Jun 25 2015

Will Matt Cutts Be Back At Google In 2016?

Google’s former head of web spam Matt Cutts will not be returning to the company this year from the sound of it. He reportedly said on an internet talk show that Google has extended his leave throughout the remainder of the year. Cutts appeared on Leo Laporte’s Twit.tv show, and according to Search Engine Land, he talked about this during … The post Will Matt Cutts Be Back At Google In 2016? appeared first on WebProNews .

Nov 3 2014

Matt Cutts Won’t Be Back At Google Any Time Soon

Back in July, Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts announced that he was taking an extended leave from work to enjoy his personal life. On Friday, he revealed in a tweet (via Search Engine Roundtable ) that he won’t be back to work at all this year. I'm planning to extend my leave into 2015: https://t.co/T5adq50x4L — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) November 1, 2014 Cutts didn’t really elaborate on why he’s extending his leave, but if you could do it, why not, right? He did say this on his blog back in July: I wanted to let folks know that I’m about to take a few months of leave. When I joined Google, my wife and I agreed that I would work for 4-5 years, and then she’d get to see more of me. I talked about this as recently as last month and as early as 2006. And now, almost fifteen years later I’d like to be there for my wife more. I know she’d like me to be around more too, and not just physically present while my mind is still on work. So we’re going to take some time off for a few months. My leave starts next week. Currently I’m scheduled to be gone through October. Thanks to a deep bench of smart engineers and spam fighters, the webspam team is in more-than-capable hands. Seriously, they’re much better at spam fighting than I am, so don’t worry on that score. In Matt’s absence, the industry had relied on updates from people like Google Webmaster Trends analysts John Mueller and Pierre Far. There have been both new Panda and Penguin updates to roll out during Matt’s leave. It remains to be seen when Cutts will return, but there’s not really that much of 2014 left. I’d expect him to return after the New Year. We’ll see. Webmasters must be itching for more of Cutts’ famous YouTube videos. Image via YouTube

Nov 3 2014

Matt Cutts Won’t Be Back At Google Any Time Soon

Back in July, Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts announced that he was taking an extended leave from work to enjoy his personal life. On Friday, he revealed in a tweet (via Search Engine Roundtable ) that he won’t be back to work at all this year. I'm planning to extend my leave into 2015: https://t.co/T5adq50x4L — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) November 1, 2014 Cutts didn’t really elaborate on why he’s extending his leave, but if you could do it, why not, right? He did say this on his blog back in July: I wanted to let folks know that I’m about to take a few months of leave. When I joined Google, my wife and I agreed that I would work for 4-5 years, and then she’d get to see more of me. I talked about this as recently as last month and as early as 2006. And now, almost fifteen years later I’d like to be there for my wife more. I know she’d like me to be around more too, and not just physically present while my mind is still on work. So we’re going to take some time off for a few months. My leave starts next week. Currently I’m scheduled to be gone through October. Thanks to a deep bench of smart engineers and spam fighters, the webspam team is in more-than-capable hands. Seriously, they’re much better at spam fighting than I am, so don’t worry on that score. In Matt’s absence, the industry had relied on updates from people like Google Webmaster Trends analysts John Mueller and Pierre Far. There have been both new Panda and Penguin updates to roll out during Matt’s leave. It remains to be seen when Cutts will return, but there’s not really that much of 2014 left. I’d expect him to return after the New Year. We’ll see. Webmasters must be itching for more of Cutts’ famous YouTube videos. Image via YouTube

