Last week saw PubCon, an SEO and online marketing conference in Las Vegas. Each year thousands of professional web developers and marketers meet up to hear about the latest changes in the world of search engines and PubCon 2009 offered a lot of information for them all to think over.
One of the most prominent speakers at the event was Matt Cutts, head of Web Spam at Google. Whenever Cutts speaks, search engine marketers listen, as there are very valuable insights into the ways Google works and the possible changes in how they rank websites.
Even though Liberty was not in attendance, we have kept an eye on what was discussed and have chosen to highlight a few of the points which were discussed as potential future rankings factors.
1. A website that loads quickly = good
The time it takes your web pages to load could have an effect on how Google ranks your site. Cutts said that while a site with slow pages won't necessarily drop in the rankings, one which acts quickly could rise. This is good news for businesses that invest in quality websites and hosting. This is an SEO factor that you have complete control over and if you give users a better experience, then Google could recognise this by rewarding your site a more prominent position in the search results.
2. Repeating keywords in footer links = bad
Cutts was asked to review specific websites and on one there were many keyword rich internal links which he viewed negatively. Many of these links were from the footer and to deep pages within the site. If you have a website where you have stuffed keywords into the anchor text of your footer then this may be something you want to re-address.
3. Blocking the Internet Archive = bad
Sites that block the home of the Wayback Machine can be viewed as waving a spam flag at Google. Many websites choose not to let the Internet Archive index their site, something that Cutts believes is the type of behaviour associates with spammy websites. You may want to check to see if your site is blocking archive.org and if you have no legitimate reason for this, get the block removed.
Whilst neither of these two negative factors is enough to get your site Google slapped, it’s always sensible to follow best-practice guidelines as it may only take a few of these spam indicators to push your site from one that is ranking well to one that is never seen in the search results again.
On that topic, another comment was made, regarding domains that have been banned from the search results – that it may be easier to write it off and start again. It looks like Google engineers may not be able/want to sift through websites that have been penalised, looking through on-page SEO and link quality, so re-inclusion requests may go unanswered. If you have been involved in black-hat practices then you might have more luck starting a new domain and trying again with a little less trickery.