Every year on the other side of the Atlantic, the Search Marketing Expo – better known as SMX West – draws digital marketers, SEO copywriters and SEO specialists of all flavours to California. The event, programmed by the editors over at Search Engine Land, frequently provides insights into the current state of digital marketing and offers glimpses into the online world of the future.

This year’s event saw two of Google’s top gurus take the stage to shed some light on where the world’s most popular search engine is currently, and where it might go in the future. For online marketers, SEO copywriters and webmasters it’s a useful heads-up for strategies and best practices.

Matt Cutts on mobile search, Author Rank and Panda-lite

Matt Cutts is Google’s Head of Web Spam, and frequently dispenses his words of wisdom via Google’s WebmasterHelp channel on YouTube (incidentally, you can find handy summaries of these videos over at ClickConsult’s www.theshortcutts.com).

Cutts appeared in a ‘Meet the Search Engines’ session at SMX West alongside Duane Forrester from Bing. One of the most telling comments he made was that he, “wouldn’t be surprised,” if searches from desktop computers were surpassed by those from mobile devices later this year. This is a timely reminder that all online businesses – and SEO copywriters – need to be thinking about how to optimise websites and content for mobile devices. The comment also comes hot on the heels of statistics from TNS and Google that suggest 32% of consumers in the UK make smartphone purchases (more on this at https://econsultancy.com/blog/64511-32-of-uk-consumers-make-purchases-on-a-smartphone-stats).

Matt Cutts also revealed, as many have suspected, that ‘Author Rank’ is playing a part in determining where content ranks in search, particularly in the ‘more in-depth articles’ section’. Author Rank connects content not only to a specific author but also to their Google+ profile and the overall online reputation of the author, making consistency and quality important for all content producers.

Cutts also said that Google is currently working on the next phase of the Panda update. He hinted that it would be ‘softer’, and would specifically help small businesses to do better in search. No dates or details as yet, but we’ll keep you posted as and when more news on this comes to light.

Amit Singhal on Hummingbird

Amit Singhal is Google’s Senior Vice President and appeared at SMX in a Q&A with Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan (a full transcript can be accessed at http://searchengineland.com/googles-amit-singhal-smx-west-2014-186266).

Singhal talked about Google’s other big update – Hummingbird. He revealed that it was, “the foundation that we can build our search on for the future,” suggesting that we can expect more along these lines.  Hummingbird entered the frame last autumn and is Google’s move towards a more semantic search – one which can understand the contextual meaning of the user’s query. Or as Singhal says, “Hummingbird is about understanding natural language queries, long queries. It’s a ground-up rethinking of how people search in the future.”

Significantly, amidst all the new ranking signals that Google is using, he also points out that “links are clearly an important signal about the importance of your content. They’re still very valuable.”

Follow our blog to keep up with all the latest news on what the search engines are doing, along with lots of helpful tips for SEO copywriters and digital marketers.

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