The Search News Round Up: Matt Cutts on Manual Spam Penalties, Google’s ‘How Search Works’ Interactive Infographic, New Location-Based Features in AdWords, and More
Here’s a summary of key search engine news from the past week…
Matt Cutts reveals details on manual spam penalties
The latest video from Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, sees him discuss how Google’s manual reviewers go about removing spam from the web as well as how they aim to be consistently fair when distributing – or revoking – penalties.
Cutts starts out by saying that Google won’t ban a site simply because it features content critical of Google. He elaborates with a classic Voltaire quote, saying:
I might not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your ability to say it.
Cutts outlined the following steps Google takes to ensure the work of the webspam team is consistent:
- New starters undergo training
- Employees are encouraged to read up on and learn how to interpret poor quality sites
- Coaching and advice is given to employees (e.g. shadowing)
- Reviews are conducted on the first few sites a new employee evaluates
- Random checks are made to ensure the employee’s evaluation technique hasn’t slipped
While Cutts’ comments provide some helpful insight regarding the mechanics of Google’s webspam team, they are unlikely reassure webmasters who feel they have had their site wrongly penalised recently.
You can watch Cutts’ video in its entirety here:
Google ‘How Search Works’ infographic and live spam archive
Google has released an interactive infographic called ‘How Search Works’. In addition, under the ‘fighting spam’ tab on this page, you’ll find live screenshots of websites that Google has recently removed from its search index.
Up to 45 penalised websites are available to view at any one time, and below each screenshot Google lists reasons as to why the sites got in hot water (e.g. pure spam, unnatural links to and/ or from a site, keyword stuffing, thin content, etc.). This new feature is sure to provide valuable insight as to how those working in SEO can ensure the websites they parent – and their backlink profiles – are not in violation of any of Google’s guidelines.
RustyBrick have created a “Google Web Page Spam Archive Replay”, a collection of all the live spam screenshots Google have released so far. RustyBrick have also added a useful search feature so visitors can check to see if a certain site has ever been highlighted in Google’s live spam screenshots. RustyBrick is correct to note, however, that sites that have not featured are not necessarily safe from penalisation by the search engine.
‘Try these too’ feature added to Google Image Search
Google have been rolling out changes to its image search for over a month now. The latest addition is an image suggestion box called ‘Try these too’, which shows both related exact match and broad match images. This user-friendly box can be found to the bottom-right of the screen, under the link pointing back to the featured image’s hosting site.
Here’s an example using the term ‘bacon’, because who doesn’t love bacon (apart from vegetarians, obviously)?
New AdWords location-based features
A number of location-based features are currently being implemented in AdWords’ enhanced campaigns. These features aim to improve AdWords results for all businesses, regardless of whether said businesses operate online, offline or through both channels.
The new additions to enhanced campaigns enable broader geotargeting, and users can choose to increase or decrease bids for particular location targets in that campaign.
Meanwhile, offline and multi-channel businesses can make ‘bid adjustments’ in line with the location of Google search engine users. For example, AdWords users can up bids when a searcher is within a five mile radius, and incrementally lower those bids for each additional five miles the user is away from the target’s centre.
This tool should result in businesses making the very best possible use of their AdWords budgets. Geographically relevant results are likely to be a greater help to end users, meaning clickthroughs (and therefore the effectiveness of AdWords campaigns) could potentially improve.
New Adwords search term filter
Google has listened to its AdWords users, and has decided to roll out a new filter option called ‘search term’. This filter allows users to quickly find groups of terms they may be particularly interested in, as this example from Google’s Search Terms Report explains:
If you run a flower delivery website, you may be interested in seeing all search terms containing the word "valentines" in the weeks leading up to February 14th. You could then add all, or some, of those terms as new keywords to your "valentines" ad group.
This new filter could prove invaluable for webmasters using Google’s paid search offering within their digital marketing campaigns.
More search hints, tips and rumours
Check back every Monday to ensure you’re informed of the latest search news.