State of the Index, November 2009

Last week I was in Las Vegas for PubCon, a conference for publishers, and I wanted to share the slides from my main presentation:

When I get a chance, I’ll also re-create the talk on video and share the video with you, but in the mean time Lisa Barone did a nice live write-up and coverage of the Q&A.

It’s always nice to see SEOs and webmasters that I’ve gotten to know from search conferences. For example, one night featured the traditional SEO Werewolf game, except with blackhats as the werewolves and whitehats as the villagers. Somehow in the middle of that party, we decided that if someone submitted a spam site during my site review session, I could shave Evan Fishkin’s head.

Sure enough, someone submitted a spammy site for review, and you can view the resulting haircut in this image gallery. Afterwards, I asked if anyone else wanted their head shaved, and Nelson James volunteered. I shaved hair while people asked questions, and it was a lot of fun:

PubCon haircuts!

Thanks to Brian Ussery for taking these pictures. ๐Ÿ™‚

40 Responses to State of the Index, November 2009 (Leave a comment)

  1. Nice haircut! We may have to call you Vin Matt
    I may have to shave my head soon since ‘bald is in’

  2. social search ,a new way,search engine analysis web architecture,human centered web architecture,not pages,sybil attack will emerge!

  3. Hey wait, shouldn’t your hair have been growing back by now?! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Is this permanent?

  4. Thanks Matt. I did not take any notes , so this came at perfect time. I am excited to see what 2010 is going to be like as far as industry changes. I am guessing this could be a pretty exciting times with all that new stuff cooking.

  5. Matt, the most important breakthough Google has done for webmasters is starting to open communication with Webmasters directly, even if it is simply general e-mail via messsages on Google’s webmaster tools.
    Why? Because webmasters are users of Google also, Webmasters want to learn and improve their sites, but often make mistakes out of igornace. However, if Google helps ‘educate’ them, then they have a better feeling about Google. Google webmaster forum help, can be hit or miss sometimes, as the people who dominate it are not Google employees but rather volunteers, who often are not perfect themselves in cordiality or knowledge. This is why hats off to Google for opening some real direct communication with webmasters and given webmasters tools as mentioned above (malware detection for example) that are very useful are very much appreciated. Thank you.

  6. Thanks for posting your slides Matt.

    re Google Social Search: I can only see this option if on or searching via – it is not available on (or .fr and .de)

    Any idea when it’ll be available as an option on Google country-specific TLDs?

    Thanks Andy

  7. Matt, seems you’re keeping the ‘bald’ look permanent – even after Halloween. Matt cut(t)s & shaves ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Hey Matt,

    Now you are looking more handsome in this haircut.

    Unique style in Search industry.

  9. I like the Social Search idea. I just “joined the experiment”…

  10. Best part of that picture is the long-haired guy in the background with the “uh, no way” look on his face.

  11. I shave my head why anyone would want to have hair I don’t know it just takes up time and is annoying lol.

  12. Matt,

    In the session you said you would check into whether Google follows a followable link further down on the page whenever that same URL/link is nofollowed further up on the page – or even further down on the page.

    Did you ever get any clarification on this that you can share with us? I’ve heard from people on both sides who swear they’ve tested it in a controlled way and have come up with conflicting results.

  13. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for posting the slides from PubCon. This was actually my first and I walked away feeling like I had gained some great knowledge. I use Google Wonder Wheel for keyword research so I was glad to see you included it in your presentation. Good stuff!

  14. That’s it, next year I am going to Pubcon.
    Is the one in Dallas as good as the Vegas event?

  15. Matt,

    Never mind the haircuts, did you by any real estate with spare change while you were in Vegas?


  16. Matt, with or without hair, I have noticed you are always smiling in your photos. So I can infer that you do not have too many bad days or hair raising experiences at these webmaster search conferences.

  17. Matt,

    Do you or anyone at PubCon have a video of you doing the State of the Index there?

    Want to have video of your Android 2nd Birthday shout out!

    ,Michael Martin

  18. Can’t find an email address, and I’m sure you already have one of thse, but knowing your love of cats made me think of you when I saw this.

  19. Hi Matt,

    Firstly I would like to state that I’m a fan of everything Google’s done and I’m positive I don’t have a clue as to the scale of challenges Google is facing. I am however a little frustrated at the moment, I’ve spent the last few years of my life completely devoted to developing my business online. I subscribe to a number of business development and SEO blogs. I’m an advocate of completely whitehat methods, I want to build a business which is around for another 10 years and for this reason I’ve focussed heavily on great content, innovative ideas and user experience.. I was starting to see some pretty encouraging results but for the last 8+ months blackhats have completely killed my niche (and many many others). It’s very disheartening to have my sites rankings destroyed by someone that has acquired thousands of links overnight via either hacked chinese servers or link rings Google doesn’t seem to know about. I’m prepared to wait and will still continue to develop my business but can you tell me what Google intends to do about this? I completely appreciate it’s a serious challenge it’s just Google appears to be loosing the war at the moment..

