Dear Google & Bing: Help Me Rank Better!
If you build it, they might not come, if you haven’t thought about how search engines view your web site. Forget testing for Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari. Search engines are the common browser that everyone uses. The good news is that search engine optimization (SEO) doesn’t mean terrible design or some type of black-magic trickery. Rather, there are good, sensible things that everyone should do that pleases both search engines and human visitors. In this session, representatives from Google and Bing provide this type of advice. They’ll even get you up to speed on the impact that social media is playing on search results. Even better, it’s all Q&A. Bring your top questions about how they rank sites and get answers directly from the source.
Editor In Chief Search Engine Land
Widely considered a leading “search engine guru,” Danny Sullivan has been helping webmasters, marketers and everyday web users understand how search engines work for 15 years.
Danny’s expertise about search engines is often sought by the media, and he has been quoted in places like The Wall St. Journal, USA Today, The Los Angeles Times, Forbes, The New Yorker and Newsweek and ABC’s Nightline.
Danny began covering search engines in late 1995, when he undertook a study of how they indexed web pages. The results were published online as “A Webmaster’s Guide To Search Engines,” a pioneering effort to answer the many questions site designers and internet publicists had about search engines.
Danny currently heads up Search Engine Land as editor-in-chief, which covers all aspects of search marketing and search engine news. Danny also serves as Third Door Media’s chief content officer, which owns Search Engine Land and the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. Danny also maintains a personal blog called Daggle and microblogs on Twitter: @dannysullivan.
Sr Product Marketing ManagerBing
Duane Forrester is a Sr. Product Manager with Bing’s Webmaster Program.
Previously, he was an inhouse SEM running the SEO program for MSN in the US &
Americas. He’s also the founding co-chair of SEMPO’s In-House SEM Committee, was
formerly on the Board of Directors for SEMPO and is the author of two books: How
To Make Money With Your Blog & Turn Clicks Into Customers.
Duane was a moderator at www.searchengineforums.com and maintains his own blog at
www.theonlinemarketingguy.com. When writing for Search Engine Land, Duane’s main
focus was on in-house search marketing, both what it took to manage it, and who
folks were in the industry.
Distinguished EngineerGoogle Inc
I’m the head of the webspam team at Google.
Man 1: All right. Welcome. I forgot the name of our session.
Man 2: Doing stuff with the engines.
Man 1: “Dear Bing and Google: Help Me Rank Better!” on Bing and Google. That’s the session you all wanted to be at, or at least it was the session you could get into, correct? OK.
So the format of this session is 45 minutes of presentation by each of the panelists, followed by 10 minutes of Q&A. No. There literally is no presentation, so it’s all your questions. We are joined by two different people. I will introduce, first of all, Matt Cutts of Google, who is up there on the screen, who is bitterly disappointed he could not be here because his wife had suffered an injury. Dwayne knocked her down a staircase…
Man 1: …in hopes of preventing Matt from being on the panel. And so, Matt had to insert this hypodermic needle into what appears to be her shinbone.
Man 1: No, Matt, go on. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Matt Cutts: Hi there! I’m Matt Cutts. I’m the head of the webspam team, so I deal with all the kinds of people who try to cheat. And I’m looking forward to hearing questions not just about webspam, but anything you guys want to ask about search.
Man 1: And next to me we have Duane Forrester, who is from Bing, the other major search engine that you are all using, yes?
You saw Matt…Matt was actually promoting it earlier…
Man 1: He’s very into Microsoft products. He was on a Windows PC using Skype, and was using Bing earlier.
Duane Forrester: Appreciate that, Matt.
Man 1: Killer being out there, isn’t it Matt?
Matt: A little bit!
Man 1: A little bit.
Man 1: Couldn’t get that Google hangout going, could you?
Duane: That’s your problem, you are focusing on weather control, you know, not these other things.
Matt: I almost was going to get Google Hangout going, but then they got the Skype working, because I couldn’t put your head on Gwyneth Paltrow’s body in Google Hangout, so…
Man 1: All right. We will go to our first question. There’s a microphone that you actually have to go to, conveniently positioned in the middle of the hall. So if anyone wants to go to that microphone first, you will win, for your benefit, the privilege of asking the first question. I don’t want to put any pressure on you, but if it’s lame…
Duane: I will warn you, if you argue with Danny, he will argue back.
Duane: But it’s fun. It’s really entertaining, so somebody step up.
Danny: Oh, I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Danny Sullivan. I run a site called Search Engine Land, and I’ve been writing about search engines before we had Google, which is a really long time. In the odd cases where neither Duane nor Matt speak actual English and tell you what’s going on, I will jump in and explain to you and translate it into what they’re actually trying to say but they’re not allowed to.
Your question, sir?
Question: Hi. I think it’s a pretty easy question. So in organic search results, my company comes up and we have web links that appear underneath the main link. I was wondering if you could explain some of the criteria or some of what goes into deciding what the specific web links will be.
Danny: So when you search for your company, your company names get listed, but then you get all these little links that appear underneath it.
Question: Yeah, “About Us”, “Contact Us”, etc, that kind of thing.
Danny: And how is that determined? On Google those are called site links…
Duane: Deep links for us.
Danny: And they’re called deep links over on Bing. Duane, since you actually showed up without some excuse about injury and family things, why don’t you answer first? How do you guys decide it?
Duane: Well, we actually have a lot invested in this around trust of the pages. So what you’ll notice, and this holds true for both of the engines, actually, is you can manage some of these deep links, but you cannot suggest what you would want in there. You can’t insert new ones. You’ve got the latest “gee whiz” blog article and you think it’s going to change the world, you want to make sure it gets in there; not going to happen.
Those things are in there because we know that people interact with that content deeply and they want that content. They’ve proven it to us time and time again over a fairly long period of time. So a lot of this has to do with us trusting that content as being an excellent result for a searcher.
So we can let you remove stuff out of there, we can let you change weighting in there, so maybe you want “About Us” at the beginning or maybe you want it at the bottom, that kind of stuff. But it is totally based on how much we trust that content.
Good news for you is if you take a look, and you are going to roll your eyes at this, but I haven’t been in Google Webmaster Tools to look at this lately, but I know in my own webmaster tools product, when you look in there, there are eight that you can manage. But if you have selected more, they show up in a column on the right-hand side.
So it’s kind of awesome news for you if you have extra things in there. It just means we trust more of your content. That’s all.
Danny: Did you hear all of that, Matt?
Matt: Yeah, I sure did.
Matt: Basically, at Google it’s a similar sort of thing. We call them site links. The first thing we do is we figure out whether you are basically navigational. So for the query IBM, we think IBM.com is a good match. We do that algorithmically using a lot of different factors.
