Google Is Working On Making SEO Matter Less

    March 16, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

At SXSW there was a session called, “Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!” As previously reported, Matt Cutts was supposed to be there, but couldn’t make it due to his wife having foot surgery. He was still able to appear remotely, and during the session, he just happened to mention that Google is working on some things that will “level the playing field” for people who just have good content, and don’t focus on much on SEO. Bing’s Duane Forrester also participated as Danny Sullivan moderated.

Today’s webmaster *audio* is a recording of our #sxsw panel: “Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!” http://t.co/ddIH6VX5 22 hours ago via Tweet Button ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

Here’s the official description for the session:

If you build it, they might not come, if you haven’t thought about how search engines view your web site. Forget testing for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari. Search engines are the common browser that everyone uses. The good news is that search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t mean terrible design or some type of black-magic trickery. Rather, there are good, sensible things that everyone should do that pleases both search engines and human visitors. In this session, representatives from Google and Bing provide this type of advice. They’ll even get you up to speed on the impact that social media is playing on search results. Even better, it’s all Q&A. Bring your top questions about how they rank sites and get answers directly from the source.

The official SXSW page has the audio for the entire session. Hat tip to Barry Schwartz for pointing to this specific part of it.

During the Q&A, one webmaster asked how a mom and pop doing its own optimization can stand a chance against all of those who are spending thousands of dollars on SEO.

“The way that I often think about SEO is that it’s like a coach,” said Cutts. “It’s someone who helps you figure out how to present yourself better. In an ideal world though, you wouldn’t have to think about presenting yourself and whether search engines can crawl your website, because they’d just be so good that it could figure out how to crawl through the Flash, how to crawl through the forms, how to crawl through the javascript, how to crawl through whatever it is. And for the most part, most search engines have made a lot of progress on being able to crawl through that richer content.”

Regarding the people that are optimizing “really hard” and doing a lot of SEO, Matt says, “Normally, we don’t sort of pre-announce changes, but there is something we’ve been working on in the last few months, and hopefully in the next couple months or so, or you know, in the coming weeks, we hope to release it.”

“And the idea,” he says, “Is basically to try and level the playing ground a little bit, so all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, ‘over-optimization’ or overly doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to sort of make that playing field a little more level. So that’s the sort of thing where we try to make the website…the Googlebot smarter, we try to make our relevance more adaptive, so the people who don’t do SEO, we handle that, and then we also start to look at the people who sort of abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on the page or whether they exchange way too many links, or whatever they’re doing to sort of go beyond what a normal person would expect in a particular area. So that is something where we continue to pay attention, and continue to work on it…we have several engineers on my team working on that right now.”

Duane Forrester joked that Bing has some hamsters working on this in the back room, spinning some wheels. He suggested having a great product and being engaged socially. These are strong signals for Bing, he said.

  • http://www.e-marketingpartner.com Bob Weber

    So is this really a problem? Are there a lot of ‘mom and pop’ shops out there with ‘great content’ that aren’t ranking well? I would love to see just one example of a site that has lots of great original content written by an authority on the subject and isn’t doing well in the rankings.

    • Twister Ram

      How can it be possible? SEO is done to perfect every thing content, navigation, speed etc…If google does meant to less seo ,then the value of google will be reduced may be they will go down.
      I think its just to increase their revenue by getting paid by sites.No relevance will be more if they follow these kind of attitude………

      • http://www.cbil360.com James Smith

        Hi Twister Ram,

        I am agree with your points. If Google is working on making SEO matter less then there is something google profit behind it. Finally it’s not good.

    • http://flyingwithoutfear.com keith

      Well I can offer you my site…we’ve got page after page of stuff written by me…I’ve got over 50 years experience as a pilot and instructor, my book flying without fear tops amazon’s listings in the genre and we have a community with over 2000 members…and still the british Airways and virgin fear of flying courses…(that give no help but just sell sell sell their courses) are always above us. Strip out the words Virgin and british airways and they’d collapse I reckon…but who am I? just a guy with a lifetime of experience in my field being driven down the rankinbgs by infinitely less specific sites. makes me mad!! Captain Keith

  • http://www.webpronews.com/author/chris-crum Chris Crum

    With the billions of pages on the web, I’m sure they’re out there. I see quality content all the time on places like StumbleUpon from sites I’ve never seen in Google.

    • Twister Ram

      If google is working on PPC enrich with this session and lessen seo works………
      I think google fall starts from March 16,2012

    • http://www.epoff.com Elizabeth

      Chris – I totally agree with this. I too have “stumbled” upon some amazing sites with great content and they never come up on Google searches.

