Google Ranking InformationThis web site tracks the words of a Google employee known as GoogleGuy. GoogleGuy is a Google employee who is very helpful in responding to questions and providing information to webmasters about changes at Google. [More info...].
GoogleGuy's Secret Identity Revealed
It is now official. The true identity of GoogleGuy has been reveal by the Guy himself. It won't come as a surprise to most people in the industry, because it was all but certain by this point. Matt Cutts is GoogleGuy.
Danny Sullivan report that the admission came at a recent Search Engine Strategies (SES) conference:
I moderated the panel, and the confession came out when a member of the audience flat out asked Matt if he was GoogleGuy. Matt hesitated just a moment, and I could swear I could almost hear the internal debate of "should I finally confess or not." And then he did, saying as Rand notes that he sort of backed into being the GoogleGuy who posts on forums and blogs. Matt then added that today, GoogleGuy might be one of many different people from Google commenting in public areas.
For the past several years, many people have strongly believed that Matt Cutts was GoogleGuy, to the point of feeling certain of it. Still, to my knowledge, it wasn't "proven", and until now, he has not made a public admission. For for what its worth, it is now official: Matt Cutts is GoogleGuy.
Or maybe its not official?
In a postscript to the Search Engine Watch article, it is mentioned that Matt Cutts has disputed the reported admission over on the seomoz blog, saying:
I didn't take the question as "Are you GoogleGuy?". I took the question as "How did you end up doing a bunch of webmaster communication duties?". Maybe I misheard the question though.
So there you go. You can decide for yourself. ;)
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Google's Secret Lab
It has been reveal by Henk van Ess that Google has a secret search quality lab that utilizes human testers with the goal of improving search quality. More info can be found on his SearchBistro blog. According to Henk, "It's a lab of humans from all over the world (from China to The Netherlands, from Korea to Brasil) They are paid to check search results of Google every day. Most of the employees, called international agents by Google, were recruited through universities all over the world. The aim is to avoid spam, to get the right sites at the top of the listing and to test new features, not shown to the public yet."
GoogleGuy responds to ethics issues surrounding the collection and posting of this information on the web:
I have serious reservations about Henk van Ess taking information from one of his own students (who presumably signed a non-disclosure agreement when the student agreed to help rate the quality of our results) and posting that information online. I also believe these web pages said things like "Google Proprietary and Confidential," but it appears that the screenshots have been cropped to exclude that information. Those are the two things that really made me sad, not the "breaking news" the Google evaluates its own results quality. It shouldn't be a surprise that Google evaluates the quality of its results in lots of ways--the fact is that every major search engine evaluates its relevance in many ways.
Henk van Ess response can be found here.
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Google Do's and Don'ts
While giving more clues about the latest Google 'Bourbon' update, GoogleGuy has also talked about a few important things that should be done or not done, when optimizing your website for Google (but not only for Google).
I've been aching for a long time to mention somewhere official that sites shouldn't use '&id=' as a parameter if they want maximal Googlebot crawlage, for example. So many sites use '&id=' with session IDs that Googlebot usually avoids urls with that parameter
I've never heard the suggestion that Google would penalize for iframes before reading it in the thread. Plenty of legit sites use iframes, so it wouldn't make sense to penalize for it. Powdork gave the right response in message 337 of the first Bourbon thread. Now I can easily believe that some search engine spiders would have trouble with iframes just like some spiders have trouble with frames. But I wouldn't expect iframes to cause any penalties.
My rule of thumb is to pick a root page and be as consistent as possible. I lean toward choosing http://www.yourdomain.com/ but that's just me; http://yourdomain.com/ would work as well. Then I recommend that you make things as simple as possible for spiders. I recommend absolute links instead of relative links, because there's less chance for a spider (not just Google, but any spider) to get confused. In the same fashion, I would try to be consistent on your internal linking. Once you've picked a root page and decided on www vs. non-www, make sure that all your links follow the same convention and point to the root page that you picked. Also, I would use a 301 redirect or rewrite so that your root page doesn't appear twice. For example, if you select http://www.yourdomain.com/ as your root page, then if a spider tries to fetch http://yourdomain.com/ (without the www), your web server should do a permanent (301) redirect to your root page at http://www.yourdomain.com/
So the high-order bits to bear in mind are
- make it as easy as possible for search engines and spiders; save calculation by giving absolute instead of relative links.
- be consistent. Make a decision on www vs. non-www and follow the same convention consistently for all the links on your site. Use permanent redirects to keep spiders fetching the correct page.
Given that GoogleGuy is quite talkative, in this period, we should probably expect more revelations soon.
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Google Update Bourbon Not Over Yet
Google's latest updated, nicknamed 'Bourbon' is not over. Many people thought the update was completed more than a week ago, but GoogleGuy is now suggesting that the update is only 14% completed and that there may be 2 more weeks of rankings changes until things settle.
