Google’s Matt Cutts at Pubcon 2013

Google’s head of webspam, Matt Cutts began the second day of Pubcon with a signature keynote speech addressing Google update myths, spammers and future updates to search. The speech provided many interesting insights into the workings of Google and future plans for the site, most significantly perhaps the introduction of Deep Learning and voice search.

Cutts explained that Deep Learning mimics word relationships and learns to apply these relationships to other search terms, improving the search result quality and relevance. According to Cutts, the new voice search feature will alter the way users search and also work to refine queries as well as results; voice search will know if a user is still searching within particular topics and use this knowledge to return more specific results.

In lieu of recent updates, Cutts addressed the SEO impacts of Hummingbird saying that there is no need for alarm. He referenced the time lapse between the Hummingbird roll out and the official announcement, stating that this update would not affect SEO in any significant way.

Mobile Search Results

Mobile search results were a hot topic at Pubcon and played a large part in Cutts’ talks. According to Cutts, smartphones are having a large impact on search queries and as such Google are placing extra emphasis on smartphone friendly query results. If a mobile phone does is not Flash compatible Google will not display Flash sites in search results; if your site is slow on smartphones it is likely your ranking will suffer.

Mobile traffic solely linking to your homepage will also be detrimental to your rankings. Cutts urged listeners to route mobile traffic to the internal pages users are looking for, or otherwise face penalties and lower rankings. SEO’s are being encouraged to look closely at how their sites work for smartphones, as it becomes clearer that the less mobile-friendly sites will suffer a negative impact in mobile search results rankings.

Spam Strategy

Spam strategy was next on the agenda for Cutts, as he discussed Google’s continuing work to battle certain specific keywords that are typically spammy, such as ‘payday loans’, ‘car insurance’. Google have made it clear recently that they to direct users to any harmful sites, and their ongoing spam strategy mirrors this.

Google are also continuing to those using undisclosed paid advertising. Cutts made sure to point out that there is nothing wrong with advertising in general, as long as adverts are clearly disclosed. Undisclosed ads will face penalties and lower rankings. In regards to press releases, Cutts announced that Google had identified press release syndication sites and simply discounted them. Though he did stress that press release links would not be penalised, he confirmed these links will not pass PageRank.

Webmasters, Java & Negative SEO

In regards to communication with webmasters, Cutts expressed Google’s desire to increase their communication and strengthen relationships with webmasters. According to Cutts, Google are working on more precise guidelines in the hope of making it easier for webmasters to understand what causes ranking issues and to help them fix such issues easily. Cutts added that negative SEO is neither as common nor as widespread as people believe, and that it is often self-inflicted by webmasters misunderstanding ranking issues.

The Future of Google SEO

The future of Google is based in machine learning, in which Google are attempting to train their systems to read and comprehend elementary school level semantics for vastly improved search results. With this in mind, Cutts declared that the next algorithm update will focus mainly on ad-heavy websites. This is as expected as Google continue to take consistent strides toward a better user experience.