SEO Misconceptions Straight from the Horse’s Mouth


Each week, Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, posts informative videos on the Google Webmasters YouTube Channel on recent updates, webmaster tips and other Google News. Recently, he shared a video titled, “What are some misconceptions in the SEO industry?” that hit close to home for us. Below are the insights that he shared during this video along with our take on them.

  • Algorithm Update v. Data Refresh:

    Cutts first cleared up the confusion between an algorithm and a data refresh. Essentially, an algorithm update fundamentally changes the way that Google analyzes data, changing the signals that it uses and the weight given to those signals, whereas a data refresh shifts what data is being analyzed but does not alter the way in which the data is interpreted. Though it’s easy to see how both would impact your rankings, the former impacts the way in which you should be conducting SEO whereas the latter changes the type of data Google is choosing to analyze.

    For instance, the recent Penguin update targeted webmasters using black hat SEO tactics, such as using paid links, engaging in comment spam, and building inbound links on questionable or dangerous sites. Google’s main goal was to penalize sites with unnatural links. In response to this update, we’ve had to change the way we perform SEO, eliminating exact match anchor text for cross linking, slowing the pace at which link building is completed, disavowing links from disreputable sites and so on.

  • Mismanaged Time and Energy From SEOs:

    Next Cutts answered a popular and important question: What are SEO’s spending too much time and energy on? His answer comes as quite a surprise for some: Link building. That’s right, Cutts believes that too many SEOs are putting too many eggs in the link building basket. Instead, he advises that they focus on creating the best possible experience for your site visitors. Identify what makes your site interesting and fun. Create a design that is visually appealing and enhances the user flow. Pay attention to your site’s speed to ensure that slow loading is not negatively impacting your users’ experience.

    This is where having a full service digital marketing agency comes in handy. Everything from the design and coding of your site to your content writing and social media marketing will be handled in house. Rather than four different companies taking four different approaches, our team works together to create a cohesive user experience.

    What’s more, our marketing team can easily change gears when Google introduces algorithm changes. Thus, when Penguin 2.0 cracked down on link building we were able to shift our energies to other tools, such as social media, accordingly. On the other hand, if you were simply outsourcing your link building to a company whose sole purpose is to plug data in to web directories all day, you may have been in trouble.

  • Google Updates are Designed to Increase Revenue:

    Finally, Cutts took the time to dispel a common myth among disgruntled web masters: Google introduces updates in order to raise their revenues. The logic here is that Google purposefully creates updates that will tank webmasters’ rankings so that they will dump more money into Google AdWords in order to maintain their web traffic. Cutts stats that this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, he points out that the Panda update actually decreased Google’s revenue.

    The true reason for Google’s updates is the company’s desire to create the best possible experience for its users. They are willing to take a hit in the short term if it means producing search results that their users like, gaining their trust and loyalty. Our take on this: Google is practicing what they preach, making changes to improve their own user experience while encouraging webmasters to do the same. In theory, those webmasters who make the necessary changes in response to Google’s updates should rise with the tide, while those who continue to rely on black hat SEO tactics will sink to the bottom.

  • The bottom line here: Google is not trying to take down all webmasters, they are penalizing those who’ve made mistakes so that they may fix them, improve their user experience, and subsequently their rankings.

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