HighThis page includes only those comments from GoogleGuy that were given a "High" level of importance. Of course, you may disagree with my assessment, so...
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 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 email@example.com. Thanks
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GoogleGuy Goes Quiet
A couple of people have inquired as to whether I have stopped reporting on GoogleGuy's comments altogether. I have not stopped, and I do intend to report any significant comments made by GoogleGuy.
The reason I have reported anything recently is because GoogleGuy has gone quiet. Though I may have missed some, I have only seen one comment from GoogleGuy during the month of May, and that was to tell a member that the best way to contact Google was to email support (though he did mention that he would pass the particular issue on to others internally). If anyone has seen any other GoogleGuy comments this month, let me know.
With the Google IPO annoucement, Google is now in the "Quiet Period". And it appears that GoogleGuy is also in the quiet period. Many, including myself, expected this to happen (especially after GoogleGuy asked me to be quite).
Just one year after this site was launched, GoogleGuy isn't saying anything (at least for now).
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GoogleGuy Confirms that Underscores are not Word Separators
Many people believe that you can use an underscore to separate_words_in_an_url, and that Google will recognize the words and count them for ranking purposes. I have read many debates about this: some people believe that Google indeed counts underscores as word separators, while other webmasters claim that you must use a hyphen or other character for Google to recognize the words as distinct. GoogleGuy has hinted in the past that hyphens are preferred. Recently, this debate reheated when Google made a change to it's "search word highlighting" feature in the search results: suddenly, keywords separated by underscores were being displayed in bold. The question then became whether the change was part of the ranking algorithm, or just the display mechanism.
Today, GoogleGuy finally confirmed this without any shadow of a doubt: "If you use an underscore '_' character, then Google will combine the two words on either side into one word. So bla.com/kw1_kw2.html wouldn't show up by itself for kw1 or kw2. You'd have to search for kw1_kw2 as a query term to bring up that page." [Link to Quote] I think we can put that debate to bed finally, at least for now.
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GoogleGuy Says Stop
GoogleGuy has requested that I stop posting his comments on this site.
This site will continue (more info below).
I started this site about 11 months ago, to provide an easy and convenient way for people to hear comments made by an anonymous Google employee, known as GoogleGuy. GoogleGuy was posting useful information in a very busy discussion forum. At times, his comments were the only valuable ones to read, and I found myself scrolling endlessly trying to locate his comments. The search tool provided on the forums was extremely poor, not helpful at all for located the comments of a particular member. I thought about recording them privately for future reference, but I realized that others were likely in the same position as me. So I decided to post them publicly, so others could benefit. It turns out that I was right, as thousands of people from around the world began to use the site as resource for Google information.
The owner of the forums was not happy with this site. He made a number changes to the forum site to make it difficult for me. In doing so, he also made it even more difficult for forum members to find GoogleGuy's comments in the forums. Of course, these ill-advised tactics made this site the only reasonable way to locate GoogleGuy's comments, and the traffic to this site increased significantly (Thanks, Brett! :)) To this date, I don't understand why he view this site as a threat -- it provided links and traffic, enhancing the poor search and filtering features of the forums.
From the beginning, I said that I would stop if GoogleGuy made such a request. Though he certainly learned of this site days after it was launched, he did not make any reference to it in his comments, nor did I ever receive an communication directly from him or indirectly from any of his colleagues at Google. For 11 months and over 1,000 forum posts, GoogleGuy said nothing about this site. Based on this silence, I assumed he was okay with me providing an easy way for people to learn hear comments about Google. About a week ago, in a thread about "Google Under Siege", that changed. Suddenly, GoogleGuy requested that I stop posting his comments to this site. So I will live up to my word, and the format of this will change.
Why GoogleGuy suddenly make this request after 11 months and 1,000 posts? He didn't explain the reason. All I can offer is pure speculation, which may be "way off the mark", perhaps:
-my commentary was too critical of Google?
-the current pressure on Google (relating to privacy concerns) is a factor?
-he wants to silence me prior to the Google IPO
I really don't know, but he did sound "annoyed". Feel free to add you own speculation in the discussion for this entry.
If GoogleGuy changes his mind - and I hope that he does - I will begin to post his comments here again. Perhaps he was just frustrated when he posted his request. Perhaps he will decide that easier access to his comments is a good thing for Webmasters and Google alike. If you would like GoogleGuy to reconsider, please voice your opinion in the discussion for this entry, on your own sites, blogs, etc. You can also try posting your opinions in the WMW forums, but you are likely to be censored if you do.
I will continue to report and comment on significant comments made by GoogleGuy. I will not include entire posts verbatim, but I may quote a few sentences here and there. This will actually improve this site, by focusing only the seemingly significant (or controversial) statements made by GoogleGuy. In short the new format is "more commentary, less quote". As I have always said in the past, my commentary is my own opinion, which some may disagree with. Going forward, I may continue to be "way off the mark" at times, and I encourage open discussion and debate as always. This format will likely take 2 forms:
1) A Weekly Report - summarizing signifcant comments each week
2) Short Articles - focusing on particularly notable comments
As always, I appreciate any and all feedback. What direction do you think this site should take? What features would you like to see?
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Google Email (GMail?)
GoogleGuy replies in a thread about Google launching an email service. Many speculate that it is an April Fools joke. GG has his poker face on.