Then we use the same sorts of algorithms to figure out what we think are the most relevant pages. So it’s not someone at Google who says, “I think you should have “About Us” and then you should have your store locator page. It’s a combination of not only trust, but also relevance and utility when we’re trying to figure out what are the most useful links?
And it tends to have for navigational searches—searches for where we think just a single result is not quite as useful as having a lot of real estate there on the page that’s helpful for you. And as Duane mentioned, you can absolutely log into Google.com/webmasters, which is our free webmaster console, and then if you want to, it’s very easy to…if you don’t like a particular site link, you can delete that. But we have the same sort of heuristic, where we basically say you can’t control which things show; you can only remove the ones that you don’t like.
Danny: Hey Matt, in an attempt to one-up Bing, did you recently call something mega site links because they were even better than site links? What were those?
Matt: [laughs] Absolutely, yes. Pretty soon we’ll have Mega Site Links 2000 Platinum Deluxe, Diamond Edition!
But the basic idea of that is when a query is really about you, so, you know, when it’s something like HP and you are returning HP.com, it’s not as helpful to have the eight or nine other links below that. You really want the stuff that’s above the fold to be about your website.
So mega site links are like normal size search results, but they appear underneath the main result. So you just get more of that real estate on the front page at the #1 result.
And that’s another reason why we don’t let people pick their site links, because we’re always trying different experiments. If you are a blogger, we might try a site link that’s the last two or three posts you did, or we might play with the most popular posts that we’ve seen. So there’s a lot of reasons we don’t let people pick their particular site links, and part of that is because we do run these experiments all the time.
Danny: Great. By the way, I think our hashtag for this session is SWrank. And if it’s not, now it is. Did that answer your question?
Question: It does. If I can have one other question…
Danny: One other question! Oh my goodness. Did you see the line behind you? But OK. If everybody in that line agrees that you can have another question.
Question: That should be my reward for coming up first. So, we have a business service inside of my company. What we do is we sell one thing that a lot of people need to access online. Our customers need to access it online.
Question: No. They go to our homepage….the customers go to our homepage to access something that exists on a sub-domain. So what that means is that it looks pretty much like maybe 60%, 70% of our traffic is bouncing. They’re leaving the domain to go to this sub-domain. My sense is that we’re getting penalized for that. I’m trying to figure out if there’s anything that we can do about it, if it’s a concern that I should be stressing about. Should I be trying to do something about it?
Danny: So two things, and I’ll repeat all this for you, Matt. You didn’t get the whole…All Matt heard was pornography, so he’s intrigued.
Danny: Has your traffic suddenly disappeared? Did you have any problems with Google or Bing? Are you still getting all the traffic you had before?
Question: No, the traffic is still coming, yeah.
Danny: OK, so you are probably not having a penalty to even worry about to begin with. But the question for you, Matt, also is, and this is a common one, is that, gosh, if you can tell people are bouncing away from my website, potentially that is a signal for the search engines to decide, “I shouldn’t be ranking this.”
I’ll let these guys explain it a bit more, but there are a couple ways search engines, first of all, can even tell if you are bouncing. One of those is sometimes called pogo-sticking, where somebody does a search, they click on a link, they go to a site, they don’t like it, they go back to the search engine, they click on something else, now the search engine can tell, “Oh, they’ve gone and they want to come back.”
In your case, you are saying, well, somebody clicks from the search engine, they come to my website, then they go to another page in my website. It’s on a different domain, but it’s another place. The search engines really don’t have any idea what they’ve done, right? As far as the search engines are concerned, they went to your website and they didn’t pogo-stick back.
So if they were to be using that as a metric, which they may or may not confirm—they might—they wouldn’t even see that.
There are other ways, though, with maybe various toolbars they can tell what’s going on, but I doubt you have a bounce problem; you have somebody who’s coming in and they’re continuing on your site.
But you got the double-answer question, so we’ll go back to Duane. I mean I gave you the follow-up, so Duane, what’s the deal? Because you guys do measure bounce off search results pages. You’ve said that in the past. So if you just want to make your competitor go down, click on their listing and…No, what do you do?
Duane: Yeah, no. So what he’s suggesting won’t work. OK. This is not something you need to panic about, OK? So as Danny explained, if somebody clicks on the search result, goes to your page, and spends like, we’ll say, a nanosecond there because they know it’s just not for them—we’ve all been there—then they immediately come back to us, click on another result, that’s a stack of data that we can look at and say, “Wow. That was not a good quality answer that we brought back, because if it was, the person would have stayed engaged on that website, not come back to us and clicked an another result in the query.”
So that time on there, we call it dwell time. That’s the amount of time you spend on that page. When you are on that page, if you leave that page and you hop to another area within the website, there are other ways, as Danny had mentioned, there are other ways that we can eventually come across that information to help us understand, but in your case it’s still going to be associated with your domain. So that would look to anyone viewing it like a relevant piece of traffic.
How you move those people around inside your content, that’s let’s about us. That’s up to you to run your business, OK?
And, put factually, when you actually click on a search result, go to the webpage, if you navigate from the website away—again, you click on a link or go navigationally somewhere else, or even just type something else into the address bar and leave from there, we don’t see that direct action. So we don’t know that the person just suddenly said, “OK, I’m outta here. I’m displeased with you,” as a result of having started in that search query. So, to me, this is not something that you need to panic about.
Danny: Matt, did you get all that?
Matt: I did. Let me add just a little bit to it. In general, I wouldn’t worry about the idea of how much of Google or Bing or somebody else might use that as a signal. Let me give you a very simple reason why. Imagine you want to know when the Daylight Savings kicks in, or what day Easter is, or you want to convert something very fast.
If you land on a website and you get the fact, “Oh, Easter is on April 9th,” or,” Daylight Savings kicks in later tonight,” then you come back to Google, that doesn’t mean necessarily that you are unhappy. So you’d have to use that signal very carefully, because it could be noisy. A site that gives you the information really easily and quickly might look bad according to some of those metrics, when, in fact, it’s just giving you exactly what you need very fast.
Now, that said, if that is something that you are worried about, if you, for whatever reason, want to concentrate on getting your bounce rate down, there are ways to do it.
One thing that I’ve found as a blogger is if you get down to the bottom of yoru blog post and you have a “related links” or “related posts”, that can help give people other places to go. You’ve even seen on The New York Times, when you get down to a bottom of an article, something will slide in across the page and say, “Here’s another good article you can click on.”
And then if you provide premium content, whether it be consumer product reviews like consumer reports, or I think Danny might have mentioned pornography earlier, you can imagine having some sort of content that’s not behind the pay wall; so some sort of content that people can find so that they don’t necessarily bounce around.
But, in general, just because somebody lands on your site and then navigates deeper within your site, I wouldn’t worry about that being counted as a bad thing. Normally, if people start exploring and clicking deeper within your site, that would typically be considered a good thing because you have some sort of compelling content that makes them want to delve in a little more.
