In a video released on YouTube in early May 2013, Google Engineer, Matt Cutts, discussed some of the projects Google is currently working on. While he provides the disclaimer that plans – and timings – are always subject to change and so should not be taken as absolute truth, Matt outlined a number of initiatives aimed at helping SEO teams and webmasters that Google is working on over the next few months, and beyond.
What are YOU working on?
So long as webmasters are continuing to create useful, well written and engaging content that users bookmark, tell their friends about and return to time and time again, Google will help get that content ranked as high as possible on their search results so it can be read by a wide audience.
Google is coming very close to launching its next generation version of Penguin 1.0 – its algorithm update launched in April 2012 that aims to decrease rankings of websites that violate Google’s Webmaster guidelines by employing such questionable techniques as creating deliberate duplicate content or keyword stuffing. The so-called Penguin 2.0 will be more comprehensive than its predecessor and will have a deeper impact on unearthing unwelcome ‘black-hat’ spam.
Google is also going after advertorials and other native advertising that violates its guidelines. For example, if someone pays for an ad, this should not affect standard page ranking – some sites accept money to try and link advertorials and websites just to increase ranking. Google plans to clamp down on this. While there is nothing inherently wrong with paying for advertorials, they should not be done specifically to affect page rankings and should come with clear disclosure messages.
Google has acted on feedback from the public, including cracking down on payday load advertisements on Google.co.uk and adopting a much more direct approach to issues such as porn spamming etc. Matt was unable to say too much about that. Other feedback-related projects include looking at ways to go upstream and develop a more sophisticated link analysis to stop link spammers getting any value from such spurious activity.
Google is also pledging to support webmasters whose sites are hacked or affected by malware. Matt discussed two ways by which they are proposing to address this: the next generation of hack site detection algorithms are being developed over the coming months. At the same time, Google is working to communicate better with Webmasters. The company intends to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ in the Webmaster Tools section for people who realise their site has been hacked, offering support, advice and ways to help diagnose their hacked site.
Google also plans to improve how it detects websites that are genuine authorities on a topic and work to make them rank higher in searches. For example, experts in the fields of medicine or travel will find their websites ranking higher than other, lower quality ones, based on algorithms that help to detect the most useful content for users. In addition, Google is working to help sites affected by Google Panda – the company’s algorithm to lower the ranks of thinner sites – that do in fact contain useful content, by refining the algorithms to detect additional signals of quality.
Cluster search results
Acting on more customer feedback, Google is working to move searches that reveal clusters of multiple results that all originate from one domain further down the search results – and off page 1. Once a user has seen a cluster of results from one site, they will be less likely to see more from the same site as their search goes deeper through the pages. This is to help refine host clustering and host crowding.
Matt concluded his video by re-emphasising that things can – and often do – change. However, at present, the things he spoke of can be expected to emerge over next few months and into the summer of 2013. He said he was very excited about these changes and hoped that reducing the impact on link spamming in particular would help both small and medium businesses and regular webmasters.