      I think what Google is trying to do is lessen the weight given for sites who use 3rd party companies that place poorly written content with linked keywords on free blog posting sites (among other things). I see it done all of the time. I have a client for whom I’ve cleaned up all of the code on his site. It took a few months, but he did start seeing positive optimization and when Panda hit things were great — (my point here is that I don’t think Google is going to penalize people for having clean, well-written code which is a big part of SEO). This year he hired a “reputable” SEO company to help him go even further. He’s seen great results but I’ve seen poorly written narratives about his company on sites that have high page rank but nothing to do with the company. The SEO company he hired is definitely farming out much of the work to someone else without this man’s knowledge. In that respect, it’s going to be rough if he gets knocked down.

  • http://www.wedgeim.com calgary web design

    Just another way to increase revenue through things like ad words. Cause if you cant figure out Google f-uped algorithm pay for your spot!

  • http://lanix.org/blog/ MacTeP

    What about YouTube? Google have to do something about it. The SERP is full with many duplicated youtube videos. Try searching some song and you will see first 6-7 results with the same song (and the same clip too). Also in many long term keywords you can see many spammy youtube videos that are completely irrelevant and don’t even content all of the search phrases.

    • Chris

      YouTube is still an area of Google where there’s a lot of potential to gain first page visibility.

  • http://www.marcopoloni.com Daniele Graziani

    The day the original creator of a piece of content can come up ahead of Amazon.com republishing a subset of that same content is the day Google has succeeded. Right now there is way too much emphasis on the popularity of the site and the number of back links.

  • http://www.aksindiblog.com Aswani

    This really is a good move. I have seen many people overdoing this SEO thing and still able to rank well in the search engines. This new move from Google is very likely to balance everything with better relevant search results showing up and all based on the quality and freshness of the content..!

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com Nick Stamoulis

    I appreciate that Google is trying to level the playing field, but I don’t know if it’s actually possible. A mom and pop website isn’t going to have a team of writers pushing out great content every day, while a big brand can afford to do that. Is that big brand “over doing it” even when they have high quality content?

    • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

      I agree Nick, Google is never going to be able to actually level the playing field. But it’s because they are trying to mix too many things to determine relevancy that always have a tendency to conflict with one another. So as they find these conflicts and create algorithmic changes to handle them they will improve, but discovering and creating changes to deal with these conflicts is never easy and time consuming and so when Google makes major changes to their algorithms it will always be disruptive to sites it had no intention of disrupting. Google reminds me of the game called Jenga, except with Google they use billions and billions of pieces and so the whole system collapsing is less likely, but as there are billions of pieces trying to determine if a positive move in one area is actually going to do a lot of harm in another area becomes problematic. This is generally why Google has made little adjustments instead of very big changes in the past. I suppose Google felt that there was a growing problem that was too big to ignore anymore with the content farming sites that they felt they had to launch Panda sooner than later. The blocking tool seemed to be the band-aid that Google was looking for. Worked fine for most users I thought, just block what you don’t like. So I think they launched Panda too quick for even Google to tell how disruptive to the internet that it would be and basically in the past Google never has had to explain it’s algorithm changes and now feels it has to because of all the publisher outrage that Panda caused. If they would have waited and did a whole year of testing with how Panda would affect the results as whole there is no doubt they would catch many things that they are catching and adjusting for right now. Quite simply there was not enough QA done and the quality of the search results post Panda reflect that.

  • http://www.ucla.edu Baro

    Google just wants to disrupt the rankings to force more companies to buy adds from them. The more SEO works, the less you need to buy adwords, the less money you give to Google. Once a year, around this time (just after the holidays) Google stirs that pot to increase their revenue.

  • http://www.tipsinablog.com Daniel

    With all due respect, Google hasn’t got a clue!

    There are sites perched on top of t5he Google search results, for high quality keyword terms, that have taken “Black hat” tactics, to a whole new level. And those sites are cemented to page one.
    When I saw what one particular site done, I nearly fell off my chair.
    As to that site, if Google can not even pick up on this particular glaringly obvious technique, then it would prove what I have suspected for quite some time(Google actually rewards Black Hat seo).
    I have been to reputable sites within my niche(topic) where the webmaster openly admits on their about page, of how they used the most hard core style online scam/black hat seo methods.
    And that person is highly respected, and is a regular guest poster on Authority sites(in that niche).
    Yet, conversely, sites doing nada black hat style activities, are penalized by Google(sometimes severely) in the rankings, with not a single justifiable reason.

    The take away from this?

    Either Google has not got a clue, or possibly, Black hat seo has become an essential practice to ensure a sites success!

    • http://www.seonorthamerica.com Tom Aikins

      You’re absolutely right. And Google doesn’t care. As long as the ad money keeps rolling in…

  • http://www.replica-sunglasses.co.uk/womens-sunglasses/ Lisa

    This is a direct target to SEO’s. It means if i optimize my titles and if my friends does’nt optimizes it then will my friend overank me??

    oh comeon how is that possible?

    is google gona shutdown on backlinks or what?

