The Day 2 at Pubcon Las Vegas started with a daily introduction by Brett Tabke and was followed by the much awaited Keynote by Matt Cutts. The keynote address by Jason on day 1 got the attention of Cutts when Jason said that Google rules everything and is essentially evil. On Twitter, Matt questioned Jason if he wanted a polite response or a thorough one. So, the attendees at Pubcon were much hoping for a "thorough" response on Day 2.
Matt started the keynote address with the state of index and the future directions of Google. Proud that Google has doubled down on "moonshot" changes, Cutts specifically pointed out:
- Knowledge Graph – Google is essentially trying to learn about things and not strings. It is trying to understand entities & not just the searches
- Voice Search – Is getting better
- Conversation Search – Start thinking of pronouns
- Google Now – Looking for ways so that people don't even have to search to find the information
- Deep Learning – Google is using thousands of computers to learn neural networks. It is getting deeper into the relationship between words so that it becomes easier to read at a higher level
Cutts also said that when you do voice search "Who is the prime minister of Turkey?", Google knows that Turkey is a proper noun because of the Knowledge Graph and will give the answer. And when you ask "How old is he?", Google will reply with the previous context.
Core Quality Changes
- Hummingbird – Matt said that the change is targeted to make natural language translation better. Search is not just about matching words – it should look at specific words, which are more meaningful for an intelligent scoring. Citing an example, Cutts said, if you voice search for "What is the capital of Texas, my Dear", than Hummingbird will not consider "my Dear" that important. The Hummingbird impacted 90% of the queries, it was taken as a subtle change by most users but at the same time, it will help in getting more pertinent results
- Panda Softening – Some grey-zone sites are always Panda's targets and Cutts said that Google has added some new signals to ease up on those websites
- Detecting/Boosting Authorities – Webmasters can continue deepening their content to further their authoritativeness in a specific content area
- Smartphone Ranking – If a searcher has a phone with no Flash support, Google is less likely to show results with Flash
- Penguin 2.0 & 2.1 – When Penguin 2.0 was released, it was not that intensive. Spammers said it wasn't big, so Google released 2.1 and will continue coming with more changes
- Spammy Query Algorithms – Queries like porn or payday loans will be targeted for better results. Cutts said that SERPS aren't great right now and there are places where a lot of spam goes, but Google will be working on them
- Advertorials/native advertising – Google has taken actions against big publications in the US & UK selling ads that blended in as editorials and had dofollow links. Cutts strictly said no to pay for links passing PageRank
- Spam Networks – Google has got a pretty long list of spam networks it plans to hit
We know that Google has been improving upon establishing a better communication with webmasters & Cutts discussed the same
- New videos for malware/hacking have been created
- Webmaster guidelines now come with concrete examples
- >100 speaking events, webmaster office hours, and Hangouts on Air – There's a whole team of Googlers attending events and holding discussions online
- Google has a free site to show all kinds of spam it is taking action on and the areas where webspam team is most active
Future of Search
Big Future Trends
- Machine Learning – Google is trying to figure out the ways to add more value to search and give more relevant answers to specific queries
- Mobile – In 2011, only 6% traffic on YouTube was coming from mobile phones and in 2012, the number increased to 25%. Cutts said that in 2013, YouTube is expected to receive 40% traffic from mobile. So, figure out your YouTube strategy, if you haven't yet
- Social/Identity/Authorship – Matt credit Facebook for doing a great job in social networking. He said that likes/+1s/Tweets are not just signals but will be the signs of authority in long term. If you are someone worth listening to – search engines will also consider the same
Matt Cutts said that while in the coming months you might think that Google is not doing much, we will be working on thing no one will see.
- Hacking – Working on next generation of hacking
- Hot Topics – Blocking child porn, international issues, and nasty queries
- No Toolbar PageRank is Scheduled for the Rest of the Year – As people started paying more attention to the metric, Google stopped updating PageRank. It will be reassessed at a later time
- Mobile – Come up with a mobile plan
- Learn about requestAutocomplete – A new feature in Chrome that allows users to auto-fill forms. It not only saves time required in pulling in all information but also increases the chances of conversions. If you have a form on your website, annotate it. requestAutocomplete is a standard that lets you markup your form and the site supporting the feature will allow users to fill out the form with one-click
- Ad-heavy Pages Above the Fold – Cutts said that some tweaks will be coming shortly to "turn up" this algorithm & will have greater impact on language sites such as Russian & Arabic. So, users should not see a barrage of ads above the fold
- Tightening Authorship – Cutts mentioned that a tightening of Authorship might provide better results. It was found that when the amount of authorship is reduced, an improvement in the quality is noticed. So, Google is looking for 15% reduction
- Rich Snippets – In the next few months, Rich Snippets may depend on the quality of the site. Google might take away the ability to have and use rich snipped from low quality sites
The Keynote address was followed by Q&A session and Matt received lots of interesting questions. In response to Jason's claims yesterday about Google not being a good partner, Matt said that no company has partnership with Google. YouTube partnerships are there, but not Google partnerships. Coming to Mahalo, Cutts said that it wasn't a quality site. There was no webspam but a quality issue. Cutts also talked about press releases saying that "if you are paying for PageRank, you aren't doing something right". Google has identified top PR sites and ignores the links, but has not penalized those who are using the websites.
That's all from the Keynote Session with Matt Cutts. Stay tuned for more sessions updates from Pubcon Las Vegas 2013.