SES Chicago 2005

One way to get links is to come up with a cool idea that erupts in viral buzz, but it can be difficult to come up with the right idea. Another way to get links is to provide really useful information. Barry Schwartz is doing that over at Search Engine Roundtable, where he’s currently blogging the SES Chicago show. Barry is well known for blogging a ton of panels at search engine conferences; if you can’t be there, it’s the next best thing. Tim Mayer took a picture of Barry at the Vegas Pubcon:

Barry Schwartz

In many ways, Barry is the de facto record of what happened in a panel, enough so that for his PubCon coverage I saw him in the exhibition and chatted about what I thought the high-order bits of a particular session were. In particular, this write-up documents what was probably my favorite panel at the conference. I’ll probably blog about that panel as well after I dig out from my backlog.

I wish I could make it to SES Chicago. Hope everyone is having a good time there and learning a lot! I’ll be reading about it from here. :)

73 Responses to SES Chicago 2005 (Leave a comment)

  1. Michael

    Hello Matt,

    Sorry to hear that you couldn’t be at SES. I’ll only be there for the last half of it myself; but it would have been nice to see you there. I’ll definitely check out Barry’s site for the parts I miss. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Matt that was also MY favorite session because we got a chance to hear from you a bit about our site (ohwy.com). I only wish we could have spent more time diagnosing it’s ill health with Google.

    RustyBrick Rocks – keep up the great work Barry!

  3. Harith

    Hi Matt

    Is this really true?

    “Google knows about your linking networks, it knows about your traded links and even some of your paid links..”

    Lucky me, there was no Google at 1997 :-)

  4. I saw these pictures on this blog from vegas pubcon

    Here

    Can you comment is this really you Here

  5. Sorry for the malformed above… I wish there was a preview….

    I meant to ask if this was you Here

  6. I’d love for you to do some of those write ups! The most fascinating part from a webmaster perspective is a peak behind the curtains. More more more! :p

  7. Brad

    I’m a part-time SEO living in Chicago wishing I could be at SES as well.
    The Florida update sent me back to corporate America …. :)
    When your business lives an dies by the whims of Google engineers its hard to sleep at night. Now, I sleep like a baby :)

  8. If I was only old enough to attend such meetings!

  9. Hey Matt

    Sorry to hear that your not attending the SES show this week. Your missing all of the beautiful weather that Chicago has to offer in December. Im here and Bloging notes on a nightly basis if your interested. You can read them here: http://blog.karlribas.com/.

  10. This is fun stuff to watch and learn from. Hey Matt, I can’t seem to find an email address for you anywhere so I sent one to admin @ your domain. Do you have a free couple of seconds to email me or check to see if you can retrieve my request? How does one contact Mr. Cutts? Thanks.

  11. Harith

    Aaron Pratt Said,

    “How does one contact Mr. Cutts? Thanks.”

    In fact Matt has published once his email. Here he goes:

    inigo@mattcutts.com :-)

  12. Matt, i read the article and couldnt help notice the link back to your blog. So in googles eyes, would this be reciprocal (devalued) or is it fine because its on-topic? As many people have pointed out, reciprocal doesnt always mean artificial

  13. Search Engines Web – You ask: How long are this cat -n- mouse, see-saw games going to be played ?

    This game is going to be played for as long as webmasters keeping jacking around with schemes to manipulate search rankings! That’s how long.

    We as webmasters must start focusing our efforts to be around our visitors – Forget what Google Y! or MSN are doing with their algo’s- We know they ultimately want quality – Why don’t we work with the SE’s and give them what they want. With kick-butt quality comes word-of-mouth – with word-of-mouth comes links and we all know what natural inbound links can do for a website.

    Brad – You mention that Florida sent you back to corporate America. Florida kick me in the rear end too!!! I am alive and well and without corporate America or corporate anywhere for that matter.

    In fact it was Florida that started me to approach online marketing in a different way and then of course chatting with Matt at an SES event in NYC really turned things around for me too. (Thanks Matt!)

    Harith – The site analysis session at WMW would have been eye-opening for you.
    Domain is mentioned – Matt types that domain into his laptop – Matt then says “Tell me about your backlinks” – There was a lot of never mind, please move onto the next site. Google knows all the games and they are no longer tolerating this.

    Aaron Pratt – You said “This is fun stuff to watch and learn from”
    It is fun – The latest Google algo’s actually make online marketing fun again! You got the right attitude!

    Oh yeah, Joe, It took guts for you to put your site in front of everyone at the site analysis session. Judging from your responses at that WMW session your eyes were opened big time – Keep a positive attitude and good luck with fixing your site…

  14. With the ammount of links data that a links-based search engine has, it seems reasonable that the engine would write tools to extract information that interest them about the links, and it’s reasonable that a links-based engine would want to devalue the types of links that they don’t want to use for rankings.