Danny: I wanted to say, by the way, you can’t see my t-shirt, but it’s this chart that I’m putting on the screen that my family made for me, which is what we at Search Engine Land call our Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors. And you can download this. You can search for it on either of the search engines. If you don’t find it for, say, a search on SEO, if it’s not #1, something is wrong with those search engines and they should fix that. But you could do SEO Ranking Factors and you’ll find it.
But these factors are all the different kinds of signals that a search engine takes into account. There’s actually a thing in there that would cover things like bounce rate and quality. But it’s one of many different kinds of factors.
And so, maybe you did have a suddenly big thing that was detected, but if you have lots of other good content, you have lots of good links pointing at you, you’ve got lots of social activity, they all kinda combine together to make an impact as well. So one thing doesn’t necessarily keep you to the top or necessarily wipe you out either.
Question: With so many SEO companies showing up, popping up, claiming to do SEO, a lot of markets are getting saturated with optimized content. I was wondering if you guys could say something to: what are you doing to prevent…for example, if you are looking for something and all the first page is just optimized content and it’s not what you are actually looking for, I mean are you pretty much out of luck if you are not optimizing your site yet your site is relevant to something? What kinds of things are you doing to prevent…?
Danny: So if everybody is SEO’ing, then what happens?
Question: I’m just kinda asking what kind of things you guys are doing, and if that’s something that you guys take into consideration now. If I’m mom ‘n pop and I’m trying to optimize a site by myself, I mean I’m going to get beat by everybody who is paying thousands of dollars to SEO a site.
Danny: We probably need some perspective on the power of SEO as opposed to….Matt, why don’t we start off with you? If I just sprinkle some of the SEO dust on my pages and I’m outranking everybody else, and then now everybody is doing it, what chance does the mom ‘n pop have for ever being found?
And, for the most part, most search engines have made a lot of progress on being able to crawl thought that richer content.
Now, what’s interesting about your question is you went a little bit deeper and you said, “Well, what about all the people who are sort of optimizing really heard and doing a lot of SEO?” Normally we don’t sort of pre-announce changes, but there is something that we’ve been working on in the last few months. And hopefully, in the next couple months or so, in the coming weeks, we hope to release it.
And the idea is basically to try and level the playing ground a little bit. So all those people who have sort of been doing, for lack of a better word, “over optimization” or “overly” doing their SEO, compared to the people who are just making great content and trying to make a fantastic site, we want to sort of make that playing field a little bit more level.
So that’s the sort of thing where we try to make the Google Bot smarter, we try to make our relevance more adaptive so that people don’t do SEO—we handle that—and then we also start to look at the people who sort of abuse it, whether they throw too many keywords on the page, or whatever they exchange way too many links, or whatever they are doing to sort of go beyond what a normal person would expect in a particular area. So that is something where we continue to pay attention and we continue to work on it, and it is an active area where we’ve got several engineers on my team working on that right now.
Danny: Thank you. And Duane?
Duane: We have no engineers working on this. We’ve got a couple of hamsters in the back room spinning some wheels, and we’ll see how that works out for us. Just kidding.
Actually, as Matt pointed out, it’s an awesome questions. What people have to realize is, and Matt kind of alluded to this, SEO is like a foundational element. It helps you make a better product so we can consume it easier. And if it helps points to relevancy, then we say big thumbs up; that’s awesome, because that relevancy gets translated directly to what a consumer has searched for. And if the consumer ultimately clicks on that result and stays engaged with it, then we win and that website wins.
Over-optimization is always a problem. But part of this question focused on, like, a mom ‘n pop and how would they actually fit into the scenario and get ahead in this world?
Quite frankly, there are still a lot of ways to manage this kind of thing. How many of you here run your own websites? What the heck do the rest of you do?
Danny: It was a lot, Matt. A lot.
Duane: There was like seven. Matt, I don’t know if you noticed it, we only have 14 people in the room.
Danny: How many of you guys hate Google? That’s harsh!
Duane: Wow! So, you are a mom ‘n pop….Let me just take us back on track here. You are a mom ‘n pop and you want to get ahead on something. You know you’ve got a great product. Really, what this is going to come down to is, does the rest of the world think you have a great product? Because if they do and they amplify this on your behalf, we will pick up on the signals.
There’s a couple of key important items to notice in this, OK? Essentially, what I am telling you is if you are not engaged socially, you are missing the boat. Because the conversation is happening socially about you and about your content. So you need to be engaged with that. Those are really important signals for us.
Whether you are involved or not is your choice, but those signals still exist whether you are in that conversation or not.
So those types of things can really help those mom ‘n pops get ahead, where one of those optimized websites, chances are the people are not investing that heavily in everything—they are banking on the periodic table of SEO tattooed on Danny’s chest.
How many items does this have on it, Danny, like roughly? Like 30?
Danny: Sure. Roughly 30.
Duane: OK. Let’s say 30. The algorithm that we work with at Bing factors about 1,000 items every time it makes a decision on ranking. So as much as the SEOs have some things figured out, there’s a long way to go. These algorithms are not static. They are very squishy. If you push on one side, it bulges on the other side a bit, which means a signal can show up and shift the rankings simply because that signal carries greater importance at that moment.
You want a brand new piece of content that is killing it, you put it out there, your fans amplify it, their friends amplify it and it continues that way. At this stage there are no links pointed at it, so we have nothing to go on other than this social explosion that’s happening with this. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If it’s good content and it catches on, the links will catch up to it. All the rest of those signals will materialize.
In the meantime, we are going to do what we think is best for our constituents, the searchers, and try to showcase that content to them to see if they engage. If they engage and they stay engaged with it and love it, we’ll keep ranking it.
Danny: Matt, to go back what you were saying, you’re not going to release an algorithm that’s designed to necessarily hurt the SEO kinds of things you encourage people to do.
Duane: Right. I heard Matt say if you are doing SEO you are screwed in two months.
Matt: No, no. A lot of people seem to think that Google hates SEO. That’s definitely not the case. A lot of people seem to think that…
Danny: You said Google hates SEO?
Matt: No. I did not say Google hates SEO.
Matt: We even made a video about this. If you do a search for webmaster videos, we’ve made something like 400 videos. And we made one specifically to say Google does not hate SEO, because SEO can often be very helpful. It can make a site more crawlable. It can make a site more accessible. It can think about the words that users are going to type whenever they come to a search engine and make sure that those words are on the page, which just makes the site more user-friendly.
So the same sorts of things you do to optimize your return on investment and how well something spreads virally or socially is the exact same sort of stuff that often works well from a search engine perspective. So there is a ton of stuff that is fantastic to do as an SEO, it just makes your content more crawlable and more accessible.
