Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Search Stars Summit @ SES San Francisco 2012

Google + Search Engine Land + Pubcon = Matt Cutts, Danny Sullivan and Brett Tabke in Surprise Panel Discussion at SES San Francisco 2012.

This was a don't miss event at SES San Francisco, and once again drives home the point that SESSF is a highly recommended conference to attend if you want the latest developments in Search Engine Marketing.

The big surprise on Tuesday afternoon was that Matt Cutts would participate the next morning. The surprises kept coming when Danny Sullivan joined him on stage, followed by Brett Tabke. You knew this was going to be an interesting session.
Mike Grehan, Matt Cutts, Danny Sullivan, Brett Tabke.
Matt Cutts is Google's chief manager guarding search results from spammers and spammy websites trying to 'game' the system. Essentially Mr. Cutts and his team protect and enhance Google SERP value and relevancy for the end-user. Matt is head of Google's "Spam Fighter Team", a team of employees located across the world. The team has been renamed, from "Search Quality" to "Search Knowledge", reflecting the expanding mission for more quality information, more relevancy, and less spam. Matt's team also manages releases of PANDA, PENGUIN, and other seemingly non-threatening search engine update animals which wreak deadly havoc on the website rankings of sites employing black-hat or spammy SEO techniques.

Matt Cutts' comments today revealed a bit more about thinking and intentions at Google for search.
I took furious notes, and hopefully captured some of these thoughts with some semblance of accuracy:
  • Symantec Search is expanding.
  • Knowledge Graph is being used more and more.
  • Beta: Individual Gmail accounts can be included in personal search results, and are being displayed in an experimental phase with limited users. 
  • Social Media will be used "a lot more" in the "long term" for organic search rankings.
  • Links ranking will still be a factor of measuring site popularity.
  • Panda: Monthly updates continuing. The updates are now routine and incremental changes.
  • Penguin: More "jolting" updates are coming for spammy websites.
  • "If you build a quality website, you will have nothing to worry about."
  • "Original Content is Best."
  • Duplicate content within a website with original content is not penalized so much, if needed. But avoid too much boilerplate repetition. 
  • However, duplicate content associated with affiliate websites is of a lower quality and is subject to penalty.
  • Social Signals: Facebook is only partially open to search-bots and crawling. Twitter has blocked Google from crawling. Social is a fluid space which is evolving quickly.
  • Expect more transparency from Google over time regarding communication, warnings, and alerts to webmasters.
  • "Do SEO." "But do SEO well." Avoid Spam Tactics. "Google doesn't hate SEO!"
  • To rank well in organic search, look at the value you are adding. Simple copy and paste link affiliates add no value.
  • Google users expectations rise each year. They expect more and more. We need to give them that quality experience or we'll be surpassed. 
  • Matt make a good joke about the danger of a potential voice enabled search tool being created by another firm, a firm which names that search tool "SIRI". This brought a good laugh from the large audience. SIRI shows that Google cannot stand still.
  • Q&A: "Is Google transitioning from Search to Content?"  Cutts: "We're trying to get the knowledge out there." The Knowledge Graph was cited as an example of enhancing results for users.
  • Matt indicated that Google has indexed over 30 Trillion URLs.
  • Google now handles over 100 Billion searches a month.
  • Even with these astounding numbers, Google has only indexed or can access only a portion of the world's internet space.
  • Google+ was discussed. Cutts said "Don't jump to conclusions about Google+" and search engine rankings. "We don't put a lot of weight on this quite yet."
  • Cutts emphasized that Google must stay unbiased on search results. Google does not favor its own products or services in organic search, such as phones and travel. "Google has a strong commitment to search neutrality. Like Switzerland. There is no boost for Google properties."
There was a huge amount of web activity today from this historic summit on blogs, twitter, websites, etc. To learn more detail, and get some different opinions or perceptions on this panel discussion, please visit these postings:

See videos of this historic SES meeting:
Related news articles on this historic panel:
Regarding PANDA, PENGUIN, FARMER, and other Google updates: