In town for SMX Seattle

I’m in town for SMX Seattle. I’ve never been to Seattle before. Here are some of the things I’ve found myself thinking so far:
– Wow, that car rental person was nice. I’ve never had someone joke with me while renting a car before.
– Aaaahh! A gigantic mountain is about to fall on me!!! Jeez, what the heck is that thing? It’s huge! [Note to readers: it was Mount Rainier. It’s 14,000+ feet high. When you are toodling north on I-5 and don’t expect to see anything when you casually look to the right, it can take you by surprise. Be prepared.]
– Hey, the weather here is really nice in the summer. Has the rain been hyped up to scare people away?
– The landscape here is foreign to me, especially when I expected typical West Coast desert. In California, any green space is coaxed out by irrigation. The greens are much more plush in Seattle. Also, I look across the water to the west and see.. mountains? I’m used to seeing more water fading away to a boring horizon. Who decided to put some extra mountains over there? I like it. Lots and lots of water, too. The area around San Francisco is pretty simple: there’s a bay, then some flatland, then little foothills to crowd all the people together near the bay. Washington is more like a fractal landscape with lots of shoreline all over the place. I guess that gives a lot more people a chance to have a house by the water.
– Google’s Kirkland office has a very cool vibe. Everyone I talked to was really friendly (even though I showed up out of the blue). The Webmaster Central team took me in and even gave me an impromptu rundown about how their system is structured. It’s still hard to believe how much that team does with not-very-many people. Most (all?) of the Webmaster Central (WMC) team is coming to the conference too. If you’re coming to the conference, put on your thinking caps about what features you want in the future. Odds are good that you’ll be sitting near a Googler. ๐Ÿ™‚
– Driving back from the Kirkland office, I saw a sign for Redmond. I couldn’t resist, so I took the exit and drove around the Microsoft campus. It looked so normal. Many of the buildings were two or three stories surrounded by trees and other peaceful Pacific Northwest scenery — no ominous black clouds of doom or anything. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Three games of cricket were going on, and one game of volleyball. A sign proclaimed that STB (set-top box, maybe?) interns rocked; another sign mentioned that there were no VOIP barriers. I saw a sign for Microsoft Dynamics, which I had never heard of before. If the campus looked quiet, it was also huge. I saw a sign for a “Building 44”! Does Microsoft have 44 buildings? Is there some kind of master list somewhere (building 19 is recruiting, building 22 is XYZ, etc.)?
– San Francisco is a walking city. Los Angeles is a driving city. But Seattle has elements of both. You can wander around Pike Place Market and buy comic books graphic novels, or drive over to West Seattle and enjoy Alki Beach. The combination is pretty neat. Parts of Seattle also seem to stay up late. In many parts of Silicon Valley, things start to shut down around 8 p.m. as people get to sleep early so that they can wake up and work hard. I was walking around downtown Seattle at midnight and quite a few places were still hopping. So there’s a really nice feel to the city. I think I’ll look for reasons to visit again. ๐Ÿ™‚

35 Responses to In town for SMX Seattle (Leave a comment)

  1. We’ve been talking about visiting Seattle. Looks like it’s seomthing we may be doing sooner rather than later. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Hey Matt,

    If you are interested in how many buildings MS has, just do a search ๐Ÿ™‚

    Come up and visit us in the Kirkland office any time!

  3. You’ll actually see building numbers into the 100s :-). It looks like you drove past my building. The STB (that’s Servers & Tools Business) sign is hanging in front of my building (41).

    There are all sorts of maps internally to help you find your way around. I’m new to the Redmond campus and I really struggle to find my way from building to building.

    Let me know if you’re having thoughts on coming over and working for us ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Seattle and the bay area are very different. I kinda enjoyed the Bay Area more but maybe that was because I was more outgoing.
    And Microsoft has A LOT of buildings. This blog entry by Scott Guthrie gives a few more details about Microsoft building numbers and why building 7 was skipped. It seems there are 116 Microsoft buildings in the Seattle area.

