Quick February hits

The website for this year’s Superbowl stadium, www.dolphinstadium.com, was recently hacked so that visitors to that page with unpatched Windows computers downloaded a keylogger and malware that allows full backdoor control. It’s fixed now, but it’s a good idea to make sure whatever computer you use to browse is patched. As a webmaster, hacked sites are shaping up to be an issue that everyone will have to be savvy about. Try to make sure your servers are patched and that you have backups.

Philipp Lenssen had a good post with his predictions for future generations of search. Among the predictions are
– combining data sources from web pages to satellite imagery to speech-to-text transcriptions
– personalization that works really well
– better results from deeper AI

Philipp was proven prescient a couple hours later, when Google mentioned that it will provide personalized search results for signed-in users. You can always sign out to get the “generic” results, but I think users will see a nice win from personalization down the road.

Strangely enough, Gord was also taking the psychic pills recently. Check out his post about personalization, and especially his interesting take on what 2007 will bring from different engines in the area of personalization.

Next, I missed this the first time around, but JLH did a neat post graphing the usage of Google’s webmaster discussion group. As I understand it, the intent of this group is to allow users to help other users. Googlers chime in on the group to give guidance on some topics, but one of the big benefits is the ability to get suggestions from other users and feedback on different topics.

Another interesting url is Feed the Bot. The footer notes “This website is not affiliated with Google Inc.” but I was impressed by the way that the site explores Google’s webmaster guidelines and tries to explain them in depth.

Finally, if you’ve missed my smiling mug on videos recently, I recently did an interview with Patrick Norton (he of the Screensavers show) on DL.TV. DL.TV stands for Digital Life and it’s a weekly video show on the web that’s custom-made for tech fans. Update: This DL.TV episode has some more tips from me.

Patrick asked for power-user tips for searching Google, so I brainstormed for a half-hour before we taped. There were enough tips that they stuck to Q&A for this video and they’ll include the actual search tips in the next show. At any rate, enjoy. 🙂

Oh, and I updated the “ways people can examine what you’re up to” part of this previous post. I added the text “Update: Some people are even willing to go through the internal text files that you provide for translation/localization.”

36 Responses to Quick February hits (Leave a comment)

  1. By the way, for folks that watched the DL.TV interview, I have a question. Should I stick with the clean-shaven look for SES London, or go back to the goatee beard thingie? Any prefs?

  2. Regarding the future generations of search – the first example given was AltaVista

    This was pre-Google, and consisted of search engines such as Altavista, which were rather dumb (but a necessary step in evolution). Let’s move on…

    AltaVista was certainly NOT a dumb search engine, by 1990s today’s standards. One just had to master the bolean operators.

    HotBot also was also work in progress – and to a lesser degree, Excite debuting Concept Search and DirectHit debuting Click Popularity Algos

    During its heyday Altavista was what Google is today, and was essential for any serious researcher. While it did not have the mass popularity of Yahoo – it was used by academic professionals and researchers.

    When it declined in 2000, AllTheWeb and Google took its place. Then AllTheWeb just was not developed and Google become the leader.

    Letting AltaVista and AllTheWeb decline like they did – borders on being criminal – and those responsible should NEVER be allowed to forget their sins.

    Obviously, SearchEnginesWeb was not pleased. 🙁

    HOW WAS THIS ALLOWED TO HAPPEN ????????????? :-O

  3. SEW, you’d have to ask Yahoo; they own those sites now, so they’d have the best guess.

  4. Your goatee vs. your clean-shaven look is not the primary issue here.

    The primary issue is…your name! Listen at about the 5-second mark…Patrick Norton calls you “GoogleMatts Cutts”.

    This may change the outcome of history…so many people who thought they knew what to call you now won’t have a clue! SEOs will be confused! Webmasters will go into meltdown! So much chaos and hysteria!

    Oh…and keep the goatee off. That way, mine will maintain some semblance of the teenage rebellion and independence I grew mine to foster 15 years ago.

  5. As I understand it, the intent of this group is to allow users to help other users. Googlers chime in on the group to give guidance on some topics, but one of the big benefits is the ability to get suggestions from other users and feedback on different topics.

