Matt Cutts on Finding Untrustworthy Links, Why Google Won’t Kill Toolbar PageRank

matt-cutts-webmaster-video-2013Google has released two new videos in its popular Webmaster Help series that shed new light on a couple of hot topics in the SEO industry: how to you identify unnatural links and why Google wont switch off the PageRank Toolbar feature.

Identifying Unnatural Links

After the rollout of the Penguin algorithm in April 2012, the infamous unnatural link warnings were sent by Google. It quickly became clear to SEO professionals that they would need to delete or dilute to comply with Google’s webmaster guidelines. But one question has plagued the industry ever since: “how do I know which links to remove?”

A new video by Google’s Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts announces that Google will soon begin supplying example links that were detected as being untrustworthy.

“A feature that we’re working on and that we are in the process of rolling out, which I’m pretty excited about, is that we will basically give you examples. So as we’re building the incident, whenever a webmaster analyst is saying ‘OK, these are links not to trust,’ we’ll include an example link. You might get one, you might two, you might get three, but basically it will give you an idea of the sorts of links that we are no longer trusting.”

Cutts goes on to give a few specific examples of types of links that could trigger the warning, including:

  • Too many widget links
  • Keyword-rich anchor text links 
  • Article directories 
  • Paid links

While many methods for identifying unnatural links have surfaced, Google’s new example links will give SEO professionals and webmasters more information on exactly what is triggering the warnings.

On an interesting side note, Cutts states that a “webmaster analyst” reviews and qualifies inbound links, which implies that human employees are reviewing and approving or flagging inbound links.

Here’s the full video:

Toolbar PageRank is Here to Stay

In the second video, Cutts answers the following user-submitted question:

“Why don’t you switch off the PageRank Toolbar feature? It is widely used by link sellers as a link grading system. Why do you continue to display PageRank publicly? It appears to have little relevance, except to spammers.”

Cutts responds that PageRank Toolbar is used by many people outside the SEO community to gauge the credibility and trustworthiness of websites.

“A lot of people do use it, and I believe we’ll continue to support those people while they continue to use the Google Toolbar.”

The fact that many people rely on PageRank to evaluate the credibility of a website suggests that PageRank is here to stay. Additionally, it likely plays a factor in conversion rates as well as a website’s ability to attract more inbound links.

So, for now, PageRank will likely remain a key metric in the SEO community.

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