If you missed it earlier, be sure to check out Barry Schwartz's live blog coverage of SMX Live: You&A with Matt Cutts, head of Google's Webspam team. For those interested, I have posted my notes from the session below.
- The lead engineer for what would come to be known as "Penguin" picked that name.
- Penguin addresses spam.
- Impacted sites are believed to be in current violation of Google Webmaster Guidelines.
- The only way to recover from Penguin is to properly address guidelines violations.
- Impacted site experience an algorithmic demotion in search results but not a penalty.
- Penguin is not a "penalty" or "manual action" because it is algorithmic and therefore not manual.
- There is no whitelist for Penguin.
- Google uses 200+ signals for rankings and Penguin is the latest.
- Sites hit by Penguin can fully recover once guidelines violations are resolved.
- Panda was named after the lead engineer who's last name is Panda.
- Addresses thin and/or low quality content.
- Prior to Panda low quality content fell between the Search Quality team and Web Spam.
- Since Panda, Search Quality and WebSpam teams at Google work closer together.
- Sites hit by Panda can fully recover once content issues are resolved.
"Manual Actions" the new "Penalty"
- According to Matt, "We don't use "penalty" anymore, we use "manual action" vs an algorithmic thing."
- Manual reviews result in a manual actions whereas algorithmic detection results in a demotion.
- 99 percent of manual actions are accompanied by webmaster notifications via Google Webmaster Tools.
- Algorithmic issues do not result in a notification via Google Webmaster Tools.
Unnatural Link Notifications:
- Unnatural link messages imply a manual action (penalty).
- For unnatural link notifications webmasters should submit a reconsideration request.
- According to Matt, "typically if you get a notification you will see a downgrade in rankings."
- Google wants "to see a real effort" on the part of webmasters when it comes to removing unnatural links. Some webmasters have gone so far as to scan in images of letters sent to domain owners requesting links be removed.
- When reinclusion requests are submitted for unnatural link notifications, "Google reviews a random sample to see if those links are removed."
- Webmasters should attempt to remove at least 90% of unnatural links pointing to their site.
- Google understands it is difficult to remove links and is working on alternative solutions.
- Google is working on a new feature which will allow webmasters to "disavow" links pointing to their website.
- If you cannot remove some links, it may be possible to remove the entire page if it is not the homepage or similar.
Paid Links that pass PageRank:
- Despite the fact that Google is able to detect paid links passing PageRank and does not count these links, Google recently started taking manual action by penalizing these sites.
- According to Matt, Google is taking manual action and penalizing sites with links passing PageRank because companies continue to profit off of these practices.
- Google wants people to understand that PageRank passing paid links are a link scheme, a waste of time and money.
- The recent reaction to "Negative SEO" has been interesting.
- Negative SEO has been around a long time.
- According to Matt, "It is possible for people to do things to sites, like steal domains."
- Matt pointed out that Google changed the wording of Google Webmaster Guidelines some time ago to address negative SEO. It says, "Practices that violate our guidelines may result in a negative adjustment of your site's presence in Google, or even the removal of your site from our index."
- According to Matt, Google Analytics data is not used for rankings.
- Bounce rates from search results is noisy because of redirects, spam and/or other issues.
- Bounce rates do not accurately measure quick answers.
- Because users often get the answer they want and then leave, bounce rate is not a good metric for Google to use.