    I’m only speaking for myself, but if that is Google’s intent then I might be reconsidering helping out over there. Most people view it as the ONLY way to contact Google that might actually receive a response.

    It’s a shame that Google seems happy to apply resources to areas such as the Checkout and Adwords groups (revenue generating centers) where most threads are answered by Googlers and at the same time the webmasters group gets only cursory attention (if even that).

  6. Please shave the beard. It will make it much easier for me to impersonate you on April fools day. 😉

  7. Matt

    “Should I stick with the clean-shaven look for SES London, or go back to the goatee beard thingie? Any prefs?”

    I can’t imagine you without that goatee . Furthermore, without goatee you will risk looking like young Adam Lasnik. We don’t want to see that happening, do we 🙂

  8. Matt, thanks for the mention. Very much appreciated. I updated the charts to include the full month of January, have only 3 weeks listed was bending the trends downward when in reality particiption has been up.


    Personally, I go with the Goatee in the winter and clean shaven in the summer.

  9. I’m a semantic search engineer, future generations of search always seem to be slighty over estimated.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that! We’ll get there in the end and developers like a challenge … for the most part. I’m very interested to see what Google is working on, and have heard a few interesting industry rumours about what some of you get up to behind closed doors in your secret projects 🙂

    I’ve written about some of my development thoughts at my blog for anyone who fancies learning some more about the challenges with AI and semantics.

  10. Yeah, i agree with Harith, bring back the Matt we know 🙂

  11. My vote for “Bring back”

  12. I’m a little confused about using ‘personalized search’; does it only happen when I’ logged in to an ID at http://www.google.com/ig – or do I have to go to http://www.google.com/searchhistory/ every time. Or does every Google search box check if I’m logged in, so the search can be logged?

    As Gord says, this will be an interesting few months; a few months that every honest webmaster should be looking forward to.

    Seeing this today reminded me of a recent WMW thread, where members were suggesting that Adsense needed to do more than look for relevance; it needs to recognise ‘target audience’ measures in some way.

    Here’s hoping that personalization extends to adsense!

  13. Matt

    Stick with the Goatee – I have one and I am hoping people mistake me for you at SES London and buy me lots of drinks 🙂


  14. Henry Elliss

    “I have one and I am hoping people mistake me for you at SES London and buy me lots of drinks”

    You wouldn’t wish that to happen, trust me. People will rush to you asking something like:

    – Mr. Cutts. C’mon give us a break. You de-indexed our whole site because of of few “innocent” lines with hidden text.

    – Mr. Cutts. Please be sporty. Why did you penalize us. Can’t you forget those 500 gateway pages which were created in good faith.

    – Oh Mr. Cutts. We love ya, but… why are you so harsh on our duplicates. Haven’t you heard about the power of repetition.et…

  15. I’d just like to mention something about personalization. I’d love to use it, but first I need some kind of assurance that you’re not going to store any of it. As we’ve learned from the AOL release of data you can do anything with just the search phrases I’ve used.

    A simple text on somewhere in your help docs is enough, something like this: “Your personalization info will be kept separate from other data, and we will not use it together with our other services”. That’s a sentence that would make me share my all my search phrases with you.

    (I’m on a dynamic IP and regularly clear cookies as of now, so I’m not sharing right now).

    Thanks for listening.

  16. Matt,

    You should stick with the clean shaven look, it will confuse the hell out of everyone – except those that monitor your blog…


  17. Matt,

    Does google have a written policy about what google does when you guys find hacked pages that show up in the google SERP?

    If so can you share it with us?

    If google does not have a written policy about this, why not?

    Thanks for your time.

  18. Go with the beard thingie… makes you look cool… 😉

  19. Personalization is going to throw the SEO community into a tizzy. Seems like it will be harder to track ones ranking. Hopefully it will mean that people will have to resort to just doing good ol white hat seo, but I doubt it!

    Yahoo may have aquired Alta Vista (through Overture) recently, but Alta Vista was destroyed by Compaq. It was the best of its era but it was destroyed by being gobbled up, ignored and then sold off.