Here's the advice that I'd give now: take a break from checking ranks for several more days. Bourbon includes something like 3.5 improvements in search quality, and I believe that only a couple are out so far. The 0.5 will go out in a day or so, and the last major change should roll out over the next week or so. Then there will still be some minor changes after that as well. So my "weather report" along the lines of http://www.ysearchblog.com/archives/000095.html would be a recommendation that rankings may still change somewhat over the next several days.
So who knows what could be next: spam filters, sandbox releases, more algo changes?
Thanks to Threadwatch for the pointer to this quote.
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Google Bans Itself for Cloaking
Responding to a post stating that Google makes use of forbidden cloaking techniques itself, googleguy admits it and promises an "exemplar punishement": banning its own pages from its own search engine for cloaking.
Cloaking, also know as stealth, is a technique used by some Web sites to deliver one page to a search engine for indexing while serving an entirely different page to everyone else.
This is clearly forbidden by Google and many other search engines guidelines and it sounds really odd (but does not really surprise me) that Google itself went against its own policy.
The funny thing, in my opinion, is the action that they are going to take against themselves, in order to fix the matter.
To be consistent with our guidelines, we’re removing these pages from our index. I think the pages are already gone from most of our data centers–a search like [site:google.com/support] didn’t return any of these pages when I checked. Once the pages are fully changed, people will have to follow the same procedure that anyone else would (email webmaster at google.com with the subject “Reinclusion request” to explain the situation)
I say it is funny because in many cases like this one, Google would ban an entire website from its search engine, but banning Google from Google i guess it wouldn't work really nicely: Internet has already had is "big Bang" a few years ago ;-) and quite a bunch of supernovas...but the time for a blackhole still has to come...
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Remove Keywords, Increase Impressions: AdWords
AdWordsAdvisor talks about the option of removing keywords with no clicks from your AdWords campaigns and its advantages.
"I have many ad groups that have keyword with high impressions and no clicks. Should I remove those keywords so that my CTR will go up? I have tracked these keywords over the last 60 days."
So - IMO, when keywords have been around for 60 days, on a system on which tens of millions of searches happen every day, and they've gotten no clicks - the message that I get is that they're not real winners. And I can't really think of any real advantage in keeping them.
I'd also say the same thing for keywords that have been around awhile with no impressions.
On the other hand, there are advantages to getting rid of them. Just a few advantages, off the top of my head:
* less stuff to monitor
* makes it easier to monitor the keywords that remain
* may create room for keywords currently 'on hold' in your account
* our system will no longer 'budget' for them, which may make your other keywords show more often
* creates some 'head room' if you are near to a keyword limit for your account
And most important of all:
* gives you the warm fuzzy feeling of working to maintain AdWords system 'health', for the greater good of your fellow advertisers. And AWA. ;)
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Google Bans Traffic Power and its Clients
Update: Traffic Power has changed there name to "1P" or "First Place". They are using the domain 1p with a .com after it (please do not link to them). Please spread the word and help others avoid getting burned by them.
While the SEO company was not named in the thread, discussions in other forums reveal that the company in question was Traffic Power. I think it is important to mention the company name, so that others can learn to stay away from them. There have been numerous reports of people losing their job for hiring this firm to do their SEO, and rumors are brewing about a lawsuit in the works.
Update:I have heard that one of the efforts at a class-action lawsuit has been discontinued, but others are pending. If you are a former Traffic Power customer, you can send an email to Dave over at Traffic Power Sucks to get involved.
Thanks to Jan Willamowius for pointing me to this thread. I have been quite busy lately, without much time to scan the discussion threads looking for GoogleGuy's comments, which have been few and far between, and mostly insignificant. If you notice any significant posts by Google, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks
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AdWords Selling PageRank Not Allowed?
AWA provides an update on a question about AdWords selling PageRank. In this response, AWA seems to suggest that doing so it not allowed (without makinga direct statement either way).
OK, I've got some more feedback on this question.
So, advertising to assist with PageRank isn't a problem. Selling PageRank, however, is another thing - and ads/sites are reviewed on a case-by-case basis along these guidelines.
If you're seeing ads promoting the sale of PageRank, then it's possible that those ads have not yet been reviewed/disapproved. At least let's hope that's it. ;)
In any case - thanks for the heads up. This has been passed on to the right folks.
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AdWords Selling PageRank are Allowed
AWA says that it seems like you are allowed to use AdWords to advertise PageRank for sale (at least for now).
Thanks for the bump, but still waiting to hear, Macro. ;)
Essentially, it seems as if it is allowable now, as the evidence suggests it!
What I was hoping to find out is what future plans may be. So, I'll keep working on it, and post when I know more.
BTW, this may be a good time to say that I'll be 'out of the office' Friday thru next Tuesday, and won't be able to post here during that time. So, this week, last posts on Thursday - then back on 6/3. ;)
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Not at SES or PubCon
AWA replies to a member.
" so you aint joining us at either SES or PubCon next week :( "
I should probably create some mystery by saying that, well, I may be there. ;)
But the honest truth is that I won't be, with regret. I'll almost certainly be at a future PubCon though.
Looking forward to it!
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