What Google

SEO is Changing

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WebProNews’ Mike McDonald caught up with Matt Cutts of Google at the Hofbrau Haus in Las Vegas during PubCon to get his views on a number of topics.

Is Ranking Dead?

Matt Cutts

Cutts said, "I’m not sure I would say ranking is dead but it’s not as important as it used to be. The fact is the smart SEOs are not just necessarily looking at the rankings. They are looking at conversion, they are looking at their server log. It’s great if you’re ranking for a phrase but unless that leads to sales that doesn’t help you very much."

"The challenge is not to pay so much attention to ranking, pay attention to traffic, pay attention to conversions and keep building good content and don’t worry about ‘can I show people that I rank number one for my trophy phrase.’"



Universal Search In 2009

"Universal is really useful and I think it will continue to expand and what that means in 2009 you can’t just think of yourself as an SEO," said Cutts.

"SEOs are starting to embrace the fact that they are marketers. It’s a broader spectrum. You have to think about how you build buzz, how do you get loyal customers, how do you optimize your ROI. All those different things and that can include how do I make good videos, do I have a book, things like that."

Cutts says that people will continue to pay attention to video and images in 2009 but noted a down side. "Of course anywhere there is money there will be spam." Google has been focusing on its different properties to manage the spam issue.


Google has gotten better on Flash and submitting a video to video sitemaps is really helpful in getting onto Google Video Search. "We want to be able to present video from all kinds of places," said Cutts.

Video File Format

"Whatever file format you want to use is totally fine."


Cutts says that just because search engines are getting better at Flash does not mean mobile is. On mobile devices you can’t just think about search engines. You have to think about the user experience.

Matt Cutts

Competing with Black Hat SEO

"Black Hat SEO is getting a little more malicious. In a world where Black Hat is moving towards really illegal things as an SEO you have to decide your risk tolerance and do I really want to try to compete with people who are doing illegal stuff or do I want to make a long term site that’s gonna stand the test of time."


There is no real advantage to using Subdomains. If you have a lot of Subdomains that can be a lot of work. You don’t want to overdo it. Really it’s what ever is easiest for you.

What Google
Top Rated White Papers and Resources
  • http://dlbuildr.com/get_more_buyers/ Get More Buyers

    Tomas Cook the bank!!


    They are a UK travel agent!!

    Oh well!

  • http://www.professionalseo.com/ SEO Company

    He is referring to Thomas Cook Foreign Exchange services FYI

  • http://www.dotcom-monitor.com/ Website Monitoring Man

    I do respect Matt’s opinion but I’ll never believe his recommendations to use white SEO will persuade doorway builders and other guys who prefer ‘quick’ methods. The reason is simple – white seo requires too  much time.

    Alex aka Website Monitoring Man


  • http://www.hostitplanet.com Troy C

    There’s still time and as seo’s concerned, it’s going to be awhile until they get the programing down, my guess is that organic will always be better but takes longer,

    seo is far from being over with a certain percentage of  businesses that still haven’t gotten on the web and if they do they almost have to hire guru’s to get good ranks.

    pay attention to traffic, pay attention to conversions and keep building good content Those where Huge Keywords. Hmm,

     If your a seo You might want to consider looking into helping bussiness look inside at closing the sales also.

    and for the: white seo requires too  much time: spending at least two hours a month at $150.00 seems fine for me

    sorry just ranting..



  • http://www.seochester.co.uk/ SEO Chester

    Great video Mike, I like the way Matt turned up to catch your session ;)

    I agree with matt that SEO’s need to be more diverse these days and yes the role of an SEO is becoming a more general marketing field.

    On the point of "White Hat SEO"- yea it takes time, but come on, all things in life are worth waiting for and with time taken comes sustainable results that will make all worth while. "Black Hat SEO" is pointless, unless these people just enjoy starting over again every time they get caught and just going through the motions time and time again for no sustainable long term benefits at all.

    Anyway it’s nice to hear some words from Matt on the subjects covered, thank’s for sharing the video with us Mike.

    • Anon

      I wouldn’t go as far as saying Black Hat SEO is pointless.  Most Black Hat SEO know how to code or program in ways to create scripts which automate most of their processes.  Now if you are thinking small time and trying to promote one single website then Black Hat SEO would not work — but if you are promoting various affiliate programs or a multitude of domains then Black Hat may pay off.  It’s a get in and get out method.  Some would rather make a quick $15,000 in one week than wait several months to make a single penny. 

