In yesterday’s keynote, Leo Laporte basically said that search engines would be irrelevant in six months. Clearly Matt Cutts doesn’t agree with that statement.
SEO isn’t a bad thing. Matt started off by equated SEO to coaching.
He looked back on the changes in SEO in the past 10 years, and it’s pretty dramatic:
All are a part of search today and you want to always go where the search engines are GOING TO BE. Change benefits you.
Matt then covered some recent developments. In 2010, Matt’s team was working on a problem with hacked sites and black hat SEOs. In 2011, the team has been collaborating more with the Search Quality team to address low quality sites (i.e., the Panda update). He said that Google wants to know if you have a site of high quality that was damaged by Panda, because that is never their intent. They also have been working on more communication with webmasters to give them a “heads up” when there are problems with a site. Google Webmaster Tools provides a conduit for greater communication between Google and webmasters.
What about the future? A long-term SEO trends include mobile, social and local. He added that private forums and networks, like Facebook, that are not crawlable by Google can’t go into signals for Google’s ranking algorithm (excellent point). He indicated you should probably have a strategy for each.
More things coming in the future include better page understanding. One example was that they are trying to look at how much content is “above the fold”. Is it all ads, or is it true content? That algorithm change is in consideration now.
Search is becoming more personal. The trend is to send more personal searches to Google, similar to how Siri is a personal search in a way.
Google will also continue to put out better tools for searchers. They will also be working on communication and transparency. One example today is that they are currently giving alerts when WordPress is not up to date. They want to expand this type of communication to other packages as well.
Finally, Google wants to make it easier to send information to them. Some things you can do now include:
- Sign up for Webmaster Tools
- Sign up for Email Alerts
- Set up “fat pings” when you publish:
- Subscribe to:
- Webmaster blog
- Inside Search blog
- Webmaster Video Channel
Matt then brought up Amit Singhal, and Matt confessed that Amit has the entire Google algorithm in his head (LOL).
Amit said that they’ve tested the Panda update and the measurements are saying that Panda update(s) have improved results for high quality sites. The challenge for publishers has been that no algorithm is perfect — but Google prefers to address things algorithmically. But Google is listening, according to Matt. They’re looking at ways to fix issues for the high quality publishers that have faced challenges with Panda.
The next audience question focused on the trend that Google seems to favor large brands. Matt emphasized that smaller sites often have more agility than larger sites. But many large sites started small. You can succeed. Matt said that things like Webmaster Tools are the equalizer. The small websites are smart enough to really care about how they program the site — because they have to. Matt said that if you concentrate on a very specific area, you have the opportunity to outrank big brands, because big brands often aren’t that granular.
Brett Tabke asked Matt about the issue of the SSL search and hiding of queries. Matt said he cares a lot about the privacy of his queries. He thinks that search is becoming much more personal and will continue to do so. He said they are trying to get ahead of that by addressing SSL to protect users. Matt said that 96% of sites get ALL of the keyword data if you get it from Webmaster Tools, which shows the first 1000 queries. Matt also addressed the frustration that advertisers can see queries while they are not fully available on organic. Matt defended the advertisers receiving this data because it helps advertisers make their ad serving better by ensuring they are advertising on specific, targeted terms. For instance, Hilton hotels would want to be sure that their ads don’t appear on queries for “Paris Hilton”. Matt also said that if they hid it for advertisers too that it would be a lot more work for advertisers to determine the right keywords.