game and ability to decipher what is quality or not,” suggests Matt Sells, who made the baby/bathwater analogy. “Everyone should not be punished for the wrongdoings of some.” This is probably not going to be a very popular move from Google. Now Cutts didn’t exactly come out and announce any broad new algorithm update that is going to punish all sites with guest posts, but his words are certainly going to make sites wary of including them. My guess is that we’ll see a major overreaction and people deleting perfectly good content from their sites as to suit Google’s will – kind of like when they were/are getting rid of legitimate links in hopes that it will somehow make Google think higher of their sites. Image via YouTube

Jan 15 2014

Matt Cutts Discusses The Google Algorithm

Google has released a new Webmaster Help video in which head of webspam Matt Cutts discusses the Google algorithm and how it ranks results on a page. More specifically, he responds to the following submitted question: Does Google use the same algorithm to rank all the results on page 1, or different algorithms for a wider variety in the results? (Pos. 1-3 = primary focus on freshness; Pos. 4-6 = primary focus on back-links; Pos. 7-10 = primary focus on social signals) “I’m only going to concentrate on the web ranking because that’s what I know about, and in general, the rankings are not different for, you know, positions 1-3 and 4-6 and 7-10,” Cutts says. “It’s the same algorithm that returns lots of different web results – you know, 100 or even 1,000, and then with those, we just sort them in order of what we think the trade-off of relevancy vs. reputation. So we want something that’s very relevant, but also as reputable as we can find.” “So it’s the same algorithm that generates all of those sorted lists of results, and then that shows up on the first page,” he adds. “So for the most part, for web ranking, it’s not the case that position number 9 is saved for, you know, things based on backlinks or anything like that. It’s the same algorithm that’s generating that list of search results.” You may also be interested in this other recent video Cutts did in which he talks about Google’s “How Search Works” site. In another video earlier this week, he noted that they had recorded a new batch of videos, so we should be getting plenty more of them in the near future.

Jan 10 2014

Google Tweaks Guidance On Link Schemes

Google has made a subtle, but noteworthy change to its help center article on link schemes , which is part of its quality guidelines dissuading webmasters from engaging in spammy SEO tactics. Google put out a video last summer about adding rel=”nofollow” to links that are included in widgets: In that, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam, said, “I would not rely on widgets and infographics as your primary way to gather links, and I would recommend putting a nofollow, especially on widgets, because most people when they just copy and paste a segment of code, they don’t realize what all is going with that, and it’s usually not as much of an editorial choice because they might not see the links that are embedded in that widget.” “Depending on the scale of the stuff that you’re doing with infographics, you might consider putting a rel nofollow on infographic links as well,” he continued. “The value of those things might be branding. They might be to drive traffic. They might be to sort of let people know that your site or your service exists, but I wouldn’t expect a link from a widget to necessarily carry the same weight as an editorial link freely given where someone is recommending something and talking about it in a blog post. That sort of thing.” In Google’s guidance for link schemes, it gives “common examples of unnatural links that may violate our guidelines.” It used to include: “Links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites.” As Search Engine Land brings to our attention , that part now reads: “Keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites.” That’s a little more specific, and seems to indicate that the previous guidance cast a broader net over such links than what Google really frowns upon. That’s worth noting. You’d do well to pay attention to what Google thinks about link schemes, as the search engine has made a big point of cracking down on them lately (even if some have gotten off lightly ).

Jan 6 2014

Cutts On What You Might Not Have Noticed About Google’s ‘How Search Works’ Site

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Google has put out a new Webmaster Help video featuring Matt Cutts talking about some things “you might not have noticed” about the company’s How Search Works site . Google launched this site a little less than a year ago . It’s part of the company’s Inside Search site, and includes visuals about search, a view into major search algorithms and features, a big document about guidelines for search raters, a slideshow about spam removal, graphs about spam and policies that explain when Google will remove content. One thing he mentions is where it says how many searches Google has handled in the time that you’ve spent on the page. He then talks about videos that appear on the site that talk about how Google rates search quality. He talks about different elements of the site for about ten minutes, so if you haven’t spent much time perusing it, you may want to listen to what he has to say. You might find something that captures your interest. Believe it or not, he likes the spam section the most.