Evening Forum with Danny Sullivan

October 6, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

First off, I’m kind of surprised. We’re doing the Evening Forum with Danny in one of the little rooms and it’s not even filled. Who comes to SMX and skips out on a Danny banter and insight session? Are you people crazy? I hope you all get sick on your drinks.  You’re missing out.

And with that, let’s get started. Danny takes his jacket and tie off because we’re being informal.  He wishes we had drinks. Don’t we all, Danny. Don’t. We all.

I heard that Bing is sometimes spoofing that it’s a visitor and not a crawler. Is that true?

Yes.  Bing has had a number of issues that they were crawling Web sites and doing weird stuff trying to detect cloaking, etc. He wrote a rant on it. He’s not sure why it’s happening. It’s a “bug” that’s been happening for over a year.

Do you think tinyurls will help improve PageRank?

Danny wrote a long post on URL shorteners. Anyone who is using a URL shortener that puts your site in a frame, stop doing it. You’re not getting any credit for it and Danny doesn’t like it. Even though Twitter nofollows their links, the stream goes out to people’s blog and along the way it FALLS OFF. You may as well use a URL shortener that will pass the off flow on to you, so make sure you’re using a shortener that 301s the link.  You can get a branded URL shortener or make your own. Back then his three top choices were:

  • Bit.ly
  • Tr.im (maybe on its way out)
  • cli.gs  (gone)

You’re getting a lot of traffic from Twitter. More than you probably think.  The URL tracking isn’t usually accurate. Sometimes it overestimates and sometimes it underestimates.

Tracking codes need time to run. If you have a quick refresh on a landing page, but your footer (where your tracking code lives) doesn’t have time to load, you’re not going to get tracking from that. That’s when you need to go back to your server logs.

What’s the best process for migrating one domain to another?

301 redirect.

Vanessa Fox answers.  If you’re doing a site migration, don’t think of it as a way of rebranding. You want everything to be the same.  Don’t do everything at once. If you do and something goes wrong, it’s hard to tell what happened. Try to do a “test” section first to make sure your redirects are working properly. Create an XML sitemap thats canonical for both versions and doesn’t have a lot of duplicates. You should check your analytics for your top 5 terms and see which pages ranks highest for those. You’re going to see a dip in the traffic for awhile. Let people know that’s going to happen so they don’t get scared. Also check your server logs.

Do penalties exist like a -2 a -6 or a filter that keeps you out of the Top?

Yes.  He hasn’t seen them cropping up recently.

Danny hands the mic to Maile from Google.  She said they’re not “penalties” they’re “fluctuations in the algorithm”.  [Danny: It’s a FEATURE!]

We can joke about Jeff Goldbloom’s death  in real-time search but what about fake news about an Iran bombing Israel that goes viral. Shouldn’t there be some kind of regulation?

We don’t regulate our regular search results.  The search results themselves have constitutionally protected rights, as well. A court ruled that Google’s algorithm has a right to free speech.  Assuming you could regulate it, it’s real-time stuff. Who’s the police? Who’s going out there?   The panel on Real-Time Search today decided that real-time results die off pretty quickly so they’re okay for now.   The truth usually gets out there by more authoritative people.  He talks about when he thought Prop 8 was overturned and there was some Twitter confusion.  Hopefully North Korea doesn’t launch nuclear weapons because they saw on Twitter that China did it first.

Over the past few days a conversation about page speed keeps coming up. Will that have any impact on anything?

A site that loads quickly is generally good.   It’s more about that a faster a search engine can get to your site, the more pages they can index.

[People have questions and Danny doesn’t want to answer them. Hee. I think I’m not the only one who’s a bit delirious.]

Can you detect if images are watermarked and if they are, are you decreasing the importance?

Maile: She’s not sure if Google is using watermarking as a signal. She’ll write it down in her magic notebook.

They’re in a NY Design company. They rank really well for a lot of their keywords. They don’t buy links. He’s against it [heh]. However, there are a few specific keywords that competitors have bought links for and they’re on high authority sites (news sites). Sites where their links won’t get devalued. Do we wait and hope that we’ll eventually outrank them or do we buy them?

Allan Dick is in the audience. He says he once said in public you should be able to buy links. He takes it back. You shouldn’t do it.

Danny: Even though the links are on the site, they may not be passing juice.  Did you report them?  [The guys says yes.]  Then they’re just not going to do anything. You can buy links all you want, just don’t whine to me when you get banned.  Yeah, Google can’t police the Web, but you don’t have to be in their index either.

Danny says he’d just keep going at it without buying the links, even though he knows it’s sucky in the short term.

[We’re listening to a silly question I’m not going to bother writing down. Danny looks disgruntled that people have turned this into an SEO Site Clinic when there IS an SEO Site Clinic TOMORROW. I giggle for him. :)]

Where do you see Bing being in 3-5 years vs Google?

Bing is going to take all Yahoo’s traffic. Yahoo will not succeed based on their UI. People like to have alternatives to search engines.   If I can’t use Google, which one are you going to use? What’s that other search engine? Right now it’s Bing. Bing is yelling telling people we’re a search engine. Yahoo is confusing people. They’re not saying they’re a serach engine. Danny doesn’t think people will think Yahoo is a search alternative for much longer.

Whether or not Bing can take market share and get up to 35 percent, he doesn’t know. That’s hard.  They probably can get into a 20 percent share on their own. There’s a chance Bing will be the Mac of the search world. Lots of people like it, but most people keeping using Windows.

He sees Yahoo going through the motions of running a search program for the next three years and then they’ll just give up. They’ll continue to lose employees. They won’t be seen as a place people want to work at.  For Yahoo it’s sad. Yahoo was one of the original search engines, but Carol Bartz can’t keep being a search engine AND a content piece.  Especially when they have Microsoft biting at them in search.

What current search engine has the technology that you think might supplant Google? What’s interesting right now?

Danny doesn’t see anyone changing the game in the next 10 years. The game changer would be that the DOJ forces Google to give up parts of its empire. People have no idea how much information Google has.  The degree of signals they have to tell what’s happening on the Web…they have a lot of information that they can tap into. Someone in their garage is not going to come up and create something better.

And we’re done. See you tomorrow! :)

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