  20. Definately clean shaven.

    10 minutes spent shaving every morning is 10 minutes you can’t do something else, work related 🙂

  21. I have to agree with SEW that Altavista was not a dumb search engine. I used to love using Altavista.

  22. Harith

    Hmm, perhaps you are right. I shall have to wear my most non-Cutts outfit then – there goes my plan to wear my Inigo Montoya outfit then!! 😀


  23. I want to see the OCC moustache look come back. By far the best.

  24. I like the goateed Matt – it lets you look cool or evil, depending on your mood. I can’t carry it off myself, but it looks good on you.

    Personalization feedback – I like to be able to see non-personalized results without having to log off of the whole Google system just to do it. I’d really prefer the option to see the difference between the 2 types. Maybe in perferences, or something.

    I swore to myself I’d never do this, but here I am doing it 🙁 Can you *please* check why oleole.com seems to be completely invisible?

    I wrote the details in Google Groups, but the only response so far was something to the effect of “everything looks ok and white hat, maybe you should try spamming instead…”




  25. As long as people are allowed to opt in/out of a future more personalized search it is fine with me.

    I predict many will start turning on Google just as they did Microsoft at some point if they do not see clear options to not take part in data retreival or whatever you call it inside Gooogle.

  26. I’d really appreciate options to disable personalized search, and run personalized search but with a notice whenever the results change because of personalized search. I’d rather not have to log out and log back in later whenever I want to search normally, especially since I always have Gmail open in the background, and I don’t really want my results personalized anyways (at least not for a while, until things really improve).

  27. Heh, why don’t you mention the sites that Feed the Bot links to, too? 😉

    Btw, it was quite obvious that Google would target personalization, as it is one of the ways to increase results relevance. It is pretty easy to predict what Google will do, really.

  28. Even cdc.gov was taken over. I see that dv521.com was registered in china.

    There are still live sites online, but the site itself (dv521.com) has no ip :

  29. I have to agree with SEW that Yahoo was not a dumb search engine. I used to love using Yahoo.

  30. I updated your cartoon logo for you, hope you don’t mind, if you do, Adam knows how to reach me.


  31. Go the clean shaven look Matt. Goatees are for wannabees 🙂

  32. Hello Matt,

    My site was recently hacked too! I bought this site a year ago and it is #1, well now 2, in Google for “Pocket Pc software reviews” and some other nice keywords. Welp, the site had been patched together over the years and the code was bad. It was ASP using an access DB (wow did the server hate that db). Anyways, the site was hacked and was loading an iframe which was distributing a web trojan. I would restore the db and get hacked a few weeks later. So, I decided to rewrite the whole site in PHP (which I know better than asp) and moved it to my dedicated server where I host all my stuff. So, the code has changed, the db is now MySQL, and the user names and password to the hosting account ect are different. Needless to say I beefed up the security to stop this from happening.

    If you do a search on the key word phrase, you will see my site listed along with “This site may harm your computer.”. My traffic was pretty much all organic and most comes from Google. Traffic has dropped for 50,000 unique per month to 15,000.

    My question is, now that I have beefed up security, rewritten the site and deleted any references to the iframe, and have moved it to a more secure location, how do I get google to take that warning off? Any advice will be appreciated!

    Thanks for the great blog!

  33. Hi Matt

    The same situation like Jason in the comment before. My site (mostly private travelogues) was hacked and now it is marked in the SERPs with “This site may harm your computer.” I removed the virus on my site and made a review request at StopBadware.org. Still in the queue for a review. My question is: Google automaticly detected the virus, made a report to StopBadware.org and marked the site as harmful. Isn´t it possible for Google automaticly remove this mark for a website, when the virus or malware is removed? I don´t think that it is nescessary to decribe the consequences for a website when it is marked as harmful and you have to wait until your site is reviewed by StopBadware.org and their feedback to Google.

  34. The post from that Philipp guy seems pretty dumb to me. Made me laugh. I think you’re not so bright either if you deemed it a “good post.”

  35. Hello,

    We have never had a problem until recently when we type in our company name. A couple of months ago, we discovered when we type in our company name, we don’t find the www url of our domain until the 4th page. On the first three pages, there are links to our company’s site from other pages….but not our own url with title and description.

    What would cause this problem?


  36. Yeah, i agree with Harith, bring back the Matt we know