Grab bag questions

I have some extra time in my calendar today, so I thought I’d open up a thread for questions. Post your questions over on Google Moderator so that I can see which questions are popular. I’ve only got 45-60 minutes, so I can’t answer every question, but I’ll try to answer at least a few popular questions and a few interesting questions.

Just like in the past, please ask questions that everyone might be interested in, not just “What happened to my site”

43 Responses to Grab bag questions (Leave a comment)

  1. Hi Matt – I have one absolutely burning question about this tag:

    If I include it on a page which has a meta robots tag of “noindex”, and point it to a canonical variant of this page (which can be indexed), does this cause any problems?

    Essentially, we use meta robots “noindex, follow” for things like pagination, different sorting order of products, etc etc – this handles the duplicate content issue (and much better than robots.txt, from a site-owner’s perspective).

    What I want to make sure is that, if I include this new rel=canonical tag, that search engines that don’t handle this new tag can handle the “noindex” tag to eliminate duplicate content that way and search engines which do use the canonical tag are correctly supported.

    This is the single most important thing I need to know about this new tag.

    The second most important thing is – is the behaviour of the above standardised with the other search engines which are using it too?

    (copy-pasted from as it didn’t get an answer)

  2. By the way – some reasons why it would be useful to include a noindex tag on non-canonical variants of pages when using the canonical tag:

    – we want to support other search engines too (particularly in niche markets, or for industry-specific verticals e.g. Law)

    – as the canonical is only a hint rather than a stronger command like a 301, you’re never going to be sure that it’s going to be respected for any particular page on your site. if the contents is too different, you still don’t want undesirable pages indexed in the search results. Take, for example, pagination – the entire contents might be different on page 2 compared to page 1. Obviously you want to let search engine spiders at least spider through it, to find all your pages.

  3. One last, minor set of questions about the canonical tag (I’ll put different questions in different comments, so it’s easier to read and they can be permalinked-to directly). This relates to standards:

    – Are Google planning to get the canonical tag included in the HTML 5 specification? (it’s still relatively open for this, and you got nofollow included)

    – Are you guys planning to create a proper specification for this, like with Main thing I’m thinking of is making sure that handling of corner cases is as consistent as possible cross-search-engine. Examples of such corner cases are meta robots noindex (see above), handling of blank/multiple/duplicate/conflicting/circular/daisy-chained link tags, of links which go to redirects or blocked pages (3xx, 4xx, 5xx, robots.txt).

    The more formal specifications the better. is a great example of this!

    (on a related note, I think webmasters would absolutely love to have standardised handling of the meta robots noindex tag – Google clearly handle it the best way, following the clearly stated intent – other search engines sometimes don’t)

  4. IAN: Color between the lines. Follow directions. Post at GOOGLE MODERATOR!

  5. I have a few domains that redirect (301) to other domains – e.g. a .com that redirects to a .org, or a product-specific URL that redirects to a page on my main company site. Is there something I should do with google webmaster tools to wrangle all these together? Or if I use the canonical tag, can I just not worry about these domains as far as Google is concerned?

  6. Matt,
    I came across some interesting data in my analytics report the other day and came to find that this site in New York has copied my site and updated it with their images. The meta tags and analytics code are exactly the same. The text is very similar and it’s evident that it has been taken from my site.
    How will this effect my site’s rankings? What is the best course of action for a case like this?

    My site is:
    The culprit’s site is:

    Thank you,

  7. Hi Matt,

    I have a question that many times I’ve found people claiming the opposite. This is about achieving a certain keyword density in your page’s content.

    I say that if you’ll try to achieve a high keyword density will damage the quality of content (mainly because when we say keywords we are referring to 2 or 3 words together) and also will not help you that much in getting high ranking. I think that it’s enough to use the basic SEO techniques to target the keywords in your page, use synonyms and if you reach a high keyword density in a natural way then it’s fine – if not it’s fine again because if you write about something and you use the appropriate words, Google will “see” what your page is all about. Of course that you need to leverage the authority of that page to get better ranking but that is another thing.

