• http://www.links-building.com/ Morgan Akchehirlian

    Matt did a video some time back answering 3 question rather dilemma about SEO. One of it we as SEO guys mix Google algorithm changes with rank updates. Refreshes are different from new and refined algorithm updates.
    Its tricky but certain tools with timeline can help a bit.

  • Durant Imboden

    Maybe Google should publish “site quality scores” or even “page quality scores” in Webmaster tools, so that publishers could at least see if their attempts to improve quality were bearing fruit. That might encourage publishers to spend more on useful Web content and less on SEO schemes.

  • Openuris

    Good news, if it’s algorithmic It can be fixed, but you still don’t know if it needs to be fixed. Now that we have a better grasp of the obvious, thanks for that earth shattering advice…

  • http://www.freehealthcaretips.net/ Raviraj Tak

    I agree with Durant Imboden’s comment.
    At least there should be some way to identify and fix the problem. Or unless its like firing in the night without any light…. :P
    Having “quality score” and “page quality score” would help identify which are the bad ones and needs to be fixed or improved with better quality..

    What say Guys…. ?

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    The difficulty with Matt’s answer is that some of Google’s sub-algorithms like Panda or Penguin or EMD effectively act as manual penalties, where there’s a specific problem deemed wrong that harms a site — rather than the overall algorithm deciding the site is just not relevant enough. With a manual action, you get told what the problem is (at least generally) and have some idea how to fix it. With an algorithmic penalty, if you don’t know what you were hit with, then you can blindly go along trying to fix the wrong things. Far better if Google would just report all penalties — manual and algorithmic.

  • donthe

    He’s totally out of touch with the challenges a web publisher faces, and obviously he’s never tried to fix a pandalized site without knowing what the exact problem is. Whatever happened to your challenge to have Matt build a website from scratch in an established niche?

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    The challenge was actually to build links for a site. He never accepted that. Today, I suspect he’d argue that Google doesn’t want anyone to build links anyway but rather earn them. Magically. :)

  • Gyorgy

    The worst is when you have a decent website with good content and suddenly disappear from the 1st page, without any warning message in WMT. It’s either an automatic algo penalty or you just lost link juice coming from websites that were recently penalised or de-valued. Who knows?!

  • http://jameshalloran.net/ James R. Halloran

    That’s honestly a great idea! It’s disheartening when you’re not able to tell if your hard work is actually making a difference or not. It would be nice to see some visualization of your progress eventually.

  • asefati

    These are the type of questions only an experienced SEO could answer…one of them is losing drastic ranking on a series of keywords that are similar. And by drastic I mean -30 or completely disappearing from top 50.

  • asefati

    I agree too. Google should compete blackhat SEO by providing the best resources for whitehats. I look at Moz tool and I just dont’ agree with a lot of their suggestions but if it came from Google, then I would get right to it.

  • Durant Imboden

    I think the problem with reporting “algorithmic penalties” is that they’re likely to be far more complex than manual penalties are.

    A manual penalty might be for something as simple as buying links or participating in a “guest blog” network. Stop violating the guidelines and clean up the unnatural links, and you’re ready to file a reconsideration request.

    With an “algorithmic penalty” like Panda (which at least nominally is based on Google’s perception of “low quality”), things are likely to be much more complicated, with multiple scores and signals that interact with each other. There probably isn’t a quick, simple fix as there is with a manual penalty.

    Still (continuing with the Panda theme), as I suggested elsewhere in this thread, being able to see an overall “quality score” in WMT would help site owners gauge whether they might be affected by Panda and, if so, how badly. Some people might object that Google has no business judging a site’s quality, but let’s be pragmatic: Google already *is* judging quality with Panda, so what’s the harm in sharing that “quality score” with the site owner? Google doesn’t need to reveal the inner workings of the algorithm. Just saying “Your site has a Google quality score of 57 on a scale of 100” (even better, with a graph showing changes in that score over the past year or two) would at least tell the site owner whether he or she was on the right path.

