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SMX Notes – You & A with Matt Cutts



Renowned Googler Matt Cutts sat down with Danny Sullivan and the SMX Advanced attendees for a Q&A session. Here are some of the highlights—and since it’s Friday afternoon, here’s a bit of a twist for you. (Don’t worry, unless you really like these, I’ll be putting the rest of my notes up in a more straightforward format in a little while.)

Q: My pages in the supplemental index don’t come up when I search for unique content on those pages. Is it a separate index that’s not parsed? Or will good content eventually be found on supplemental pages?

A:The supplemental
index is parsed differently
to make it smaller.

Receive more links to your page,
More pages in main index.

See our clip from this question.

Q: What percent of results do you feel confident that you really know where the user is for local results?

A: Barring AOL,
proxies and the like, I would
say ninety percent.

Q: Where do you see the future of the guidelines and why are they so brief?

A: We chose to be brief
and general to express
core principles, beliefs.

(Mwahaha. They have been up-
dated already, you guys!)

Q: Are paid links going to be the death of the algorithm?
A: Many people want
to report paid links for a
level playing field.

We’re looking for a
scalable, robust way, but
we’ll do it by hand

Also: “We as a search engine can do what we feel is best to return a high quality index. Do what you want and we’ll do what we want to return a quality index.”

Q: Is linking out to other authorities good or bad for your site?
A: If something is good
for your users, it’s also
Good for search engines.

Q: What’s the best way to avoid Google indexing our on-page SERPs and make them user-friendly?

A: We said to avoid
them. They’re not always spam—but
You must add value.

Also: What is the value added? Ask someone else what’s the value. If it’s a value-added search result, that’s much better. It’s natural to want to surface your catalog, but categories might be a better way of doing that than SERPs. We’re not gonna target you just because you have SERPs, but if people complain. (People complain about cookie-cutter sites, or just places to buy, or sites without customer reviews.) Pretend you’re a competitor—would you complain about this page if you landed on it from Google?

Q: What is the impact of click-throughs on authority? If a site has a high PageRank, but a low click-through rate and a high bounce—or vice versa—what is the impact?
A: We neither confirm
nor deny that we use this.
But it’s quite noisy.

(i.e. “a noisy signal” that is quite susceptible to abuse. He thinks MSN has confirmed that they use it with their toolbar.)

Q: Why does Google love Wikipedia and when will you break up with them?
A: Regular users
love it. Remember, you aren’t
normal, SEOs.

That said, Wikipedia
is not always the answer.

(Follow up: Edmonds says they can’t displace Wikipedia on make and model searches (including those with or without the year, etc.). Matt took this under advisement.)

Q: At Pubcon, you were doing a site review and looked up what other domains the site owner had. What business is that of yours? Can the other domains you own affect one site’s ranking?
A: I wanted to know
how experienced a web-
master that guy was.

Follow up: Algorithmically, it’s got nothing to do with it?
I consider it
fair game if you have other
spammy sites. But note:

“bad” sites will not hurt “good” one,
Only lots of spam sites will.

See our video interview with the asker of these questions, Scott Hendison.

Also: Remember GoogleDashboard.com? Google bought it from someone else who’d registered it to protect their trademark.

Q: Mahalo?
A: It’s too young still, but
Let a thousand flowers bloom.
We will crush them all.

Also: everybody has a different guess about where the future of search lies. Time will tell what’s best.

Q: With the number of different categories and combinations on our site, the iterations are in the millions. How can we compete with our resellers.
A: PageRank, like PlayDoh
can only be rolled so thin.
Prioritize well.

(i.e.: pick out your most important categories. If necessary, ask your users what those are. Put things into their most important category. Put more links toward important categories, and they’re more likely to get priority in search engines. Also look at how your resellers structure their sites for inspiration.)

Q: Talk to us about the Googlebomb algorithm. Was this last change an update? A push?
A: That is completely
automatic, but it runs
periodic’ly.

Q: Images?
A: Computers find it
hard to do images. We
use classifiers.

Also: you can come and report offensive results for your name and we’ll screen them.

Q: What’s your progress on LSI and should you theme a website or will it dilute your rank?
A: We neither confirm
nor deny that we use this.
You try it and see.

Also: Google does a lot of work behind the scenes to do good semantic matching. We know bio = biography, but apple doesn’t = apples. The ~ is for synonym search. We try to do it “under the hood” to bring better results.

Matt’s question: What do you want to see from webmaster console?
A:

  • Penalty report
  • Accurate info
  • Realtime info
  • Live pagerank
  • The 200 signals
  • Shared logins
  • Errors w/o having to go into each domain: portfolio error report
  • Spider traps
  • RSS
  • Email report
  • 404 reports (where were visitors coming from)
  • (Mentioned during Duplicate Content session) Duplicate content reports

  • http://www.marketingpilgrim.com Andy Beal

    Wow you did take a lot of notes! Nice coverage!

  • http://www.adapt.com/blog Erica Forrette

    Hahaha nobody commented on the twist… I love it! Haiku!

  • http://www.powerreviews.com/social-shopping/company/management-team.html Jim Morris

    Jordan, do you have the quote/clip where Matt talked about affiliates and BizRate? Or was that Vanessa in the Dupe Content forum?

  • Jordan McCollum

    Jim, I don’t have the word BizRate in my notes. Andy has film, but here’s the raw versions of what I have on resellers from both of those sessions.

    Matt: If you can take each product in 3 categories, pick the best or primary category as the main way, so you don’t have the same object show up 30x. It can be difficult to slice n dice. Take some playdoh = PR budget. Where do you want it to go? Roll it thin—it goes far, but not deep. Prioritize your categories. Talk to your users & think about what categories are most important. Try to put a few more links toward important categories and they’ll be more likely to get priorities

    A lot of resellers are savvy. Look at what they’re doing. How do they structure their sites? Competitive analysis. Look at how they utilize their PR budget.

    Dupe Content: Q: We’ve given resellers our content. 100s/1000s have our content out there. Now what? How do you prove it’s yours? Prob. What can we do to address it?

    Vanessa Fox: Unfortunately, you may just have to rewrite your content to regain control of it.
    Amit Kumar, Yahoo: they might be outranking you for other reasons. You might want to work on other aspects of your marketing (get more authority/links/trust).
    Danny Sullivan: It’s a trade off: maybe resellers/affiliates will do a better job marketing for you.

    Does that help?

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