I had a handful of “ah-ha”, “hmmmm” and “oh really?” moments in SMX West last week after attending the search engine panels. While nothing the engine reps said really surprised me, I did raise an eyebrow or two a couple of times.
Here’s a list of comments and take-aways from what I attended, I combined the Spam Police and Ask the Search Reps sessions and noted which rep said what. Here goes!
Search Engine Reps:
Matt Cutts (Google)
Sasi Parthasarathy (Bing)
Duane Forrester (Bing)
Rich Skrenta (Blekko)
Note: Anything in italic with “quotes” around it is a direct quote from the rep.
Bing/Parthasarathy: They consider reciprocal links between two “unrelated sites” to be spam and done to inflate rank. They devalue theses types of links.
Debra: I know the SEO/search community tends to use the word “site” and “page” interchangeably but technically, they can mean two very different things if you look at the big picture. I’d expect a search engineer to say “page” if he/she meant it so I’m going to take Sasi’s comment at face value and say Bing devalues reciprocal links between topically unrelated sites. There’s a big difference between devaluing a page and devaluing a site.
Google: Google human reviewers are both proactive and reactive. When they look at spam reports, they focus on those which will have 4 times the impact on users. If the reported site will be seen by a lot of people or impacts a lot of people, they are more “apt to look” .
Google: If you send in a reconsideration request as a result of changes made algorithmically, you probably won’t get a response from us. We don’t reach out to webmasters with sites affected by an algorithmic change. But. If your site suffered as a result of a manual intervention, they’ll typically look at your site within a week and then consider sending back more information to you.
Debra: Re-inclusion requests were renamed reconsideration requests.
Blekko: No one from Mechanical Turk should be writing content on health issues or anything else they are not experts on.
Debra: I am NOT a fan of using companies who write content for the masses so I totally agree in principal with what Rich was saying but… I was surprised he singled out Mechanical Turk by name. Perhaps a hint/spam drop to Google?
Bing/Forrester: Syndicated articles sitting on hundreds of article sites “get no love” from Bing, they are looking at the quality of the site the links are coming from
Bing/Forrester: “Don’t do the article submission stuff, do the real work”
Blekko: We have a tool that allows you to see duplicate content: The duplicated content tab (/duptext) displays URLs that have content that is the same as that of the website you are looking at. Click on a URL in the “urls with duplicated content” section to see a cached version of that URL with the duplicated content highlighted. You can also see seo, sections and whois information for each URL with duplicated content.
Debra: Click on the techcrunch URL at the top of the page and then look to the right for the “duplicate content” option.
Google: Social signals such as tweets have been given a “second order affect”. This may change in the future and they may be given more weight but not now. If a power user like Ashton Kutcher tweets a link to a page, that page won’t rank higher because Kutcher is a power user, “that’s not what’s happening now”
Google: We are looking at ways to reduce the weight given to EMD (exact match domains)
Google: “Directly paid links on press releases, we wouldn’t want to count those”. “We probably won’t count anchor text links in press releases”.
Debra: Matt Cutt’s answer was given in response to the question: “What is Google’s stance on paid press release submission”? The fact the question specifically used the term “paid” is probably why Matt responded the way he did. But I’m not sure this is an issue really, most releases are archived on the submission site after launch, those links don’t usually pass any weight to begin with since they’re dumped in databases.
The quote of the conference goes to Duane Forrester of Bing: ” The Klingons never showed up with good intentions… Cloaking under any situation is not good”
I’m still laughing at that one. Here’s another fun thing… The Spam Police session has been around since 2002, Danny first hosted it when he was programming the SES conference series way back when. Take a look at what the engines (Google, Inktomi and Fast in those days) said about spam in 2002 and what they’re saying now:
The wrap up report written on the SES 2002 show mentioned Matt Cutts as the Engineer representing Google on the panels. I don’t remember Matt being there, I remember Daniel Dulitz being the Google rep on the panels. Oh well, no matter, I still think it’s interesting how the definitions and examples of spam they used in 2002 are almost the same today.
So there you have it, those were my take-aways from the engine reps last week. It was a lot of fun to see everyone and hang out, I got to meet the very handsome Joost deValk as well as Jennifer Lopez from SEOMoz, it’s always great to finally meet people you’ve talked to or read about over the years. Jennifer and I decided having a hotel room all to ourselves was awesome and what every Mom with little kids needs now and again. And ladies (you know who you are….) I never did “get there”
All in all it was a great week at SMX, thanks to Third Door for a great show!