    • http://www.seonorthamerica.com Tom Aikins

      This is a bunch of crap, Lisa. GOOGLE CAN’T READ. And until they do then Page Rank and the algorithm are what make the difference. You can do all kinds of searches and find crap content come up on page one on sites that have high page rank and big traffic. So much for quality content on mom and pop sites.

  • http://www.navitasdesign.co.uk Lorraine

    Whilst I agree with the level playing field surely by optimising a site correctly we are making sure that the user (who should be key in this after all) finds the correct content they are looking for. If the algorythm isn’t looking in key places ie the “title” and “emphasis” for keywords how can we be sure our sites are being found for the right keywords. And so we go back to the previous comment about AdWords…

  • http://www.reynoldspest.com Brian Reynolds

    A mom and pop does not necessarily know what over-optimization is and may inadvertently get themselves black listed or lowered in rankings from over posting whatever the SE’s algorithm says is too much.

    There just needs to be a better way for everyone to say what they want to say to their audience and social interaction seems to be the path that SE’s should follow.

  • http://www.seonorthamerica.com Tom Aikins

    First of all, who decides what’s good content? Is Matt and his crew looking at very page on the internet and deciding what’s good and what isn’t? Hardly. So he’s telling us that his bots can read and comprehend English now and determine if page A has better content about a particular topic than page B? That’s a lot of BS. Google uses Page Rank still, no matter what they say. It’s the backbone of their search engine and there’s no way they can just kill it off. And that means that links and a bunch of other factors in the algorithm are what determines the SERP rankings. Go ahead, put up a great site, do no SEO and see what happens. Absolutely nothing. Nice try, Matt, but you’re never going to get this right until your bots can read and comprehend content and that ain’t happenin’ soon.

  • http://www.cloudbackupservices.org/ Thomas

    I am becoming very wary of over optimization these days. And we are starting to see it more and more. Take for instance the whole trend about having a diverse anchor text link portfolio. Too many of the same anchor text links means you are over optimizing.

    I wonder what other signals Google is using to flag for over optimization? Keyword density? Page Titles matching ‘s?

    It scares me and I wish there was more info and testing on over optimization.

  • Wally

    I don’t listen to what Matt Cutts has to say most of the time. His job is to say things, knowing a bunch of SEO’s will take some kind of action, and they Google can measure what they REALLY want to do.

    Just yesterday I was helping out somebody I know who runs a restaurant review site in my city.

    She writes ORIGINAL “quality” content, and sits on page 6+ for her reviews.

    In the grand scheme of the entire internet, Google is a joke. As soon as more and more marketers realize this and get with using traffic methods that take Google out of the equation, the sooner the search giant can be laid to rest.

    The time for Google to decide how people will survive, or if they will needs to end at once!

    Matt Cutts..give me a break dude. The only field of play you are leveling is your own.

    When Google has its way, everyone will be forced to use Adwords, and adwords accounts will be banned at ridiculous levels (kind of like now) until finally nobody will pay Google anymore for ANY traffic.

  • http://www.nashvilleseo.info Nashville SEO

    For the past 10+ years Google has been rewarding sites that accurately describe their content in page titles, H1s, etc. In theory, this helps the algorithm understand a piece of content, so that it can align that content with searcher needs — if they choose to do so.

    In essence: Google used a reward system to train us to do it the way they wanted…and now they are going to do a 180° and penalize us for doing exactly what they wanted??

    This feels like the point in the movie when the people realize the tyrant king isn’t going to live up to his side of the agreement and people start dying.

  • Darshan

    Now a days SEO booms like stock market… But the people who made their own site for business/selling purpose who do not have money for SEO stuff and else. Content is the King with quality and Freshness… Black Hat should be come in secondary thing and Google and Bing is on right way with their Algorithm. Chances are always equal in any industry. Thanks a lot for sharing the Article and discussion between Matt Cutts and Webmasters…

  • http://www.fabfive24.com Sneaker Shop

    First the tell you what to do. Follow the rules and do as we say so you will get good ranking and searches. Now if you did all the punish you?? What kind of crab is that? What is this? Sure content is always king but what kind of content do they really want. And the question is can the small dogs can compete with the big dogs with these changes? I dont think so.

  • http://winemaking-equipment.com Wine Making Equipment

    It is good to hear about this. I have been creating great content but no one is looking and I don’t even rank for some of it. Keep up the great work Google.

  • http://www.water-treatment.co.in/ Water Purifier

    I like this rule because off pages promosion benifite, website optimization in google search engine for low baget persion(Business man)….

    Google decide right time for decision……..
    Thank for all webmaster….,

  • http://www.badcreditloansnobrokers.co.uk Jason Bad Credit Loans

    I must admit, some time ago I launched a site and only ever did heavy Black Hat SEO targeting just one 1000 exact search. This website never really took off until the penguin update, I find it ridiculous that this update is meant to be penalizing web spam and yet web spam is the only SEO I have done!

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