Meet The Search Engines Q&A

Meet the search engines Q&A at A4UExpo – session with:

* Matthew Trewhella, Google

* Dan Cohen, Microsoft

* David Naylor (?!)

This session went really, really fast – I’m going to cover points that (I feel) really added value rather than covering absolutely everything in detail. Here are some interesting slide pics from Dan Cohen of Microsoft, looking at http compression and conditional get use for crawl bandwidth improvement:

dan-cohen1

And this one, covering a high level case study of the techniques used to make MSN Video more search engine friendly (an AJAX based site):

dan-cohen2

Matthew Trewhella, Google

Matthew gave us a really solid overview of how Google works. Here are the key takeaways / favourite offerings from Google according to Matt

1) Page download time is important. He advised us to use the bandwidth tool in Webmaster tools and told us to speed up out sites!

2) Fetch as Googlebot in Google WMT – use to visualise how Google sees your content

3) Google translate

Dave Naylor (Yahoo?!)

Dave talks a little bit about Yahoo

Get clean links out of flickr to your own website;

Dave demonstrates, live a Flickr link hack, where adding a comment, then editing it to remove the rel=”nofollow” will result in a dofollowed link from Flickr! Nice.

The crowd absolutely loved his demo – go and get yourselves a dofollowed link from Flickr!

The Q+A session:

Question asked: what was the rationale / justification for the vince update?

Matt – we have to make sure we give the best experience possible for users. We saw that our users got to what they were looking for quickly after the update.

Question: The brand update was rolled out for a few dozen keywords. Is there a plan to roll that out for more?

Matt: It will be considered if it’s good for users. Matt wasn’t prepared to share indicators for SEO for us to tell if an update was being rolled out, but Dave said check for disappearance of the cache links – which can sometimes be a sign of an update if there are radical changes on pages 2 and 3 of the search results also

Question: How important is server location if you have the TLD?

Matt: Not at all – if you have the ccTLD, we use that. Gave some advice on geo-location with webmaster tools if you have one domain and multiple subdirectories targeting different countries

Matt: If it’s a .com / .org they look at the IP address for an indicator of target market. If it’s a generic domain use WMT and any other geographical hints available

Question: If you’re a site in France but can’t get a .fr what can we do?

Matt mentioned that if you can’t get the Tld, then “it’s about the links” – sounded very much like the link graph has an impact on geolocation

Dave recommended subdomains so he could host the site in France – so host location counted positively towards the ranking factors

Question: How do you handle countries with several languages?

Matt: We’re luck that generally, different languages use different words. The trick is where you have multiple languages on different URLs the translations should be correctly localised for users, not machine translated

Question: We’d like to launch a .IE version of our site – will we have to rewrite the whole site?

Matt: You can, but if you’re just replicating the entire site on a different domain, the duplicate will dilute the value. Do enough to help us understand that it’s a different page.

Update

The Flickr exploit demonstrated earlier by Dave has already been fixed. Nice hack though, Dave.