      Furthermore, Black Hat can be a thriving hands-free business.  If a Black Hat SEO created an automatic process where they register domains automatically, configure a website automatically, added content  to the websites automatically, and added affiliate ads to the content pages automatically then a single SEO could manage a great amount of domains in no time.  Let’s say 500 domains…if 250 of those domains get banned everyday while another 250 domains get automatically registered each day then the income potential is endless.

      I honestly don’t have all the technical knowledge to create automated process as the one described above, but I know people who are strict Black Hats and they make over $25,000 per month using similar methods as above.  Pro Black Hatters think on a larger scale than us common one website folk!  So they don’t care about being banned! 

      I would never suggest mixing your White Hat campaigns with Black Hat

    • http://www.flv-converter.us FLV Converter

      We trust it right! AND THANKS SEO Chester .

  • http://www.malcolmcoles.co.uk malcolm coles

    As it’s surely the first step to getting people to your site. Yes you need to optimise it when they get there. But if you don’t rank for competitive terms, you won’t get traffic. So ranking is as important as it’s ever been. And people are waking up to the fact that onsite conversion is important (and always has been).

  • http://www.hotelcalculator.com Michal

    i see it quite funny two guys sitting in front of just one beer. even if it’s a big one ;)

  • http://www.seminsights.com Laurac

    hmm, I think subdomains can give you an advantage provided they are relevant and logically structured. They can certainly give you additional real estate in the serps for primary brand name searches. There is is the flip side to the argument that rankings are not as important, and that conversions are more important… we know that the top 10 organic results get significantly more traffic than other rankings, and that phenomenal amount of trafic is going to lead to a higher conversion rate, assuming the algorithm is doing its job in terms of selecting the most relevant and usable pages.. no?

  • http://vizlog.rs/ poslovni adresar Srbije

    I have to agree with Laurac. Rankings are the lead for bigger traffic. But maybe there will be a better chance for new sites or young sites with interesting content to grab a little more traffic from older sites if ranking isn’t such a main thing in Google algorithms. So…What will be next in 2009.? Google is changing its algoritms more frequently now. Like I read, Google changed its algorithms for about 450 times last year. :|

    Rankings, conversions …. I got the Googles idea like this:

    - Make your sites content interesting for people and they will bring you the traffic!

  • http://officialsafetyandsecurity.com Debbie Morgan

    Thanks, Mike, for this article. My safety and security web site finally reached a PR of 4 after two years of work. I have a great site but without the Google blessing, it’s hard to get seen. I hope what Matt says will help the newer sites get more traffic

  • http://www.diamondonnet.com/ Diamonds

    Yep, hopefully these changes will help get more conversions.  Thanks for clarifying these questions.

  • planetjeffy

    from CPC to SEO, analytics, usability testing and site optimization.  Anything less is not very effective and you are not doing your client any favors.

  • http://wakish.info Wakish

    If it’s not as important as it used to be, then why continue using PR? That’s ironical. If something is becoming useless, change it to something else or stop using it! As simple as that!


    - Wakish -

    • http://www.catskillwebsitedesign.com/ Web Designer

      You gotta wonder why it’s still hanging around if it is useless? MMMMmmm

  • http://mattcutts.com matt cutts is a joke

    "do I really want to try to compete with people who are doing illegal stuff or do I want to make a long term site that’s gonna stand the test of time."

    hahahahaahahahahahaahah. this interview is a joke. Why does anyone put stock in what matt ‘the lyer’ cutts says anymore. what about blackhat seo is illegal, matt? huh???? you don’t have an answer for that do you?? you’re a joke and don’t deserve your position at google.

    • Guest

      What is your beef with Matt Cutts? He is one of the most knowledgeable people in the SEO/Webmaster business. Everything he said in the video makes sense. You sound like a very bitter person.

      Give a valid example of why you think that? So far your arguements have been infantile. By the way why don’t you learn how to spell before you go off writing idiotic comments?!

      Good day sir!


  • http://blackberrystormblog.com Ryan

    I would have really liked to see more questions about Google’s latest flash indexing effort. So far, the information out there on the subject of indexing (and actually ranking) content within flash is general at best.