Oct 7 2014

Google Is Not Going To Be Updating Toolbar PageRank Anymore

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It looks like Google Toolbar PageRank may officially be a thing of the past. This will no doubt please some, while upsetting others, but for better or worse, don’t expect it to be updated anymore. Do you think Toolbar PageRank should die, or do you still find a use for it? Let us know in the comments . Over the last couple of years, Google has already been updating PageRank less frequently. In fact, it’s not even been updated this year at all. The last update came in December . Even before that, Google had given indication that it wouldn’t update it before the end of last year, if at all, though it ultimately did. By that point, many had assumed Toolbar PageRank was going away because it had been so long since the previous update after years of regularity. Before the December update, it hadn’t been updated since the prior February. Historically, they had updated it every three or four months. Google’s Matt Cutts tweeted a year ago that he would be surprised if there was another PR update before 2014. Well, there was, but that was the last one. It’s now been ten months. Google’s John Mueller actually addressed the lack of an update in a Google+ Hangout (via Search Engine Roundtable ). PageRank is something that we haven’t updated for I think over a year now, and we’re probably not going to be updating it going forward, at least in the Toolbar PageRank… He said that at 20 minutes and 30 seconds into this video. Of course Mueller is incorrect in that it’s been over a year, but he seems to be under the impression that Toolbar PageRank is dead. He wasn’t exactly making an announcement, but discussing it in relation to somebody’s question about a particular site’s rankings, so it’s probably not out of the realm of possibility that an another update could sneak through, but it sounds like it’s not going to happen. A year ago, Cutts discussed PageRank in this video: “Over time, the Toolbar PageRank is getting less usage just because recent versions of Internet Explorer don’t really let you install toolbars as easily, and Chrome doesn’t have the toolbar so over time, the PageRank indicator will probably start to go away a little bit,” he said. In another video earlier in the year, he said, “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.’” So the writing has been on the wall for quite some time. Still, people have continued to monitor PageRank, and look forward to seeing that data refreshed. The last update was actually kind of a side effect of sorts. As Cutts noted at the time, the team was fixing a different backend service, and did a PR update along the way. He said it wasn’t an accident, but that it was just easier for them to push the new PR data rather than keeping the old data. Maybe that will happen again. Do you want to see Google continue to update Toolbar PageRank? Let us know in the comments .

Jun 13 2014

Google Launches New Version Of Payday Loan Algorithm

Last month, Google rolled out two major updates to its algorithm around the same time – new versions of the famous Panda update and the “Payday Loans” update, which is one of its ways of fighting spam. A newer version of the latter began rolling on Thursday afternoon. @BtotheMcG it's rolling out now! — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) June 12, 2014 Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts announced the update at the Search Marketing Expo in front of a packed house. Here's what the #smx Q&A session looked like from the stage yesterday: pic.twitter.com/A7kSb90oPL — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) June 12, 2014 “Matt Cutts explained that this goes after different signals,” recounts Barry Schwartz at SMX sister site Search Engine Land, who was in attendance. “The 2.0 version targeted spammy sites, whereas version 3.0 targets spammy queries.” It will target queries like “payday loans,” “casinos,” “viagra,” etc., he says. According to this recap of Cutts’ announcements (as tweeted by Cutts himself), he referred to the new update as Payday Loan 2.0 with last month’s being 2.0A if that helps you for any reason whatsoever. Also according to that recap, Google is working on improving reconsideration requests so web spam analysts can provide additional feedback. Also, Google is close to getting IE 8 referring data back. It will still show mostly as not provided, it says, but will correctly show the visitor as coming from Google search. Image via MYA (Twitter)

Jun 4 2014

Here’s Another Matt Cutts Floating Head Video (About The Most Common SEO Mistake)

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We’ll just keep this one short like the video itself. The most common SEO mistake you can make, according to Matt Cutts, is not having a website. Hopefully you feel you’ve gotten your money’s worth on that one. Once again , Cutts uses the ol’ floating head trick. I wonder how many more of these things he’s got. Image via YouTube The post Here’s Another Matt Cutts Floating Head Video (About The Most Common SEO Mistake) appeared first on WebProNews .