But, absolutely there are some people who take it too far. What we’re mindful of is when someone says, “We’re White Hat. We continue to do the right thing, and we see the Black Hats who are over optimizing or going too far, and they seem to be doing too well.” So we’ve been working on changes to try to make sure that if you are a White Hat or if you’ve been doing very little SEO that you are going to not be affected by this change. But if you’ve been going way far beyond the pale, then that’s the sort of thing where your site might not rank as highly as it did before.
Duane: OK, I actually have a question for you, Matt, because I run my own website, so I have a vested interest in this.
Duane: As you guys build this out, tactics have changed over the years, right? So a site that is five, six years old that may have done something that is considered acceptable at that time and hasn’t been updated, I’m not going to get into too much detail, but is that one of the type of things that you guys are factoring against as well?
Matt: Typically not. I mean the overall goal that we try to convey is…it’s just like, I think it was Gretsky said, “Don’t go where the hockey puck is, go where it’s going to be.” And so we tell people over and over again, “Make a compelling site. Make a site that’s useful. Make a site that’s interesting. Make a site that’s relevant to people’s interests.”
You know, take a site like Pinterest. Pinterest does not need search engines to grow, right? And yet, at the same time, if it’s the sort of site that you like, you are going to come back to, you are going to tell your friends about, you are going to bookmark all those sorts of things, then that’s probably the sort of site that both Bing and Google want return in, in search results.
So it’s a relatively simple idea. We’re always trying to best approximate if a user lands on a page, are they going to be really, really happy instead of really, really annoyed? And if it’s the sort of thing where they land on a page and they are going to be annoyed, then that is the sort of thing that we’ll take action on.
Now, in theory, if you have a page that was built in 1992 and you’ve never updated it, that’s possible, but typically, the kinds of things that we see that people get annoyed about these days are if you land on a page that has way too many ads; you know, just right in your face, for example.
So we rolled out a change that we call the Page Layout Algorithm earlier this year. It affects about 1% of search results, but it affects the sites that really just put the ads right there in your face and really annoy you.
And so, all of the changes we make, over 500 a year, are designed to try to approximate if a user lands on that page, just how happy are they going to be with what they get? So if you keep that in mind, then you should be in good shape no matter what.
Danny: And just to cap off, by the way, no SEO can guarantee you to have a top ranking. If they could, then maybe this is more of an issue. What they can guarantee you is they can try, but oftentimes when you do see these kinds of guarantees, what they are really guaranteeing you is maybe they will give you your money back or they will try something else with it again.
But it’s very equivalent to the fact that no public relations professional can guarantee that they’re going to get you great coverage in the newspaper. But, you can increase the odds, and there are good things that the search engines, just like newspapers or publications want you to do as well.
Is that Hello Kitty behind your head, by the way, Matt?
Matt: Yes, it is Hello Kitty. I thought I’d throw it in their for people who are observant.
Danny: Excellent. Next question.
Question: Hi. My name is Nick. I started a company called Zoc Doc based out of New York. Zoc Doc is where you can search for doctors filtered by insurance and book appointments online. So we have a mantra at Zoc Doc, which is “Patients First”, which means we always try to optimize the site and the user experience for the ease of use and to optimize every patient’s experience.
We do this through both qualitative testing—we get a lot of people and have watch them use it—and we also do a ton of A/B testing. The problem with this stuff is that, often, the changes that we want to make that improve the user experience actually make the SEO worse. Like, we used to have related searches at the top that were quite useful for SEO, but we ultimately determined that probably wasn’t the best user experience and we got rid of them, or we moved them to the bottom of the page.
So, what do you guys do to reward sites that are really trying to optimize user experience, perhaps at the expense of SEO, kind of like link sculpting?
Danny: Let me repeat that for Matt. I will say in general, the questions, by the way, the shorter they are the better, because he can’t hear them, so then I have to try to remember everything you said.
Matt: Actually, Danny, I could hear that one. Sometimes it’s a little muddy, but I could hear that.
Danny: OK. Your question really was: “We are doing things on our site that we have been doing for SEO. Like, we may have related searches at the top. But now we really want to focus on the user.” What I’ll say to you in general is good SEO is focusing on the user. Neither of these people will tell you that you should be screwing up the user experience. And, in fact, they are modeling their search algorithm to reward good user behavior.
So things that you are changing might not be as important to SEO as you are thinking. But, Matt, why don’t you go first on that one?
Matt: Yeah. In general, [laughs] we do pay a lot of attention to the user experience. And so, a lot of the stuff that we’re trying to do tries to recreate what the user experience is like. So I mentioned this page layout algorithm, for example. We actually render the page so that we can figure out where exactly on the page the ads are, and so we can approximate this idea of when you land on the page, within a few hundred milliseconds your perception on that page is often locked in by things like, “Does it look like geo cities back in the 1990’s with the animated GIFs, and does it have big ads, that sort of thing, or is it a really clean, nice layout?”
The hazard of mentioning a specific site whenever you do a question, by the way, is we can’t help but check out what’s going on with that site.
Question: I would love to know if we’re doing something wrong, if you are looking at it right now.
Matt: Well, one thing I would say is make sure that you don’t just have artificial links. So if you have a link that says “San Francisco Ear, Nose, Throat” on a page about bikes pointing to Zocdoc.com, then somebody might think that someone on your behalf was trying to buy links. And, in general, that’s something that the search engines sort of frown upon.
So I’d spend the time less on that sort of trying to build links than making something that, for example, get’s covered in the newspaper. So if you get written up somewhere, even on a blog or in a newspaper, often those are really good sources of links. And that’s a great way to sort of build out your link building strategy.
Duane: So yeah, I’m going to tell you, you mentioned moving things like related searches from one area to another area, we could care less about that. That’s not the content people are looking for. And, in fact, if you look at it from our perspective, we’re going to send a searcher to your webpage, and then the first thing you are trying to do is get them off that page to another location. That’s maybe not the best user experience full stop, so we would be looking at that saying, “We don’t see that s the best user experience. Clearly your work has shown you it’s not the best user experience.” I think you guys are on the right path here.
Matt nailed it, right? Create compelling content. Get noticed in these places. I did an interview with The New York Times about, I don’t know, six months ago maybe, and it was food bloggers were upset because they were having a hard time…local food bloggers were having a hard time outranking the All Recipes and the big guys in the industry.
A lot of that has to do with the approach. If you try to suddenly show up for a chicken soup recipe, well you are going to have a hard time cracking that, because these guys have already cornered that market and become very popular as a resource. People are happy with them as a resource.
But these other areas that are much more detailed and more niche oriented, those are spaces where you could come in and you could literally say, “Look, we offer a more compelling product. We offer more compelling content in these areas than the competition does. That can help you get a foothold on things.”
Matt mentioned it: don’t buy links. I mean, seriously folks. If you guys are buying links, one of two things is going to happen, neither of which is good. You’re either going to waste your company’s money or you are going to hurt your domain in the long run. Either way is not a positive outcome for you.