    There’s your next story idea, now get on it!!! lol

  • http://www.oneononetraining.com.au One on One raining

    The fact remains that 2 pages with similiar content, the web site with the higher pr will rank higher. However just because you have high PR does not mean you will get a lot of conversions, but without ranking on the first page you will not get a leg in. subdomain can help directly when they match the keyword phrase, similiarly there is no point to having a keyword phrase in your domain name unless the anchor text matches, the same applies to sub domains.

  • http://www.SvogerslevBrassBand.dk Svogerslev

    Conversion is of course important.

    But you still have to be found to convert!


  • http://www.hemorrhoidshemroids.com/ Hemorrhoids and more hemroids

    I know with my hemorrhoids site it has been an uphill battle fighting black hat sites, with white hat SEO.

    Just when it looked like the hemorrhoids site was about to pushed way down, Google’s latest algorithm was a life saver – at least one of the hemorrhoid  black hatting sites lost around 50% of their link juice and dropped down in their Serps.

    White hatters, I think we all lost some link juice, but no where near that much :)

    Thank you Google.

    Another of my sites earlier on was pushed down so many positions by black hatters, that you needed a telescope to find it.  Black hatting sites can and do hurt honest ones that play by the rules.


  • http://www.mensdieseljeans.net Men’s Diesel Jeans

    White SEO will hang in there down the road.

  • http://www.andor.co.il Amit – Andor

    Conversions are true but while Google Keywords price are getting higher, i promise you that SMB customers will find another way to market.

    Not a lot of SMB companies can afford your keyword prices thats really get conversions !.

    We used to think that the internet PCP Google Adwords will give SMB the chance to compete with bigger companies with alot of money but it seems that Google think more about money than to make internet better for all.

    In the end Search engines will be the one that will loss.

    Video campains are becoming more effective than your PCP program.

    ????? ?????, ????? ????? ?????? ????????

    ???? ?????? ?? ????? ????? ?? ??? ?????.

  • http://potpolitics.com John Sullivan@POTPOLITICS

     I was hoping to share(embed) that video but sent the URL to a few friends :) Anyway yeah that was a cool video. It’s nice to see that Matt realizes that what he has to say isn’t so Secretive and TOP Secret

    what I found is that Google has laid all the tools at my feet to get paid :)

    Great job on the interview thanks

  • http://www.ellipticals-trainers.com Guest

    While some of what Matt mentioned seems quite accurate, I don’t agree with some of the algo shifts made, since they actually can harm legit businesses that have been following LSI models for tagging and optimizing websites – now that about 80% of the algo seems to be link driven.

    Also, with that kind of emphasis on linking, it appears that the "game" will just shift into larger netwrok play – which an experienced black hat (according to posts earlier on this entry) could generate and maintain. Leaving "White Hat SEOs" out in the dust in comparison.

    Just not fair playing ground in my opinion.

  • http://www.surplusstock.com Surplus Stock

    True, High Rankings increase your probability for higher conversion rate but thats not all. You have to pick the right keywords and the right user experience teams up to bring the sales.

  • Guest

    Dosen’t  good traffic mea having good rankings? I mean without good rankings you dont have traffic. some site might get 10 hits a day and have good conversions depending on their content other might have to have thousands of hits a day just to get one sale.

  • http://www.realstudio.ro RealStudio

    Google will have to step it up and penalize the black SEO practices. Because it’s starting to spread really fast, and fair SEO has no chance to fight it on it;s own.

  • http://www.hophunt.com Free PPC Traffic

    It’s very funny to talk about Black or White SEO or Ranking…

    They all just illutions created by Big G.

    That illutions made their stocks tumbled below $300.


  • http://www.warmfront.co.uk insulation grant

    There has been quite a bit of talk this week about ranking being dead and the emergence of personalised results, this morning I happened to see for the first time on my browser the little ‘promote’ and ‘remove’ buttons next to my Google results, and one of the sites I promote also appeared fist for the top keyword, doing the same search in a different browser saw it third so it looks like Google is certainly altering my personal results based on previous clicks. The info on the buttons is at http://www.google.com/support/faqs/?editresults

    One problem for people doing seo will be it is harder to explain to people the results they see, and also unscrupulous SEOs could simply tell their clients the results they see on their browser are the same as everyone else’s!