Jun 2 2014

Google Talks Determining Quality When There Aren’t Links

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Google has a new Webmaster Help video out talking about how it looks at quality of content that doesn’t have many links pointing to it. Specifically, Matt Cutts takes on the following question: How does Google determine quality content if there aren’t a lot of links to a post? “In general, that sort of reverts back to the way search engines were before links,” he says. “You’re pretty much judging based on the text on the page. Google has a lot of stuff to sort of say OK, the first time we see a word on a page, count it a little bit more. The next time, a little more, but not a ton more. And that after a while, we say, ‘You know what? We’ve seen this word. Maybe this page is about this topic,’ but it doesn’t really help you to keep repeating that keyword over and over and over again. In fact, at some point, we might view that as keyword stuffing, and then the page would actually do less well – not as well as just a moderate number of mentions of a particular piece of text.” He continues, “We do have other ways. In theory we could say, ‘Well, does it sit on a domain that seems to be somewhat reputable? There are different ways you can try to assess the quality of content, but typically, if you go back to a user is typing possibly some really rare phrase, if there are no other pages on the web that have that particular phrase, even if there’s not that any links, then that page can be returned because we think it might be relevant. It might be topical to what the user is looking for. It can be kind of tough, but at that point, we sort of have to fall back, and assess based on the quality of the content that’s actually on the text – that’s actually on the page.” A few years ago, after the Panda update was first launched, Google shared a list of questions one could ask themselves about their content to get an idea of how Google might view it in terms of quality. You might want to check that out if you haven’t yet. Image via YouTube The post Google Talks Determining Quality When There Aren’t Links appeared first on WebProNews .

May 30 2014

Google’s Transparency Called Into Question Again

Though it’s back in Google’s results now, another company is making headlines for being penalized by Google. This time it’s Vivint, which produces smart thermostats, and competes with Nest, which Google acquired earlier this year. PandoDaily’s James Robinson wrote an article about it , noting that Vivint had received warnings from Google about external links that didn’t comply with its quality guidelines, but didn’t confirm what the links were. Rather, the company was “left to fish in the dark to figure out what i had done to upset its rival.” As Robinson correctly noted, Rap Genius was removed from Google’s search results last year for violating guidelines, and was back in business within two weeks. At the time, Google was accused by some of employing a double standard for letting the site recover so quickly compared to others. Google’s Matt Cutts had some comments about the Pando article on Hacker News . He wrote: It’s a shame that Pando’s inquiry didn’t make it to me, because the suggestion that Google took action on vivint.com because it was somehow related to Nest is silly. As part of a crackdown on a spammy blog posting network, we took action on vivint.com–along with hundreds of other sites at the same time that were attempting to spam search results. We took action on vivint.com because it was spamming with low-quality or spam articles… He listed several example links, and continued: and a bunch more links, not to mention 25,000+ links from a site with a paid relationship where the links should have been nofollowed. When we took webspam action, we alerted Vivint via a notice in Webmaster Tools about unnatural links to their site. And when Vivint had done sufficient work to clean up the spammy links, we granted their reconsideration request. This had nothing whatsoever to do with Nest. The webspam team caught Vivint spamming. We held them (along with many other sites using the same spammy guest post network) accountable until they cleaned the spam up. That’s all. He said later in the thread that Google “started dissecting” the guest blog posting network in question in November, noting that Google didn’t acquire Nest until January. In case you’re wondering when acquisition talks began, Cutts said, “You know Larry Page doesn’t have me on speed dial for companies he’s planning to buy, right? No one involved with this webspam action (including me) knew about the Nest acquisition before it was publicly announced.” “Vivint was link spamming (and was caught by the webspam team for spamming) before Google even acquired Nest,” he said. Robinson, in a follow-up article , takes issue with Cutts calling Pando’s reporting “silly,” and mockingly says Cutts “wants you to know Google is totally transparent.” Here’s an excerpt: “It’s a shame that Pando’s inquiry didn’t make it to me,” Cutts writes, insinuating we didn’t contact the company for comment. Pando had in fact reached out to Google’s press team and consulted in detail with the company spokesperson who was quoted in our story. It is now clear why Google didn’t pass on our questions to Cutts. He goes on to say that Cutts’ assessment of VIvint’s wrongdoing is “exactly what we described in our article — no one is disputing that Vivint violated Google’s search rules.” He also calls Cutts’ comments “a slightly simplistic version of events, given the months-long frustration Vivint spoke of in trying to fix the problem.” Robinson concludes the article: The point of our reporting is to highlight the unusual severity of the punishment (locked out for months, completely delisted from results until this week) given Vivint’s relationship to a Google-owned company and the lack of transparency Google offers in assisting offending sites. Multiple sources at Vivint told us that the company was told that it had “unnatural links” but was left to guess at what these were, having to repeatedly cut content blindly and ask for reinstatement from Google, until it hit upon the magic recipe. To these charges, Cutts has no answer. That’s a shame. Now, I’m going to pull an excerpt from an article of my own from November because it seems highly relevant here: Many would say that Google has become more transparent over the years. It gives users, businesses and webmasters access to a lot more information about its intentions and business practices than it did long ago, but is it going far enough? When it comes to its search algorithm and changes to how it ranks content, Google has arguably scaled back a bit on the transparency over the past year or so. Google, as a company, certainly pushes the notion that it is transparent. Just last week, Google updated its Transparency Report for the eighth time, showing government requests for user information (which have doubled over three years, by the way). That’s one thing. For the average online business that relies on Internet visibility for customers, however, these updates are of little comfort. A prime example of where Google has reduced its transparency is the monthly lists of algorithm changes it used to put out, but stopped. Cutts said the “world got bored” with those . Except it really didn’t as far as we can tell. Image via YouTube