    I disagree with some of the things that were either said or written (or both). Google cannot know whether or not a link was paid for. They can best-guess, based on other linkage data, but that’s all. Similarly, they can’t know whether or not a link was traded. Again, they can best-guess or assume, but no more.

    I think that Search Engines Web was disagreeing with something, but there’s nothing wrong with a links-based search engine choosing which type of links to value and which to devalue for ranking purposes. It’s none of our business if they do that.

    On the other hand, it’s not the engines’ business to even suggest to webmasters how to put links on a page (with or without rel=nofollow), or what links they shouldn’t put on a page. Paid links and off-topic links are perfectly normal and good, and it’s up to the engines to work out which links they want to count .
    Webmasters shouldn’t be concerned that Google has access to certain information about linkages – they have a big enough database of them, and it’s obvious they can use it. If certain links are counted, great – if not, it doesn’t matter.

    In a way, Matt’s post is the wrong sort of publicity for Google, because it tells webmasters and SEOs to arrange more natural-looking links, which is still not what an engine that is based on the “democratic nature of the web” wants. But then it’s good publicity if it persuades some webmasters not to arrange links for ranking purposes.

  15. Colin said: “This game is going to be played for as long as webmasters keeping jacking around with schemes to manipulate search rankings! That’s how long.

    We as webmasters must start focusing our efforts to be around our visitors – Forget what Google Y! or MSN are doing with their algo’s- We know they ultimately want quality – Why don’t we work with the SE’s and give them what they want. With kick-butt quality comes word-of-mouth – with word-of-mouth comes links and we all know what natural inbound links can do for a website.

    The reality is that it doesn’t work like that, Colin. There are some areas where top quality may attract links, but it doesn’t do it in most areas. Suppose there are 1000 hotels in Miami, and each of them has a website. The engines rank them according to their algos, but they can only put 10 of them on the first page for the [miami hotels] query. Which 10? All 1000 of them are equally relevant to the query, so which of the hotels’ sites do they rank in the top 10?

    Suppose that you own one of the hotels that isn’t in the top 10 – maybe it’s languishing down at #843. Should you accept the situation that a few hotels are getting all the business from the engines while you are getting none? Of course not. Why should you accept it? Your site is no less relevant to those that are getting all the business, and you would be right to do something about it.

    Because of the way that the results are displayed, search engines cannot be perfect, or even satisfactory. Doing things to push a relevant page up the rankings is not only the right thing to do, but is also helpful to the engines – even though they won’t admit it ;)

  16. Further to what PhilC said, especially with commercial sites, webmasters dont just start linking to commercial sites for free when they could link to a competitor willing to pay. If a site has good traffic then its links (traffic) are a valuable commodity and will 99% of the time go to the site with the most money. You might get the odd person linking from their blog, complaining that your xbox 360 isnt arriving before xmas but then what does that link mean. IMHO, link patterns just dont work with commercial sites which I guess is why we have adwords.

  17. PhilC wrote: “The reality is that it doesn’t work like that, Colin. There are some areas where top quality may attract links, but it doesn’t do it in most areas. Suppose there are 1000 hotels in Miami, and each of them has a website. The engines rank them according to their algos, but they can only put 10 of them on the first page for the [miami hotels] query. Which 10? All 1000 of them are equally relevant to the query, so which of the hotels’ sites do they rank in the top 10?”

    The answer *should* be none of them. The query you gave was for [miami hotels] and not [a random hotel in miami] and therefore is best served by a hub site that lists many hotels, talks about their facilities, reviews them, etc. A full on hub.

    Something like the Michelin Guide, that lists, compares, and informs about hotels, not *a hotel*.

    To ensure that happens, I’d be looking for a site that linked to many other quality miami hotel sites, rather than just looking for one that was linked to many times with the words ‘miami hotel’ in the link. However, to do this right does require a topic-sensitive linkage database rather similar to Teoma’s topic communities. With Google, all it really tended to do was make a lot of very spurious links directories rank well for most short search phrases. :(

  18. “Joe, It took guts for you to put your site in front of everyone”
    Thanks Colin…when the pop-unders looked like pop-ups due to Jake closing out windows during navigation (and some sloppy coding by us?) I was lucky not to be lynched. Still confused though – it turns out our 301 redirection “fixes” were in place over 6 months ago rather than only a few months as I’d thought there. We’ve removed some pages with “too thin” content but but I’m almost returning to the idea that extensive scraping in late 2004 was the tipping point that killed us in 2/05.

