Jan 19 2017

‘GoogleGuy’ Matt Cutts Leaves Google, Will Continue with the US Digital Service

Matt Cutts , who was once believed to be the mysterious GoogleGuy on Webmaster World forums and later became the main conduit of information to webmasters about Google search updates, has resigned from Google. For the last few years Cutts has been on leave from Google and has more recently worked for the US Digital Service . He announced on his blog that he had resigned from Google as of December 31, 2016: When I joined the US Digital Service, I only planned to stay for three months. That quickly turned into six months after I saw the impact of the USDS. In the last month, I made a big decision. On December 31, 2016, I resigned from Google. I’m currently serving as director of engineering for the USDS. Mikey Dickerson, the first administrator of the USDS, is a political appointee, so he’ll step down on Inauguration Day. When that happens, I’ll serve as acting administrator of the USDS. The work that the USDS does is critical to the American people, and I’m honored to continue that tradition. The USDS played a pivotal role in rescuing the Obamacare website healthcare.gov that was beset by huge cost overruns while still not working. Cutts also notes that “the US Digital Service has helped veterans get their health benefits, brought bug bounties to the federal government, and helped the IRS protect taxpayer info.” He posted this video to illustrate the important work and accomplishments of USDS: “Working for the government doesn’t pay as well as a big company in Silicon Valley,” writes Cutts. “We don’t get any free lunches. Many days are incredibly frustrating. All I can tell you is that the work is deeply important and inspiring, and you have a chance to work on things that genuinely make peoples’ lives better. A friend who started working in this space several years ago told me “These last five years have been the hardest and worst and best and most rewarding I think I will ever have.”” For those in the search engine space Cutts is very familiar, having attended many Pubcon , SearchEngineStrategies and SearchEngineLand conferences. WebProNews has video interviewed Cutts and written about things he has said hundreds of many times over the years while covering the search industry and Google. Here are a few of our WebProNews exclusive video interviews with Matt Cutts : PubCon: Exclusive Interview With Matt Cutts (2006) PubCon Las Vegas 2007: Matt Cutts of Google and Vanessa Fox (2007) WPN Exclusive: Matt Cutts Apologizes on Behalf of Google’s Penalty against Google Japan (2009) Breaking News: Matt Cutts Explains “Canonical Tag” from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft (2009) Matt Cutts on Changes at Google (2008) The post ‘GoogleGuy’ Matt Cutts Leaves Google, Will Continue with the US Digital Service appeared first on WebProNews .

Aug 27 2013

Viagra At The Top Of Matt Cutts’ Wish List

In July, Yahoo began letting users set up wish lists for user names they’d like to have. As you may know, the company is giving away email addresses and user IDs from inactive accounts to people that actually still use Yahoo. On Monday, the company announced that it has begun notifying users about the names they are getting. They also announced a new “watch list” feature, which lets you pay a couple bucks to be notified of names you’re interested becoming available in the future. Google’s Matt Cutts saw the news, and posted this to Google+: Matt Cutts 1 day ago I hear that Yahoo is giving out recycled usernames starting today. I can't wait to see which of these names I got! 272    46 Powered by socialditto Obviously these names are references to keywords that are frequently targeted by spammers in Google’s search results. If Cutts can get viagra@yahoo.com, he can at least prevent someone else from using it (though I’m not sure how much that would really help with spam in Google). I guess he hasn’t found out which (if any) of these he was able to get. He posted it about 24 hours ago, and has yet to update is. Just for the hell of it, I sent an email to viagra@yahoo.com, and it bounced. [via Search Engine Roundtable ]

