I wanted to let folks know that I’m about to take a few months of leave. When I joined Google, my wife and I agreed that I would work for 4-5 years, and then she’d get to see more of me. I talked about this as recently as last month and as early as 2006. And now, almost fifteen years later I’d like to be there for my wife more. I know she’d like me to be around more too, and not just physically present while my mind is still on work.
So we’re going to take some time off for a few months. My leave starts next week. Currently I’m scheduled to be gone through October. Thanks to a deep bench of smart engineers and spam fighters, the webspam team is in more-than-capable hands. Seriously, they’re much better at spam fighting than I am, so don’t worry on that score.
One critical point is that I won’t be checking my work email at all while I’m on leave. My friend and colleague Amit Singhal took about six weeks off not too long ago, and his #1 piece of advice was to unplug from work email. So that’s what I’m going to do. I will set up Gmail filters to forward some of my outside email to a small set of webspam folks, but they won’t be replying to emails.
Q: Is this because of some specific event?
A: Nope. I’ve been talking about doing this with my wife for a while now, and it feels like the right time.
Q: You’re not going to check your work email at all?
A: That’s right.
Q: No, really? No work email?
A: Really. I’m thinking of it like a 30 day challenge, except for longer than 30 days.
Q: If I can’t email you, how should I communicate with Google about search topics or find out about new things in search?
A: I’m so glad you asked! There’s still tons of ways, from our webmaster forums to Office Hours Hangouts where you can ask questions to experts. On the social side, instead of sending SEO-related comments to me on Twitter, you can ping the Google Webmaster Central account. Likewise, make sure you follow Google Webmasters on Google+. A bunch of different Googlers will continue to speak and answer questions at search conferences too.
For broader search-related news, read our Webmaster blog or Inside Search blog. To understand how Google thinks about search, we’ve made hundreds of webmaster videos and they’re designed to be evergreen.
Our web documentation is superb: Google Webmaster Central is the best place to start. From there, you can find our Webmaster Academy, our help documentation, and our SEO beginner’s guide. We even made a mini-site about how search engines work.
One of the most important ways to hear from Google is to add and verify your site in Google Webmaster Tools. That’s the primary channel to find out about issues with webspam or other errors or notices.
Q: Are you doing anything fun?
A: Yup! I’ve been taking a ballroom dance class with my wife, and we’re going on a cruise in late August. Our 15th (!) wedding anniversary is next year, so we might do some early traveling to celebrate that too. We’ll also be spending more time visiting with our parents. I’m also trying a half-Ironman race.
And just to reiterate, the webspam team is in great hands while I’m out. I’m looking forward to trying this, so thanks for your understanding.
Added: When I went on leave, I wanted to see how webspam would go without me. I’ve been talking to people on both the algorithmic and manual webspam teams during my leave, and they’ve been doing a top-notch job. So I’m planning on extending my leave into 2015.