New Google Changes: Really A Matter Of Mom And Pop?

    March 19, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

In a recent webmaster Q&A session at SXSW, Google’s Matt Cutts briefly discussed some changes Google is making that will “level the playing field” between smaller, mom and pop sites and “overly optimized” sites, as bigger companies have a lot more money to spend on SEO.

Former Googler Vanessa Fox, who happens to be the creator of Webmaster Central, wrote an interesting blog post about it, which we discussed in another article about how the changes sound like they fall in line with Google’s greater philosophy of providing high quality sites (which is what the Panda update was all about).

We reached out to Fox for some additional insight, as hers is particularly unique given her background.

“I don’t think this is part of Panda,” Fox tells WebProNews. “Google makes hundreds of algorithm changes/introduces new signals/etc. every year. Panda is just one of many. Google just doesn’t name each one (and of course, not all of them are as impactful).”

She notes, as she hinted at in her own post, that Cutts may have been simplifying things for a non-search audience (SXSW isn’t a search conference like SES or SMX), and says that “it’s possible this isn’t a new anything, but instead is just tweaking of existing signals that look for things like keyword stuffing and link exchanges.”

Last week, Cutts pointed to the audio. Today he points to a full transcript:

Today’s webmaster *audio* is a recording of our #sxsw panel: “Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!” http://t.co/ddIH6VX5 3 days ago via Tweet Button ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

Rob Snell did a full transcript of the recent #sxsw session with Danny Sullivan, Duane Forrester, & me: http://t.co/RCGR99Ff 12 minutes ago via Tweet Button ·  Reply ·  Retweet ·  Favorite · powered by @socialditto

If you’ve listened to or read what was said, you’ll notice that the whole thing was in response to a question about mom and pops, which might make you wonder if brand is a significant part of what’s at play.

“I don’t think it’s about just mom and pop vs. big brands,” Fox says. “Lots of big brands don’t know the first thing about SEO. I think (total guess on my part) the sites that will be negatively impacted are those that focus on algorithms and build content/sites based on the things what they think the algorithms are looking for. The kind of sites where someone didn’t say ‘I want this page to rank for query X. How can this page best answer what the searcher is asking about X’ but instead said ‘I want this page to rank for query X. How many times should I repeat X in my title, heading, content on the page, internal links…”

“I think it’s still useful (and not negative) to make sure the words that searchers are using are on the page, but some sites go well beyond this and get so caught up in what they think the algorithms are doing that they forget to make sure the content is useful,” she adds.

“As far as sites that will see a positive from this, I think it will likely be both small sites (B&B in Napa that titles their home page ‘home’ vs. an affiliate site that sells wine gift baskets) and large brands (sites that use a lot of Flash),” says Fox. “I think foundational SEO practices (like those I describe in my article) will continue to be beneficial for sites.”

When she talks about SEO in her article, by the way, she says she’s talking about “using search data to better understand your audience and solve their problems (by creating compelling, high-quality content about relevant topics to your business)” and “understanding how search engine crawl and index sites and ensuring that your site’s technical infrastructure can be comprehensively crawled and indexed.”

Whether or not the new changes are directly related to Panda, Google’s Panda-related quality guidelines will probably still be something to keep in mind, with regards to what Matt is talking about.

  • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

    I think Matt Cutts is misrepresenting bounce rate. Not entirely, but Google does collect data from Google Analytics where Bing doesn’t have access to that same information. So Bing has to rely more on bouncing back to the same results of a previous query whereas as more websites use Google Analytics the more information that Google has over Bing as to bounce rate and other session information that may happen on a site. But he did go on to say that that query bounce is a noisy signal because certain pages might be great at getting people the information they are looking for, but Bing did say that time on page does matter, and I suspect Google already uses this as part of factoring in if a bounce is good or bad. So if the query matches the page information and the visitor finds what they are looking for and leave, it’s still not necessarily a bad thing. One example would be if somebody bookmarks your page as a reference and keeps going back to it from time to time, or even if they end up searching and keep hitting your pages and still are finding what they need. However, when it comes to advertising revenue for a site, getting the visitor to view more pages makes it more likely that visitors are going to generate more ad revenue for the site. So I see bounce rate as a bad thing for most sites on an SEO level to some effect (depending on the content).

  • benefits of extra virgin olive oil

    You’ve got a wonderful blog here! would you like to create some invite posts on my site?

  • http://myfreelancecopywriter.com/ Seo Copywriter

    I heard about next changes in Goolge algorithm in favor of good content. They will give more chances to the websites with unique content and no or very little SEO.

  • http://uniqueindiatour.com/ Mallikka

    With SERP’s bouncing around, one thing is certain. Website owners are going to aggressively pursue traffic outside the SE’s. SE traffic should be less than 25% of the total website traffic.