    So, my question is : “Does keyword density matters for increasing your ranking ?” – because I really don’t think it matters to “tell” Google what that page is about and what keyword are you targeting.


  8. Uh Ian:

    “Post your questions over on Google Moderator so that I can see which questions are popular”

  9. Uh Ian:

    More haste less speed 🙂

  10. I have a few domains that redirect (301) to other domains – e.g. a .com that redirects to a .org, or a product-specific URL that redirects to a page on my main company site. Is there something I should do with google webmaster tools to wrangle all these together? Or if I use the canonical tag, can I just not worry about these domains as far as Google is concerned?

    Use 301’s unless you can’t. In particular, the canonical tag doesn’t work cross-domain.

  11. Hi Matt – it would be good if Google Moderator could let people answer questions – something like half of those are answered on the net already (usually by you).

  12. oh damn i got late to post my question. Matt can i ask u about Google’s strategy of giving page rank to the sites these days? As i am reading some blogs and forums which show that Google is moving towards the concept of Yahoo, which believes links to the site are the main power bar of any website.
    I was supposed to add this question in relevant post but sorry for mentioning here.

  13. Matt, I wonder about advertisement image links. Quite many sites with high PRs offer advertisements for sale. You click on “get your mini ad spot”, pay a handful of bucks, send an image thumb, and get a PR 7/8 link (no nofollow) in return. I thought originally this would count as a paid link. But then, these sites don’t seem to have any trouble with their PR at all.

    So I wonder: is it ok with Google to sell links, as long as they get only an image and not an anchor text?

  14. Hey Matt,

    At last a Grab bag. Better late than never. Thanks, Matt! 🙂

    @JohnMu has been very helpful in answering questions (sometimes even little bit complicated ones) on Twitter. Would you be kind to invite him for a guest post on your blog. He earned it 😉

  15. Semi-off-topic note, Matt: I was showing this thread to a client of mine last night who uses IE7 and the recordset paging (“Next 10”) link doesn’t show up. I had to pass him the links in an email so he could see them.

    It seems to be okay in FF, Safari/Win and Chrome…just not IE7 (haven’t checked 6 yet).

  16. @Matt Cutts: When is Google Maps going to develop an algo that rewards those who play by the Rules and stops allowing spammers to dominate the one, three and ten packs?

    It makes me want to spam. But I won’t. In the word’s of Admiral Nimitz. “The World wonders”

  17. Alright, here is a little off topic question, but is relevant in the whole scheme of things. A fair amount of web sites have been receiving tons of traffic from India all of a sudden. This has obviously caused their traffic rankings to go up. It seems that google does use this to an extent because a lot of them have climbed up the charts at the same time with no change in page, links, or traffic elsewhere.
    Here are my questions:
    How much does google take into consideration traffic when it comes to ranking for certain keywords?
    The traffic generated in not “real searchers” looking for the goods/services offered so is google attempting to do anything to try to track real searchers?

  18. Matt,

    I arrived late to the Google Moderator party, some 170 questions ahead of me, and while I’m guessing that the voting role the software put me through was randomly ordered, does it work to present the same number of voting opportunities to each questions? Has anybody studied how being early to post a question to Google Moderator affects the outcome of most popular questions?


  19. Can you tell us something about branding in relation to positions?

    Specifically,.. how do you deal with Brands that are not known?

    Example: Small markets like,.. to make a random choice,.. automatic garage doors…. Would branding apply in such niches too?