  20. Matt, would I be right in guessing you are maintaining the #1 or 2 haircut?

  21. You share the same sense of style as my husband. He’s ex-military though – not sure what your excuse is ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. The look is becoming the defacto uniform for SEO’s. So that the general public can identify us easily.

  23. WOW! Glad you liked my pics and nice visiting again… ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. The haircut is becoming the defacto way to recognise an SEO now. It’s good that the public can spot us easily.

  25. I liked the slides. More disclosures like ‘we don’t use the meta tag at all’ would be very useful. Thanks.

  26. Well. Matt, it’s good to see that you’ve found a decent fall-back career for when this Internet fad (as my old boss once called it) flames out.

    Brian: Thanks for taking the pictures. One of the best things about this blog is that it provides the perfect opportunity for reading work-related material *and* having fun at the same time.

    And I’m intrigued with the Social Search concept, too. Looking forward to trying it out.

  27. Matt, I will tell you what happened to me. 5 Years ago I started shaving my head at age 24. A few years later I got tired of it. I tried to grow it out. IT WAS GONE.

  28. Hi Matt, We are facing so much of malware on our clients site. What do you suggest, how can we block all such hackers activity to prevent our website from these viruses. As it is really painful to remove all such scripts from the pages and also how can we identify how 3 party sites affecting our site.

  29. Hey matt, not to change the subject but I’m going to be getting a droid phone. What’s your thoughts on the phone and the android os for it? I heard there’s still some kinks to work out on it but I’m guessing since it’s open there will be some good updates coming soon for it. Any inside info on what’s next for android?

  30. Allrighty, you’ve sold me! Not just me but my kids too. The main reasons? When not working I browse and read, my kids also use the computer for research for school. Quick boot times, no laggy apps, file storage in the cloud and no executables which could be carrying malware all sound like they make for am efficient and secure machine for myself and my children. It may not take over from my main work PC / Laptops yes but it could migrate over time and could be used for general use without me throwing out the occasional swear word at crashing apps and slow boot times…!

    I’ll be getting the first one of the shelf and another 2 for my kids ๐Ÿ˜€

  31. Errr, ooopsies ;=) That previous comment was for /google-chrome-os

  32. The ‘State of the Index’ presentation gives conclusive proof that google are a force for the good and will drive innovation for the forseeable future.

  33. I got my wave invite a few weeks ago and have been messing around with it when I have time. So far I have to say it looks very intriguing . Although I don’t think it will be fully understood for quite awhile. Like the haircut… down and give me 20!

  34. Thanks Matt. Wished to know more about Caffeine. Otherwise, a good round-up of year 2009. I am already using Google wave: it’s good, it’s different!

  35. Web Page Test is very intereting. I always learn something when I stop by here. Thank you.

  36. Google has a lot of new development and it pretty much obvious for the purpose of improving the search experienced of every users. On my own perception Google as of today is much perfect their algorithm is very much accurate. I guess they would only need additional enhancement on their system in term of users usability.

  37. I am realy amazed by the social networking search experiment. There’s something there I think, probably the biggest potential for improving the index. Sidewiki is quite interesting too, you can easily imagine a combination of those factors…it will be interesting to see the evolution of the index in the next few years….

    Exiting times…

  38. I watched your slides, very useful and so I went and installed Page Speed FF plugin (nice!).

    One of things I optimized according to this is Expires for various file types (gif,etc).

    My question/concern: Does googlebot take advantage of this header information for both consideration of performance (as reported in webmasters) and to reduce spider bandwidth?


  39. Matt,

    I hate to post this negativity in response to the ‘state of the index’ but there is a horrendous, disgusting Barnes and Noble album result coming up for the keyword Swords at the top of the adwords column. The album is called ‘Pink Swords – Shut Up and Take It’. It shows an illustrated cover with a half naked woman and a man with a plunger over her face. I don’t have to explain what this album cover and name represents, but I should hope this is a huge mistake and it should be removed as soon as possible.

    We adwords advertisers do not need totally unrelated, filthy, disgusting ads popping up, interfering with our campaigns and offending people all over.



  40. Went through your slides and have to say that I cannot imaging what the current state of computing would have been without google, as it brought about a revolution. Each and every service they provide to the users are open source and free. Its fantastic!