May 28 2014

Matt Cutts Talks Google Link Extraction And PageRank

In a new video, Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam, discussed how Google views two links with different anchor text on one page pointing to the same destination, and how that affects PageRank. The explanation is Cutts’ response to the following submitted question: What impact would two links on a page pointing to the same target, each using different anchor text, have on the flow of PageRank? He said, “This is kind of an example of what I think of as dancing on the head of a pin. I’ll try to give you an answer. If you’re telling me that the most important thing for your SEO strategy is knowing what two links from one page do – you know, I understand if people are curious about it – but you might want to step back, and look at the higher mountain top of SEO, and your SEO strategy, and the architecture of your site, and how is the user experience, and how is the speed of the site, and all of that sort of stuff because this is sort of splitting hairs stuff.” “So, with that said,” he continued, “looking at the original PageRank paper, if you had two links from one page to another page, both links would flow PageRank, and so the links – the amount of PageRank gets divided evenly (in the original PageRank paper) between all the outgoing links, and so it’s the case that if two links both go to the same page then twice as much PageRank would go to that page. That’s in the original PageRank paper. If they have different anchor text, well that doesn’t affect the flow of PageRank, which is what your question was about, but I’ll go ahead and try to answer how anchor text might flow.” “So we have a link extraction process, which is we look at all the links on a page, and we extract those, and we annotate or we fix them to the documents that they point to. And that link extraction process can select all the links, or it might just select one of the links, so it might just select some of the links, and that behavior changes over time. The last time I checked was 2009, and back then, we might, for example, only have selected one of the links from a given page. But again, this is the sort of thing where if you’re really worried about this as a factor in SEO, I think it’s probably worthwhile to take a step back and look at high order bits – more important priorities like how many of my users are actually making it through my funnel, and are they finding good stuff that they really enjoy? What is the design of my homepage? Do I need to refresh it because it’s starting to look a little stale after a few years?” There’s that mention of stale-looking sites again . The main point here is that you should spend less time nitpicking small things like how much PageRank is flowing from two links on a single page, and what anchor text they’re using, and focus on bigger-picture things that will make your site better. This is pretty much the same message we always hear from the company. Perhaps that’s the real reason that Google stopped putting out those monthly lists of algorithm changes. Image via YouTube

