SEO — What to Expect From Google Over Coming Months

Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, recently released a video that gives SEOs and webmasters a preview of what to expect over the next few months in terms of SEO for Google.

Cutts addresses 10 points, which we have summarized below. The general goal of all of these updates is to improve search results by rewarding well-run sites sites with better rankings while penalizing spammers and black hat SEO techniques.

  1. Penguin updates:  the next Penguin update, Penguin 4 (or Penguin 2.0) will be rolled out in coming weeks.  This Penguin update is expected to have more of an impact than Penguin 1.0.  Those employing questionable SEO tactics beware!
  2. Advertorials:  publishing articles that include paid links that pass PageRank is a violation of Google’s quality guidelines.  Over the past year, Google has penalized a number of sites — including the floral company Interflora and several newspapers in the U.K. for using advertorials.  According to Cutts, Google remains committed to discouraging the use of advertorials and will be taking an even firmer position on those using advertorials in the future.  So remember, if you manage a website or blog that has paid links, use the rel="nofollow" attribute.
  3. Spammy Queries:  while such queries, which often include mispellings and porn terms, have traditionally been less of a focus for Google search spam team, Matt Cutts indicates that this may change as it is something that Google wants to address.
  4. Swimming Upstream:  when Cutts says that Google is going to go further “upstream” to combat link spam at the source, what he seems to be getting at is that Google will continue to penalize link networks, as they have done over the past year with the SAPE and link networks.
  5. Better Link Analysis:  according to Cutts, Google is still in the early stages of developing a more sophisticated software package for link analysis.  Once release, this software will help Google get even better and understanding and analyzing links.
  6. Detection and Handling of Hacked Sites:  Cutts mentions that Google has performed much work on its index to address problems surrounding hacked sites.  Such actions have included specific labels for search results from potentially hacked websites, warning webmasters about hacks, and removing hacked sites altogether.  Over the upcoming months, Cutts says that Google will be introducing new methods to better detect hacked sites as well as continuing to improve webmaster communication about hacked websites.
  7. Authority Boosts for Relevant Sites:  Google’s goal is to provide ranking boosts to sites that are authorities within a specific industry or community, e.g. for site that is an authority on travel, Google hopes that it will be returned above less authoritative sites for related queries.
  8. Panda:  of the numerous sites that have been hurt by Google’s Panda Update, Cutts says that many are borderline case.  The Google search team is investigating ways to soften this effect by examining other quality metrics for such borderline cases.  This should help the rankings of sites that have been unduly affected by Panda and have good quality metrics.
  9. Domain Clusters in Results:  Google is aiming to lessen the number of clusters of the same domain that show in the first page of Google search results.  According to Matt Cutts, they want to diversify the search results even more diverse, especially on the first page.  The second page is more likely to have clustered results from the same domain, but Google is continually adjusting the number of search results from the same domain that appear on a individual page of search results.
  10. Improving Webmaster Communication:  as we already alluded to in #6, Google appears comitted to better webmaster communication.  Cutts advises webmasters to expect more detailed notifications within Google Webmaster Tools in the near future.

The goal of the above changes is twofold: Google hopes that they will reduce the use of black hat techniques while also helping smaller businesses that focus on white hat SEO rank better in search results.

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