  • http://www.arucc2006.com Article Man

    Well said, traffic is what matters, if your target area is a large number of longtail keywords and not one heavy traffic keyword, it makes a world of difference, but then if i m right if you target one heavy traffic keyword then you are automatically ranking yourself for a large number of related keywords as you will have that many number of pages with related content, tell me i m wrong

  • http://www.mercadeoporinternet.com Rafael Montilla

     He is right we have to pay attention to ROI because the success means $$$$.


  • http://www.shelko.com/ Priyanka

    Well, PR is not the only factor to be considered. But, PR should be definitely considered. Thats how you get difference between black hat and white hat.

  • Stevo

    Google have just released their search personlisation tools.  So I can now avoid all of those black hat sites and just get sites with REAL content on them.

    About time to.

    This will send shockwaves through the industry.

  • http://legomindstormsnxt.info Carrie

    Thanks for the interview. Matt Cutts is one of the most important men in my life. I listen to what he says. I’m eager to see what changes the new year brings and am prepared to adjust for what Google wants.

  • Rich Ord

    Thanks for the compliment contained in your first sentence Adrian. Our WebProNews reporters love this kind of feedback.

    Rich Ord
    CEO, iEntry, Inc.
    Publisher of WebProNews

  • http://mesotheliomacancernewsinformation.blogspot.com/ Elena

    I too agree with Matts. I think traffic and conversion are very important for SEOs than rankings, because rankings may be up and down if someone compete us. But traffic will give you business leads.

  • http://www.seoptimisation.net.au Eran

    I have great respect to Matt Cutts and the knowledge he shares with the online community. However I disagree in this instant with some of his comments.

    1.    Matt suggests the following: "The challenge is not to pay so much attention to ranking, pay attention to traffic, pay attention to conversions and keep building good content and don’t worry about ‘can I show people that I rank number one for my trophy phrase.”

    Research shows that searcher do not bother going beyond page 1 or 2 and if you are not appearing at least on page 2 of Google than no one will find your website and you will not get any conversion this way. Conversion is important but page 1 of search engines is usually what the customer wants at the end of the day from his SEO person.

    2.    Mattt suggests the following:  “SEOs are starting to embrace the fact that they are marketers. It’s a broader spectrum. You have to think about how you build buzz, how do you get loyal customers, how do you optimize your ROI.”

    I agree that SEOs are getting more into the marketing game of SEO. However in this instant I think that the term online marketing would be more appropriate. Building buzz, getting loyal customers and optimize for ROI, this job belongs to the online marketing person in the firm rather the SEO person. This is more brand building and awareness than website promotion which falls into the category of brand building.


  • http://www.spec-india.com Jignesh Padhiyar

    Conversion is importance but how can we overlook ranking;because if you are not to Top – 20 or Top – 30 Results How can we have traffic and conversion from Search Engine?????

    • http://orange.pinkygirl.org busby seo

      How does google know the conversion is our website is on page #2000? Basic rule is that, if our website at page 1, mean higher conversion. But how can google say we should not focus on the rank? Withour rank, how it translate to the traffic and conversion?

  • http://www.yiwu-sourcing-agent.com Yiwu

    The ranking are dead?

    If dead? How can I get traffice from the SEs.

  • http://www.fleurtations.uk.com Graeme

    The obvious point to make, and it has been made already, is that unless you appear on page one or, to a much lesser degree, page 2 you will never recieve ANY traffic from Google organics. You can of course attempt to push your site with the other directories and search engines i.e. Yell.com and Yahoo, but as we all know Google is king and moving away from the pack at an alarming rate (the comments that keep surfacing regarding Googles struggle to sustain it’s global data bases seem unfounded). The huge problem that small business faces was highlighted in one of the earlier comments by Adrian, notably:  "Google lists in their shopping results: Tesco.com, Ebay.com (and many more) and how to compare these two with good seo sites dedicated to a certain product?" These "big boys" only need to mention a product once in their script for it to be propelled onto page one, this happens at the expense of really good content sites with much more variety and scope, how can this be beneficial to good "user experience"? 

     At the end of the day I have a great deal of sympathy for Google, the potential to make huge amounts of money always brings out the worst in people and the system has, and still is, being exploited so how do you stem these underhand tactics? You of course, centre around "good content" but Googlebot has to be much more discerning, a few good quality links do not make a good site and just because a site has only been in existence for a year or two should not hold back the fact that it has excellent content, is well written and has good user experience.