So instead of putting money at what seems to be a short term workaround to what you think is a critically important problem, take that time and work on a social presence program. Work on social media marketing. Work on becoming an authoritative voice in your area.
When you hit that stride, Dan mentioned it, Matt mentioned it, you know, you start getting the newspaper mentions, you actually become those sources. I mean you guys may or may not notice this every now and then, but randomly Danny will pop up in more mainstream media as the voice for the industry.
That type of thing, that voice popping up in that mainstream presence, goes a long way for people to start understanding that that’s an authority. Because believe it or not, prior to Danny showing up on a USA Today article, even we had no idea who the hell he was.
Danny: And occasionally, sometimes they will even link to you, which is nice. But they often forget. Is that OK?
Question: Yeah, thank you.
Danny: OK, you are welcome.
Duane: Yeah, and just to clarify a point, do not be afraid to ask for a link. If you can start doing an article for somebody or you are being mentioned in an article or something, ask them for the link. The worst case scenario is they say no to you. Best case scenario, maybe they are going to create a resource area and put a link off to that. It’s less about SEO, but, man, it can drive a ton of traffic. And then those people can amplify you.
Danny: Hey Duane, are you going to do a blog post on this afterwards?
Danny: Could you link over to me?
Danny: Matt already did in his post yesterday.
Duane: Can I no-follow it?
Danny: Yes, please.
Danny: We have our next question. Yes?
Question: My question is directed towards Matt. When I do a hotel search in Google, I get back TripAdvisor.com, but I also get back all their country level domains. For example, if I search for The Mayflower Hotel in New York City, I get back Tripadvisor.com, but I also get France, India, Canada. Why is that happening?
Danny: Matt, the question is: Why do your search results suck so badly?
Danny: So, I did this search. Is this the search you are talking about where you searched for Mayflower Hotel in New York City?
Danny: And we’re getting trip advisor.
Duane: Where are you when you are doing the search?
Question: I’m in Austin, Texas.
Danny: Is that the kind of thing you would search for?
Question: Yeah. Like, if I’m researching a hotel and I just want to look at what other people are saying about it.
Danny: So, more generally it sounds like you don’t understand why sometimes you are getting more than one page from the same company. And, in fact, in some cases, maybe you feel like the company seems to be dominating the results?
Yeah, Matt, so what’s the deal? Why is that happening…I’m not seeing that here in these search results, but there are occasions when you do a search for, say…Say I did a search for something like Google. You know, I get Google, Google Maps, Google Video, Google Translate, Google Images. Is there any anti Google stuff I’m ever going to get from that? How do you…?
Matt: That’s a totally fair question. In general, we keep an eye out for spam. So if a site is just anti but spam, then we don’t necessarily want it to rank. But if it’s a genuine grassroots sort of site or it reflects the opinion of a lot of people, then it is often likely to show up on the first page.
So, you know, you search for “United”, or you search for “Coke”, or [xx 33:10] and you’ll find sites that are protest sort of sites.
But usually when you type in a query like HP, or IBM, or Entertainment Weekly, or whatever, that’s typically viewed as a navigational query. So you might get EntertainmentWeekly.com, and then if they happen to have EntertainmentWeekly.ca or something like that, we might think that that could be useful as well, or we might show different properties. So if Entertainment Weekly is a part of TV Guide or part of some larger conglomerate, then you might see those sorts of things.
Typically, you can, over on the left-hand side, use something that we call search tools to play with different ways to slice and dice your data. So, for example, we do geo locate, which means if you search for “bank”, not only in different countries, but even on the East Coast versus the West Coast, you are more likely to see a West Coast bank, like Wells Fargo, versus East Coast Bank.
And so you can click on something called “Change Location” and that will change your search results based on where we think you are. So you can always make that a little bit more explicit.
It’s a tough problem because sometimes Switzerland might have four different languages, and so we might not know exactly what the right top-level domain is. But we have something called personalization, so if you’ve clicked on certain results more often in the past, then we start to learn, “Oh, that’s the one that you are looking for,” and then that makes it more likely for it to show up for you in the future.
Danny: But your question also was in your case, it sounds like it’s not that you’re getting everything from the Mayflower Hotel, he’s concerned that he’s getting Trip Advisor’s trying to show up for Mayflower Hotel, and not only are they showing up with their listing for Mayflower Hotel in New York as he searched for, but their listings for Mayflower Hotel all over the place are showing up, which sounds really weird. And I’m not getting the same thing here, but…
Matt: Yeah, I tried to do the search too and I didn’t see that happening. But, in general, it can be hard. If someone searches for Paris, we normally know they mean Paris in France, but it can mean Paris, Texas. And so it does depend on where you are and what you are searching for. And we take our best guess, but I’d be the first to admit that we can get that wrong.
And then when we see bad search results, feel free to let us know and then we try to make that better.
Danny: You want to clarify a little bit more?
Question: Yeah. You kinda went over it; it clogs the search results. For me, it shows up, like I get six Trip Advisor links.
Danny: By the way, are you logged into Google?
Danny: So that’s an important thing, is that Google and Bing both have personalized results, which happen for everybody, and have happened for everybody at Google for the past two years and at Bing for the past year. Even if you are not logged in, your results are personalized.
But Google recently, in January, made a change to bring out “Search plus your world” results so that when you are logged in, they are doing even more personalization than they’ve ever done before. If I were logged in, I would see two buttons up here. One is the personalize button and one turns all that off.
So if you are logged in and you are going to Trip Advisor a lot, it could be kicking in more Trip Advisor stuff for you.
Danny: Thank you. Next question.
Question: Hi. My name is Aaron. I’ve heard a lot of talk recently about the idea of an internet search filter in regards to search engines and social networks. Is this something that you think is a valid concern? And, if so, how are you addressing it?
Danny: When you say internet search filter, are you talking about like a filter bubble?
Question: Yeah, not filter specifically, but a filter bubble…
Danny: Yeah. So that goes back to this personalization thing I mentioned. Eli Pariser is especially noted for this idea of the filter bubble, which is, “Hey, you are personalizing my results, so now every time I search I am only going to see all the democratic results because I’m a democrat. I want to see a mixture of results.” Or I’m not going to see different kinds of things. So, Duane, what’s up with that and you guys trying to show us only what we like? We’re more sophisticated than that. We can handle the truth!
Duane: The more information you give us, the better results end up being. That’s truly what this comes down to. So personalization can expand and become more inclusive over time if we understand that you have that broad aspect.
I remember back when personalization first started at Google, I had this struggle. I have a number of hobbies. One has to do with Jeeps, another has to do with motorcycles. And I would go for weeks on end searching for accessories and parts and different things for Jeeps. And then, just one day I’d burn out on that and I’d flip over to do something about a motorcycle, and yet my search results were still slightly tinted with this historical reference to Jeep items.