    …Matt if this type of post is considered off topic or too self-serving feel free to delete it …

  19. Linking and link relevance cannot be accurately determined by a computer (at least with todays technology). If someone thinks a computer algorithm can somehow determine relevance for a keyword consider an example I use all the time. A federal government report came out discussing telemarketing fraud and some of the offenders with (yes, you guessed it) links to the websites. Well little did they know they did these companies a GREAT favor. Report was old and had a PR8 last time I checked. Fraud sites got an incredible FREE one way highly relevant link that positioned them above the crowd in Google SERPs for terms totally unrelated to fraud.

    Links are still the greatest thing on the web! We get business referrals from the strangest places. I agree with the one post – if Google wants to count a link, so be it – thats its business. Just don’t penalize a site for who or how it links. Links have been around for years before Google began setting the rules.

  20. Russell

    SEW
    How come millions of small business are indexed in Google just like my site or are they actually LARGE COMPANIES WITH OLD DOMAINS? All 50 million of them or so…

    If you opened a Mall, would you rent out the main store as you enter to somebody who has several civil judgments against them or any store in the Mall for that matter?

    So you go to MSN, or whatever and searched “penny Stocks’ and no 2 is a guy selling overvalued penny stocks and he just launched the site 2 week ago and obviously wants to make a killing. AND IT HAPPENS. I guess that’s what you want? Or half the companies starting up which cannot deliver on time or at all? AND IT HAPPENS.

    Do you think that this person who exprerienced these situations could subconsciously or consciously blame Google for the rip-off and bad experience and never come back and hence try other SE?

    If these small businesses or new sites do the right thing, i.e. unique content with value and develop a level of “TRUST and RELIABLITY” overtime on the web like they should, they will slowly show up decently in Google. I am sure of that and I am 100% sure you know that to. PERIOD

  21. PhilC – I will not speak for Matt but I feel I have a good read on him. What he is and is not saying is, “Don’t be so obsessed with links, do something that is cool and fresh and let things just happen”. Yes?

    Anyone ever have a site that they just did on the spur of the moment? My blog (linked above) is only a few weeks old, was getting tired of listening to people in forums telling us what to do and what not to do so I made a blog where I can blah about blah blah like a complete lunatic! Guess what? I have already interviewed 3 well known people in the marketing community and have several more cued up. AND for the last couple weeks I haven’t really checked my backlinks but this morning I did. It appears that what Matt says is correct.

    Even though all this change at Google drives me nuts I like to believe that Matt is laying it on the line. How many times has he hinted about the value of doing something useful? I believe you guys need to throw all you have learned in the trash today and start fresh, you have seen the lame arguments going on in the forums about the “litterbox” or whatever Google calls it internally.

    Excuse my spelling errors and manic writing style, got a lot of stuff going on today…a child to play with and a litterbox to clean…ok deep breath. Ahhhh
    :D

  22. Quote: “One way to get links is to come up with a cool idea that erupts in viral buzz, but it can be difficult to come up with the right idea. Another way to get links is to provide really useful information.”

    Yes that is true for many sites but not all. Try getting natural links for something like metal fabrics, fences or metalic screens. In other words, base products that nobody is really interested in.

    What do you do in such a case?

    Link schemes are a bad choice. Buying links,.. well, it’s expensive and just a link in the left or right columen or in the footer, also is not what you´re looking for.

    Articles used to work but that’s started to be abused as well with all the scrapers that take your articles.

    Suggestions on getting links for subjects that aren’t much written about are welcome,. :)

    Somebody above was complaining about that old sites get huge benefits over new sites. That I see too and in my opinion the age factor, at the moment, has too much power. At the moment you optimize (white hat optimization) and the results show up in Yahoo and MSN within reasonable time. But in Google, you need to wait, wait and wait. Personally I don’t have a problem with that,.. the results will come. But Google has done such a good job at marketing it self that everybody is just interested in Google positions,. :)

    I have even seen sites that are spamming (like Matt showed before) and they rank very high simply because they have been around for many years. The age factor boosts their site to the top.

    That actually made me wonder how good Google is at detecting simple spam like hiding keywords in comment tags and using css to hide text and links.

    Clients actually ask to use these types of techniques because they see their competition use it and enjoy the high rankings. I refuse to do it, but it is very difficult to explain,.. :)

    Seems to me it is easy to detect this type of spam because it generally is a list of keywords not seperated by words like: the, it, a, when, over, close, etc. etc. etc.. In other words,. it doesn’t have proper structure.