  • http://www.clickfire.com/ Emory Rowland

    “Cutts goes on to say his team doesn’t really think in terms of algorithmic penalties…”

    To the business that followed the rules and can no longer for it’s brand name, it’s just a penalty.

  • SEO Engine

    Agree Danny re: reporting algorithmic penalties. This was the entire premise of our company and has been the vision for us for 7 years now. We own the patent on it (just got issued May 2013!), so no search engine can publish algorithmic penalties without licensing from us (and we will not be licensing, but rather building out our search engine in 2015. For now, if you have the $$ and expertise, we can deliver this data to you today using our Google Simulator.

  • http://twitter.com/miksas MikSas

    “…making it possible for a site owner to change and modify their site so that it can be re-scored by Google, and re-indexed for a better ranking.”
    WHAT?! after a month, a year?! BIG sites get reconsidered in months… they do have huge Google Ad spends, that explains it… Google got no heart for “mom and pops” of the world…

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    There is no magic to earning links but I still speak with plenty of people who want the links to come without their having to do anything to make their sites worthy of earning links. The problem is really not with Google — it’s with the Web marketing community, who continue to feel a sense of entitlement.

  • http://www.cfsearchmarketing.com/ PM Fiorini

    Most sites just don’t magically “earn links”, unless of course you are HP, CNN, etc. In the real world, “earning links” is akin relationship building, which is what SMB does. There is no sense of “entitlement” with SMB – it’s called SMB marketing.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    “In the real world, ‘earning links’ is akin relationship building, which is what SMB does.”

    No, every site can earn links in exactly the same way. Until marketers stop cooking up these nonsense theories, people will remain confused about what “earning links” actually means.

  • Carl Brandson

    Agreed with ya Danny. Google must make changes to its existing system by indicating the problem of the website rather then just penalizing without letting know the website owner the problems.

  • http://steveg.com/ SteveG

    Is this where I point out the patents like this should be voided and removed from all history for all time?

  • http://www.cfsearchmarketing.com/ PM Fiorini

    I agree to some point – some sites may always link to the “viral video” or some “great infographic” or whatever. And, these are legitimate “earned links”. The point I am making is that, in the real world, from a commerce perspective, for SMB, citations (e.g., social) are derived primarily from *business relationships* NOT by “great (viral-type) content”.

  • http://roofingsaltlakecityut.wordpress.com/ aaron hall

    I am going to let all of you guys in on a piece of information Matt Cutts is not trying to help you rank in Google why would he give you anything helpful every time they make a new update to their algorithms it is targeted at taking down people who do SEO.
    However I will help you with this piece of advice. Outwork and outsmart the competition edit your site more often, develop your social media accounts, add more back links, promote your site, and if that don’t work contact all your friends and have them view your sites maybe facebook and twitter them… and then rinse and repeat.
    One last tip do some research search through youtube find some new techniques adapt and overcome…

  • SEO Engine

    SteveG, those very same patents are the result of decades of research and innovation (and a lot of sweat equity from its founders) which is causing a shift in Search towards the data you want. But this shift would never have occurred if those patents didn’t protect a monopoly like Google from stealing everyone’s work. We agree that patent trolls are bad, but this is not that.

    We DO share your frustration with how Google and other modern search engines have become, and we are now working hard to change the way Search is done in the future.

    SteveG, we believe in a world where Search is not a “blackbox” anymore. A world where companies are shown by the search engine exactly how to behave to have a chance at ranking competitively.

    For more information about why Google has painted itself into a corner, read what our Co-Founder and CTO had to say about it here in Visibility Magazine:


  • http://www.workingnomad.com Working Nomad

    Another frustrated webmaster who had clean honest sites chopped from Google! The only people who get away with stuff is the big corps and black hatters, mimicking normal life.