  20. @Matt Cutts: This is some of the the Map Spam I was referencing:


    los angeles motorcycle injury attorney


    Local business results for motorcycle injury attorney near Los Angeles, CA

    Motorcycle Accident Personal Injury Lawyer – Wilshire Law Firm
    3055 Wilshire Blvd. 12th floor, Los Angeles – (800) 649-9988
    Directions, hours, and more »

    Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Los Angeles Wilshire Law Firm
    3055 Wilshire Blvd., 12th Floor, Los Angeles – (213) 381-9988
    Directions and more »
    More results near Los Angeles, CA »


    This firm has multiple listings for the same address;

    Now it has created a MIRROR site with multiple url’s and keyword stuffs the title to purposefully spam for motorcycle accident attorney.

    It has at least 15 bulk uploads for the same address as well. They are relentless and have figured out how to manipulate the maps algo by using url’s with keywords

  21. Just like in the past, please ask questions that everyone might be interested in, not just “What happened to my site”

    Yeah, right, that’s working well 🙂

  22. Matt, I have some “.info” sites and even some “.org” sites that rank well. Lately, though, I’ve had a lot of trouble with “.us” sites on Google. They rank well in yahoo and msn–even in the top 3, but Google ranks them at best at # 8 for 1 day and then throws them back to #32 or so for a few weeks. Do you think “.us” URLs are being punished or anchored by Google? I might just be having a string of bad luck! 🙂


  23. Matt, this is about moderator rather than your topic, so feel free to skip reading. I’m just hoping that someone at moderator sees it.

    I went to your thread for questions. There were nearing two hundred. I wanted to go to the last question, you know – something that a person might routinely do if coming back to look at new questions. There’s no way to do that except going forward ten at a time, what a pain, and what a simple and common feature to be missing. So I clicked help, then clicked the link to provide feedback, and I was sent to, of all things, a Google Moderator thread for suggestions. Considering the fact that I wouldn’t be able to make a suggestion or report a problem if I was having trouble with moderator, it’s only natural that I’d be having a problem when I got there. The stupid thing either uses a different login than works with all my other Google stuff or it keeps losing my login, so I can’t login to make a suggestion.

  24. Hey Matt,

    there are more and more talks about sites completely dropped off the Google main index. Do you think it may be a temporary technical issue?


  25. I’m so confuseddddddd. I’ve never been over to G Moderator before, but on looking at that link, I see a whole stack of questions, but no answers. Is there a riddle I must solve before seeing any answer? I guess I’m totally missing the point here! Argh!

  26. I believe the questions with the most positive votes are the ONLY ones to get answered. And, yes, it is VERY easily manipulated.

  27. Hello Matt,

    I asked two questions at Google Moderator [grab bag questions]. Both were not so popular, but they are very common questions like, are link exchanges ok or not?

    I am more worried about the top most questions which has something to do with Google giving more and more importance to brands.

    At first, I did not understand what this brand thing is all about, but after some time, I realized that, this is a real problematic issue.

    Matt, I know that, we are not suppose to ask you questions related to a specific sites and we are not suppose to ask questions in comments too.

    But I do want to tell something to you, which is related to this brands this and I think, this is a very serious problem. We also care what Google show in search results.

    Matt, if you search Google for some keywords which are related to “make money on the internet at home”

    You will now see that, Google is now showing Paypal in the search results. I have been tracking my sites for few keywords and I never saw Paypal in results.

    But now, Google is showing Paypal for keywords where this site should not appear in the search results.

    Because if a person is looking to make money on the internet, then he probably should see a site that tells him to start doing freelance work, or join Adsense, or affiliate business and stuff like that.

    Paypal, is a site which is a payment processor. We are not suppose to find any information related to making money on the internet at Paypal. We can use Paypal to shop online, but this site is gonna help to make money on the internet?

    So Matt, Is it the right thing to do, to show a site in search results which has nothing to do with the searched term, and only because this brand is a well know one?

    I am quite worried about this brand problem now.

    Thank you

  28. Hi Matt,

    I have two questions about new <link rel=”canonical” feature.

    Should one use it on pages with little content? For example photo galleries, where the same photo can appear in various galleries. Often the navigation part of the photo page (title of the gallery, next photo, previous photo,…) has more text than the title/description of the photo itself.

