Google SEO Report Card, SMX West, plus new features

(I’m traveling, but lots of good stuff from the recent SMX West search conference is now live — plus some new stuff — so I wanted to talk about it.)

At the SMX West search conference I did an Ignite talk about Google’s SEO audit that it did on itself. This was part of a global week of Ignite talks. An Ignite talk has 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds, for a total of five minutes. Thanks to Aya Zook and Vanessa Fox for organizing, and Brady Forrest (the creator of Ignite) for being the emcee. To help you get the full experience, I’m embedding the video below, then the slides I used (complete with auto-advance every 15 seconds), so you can watch the slides while you listen to the audio:

Don’t miss the other Ignite talks from SMX! There’s some gems in there. ๐Ÿ™‚

Also at SMX West, I did a live streaming video interview with Mike McDonald of WebProNews. I think the interview had 1800 live viewers, and at the end we took questions from Twitter users. (In the beginning I look like a jerk staring at my phone, but that’s because I was trying to tweet about the interview so that people would know they could watch). We covered some new ground in this video.

We also had a fun “Ask the Search Engines” panel with representatives from Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft. You can read the Lisa Barone live-blogging write-up if you want.

In the background was the normal amount of webmaster videos and blog posts. Around the same time as the conference, I also did a post on a Google blog about how Google communicates with webmasters and tries to be really transparent about Google works.

The SMX show was also a pretty good week for webmasters. We’re alerting webmasters more often when they get hacked, we released an SEO audit of so that everyone could benefit from the advice, we pushed forward on the ability to crawl AJAX, and we added delegation to the webmaster console.

After the conference, the new stuff hasn’t stopped:
– The webmaster tools team added the ability to verify a site using the domain name system (DNS). If editing a meta tag or uploading a file on your website is hard (maybe because you have an unusual content management system), then DNS verification can be handy.
– We announced that we’re going to start emailing webmasters if we believe their site is serving malware.
– Earlier this week, the webmaster tools team added a bunch more data into our Top Search Queries features.

And of course we’ve had a ton of informational blog posts on the official Google webmaster blog. If you don’t read and subscribe to that blog, you should. ๐Ÿ™‚

62 Responses to Google SEO Report Card, SMX West, plus new features (Leave a comment)

  1. By the way, I’m still traveling for a while, so apologies in advance if I don’t get the chance to respond to individual comments.

  2. Something weird appears to be going on. Whenever I view this page or any other in your blog, I get redirected to a Google login page. Have to press Escape very quickly to be able to prevent the redirect.

    And yeah, great news on the extra features. I particularly like the DNS verification. Helps make my docroots cleaner and it’s much more convenient to be able to use my registrar’s control panel for all sites rather than having to look up the appropriate login credentials for each site.

  3. Matt, I sent this via twitter but on Chrome and FF (newest versions) this blog post autoforwards to a google docs/writely log-in screen for me. I had to open in FF (which loads a little slower), visit your page, and stop the page from loading completely.

    It seems that when the slideshow element loads, it wants us to login to view it.

    Hope this helps.

  4. I was pulled out of Google Reader and taken on to Google login page. It seems the Docs file is not shared with public. God bless Web Developer toolbar in Firefox ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Being redirect to Google Apps login page, one day I’ll have my own login , one day!

  6. Same on Safari, redirected from Google Reader to the login page :s

  7. Really nice presentation Matt. But it’s nothing new that you guys DO optimize for user experience ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t think it’s that big of deal.

  8. Have to admit/concede though Matt, Google, as large as the site is, that it has done amazing at keeping things up to date! Yes, there are some boo boos. Google offers many great tools as you mentioned in the video about the 404 checker (that I use all the time btw) as well as the keyword tool and of course analytics. I will definately check out the audit and see if there is anything I can actually learn… I honestly doubt that I will learn anything new, but it is certainly worth a look see.

    Matt, if you can answer me this question. What is your opinion on Hub Spots websitegrader??? We, for SEO, use this all the time and are an Official partner with HubSpot, but I would love to hear you cover a story on them. Let me know.

  9. Great video. I actually did a blog post a while back on how Google practices some great white hat SEO techniques:

  10. With the amount of content that Google manages I am not surprised about some of the mix-ups. I would think that they would put a bit more effort into their own SEO!

    I checked out some of the problems you mentioned in the vid and it looks like they got them taken care of. Of least the criticism didn’t fall on deaf ears.

  11. New webmaster tools interface rocks!…thanks

  12. Matt, you said all in the 1st 30 seconds, i.e “Google optimizes for its users”. No-brainer that Google gives preference to sites optimized for humans over those optimized for Search Engines.

    Time for ALL those in the SEO game to wake-up to the fact they are selling snake oil.

  13. Hi guys,

    Great video. Thanks for sharing.

    Kind regards,


  14. @Steven That’s exactly what was happening to me yesterday although I was searching it through Google

  15. great ! not surprising for the SEO score card shared , SEO parameters have same Impact for Google also.. but Google team done wonderful on all the search and product perspective..