  23. Hey PhilC you said “The reality is that it doesn’t work like that, Colin.”

    I have abandoned what we have traditionally thought of as SEO – It sounds like you might be trying some of the old tricks of the trade that produced results and the tricks are not working. The webmaster community can gripe and complain as much as we like but we must step back and look at the direction the major SE’s are heading in. I have actually been having success with purely focussing on visitor experience – My goal is now to establish brand for myself – I have been working a lot harder to gain exposure (and spending a lot more money) – Link trades, article distribution etc are methods that have been hugely abused for site promotion. I have been pursuing non-traditional methods of exposure as part of my efforts to naturally acquire inbound links – For the links to come it requires 100% focus on visitor experience – No, the links don’t come fast and furious and it is a very very slow growth but this is a solid foundation because those links that are coming in were actually “earned links” – Since focussing on the visitor I am actually growing my business and better yet I am sleeping at night as my search engine traffic is consistent – Continually refining my advertising serves well to grow too.

    The message I was trying to convey is quite simple – Quality really does get links – Quality is what Google wants to show their visitors in the search results – If you build it and leave it you most certainly will not get inbound links but if you slow down your SEO efforts and ramp up your true marketing efforts the links will come.

    Simply try thinking a bit differently about your approaches and if they haven’t been working put your energy into other areas of promoting your site. The web is not what it was a few years ago and it is time to stop what we have been doing…

    Somewhere in this thread the words “viral buzz” were mentioned – Viral buzz works – Viral buzz does take immense amounts of energy but the payback is huge. Anyway, this is just my experience…

  24. Oleksandr

    Hello Matt

    When we will see the ending part of the jagger update?

    P.S. Sorry for my english, i know it’s sucks :-(

  25. PhilC, You said: “The engines rank them according to their algos, but they can only put 10 of them on the first page for the [miami hotels] query. Which 10? All 1000 of them are equally relevant to the query, so which of the hotels’ sites do they rank in the top 10?”

    You´re right, Google can show only 10 sites, but “surprise”: hardly any hotel owned website to be found in the top10. Google agrees with you and puts sites where you can find many miami hotels in the top 10, not the hotels them selves (some exceptions).

    Barry, You said: “IMHO, link patterns just dont work with commercial sites which I guess is why we have adwords.”

    Link patterns would work just fine with commercial sites. They´re just different patterns than you would see with non commercial sites I guess. As Matt pointed out, really usefull information is definitely a good thing and can work if you´re selling something that people are interested in. It gets complicated when a site sells stuff that isn’t that well known with end users.

    I guess you can say that there too you will have link paterns but finding links is then way more difficult.

  26. Jonathan Nelson

    Hey Matt,

    I thought you’d find this funny. I dunno if you have seen this yet but I was reading through an interesting blog tonight and found this hilarious tool: http://www.business-opportunities.biz/projects/how-much-is-your-blog-worth/.

    I guess it computes and displays your blog’s worth using the same link to dollar ratio as the AOL-Weblogs Inc deal. So I thought to myself…I wonder what good ole Matts blog is worth these days haha.

    How Much Is Matts Blog Worth?

    Your blog, mattcutts.com/blog/, is worth $184,040.04

    -Jonathan :)

  27. Ammon: don’t be picky. You know it was just a hypothetical example to make a particular point, and it was a rhetorical question that didn’t look for an answer. I’ll change the query to [websites of miami hotels] if it makes you happy.

    Aaron: I don’t know if you have a good read on Matt or not, so I won’t assume that your view is shared by him, though it may be.

    Point 1

    Some sites, and types of sites, are natural link magnets (I’m writing this post in one of them), but the vast majority of sites are not. So the example of your blog isn’t a valid example that applies to most sites.

    Point 2

    Google was the first links-based search engine. Others had already started to incorporate links into their ranking algorithms, but Google was the first to be links-based. When they started, they showed us their engine’s architecture, and, in doing so, they showed us why it is that links are so effective for rankings. If they could get enough results from the “fancy” index, which contained words from Titles and link texts, then they didn’t even look in the main index for results. That’s why link text and page Titles are such big ranking factors. Of those two, link text is the biggest, simply because a page can be represented in the fancy index by a heck of a lot more link text words than Title text words.

    I am sure that Google has changed some things since then, but judging by the current effectiveness of those two elements, I doubt that they’ve changed that part of the basic architecture very much at all.

    So it’s all very well suggesting that we throw away all that we know still works, in favour of “doing something useful”, but what I think you mean by “doing something useful” only works for searchterms that are uncompetitve. Or maybe you mean that the useful thing is to get enough links in more useful ways, in which case you aren’t throwing anything away – you’re just doing the same thing in a different way. Adding good, solid, useful content won’t help anywhere near enough for any searchterms that are in any way competitive – if that’s what you meant.

    Colin: It sounds like very hard work, and I wish you well with it. The objective is still the same though – get links in one way or another. Perhaps I misunderstood your first post.