"If it turns out to be real, they are genius. What better way to announce it? All the "is it real" buzz. A day later, all the "wow it is" buzz."
So what did people decide? Is it for real or an April Fool's Day joke?
I'm getting hungry. I'd better go grab some dinner. It might take me a couple hours to get back to this thread..
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New Google Features: Personalized Search, New Look, and Numrange
Google announces a number of new Google features that were launched last night. Especially interesting is the debut of personalized search in Google Labs. That one will be very interesting (perhaps the merger of Orkut and search is not that far off) :)
Hey everybody, I didn't see a link to the press release that we sent out last night yet. You can read about the new enhancements here:
There's a lot in there:
- Labs has a demo of personalized search. Tell us your interests, and then you can move a slider and see the search results change in real-time. This gives you a good look at how search can be improved by knowing what the user is interested in.
- Labs also has a new feature called Web Alerts. When the Google search results or new results change for a term that you enter, Google will drop you an email to let you know. Both webmasters and regular users can enjoy this. :)
- There's a brand new user interface. The UI team made tons of little changes make the UI cleaner and faster to get search results.
- Searching in Google News will now show thumbnail photos in the results.
Plus my personal favorite that I haven't seen mentioned yet: numrange search. For example, suppose you want to search for results about Mt. Everest, but you're actually interested in things like the base camp and events that have happened at a certain elevation. If you do the search
everest "21000..21500 feet"
then you'll results specific to that elevation. The base camp seems to be reported at anywhere from 21,000 feet to 21,300 feet, for example--this search will find all the references.
A few nice things to notice about numrange searching: in the example above, you notice that it works with phrase quotes. And if you check out the search results, you'll see that we can match a number even if it looks like 21,300 instead of 21300. It also works correctly with dollar signs. I was at a book sale this weekend and I actually saw some dude scanning books with a bar-code scanner attached to his phone. I noticed that the phone was a Motorola and the scanner was a Symbol. I did a quick Google search when I got home and found out the the scanner was a PSM20i. Cool. Now suppose I want to find out how much they cost. I do the search
and suddenly I get the web pages that mention psm20i and have a dollar keyword between 100 and 500. Kinda fun. Or suppose your rich uncle has died (in the United States) and you want to find out about the estate tax on all his moolah.
estate tax $750000..5000000
would find web pages with specific numbers for you. Or you forget the ratio between the weight of an electron and a proton. You know it's somewhere in the range 1/1800 and 1/1900. Don't worry, that happens to me all the time too. A search like
electron ratio 1800..1900
will give you the answer straight off: 1:1836.
You get the idea--there's a bunch of new ways to find data that numrange searches unlock. So enjoy the new UI and things like thumbnails in news search results. And have fun playing with personalized search and web alerts and thinking about the future of search. I know we have. :)
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Google Launches Local Search on Google.com
GG comments on the recent launch of local search on Google.com.
sasha, do you have the same address as your competitors? We generate this data from multiple sources, including Yellow Pages data as well as from the web. The web gives us more comprehensiveness whereas the Yellow Pages gives us more precision. Results show up at local.google.com, but they can also show up in the main search for queries like pizza palo alto.
Remember that this is still a beta, but local search is something that I'm really excited about. Our infrastructure is flexible enough to integrate geographical information into our index. And geo info is a lot of fun to play with. :)
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Google PageRank Updates Every Day?
This is interesting. As GG continues to highlight the fact the PR updates are now just "display" updates, he uses the term "everyday occurence" with respect to PR updates. While it is well known that actual PR updates happen much more frequent than in the past, this is first time GoogleGuy has hinted that PR may actually be updated daily (or perhaps, in near-realtime?)
Good questions, jbgilbert. All I was trying to get across was that we have better updates of PR and links (including a comprehensive list) in-house at Google, so I personally don't pay as much attention to when we export new externally visible links or PR. So for me, it's just an everyday occurrence--but I understand why everyone else gets excited. :)
BTW, this seems like a good quiet time to remind people that if you're obsessively hardwiring IP addresses in your hosts file in order to check what a PageRank display says: don't forget that there are other search engines out there. Spend some time looking at rankings on other engines as well (the old "don't put all your eggs in one basket" theme). All that time spent on backlink/PR checking would also pay off by spending that time looking at how other search engines score pages. :)
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PageRank and Backlinks Updated
PageRank and backlinks have been updated on 126.96.36.199. To see the new PR values using your toolbar, add the following line to your "HOSTS" file (Windows):
In this post, GG highlights that the fact that the PR update is not an algo or data update - rather merely an updated display of of existing PR and backlinks.
I don't think an update is due anytime very soon, but if we are pushing out new visible links/external PR data, then I'm happy for the folks who like to check on that. :) I hadn't been following the directory updates as closely, but I've read a couple posts where someone said that they'd seen updates related to the directory too..
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PR Updates once a Quarter?
In this post, GG is joking around around. But he may he hinting at 2 things 1) PR will indeed update again, and 2) it may only happen once every 3 months. If true, we would see the next update in April.
I heard that at PubCon, DaveN suggested that Google should only update the visible PR and link: data once a quarter or so... ;)
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Near Daily Google Updates
GG says to expect near-daily Google Updates this year.
I haven't checked, but I'm not aware of anything too large launching in the last day or so. People should expect to see daily or near-daily updates this coming year as we continually update our index data, but I'm not aware of any large algorithm updates that would merit calling this an update.
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