  5. Wish I could make it this year. I have some friends that are going. Heres to 2008 ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. If you’re touring around Seattle, Matt, you might want to check out some of the landmarks and things Forrest Croce has photographed. He’s got a lot of nice nature shots of the Pacific Northwest in general, but I don’t recall if any of them are in the immediate vicinity of Seattle.

    Oh, and off-topic note: a buddy of mine wants to know if Ozzie’s for sale. We want to attach him to my buddy’s laptop so he can act as the Eudora spam filter. No false positives, no junk email folder, just Ozzie eating spamz, kthxbye!

  7. I’d hoped to make it up there for SMX but you can only do so many of the conferences and still get any work done. I’m anxious to hear comparisons of SES, WebmasterWorld, and SMX in terms of quality of the presentations.

    Glad to hear you are enjoying Seattle.

    Be sure to hug a few Microsofties.

  8. If you’re looking for another excuse to visit, maybe you should come and work here then ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Multi-Worded Adam, nice pictures. I’m in conference mode now, but I’ll clearly have to come back sometime. Ozzie isn’t for sale; he’s great for sorting spam into different CATegories. Couldn’t resist; my apologies.

    Joe Duck, I hugged Natala and she’s a softie, so that counts. I’m sure 10 blogs from Sunday will have different thoughts on SMX vs. other conferences. The Microsoft shindig was nice. I only caught the tail end of it, but there were lots of familiar faces.

    Steve, it was really nice. My wife/cats wouldn’t want to move, I’m guessing, but it will definitely be a good place to come back and enjoy. Although 10 minutes after I did the blog post, the clouds moved in and it started to rain a little bit. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Yeah, SMX should have been last week.. high 70s all week.

    If you do come up again, remember… 2 mountain ranges, a rainforest, some desert and a ton of rivers and some saltwater… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Have fun while you’re here!

  11. I spent my High School and College years up there – go Huskies!

    Sounds like you hit one of those “clear-as-a-bell” days … when not only is Mt. Rainier awesome (shoulda had a nice view on your flight in) but you can also see the Olympics to the West. A very cool perspective on the later is coming from the East Side over the bridges and seeing ’em towering over Seattle.

    I say it’s the best place to live … for about six months of the year … the winter months can be a bit dreary for my tastes … especially compared to the 300 days of sunshine we get in Colorado.

    I’m sure you’ll get tons of suggestions while you are there, but one idea for when you bring your family up going up to the San Juans via the Ferry – better yet is doing with bikes.

  12. And remember… they’re SEOs, not Webmasters. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Next time you’re in Boston, give me a shout. . . I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee and tell you why that’s important. ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. Reading these comments is like listening to one side of a phone conversation.

  14. Matt, if you like Seattle you should check out Portland also. It’s kinda like Seattle, but a lot cooler ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Reason to visit again = to hang out with your BFF (ahem, that’s me) and your favorite folks at SEOmoz. You know you want to. We’ll drag you into a Whiteboard Friday video and will set up a map of languages of the world, just for you. ๐Ÿ˜€

  16. Too bad you missed the weekend before. (Memorial day weekend). The entire Seattle Center (Space Needle) was taken over by the NW Folklife festival. 4 days of every type of folkart in the world. I danced 12 hours a day for 4 days and that was on only 2 of the 20+ stages. And I didn’t even get to the Balkan, Scandinavian, or Tango events but I did dance a lot of Swing, Waltz, Zydeco, Cajun, and learnd the Cowboy ChaCha, and the 8-count Polka and ran into Misty River girls who said I should mail them a song I wrote 20 years ago.

    great place for kids, harmonicas, and dog’s with bandannas around their necks

  17. putmorespacinginyourpostsplease ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Matt,

    Welcome to our more than fair city. Thanks for the compliments about our town and thanks for answering our questions at SMX about competing with bizrate, dealtime, shopping for our own content and how to categorize large numbers of products.

