matt cutts

Penguin 2.0 And Beyond In 2013

No Comments
May 14  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

Here’s the latest video from Matt Cutts talking about what to expect in regards to how Google will treat links in the coming months. The war on link spammers rages on and Google at this point in time is still heavily gamed and the results for any money making keyword is full of junk.

Pay close attention to what he says as this is an unusually long video for this series and it is full of insight. He covers not only Penguin 2.0, but all the other link changes coming to the table including;

  • What Penguin 2.0 will go after
  • How Google will handle hacked sites
  • How Google will go after tiered link building
  • How Google will better choose authorities in a niche..AuthorRank anyone?

I’m not too worried about these updates as we never target anchor text, nor do we actually build links for clients apposed to earning them. It’s a different world but if you’re wanting to run a real brand, you cannot be out there chasing junk links just to pick off those coveted keywords.

Here’s a transcript of the video for those who cannot watch it:

Opening and Disclaimers

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?” Okay, 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’s working on in terms of the webspam team. In terms of what you should be working on, we try to make sure 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, bookmark, come back to, visit over and over again, ya know, 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’s working on. One of the reasons that we don’t usually talk that much about the kinds of things we’re working on is that the plans can change. Ya know, 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 they look pretty promising. Okay, with all those kinds of disclaimers, let’s talk a little bit about the sort of stuff that we’re working on.

Intro to Penguin 2.0

We’re relatively close to deploying the next generation of Penguin. Internally, we call it “Penguin 2.0″. And again, Penguin is a webspam change that’s dedicated to try to find blackhat webspam and try to target and address that. So this one is a little more comprehensive 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.

Paid Ads/Coverage/Links

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 ads should not flow PageRank. We’ve seen a few sites in the US and around the world that take money and then do link to websites and pass PageRank. So we’ll be looking at some efforts to be a little bit stronger on our enforcement 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 PageRank and there should be clear and conspicuous disclosure so that users realize that something is paid, not organic or editorial.

Examples of Specific Niches to Be Targeted

It’s kind of interesting. We get a lot of great feedback from outside of Google. For example, there were people complaining about searches like “payday loans” on 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.

Going Upstream and More Sophisticated Link Analysis

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 we’ll see whether that bears fruit or not.

Hacked Sites

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 hacked sites detection that is even more comprehensive, and also try to communicate better to webmasters, because sometimes they/we see confusion between hacked sites and sites that serve up malware, and ideally you have a one stop shop where once someone realizes that they have been hacked, they can go to webmaster tools and have some single spot they can go where they get a lot more info to sort of point them in the right way to hopefully clean up those hacked sites.

Shout out to the Spam Lords

So if you’re doing high quality content whenever you’re doing SEO this shouldn’t be some big surprise you shouldn’t have to worry about a lot of different changes. If you’ve been hanging out on a lot 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.

Authority Sites

But we have also been working on a lot of ways to help regular webmasters. We’re doing a better job of detecting when someone is sort of an authority in a specific space, could be medical or could be travel or 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 more appropriate for users.

“Borderline Quality” Sites… Possibly Good for Sites that Were Pandalized

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 kinda in the borderzone/in the grey area a little bit. So if we can soften the effect a little bit for those sites that we believe have some additional signals of quality that will help sites that might have previously been effected to some degree by Panda.

Ranking Multiple Pages of Same Domain for the Same Query

We’ve also heard a lot of feedback from some people about that if I go down three pages deep I’ll see a cluster of several results all from one domain. We’ve actually made things better that you’re less likely to see that on the first page and more likely to see that on the following pages. And we’re looking at a change which might deploy which would basically say that 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 has been good feedback that people have been sending us. We continue to refine host clustering and host crowding and all those sorts of the things. But we’ll continue to listen to feedback and see what we can do even better.

Back to Hacked Sites

And then we’re going to keep try figuring out how to get more information to webmasters. I mentioned more information for sites that are hacked and ways they might be able to do things, we’re also going to be looking for ways we can provide more concrete details, more example URLs that webmasters can use to figure out where to go diagnose their site.


That’s just a rough snapshot of how things look right now, things can absolutely change and be in flux we might see new attacks, we might need to move our resources around, but that’s a little about bit of 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. So that’s just a very quick idea about what to expect in terms of SEO for the next few months as far as Google.

Tagged , , , ,

SAPE Links – Google’s Coming For You

No Comments
February 16  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

sape links google penalty
For some reason SAPE links has not been touched by Google’s nasty magic ban wand but it looks like after a lot of chatter via SEO forums, Matt Cutts is a coming for them. While I hope no legit business has been running these links because if so, I’d get on the disavow train pretty quick. The majority of the other people I imagine are affiliate sites than an just turn and burn as they say. Either way, if you’re relying on lame link building like this for your legit business and want to stop, give me a shout to hear how we do it right.

Tagged , ,

Google’s Going To Tell You What Links Are Unnatural

No Comments
February 12  |  Link Building Videos  |   Ryan Clark

Finally Google has told us that they will tell us, or at least gives clues as to which links they deem inappropriate and are potentially ruining your organic ranking. While the problem for a lot of companies is that they don’t screen which “SEO” company they hire, or their in-house team is as clueless as 99% of link builders out there.

If your brand isn’t even attracting any links at all you’re NOT DOING IT RIGHT. While we’re not against building links, hell our name even suggests it, we do however want our clients to do something that earns them links. We also don’t giv two shits about anchor text or any other manipulation because if your company isn’t the best choice to be shown to searchers, get off the field.

