[rocks out to kick ass conference music, doesn’t care who notices]

Hey, hey, kids. We’re kicking off SMX West at the early morning keynote with Danny Sullivan. And I’m liveblogging on a Mac. Have I mentioned I hadn’t ever used a Mac until about 10 minutes ago? Yeah. This should be…fun.

Seriously. Someone help me.

Danny starts off by showing us some pics of his boys. Aw. Babies! (Okay, maybe they’re not babies. They’re 8 and 10.)   Danny says sometimes his kids do dumb things and Danny has to tell them he’s disappointed in them. Despite that, it doesn’t take away his love for them.  Kind of like his love for the search engines.

Google and Yahoo and Live are not his children, though he spends more time interacting with them than his own kids. [This is getting sad, fast.] He loves the search engines but he’s going to talk about some things that have disappointed him. [Yeah, yeah, Danny, let’s get to it, eh?]

We see lots of market share numbers.  Danny is suddenly smoking on stage. I think. Is that a real cigarette? What is going on? That had to have been a prop.

The Happy Google Habit

It’s a good product. Google loves search. They have great signals to mine. Google’s business strategy is to work in the users’ interest.  It’s their starting point and their keeping with it, despite the fact that they do a million other things these days.

The Unhappy Google Habit

There’s no need for people to switch or “kick it”. Its chief competitors are in disarray. It’s made Google stronger than ever, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. It makes them a target.

Some Google Wishes

  • Show real-time CPC for ads
  • Tell publishers what AdSense split is
  • Solve map spam issues: Seriously. It’s embarrassing.
  • Think carefully before moving further into Google-hosted content like Google Book Search, Knol, Time-Life @ Google Images.

Yahoo: The Little Engine That Should’ve

Weaknesses: leadership disarray. A loss of talent and “mojo” factor. Throw search to the wolves to survive. Google wasn’t allowed to catch search and Microsoft ain’t giving up.

Yahoo Wishes

  • Restore faith, if possible. Show people they’re going to be a strong search competitor. People want choices.
  • Keep innovating. Search Monkey and Search Pad are both really useful.
  • Enough with the “open” solution.
  • Don’t do stupid things like angering your advertisers.

What’s This Company’s Product

What does Google make? Search, Ads and Apps

What does Microsoft make? Jonah Stein says “bugs”. Heh. Apparently they do software and services. Microsoft does a lot of things. They are professing that they want to take Google on in an incredibly competitive space and they really need to have search up there. They’re not focused on search.

Microsoft Wishes:

Love search and show us you love it. We’re rooting for you. Get in there.  From the top down, show us that you’re invested in search. That your entire corporation knows this is a priority, along with the software and operating systems. Search deserves the same amount of attention as your other products.

Google’s rooting for Microsoft, too. They don’t want 90 percent market share. They want 60 percent or so. They don’t want people to think they’re ruling the world. They’d maybe like if it was Yahoo that was gaining market share instead, but they’ll take what they can get.

Pick a brand. Live is not the brand that is going to get there.  Do the hard things. When Microsoft gave up on book search, it sucked.

Push for relevancy metrics. Show us Google is not the best.

Agree on traffic figures. We need a bucket of key stats like share of searches, volume of searches, number of unique searchers, and number of search sessions. Agree on types of searches that are counted, as well.

Kill the Concept of Google Killers

How will some new start up best Google? They won’t.

Being bigger doesn’t mean better. Natural language doesn’t work.

Why doesn’t Google & Yahoo offer Twitter Search? Gives people instant feedback. Was that really an earthquake? Is everyone else’s power out? Develop a hyper real-time tool to see what’s being buzzed about.

Danny talks about UrbanSpoon. You never have to wonder where to eat again.   Eventful is another example. These are all apps that Google doesn’t have. They’re a way to differentiate yourself. Mobile is still Google’s vulnerability.

Search Customization and SearchWiki

Google tailoring search results based on location, previous query, Web history, etc.

Google SearchWiki allows anyone to customize the order of results they see.

For search marketers, this means the results are going to continue to be more individually tailored. So some shotgun SEO approaches likely hit fewer targets.

He talks about the SEO reputation problem and how he hasn’t heard it before. /sarcasm  Between John Dvorak, Seth Godin in 2004, Mary Hodder in 2005, Jason Calacanis in 2007 and Shoemoney in 2008 — it’s been covered and it’s no less true today than it was back then.  People need more education.

It maybe time for an SEO name change.

In 2005, he suggested “Content SEO”. “Technical SEO” has been used a lot more in the past year. The thing is, you can and should do on-page content, for search architecture. Maybe a name change will help.  He’d like people to not be crap hats anymore. He doesn’t want to talk about black hat, white hat. Focusing on crap hat stuff might be a more productive conversation.

What is crap hat? The off topic link drop, the automated link insertion, etc.

He doesn’t care if it works, if it’s crap hat, it’s crap hat. Stop Doing It.  Say no to it and tell other people to say no too. Don’t be laughing about it in a bar. It’s not funny anymore. It’s like telling a racist joke. It’s time to grow up.

The Rise of In-Housers

[Danny’s taking cracks at livebloggers. He’s funny. Really]

There’s a rise in in-housers. Certainly more and more people seem to be doing search marketing in-house. Agencies should think how to support them.

SEM is not paid search.

  • SEO: generating unpaid traffic from search
  • PPC: generating paid traffic from search
  • SEM: Search Engine Marketing or Search Marketing, the combination of both tactics.

Financial Crisis in Search

It’s still hard to say how hard it wil hit. There are conflicting reports of spend pull-backs but also continued support. We have to watch and see. If things do get tighter, analytics becomes even more crucial.

And that’s it!  Back in a bit.  This time hitting the Developer Track.


About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.


7 thoughts on “Keynote: Danny Sullivan


  • andrew wee on said:

    Nice summary, i like the bits of color and flavor you added to the piece.

    Why crap hat is a concern, it’d be interesting to see what develops out of all the blackhole seo we’re seeing from sites like wiki. seems like the publishers are crap hatting their visitors.

    And if the big 3 SEs are behind the curve in indexing tweets and other microblogging/social media platforms, does that mean a ‘time to market’ factor for information doesn’t matter as much, compared to more traditional content sites?

    Some interesting food for thought.


  • Lisa Barone on said:

    Joe, Todd: Isn’t “crap hat” an awesome term? I think I’m going to be stealing that in the future. I’ll give Danny credit, of course! :)


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