    Peter: It was a hypothetical example to make a particular point. It wasn’t intended as an actual example. In reality, Google will show a lot of non-relevant results before it will show all of those 1000 hotel sites ;)

  28. PhilC~ You make good points and I understand where you are coming from but let me explain a little further. I have 3 personal hobby sites that I am passionate about at the moment. I write articles, try new ideas and blah blah blah. I am finding that the success of each is directly related to the level of passion I have for the given subject. Having a pure interest in what I am writing about sends me out into Google search to find out what others are doing. Being a social animal (and 100% in you face, sorry) I tend to make many friends in my travels. These people naturally check out my stuff and backlink to it because we have a shared interest and are like thinkers. I believe search engines pickup on this and reward it because it is good. A smart search engine should pay attention to a group, find its leader and reward he/she/them with trustrank. One of my sites has reached this level I believe, I just can’t seem to do anything wrong and I know the reason why. It is me, that site is what I am all about… and it shows.

    The difference between client sites and hobby sites

    What peter is talking about lacks passion and is very difficult, he has “clients” who are expecting him to do the same thing that I do and have the same success, but how can a marketer have the same level of passion for something he doesn’t care much about? How can a marketer visit a site and make friends with the owner if they have nothing in common? See where I am going with this?

    See the guy in the image above? Can you see the sparkle in his eyes? He trully loves this sh*t I bet and you can’t fail with that. Sending back updates to a blog for his minions to read? That’s the buzz dude, don’t you want to backlink that guy, who is that guy? I want to interview him!! hehe

    Dust off a large mallet and start blasting a few doors off their hinges, you’ll get there…

  29. Aaron’s comments are bang on as to what I am trying to say – Do things differently – Making friends is yet another great way to get links – Pick up the phone and talk to people in the industry you are in. Go to conferences in the industry – Meet people – Buy them lunch and that too will bring links – Throw your energy into providing kick-butt content for your visitors and then maybe go back and do some minor SEO tweaking. Basically SEO as an afterthought.

  30. Harith

    Hi Colin

    “Meet people – Buy them lunch and that too will bring links”

    I’m ready for that lunch and shall give all the backlinks you need. Time and place please :-)

  31. Hey Harith,

    It’s a deal! Go for lunch…I’ll blabber on about how wonderful my site is and then if you feel it’s a good fit for your visitors then link :)

    I at least have a tax receipt and a new friend at the end of the day :)

  32. “Peter: It was a hypothetical example to make a particular point. It wasn’t intended as an actual example. In reality, Google will show a lot of non-relevant results before it will show all of those 1000 hotel sites”

    non-relevant? You must be joking. Those results are relevant as far as I can tell.

  33. Chris Raimondi

    You are right about Barry – he is a class act. Dave and I miss you of course. Chicago is nice – maybe next year.

  34. Links for lunches is like the good old days and raises the key challenge for PR – until the big money came into the picture you’d link for fun – or as a courtesy as well as for relevance. NOW most people won’t even link for high relevance unless money changes hands.

    Should Google value natural links more than relevant links?

  35. What’s the point of going out to lunch with someone that you have nothing in common with? Isn’t that called a bad date?

  36. “What’s the point of going out to lunch with someone that you have nothing in common with? Isn’t that called a bad date? ”

    Yep, some people call it a one night stand. :D

  37. and I bet she removed the link to you from her address book. ;)

  38. Aaron: That’s all very well since you applied it to your hobby sites and your own nature as a person, but you said, “I believe you guys need to throw all you have learned in the trash today and start fresh“, which I assume to mean that SEOs should throw away all the methods that work just fine, and start afresh, presumably with other methods such as the one you described. Forgive me, but that doesn’t make sense. As you pointed out, an SEO can’t ‘perform’ for a client’s site in the same way that you do for your hobby sites. It’s that “throw all you have learned in the trash” statement that I’ve been addressing, and it doesn’t make sense to do that.

    I have a site which I can get high rankings for, for a great many useful searchterms, simply by adding the phrase to a page, or by writing an article and adding it to the site, but it has nothing to do with who I am or any sort of trust that Google may place in me. As a matter of fact, if trust came into it, I’d be very near the bottom of Google’s trust league.

    I suggest that you are misunderstanding the reasons for your hobby sites’ ranking successes. Links, yes – Google’s trust in you personally – no.

    Peter: You’ve misunderstood – it was a hypothetical example to make a point.

  39. PhilC – You are also misunderstanding me, I am not saying anything happens because of who you are but simply, if you are motivated, creative and passionate you can go very far even in todays tougher search, and I see people doing it who don’t even know what SEO is!

    How old is your spam site may I ask? Could you start a new site today and have the same success in competitive areas? I am interested in this answer.

  40. Aaron: What spam site?

  41. Dave

    It’s all very simple IMO. Think humans not SE. Think content not links. Do that and you and most SE are all singing from the same song book.