  • http://epicfireworks.com/ Epic Fireworks

    In a way, Google Webmaster already does this, a while back I had a “message from google webmaster titled “Big traffic change for top URL”

    The message went on to say…

    “This message is not indicative of any problem in your site. It is simply to inform you that the number of clicks that one of your pages receives has increased recently. If you have just added new content, this may indicate that it has become more popular on Google. The number of clicks that your site receives from Google can change from day to day for a variety of factors, including automatic algorithm updates”.

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    Yeah, you get the reactions like “I don’t care if it is a penalty or algowhatever – i want MY rankings back”… But when those rankings have disappeared, an understanding of why it happened is essential to getting any sort of recovery to happen.

    And that business that “followed the rules and can no longer rank for its brand name”, probably needs to re-read the rules. You have to mess up pretty big to get a total ban like that.

  • http://kercommunications.com/ Nick Ker

    Portent isn’t a big corporate brand with a huge Adwords spend. Some mistakes were made, and after fixing the problems, Portent has “recovered”.

  • Openuris

    I want to see them try and tell google they can’t notify people of penalties and then try to enforce it…

  • http://www.amongtech.com/ Niels Bosch

    Agree :-)

  • http://steveg.com/ SteveG

    Unfortunately, IMO, this very vague description of your patent leads me to believe that it is neither original nor un-intuitive and should never have been allowed. Link to the patent so I can read it myself and not get the marketing spin on it?

  • http://www.seopros.org Terry Van Horne

    Yes and Adwords Quality Score is so accurate! No tnx beware what you wish for!

  • http://www.seopros.org Terry Van Horne

    Spoon feed me Google! Google Replies “You can’t handle the truth!”

  • http://www.seopros.org Terry Van Horne

    These are not penalties they are dampeners on sites. Why should Google spoon feed these people? This is not new it has gone on from day 1 of this industry. There were always changes. No one had to tell us that spamming keywords tags did not wwork…the f’in results did we adapted!
    No one seems to be learning from this recent transparency. I yearn for the day when the Search engines said nothing and the community figured this stuff out on our own. Our community has never need Google to tell us we know before they act now…cuz SEO’s telegraph this stuff with their need to tell the world every little piece of their processes. STOP that’s how they know! Take the fight club mentality!
    Transparency has just made everything more confusing for the people it is meant to help! That’s why Google have to resort to hittin’ ’em over the head to get the point across!

  • http://www.seopros.org Terry Van Horne

    It was never magic…. the magic was that pure shit could move ranks!

  • http://www.seopros.org Terry Van Horne

    lol ever seen the QS on a lot of other peoples adwords campaigns … I can tell you having QS on every ad in adwords campaigns does nothing to improve the scores for those who don’t have clue one what to do about it ;-)

  • http://www.seopros.org Terry Van Horne

    ahhh so I take the tweets Matt makes will be contrary to this patent? Your company has basically stolen the search engines rights to notify of changes…. well good luck charging anyone but suckers for that info and BTW thanks to your org for forcing them to STFU. It’s better for everyone in the long run…as to your biz model… well 20 years doing this…good luck SEO’s will only pay for stuff that moves ranks!

  • http://jameshalloran.net/ James R. Halloran

    Haha! “You’ll have to wait for this truth…”

  • http://www.successstories.co.in/ Mousumi Saha Kumar

    Lately my blog is showing more than 800 Structured Data Error – Data Type: Hentry; Source: hentry (markup: microformats.org)

    Errors look like the following:


    Use the Structured Data Testing Tool to check live data for errors and preview how your rich snippets will appear on Google Search with the next crawl of the page.

    Can anybody tell me how to fix this. The blog traffic seems partially affected. I will appreciate your help.

  • Durant Imboden

    Whether a Panda “quality score” would be accurate is beside the point. (We all know that “quality” is in the eye of the beholder.) What matters, in the context of this discussion, is how *Google* perceives a site’s quality, because Google is already using its perception of “quality” as a ranking factor.