    A few recommendations for the new-to-seattle.
    1. Sushi at Wasabi Bistro – 2nd & Bell
    2. Fine dining at the Waterfront Grill Pier 70 (3 block north of SMX)

    After dinner, check out the sculpture park across the street from the Waterfront Grill.

    If you have time, take the ferry to Bainbridge Island – Best view of the city and Puget Sound.

    Let us know next time you’re in town, and we’ll tell you our favorite hiking, travelling, and glass museum in Tacoma.

    -dave & richard, Seattle

  19. Craig Bokesch

    matt, seattle rocks. you should move here.

  20. I just called my wife and told her to start packing because we’re moving to Seattle. She said we could, but that I had to clean out the garage first… So it looks like we’ll spend another decade in Orlando. I can’t be bothered to clean out garages in this point in my life–too much blogging to do.

    Orlando is so FLAT and although I like Orlando, I really like how Seattle is so multi-dimensional. I find myself continuously curious about what lay behind each turn in Seattle. Itโ€™s a really neat city.

    The landscape, the rolling hills and streets, the tall buildings, and the old port-like feel reminds me of a combination of Boston (an old port town) & the city of Pittsburgh (with its overcast and rolling hills)– to some degree.

    At any rate, Matt, thanks for entertaining my concept about the CMS/blog/HTML Editor submit/date stamp concept to help search engines attempt to distinguish original from duplicate content. You were very gracious to consider the possible outcome.

    For anyone who might be curious, I suggested an idea that Google might foster a feature that encouraged third part software like Dreamweaver, GoLive, Frontpage, HTML text editors, CMS and Blogs to help Google attempt to decipher which content was the original. For example, when a user went to publish a new webpage, the software would simultaneously submit to Google date stamp and page information that Google could use to help determine content authenticity. Notice I used the word โ€œhelp.โ€

    The added value is that this concept could allow real experts who have relevant content to compete and win over a hoard of scrapers for search results. A psychiatrist could get credit for a new theory, an archeologist gets ranked first for her new discovery in Appalachia, a quantum physicist submits a crushing new concept to his peersโ€”
    and all rank #1 for their respective phrases.

    These experts do not have to also be experts on search enginesโ€”nor should they. They do not need to even know there is such a thing as โ€œSEO,โ€ per se. They just have to know how to click โ€œsubmitโ€ or โ€œPublishโ€ in their webpage editors or blogs. An eleven year old girl, a florist, a plumber, and a surgeon all could have the same ability to declare their own content as theirs.

    I can imagine various kinds of problems that might cause such a system to break down. But maybe there is some way to expand on this conceptโ€”to improve on it.

    Just a small mind with a small idea.. ๐Ÿ˜›

    Matt, I enjoyed talking with you over lunch and I equally enjoyed listening to you speak to the entire group today. You have a very captivating style of speaking and you interact with people in a way that is warm, inviting and very thought provoking.

    -Gabe LeBlanc

  21. Welcome to Seattle, Matt! Good to have a real celebrity for once ๐Ÿ™‚

    If you have 2 hours at some point, check out Lincoln Park, or Camp Long. Both are in West Seattle. Even if it’s drizzling, it’s worth a look.

    Heck, if you wait until Thursday you can bum a hot dog at my kids’ Montessori picnic!


  22. So, Matt…

    What was your favourite thing about Seattle?
    Did you have time to ‘be’ in Seattle or was it two parts work with a dash of midnight walk?

    Next Year, my partner and I are going to drive from Las Vegas through San Fran, Napa or Sonoma, Portland (with a stop off at Crater Lake) and then to Seattle.

  23. Seattle was clear skies last week. Around Pike’s Market and Capitol Hill, it’s all walking. Screw driving, I don’t like looking for half an hour to park. You should visit Bahaus on Pine and Market, it’s a pretty happening little coffee house. Have fun in Seattle Matt.