    I’m amazed to see some STILL obessed with inboud links in regards to SE ranking.

    I think also most would be amazed what Google can tell with it’s army of super geeks and virtually unlimited funds. IMO Google is 2 steps ahead in terms of SEO.

  42. It all sounds so simple, Dave. Sadly content-based rankings were killed off by Google. Creating for humans is what every site does. It’s not something that’s put on the back burner, y’know. But what happens when no top rankings materialise? Other sites won’t link to a site simply because it’s a good site. They will do it for some types of sites, as was mentioned earlier, but not for most sites. It needs some webmaster/SEO activity to produce the IBLs, as was also mentioned several times already.

    Even the engines are telling people to get links – they are doing it right now in Chicago. A site can’t rank highly in links-based engines for anything that is any way competitive without more links than would be naturally acquired.

  43. addition to the last post

    Even Matt is suggesting that people get links. He’d already said that he would post about ways of getting them, and his first words in this very thread were, “One way to get links is …

    It’s not about thinking “content not links“, Dave. That only works for the most uncompetitive of searchterms.

  44. If you’all haven’t heard the Matt Cutts interview .mp3 by Sarah of webmaster radio, I highly suggest it.

    PhilC – You are probably right but think of it this way. There has to be a level of inbound links that is appropriate for a given subject. I am into composting (I know yucky earthy hippie stuff, bite me!) but how many links will I need to get my new site “found” in the search engines and how long will it take? I believe that for “composting” all you need is a good informational site that covers all the basics. The inbound links come in naturally but how many do you really need? Now, if you have a Viagra site what do you need to succeed? I don’t know, you tell me!

  45. Harith

    Good morning Matt

    As you might have read on this thread, my blog friend Colin has invited me for a free lunch in exchange for few backlinks. Win-Win deal. Thanks Matt for providing the bandwidth :-)

    Just wish to ask whether the test data center http://64.233.179.104/ that you mentioned recently is still considered as a test DC. I’m asking because some webmasters have mentioned yesterday that they could see the serps of the said DC live on some “default” google.com.

    Thanks!

  46. Dave

    IMO links are not worth anyhwere near as much (in terms of PR and link pop) as they use to be. The links that are worth the most are likely the ones that happen ‘naturally’ because another Webmaster feels the page has useful content.

    I have many pages ranking really well for some very competitive terms and most have nothing but internal links and these got even better rankings after Jagger. Funny that… :)

    The only links I focus on are those that would be of use to my site vistors (humans). If I see a page worth linking to, I link to it and then forget about it. I too WAS a link junkie but soon came to realise that Google is not the simple machine many make out.

    Now, having said this. I do at times ‘exchange’ links with relavant pages and sites, but that only accounts for about 1% of my SEOing. The only sites that SHOULD actively pusue links are those that need them to be indexed by SE.

    Trust me, content is STILL king in every respect and is grossly undervalued by most in the SEO game.

  47. Hey Dave – You should come for lunch with myself and Harith.

    I too exchange links not for SE rankings but for pure exposure – Rather than a keyword focussed text link, why not go for a banner to get your name in front of an audience. Get known…Get links…sometimes getting known does mean taking somebody out for lunch…even if it’s a bad date :)

    PhilC – Did you attend WMW? Matt suggested getting links there too…but read between the lines and what you hear is “Get links naturally – Get somebody to notice you” – That can be interpreted as “take somebody out for lunch and discuss how great your website is – bad date…one night stand…whatever you want to call it…it’s a potential “real vote” for your site.

    Harith – find me online…let’s do that lunch :)
    Dave can come too…Matt you are welcome to join us – Lunch on me at the GooglePlex – Yup, I’m willing to take everybody for a free lunch at the plex :)

  48. stan

    1. “Google knows about your linking networks, it knows about your traded links and even some of your paid links..”????
    I think Google does not know this for sure! I made some notes before, regarding one site with real estate content, which does have more than 1500 Porn back links and 1500 other, definitely not relevant back links, but it is on top 10 in Google. Only Google admit these links, Yahoo and Msn do not! These links are definitely paid ones. This is serious mistake, made by Google boot! And can someone explain me how site with 4 links be on top 10 as well??? What are the funny criteria, which has put this site there? The content is relevant, but the site has 20 times less information that at least 20 competitive sites in the web!
    The problem is that on the first places are not the sites, which have real rich content, just because Google try to be relevant by putting good sites on back positions

  49. Aaron Pratt

    feel free to remove my questions matt whenever you like but please take them seriously, i would make a big list (with valid, relevant questions) and email it to you but i do not have a confirmed email address. i also may seem like a troll but in reality i am just a regular guy who makes stuff who is trying to promote is craft.

