The representative from Microsoft Bing had a last minute cancellation due to illness. So we got more time with Matt Cutts which is always a bonus. Matt started with some trends in the industry. Mobile search is big and growing and most mobile searches are local. This was a frequent theme through many presentations over the last couple of days. If you have a local business, it is key to optimize for mobile phones and local searches.
Chrome’s market share is growing. Obviously this is important to Google.
A key focus this year has been trust and security and implementation of enhanced security in Google products such as gmail using https, SSL search, and 2 factor authentication. Google has committed resources to trying to find hacked sites and is rolling out soon (this week possibly) new updates in Webmaster Tools to give users more information about site problems such as doorway pages and parked domain issues.
Speed has been another big focus for Google this year. The Caffeine infrastructure has allowed for real time incremental indexing. Several years ago index updates were monthly and more recently daily. Now a change to a page can be in the results in less than a minute. Google Instant is another form of speed enhancement. Google’s research showed that users spent 17 seconds typing a query and Google instant is a way to improve that. An example, when a user starts a query with “w” they are often typing weather and Google Instant can bring up those results quickly. Matt did concede that power users don’t like Google Instant. Instant Preview was launched this week which gives the user an option to look at a page preview before going to a site. Flash sites do not look so great in a page preview, another reason to avoid flash or at least not have the whole site be flash.
On the left navigation on Google, there is now a way to change your location and see the results for the indicated location.
Matt suggested that is always a good practice to reduce page load time. Today, site performance (speed) only effects 1% of search rankings. This may change in the future. You can see your site performance in Google Webmaster Tools. Google is also offering new tools to increase page speed including mod_pagespeed.
Matt’s Nine Tips:
1. Chase users, not algorithms
2. Keywords – “Ask 10 taxi drivers”, in other words, see what an everyday user wouldl use in search
3. Blog – Pay attention to the first link
4. Content – Read it out loud.
5. Twitter – Leave room for RT @ you
6. Video – Make one.
7. Conversion – Test, repeat.
8. Anyone – Own your own domain.
9. Webmaster Tools – Make sure you turn on email communications.
From the audience questions:
Matt was asked how Google discovers domains with no links. Matt indicated that links was the primary way of discovering new domains. Adsense is not used to discover new domains. For competitive reasons, he would not address other methods.
Is age of domain still important? After a domain is about 6 months oldl, the age does not make much difference. Older domains do often have more links which may lead some to believe that the age of the domain is important.
What is Google doing about content farms? Some consider them spam. Users are angry with content farms. Google tries not to be in the position of having human evaluators determine the worth of a domain. The content farms are not currently part of the spam teams targets. It’s controversial even within Google. Things may change in the future.
Is it right that a domain ranks high simply because it has exact keyword match in the domain? No. There will be adjustments to change this.
Disclaimor: I took notes while Matt Cutts was speaking and in some cases, paraphrased his comments. To the best of my knowledge, my notes are accurate.