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SES Conference Keynote Summary

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The Search Engine Strategies conference has been in San Fransisco all week and this morning the keynote address was quite the news maker with four search industry giants all taking the stage together for the first time. The session began with Matt Cuts and Media Global VP Mike Grehan for a discussion on Panda, Penguin, social signals, duplicate content, transparency, and more.

Here are some of the main topics summarized by [URL="http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2199092/Spotlight-Keynote-With-Matt-Cutts-SESSF"]Search Engine Watch[/URL]:

[B]Knowledge Graph Expansion[/B]
[COLOR=#444444]Cutts began by briefly recapping what’s new in Google search. Google is using the Knowledge Graph more and it has now has rolled out around the world. Google has also added Gmail messages to the search results, but noted it’s something people have to ask for. So far, Google has determined that users prefer to see the Knowledge Graph results in a consistent place (at the top or right) and Google is collecting more feedback.[/COLOR]
[COLOR=#444444]Google’s goal is to make it possible for people to do quick research and get quick stats – to basically make exploration faster, whether it’s by showing collections of rollercoasters in a strip along the top or basic info on people, places or things.

[B]The ‘Father of All Penguins’[/B]
Is there any plan to release "the father of all Penguins". Cutts says long term Google wants as close to ideal rankings and best quality search results possible. He could see social becoming a bigger signal in the long term. In the short term, Google won't leave links behind.
Cutts noted Penguin is still in an early stage, whereas Panda is now monthly and they understand it very well. Google is still iterating Penguin, so the changes will be jolting for a while.
Ultimately, Google doesn’t want people to worry about Pandas or Penguins. Google wants to reward sites that have good signals, said Cutts.

[B]Google Leery of Social Signals[/B]
Discussion turned to social signals as a ranking factor. The number of Twitter followers is a potential social signal. Google isn’t able to crawl Facebook, either because people set their profiles to private or Google is blocked from crawling.
Can Google tell how many times a page has been shared/Liked/tweeted? Cutts said they can do a relatively good job, but Google is a little leery of relying on social as a signal. Google crawls 20 billion pages a day.

[B]Google Tries to Get More Transparent[/B]
While Google decided to be more transparent, they won’t go so far as to publish the algorithm. Cutts said Google wants to debunk the idea that it gives itself an unfair advantage to its own properties.

[B]Google Doesn’t Hate SEO[/B]
As he has in the past, Cutts pointed out that Google [URL="http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2124188/Google-May-Penalize-Your-Site-for-Having-Too-Many-Ads"]doesn’t hate SEO[/URL]. The goal of SEO is to make websites more crawlable and faster. When SEO becomes an issue is when spam comes into play, such as if you go overboard buying links, doing comment spam links, or keyword stuffing.

[B]Google the Publisher[/B]
Discussion then turned to Google transitioning from being a search engine to a publisher with Knowledge Graph, Google Flights, Google Places, among others. Webmasters are worried that Google will eat up their traffic and that if [/COLOR]they get on Google’s radar, Google just may add another tab and launch a new product.

Cutts reminded the audience that Google’s aim with the Knowledge Graph, or providing a calculator in search results, or reporting sunrise/sunset times in search results is giving users the answer they want rather than making them go to a website.
Obviously, webmasters want as much traffic as possible. Google is looking at the “value add,” Cutts said, such as creating something original (research, analysis, opinion). In Google’s view, if a website can create pages that give users basic information that takes 3 seconds, then it’s fair for Google to give that same stuff to users directly within the search results.
User expectations go up every year. They expect natural language/query understanding. Google is driven by providing what users expect. Whatever you type into the search box, they try to give the best information.
Facts can't be copyrighted, whether it's a video game release date or the height of Eiffel Tower. However, if your site is a collection of facts, then that would become a resource rather than something on the low end of quality.
Cutts says the Knowledge Team doesn't care whether they make money, lose money, or are neutral. The search team isn't talking about how much money they're going to make off of search features, Cutts said.

[B]Google Has a Sampling Problem[/B]
Google has seen more than 30 trillion URLs and crawls 20 billion pages a day. One hundred billion searches are conducted each month on Google (3 billion a day).
Despite this, Cutts said Google still has a sampling problem. There are always spider traps and the web is always changing.

[B]Google Doesn’t Put a Lot of Weight on +1’s[/B]
How much does Google+ help rankings? It's a signal Google will look at and they’ll see how good it is. Over time, they will continue to experiment. Cutt said Google doesn’t put a lot of weight on +1's yet.

[B]Hey, Google: Tell Me What to Fix![/B]
Cutts acknowledged that it doesn't do anybody any good if they don't give actionable advice. He thinks Google will get there toward end of year and moving on.

[B]Panda! Penguin! Panic![/B]
After Panda/Penguin, there's a lot of extreme panic, with some people and websites taking extreme measures such as sending cease and desist letters over links. Google tries to have incremental changes. For the most part gradual and logical.

[B]Duplicate Content[/B]
Cutts said Google has been consistent. They try to show the content they think came first or has the most value. If you have 2,000 items from an affiliate feed then your site isn't all that great in Google's eyes.

For more on future Panda and Penguin updates, see [URL="http://searchengineland.com/google-further-penguin-update-jolts-to-come-panda-is-smoother-monthly-130804"]Search Engine Land[/URL].

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Updated 08-17-2012 at 12:09 AM by IMC News

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