SMX: Danny Sullivan Strips For Matt Cutts
The Search Marketing Expo opened in Seattle with a Q&A session with Google’s Matt Cutts; it seems Matt came back from his vacation with mischief on his mind.
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"Sorry Mr Burns, but I don't go in for these backdoor shenanigans. Sure I'm flattered, maybe even a little curious, but the answer is no!" - - Homer really misunderstands where Springfield's richest man is going with the labor negotiations.
There are plenty of talented search marketing pros and noteworthy Googlers out there who attend and participate in shows like Search Marketing Expo. Matt is a little different, having his own groupies ("Cuttlets") and drawing a crowd that follows him and chatters away during his walks around the conference center.
He sat still, occasionally, for the SMX Advanced audience during his question and answer session. During some playful banter with Danny, who thinks Matt deserves a better title than ‘software engineer’ ("What a joke," Danny said of that generic moniker), the talk turned to workplace apparel.
Matt described Google’s code as "basically, you have to wear clothes." He then challenged the nattily attired Danny to go casual, with the audience supporting the request. Danny obliged, but no Full Monty from him, instead just tossing enough laundry aside to end up in a t-shirt and shorts.
Ah the madcap conference life.
Being a question and answer session with Matt providing the answers, the audience tore its attention away from their host to pepper Google’s unlikely rock star with questions.
He cleared up an issue with supplemental listings, a place where webmasters hate to have their pages reside in Google. Matt said that with more links to those pages will come a move to the main index: "It’s that simple."
"It’s true that we do parse pages differently and index pages differently in the supplemental index," said Matt. "You can still absolutely be found for popular words but the phrase handling is somewhat different in the supplemental index."
When asked about geotargeting, and how much confidence Google has in knowing where someone is, Matt estimated Google would have a "pretty good guess" more than 90 percent of the time.
Another questioner wanted some clarity from Matt about Google’s guidelines, in asking why they are so nondescript. Matt answered that Google wanted to start with a concept of the minimal principles people needed to follow.
"I’m thinking it’s about time to have those guidelines updated," he said.
Someone had to ask about paid links of course, and that hot button topic came up with someone asking if paid links would be the death of the algorithm.
While Google isn’t averse to manual intervention to manage the situation, they do consider link buying as being beyond their guidelines. "If people want to do that, more power to them, but at Google we are going to act to preserve the best results," said Matt.
Some people have noticed search result pages turning up in Google’s SERPs, which seems to be a no-no. Google will trim them out, but it’s more of a rule of thumb than a hard and fast policy governing that activity, according to Matt.
Wikipedia’s near-omnipresence in Google’s SERPs also came up in a question, as someone asked why Google might be ‘breaking up’ with them. Danny wryly commented, "I think Matt wanted to tell them privately first."
Matt cited Wikipedia as a source that regular users like a lot, but it isn’t always the best result for a query. "We are aware of that," he said, "and the algorithm is always evolving to try to reflect that fact."