  50. Hi Dave,
    I always like to give examples, and I must respectfully disagree with you about Google / content / links. On a very competitive search term (“IVR” – 23K searches/month – Overture) Google has been returning a site that has been dead at least 2 years now. Its being returned in varying top positions (both pre and post Jagger). I tracked backwards and found an active link to it from 1996 on a highly ranked directory with 100′s of links. Obviously Google was not considering content AT ALL for its ranking – there was no cache nor title. Now this may have been a Google anomoly, but the fact that it occurred simply defies what everyone here is saying about content being more important than links.
    I am also still seeing many top results appear where the search term is only found in incoming links (checking for the occurrence in cache).

  51. “content-based rankings were killed off by Google”

    I’d suggest they were killed by spammers who found them easy to manipulate. Google’s Pagerank was an extremely insightful innovation to defeat this initial spam, but now link manipulation is the overwhelming challenge. he rules are not even very clear (relevance vs paid vs traded vs ?), so until Search is perfected we’ll all struggle with these difficulties.

  52. I don’t think search will ever be perfected Joe, not as long as people can make a living by trying to manipulate the rankings.

    We started off META based. Super easy to manipulate. Everybody came up for “sex” and “sarah michelle geller”. Then we went content based. It was easy to manipulate (see hidden text), then we went link based. That was easy to manipulate too (see miserable failure)

    So now we’re back to content based but a little smarter? Guess what, it can be manipulated too. Not as easily, but it still can be. Sandbox? nah, not effective. It only took me 2 weeks to get to the front page of google for “british translator” and “british translation”.

    How long until the system comes full circle, and the only way to really rank is to start doing the taboo stuff nobody does anymore?

    Sure, google can change the weights of certain factors around and around, but it can still be manipulated. The only true way to make search un-manipulatable is to constantly change those weights.

    Should we care if it’s manipulatable? As SEO’s (actually I’m not even an SEO) we’d make a killing, but Google would stand to lose everything. Why buy adwords when I can pay a company to get me to the top right?

    I think it’s only a matter of time before those “factor weights” in the algorithm become ever varying.

    Somebody once used the analogy of throwing a ball against a wall and catching it. If i hit the same spot, it keeps coming back… but what if I throw it against 2 walls, now 3, now 4. It keeps coming back to relatively the same spot, but not always the same spot..

    I think that’s where search is heading.

  53. Johny S

    Hey Matt,

    Do you think in your next post you can comment on http://64.233.179.104? I am seeing 150 more indexed pages for my site on that datacenter that I’m not seeing on the live datacenters. I really hope you guys plan on using data from that datacenter in the near future!

  54. >>more than 1500 Porn back links and 1500 other, definitely not relevant back links, but it is on top 10 in Google

    What makes you think those tacky links are the reason why the site is ranking top ten?

    Isn’t that kind of like “I got a great haircut last month and my rankings went up?”

  55. Dave

    RE: Lunch on me at the GooglePlex

    Thanks for the offer, but it’s a bit too far for me :)

    RE: “I think Google does not know this for sure! I made some notes before, regarding one site with real estate content, which does have more than 1500 Porn back links and 1500 other, definitely not relevant back links, but it is on top 10 in Google. Only Google admit these links, Yahoo and Msn do not! These links are definitely paid ones.”

    How do we know this page would not hold in SERP position without those “paid links”. In others words, they have wasted their money unless the click traffic is converting.

    RE: “And can someone explain me how site with 4 links be on top 10 as well???”

    Yet more evidence links are not the silver bullet many think :)

    RE:”The content is relevant, but the site has 20 times less information that at least 20 competitive sites in the web!”

    IMO, one should focus on being creative in their writing when creating a new page. One shouldn’t confuse quantity of content with quality of content either.

    RE: “IVR”

    It honestly doesn’t look that competive to me looking at the top 10 pages. Also, as you say yourself, the ‘offending’ page has only 1 link yet holds a reasonable SERP position.

    RE: I am also still seeing many top results appear where the search term is only found in incoming links

    I think this is a case of confusing anchor text and inbound links. Check out the dregs of any SERPs and you will see many link farms and pages with umpteen useless inbound links.

    We can do many ‘tests’ to TRY and determine Google’s algo, but the truth is likely that any single part of Google’s algo cannot be seen in isolation.