  16. Thanks for sharing the video with us Matt it was really interesting. One thing that fills me with confidence with Google is that they don’t cheat and they make honest, easy mistakes.

  17. Great post and videos. I like the new features and layout with Google Webmasters.

  18. Hey Matt, I read something in the last few days that seems to indicate that Google now sees underscores in titles as word separators whereas they didn’t before. I took away that maybe underscores are just as good as dashes. Is that true? I am wondering if I need to a) go back to all my previous posts and change underscores to dashes and b) change the (WordPress) default for every post I do going forward. Thanks!

  19. Matt๏ผŒI checked out some of the problems you mentioned in the vid and it looks like they got them taken care of. Of least the criticism didnโ€™t fall on deaf ears.๏ผˆi am a chinese web girl๏ผ‰

  20. Loved the energy you had in this video! At the end it all comes down to the simple fact that incoming links are the king in SEO, all Google’s products rank highly even with little or no content and all the mistakes due to the massive amount of links you have. Most of the mistakes you showed are things that most webmaster with a little SEO knowledge make sure to have properly optimized but when it comes to incoming links the problems start. We understand that natural link building is the way to go but how do we let people know about our product/content/site so that they might link to us without ranking highly for our keywords if we can’t rank without incoming links?
    With a massive amount of marketing money we could simply buy advertising everywhere or produce great videos for youtube to let people know about our company, but that goes against the all SEO idea where every webmaster has a chance to rank highly as long as they provide something great.
    Could you please give all your readers/followers some real natural link building strategy that aren’t creating controversy (which won’t get noticed unless you already rank), participating in the community (that 99.9% of times is no follow), newsletters (that won’t be read by anyone unless you are already ranking and people are opting in), blogs (that aren’t read by anybody unless you are already ranking, once again ๐Ÿ™‚ ) creating videos (that would generate most baklinks to youtube) etc, etc, etc… In now days unless you are already ranking it is extremely hard to get noticed so that people would link naturally back to you, so any help is appreciated.

  21. Yes here comes more cleaning from the French Google: Google FFR Black Sheep Effect.

  22. Hmmm..Came as a big surprise as I thought Google hates SEO Guys ๐Ÿ™‚ Very informative look into how Google approach their own SEO, and useful for new SEO’s to see what factors need to be considered when carrying out a full SEO audit…


  23. Great slides and video Matt! My team joke that Google Product doesn’t know how to do SEO and that Google needs to train internal staffs to do SEO!

    But the report is helpful for many other sites. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Happy traveling Matt!

  24. Nice information, another food for thoughts for webmasters like me again. Let some blackhat practitioner wake up, that should work for human needs not for search engine.

  25. Awesome video and an awesome read. Matt, were you jacked full of caffeine prior to your presentation? You can tell how excited you were about Google focusing on its own site integrity. This is yet another set of video and documentation I will put in my back pocket to use when training new SEOs. Much respect…

  26. Certainly one of the most interesting documents that i have seen from Google. It confirms many aspects of SEO. Great Post. Thanks for the share..

  27. I think Google are being a bit disingenious with their ‘SEO’ guide which actually is nothing more than a guide to building a well constructed search engine friendly page. Nowhere does it mention (or encourage..) the types of off-page optimisation which can be used to manipulate the SERP, because of course Google don’t want that to happen.

    I would define SEO as ‘improving the volume or quality of traffic to your website from search engines’ and that’s a totally different ball game to having a search engine ‘friendly’ site. IMO Google are trying to redefine SEO to prevent people trying to game the SERP and this video is part of that ongoing effort.

  28. Matt, did you have some guy behind the camera rushing you along – it seemed like you were going super fast. Great info as usual though …

  29. Matt,

    This almost reminds of the same quality’s that should go into a LBC listing. Sounds like this comes down to is making sure that at your “T’S” are crossed and our “I’s” are dotted. Do a google search on “untitled” and you would be surprised on how many people don’t even name their website. What shocks me is google actually screwing it all up. LOL!

    P.s.- are you guys ever going to have an SEO team?


  30. Matt,

    In Webmaster Tools the average load time that is indicated doesnโ€™t seem to be correct at all. Load times of 4 seconds in reality are about 1 second. Using the FF plugin thatโ€™s suggested in webmaster tools I get scores of 80 to 90 % but webmaster tools seems to think the sites are slow. Some sites are indicated as fast, but comparing what Webmaster tools says are slow and fast sites doesnโ€™t show any differences between them in load times.

    Itโ€™s not possible to make any decisions on what sites need work with this kind of weird data.

    Any idea why Google is so far off measuring load times?

  31. I just love how Google has SEO fanatics chasing their tails. It’s a clear case of keep your enemies close and feed them useless information ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. Matt,

    Do you read Google webmasters forum?

    if yes, then read this:

    What would you do if you stuck in these kinda situation?