May 21 2014

Google Launches Two Algorithm Updates Including New Panda

Google makes changes to its algorithm every day (sometimes multiple changes in one day). When the company actually announces them, you know they’re bigger than the average update, and when one of them is named Panda, it’s going to get a lot of attention. Have you been affected either positively or negatively by new Google updates? Let us know in the comments . Google’s head of webspam Matt Cutts tweeted about the updates on Tuesday night: Google is rolling out our Panda 4.0 update starting today. — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 20, 2014 This past weekend we started rolling out a ranking update for very spammy queries: http://t.co/NpUZRqpnBI — Matt Cutts (@mattcutts) May 21, 2014 Panda has been refreshed on a regular basis for quite some time now, and Google has indicated in the past that it no longer requires announcements because of that. At one point, it was actually softened . But now, we have a clear announcement about it, and a new version number (4.0), so it must be significant. For one, this indicates that the algorithm was actually updated as opposed to just refreshed, opening up the possibility for some big shuffling of rankings. The company told Search Engine Land that the new Panda affects different languages to different degrees, and impacts roughly 7.5% of queries in English to the degree regular users might notice. The other update is the what is a new version of what is sometimes referred to as the “payday loans” update. The first one was launched just a little more than a year ago. Cutts discussed it in this video before launching it: “We get a lot of great feedback from outside of Google, so, for example, there were some people complaining about searches like ‘payday loans’ on Google.co.uk,” he said. “So we have two different changes that try to tackle those kinds of queries in a couple different ways. We can’t get into too much detail about exactly how they work, but I’m kind of excited that we’re going from having just general queries be a little more clean to going to some of these areas that have traditionally been a little more spammy, including for example, some more pornographic queries, and some of these changes might have a little bit more of an impact on those kinds of areas that are a little more contested by various spammers and that sort of thing.” He also discussed it at SMX Advanced last year. As Barry Schwartz reported at the time: Matt Cutts explained this goes after unique link schemes, many of which are illegal. He also added this is a world-wide update and is not just being rolled out in the U.S. but being rolled out globally. This update impacted roughly 0.3% of the U.S. queries but Matt said it went as high as 4% for Turkish queries were web spam is typically higher. That was then. This time, according to Schwartz , who has spoken with Cutts, it impacts English queries by about 0.2% to a noticeable degree. Sites are definitely feeling the impact of Google’s new updates. Here are a few comments from the WebmasterWorld forum from various webmasters: We’ve seen a nice jump in Google referrals and traffic over the past couple of days, with the biggest increase on Monday (the announced date of the Panda 4.0 rollout). Our Google referrals on Monday were up by 130 percent…. … I am pulling out my hair. I’ve worked hard the past few months to overcome the Panda from March and was hoping to come out of it with the changes I made. Absolutely no change at all in the SERPS. I guess I’ll have to start looking for work once again. … While I don’t know how updates are rolled out, my site that has had panda problems since April 2011first showed evidence of a traffic increase at 5 p.m. (central, US) on Monday (5/19/2014). … This is the first time I have seen a couple sites I deal with actually get a nice jump in rankings after a Panda… It appears that eBay has taken a hit. Dr. Peter J. Meyers at Moz found that eBay lost rankings on a variety of keywords, and that the main eBay subodmain fell out of Moz’s “Big 10,” which is its metric of the ten domains with the most real estate in the top 10. “Over the course of about three days, eBay fell from #6 in our Big 10 to #25,” he writes. “Change is the norm for Google’s SERPs, but this particular change is clearly out of place, historically speaking. eBay has been #6 in our Big 10 since March 1st, and prior to that primarily competed with Twitter.com for either the #6 or #7 place. The drop to #25 is very large. Overall, eBay has gone from right at 1% of the URLs in our data set down to 0.28%, dropping more than two-thirds of the ranking real-estate they previously held.” He goes on to highlight specific key phrases where eBay lost rankings. It lost two top ten rankings for three separate phrases: “fiber optic christmas tree,” “tongue rings,” and “vermont castings”. Each of these, according to Meyers, was a category page on eBay. eBay also fell out of the top ten, according to this report, for queries like “beats by dr dre,” “honeywell thermostat,” “hooked on phonics,” “batman costume,” “lenovo tablet,” “george foreman grill,” and many others. It’s worth noting that eBay tended to be on the lower end of the top ten rankings for these queries. They’re not dropping out of the number one spot, apparently. Either way, this is isn’t exactly good news for eBay sellers. Of course, it’s unlikely that Google was specifically targeting eBay with either update, and they could certainly bounce back. Have you noticed any specific types of sites (or specific sites) that have taken a noticeable hit? Do Google’s results look better in general? Let us know in the comments . Image via Thinkstock