On the future of search, he again stressed the importance of mobile site usability. YouTube traffic on mobile has skyrocketed from 6 percent two years ago, to 25 percent last year, to 40 percent of all YouTube this year. Some countries have more mobile traffic than they do desktop traffic. Cutts reiterated, “If your website looks bad in mobile, now is the time to fix that.”
Google is also working on machine learning and training their systems to be able to comprehend and read at an elementary school level, in order to improve search results.
Authorship is another area where Google wants to improve, because tying an identity to an authorship profile can help keep spam out of Google. They plan to tighten up authorship to combat spam and they found if they removed about 15 percent of the lesser quality authors, it dramatically increased the presence of the better quality authors.
They are also working on the next generation of hacked site detection, where Cutts said he is not talking about ordinary blackhat, but “go to prison blackhat.” Google wants to prevent people from being able to find any results for the really nasty search queries, such as child porn. Cutts said, “If you type in really nasty search queries, we don’t want you to find it in Google.”
Cutts’ current advice (again) to webmasters is that it’s important to get ready for mobile. He spoke to the convenience for website visitors when you utilize their auto-complete web form annotations, to make it easier for people to fill out forms on your site. The mark-up to add to the forms is easy to do, and will be available in the next few months.
During Q&A, Cutts discussed links from press release sites. He said Google identified the sites that were press release syndication sites and simply discounted them. He does stress that press release links weren’t penalized, because press release sites do have value for press and marketing reasons, but those links won’t pass PageRank.
The problem of infinite scrolling websites was raised, such as how Twitter just keeps loading more tweets as you continue to scroll down. He cautions that while Google tries to do a good job, other search engines don’t handle infinite scrolling as well. He suggests any sites utilizing infinite scrolling also have static links, such as with a pagination structure, so bots can have access to all the information if their bots don’t wait for the infinite loading of the page.
Someone asked about whether being very prolific on blogs and posting a ton of posts daily has any impact on search rankings. Cutts used the Huffington Post as an example, as they have a huge number of authors, so logically they have many daily posts. However, he says posting as much as your audience expects to see is the best way to go.
In closing, Cutts said they are keeping a close eye on the mix of organic search results with non-organic search results and says he would also like to hear feedback on it.
While no new features were announced during his keynote at Pubcon, Cutts packed his presentation with many takeaways for webmasters.
First, to understand how negative press can get to the top of the search engines results pages (SERPs), let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit the old urban legend of Pop Rocks and Coke. Amidst all the excitement around the popular fizzy candy, in the late 1970s stories began to spread around school playgrounds that, when mixed with soda, Pop Rocks could cause a mini-explosion in your stomach. Teachers overheard and passed on to mothers. The worried mothers then escalated the news to the press, and soon General Foods, the creators of Pop Rocks, had a reputation problem on their hands.
This telephone game of word-of-mouth is replicated online via link-building. First, someone publishes negative comments about your company. As others read the comments, more people start linking to it in blogs and discussion groups. Friends forward to friends, who forward to friends and so on. Next thing you know, the bad press is at the top of the search rankings.
Back in the Pop Rocks days, General Foods responded to the Pop Rocks fiasco with full-page print ads, letters to school principals around the country, and even sent the Pop Rocks inventordoor to door to attest to its safety. But what could they have done had they lived in the today’s digital world?
If an online reputational tragedy befalls you or a friend, the first step in the repair strategy should always entail keyword selection. You don’t want to continue optimizing the same keywords that are used for existing marketing purposes. Different keywords come into play in this case. Since it is likely the negative press is showing up when consumers search under your brand name or product name, you will want to focus your SEO efforts on those specific keywords. The goal is to drive brand-friendly hits up in the SERPs, while pushing the negative press down.
You do this by creating more good press and optimizing around those selected keywords. Links embedded within press releases will give sites a ranking boost while the news is fresh and the press release is at the top of the newswire. When you’re embedding the links, don’t just hyperlink your corporate domain every time. Instead, ask yourself, “Which links are most important to our situation at this time?”
Experiment with different hyperlinks to different sub-domains, and measure the results to determine which ones will drive your news up the ranks. Always make sure that links are embedded on top of, or near your brand name.
The second step is link building. After all, if the negative press elbowed its way to the top of the SERPs through link building, you can do the same with positive press. It is an SEO ace in the hole, and it should be a major part of any SEO strategy. To counteract the negative press, build links to optimize brand and product names.
Think outside your corporate domain. Sub-domains, including news sites, corporate blogs and other pages outside your website, can be key SEO weapons in your arsenal as they take up more shelf space in the SERPs. Optimize these through link building, and make it a practice to ensure that the content on these sites is constantly updated and is as fresh as possible.
Lastly, go directly to the source of the negative press and request they also include rebuttal links. Ideally, they will publish an additional link on that post or page to your response (on your site) to the issue in question, so that your positive messages are given more platform.
When it comes to the Internet, information is a constantly flowing stream, and it flows fast. The only real news is what’s up at the top of the search page, so use something that you know works to manage, control and shape those messages that you care about. SEO has a pivotal role inreputation management, as it can remove negatives and enhance positives on the first page of results, which is usually the only page that matters.