Matt Cutts, Google’s head of search spam, released a new video yesterday where he discusses some of the most common misconceptions in the SEO industry. In the five-minute video Matt specifically talks about how so called SEO experts tend to confuse algorithm updates with data refreshes. He also talks about the fact that Panda and Penguin updates were not done to make Google more money in the short term. Finally he talks about how many people are spending too much time and energy building links and doing other things in an attempt to improve their ranking.
Algorithm Updates & Data Refreshes
Matt talks about the differences between algorithm updates and data refreshes, which should be extremely helpful for many people in the SEO industry. While it can be confusing, knowing the difference between these two things is essential. What makes it confusing is that whether Google performs an algorithm update or a data refresh, most people simply call it a new “penguin update”. Matt explains that a algorithm update occurs any time that Google changes the actual way search results are determined. Whether it is reducing the weight placed on back links or increasing the value of header tags, these types of things are algorithm updates.
Data refreshes occur when Google clears the data for specific areas so that the existing algorithm can properly reorganize the search results. While it may cause changes in the SERPs for many people, it is not actually a change to how the sites were ranked, simply a speeding along of the updates which would have occurred slowly as Google’s data was updated over time.
Panda, Penguin & Profit
One of the biggest things people say when Google puts out a big update like the Panda or Penguin changes is that they are doing it only to make more money in the short term. The goal with Panda, Penguin or any other update, Matt claims, is to provide searchers with the best possible search results so they will come back again and again. This will improve their long term profitability, but in the short term it would have little impact or may even lower their profits in exchange for providing a better service to their customers.
Too Much Link Building & Focus on SEO
Matt concludes the video by discussing the fact that those who are attempting to increase the rankings of their sites are spending too much time and energy on link building and other SEO practices. He recommends focusing on providing a great user experience so visitors will come back and share it with their friends and family. A great looking site which provides value to visitors will end up ranking much better in the long term than one which spends more time obsessing over SEO practices.
Overall this was an informational video which packed quite a bit into the quick five minutes. It supports much of what has been reported in recent months here, that the art of SEO is becoming less and less important and website owners and marketers should spend their time focusing on creating high quality sites which provide value to visitors.