Google is planning to tweak its search algorithm to help boost websites that are seen as trusted authorities in their subject areas, according to Matt Cutts, the company’s Head of Webspam.
In this YouTube video response to questions from consumers, Cutts explains that the search engine has long worked via PageRank to decouple the “popularity” of websites (for example, pornography sites with high traffic) from “true authority” (for instance, government websites that aren’t as visited, but which are linked to more often because they are trusted).
As he notes: “Popularity is in some sense a measure of where people go, whereas PageRank is much more a measure of reputation […] and there is a disparity there.”
Moreover, the company has also increasingly focused on differentiating authority by topic area, so that particular sites with strong reputations in their niches are better surfaced in search rankings.
To help further this goal—delivering authoritative sites with subject-matter expertise higher in its results—Google is planning to make some future tweaks to its search algorithm.
“We actually have some algorithmic changes [coming] that try to figure out ‘Hey this site is a better match for something like a medical query’ and I’m looking forward to those rolling out,” Cutts says in the video.
Cutts is vague about when the changes will come and what exactly they are, though he does allude to incorporating “extra signals,” such as well-performing links that provide evidence that a site is respected in a subject area.
For brands, the development is a good reminder that establishing authority in a particular subject matter can pay off in many ways, including furthering the impact of your content via search.
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