SMX Advanced – You and A With Matt Cutts

Sitting at SMX Advanced listening in on a Q&A; Session with none other than Matt Cutts:

PageRank Sculpting – You won’t get a penalty BUT it’s not as effective at gearing pages to rank and receive PageRank as it used to be. It’s better to create a structure that puts the more important pages higher in the hierarchy (this makes sense :)

Nofollow does work to not pass strength however (such as is the case with homepage YouTube links). This is to insure that homepage videos don’t rocket up in the results just because they’re popular today.

Personal note: PageRank sculpting does work to some degree but might be changed down the road in one direction or another.

An insinuation I’ve gathered from Matt is the Google is assigning PageRank very quickly (i.e. on a single crawl). The green bar might not change but the strength does.

I’d like to ask Matt how PageRank scumlting work with anchor text pointing. Hopefully I’ll get the interview for tomorrow (fingers crossed) as I’m busy gathering other’s people’s good questions. :)

Bad links to your competitors – Google works hard to discount these links but they try hard not to count them. He couldn’t say it wouldn’t work however. That’s troubling.

Mouseover code – When you use unique mouseover code be sure to use a common technique. SEOmoz got a penalty for a legitimate use of mouseovers due to a technique that Google’s systems were not familiar with.

Regarding external links – many links evaporate. They’re trying to get a feel for how users woudl navigate. If a link is likely to be clicked – it will pass more PageRank. Matt says, “think logically”.

Regarding 301ing penalized domains – the penalty most likely won’t pass but the trust won’t pass either. One might say that if you’re ranking on Yahoo! and MSN but penalized on Google – it may work well to move the site to a new domain and 301 the old site to maintain Yahoo! and MSN and start fresh on Google. One might say but personally I’d recommend – just use solid tactics to begin with – it’s easier that way but this might be a tactic for those who’ve hired poor SEO’s in the past who need to rebuild from unethical tactics.

That said – I haven’t tested this so it would be a “try at your own risk”. I try not to get sites banned in the first place though we do run a few test sites to time cloaking penalties, etc. so onc one gets detected it might be something to try.

And on that topic – another question I’ll be hoping to have an answer for you tomorrow (hoping I get the interview) is whether Google has considered a link reporting function for one’s own site wherein if poor tactics have been used – if you could report those links yourself to simply get them not included.

Danny Sullivan asks about paid links – Since Google hates paid link and has advised to use JavaScript as it couldn’t be read, what to do now that is can be. The reply – don’t use JavaScript – use rel=nofollow or redirect through a blocked page with robots.txt file.

Danny wants to know how long he has to fix it and Matt has assured us he’ll blog about it once he gets s solid reply. It’s not a bi issue right now however.

Danny asks another question about invalid links (links given that aren’t a vote but that aren’t paid for) – Danny asks if the popular bloggers getting Android phones for their review should have been asked to rel=”nofollow” the links (they weren’t).

Matt answers that if there’s a genuine review that should have an editorial link it should count. A link just for money should not.

The case of the Android phone, Matt says, was not to get links. Google, he says (rightfully) has enough links. They don’t have to buy them. :)

He comments on contests and says you need to say “you don’t have to link to me”. Danny mockingly notes that you need to be more subtle. Nice one Danny. :) Matt counters noting that basically – you should be doing it from a link baiting practice not buying them. Build something kewl and people will want to link to you.

And that’s all for now. And now it’s time to try to get through the crowd and get an interview with Matt for Webmaster Radio.

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