    Regards
    Dave

  56. stan

    Well probably the content makes this site to be on top 10)). The site offers about 50 properties for sale, and I have seen sites with 6000 properties for sale in the same country or area, after the one I am talking about. Logically, the site with more information, older and bigger one must be on the top positions, so the customers can buy from the bigger, older and more experienced company, ok? Would you explain why Google admit back links from Porn sites? Just because they are important or relevant? Or probably the girls or boys inside the Porn sites will be interested to buy a property? :))). Or probably the people, who visit the Porn site, can buy a house at the same time, 
    Google’s alert at the moment is that they would like to take the paid link off, but what they do is just the opposite of it. Simply they can not divide the paid from unpaid links, mate.
    I also have seen sites, which have nothing to do with the search, just have got the keyword SOMEWHERE in the content, and they appear in top positions as well.
    They can NOT read the content, it is simple as that….
    Right, do not worry; the point was that Google can not clearly see the relevancy between two thinks at the moment. Believe me, it is REAL mess inside the search engine right now, and everyone can see it)))

  57. Dave

    RE: Would you explain why Google admit back links from Porn sites?

    Why assume any link shown as a backlink is doing any good for a page’s SERP position? Likewise, don’t assume any link NOT shown as a backlink IS NOT being credited.

    The quality and relevancy of links is more important now then ever before.

    RE: They can NOT read the content, it is simple as that….

    “They” being Google’s algo? If so, it doesn’t need to. It likely looks at structure, words, sentences, paragraphs, patterns, kwd, headings, titles etc. You know, all the stuff which humans are looking for :)

  58. Anh

    Is the test on DC http://64.233.179.104 off since I do not see any difference between this DC and default google.com? Hope you will say something on this test DC soon.

  59. Stan

    Well, the stuff which humans are looking for must be in the content of the site: text, information, pictures etc. If one site does not heave enough of it, it makes it not good enough, and does not deserve to be #1, or #2…if the certain search engine pretend to be honest and relevant??? I have seen many sites in Google, which do not have enough rich content, but are on top positions, which sometimes makes me doubt in the relevancy of the algorithm!

  60. Stan

    Listen.., do not get me wrong, I am not against Google at all. I like this search engine, and I am using it all the time! What I am trying to explain here is that some times it does not provide good relevant results, probably because it tries to take all the spam off. When you search for something, it provides couple of sites on the first places, which are not as good as the sites which are on next positions, after the ones I am talking about.

  61. It’s all very simple IMO. Think humans not SE. Think content not links. Do that and you and most SE are all singing from the same song book.

    Thats a great idea.

    Why not put the same example to a bricks and mortar shop. Don’t worry about advertising. Build a great shop that has the best products and people will come right? Not quite. What if no one comes to your shop when it opens? Well there is no one to talk about your shop to their friends. So no one comes.

    Aquiring links is essential to get the ball rolling.

    Then you can follow the original advice.

  62. The results from Google are still the most relevant ones IMO. My problems are related to Blogger and Google’s Blog Search Engine.

  63. Is that Dr. Phil two rows back in the right side of the picture?

  64. Google IMO is the best over Yahoo and MSN. In fact, my SEO is directly towards Google. How is really Google suppost to know which urls has been bought or not? It is nearly impossible untill Google starts to spy in people’s emails…

  65. Dave

    RE: “Why not put the same example to a bricks and mortar shop. Don’t worry about advertising. Build a great shop that has the best products and people will come right? Not quite. What if no one comes to your shop when it opens? Well there is no one to talk about your shop to their friends. So no one comes.”

    Sure, if want to compare apples to oranges….

    RE: “Aquiring links is essential to get the ball rolling.”

    That’s what I said :)

  66. Aaron Pratt

    Stan – I do not think you will convince Matt that Google’s results are less relevant, he is a little bit smarter than this as we have seen, and I am not a suckup, just tired of hearing that type of whining. If you want to fire up an angry mob of webmasters you will need more than that.

  67. Stan

    Aaron ,

    Why do you think I would like to convince someone in something with my writings? It was simply question of why Google admit PORN LINKS, nothing else. Are they important, or valuable or relevant? They must be a reason to shows us these links, isn’t it? All I needed is to try to understand how it works. Everybody knows that there is no logic to do this. It could be mistake in Google, in could be everything, again- all I needed is to understand how it works….

    P.S.
    Never will allow to offence someone he is stupid, or not smart enough, remember this…

  68. Stan – Sorry if I was misunderstanding you and lumping you in with the following. During the jagger updates I spent much time in the webmaster forums. The thing that got a little old was all the posts trying to prove that Google does not have relevant results anymore before the update even ended. Heck, I have been bitching and moaning since day 1 but one thing that is surely a waste of time is trying to prove something that is incorrect because you have been discovered and devalued. See it as a challenge and seek information to improve yourself.

  69. Stan

    Do not worry, probably is my mistake I just jumped like this. Nothing personally, just waiting for another update like Jagger- then probably we all have to close ….

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

If you have a question about your site specifically or a general question about search, your best bet is to post in our Webmaster Help Forum linked from http://google.com/webmasters

If you comment, please use your personal name, not your business name. Business names can sound salesy or spammy, and I would like to try people leaving their actual name instead.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

css.php