    Social sites should also be far better monitored, how can a throw away blog comment ever actually make it onto page one or two, the whole concept is ridiculous.

    I am looking forward to the promised improvements, apparantly 450 or so happened last year to googlebots algorithm. The web is still the place to be, exciting yet frustrating, but where else can you be lying in bed asleep earning money from all corners of the globe?

    • http://www.schoolsgalore.com Michael

      I totaly agree with what you are saying. Makes a lot of sense. Great point!

  • http://www.stocknod.com Stock Man

    No disputing that Matt does provide some misdirecting information in this interview and his blog commentary. He tells you what Google wants you to hear and doesn’t necessarily give you the best SEO recipe for financial success.  Matt Cutt’s is just the Google sheppard that is keeping the SEO sheep in a flock. With that said I still feel he does a good job, but that you just need to be discerning with the facts that he provides.

  • http://www.webcontenteditor.co.uk James Todman

    I am biased being a content editor but thank goodness web content is continuing to be recognised by Google.

    The sites I’ve had the best success with require their content to be continually updated and made attrative to new and returning vistors.

    In my opinion SEO shortcuts work well in the short term but for a website to be successful if needs some good, honest hard work.

    I’m glad Google is rewarding these sites with better search engine listings.

    Long live content!

  • http://www.datatonet.com Hong Kong Online Marketing

    I’m agree the article.

    Subdomain is useful in SEO.

    Content is King.



  • http://www.sinonetworks.net IT Services Shanghai

    How do you talk about conversion when you don’t have traffic at the first place???

  • http://www.bowlerhatsolutions.co.uk/ Guest

    This is all great and should help provide better search results for all of us but the problem as a web developer is that you can tell clients they need to build content till you are blue in the face and a percentage of them still want some silver bullet to rank well.

    I have one client at the moment who essentially just wants a miracle, the site is poor, there are no tools or strategies to gather email addresses or improve conversions – they just work on the brute force approach. 

    Still, for those of us who are willing to build unique, useful content, we should start to see our sites rise above those who are still cheating their way to the top.

  • Guest

    First let me Congratulate Matt for some great articles and suggestions he has been giving for long. Thanks Matt……

    However i can’t agree with him on his verdict about the Ranking goes dead and the importance of Conversion.

    Web has been considered as an economical media to most business across the world. And Search Engine Ranking could be an easy form of getting your website on top and there by start getting the necessary traffic and then tto conversions. Once you are in the mind of the users, people still dont go to google to find their favourite website. Most of them type it direct and in some cases they may use their favourite search engine to find the same, But here its not the key word they are typing, it’s the website name.

    My point is ranking is the first step to let the world know about your website in a fastest and econimical way. I wonder, do Matt is suggesting some other way to promote your website and there by get more conversions. Ofcourse we have other alternatives like Online Ads by Search Engines, Print Ads, Other traditional ad forms etc. But Matt, most of the marketing options are costly, May be for big giants, But for thousands of new business coming up every day to become successful and without being evil., Web is an ideal way to get them there…

  • http://japrak.info japrak

    are 3 way link is efektif for 2009 in SEO?

  • http://www.m4s73r.com/ Internet Marketing Indonesia

    I don’t know, what will be happen in the next year about Google Seo.
    But I think it will have a BIG Changes with Google Seo to Get Top Rank in Search Engine.

    Million of blog will loose 50% untu\il 90% visitor for 2009 year.
    I hope my blog isn’t one of million will loose unique visitor.

  • Guest

    I think they want people to focus less on ranking, and more on Google Adword advertising. 

  • http://www.increasehomeappeal.com/ Steve Rickmount

    He tell the truth about ranking. It’s not everything but it is important. Nice interview. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.privacylover.com frank

    Although Mark Cutts no doubt is a great professional, this is still a prediction and mistakes can be made.

    I would look at the overall picture and remember that not only Google is up there, other search engines are also working hard on improving their results ans they probably have different methods to rank pages.

  • http://www.seoworkers.com/ SEO Workers

    I am just wondering, how can web site owners who exlusively rely on organic (natural) search engines results get traffic if they don’t rank.

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