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What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?

What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google? - answered by Matt Cutts

Matt's answer:

MATT CUTTS: Hey, everybody. Today’s webmaster video is answering the question, what should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google? OK, so first off, we’re taping this video in early May of 2013. So I’ll give you a little bit of an idea about what to expect as far as what Google is working on in terms of the web spam team. In terms of what you should be working on, we try to make sure that that is pretty constant and uniform. Try to make sure you make a great site that users love, that they’ll want to tell their friends about, book mark, come back to, visit over and over again, all the things that make a site compelling. We try to make sure that if that’s your goal, we’re aligned with that goal. And therefore, as long as you’re working hard for users, we’re working hard to try to show your high quality content to users as well. But at the same time, people are always curious about, OK what should we expect coming down the pipe in terms of what kinds of things Google is working on? One of the reasons that we don’t usually talk that much about the kinds of the things we’re working on is that the plans can change. The timing can change. When we launch things can change. So take this with a grain of salt. This is, as of today, the things that look like they’ve gotten some approval or that look pretty promising. OK, with all those kinds of disclaimers, let’s talk a little bit about the sort of stuff that we’re working on. We’re relatively close to deploying the next generation of Penguin. Internally we call it Penguin 2.0. And again, Penguin is a web spam change that’s dedicated to try to find black hat web spam, and try to target and address that. So this one is a little more comprehensive than Penguin, than Penguin 1.0. And we expect it to go a little bit deeper and have a little bit more of an impact than the original version of Penguin, We’ve also been looking at advertorials, that is sort of native advertising, and those sorts of things that violate our quality guidelines. So again, if someone pays for coverage or pays for an ad or something like that, those that should not flow page rank. We’ve seen a few sites in the US and around the world that take money and then do link to websites and pass page rank. So we’ll be looking at some efforts to be a little bit stronger on our enforcements as far as advertorials that violate our quality guidelines. Now there’s nothing wrong inherently with advertorials or native advertising, but they should not flow page rank. And there should be clear and conspicuous disclosure, so that users realize that something is paid and not organic or editorial. It’s kind of interesting. We get a lot of great feedback from outside of Google. So for example, there were some people complaining about searches like Payday Loans on Google.co.uk. So we have two different changes that try to tackle those kinds of queries in a couple different ways. We can’t get into too much detail about exactly how they work. But I’m kind of excited that we’re going from having just general queries be a little more cleaned to going to some of these areas that have traditionally been a little more spammy, including for example, some more pornographic queries. And some of these changes might have a little bit more of an impact in those kinds of areas that are a little more contested by various spammers and that sort of thing. We’re also looking at some ways to go upstream to deny the value to link spammers. Some people who spam links in various ways, we’ve got some nice ideas on trying to make sure that that becomes less effective. And so we expect that that will roll out over the next few months as well. And in fact we’re working on a completely different system that does more sophisticated link analysis. We’re still in the early days for that, but it’s pretty exciting. We’ve got some data now that we’re ready to start munging and see how good it looks. And so we’ll see how that bears fruit or not. We also continue to work on hacked sites in a couple different ways. Number one, trying to detect them better. We hope in the next few months to roll out a next generation of hack site detection that is even more comprehensive. And also trying to communicate better to webmasters, because sometimes we see confusion between hack sites and sites that serve up malware. And ideally you would have a one stop shop where once someone realizes that they’ve been hacked, they can go to Webmaster Tools and have some single spot where they could go and get a lot more info to sort of point them in the right way to hopefully clean up those hacked sites. So if you’re doing high quality content whenever you’re doing SEO, this shouldn’t be a big surprise. You shouldn’t have to worry about a lot of different changes. If you’ve been hanging out on a lot of black hat forums and trading different types of spamming package tips and that sort of stuff, then it might be a more eventful summer for you. But we have also been working on a lot of ways to help regular webmasters. So we’re doing a better job of detecting when someone is sort of an authority in a specific space. It could be medical. It could be travel, whatever, and trying to make sure that those rank a little more highly if you’re some sort of authority or a site that, according to the algorithms, we think might be a little bit more appropriate for users. We’ve also been looking at Panda and seeing if we can find some additional signals– and we think we’ve got some– to help refine things for the sites that are kind of in the border zone, in the grey area a little bit. And so if we can soften the effect a little bit for those sites that we believe have got some additional signals of quality, then that will help sites that might have previously been affected to some degree by Panda. We’ve also heard a lot of feedback from people about, OK, if I go down three pages deep, I’ll see a cluster of several results all from one domain. And we’ve actually made things better in terms of you would be less likely to see that on the first page, but more likely to see that on the following pages. And we’re looking at a change, which might deploy, which would basically say, once you’ve seen a cluster of results from one site, then you’d be less likely to see more results from that site as you go deeper into the next pages of Google search results. And that was good feedback that people have been sending us. We continue to refine our host clustering and host crowding and all those sorts of things. But we will continue to listen to feedback and see what we can do even better. And then we’re going to keep trying to figure out how we can get more information to webmasters. So I mentioned more information for sites that are hacked and ways that they might be able to do things. We’re also going to be looking for ways that we can provide more concrete details, more example URLs that webmasters can use to figure out where to go to diagnose their site. So that’s just a rough snapshot of how things look right now. Things can absolutely change and be in flux, because we might see tacks, different types of things. We need to move our resources around. But that’s a little bit about what to expect over the next few months in the summer of 2013. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I’m really excited about a lot of these changes, because we do see really good improvements in terms of people who are link spamming or doing various black hat spam would be less likely to show up, I think, by the end of the summer. And at the same time, we’ve got a lot of nice changes queued up that hopefully will help small, medium businesses, and regular webmasters as well. That’s just a very quick idea about what to expect in terms of SEO for the next few months as far as Google.

by Matt Cutts - Google's Head of Search Quality Team


Original video: