Interview with John Battelle

I’ve been doing an email interview with John Battelle and Melanie Colburn, and the interview is up now. Long-time readers shouldn’t be shocked by the replies, but I hope you enjoy it. Yes, you can use the GooglePray meta tag:

<meta name=”GooglePray” content=”Google, please rate me high by keyword Matt Cutts”>

No, it won’t work. :)

45 Responses to Interview with John Battelle (Leave a comment)

  1. Amit Patel

    The correct syntax is:

    ;-)

  2. Amit Patel

    The correct syntax is:
    meta name=”GooglePrey” content=”Site Owner Blood”

  3. The only thing I get out of that interview is that everything is done algorithmically because humans just can not be trusted.

    Seems fair enough to me, thanks Matt.

  4. The only thing I get out of that interview is that everything is done algorithmically because humans just can not be trusted.

    Sure they can. They can be trusted to find the stupidest ways possible to mess things up. Anyone who has ever worked in IT or built a website of even mild success can tell you that.

  5. I left my 2 cents on his blog, but I’ll leave them here too.

    I wish the interview had been longer :)

  6. When will you be a guest on The Tonight Show or Oprah?
    I would give it about 6 months to a year.

  7. The interview is good, as far as it goes. I know that you have a lot of things to do, and there are so many questions that you’d never have the time to answer them all and eat and sleep.
    There are 5 questions in total: the first is an introduction. The second a follow up on Google and the problems with algorithms and humans. The third is about search. The forth and fifth are about the same subject, not to the inferred standard, and the added weight of this fact means that the reader is left wondering why the interview goes in this direction. Then re-read the third question for context, and there is a very tenuos thread between three and four.
    So now I’m left wondering what the interviewers have against w3?

    Which, I’m sure, is not their intention. Had the interview been longer, or the fifth question been about something else… sorry

  8. Hi Matt – 2nd attempt and off topic – please excuse this but I’m getting worried. Does Google still have a general purpose contact form (as opposed to the spam report?) How does one ask Google a question? Very grateful for any assistance. I’ve tried the ‘dissatisfied? help us improve’ form but no response. Is this the only way to contact Google?

    Google.co.uk (UK results only) has for over 10 weeks now been dumping non .co.uk homepages from the index. Through these pages other pages are crawled and cached and ranking. This only affects non .co.uk domains so I assume it’s geo-targeting. Sites are UK hosted (I’ve been to the DC), UK optimised, UK registered and some even have UK place names in the domains. They are all small business sites targeting local markets. No advertising, no affiliate.

    Many of these sites have a .co.uk also. So my question is – if we ditch the .com, .tv and .net and switch to the .co.uk as the primary with a 301 redirect will this help? Should we be avoiding non .co.uk domains if we want to be found in Google.co.uk?

    Please realise this is NOT a question about ranking – it’s about INCLUSION. The pages aren’t penalised – they’re not there at all.

  9. Google does consider it a violation of our quality guidelines to sell links that affect search engines.

    What business of Google’s is it!

    What ethical right does it have to determine if a paid link is done to help the advertiser on Search Engines!

    Text Links are MUCH more preferable than In your face Flash or aggressive banners……….of course, text links are not going to have a high click thru rate – nor are they going to be placed in a location that COMPETES with their Website (would you want someone to LEAVE your homepage?)

    Webmasters need revenue to offer high quality free content, advertisers will be far less likely to buy a text link unless it is a very powerful, well known site…….does anyone REALLY want to go back to the days of animated Gifs, or Pop up windows to grab a few clicks????

  10. Google does consider it a violation of our quality guidelines to sell links that affect search engines.

    What ethical right does Google have to determine if a paid link is done to help the advertiser on Search Engines!

    What business of Google’s is it!

    Text Links are MUCH more preferable than In-your-face Flash or aggressive banners……….of course, text links are not going to have a high click thru rate – nor are they going to be placed in a location that COMPETES with the owner’s Website (would you want someone to LEAVE your homepage?)

    Webmasters need revenue to offer high quality free content, advertisers will be far less likely to buy a text link unless it is a very powerful, well known site…….does anyone REALLY want to go back to the days of animated Gifs, or Pop up windows to grab a few clicks????