I’m kind of looking at it saying, “Damnit! Follow me! I’m done with that mentally.” We’ve moved way past that at this stage, right?
So the more information that we know about what you like, that broad spectrum of what you like, the better these types of things end up becoming. I mean who here has searched to the end of the internet on every topic?
OK, so two people. Awesome.
OK, I’m going to call that a rounding error. But the reality is that we do often tend to stick within one area of the internet that we like. Now, it will expand and contract naturally based on our interests, or topics of the day, or these kinds of things, but normally we come back around to this sort of idea that this is the core of who I am; this is what I like.
So we’re trying to learn from that and trying to follow it. That helps us understand not just about you standing there in the red shirt, but “you” representative as a group of people, and does standing there in a red shirt necessarily correlate to what everyone else is thinking, or is there a difference?
So I’m looking at this from two perspectives. One, with my search engine hat on, I’m saying, “This is a good thing,” and two, as a user of search, I’m saying, “This is a good thing.” You know, I’ve been in the world of SEO coming on 15 years now and this is the golden age of getting information easily that is the right information.
Matt: Just to add to that a little bit, I’m keeping an eye on the Twitter stream and Kathy Holly asks:
“Given the new personalization of search results, how can I even tell objectively how I’m doing in search rank,” which kind of goes back to the filter bubble idea a little bit.
Something that most people don’t know is when we personalize the results, we show you down at the bottom of the page results for personalized. You can click and you can see how they were personalized, for what reason, and then, if you want to, you can do the search again with personalization turned off.
So with the rollout of Search Plus Your World, we even added a little checkbox right there in the search results where you can say, “Don’t show me any personalized results”, and you can even set a setting that says, “I don’t want to see any.”
So there are a lot of ways to turn it off, but I completely agree with Duane that if you are willing to give us a little bit more information about what you are interested in or what you like, we can give you so much better search results.
So, for the most part, it helps. And normally, it’s only a very soft thing, but it can really surface a lot of really useful results. But you absolutely can turn it off, at least on Google, if you are interested in it.
Danny: Matt actually lies. I’m going to demonstrate his lie. Don’t worry, that’s all right, Matt. It’s just you guys have overlooked it. But remember I mentioned if you are logged out you get personalization? So what I searched for earlier, remember I searched for hotels…Matt had said something about Paris, so I did a search for Paris. Then I was having some fun, so I did a search for Paris Hilton. And then I did a search for Utah. And then I did a search for hotels.
And if you look at my search results, notice down here I am getting a listing for Paris hotels? And see how it says, “You recently searched for Paris.” Now, that’s an example of exactly what he’s talking about. They are saying, “Hey! Even though I don’t know who you are and you are not even logged in, I can tell you searched for Paris. I can tell you searched for hotels. I think you are probably searching for Paris hotels that might be interesting to you.”
And that’s the thing. The difficulty is because I’m logged out, there’s actually no way for me to turn that off. What they used to have at the bottom of the page is a little thing that said “search customizations”. They’ve lost that.
And Matt, for some reason I’m not…you know, you are not getting the other two buttons when I’m logged out to turn that off. But if I were logged in, then I would get those kinda two buttons that look like this over here where there’s a little person over there and a little thing over there, and I can turn that sort of stuff off.
But what I would add to it is, if you go back to the earlier question that someone said of, “Gosh, what do you do when you get 10 SEOs who are all optimizing their pages and ranking #1 for it? How is there more diversity?” It’s not even 10 SEOs that cause the problem.
What do you do when you get 10 pages that are relevant on something, but they are not necessarily relevant to every single person for that search? At some point people get like, “Well, I need to have something a little more customized. I need to have a better tailored experience.” And that’s what they’re trying to do with the personalization so that it’s not every single person has to see the same set of results and a certain number of people are dissatisfied with it because it’s just not on the topic that they were looking for. But they can better give you, if you will, your own set of results that might be more into it.
I’m addressing you as if it were your question, but the questioner has already headed off, thank you. So now you have your question!
Question: Just one question in regards to site block and Panda. Is it possible for there to be brand rehabilitation for sites that essentially had a pent up sort of negative sentiment coming into Panda, site blocks were applied, then those site blocks were factored into the algorithm from then on.
My question to you is: do you reassess those site blocks on a regular basis? And if you don’t, how to webmasters manage to a metric that they have no transparency to?
Danny: How many of you are familiar with the Panda update in the audience? OK, for the few of you that aren’t, it was a system that Google introduced last year so that if you really didn’t have good content, not necessarily bad content, just sort of fast food-ish content, you might not rank as well as you have in the past.
They run it periodically and it gets applied, and if you get hit by it, then you just may not do as well as you did in the past.
That’s kind of a form of site blocking. It’s not necessarily a block because it doesn’t mean the site’s not in the results at all, it just may not rank as well. And Google has other kinds of blocking that they do.
So you’re asking how you would get out of the Panda filter, or how do I just get out of your bad graces overall?
Question: The actual manual block and understanding that that actually is a weighing factor, correct? So, can you rehabilitate yourself in that context?
Danny: Matt, how do you get out of Panda if you’ve been hit? Can they just pay you?
Matt: Uh, no. They can’t pay. [laughs] What we do recommend people doing is taking a fresh look at your site, step back. Sometimes people have gotten a little too close and they’ve gone too far on optimizing or they are not paying enough attention to the user experience.
If you revamp your site, if you look at the low quality content—content that probably doesn’t meet the cut, try to get rid of that. Then try to make a fantastic user experience—something that’s compelling.
What we do is we recomputed our data typically every month. So we are often pushing out new data every month or so at this point. It’s sort of irregular still, but it’s roughly every month or so we get a new month’s worth of data and we push that.
Now, as far as the site block data, that is data where people have gone out of their way, whenever you click on a site and then click back, you will sometimes see a block, you know, site.com, whatever it is, and there is an element of Panda which is how many people have blocked the site. But it actually affects very few, relatively few sites.
So Panda actually rolled out, the initial version, without that, and that’s something that’s a factor, but it’s not used nearly…it doesn’t affect nearly as many sites as just the main elements of Panda.
So the main thing that you can do is make sure that you try to take a look at your site, take a fresh look, take a step back, see whether you need to revamp the site, add functionality, maybe remove some low quality content. And then over time, as our signals adjust and we push out new data and we push out new iterations of the algorithm that hopefully the algorithms will respond to that.
Question: But Matt, even for that small percentage of sites, is there a chance for that small percentage, through the manual block, to rehabilitate or to be reassessed?
Danny: Sorry, you said for the small percentage of sites that are…
Question: That have been hit by manual site block. Is there a chance for them to rehabilitate themselves?
