Notes from Matt Cutts Recent Web Chat

Fahrenheit Marketing
Fahrenheit Marketing in Design

Last week, Matt Cutts held a live chat to discuss a variety of search-related topics. Below are some of the highlights:

Google’s Algorithm and Ranking Factors

– Google will be rolling out their Panda update for languages other than English.  However, it will be months before they are ready to implement. Once the update is in place, I expect a similar negative response to their US update because I’m still not 100 percent sure that their current Panda filter is really doing what the company intended.

– Your server’s IP address is used as a ranking factor as a way of correlating content and geography. If you have a site that features Japanese content (ex: language or character set), having an IP address in Japan will help you rank relative to a site on a US based server. This doesn’t mean you’re site won’t rank. In fact, you can rank well if your content doesn’t match the IP but if you’re targeting a specific country, it is beneficial to have an IP within that country.

– Google’s new +1 service is expected to be a much more important ranking factor than first reported. Cutts reiterated that +1 will be used as a ranking factor and noted  Google will being paying a lot of attention to it in the future. While I think that Google should consider user behavior as part of their algorithm, giving users direct power to influence rankings is ripe for abuse by SEO firms. I can only imagine  +1 campaigns on a service such as Mechanical Turk.  Hypothetically, a company could pay 1 cent per +1 and can get 2000 +1 votes for $20.

Webmaster Tools

– Cutts discussed adding a notification in Webmaster Tools should a hacker change your rel=canonical tag.  He added that it was not a planned addition because occurrences of rel canonical hacking are very rare.

– He also noted if a site is blocked by a user, there won’t be a notification or running total in Webmaster Tools because it doesn’t offer any insight other than the fact the site was blocked.

Site Architecture

– Finally, he emphasized that attempting to implement pagerank sculpting using nofollow on internal links was a waste of time.  He recommended site owners to nofollow external links to sites that they can’t vouch for since linking out to bad neighborhoods can negatively impact your site.