When Matt Cutts speaks, online marketers listen. Cutts, the head of Google’s Webspam team, recently gave a keynote speech at the Pubcon conference in Las Vegas where he outlined some of the key changes that are coming down the pipeline for the world’s biggest and most powerful search engine. In case you missed it, here’s a quick rundown on some of top takeaways from his speech.
This is the terminology that Google has assigned to the efforts being undertaken to make search simpler for users – and more beneficial for online marketers. Whether a search is performed by voice or by type, Google is rolling out improvements to refine the way the search engine “listens” to what users want.
The point of this is to enable users to find information more quickly without having to repeat themselves. For example, let’s say a user keys in a search for “movie theaters near me.” Google will return results of nearby movie theaters based on the user’s location. However, if the user decides he or she doesn’t want to go to a movie after all but would rather find a place to eat, they only need to say, “Look for restaurants instead” and information on local restaurants will be displayed. By creating a significantly improved level of understanding, Google’s aim is to eventually make search more conversational.
A Kinder, Gentler Panda
Acting in response to the loud outcry from SEO marketers who have found it more difficult to market after the rollout of Panda (Google’s sweeping algorithm which intended to penalize low quality websites with lower SERP rankings) Cutts announced some changes are in the works. In particular, Cutts said that Google will be softening some of Panda’s penalties so that legitimate markets and businesses caught in certain “gray areas” will see an increase in their search engine rankings.
Doubling Down on Authorship
Authorship is becoming a big deal with Google, and Cutts indicated that the search engine will continue to place more emphasis (and add more ranking weight) to articles that utilize this feature. Authorship – the practice of publishing content that is linked to an individual’s Google+ profile to help readers discover more authoritative content – has already been shown to bring about a significant improvement in ranking for blogs and online articles. According to Cutts, this will continue to increase.
Mobile Search Results
According to Cutts, website owners whose websites are not optimized for mobile search could find themselves negatively impacted in Google’s mobile rankings. Since mobile usage has grown exponentially in the past few years, this essentially places webmasters on high alert – warning them that unless they implement changes, their sites may not even be visible to some mobile users.
Some of the examples of changes Cutts referenced included the following:
- Websites with Flash will not show up in the search results of mobile users whose phones aren’t equipped with Flash. As a result, website owners who don’t want their mobile search stats to plummet should consider developing non-Flash mobile sites.
- Slow loading websites will begin to appear further down in ranking than faster loading sites.
- Websites that route mobile traffic to the site’s homepage (instead of taking the mobile user directly to the page he or she intended to access) will begin to rank lower in search.
How This Impacts Online Marketers and Developers
There are many changes afoot at Google, and Cutts’ keynote speech gave plenty of indication that those changes will only continue as the search engine seeks to improve the overall user experience. For online marketers and the developers they rely on, this means one thing: the work isn’t done yet, and will likely never be done. In order to stay in the game, website owners are encouraged to work closely with professional developers who can help them stay up to date with Google’s constantly evolving ranking requirements.
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