Oct 10 2012

Matt Cutts On Schema.org Markup As A Ranking Signal

In 2011, Google teamed up with Microsoft and Yahoo to launch schema.org, an initiative to support a common set of schemas for structured data markup. You might wonder whether or not implementing these schemas may influence your ranking in Google (or the other search engines, for that matter). Google’s Matt Cutts posted a new Webmaster Help video talking about this, responding to a user-submitted question: I know rich snippets can increase CTR for my mention on a SERP. But is the use of schema.org code beneficial for my actual positions on the SERPs as well? “On one hand, I wouldn’t necessarily count on that….Just because you implement schema.org doesn’t mean you necessarily rank higher. But there are some corner cases like if you were to type in ‘lasagna,’ and then click over on the left-hand side and click on ‘recipes,’ that’s the sort of thing where using schema.org markup might help, because then you’re more likely to be showing up in that at all. So there are some cases where it can be helpful to use schema.org markup.” “I wouldn’t necessarily count on that giving you any sort of ranking boost…I’m not going to take it off the table, but for example, it might make sense in some of those specific topic areas, but just because somebody implements schema.org markup, that doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily and automatically a better site, so I wouldn’t count on that giving you a good ranking boost, although it can be a good idea to markup things in a rich structure just because, you know, then different people can slice and dice and find your site more easily if they are doing more digging.” Let’s put it this way: it seems unlikely that it will hurt your rankings.

May 14 2012

Should The Google Penguin Update Hit Sites Like WPMU.org?

We recently told you about WPMU.org apparently getting hit by Google’s Penguin update. The site went from 8,580 visits (pretty standard for the site, having looked through the Analytics myself) to 1,527 a week later. It’s been hovering around similar numbers ever since, with a pretty clear dip right around Penguin time. We spoke with James Farmer, Founder and CEO of Incsub, which runs the site. Farmer maintains that WPMU.org engages in no keyword stuffing, link schemes, and has no quality issues. In fact, the site has actually done well throughout Google’s series of Panda updates. Farmer tells WebProNews, “We did great after Panda, it was like that update recognized we were decent folk… you can’t win them all huh?” “Apart from not being able to guess what Google was going to do in April, 3 years ago, we haven’t done anything wrong,” he says. Last week, Farmer received some second-hand info from Google’s Matt Cutts, who reportedly spoke with the Sydney Morning Herald about WPMU.org. According to Farmer, Cutts provided three problem links pointing to the site. These included a site pirating their software and two links from one spam blog using an old version of one of their WordPress themes with a link in the footer. Farmer reported that Cutts “said that we should consider the fact that we were possibly damaged by the removal of credit from links such as these.” It’s pretty interesting that if such links were the problem that it could have such a tremendous impact. It’s no wonder there have been so many discussions about negative SEO (competitors attacking each other with these kinds of tactics) since Penguin launched. The site has over 10,400+ Facebook likes, 15,600+ Twitter followers, 2,537 +1s and 4,276 FeedBurner subscribers, according to Farmer. Apparently not enough to outweigh some questionable links from third parties. “How could a bunch of incredibly low quality, spammy, rubbish (I mean a .info site… please!) footer links have made that much of a difference to a site of our size, content and reputation, unless Google has been absolutely, utterly inept for the last 4 years (and I doubt that that’s the case),” Farmer wrote in his article on the matter. When asked how many links he has out there just from footers for WordPress themes, he tells WebProNews, “Given that we stopped adding links years ago, actually not that many at all.” “However, the challenge is that given that we provided themes to a lot of multisite installs, which have since become overrun with splogs, there’s an enormous amount of links from not that many actual root domains,” he adds. “I’d guesstimate 1-2K, 99% of clearly low quality sites.” We asked if he’s heard from other WordPress theme creators, having similar issues. “Actually no, although that doesn’t surprise me that much,” he says. “Not many folk are as open as us, and in this field they probably have good reason to be. WordPress terms are very, very competitive so I wouldn’t be surprised if 9/10 competitors had something to hide!” Like many webmasters, Farmer just doesn’t know what to expect from Google, in terms of whether or not Google will consider the site to be one of the innocent casualties of Penguin. “I have no idea, I would love it if they did. I guess the thing I’m begging for is some sort of qualitative mechanism (NOT the manual webspam web, faster approach) that allows quality operators, like us, to survive and carry on providing Google users exactly the kind of helpful content they need!” Google does have a form users can submit to , if they think they’ve been wrongfully hit by the Penguin update. Google’s Matt Cutts recently told Danny Sullivan that Google considers the Penguin update a success, despite the large number of complaints from those commenting on blogs and in forums. Of course, the Penguin update, much like the Panda update, should be periodically coming back around , giving sites a chance to make fixes and recover. That also means however, sites will also have more chances to get hit. We asked Farmer if he thinks Penguin has helped or hurt search results in general, outside of his site’s issues. “Especially in the WP field they have gone wild ,” he emphasizes. “For example our flagship site WPMU DEV – if you go to search for that now a competitor writing something ridiculous about us and copyright appears above our massively popular Facebook page. It even looks like our YouTube channel has been demoted. Crazy stuff.” We’ve certainly seen some other questionable search results following the update, and others have complained aplenty. Do you think the search results have improved since Penguin? Should WPMU have been hit by Penguin?