  11. Matt, in the interview, you suggest that Google now views meta robots with a nofollow value as being the same as the completely different nofollow attribute, in terms of flagging links as not trusted. Is that now the case?

  12. Matt, what is the best way to suggest a new feature for google? For instance some sort of language operator (to speed the search a bit)
    the user could input [lang:pt-br] and get the results that are written in Brazilian Portuguese only, and so on

  13. OT: Matt, can you expand a bit on this topic (see link)?

    http://discuss.joelonsoftware.com/default.asp?joel.3.394904.21

    Basically, marketing at some department is telling the employees to use Google Search to find the company website, since the more hits on the site via the search engine means more Page Rank for the site.

    They also suggest going to the different localizations of Google and searching there, for the same reasons.

  14. J-Man

    What about the meta tag :

    Pay for position is not a new concept eh?

    Best Regards,
    J-Man

  15. J-Man

    meta name=”GooglePray” content=”Google, please rate me high by keyword Big Dollars –Sorry dupe post.

  16. J-Man

    meta name=”GoogleBribe” content=”Google, please rate me high by keyword Big Dollars” Good night, I can’t focus this morning. Now that the humor is completely gone, and I have illustrated what an idiot I am pre 10 a.m.

  17. Nice interview ! Of course Matt and his team is doing a fine job of keeping the spammers away. But yes Google itself is creating mess by creating adsense, Google video etc. The other day I was trying to find a website of Dotties hotel in Butuan, Philippines. And when I searched for the term ‘dotties hotel butuan’ in Google, the top entries in the search results are Google videos. Why? just because video.google.com has a high pagerank? Is it not spamming sponsored by Google ?

  18. In the interview, Matt said:

    “Maybe it’s cynical of me, but any time people are involved, I tend to think about how someone could abuse the system.”

    It’s not people per se, it’s the MONEY (AdSense, Sales schemes, advertising rates, etc) that really corrupts the system.

  19. It’s not people per se, it’s the MONEY (AdSense, Sales schemes, advertising rates, etc) that really corrupts the system.

    I’m sorry, Willie, but that’s just asinine.

    Money doesn’t corrupt anything. Money is merely the catalyst that exposes the corrupt nature that is already in those who wish to abuse the system to begin with. The individuals who abuse it still have to go through the act of abuse…the money doesn’t do that. The money is merely the reward that justifies the risk in the minds of the corrupt.

    It’s like gun violence…the gun itself isn’t the problem. It’s the person who pulls the trigger in a manner that isn’t responsible. The gun is merely the catalytic object. The gun doesn’t decide where it’s going to point. The gun doesn’t pull its own trigger. The gun just lies on a table or in a nightstand or a gun rack or wherever else people put guns until someone chooses to use it.

    (Note: I don’t have a gun myself, nor am I a member of any gun association. But I don’t blame guns for their misuse. That’s people.)

    Besides, if the MONEY corrupts the system and Adsense is included in your list, then what does that say about the sites you promote that use Adsense as a revenue source?

    Matt’s dead right on this (as usual). It’s the people who abuse things that are the problem. The money’s just a copout.

  20. Trogdor

    MWA: the socialists would rather you keep your opinions to yourself. After all, that’s their entire rationale for taking away people’s power (taking away their guns, taking away their money, and taking away their incentive to succeed). And if the socialists can’t take away people’s power, then we can’t have the socialist utopia they’ve been clamoring for (you know, like how New Orleans was before Katrina … a real socialist utopia).

    Back on topic, I tend to agree with Matt that an algoritm is more likely to be consistent than a human, and if you can code “fairness” into the program, then the algorithm will be consistently fair.

    In a way, consistency and fairness go hand in hand, and G is right to want to move in that direction. That said, I’d say G has a long way to go still, before it reaches this goal (thanks in large part to the spammers, blackhats, and other douchebags out there).

  21. Hi Matt:

    At last! I have been watching this Blog for a long time and finally you give us the TRUE SECRET of Google…. the GooglePray tag. Thanks.