Danny: Matt, what if you have manually gone through and tagged some of these things as…
Matt: So there’s nothing manual about Panda. Panda is completely algorithmic. The number of sites compared to the rest of the sites affected by Panda is very, very small. We typically haven’t refreshed that list nearly as often because the list of sites that are blocked the most, you know, if you just stop and close your eyes and think about: “What are some sites that I never want to see in my search results again? Hmm, yeah, I’d be really happy if I never saw that site.”
Typically, that list of sites is relatively constant. So the sites that people hated last month and blocked a lot are typically the same sort of sites that they are blocking this month.
So we haven’t refreshed that data as often. I’d be happy to go back to the team and say, “OK, do we need to take another look at it?” But it is a very small fraction of sites overall that’s affected compared to the number of sites that’s affected by Panda as far as because of site blocks.
Danny: So to clarify, you had the site blocking feature that came out where you started making it where people could specifically say, “I don’t want to see this kind of site again. I don’t want it to show up in my search results.” You pushed a little button that said, “I want to block all this stuff” and away it went.
That’s actually been broken for like four months now. You can’t even block pages if you want to. So, kind f on the one hand, you don’t have to worry about that being factored in. So you are saying, Matt, that the data still hasn’t been refreshed enough…?
Matt: It hasn’t been refreshed relatively recently. There’s actually two ways to block. There is a Chrome extension that you can install. That was successful enough that we built something into the main web search results. So there’s two different ways people can tell us about sites that they don’t like and also, as a site benefit, remove them from the search results.
So even though we haven’t refreshed it in the web search results, there’s still this Chrome extension that continues to gather data for us.
Question: Just as long as that data doesn’t disappear some place and those penalties are always applied, is that reassessment? That’s all I was concerned about.
Duane: The search engines, we don’t hold a grudge, right? You truly have to suck to really pop on the radar to the point where there is something permanent against you.
Danny: The hall of extraordinary suckiness.
Duane: Yeah, totally. Totally. I mean this is a challenge for a lot of websites, right? Who here thinks they have an awesome website? Raise your hand.
OK. Who here has ever gotten negative feedback about their website?
Yeah, and you know what? I’m willing to bet that that negative feedback is accurate, because someone is looking at it and saying the baby is ugly. You guys who all think you have awesome websites—and I didn’t raise my hand, but I am in that camp—seriously, all of us need to take a second look, because our eyes will deceive us.
So you may be looking at something and saying, “Wow. I think it doesn’t get any better than this.” But you seriously have to open that up. Do the UX testing. Do conversion testing. Do all of these things to make sure that the independent voice of the user tells you when you’ve got it right. That sort of thing, if that’s the path you are on, will go a long way to helping the site improve, getting rid of that deadwood content that might have been dragging you down at some point, all of that kind of thing. It makes a big difference for you.
I mean the engines, we’re not in the business of blocking content. That’s not what we want to accomplish. We want more content. But if the signals are telling us that it’s kind of crappy, then that’s it. It’s not that the content is crappy. It may be the page that’s housing it, the template, the wrapper. It could be anything that’s putting the user off and giving us that signal.
Matt: I think Duane is exactly write. Be aware that you might be subject to the Lake Woebegone affect. Not everybody can be above average. So it helps to really take a very clear look at your website sometimes.
Danny: We’re at our last 10 minutes. The time has gone so fast that I’m going to the lighting round moment of our competition…
Duane: I have two items, though. I’m sorry. These came through Twitter and I’m going to address these.
Danny: No, no! They are not here! They don’t get to talk!
Duane: I can answer Joshua Graham…
Danny: I’m not going to be antisocial with social…
Duane: …and Pam Kendall with one answer. Yes, I’m Canadian. And why are Matt and I goofballs? My answer is because I’m Canadian.
Danny: He is Canadian. I didn’t want to comment on your Canadian-ness…
Duane: Someone asked literally: “Why are SEOs like Matt Cutts and Duane Forrester such goofballs?”
Danny: So lighting round, the rules are ask very briefly. The responses are very brief. And also, I will say that when the session ends, I don’t think we immediately have to get out, so Duane will probably sit here. I will take this computer and turn it around for exactly 10 minutes. If you want to answer questions I will turn your video back on, Matt. It’s really weird with you here in front of me.
Duane: Yes. Come up and pat Matt on the head. [laughs]
Danny: Your question?
Question: Hi there. I’ll try and make this real quick. We went through a rebranding a couple years ago. We had two URLs. We dropped the old one. We’ve got a new one. And now for the old one, because we changed CMS’s, we’ve got about 50,000 broken links. And when you go to them, it’s “page not found”.
What is the best way in search engines to do that, because we had 301’s. We had a lot of those, about 10,000 plus. But for some reason we had issues with speed and all the rest of it. So someone dropped them all. Now we’re back to nothing. So when someone goes to those pages, they are all dead.
Danny: So you have 10,000 broken pages because your tech person decided the 301’s were slowing things down and figured it was just better that people got an error page?
Question: Yes, basically.
Danny: So they’re kind of an idiot.
Danny: Could I just say, by the way, if you are on the tech side and your SEO comes to you and asks for a 301, give them the friggin’ 301, OK? And if you are an SEO that is trying to get a 301, I mean my God, it’s like, you know, you are asking to be able to walk across the street! Could you go back and say that both Google and Bing said that if you don’t get the 301 you should be fired? Wouldn’t you endorse that, Bing?
Duane: No, I’m actually going to step this up a little bit. You need to take one of those IT people and shoot them.
Duane: I guarantee you the rest will fall in line. Now, you don’t need to kill them. Just wing them a little bit.
Danny: This is Texas. This is Texas, winging them is fine!
Duane: Exactly. You are just making a point. That’s all. But no, seriously, this is a business issue; like, seriously a business issue. There is precious little that we as a search engine can do to solve your problem. I mean if I could, I’d fly to where you’re from , because you have a compelling accent and it sounds exotic, and then I would kick someone in the ass for you.
Duane: But when I ran SEO at MSN, I had this problem where someone from the IT group would come to me and say, “Hey, we’re maintaining all of this,” as if letting a file sit on a server is maintenance. But in their world, there is a form of maintenance going on with that, right? You have to help them understand.
If you have to, hand draw them a graph that goes along nicely and then ends precipitously and show them what their action is going to do, and tell them they are on the nut to explain to management why the traffic evaporated, because it’s their action that will cause this. Your action is trying to avoid it.
Matt: And the one thing that I would say is sometimes you still can’t convince a tech guy to do a 301. And if that’s the case, all the search engines came together with a thing called rel=”canonical” where you can say, “OK, here’s this page, and I can’t make a 301, but I can tell you it’s supposed to be over at this other location.” So it’s a way to tell search engines: “The preferred location for this page is this URL over here.”
