No blog post in a month? I suck. To make up for it, I’m blogging on every organic session here at SMX Advanced in Seattle. And yes, it’s raining. So far it’s a great conference. None of the usual drivel from SES about reciprocal linking and all that n00b nonsense. Lesson one: Matt Cutts is an expert at answering questions without actually answering questions.
* Matt finally confirmed without a doubt that they use some human intervention in modifying results. Like we didn’t already know that but he said it this time. He did some covering his ass by also mentioning they were trying to make it scalable for their algo. He did mention the Google Bomb fix was not human intervention but an algo fix.
* It only took three questions before someone brought up paid links. Again, Matt did a good job of sidestepping the question. He reiterated that Google would be taking a stronger stance against paid linking and that they were getting a lot of feedback from their “report a paid link” feature. Guess what Matt, all links are paid one way or another. (Someone recently did a great post on the details of this, but I don’t have time to find it now, another session in starts 30 minutes) My response to Matt: We will be taking a more aggressive approach to tricking Google into thinking all links are natural.
* Does having search results from Google or other engines embedded into sites harm you in any way? Matt used the usual “value add” term, but basically said that they were trying to algorithmically remove pages that were essentially results from any search engine unless there was a value add somewhere in it. Another move against the big content generation spammers.
* Does CTR affect results in any way? Yes. And No. Matt says that in personalized search CTR was a factor that came into play, which seemed pretty obvious anyway. In regular organic non-personalized search it danced around it but the impression he gave was its weight was very low to none.
* Why is Google in love with Wikipedia? The first thing Matt mentioned that the entire room was made up of people who are not normal users. He said that Wikipedia was a great tool for normal users with basic queries, but not so great with advanced searchers and advanced queries. He did say Google was working to improve this so hopefully we will start seeing that garbage stop ranking for every term on earth.
* Are multiple domains a spam flag? No. And Yes. Again. The audience member brought up the SES Site Clinic session where Matt turned his laptop around and had every domain this guy owned showing up. Matt did emphatically say that having multiple domains in itself was not a spam signal. He did say spamming on one or more of your sites could possibly raise flags for any other sites you own…so put those spam machines on different ip’s, hosts, etc.
* I don’t remember what the question was, but this one struck me as a little contradictory and odd for him to say it. He was discussing internal distribution of PR and to try and funnel it to your important pages. This sounds a little like an attempt to manipulate search engines Matt. That doesn’t do a damn thing for users. You’re busted, someone remove his blog from the index.
* There was a question about themes and LSI. Matt had a non-answer for this one too. “Try it and see if it works” were the words that came out of his mouth. He followed that up by saying that using synonyms in a “natural” way was good for semantic matching. So basically it’s still all about looking natural.