May 7 2012

How Google Handles Font Replacement

Google’s Matt Cutts put up a new Webmaster Help video, discussing how Google handles font replacement. The video was created in response to a user-submitted question: How does Google view font replacement (ie. Cufan, SIFR, FLIR)? Are some methods better than others, are all good, all bad? “So we have mentioned some specific stuff like SIFR that we’re OK with. But again, think about this,” says Cutts. “You want to basically show the same content to users that you do to Googlebot. And so, as much as possible, you want to show the same actual content. So we’ve said that having fonts using methods like SIFR is OK, but ideally, you might concentrate on some of the newer stuff that has been happening in that space.” “So if you search for web fonts, I think Google, for example, has a web font directory of over 100 different web fonts,” Cutts says. “So now we’re starting to get the point where, if you use one of these types of commonly available fonts, you don’t even have to do font replacement using the traditional techniques. It’s actual letters that are selectable and copy and pastable in your browser. So it’s not the case that we tend to see a lot of deception and a lot of abuse.” “If you were to have a logo here and then underneath the logo have text that’s hidden that says buy cheap Viagra, debt consolidation, mortgages online, that sort of stuff, then that could be viewed as deceptive,” he adds. In fact, that’s exactly the kind of thing that can get you in trouble with Google’s Penguin update , even if Google doesn’t get you with a manual penalty. To avoid this, here’s more advice from Google, regarding hidden text . “But if the text that’s in the font replacement technique is the same as what is in the logo, then you should be in pretty good shape,” Cutts wraps up the video. “However, I would encourage people to check out some of this newer stuff, because the newer stuff doesn’t actually have to do some of these techniques. Rather, it’s the actual letters, and it’s just using different ways of marking that up, so that the browser, it looks really good. And yet, at the same time, the real text is there. And so search engines are able to index it and process it, just like they would normal text.”

Apr 13 2012

Google’s Matt Cutts: I Was Worried We’d Be Crushed By Altavista

Google posted a video this week of a presentation from Matt Cutts at the 2012 Korea Webmaster Conference. He talks a bit about “the evolution of search”. He starts off talking about Yahoo in the early days, which he says is “a little strange” to call a search engine, “because Yahoo started out as a hand-compiled list of links. So, an individual person would decide what category to put things in, and they would decide whether it deserved to be in a certain category or not. The problem with that is that it doesn’t scale very well. You need to find a search engine that can work across the breadth of the entire web, or else it isn’t going to be as useful for every kind of query that people get.” The whole first section is really a history lesson in search, but it’s interesting to hear him talk about his early days with Google. “Whenever I joined Google, we were a start-up, so there was less than 100 people, whenever I joined Google,” he said. “And at the time, I was worried that we would be crushed by Altavista. Google was a tiny company. Altavista was a huge company. But Google has something that the other search engines at that time did not do. We looked at the links pointing to web pages.” He later said, “I remember whenever I started out at Google, I went and I talked to another company. And they had a list of results that they called featured, and they had a list that they called partnered. And I said, ‘What’s the difference between a featured result and a partner result?’ And the company said, there’s no difference at all. Everything is paid for. And that didn’t seem fair at the time.” “I’m proud that even to this day, you can’t pay to get a higher ranking on Google,” he said. It’s a 45-minute-long presentation, so you may want to check it out if you have a bit of time to kill.

Sep 14 2011

Steve Nash, The Winklevoss Twins & Matt Cutts

I’m going to test a video roundup-style article looking at some of the more interesting videos we come across in tech, marketing and business on any given day. If the response is good, we’ll continue to do this. There is …

Sep 14 2011

Reasons Why Google Toolbar PageRank Would Drop, According to Google

Google’s Matt Cutts posted one of his webmaster help videos discussing Google Toolbar PageRank, why it’s only updated a few times a year, and why webmasters might see their PageRank drop. He also talks about how to get back in …

Jan 28 2011

Is This Google Algorithm Change About Content Farms or Not?

