Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam, made some important announcements as well as sharing some interesting insight into an upcoming algorithm change that will take effect by week’s end.
Matt encouraged everyone to circle back and revisit Webmaster tools as many new features have been added to help webmasters everywhere. Here are a few of the things Matt pointed out:
- Fetch and Render as Googlebot – This feature has been added to show webmasters a thumbnail of what their page looks like to Google.
- Robots.txt – Google will be adding additional functionality for better robots.txt testing soon.
- Site Moves – Even though Google recently released some documentation to help with the site move process, Matt announced that they are still working on more documentation and tools to make site moves even easier and hassle-free.
- Reconsideration Requests – Starting today, a text field will be added to the response template so that Google engineers can leave a note of clarification when they respond to reconsideration requests.
PayDay Loan Penalty – One of the first things Matt talked about was the next wave of a Payday loan algorithm update hitting by the end of this week. While he did confirm that a Payday algorithm update was just rolled out last week, he referred to the first update as “2A” and the upcoming update as “2B.” He explained that “2A” was designed to filter out spammy PayDay websites while “2B” is designed to filter out spammy PayDay queries.
Links are Important – Matt reaffirmed the idea that links are still important and said that in reality there is only a small percentage of links on the web that are “nofollow.” He also said, “There is still a lot of mileage left in links,” but clarified that building content for the sole purpose of building links is a bad strategy. “It’s easier to be real than to fake being real. Be authentic and get to be known the honest way,” Matt said referring to creating useful and authoritative content.
Authorship – While Danny Sullivan pressed Matt pretty hard to answer the question if Author Rank affects rankings, Matt Cutts ultimately dodged the question citing Google’s “secret sauce.” He did however say that the long term trend is to use authorship as part of your strategy and that he is a personal fan of author rank.
Bounce Rate & Engagement – Matt said that Google is not ranking sites higher or lower based on bounce rate or other signs of how engaging a site is to users at this current point in time. He said that he was skeptical of Google ever using this data as it can easily be gamed by spammers via “click rings” and other spam tactics to fudge the statistics.
Mobile Site Preference – “If there is one thing I would leave with you tonight, it would be to prepare for mobile,” Matt said. He went on to explain that Google has no preference between a responsive or separate mobile version of a website. The main thing Google cares about is that you have a website that is fast and easy to navigate via a mobile device. Matt also said that making sure the forms on your mobile site can auto complete is an important feature to pay attention to. Oddly, Matt referred to this several times throughout the session.
Negative SEO – Part of the recent PayDay loan algorithm changes, as well as Panda 4.0, included protections against negative SEO. Google is aware of this problem and is always looking for new ways to better combat negative SEO effects with future algorithm updates.
Conversational Search – Matt pulled out his android phone and gave everyone a demo of how conversational search works using the Seattle Space Needle as an example. He made the point that conversational search will be a large focus of where search is headed and again touted how important it is to make your website mobile friendly.
To end the session, Danny asked Matt what his dream job would be if he wasn’t Google’s head engineer of webspam. Matt talked about how much evil there is in the world and how we would want a job where he could help rid the world of it. Sounds pretty similar to what he’s doing now, if you ask me.
Did you attend the You&A session? What announcements or insights did you find interesting? Let me know in the comment section below.