  24. Looks like you spoke too soon about the rain.

    As for California being coaxed out of the desert, that’s L.A. buddy, not the Bay Area. Mullholland stole all that water for the southern part of the state.

    But I’m reminded of the Australian kid, 9 years old, living in a part of the country that had been hit with 10 years of bone-dry drought. When a reporter interviewed him and asked him about rain, the kid thought he was making it up. Water falling from the sky? Pull the other one. It’s got bells on.

    – G

  25. It was great conference. Glad you got here for the sun over the weekend, and the drizzle caught you indoors. I grew up in Southern California and I find I like the change of seasons, though it mostly means that the clouds mean the sky is a different variation on gray though most of the winter. Summers are glorious though. Anyway, hope you find another reason to visit p here.

  26. Matt love the Webmaster tools, but is there anyway you guys can fix the SSL error.


  27. Hey Matt, here’s the video of Danny getting casual (entered it as my URL) ๐Ÿ˜‰ Just wanted to send it your way; not sure if you even want to post my comment – just getting this to you ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you for all the great info you shared at the conference!

  28. “Googleโ€™s Kirkland office has a very cool vibe. Everyone I talked to was really friendly (even though I showed up out of the blue).”

    LOL … I’ve got a bit of a secret for you Matt, you’re an SE rock star. Everybody’s nice to rock stars. (fortunately there’s aren’t any tabloids about geeks YET) ๐Ÿ˜‰

  29. Matt, it was nice to meet you after the first day sessions. Mike Murray and I really appreciated your time answering our questions, and also that you got to view Fathom SEO’s “Say Google Fast” YouTube video – here is the URL if you’d like to view the whole thing –

    I’ll agree with all your comments about Seattle, it was my first time there too, and I loved it! I got to see Mt. Rainer up close, and really glad I didn’t have to drive and get distracted – there are a lot of sharp turns around steep drop offs with no barriers!

  30. After SMX, I’d say that your observations of Seattle are fairly accurate. The town has a very nice vibe to it and I wouldn’t mind a longer stay there in the future.

  31. matt it is funny how you take pot shots, it shows your own weakness. those who live in glass houses ought not throw stones.

  32. Holy Cr@p! I saw this post in my server logs, and couldn’t be more flattered to know the great Matt Cutts was impressed with my photos!

    Glad you got to see Mt Ranier; it hides itself behind the clouds and fog most of the year. It’s been cloudy ever since, and most of a week since I’ve seen the mountain … and I’m a local. The geography up here is really a lot like a cross between the Santa Cruz area ( or possibly WAY up north, between Arcada and Redwood Nat’l Park ) and the Sierra. But yeah, the mountains on the other side of the water are one of the most incredible things about this place.

  33. You need to see more of Seattle!

    Although Forrest Croce is most known for his landscape shots, he is the best Seattle CITY photographer that I have ever seen. His photo’s made me move here!!! Check out his night shots of the city, you will want to visit more often!


  34. Yes, Seattle is a great city. I used to go through it twice a year and Seattle was one of the reasons I signed up for the SMX Conference. I came four days early and got in some golf and visited some friends before the SEO experts amassed.

    It was great to see the gang again as I missed SES San Jose last year.

    Thanks gobs and bunches for your contributions Matt.

    Highest regards,


    PS. Rand sure does know how to throw an SEO party, wouldn’t you agree? It was more fun than the Babble Fish party of ’03 (or was it ’02?).

  35. I met Matt Cutts!! And I got a photo (sorry about throwing myself at you when you were alone and unexpecting like) but thanks hugely! I was surrounded by the glitterati of SEO, and wasn’t going to miss the opportunity. I loved the penalty box summit and greatly appreciated all the feeedback from Google via both you and Vanessa. really really cool, and they need to pay you more – Google was an unfriendly giant before you got involved, and you are a powerhouse of PR right there – no not page rank, normal PR ๐Ÿ˜‰