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Matt Cutts: "chase after your best interpretation of what users want"

 8:27 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts: "chase after your best interpretation of what users want" [nytimes.com]
Because Google is many Internet users’ front door to the Web, S.E.O. has become an obsession for many Web publishers, and successful ones use the strategies to varying degrees. But as newspapers, magazines, blogs and online-only news sites increasingly compete for readers, they are making it more of a priority than ever and adopting new techniques, like trying to maximize pass-alongs on social networks.

Google blocks or penalizes sites that violate its guidelines, like including hidden text or loading up pages with irrelevant keywords, practices known as black hat S.E.O. (as opposed to the white hat variety). But Mr. Cutts acknowledged that some sites might not qualify as spam but could still annoy users.

“One piece of advice I give to S.E.O. masters is, don’t chase after Google’s algorithm, chase after your best interpretation of what users want, because that’s what Google’s chasing after,” he said.



 9:48 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Here is another quote from the article:

... Google said it was working on changes that would push such links lower in search results.

“We definitely have heard feedback in the last two weeks that people are concerned about the low-quality content farms in Google, and we’re working on a variety of algorithms to try to address that,” Matt Cutts, a principal engineer at Google who leads the Web spam team, said in an interview. He declined to single out any specific sites.


 9:59 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Definitely a good read...
I'm surprised at the first part of your quote tedster:

Blekko, a search engine that limits results to an edited list of sites, removed all links to eHow and Answerbag. Google said it was working on changes that would push such links lower in search results.

eHow says it's not aimed at them, and Cutts didn't make a specific mention, but the way that paragraph is worded wouldn't be too reassuring to me if I was at eHow.


 10:03 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

low-quality content farms

Again, that phrase: "low quality", and again the association of "low quality" with content farms, without the slightest explanation of what either phrase means. MC speaks but doesn't say nearly enough, or, he says too much that has little meaning. Not sure which it is, but neither is exactly helpful.



 10:15 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

I call Cutts 'E F Hutton'...remember those old commercials? When Matt Cutts talks....people listen


 10:52 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutt's search engine isn't even good enough to rank my site #1 all the time. So take it with a grain of salt.


 10:57 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

That's all fine in theory and this is what we have been doing well before Google was backrub. With confusion there is profit and we are plenty confused.


You tell us to go after the user, well we do. We build a high quality site chocked to brim with 100% unique content. We have so many natural links I stopped looking after a half million. We produce a page that is 5 scrolls long on 1920x1280 that takes us a week to make.

This page steps people through a very tedious task in a very popular game. Within 3 weeks of this page going live 4 years ago we made position 3 naturally for it's main term. Over the next year we move to position 1 and stood there firmly for 2 years. We update said page monthly to stay up to date with the game. Bazillions of links to this page from ontopic sites and forums and even the game author.
Four 30 minute videos taking people through the steps, dozens of screens and mountains of unique content.

Last year we drop from pos 1 to pos 3 then pos 9 and as of your most recent update pos 24.

The pages that have replaced us are not even remotely close to our page in terms of end user usefulness and I emailed your team to point this out. They have 1/1000th the natural links if any and are in general riding on the main domains strength.

They are a series of half baked articles made by people lifting knowledge and repurposing it mixed with massive amount of onpage mashup and a cheesy 30 second totally useless garbage video.

Our page is made by experts who have spent tens of thousands of hours playing the game, far more detailed in every respect and built for a novice to understand. Thus the natural links. So why in G's name does this get pushed down by pure trash from ehow, a general wiki mention page with 1 paragraph x3, legions of ehow clones and such?

Here is my question, are you going to hit the biggest content farms? You know who they are, you know what they are doing! Or are you just going to hit the little guys with a side helping of col damage and leave the real offenders who are pushing the good stuff down?


 11:06 pm on Feb 11, 2011 (gmt 0)

its hard for me to think that google accurately knows what users want when adsense keeps showing me ads for something a friend searched for on my computer when he visited 2 months ago.

i guess matt might be saying to chase after what you think that google thinks that users want ;)


 3:33 am on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

Or are you just going to hit the little guys with a side helping of col damage and leave the real offenders who are pushing the good stuff down?

That right there is my gut fear...that the changes are more about removing the "competition" for the big boys rather than removing the big boys themselves. The whole deal has felt like manufactured propaganda to me from start to now (tech blog outcries and all). But then I'm always suspicious re: google and its true intentions.

Are you serious that ehow is outranking that killer authority page of yours?

I know the serps are still brewing and stewing but lmao the past few days watching a) a 404 page sitting in the #2 spot for a high traffic term (for days now) and #8 is a c&p of my page (which so far is still holding #1) and b) a low-quality directory page sitting at #1 that my highly linked "authority page" was sitting at #1 for years now.

Oh google. Or is it giggle.

Overall my rankings don't seem to have been affected much but the traffic is MIA. Maybe users are bailing google in droves?


 5:43 am on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

I wonder what percentage of Google searches are performed by 'SEO Masters'. I wonder how much of the user data from which Google designs their 'Interpretation' of their average user is skewed by SEO searches. The more that Google use their data to chase their dreams of Utopia, and the more that SEO Masters use their interpretations of Google Utopian dream, the further down the plug hole this once excellent search engine goes [IMHO]


 2:09 pm on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

"don’t chase after Google’s algorithm, chase after your best interpretation of what users want, because that’s what Google’s chasing after,” he said."

Interestingly - when you think about it - both of those mean EXACTLY the same thing.

If you chase the Algo - then by definition you are giving users what they want.


