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Matt Cutts speaks at SMX West

Approximately 1400 people were watching Matt Cutts from Google live yesterday with Mike McDonald at SMX West. As usual, Matt was his personable self and he and Mike were very funny in the beginning. It is always funny to see “Internet Personalities” who are humble and down to earth. That could not be more true in this video.

So now, onto the good stuff. Google had an “Ask the Search Engines” Q&A, which included the following questions:
Matt Cutts speaks at SMX West

  • Subdomains vs. Subdirectories
  • Should JavaScript and CSS be blocked or should they just let search engines crawl it? – Matt says, “Just let the Search Engines Crawl it”.
  • How much do you use “nofollow”? PR and Link Sculpting – DO NOT do this — do not use “nofollow” on your own internal links — it is better to put nofollow on 3rd party links that you are unsure of — but they should not be on your own internal links.

Instead of trying to have your pages go through eight levels of links, bring your top content up to the top of your site — look at your site architecture and link top content accordingly.

Caffeine – a next-generation architecture for Google’s web search was discussed by Matt. Surprisingly, not one person inquired about this at SMX West. Caffeine is completely independent of site speed as a signal. Matt says that you shouldn’t get too caught up in site speed — the only time where it might make a difference is if your competition has equally good content that loads faster. If your site speed is twice as fast as your competition, it is NOT going to rank twice as high in the search engines. This is purely a usability issue at this point.

Page Rank is not going to be re-branded, but we are obsessed with it — but there are over 200 signals that get used to determine rankings. Instead of focusing on your Page Rank, you should focus on:

  • Reputation of your page
  • Quality of your overall site
  • Content
  • Links

Indexing the web, versus the “PUSH” model – pubsubhubbub – This is a content model from Google, pushing content, instead of people having to pull it — Here’s an example:
You go to your favorite blog and keep refreshing the page until you see a new post. This can be very time consuming. To combat this, pubsubhubbub sends a “ping” when you do a post to all of the people who subscribe to you. This is live on FriendFeed now. You can post a blog post and have it appear as a ping to your audience six seconds after you make the post. The intention is that SPAMMERS would use this as well. Google is currently working on a way to combat this — they also mentioned that this is Open Source and WordPress recently announced that it is using this technology in their blogs. The search engines can subscribe to these feeds as well and post your results in the Search Engines.

SPAM was also discussed and Mike was saying that his Twitter account was hacked into — with regards to Search Engine Real Time Results they are trying to work on SPAM filters — there is clearly a need to get real time results (Chile and Haiti earthquakes comes to mind). Here are things Search Engines look at with regards to Twitter Real Time Results:

  • How many people reply to you?
  • How many people re-Tweet you?
  • How long have you had your Twitter account?
  • How many hash tags do you have in your Tweets?
  • How many links do you have to your site?

SPAM will always be a challenge.

Google Buzz – This is a new feature from Google which is a combination of Twitter meets Facebook. Matt Cutts was saying that they use it internally to discuss various projects they are working on and adds this would be a great place for people in the workplace to communicate internally. It is located inside of Gmail, which makes it convenient and easy to use.

SEO and Social Marketing – If you are worried about not ranking in Google, Matt says that you might get more quality traffic from Twitter or Facebook and that you should focus on where you are getting your highest quality traffic and not to worry so much about your Google Rankings. He also says that Viral Marketing is NOT going to kill SEO just as SEO did not remove email.

The idea is that SEO, Email Marketing, Social Marketing, etc. are all TOOLS — you should use them in combination with one another, not in competition with one another.

He also mentions Black Hat SEO and talks about if you are a SEO today, you have two choices:

Do I behave in an ethical manner or not?

Moreover, the choice to do Black Hat SEO often involves hacking into systems. Prospects do not always understand this and might gravitate towards a Black Hat SEO because they usually sell “instant gratification” in SEO. Heed the warning. Anyone telling you they can rank you #1 in the Search Engines, or get you ranked “instantly” should make you RUN in the opposite direction.

As always, the question of validating HTML was asked once again. IT DOES NOT make you rank better in the Search Engines, but in my opinion, it’s like sending out a resume without proof reading it first. Google says if you have compelling content, they will traverse your invalidated code in order to find it — so those of you with sloppy code, do not despair if your content is worthwhile.