    And what happens if google detects that two pages with the same canonical are too different? Is there some penalty for that?

    I’m asking that, because after we implemented rel=canonical on our site, some pages started to completely disappear from search results.

    Thank you

  29. Concerning my previous comment, there is an example of page that disappeared from search results (even custom search) after we added the link rel=”canonical” feature to it:
    Thank you

  30. At my home office up here in the N GA mtns, I have to use the local phone company DSL, barley adequate, but all I can get. Now when I look at your videos, love ’em by the way, they download fast, are crisp and sharp – so my question, how?

    I’m thinking about doing some videos, too and I would like mine to be as well done as yours. Up to some basic tips on what you do or use to make these videos?

    Thanks for all your information thru the years – it’s appreciated.

  31. Hey all, I took a look through pretty much all the questions that were posted when I was doing the video. Some questions would have needed their own twenty minute show to answer with the appropriate nuance, so I didn’t answer every single one. But I did look at every single one at the time we were making the video, and just guessing, it felt like we had time to answer 40-50 questions. We’ll get them posted over time as we get them digitized and edited.

  32. Dave (original)

    angilina, of course link exchanges are OK. But YOU ARE held accountable for who you link to, so if it’s a “bad neighborhood” you could become part of it.

    As far as PayPal showing in the SERPS for money making on the Web, millions use it daily to process online payments, so, IMO, it is VERY fitting.

  33. Hello “Dave (original)” and thank you for the reply,

    I personally love Paypal as it is now a payment option which is available everywhere.

    The problem is that, people use it to receive or give money. Like you said:

    “millions use it daily to process online payments”

    It is a payment processor; people cannot use Paypal to earn money on the internet. People can only use it as a payment processor.

    For keywords that Paypal now appears are totally unrelated. If a person wants to make money on the internet, then he probably should see a site that show him the right way.

    Like, tell that person to join Adsense and make a blog at blogger. Or start doing freelance work at freelance sites. Such things are what people need to know if they really want to earn money online.

    Suppose that you are totally new in this internet business, you search on Google to find a way to make money online [not a payment processor which is used to give or receive money], and you open Paypal from search results.

    Is this site going to help you in any way? You are looking for opportunities like Adsense, freelancing, affiliate work etc and Paypal has nothing to do with making money on the internet.

    Paypal is number one payment processor, and I will not be surprised to see it coming on the top in Google results for all relevant terms.

    Thank You for your reply
    I wish Matt can take a look at my comments and tell us what he thinks about it

  34. Hey Matt,

    Good to view a nice and informative video. The video has geared me up to research on this model. It also really sounds great to hear a new pronunciation of traditional WWW as dub dub dub …. :D. thats superb……!

    Matt, i have a question, How search engines will rate Canonical Link Elements versus Relative Links ? As after watching your video i have read different forums and blogs about experience of different webmasters about these two elements, and found that everyone recommends to use relative links as they believe it is less in code weight, can be easily modified by changing all the Base href’s e.t.c.

    Second question is that can we manage our links by updating .htaccess file ? Or we have to do it manually on our pages until a tool or plug-ins are not introduced.

  35. Hi Matt,
    I am sorry that asked this question here because the Google Moderator already closed. I am sure it will be interesting not only you but also others, as I am sure will hear about it first. Unfortunately, I was confronted by example and in my practice, I have not seen this ever.

    What happened?

    I discovered that the address of a site in Google has changed somehow magical way.
    Ie get Google changed the web address from to, add www in front of what a letter.
    Course website at is not in Google, as it took place I decided to check and correct forwarding of other pages on your site
    and fortunately they were right, and all other pages except the home are available through the site: But one became available and, which is a copy of, which certainly is not acceptable to Google.