  33. Matt, I bet you wished you visited Phuket over Bangkok?

  34. Hey Matt, does this imply that anchor text links can compensate for a poor on page optimization?

  35. Wow Matt Great speech and very useful information.

    Thank you

  36. Loving the self-deprecating humor there, Matt.

  37. Hey Matt an enlightening video, love the enthusiasm, I was think that maybe you could give me a job ๐Ÿ™‚ seems like you have the need to have your very own SEO team!! Lots of good info, most people in the industry should already of grasped that the user experience and good seo practice go hand in hand at the same time its also good to dispel one or two industry myths for the everyday webmaster.

  38. How do you get Google to correctly recognise that a site is not dishing out malware? I’ve verified the site is clean with AVG Site Checker, and and all report the site ( as uninfected. Yet visitors are still being warned off because Google is marking it as suspicuous. I’ve asked and asked for a fresh review, and get a lovely automated message along the lines of ‘site broken – please fix’. Great, it won’t even tell me what pages it thinks are suspicious (although only Google seems to think they are anyway)
    Why is Google allowed to ruin a sites reputation like this with a false positive?

  39. Hi Matt,
    I’m an experienced SEO and am always theorizing what factors Google may find important in ranking a website.

    I recently thought about HTML validation as a potential factor, since this could relate to better, faster rendering of a web page across multiple browser platforms.

    What do you think?


  40. Wow — at last loving the SEO Audit and the report card, some very interesting “clues” in there.
    Thanks again Matt for all the info


  41. Thanks for your sharing, It’s an enlightening video, love the enthusiasm.

  42. Ive been very concerned about some of my websites – as they have gotten more traffic they have got slower. Switching hosts is a ton of work – but it sounds like it will be the best thing in the long run

  43. Can you kindly put a download Doc so that I can download and read it whenver I want at offline time?

  44. Good informative video it is, but like Author Wanglili said earlier download Doc would be more useful to remember.

  45. Hi Matt,

    I have a question about international SEO.

    Say I have a site with a .com/cn subdirectory. The site’s in Chinese, it is about hotels in New York, and its hosting is in the US. Now, if a user from Hong Kong or China makes a search query in Chinese about New York Hotels, is the .com/cn site more likely to show up than if the TLD was .cn, or the other way around?

    Thanks a bunch!

  46. Great video, subtitles would help non-english speakers ๐Ÿ˜‰ but I useful thouh

  47. videos were good. i’m just wondering if the crawlers will start searching for malware on peoples sites and emailing them automatically or will it be a manual process.

  48. thanks, Sheryl James.
    Hi, matt, as what I said before, I am talent Chinese author while idiot with web tech. Or, I will do it for you. Please if somebody can do it for matt, just do it for matt and us–matt’s (idoit)readers as I believe matt is enjoying with his young wife on vocation.

  49. Hey Matt,
    It seems like Google has been testing out a few new ranking factors (as I’ve seen reflected in the SERPs and reading here), first saw it in Los Angeles. I do have to admit, you’ve done a great deal of work over these past few years cutting out the fat and delivering relevant results. It’s funny, people ask a ton of random SEO questions in the comments. I have one for you: Does the interwebz give me the monies and ladies? Let me know.

  50. Great video there. LOL.
    Self-criticism is the best way to get better. (Actually this was not self-criticism but anyways ๐Ÿ™‚ )
    If you need to hire someone for optimizing I am right here.
    Can update your meta descriptions, organize page titles and build backlinks bla blla bla.
    I can work for Google ๐Ÿ˜€

    This video shows us what to do, by showing what not to.
    Thanks Matt

  51. Noticed some good stuff in the webmaster tools and really like the new verification system.

  52. Hi Matt,
    It is a shame you are not visiting SMX Advanced London. It is my first one. I cant wait to see what juicy information I will gather. I don’t know if I will be able to type fast enough over the two days but here’s hoping.

    Do a puddle hop and get yourself over to London!

  53. I think the email notification for existing malware will save my paranoia of someone somehow getting into wordpress.

  54. This was an excellent video….a great help to actually identify issues on your own website.

    Thanks Matt

  55. Hey Matt,

    Really Useful Knowledge. Haha @ what Google will look if it SEO’ed its own homepage!

    Moral of the story: Offer real value to real people. And the rest will be taken care of.


  56. Matt, I really enjoyed your presentation and thanks for posting the SEO report card. As complex and perennial the search world is, I thank you for sharing all of this with us. I am fairly new to your site and have learned something new with each post. Thanks again!

  57. wow, really nice and surprising video ๐Ÿ™‚

    maybe the big G doesn’t need seo guys as people like you show them their mistakes for free? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    thank You for sharing

  58. Nice video, thanks for taking the time to put this up.

  59. Thanks, for sharing. I learned many things from this video ๐Ÿ™‚

  60. I really enjoyed your presentation! Thx so much.

  61. Great tips in the video – I just wish the video production was more professional (they used autofocus and were too tight on the always moving Matt). I’m now going to take a look and see how my own video production company website is performing.

  62. We understand that natural link building is the way to go but how do we let people know about our product/content/site so that they might link to us without ranking highly for our keywords