It was only by chance when I checked my Twitter stream after a late night call with the awesome guys over at Woopra, that I saw a lot of tweets about a session at SXSW on how to rank better on Google & Bing. My interest was sparked when I saw the panel for the session was made up of Danny Sullivan, the founding editor of Search Engine Land, Duane Forrester, a Sr. Product Manager with Bing and the big man himself, Matt Cutts, the head of the webspam team at Google.
To save you the hassle of looking through your Twitter stream, I’ve pulled together some of the highlights for you below.
First off, Matt confirmed that 98,000 sites were penalised this week as part of an effort to bring down a link network. The community has been awash with theories that it was the Russian SAPE network that has been hit, check out this post by Barry Schwartz. However, if you dig a little deeper and go a little darker, the chaps over at Black Hat World are pretty confident that it’s not the SAPE network that has been targeted, check out this thread for yourself. All we know for sure is that a link network has been hit and I’m sure that there a few amongst us that had an extremely stressful day once they found their site had been wiped off Google.
trashed gave some insight on press releases, stating that they might be good for getting honest citations from newspapers, but they don’t actually have any value. In fact, Google hasn’t trusted press releases since 2006.
Duane revealed that dirty links, I’m looking at you Scrapebox abusers, are being ignored when pointed to sites with high authority, which got a nod of agreement from Matt. Please don’t panic all those pedalling negative SEO, you’re still free to build 10,000 links to my clients low authority domain with the anchor text “cheap viagra” and it’ll still get penalised.
Duane also shared with us that Schema data does not directly affect rankings, though it does help search engines understand the site better – queue “Schema” to join “Guest Blogging” as the top SEO sales buzzword for 2013. Please don’t get too excited though, both Google and Bing are still testing how users respond to showing schema markup in the SERPs, so it’s still sporadically appearing.
Thanks for reading this far, as a reward, I’ve saved the hardest hitting insight till last:
Duane offered this piece of wisdom, “there are no shortcuts to online success anymore. Start building authority in a niche, then expand”. Thankfully, I’ve spent the best part of a year reading variants of that statement all over the SEOmoz forums, so I’m already one step ahead of you buddy.
Credit for this post must go to Thomas Høgenhaven for his fantastic coverage of the event.