    For a more objective picture add that site to no action and did not change, I just checked the errors associated with the redirect to the hosting and dns.
    The question I have dared to highlight here, as perhaps in this lies the problem of indexing sites to which Google is not known.
    I hope that this problem is with you and if this problem will be significant, then describe its causes of and solutions to google helps for webmasters.

    Why Google had indexed old site url to another url?
    Have you experienced this before?
    What are the solutions?

  36. Dave (original)

    Hi angilina

    To make money online usually invloves using a payment processor to collect & process payments. PayPal, IMO, is great an inexpense way to start off and people have to use something to process payments.

    Exactly which search terms do you think PayPal should NOT show-up for?

  37. Hi “Dave (original)”

    You are absolutely right. One needs to have a payment processor to get the money they earn online.

    But Dave, here is a very important reason why I am so concerned about this matter.

    In many countries like Pakistan etc, Paypal is not supported. We cannot make a Paypal account at all.

    So Dave, first of all, if a person has zero knowledge about how and where a new comer can start to make money online, then why will he need to have a account at Paypal?

    He has not yet found a way to earn money online and Google wants him/her to first make an account at Paypal? 🙂

    And I saw Paypal appearing in Paypal is not supported in Pakistan. Now, what benefits are we going to get from this site? If it is not even supported in Pakistan.

    I remember when I knew nothing about freelance sites, I had no idea about what Adsense is, and I had zero knowledge about Affiliate programs: at that time, if I searched Google for terms like “how to earn money online?” etc, and Paypal appears, what will I do with this site? I cannot even make an account at this site.

    If a person ends up with making money from Adsense, then he probably will not even need Paypal as he/she can get payment via western union.

    Making a Paypal account before knowing how and where to start online business is like, trying to climb the top without taking all the steps on the ladder. And at the top, one will wonder, what to do with this Paypal account to make money online.

    Dave, there is some keyword related to “How to make money online”, that I searched in Google and saw Paypal. This was a long term rather than a keyword but the real issue is that, Paypal was not in the results before, but now Google is showing this site. Despite the fact that, people living in Pakistan cannot even use Paypal as a payment processor. And that, the search term involve, showing of a site that will guide new comers to the proper way. The search term have nothing to do with payment processor.

    The brand thing is little concerning.


  38. I’m sure I’m being stupid. But where is the video with the answers?!?

  39. Dave (original)

    angelina, when I search for terms like “make money online” PayPal is nowhere to be seen.

    RE: The brand thing is little concerning.

    Don’t believe everything you read online. Most SEO are obsessed with links and often write false or controversial information to get more links. Especially true for Aaron Wall, the man has a vested interest in black hat ways and putting down Google.

  40. Hello Dave,

    “angelina, when I search for terms like “make money online” PayPal is nowhere to be seen.”

    The term for which Paypal appears in top ten is a lengthy term.

    “Learn How to Make Money Online via Working at Home”

    I only got worried as Paypal was not in the top 10-12 results few weeks back and now it suddenly appears in results for many terms.

    “Don’t believe everything you read online. Most SEO are obsessed with links and often write false or controversial information to get more links. Especially true for Aaron Wall, the man has a vested interest in black hat ways and putting down Google”

    I guess you are right about it. I forgot about link baiting.


  41. Hi Matt,
    Recently I saw a listing for Amazon that includes links to books and everything else in a Google SE results page. Is it possible for anyone to get a listing like this and if yes does it costs?
    Gary E. Haffer

  42. Hi Matt,
    The problem that I am having is how to remove an ophan home page fro the Google Index. I believe it was created when I swithced from a system to a CMS. Now it appears that I have two home pages. One that consistently update ( and the other ( Is there anyway to rid myself of the old home page that has been indexed with incorrect and outdated info.
    Gary E. Haffer

  43. Hi Matt,

    I understand that the new algorithm will know to work with duplicate content. For example: If i submit my site in a lot of web directories with same description and same title will be this duplicate content ? My site will be penalized for duplicate content ? Or the web directories ?