Tagged ,

Google Link Disavow Tool Launches

No Comments
October 16  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

A lot of people have been screaming and bitching about Google launching their link disavow tool and well folks, it’s finally here. Matt goes on to say that “most people shouldn’t need to use this”, unless you’ve been mass spamming and using blog networks etc etc etc. I will be doing a video soon for our new inbound marketing podcast where we use the tool to clean up a test site we had hit on purpose, and we’ll see what happens. Matt also does say that this tool will disavow the bad links, but it will take weeks for Google to re-crawl and re-evaluate your “juice” so to speak.

Tagged , ,

Only The Links Google Trusts Count x Matt Cutts

November 13  |  Link Building  |   Ryan Clark

At Pubcon this week Matt Cutts said something pretty interesting about links and it’s a perfect topic for us to sit and think on here. A lot of people are doing different things when it comes to building links, and it is usually dependant on what they know or their industry. One thing’s for sure, a lot of folks are blasting thousands of links with spam tools because it’s TOO easy. One thing’s for sure, the way Google views links needs a shaking up and I’m a big believer that it’s a coming.

Q. Everyone says I need more links. How do links improve the quality of the site? I don’t want to play this game and I don’t want to do this.

A: What matters is bottom line. Links are a part of search – they represent online reputation. Although there are many tools that report links, none of the tools can tell you which links are trusted by Google (not even Google’s tools). While the link structure looks bad from the outside, the actual linkgraph that Google uses/trusts looks much better. When the New York Times complained about a site with 10,000 spammy links, Google investigated the site and not a single link had slipped through Google’s filter. Only the links Google trusts count.

Now a lot of webmasters and marketers are going to scratch their heads at that last thing mentioned by Mr Cutts. I certainly did because the SERPs do not reflect this statement at all and it doesn’t take long or much effort to disprove it either. I don’t know if toxic links + a sound website make a difference, but my first search query gave me the results I needed for this post.

A quick search for “bad credit loan quotes” from my end brought me the first ten results, and the first one’s link profile was just what I suspected. Not only that, but the page ranking has 0 unique content on it and it’s basically just a push into their affiliate program. While my query is looking for a “quote”, I’d still be more comfortable from a big brand or more reputable site.

The entire site has low quality content that’s only made for the search engines and it’s basically a thin affiliate site. I hate to use Alexa but since April the site has done nothing but grow, and with a site that should have been swept up in one of the Panda updates it should have been knocked down. So we of course have to suspect the links are artificially boosting this site for now? Ranking for all sorts of loan keywords is going to take a lot of links because it’s one of the most competitive niches online. As I suspected this is what their profile looks like;

No surprise there eh? The only way a low quality site can rank so well is anchor text abuse and this is Google’s biggest flaw in their algorithm. I should mention that this will most likely not keep them ranking high forever, but it’ll be long enough for them to make some serious bank. In some of the niches we work for clients in, we have seen these types of links holding up for years now so I’m not sure what to expect any more.

So what type of links are driving the great results for this site? Well, as suspected again, they’re a mix of junk directories, site-wide paid links, blog comment and forum profile spam. But I thought we’re supposed to build great content and the links and rankings will follow? For the most part, that’s been nothing but bullhooey and I see low quality links outdoing great sites at every turn.

You’d think Google would be better at filtering out links aimed at gaming their algorithm. The offending sites top links all come from sites with junk like this;

That’s all I really have to say. To see for yourself just do any semi competitive search query and you’ll find the top 10 results riddled with this problem.

Tagged , ,

URL Shorteners Pass Link Juice

April 12  |  Link Building Videos  |   Ryan Clark

This question is asked a lot by our clients and I was glad to see Matt get it as a video topic. URL shorteners do pass link juice as long as they’re 301 redirects. This makes perfect sense because Google is counting signals from the likes of Twitter and Facebook in their ranking algorithm. He specifically states and as two that work well, and as you can see we use here. I also recommend setting up your Analytics to work with either tracker so you know how your content is doing.

Tagged , ,

Google’s Spam Team’s Goals In 2011

No Comments
March 27  |  News  |   Ryan Clark

Here’s a video with Matt Cutts talking about what Google’s spam team is going to be focusing on for the rest of 2011. While they’re just finishing up the Panda update, I have been getting the hints that links will be viewed differently in the coming year. Matt does quickly mention that link quality is going to get another look, and frankly it’s about bloody time. I have a post coming out soonish on just how Google might look at links as I have a decent guess at it. Link spam works way too easily still, and paid links by large companies seem to go unnoticed in large amounts. A quick look at any financial keyword’s top 10 listings will prove that theory within a minute, easy. I’m glad to hear that some more change is coming, and I can imagine it’s going to cause all sorts of fun (ie Panda update) for webmasters around the world.

Tagged , , ,

Matt Cutts On NoFollow Links

No Comments
March 13  |  Link Building Videos  |   Ryan Clark

Matt answers an interesting question from a webmaster in Thailand about only using nofollow links throughout his website. I can imagine how confusing this can get for some new webmaster’s out there. What should I append nofollow too, how should I build my internal linking structure and is that going to be seen as a PageRank passing link? Hopefully some of you find this post informative and give new webmasters an idea of how to go about linking without fear of screwing something up.

Tagged , ,