    In ancient times when Yahoo! listings were free and an editor had to “like” your site to put it in the directory there was a one-page Yahoo! prayer site. The prayer was to the Yahoo! gods and was very nice. It got into the directory. It seems to be gone now – just looked. Anyway, this must be the same program.

    On a more formal note, Happy Birthday Google! Wooo Hooo

    Ted Z

  22. West_of_Willamette

    Hey Matt…

    Brick and Boondock Saints both sucked but Layer Cake and Hotel Rwanda are awesome!!!

  23. Danny, that’s always been the case–sorry if I haven’t explained that well. There are many techniques to sell visitors/traffic without selling PageRank or affecting search engines. As long as a link doesn’t affect search engines, there is no problem with selling that link from Google’s perspective. The nofollow attribute on links is the most granular because it’s on a link level, but something like a sponsor page is a fine opportunity to use the nofollow meta tag instead of marking each link.

    Peter, the same basic index drives our .co.uk search and our .com search and our .fr search and so on, so it’s less likely to be a difference of inclusion and more likely to be a difference of degree. If you want to show up in the .co.uk search and you can migrate from a .com to a .co.uk easily with a 301, it might benefit you. I would try moving one directory as a test, and if that goes well, then you could migrate the whole thing.

    Luis Filipe Fabiani, there are url parameters to restrict to pages only from a certain country or language. Now I admit that I don’t know how well we do on Brazilian Portuguese vs. other types, although I was in a meeting this week where someone else was studying that.

    Eric D. Burdo, PageRank has nothing to do with visitors to a site, even from Google. So for the question asked there, “Does searching and clicking on links act as an input parameter to the PageRank algoriytm?” the answer is no.

    William Donelson, insightful point. I’d say if people are involved and money isn’t, you can still get abuse (e.g. people want reputation, which isn’t always converted to money).

    Séan and Jonathan Dingman, John/Melanie patiently waited days/weeks for replies, so I think if the interview had been longer, we all would have died of old age. :)

  24. lots0

    Google is like a woman… age does not matter…

  25. Following on from Peter’s question and your response, has there been some change in the way non .co.uk (but UK based) sites are being included in the SERPs?

    I only ask because I have been trying to answer questions over in the Webmaster Group today, many of which are related to sites falling out of the UK only searches.

    Oh, and while I’m here, I asked before what country level indices will .eu be uesful for but couldn’t find the thread. Any response on this?

    Best rgds and thanks

    Richard.

  26. But who are these people I have not heard about them before.

    Akash

  27. Thanks for the interview Matt.

    I think there’s still skepticism out there as to Adam’s recent statement “Google senses much” in terms of link selling. For example, was the wc3 page detected algorithmically or from word of mouth? Also, what would be the likely consequence if wc3 decided not to use the nofollow tag?

  28. Hi Matt, great write up :) Speaking of things that penalize domains, I was wondering if you had any comments on this post:

    http://full1511.com/2006/09/25/does-google-discriminate-against-foreign-domains-on-us-servers/

    I am really curious to know what affects this might have on international domains and how Google ranks these sites. I was trying to email you this comment directly but wasn’t sure of your email address. Thanks man!

    Matthew
    full1511.com

  29. “It’s like gun violence…the gun itself isn’t the problem. It’s the person who pulls the trigger”

    Yes, but as I say, guns make it a whole lot easier…

    It’s the monetary rewards that drive 95% of spam, etc. How many non-monetary-based spams do you get? 0.1 % ?

  30. I read half the post and would agree that where humans are concerned abuse will happen. I run an e-commerce web site and have been listed in the top 2 to 4 in Google for a very popular term, and have not been displaced through any of the Google updates. I think to many people spend to much time on trying to figure things out when they should be worried about one thing, Selling Their Items.

    I continually update my site, do everything Google has to offer, have not worried about links in over a year, they will come. All I do is sell products, make Google happy and forget the rest.

    Do this and I think you can stop worrying about everything else!

    Thanks
    Mark

  31. Dave (Original)

    RE: “It’s like gun violence…the gun itself isn’t the problem..”
    =========================================

    Actually, it’s always the *combination* of a gun and a human. One without the other cannot shoot.

    Just like the fire triangle, take away heat, air or fuel and no more fire. Take away a gun from a human, or take the human away from the gun, no more shooting.