  • http://www.seo-theory.com/ Michael Martinez

    The point I am coyly beating around is that you have much to learn about truly earning links. Any site can create content that will earn links. It’s not a “real world” thing, it’s a business decision to NOT earn links. There are no exceptions.

  • http://websitecash.net/ Scott McKirahan

    Wow, what a waste of breath. Why didn’t he simply state, “We have no clue what our algorithms are doing anymore.”

    It all comes down to “trust” now – certainly not content. Check any product search result and you will see the same exact sites coming up at the top of the results – sites that aren’t even slightly experts in the niche and definitely have the worst content of all – regurgitated manufacturers’ descriptions. There is clearly a filter in place with the big brand names automatically heavily favored, whether they are even remotely close to having the best product(s) and help with those products or not.

    The original backlink model that separated Google from the other search engines is completely broken. Someday, maybe a new startup will get back to focusing on what really matters – giving the best results for a query – regardless of whether other people have “voted” for a site with backlinks, social mentions, etc. or not. Like elections, popularity contests rarely put the best guy for the job in office or, in this case, the best sites at the top of the SERPs. Instead, you get the ones who were able to spend the most money and schmooze the right people to get to the top.

  • Violet1021

    I’m sorry for the slightly off-topic comment, but I was wondering if anyone would be able to point me in a direction that might be useful to me. I’m a law student and am currently writing a Note for one of my school’s law journals. I have chosen to write about the sometimes blurred distinction between black hat and white hat SEO and how changes in Google’s algorithms reflect its evolving opinions of what constitutes black hat techniques.

    In my research I’ve come across some material about the use of persona in link building e-mail outreach. Some SEO companies completely fabricate stories about who they are, what they do, and why they’re e-mailing a target. They do this on a large scale, often getting links for their clients on authoritative .edu’s and .gov’s. While these SEOs place arguably useful content on their clients’ pages and merely ask or suggest that targets link to them, they’re achieving the links by representing themselves as people they’re not and by omitting the fact that they’re paid marketers. This is essentially the link-building version of undercover marketing, a practice the FTC has criticized. I bring this up because Matt Cutts has made reference to the FTC in the past, implying that SEOs should take care to pay attention to their guidelines. However, I feel like I’ve scoured the internet and have found nothing about Google’s stance on the use of persona in link building. Are links still considered organic when a target only links to you based on a fake relationship they think they developed with the “concerned parent,” “school counselor,” or “dedicated nurse” your SEO pretended to be when they contacted the target? They may not be paying for links, but it still seems like their tactics violate Google’s TOS. So if anyone knows of any kind of source, on the internet or otherwise, that has any indication of how Google feels about persona in this context, I would very much appreciate a heads-up.

  • http://www.farhanonline.com/ Farhan Fawzer

    This has always been the case with Google & Mr.Cutts by handling the question diplomatically. The bottom line here is that you will never know the difference between a temporary dip in rankings or penalization notified by Google. It would be a great idea as @durantimboden:disqus mentioned & @RavirajTak:disqus agreed on a “Quality Score” but that will never be a reality.

  • Guest

    I would give my right…lower case j for a manual penalty.

    I’ve gone over ever page with a fine tooth comb. The content is awesome, and it is better than the competition.

    And don’t even bother asking help from Google Forums. The best moderators they have on offer are completely useless, generic answering robots. Plus the answers they give are just plain false. It is not that Google might be wrong, it is they will be delusional just to stick up for google.

    These moderators try and tell me my content is basically what somebody else has already said, even when I have added so much original content and value from my own knowledge and head. Then I observe some of the biggest sites in the world’s content and it’s a couple of paragraphs, very thin, and they flourish. it is basically a carbon copy of each others. There is so much BS going on it is not even funny.

    Google continuously makes changes every year, obviously they are not perfect. There’s every chance I am unfairly hit, and I would love to present my case to a Google court! I bet I am right.