So in an ideal world do a 301. But like my school account, I can’t make them do a 301 and I’m like, “Don’t you understand? I’m Matt Cutts!” And they’re like, “We don’t care who you are. We’re not going to do a 301.”
That’s the sort of situation that we invented rel=”canonical” for, because sometimes, no matter what you do, those tech guys just aren’t going to listen to you.
Danny: One last thing is if you have the 10,000 redirects and they really can’t find a way to do it faster, go back and find your most hit pages and put in 10, or 20, or 100 of them for the important stuff.
Duane: Yeah. There’s always workarounds for this stuff, so just prioritize them and you’ll probably get some of that back.
Question: Hey. I’ll be fast. I work for Mother Jones Magazine and we’re a long form investigative reporting magazine.
Danny: I was just reading you on the airplane coming over.
Question: Awesome. Fantastic. Thank you. We have this strange problem that happens sometimes where we’ll have a great scoop, and it’ll go around the internet, The Times will link to us, it will be on Huffington Post, tons of traffic, tones of social buzz. Then the Huffington Post will write just a headline and it will take our first sentence, and they will win that new search term and we won’t, despite the fact that we wrote the piece.
I’m wondering if you guys are working at all to develop something that would privilege original sources of content?
Danny: I would totally do that, by the way. If I can have your ranking for Santorum because my article is fresher than yours…
Danny: …on the same topic, I will work on this personally….No. Go ahead. Sorry.
Question: Any tips in general for this problem?
Danny: This is a common problem, especially in the news space. You’ve written this great content and then Arianna comes along and steals your first paragraph and then blips it all the way up above you, and then you kinda disappear. Why do you allow that, Matt? Why do you hate journalism so badly over at Google that you do such a thing?
Matt: We do look at freshness, because people complain about it the other direction. You know, you search for some topic that is breaking news and then there’s some stale page from 1995, we get complaints from both sides.
In general, we have tried to figure out who is the author of a page and tried to make sure that they are more likely to show up. You don’t want scrapers or people who are just reusing your content somehow to beat you out if you are the person who put all the elbow grease and the sweat in to make a great piece.
So one thing that we have produced is a standard where you can sort of say, “I have the authorship of this article,” and then we can sort of link that together, for example, with your Google profile, and then we can show a picture of your face right there. So we can say, “This is John Markov [sp]or this is somebody who wrote this article.”
And that helps us…It’s another signal where we can try to figure out where the best content is. It’s one of those where we don’t get it right all the time, but we do try to get it right as much as we can. And we’ve gotten much better in the last year about trying to return the authoritative content. But it’s always a balance between fresh, versus stale, versus authoritative.
Question: Cool. Thanks.
Danny: Duane, did you want to add more, because it does happen at Bing as well?
Duane: Yeah. The reality here is that…It goes back to this New York Times discussion that I had earlier. Like, what we’re trying to do is make sure that the result we give back to the searcher satisfies them the most. In most cases that’s a trusted name.
We all may look at this and go, “Oh yeah, OK. Huff-Po, whatever,” blah, blah, blah, “popcorn journalism.” But the reality is if a large voice of people have come to look at this, like The Daily Show, if they believe that that is the news and a lot of people gravitate toward it, then the algorithm is self aware enough to follow that trend.
What we are trying to do though is always iterate new things in there to make certain that we understand, “OK, this is the author,” these kinds of things. And this is why we look towards things like schema.org. Mark up your content. Make sure that we understand everything we can about that content. That helps us provide a richer set of search results and that improves everything for the website and the searcher.
Danny: The other thing is consider out-blogging the blogs. So you write a long form piece and then Huffington Post comes along and cherry picks out the things. A good example of this was The New York Times article which was a fascinating article about how Target attracts everybody to the degree that they sent a father….A father was upset because Target was sending his daughter all this stuff saying that she must be pregnant. You know, give her pregnancy supplies, and like, “How dare you do this!” And they’d actually determined enough information that she probably was pregnant, and she was.
Danny: Which was the headline that I think…I can’t remember which blog pulled that nugget out of the New York Time article…
Audience Member: It was Forbes.
Danny: Was it Forbes? As I like to refer to them, the new Huffington Post. But I mean they pulled that aspect out. New York Times didn’t do it. The New York Times totally could have done it. The New York Times could have taken their long form article and blogged out four or five really key points that are in it as well and those things might have taken off.
So consider that in some of those cases. It’s harder if it’s not a long public topic that you have with it. But that might help.
Danny: And you may very well be our last question. I’m looking at the time here: 5:58. How many more have we got behind you?
Question: Five or six.
Danny: So is anybody going to actually kick us out of the room?
Audience Member: Yeah.
Audience Member: [inaudible]
Danny: Well he can’t. I mean he’s…All right. You are going to be our last question. I’m really sorry for the rest of you. Don’t be sad. You guys can immediately come up here and talk to them directly.
Duane: Rush the stage. I want to feel like a rockstar.
Danny: Go ahead.
Question: So, real quick. My site, Gripper.com. It’s like three days old. There’s a huge rise in social discovery and visual discovery. I’m thinking like sites like Pinterest or We Heart It, where it’s essentially an endless stream of images taken from other places.
How does a machine differentiate, “This is not a spammy web banner farm from 1999”? This is actually useful…
Danny: OK. How do they know that Pinterest is useful?
Question: And what are visual social discovery SEO best practices.
Danny: What are SEO tips for visual discovery?
Question: Well, if a site has very little meta data and very little…
Danny: Are you creating a Pinterest competitor?
Question: Essentially, but if it has very little text to optimize against and very little meta data.
Danny: Pinterest is probably actually not getting that much SEO traffic.
Question: I guess what I’m asking is how is it not penalized as just being a spammy web banner farm which, to a machine, it may look like?
Duane: But there’s no reason to penalize it. It’s positively interacted with. A lot of people love it. A lot of people use it. All of the press about it is positive. You have to think beyond signals that are just SEO, right? Like, the search engines see everything that happens on the internet. We don’t forget it. We know it. We catalogue it. And all of that we can extract sentiment from, and that helps us understand that even though I can’t understand physically what’s inside that photo—it’s a picture of a dog with a ball—I generally know that people are happy with Pinterest.
Danny: You’ve got some sites out there that have very light content. And, in fact, they might get penalized, right? Those sites typically probably do not have lots of inbound links and lots of things pointing at them that gives you a lot of positive signals.
If you are looking to succeed, you are probably going to have to get that kind of positive buzz.
Question: It’s external link [xx 1:01:22].
Question: Cool. Thank you.
Danny: You are welcome. Go on. We’ll keep going until they tell me to stop.
Danny: All right, quick. Oh, it’s not going to work. They’re walking out the door. You guys come on up. First of all, thank you Duane and thank you Matt, and thank you all for being here.