Google has launched a change in its algorithm, following a post a week ago from Matt Cutts talking about the search engine’s approach to spam and content farms. However, it is still unclear whether this new update is the related to the "content farm" side of things. Matt Cutts wrote a post on his personal blog about the update, which he says pertains to "one thing" he mentioned in the original post. Cutts writes: My post mentioned that "we’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content." That change was approved at our weekly quality launch meeting last Thursday and launched earlier this week. This was a pretty targeted launch: slightly over 2% of queries change in some way, but less than half a percent of search results change enough that someone might really notice. The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content. (emphasis added) As far as I can tell, it would appear that the "one thing" Cutts is referring to with this new update, is when he said in the previous post, "We’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content." In that first post, Cutts acknowledged that "pure webspam" has decreased over time, which to me sounds like a good reason that this new update would only impact "slightly over 2%" of queries.  Though comments from Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt seem to lump "content farms" into this area, the original post from Cutts appears to reference content farms as a separate issue, and one which the company intends to put more focus on. Content farms, as defined by Cutts, are "sites with shallow or low-quality content."   Read more on this here , where I pointed out that everyone thinks of Demand Media when they think of content farm, so it would make little sense to use this terminology if it didn’t include this kind of content – see below: Cutts says that with the new update, " less than half a percent of search results change enough that someone might really notice. " That doesn’t sound like something that will affect the content farms described in the original post, where he said, "We hear the feedback from the web loud and clear: people are asking for even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content." Reports out there seem to be rolling this all into one thing, but that’s not how I’m reading it. As there seems to be confusion, as indicated by Rosenblatt’s comments, I’ve asked Cutts to clarify, and will update when he responds. The words "content farm" do not appear in the new post.

Jan 18 2011

Is Bing Growth Being Inflated By Shady Sites?

Facebook took in an estimated $1.86 billion in advertising revenue last year, according to eMarketer , and AdvertisingAge says that the top two advertisers were AT&T and Match.com. Google was number five.  It is the third-largest advertiser on Facebook, however, that has raised a few eyebrows, including those of Google’s Matt Cutts. The advertiser is something called make-my-baby.com – not a well-known brand that you’d expect to see in the top three. Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, said the following in a Google Buzz update early this morning (via Marshall Kirkpatrick, who has an interesting write-up of the situation): Visiting make-my-baby.com instantly prompts you to install a browser plugin. The "terms and conditions" link takes you to http://mmb.bingstart.com/terms/ which has phrases like "If Chrome ("CR") is installed on your PC we may change the default setting of your home page on CR to Bingstart.com."  I also noticed this phrase in the Zugo toolbar section: "To uninstall the Toolbar, please visit the Toolbar FAQ ( http://www.zugo.com/toolbar/faq/ )." Sadly, that url is a broken link. It looks like a few people have had trouble uninstalling the Bing/Zugo toolbar, according to pages like http://support.mozilla.com/en-US/questions/746034 or http://mymountain.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-to-remove-bingzugo-toolbar-hijack.html If make-my-baby.com is Facebook’s 3rd biggest advertiser, I wonder how many people are installing this software without reading the fine print that says "Installing the toolbar includes managing the browser default search settings and setting your homepage to bing.com" ? After some discussion about the find, Cutts also says, "It’s entirely possible, even likely, that FB and MSFT didn’t realize this was going on. I wouldn’t assume they were aware of what was going on." One has to wonder how much of Bing’s growth can be attributed to practices like this. It might not be a substantial amount, but on the other hand…third largest advertiser on Facebook? And this is just one example of a site like this. It didn’t take Cutts long to find several more with a quick search. There’s no telling how many site like this are actually out there.  "It’s pretty remarkable that even at the top of this giant success story of Facebook advertising, and perhaps near the top of the story of Bing’s steady rise as a search engine, is a Web 1.0-style pulling the wool over the eyes of gullible internet users," says Kirkpatrick.  It’s worth noting, as mentioned by a commenter in the Buzz conversation, that Cutts broke this story using Google Buzz, which goes to show – it doesn’t matter if the site is called Twitter, Quora, or Google Buzz – if there is interesting content there, it’s got to have some value. Webspam in a growing problem. Watch our exclusive interview with Blekko CEO Rich Skrenta , who talks about the trend.