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There has been quite a bit of speculation ever since Matt Cutts publicly stated that Google wouldn’t be updating the PageRank meter in the Google Toolbar before the end of the year. PageRank has been assumed dead for a while, yet Google refuses to issue the death certificate by assuring us they currently have no plans to outright scrape the tool.

Search Engine Land reports that yesterday, Cutts finally explained what is going on and why there have been no updates while speaking at Pubcon. Google’s ability to update the toolbar is actually broken, and repairing the “pipeline” isn’t a major priority by any means. The search engine already feels that too many marketers are obsessing too much over PageRank, while Google doesn’t see it as very important.

But, Cutts did give some insight as to why Google has been hesitant to completely kill off PageRank or the toolbar. They have consistently maintained they intend to keep the meter around because consumers actually use the tool almost as much as marketers. However, at this point that data is nearly a year out of date, so suggesting consumers are the main motive for keeping PageRank around is disingenuous.

No, it turns out Google actually uses PageRank internally for ranking pages, and the meter has been consistently updated within the company during the entire period the public has been waiting for an update. It is also entirely possible Google likes keeping the toolbar around because Google wants the data users are constantly sending back to the search engine.

While the toolbar may be useful for the company internally, PageRank has reached the point where it needs to be updated or removed. Data from a year ago isn’t reliable enough to offer anyone much value, and most browsers have done away with installable toolbars anyways. If a repair isn’t a high enough priority for Google to get around to it at all this year, it probably isn’t worth leaving the toolbar lingering around forever.

Have you ever wondered if your site was penalized by Google through automated algorithms or a real human person? Now, you will almost always know because Google reports almost 100 percent of manual penalties.

Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team, described this new policy at Pubcon this year, saying, “We’ve actually started to send messages for pretty much every manual action that we do that will directly impact the ranking of your site.”

“If there’s some manual action taken by the manual web spam team that means your web site is going to rank directly lower in the search results, we’re telling webmasters about pretty much all of those situations.”

Cutts did clarify that there may be rare instances where this doesn’t occur, but their aim to get to 100-percent.

In June, at SMX Advanced, Cutts gave a figure of 99 percent reporting, but Cutt believes they are currently reporting every instance of manual actions.

Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land has more information about the distinction between manual and algorithmic actions.

 

I recently wrote about the release of Google’s Disavow Links tool, but there are some more questions popping up that need answering. So, let’s cover a little bit more about the tool.

First off, the tool does not immediately take effect. This is one of many reasons Google suggests publishers try to remove questionable links first by working with site owners hosting links, or companies that they may have purchased links through.

Instead of disavowing the links immediately, “it can take weeks for that to go into effect,” said Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team at a keynote during the Pubcon conference. Google also has reserved the right to not use submissions if it feels they are questionable.

It is important to be accurate when making your file to submit to Google. Because of the delay in processing the file, it may take another few weeks to “reavow” links you didn’t mean to discount.

Once you have submitted a file to Google, you can download it, change it, and then resubmit.

The tool is mainly designed for site owners affected by the Penguin Update, which was focused on hitting sites that may have purchased links or gained them through spamming. Before, Google ignored bad links, but now they act as a negative mark against the site.

This change prompted fear in some of the SEO industry that site owners would create bad links pointing to their site, or “negative SEO.” This tool helps to ensure that negative SEO is not a worry by allowing you to disavow any of those types of links.

Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land has even more information about the tool, and Matt Cutts has a 10 minute long video answering questions.