 3:00 pm on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

drall's post rings true. My own pages also tend to require a significant investment in time and money to prepare. My philosophy has always been to give users what I think they want in the hope the search engines are aiming for the same thing.

That used to work, but I'm less convinced that search engines are still aiming to give users what they want. They have become more commercial and seem to be all about making money these days.

If I were a search engine looking to make money I would fill the top couple of spots with boilerplate made for adsense rubbish so users are more likely to look at the ads. Or if they do accidentally click on a result they'll be able to escape via ads from there too. Double win.

It'll take more than the good intentions of Matt Cutts to change that. But good luck.


 7:54 pm on Feb 12, 2011 (gmt 0)

We definitely have heard feedback in the last two weeks that people are concerned about the low-quality content farms in Google...

Only over the last two weeks?!?!?!

So, does that mean people have finally noticed the content farms starting two weeks?

Has google just started listening to users two weeks ago?

Or does that mean that two weeks ago, there was a significant algo change that pushed the content farms up in the SERPs?

Or does it mean starting recently, there has been a significant development of new content farms and they have shot up the rankings?


 7:24 pm on Feb 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

So riddle me this...How can your site rank highly across hundred of not thousands of keywords & phrases, yet converting traffic dropped off like a rock in early February? We've done exhaustive checks using the ad preview tool for an unbiased picture of what's out there. In some case or site now ranks in multiple, consecutive positions, like 1, 2, 3 and even 4! yet sales conversion have NEVER been worse. What converted a year ago does not today. Are the Google serps just an illusion?


 7:33 pm on Feb 13, 2011 (gmt 0)

It really drives me mad seeing this spammy 'social bookmarking' website ranking higher than my website for certain phrases. And they do it with the exact same title on the page they link to on my site.


 1:25 am on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

GOOGLE: Make good websites, exactly what people want.
ME: I do that every day but you and I aren't always on the same page about my results.
GOOGLE: We're working on the algo all the time, just keep at it and we'll figure it out.
ME: Well can you tell me exactly what form, codewise, you want my articles written in so I don't lose rankings for silly reasons?
GOOGLE: Absolutely not, fly in the dark young padowan...'

Maybe some day we'll rely on humans to evaluate websites, the secret sauce causes mass histeria daily!


 6:18 am on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just an anecdote as I believe some folks here are engaged in this practice.

Tweet scan reveals WidgetMonkeyTravelDeal - click on it and get the headline and a senseless page with A sense as the content, followed by a 100 word 100 year old page on Widget Monkey travel.

Now I believe for 99.9% of visitors this will lead to a click.

These folks I believe should get life in prison and that would clean up this nonsense.

I would mention the link but the mods would quickly take it down - not to protect one of their own I hope...


 6:26 am on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Just did it on my newest major project... People said there was too much text, so I spent the entire weekend redesigning it and removing the text.

We'll see how it ranks in a few days... If I followed the advice given and it tanks I guarantee I'll be screamin a bit. (I know where your blog is Mr. Cutts and I'm not afraid to use it! lol)


 1:29 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

@Mad - maybe we all need to "dumb down" our websites to a dozen or so words. No offense, but the next generation (for the most part) ain't the sharpest tools in the shed, but "OMG, cn thy snd txtmsgs"! ;^)


 1:46 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Call me a cynic, but I am loathe to believe a single world that crawls its way out of Matt Cutt's mouth. How many curveballs has he thrown people over the years that all amount to absolute zero.


 1:48 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)


LMAO! But interestingly that's the crowd I got the least negative feedback from ... It was the 'older people' who said it was too much text. Go Figure!

I kept thinking, 'huh? People keep asking me questions about it, so I answered those questions on the site ... Now the same people are telling me I have too mich text on the site, so I have to figure out how to answer the questions without text AND make it rank? U gota b fng kdng me!' lol


 1:58 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

One of the things I fear is that Google starts catering more to cell phone users. Hey, cell phones are fine but watching movies on a 3 inch screen? come on! Just because you can do something like that doesn't necessarily make it a good idea. Cell phone users probably won't buy what we sell, (most are too young to own a CC) and the mass of meaningless chatter they send all day (and the movies they watch ...in school, or behind the wheel) just clogs traffic even more. I've been watching [internettrafficreport.com...] for many years and the current mid 70's average may account for some of our problems. Last year is was nearly always above 80. I digress.

almighty monkey

 4:01 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Who is making websites for something other than what their users want? That'd be pretty pointless.

Oh, yeah, content farms. That's who.

So, yeah, Matt Cutts is saying they want to get rid of spam content. Matt Cutts has been saying they want to get rid of spam content at least as long as I've been an SEO monkey.


 4:27 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts is fine, he's by all accounts a nice guy, very helpful and doing the best he can in his job.

The problem is that following his advice doesn't work, and hasn't worked for years. There's lots of stuff that can be done to rank in Google that break their guidelines that's been working fantastic for years, with no retribution or penalty. It's not what Matt Cutts is saying that's wrong, it's that his SE isn't backing him up, and hasn't in quite a while.


 5:07 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

Don't know MC, but am sure he's a fine fellow. The problem is that one cannot take him very seriously any more, and once a person gets into that position, he becomes nothing more than a spinmeister. When Robert Gibbs announced he would no longer be the Presidential spokesman at news conferences, it was a great job opportunity for Matt ~ speak a lot, say nothing.



 11:42 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

The problem is that following his advice doesn't work, and hasn't worked for years.

So true - don't even read his blog anymore ...


 11:55 pm on Feb 14, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've said it before, MC is a Google manufactured PR android....literally, a robot. If you look closely you'll see a the power and CAT-5 cables plugged into the back of his sneakers.

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