  32. Dave (Original)

    RE: “What ethical right does Google have to determine if a paid link is done to help the advertiser on Search Engines!”
    ==========================================

    Well, it is their business and listing in their SE has always been optional. It’s really quite simple, in return for a free listing in Google, follow their guidelines. The choice is ours :)

    What ethical right does a Casino have to stop card cheats?

  33. @Matt

    So what are your comments then on Jeremy selling links on his blog? I’m not sure if he is *still* selling links, but at one point he was. Is just the different of Yahoo! and Google or what do you think about that?

  34. Hawaii SEO,

    Matt doesn’t need to make The Tonight Show or Oprah. He needs to make 20/20 like Shoemoney’s blog. The bar has been set. ;)

  35. The work that is doing Matt around the World of SEO / SEM webmaster and enterprises it’s really interesting , but always I had the same question in my mind: ¿there will be another Matt for the Chinese, Indian, Japanese countries?

  36. Google has created a massive industry to help all the community right from he home/personal use to webmaster/professional use.

  37. me

    the image of the snake eating its tail keeps coming to mind. google can have all the guidlines it wants. But it’s hard to listen to a company that rails/fights against spam constantly but profits/monetizes and provides the engine for said spam techniques…adsense…

    The irony is cosmic in proportions…

  38. >>> Google is like a woman… age does not matter…

    Yes, but crankiness increases dramatically.

    Matt I think Eric meant to ask if clicking affects the “Search Rank”, rather than the PR which is of course calculated from incoming linkage and not clickage.

    Eric I think Matt won’t answer that “algorithm question” but IMHO they probably now use that information from the millions of toolbar installs and billions of search records. Why in the world wouldn’t they?

  39. Eli

    You are very right Matt. If you liked boondock saints you’ll love L4yer cake. It much like lock stock and snatch if you liked those movies. I definitely give it two thumbs up.

  40. Dave (Original)

    RE: “…engine for said spam techniques…adsense…”
    =========================================

    Yes, let’s stop them from being able to make a profit and stop honest adsense user from doing the same. Do that and SE spam will stop over-night.

    While we are at it, let’s burn all money in the World as it is the route of all evil.

  41. I would agree that money can often times have nothing to do with it. Sometimes it is all about the challenge. For example, look at the Amazon Reviewer rating system on Amazon.com. That is all about reputation. I was a Top 500 reviewer on Amazon.com (just fell out of th top 500). It was the challenge of becoming a top reviewer. However, the question is whether or not it is unethical to utilize technology to gain a reputation or a notority of some sort. The Amazon reviewer rating system is quite complex and in order for me to automate reviews on Amazon.com I had to make sure that the information I was providing was accurate and helpful. Why? Because I was rated on the helpful votes and ratio of helpful votes to unhelpful votes. So while I was able to quickly automate the submission of hundreds or thousands of reviews the reviews were actually damaging unless there was decent content.

    So, in a nutshell it comes down to this . . .

    Webmasters need to build community tools that take into consideration the possible ability for exploitation. Reward community feedback for the action they want to see. The webmaster needs to think a bit more. At that point, even if someone uses technology to get an unfair advantage it makes no difference because the output is still the desired output . . . useable content.

    SPAM will always be SPAM whether it is generated by a child or a Fortune 500 company. However, if some people are capable of utilize technology to voice their input on a more massive scale and still be useful, useable content . . . what is the harm in that?? None.

  42. Dave (Original)

    RE: “SPAM will always be SPAM whether it is generated by a child or a Fortune 500 company. However, if some people are capable of utilize technology to voice their input on a more massive scale and still be useful, useable content . . . what is the harm in that?? None.”
    ========================================

    Are you saying spam is not harmful? I hope not.

  43. As Google is getting strict for buying a paid links…in this regards what will be the directories future in 2010 or 2015?

    There might be thousands & thousands of directories and if everybody will submitting there website into the directories in that case how google will consider those links?

    Will google ignore the directories?

  44. I am really curious to know what affects this might have on international domains and how Google ranks these sites too.
    I have http://www.menupt.com now i want to use this domain http://www.myproperty-home.co.uk is good for google?
    thanks

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