When it comes to understanding the ins and outs of the world’s most used search engine, there’s few people who do so as deeply as Google’s own Head of Webspam, Matt Cutts. From time to time Cutts shares what he knows with webmasters, SEO professionals and copywriters, and this month he’s been using the GoogleWebmasterHelp YouTube channel to address the question ‘What are some common misconceptions in the SEO industry’.
Updates and ‘data refreshes’
The first thing Cutts addresses in the video is the difference between an update (such as Panda and the recent Penguin 2.0) and a ‘data refresh’.
“When you’re changing your algorithm the signals that you’re using and how you read those signals are fundamentally changing,” he explains. “When you’re doing just a data refresh then the way that you run the computer program stays the same but your might have different incoming data.”
What Google really wants out of its updates
He also goes on to counter the argument from many in the SEO copywriter world that Google’s updates are just a way for it to make more revenue. He points out that the Google’s revenue has actually gone down before at the same time as an update has been implemented. So what is Google really playing out with updates such as Panda and Penguin?
The answer is long-term loyalty. Matt explains that Google’s model has always been based around building trust amongst its users and keeping people coming back, rather than making short-term revenue, and “[returning] the best users’ results we can.”
For webmasters and the SEO copywriter, that means the way to stay on the right side of Google’s updates is to focus on providing users with relevant, high quality content.
Link-building versus building a great user experience
He also says that people spend too much time on link-building and what the search engines are doing, instead of focusing on the overall experience their site provides to users. And, he points out, “If you and your website is not moving forward and thinking about how to improve the user experience, other websites will be thinking about it.”