When Matt Cutts speaks, people listen. Google Search is trying harder, now more than ever, to communicate to the SEO universe what to expect as the algorithm universe continues to shake, rattle, and roll.
Here’s the top SEO tips and takeaways from Matt’s talk yesterday at Pubcon in Las Vegas.
Google will be looking to shift the search experience to enable users of today’s devices to get the results they need more quickly. Examples include, voice search, conversational search, google now, deep learning, and
word pair relationships.
1. Conversational Search can be a major boon to the way we get information.
Here’s how it can work: Search will become a dialogue with Google.
Search for “Who is the President of Turkey”? You’ll get the expected results – most likely including an infographic of Tecip Erdogan. Next, search, “how old is he” and Google knows from first search who you’re talking about and provides Erdogan’s age.
Another example of conversational search:
“What’s the chance of rain today” – Google determines your location and gives you the results.
“this weekend” -Google responds with weather for this weekend at your location (even though weather wasn’t mentioned in the 2nd query).
Core Quality Changes
2. Hummingbird – Although no one other than Matt is clear what Hummingbird actually does, he did provide an example of how long tail queries may be affected. In the search “What is the capital of ever loving Texas” – “ever loving” is not important. Understanding long tail and figuring out what words are important from the search will be the biggest improvement from Hummingbird. Matt estimates that this change affects 90% of all queries (!), but not much actual change on each one.
3. Panda Softening – The Google Webspam team continues to work on how to determine if a site is “black”, “white”, or (as for many who were affected in Panda’s wake) are they in the grey zone and deserves to be back in the quality space.
4. Mobile/Smartphone Ranking – It’s likely that at some point in the future, websites will lose rank for a page that has flash and is geared for smartphone users who don’t have flash support.
5. Webspam Changes
Penguin 2.0 and 2.1 will continue to roll out.
Continues Algo tweaking for very spammy queries – like “payday loans” “car insurance” porno, etc…
Advertorials / native advertising – paid content needs to be stated clearly.
Continuing action on spam networks.
6. Google Communitcation
new videos on google support forums for malware/hacking prevention
webmaster office hours, hangouts on air, 100 speaking events
How search works website – HIGHLY recommended to look thru this. pure spam explained, etc…
Follow Google Webmaster Tools on Twitter @googlewmc
Read Google’s Webmaster Blog
Read Google’s Inside Search Blog
Check out the Webmaster Video Channel on Youtube
7. Future of Search
What are the next big future trends?
– Machine Learning – extrapolate and add value
– Mobile – Mobile is HUGE. Traffic is exploding exponentially and ahead of expectations. You need to be there. 40% of Youtube’s traffic already comes from mobile. In some countries, mobile has already surpassed desktop traffic!
You need to prepare your website for mobile NOW.
Social Identity Authoriship – great way to prevent spam. in long term, having good social signals is authority that will help you in the search engines. even though it doesn’t necessarily give you better rank today.
Advice – The most important takeaways!
8. Mobile – see above & get ready!!! get rid of flash on pages that are meant for mobile platform users.
9. Learn about requestAutocomplete – annotate your forms to help users to get forms filled with one click
10. Ad heavy pages above the fold will eventually lose rank. Put your content first and center to give your users a more quality experience.
11. Tightening Authorship – google may remove ~15% of authors to make sure the Author graphic is trustworthy
12. Rich Snippets – may depend on site quality – reputable and high quality sites will be trusted for rich snippets. and vice versa.
14. Disavow for Negative SEO – not as big a phenomenon as people think. Download links from Webmaster Tools and try to get them removed, and/or use the disavow tool on Webmaster Tools if necessary.
Matt hung around for quite some time after the keynote to shmooze with conference attendees who hung on to his every word.