Best of SMX East 2010

Also see: Best of SMX East 2011

SMX East was great. Here was the best of the best:

SMX East

Best lines:

  • Tom Petryshen: One of the best ways to motivate people is fear. But if you can’t do that you can try things like focus and discipline.
  • Geoff Donaker (Yelp CEO): With whom do we compete? Everybody and nobody. Do we compete with Google? 4Square? Yeah, sure …
  • Todd Friesen:
    • I liked the internet better when my idiot cousin didn’t know how to use it.
    • I have a friend who is experimenting with getting Mechanical Turk to do 500,000 queries to try to get terms to show up in Google Suggest. The results are iffy. (Responding to question: I’m afraid to type [My company] sucks into Google in case it sends them a signal. Reply was to not worry at all. But Danny said whenever he sees a result to his site he clicks on it, just in case). [Update: In 2011 Google began using (admitting they use?) user activity to influence rankings. This may have been a boon to Mechanical Turk and the SEOs who use it for gaming the system.]
  • Max Thomas: We used to promote online reputation management. But we got too many customers that we didn’t want. Now we just offer reputation management as part of our overall service.
  • Danny Sullivan:
    • I’ll take any questions you have. If they’re about search, all the better.
    • I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but there are some people who don’t like SEOs.
    • You have to understand that Lisa [Barone] is the determiner of what the best session is. When I go to a session and I don’t see Lisa liveblogging I think great, I’m sloppy seconds.
    • Don’t know if you all saw the MySpace movie this weekend (after asking a favor of MySpace’s Tony Adam) (the Facebook movie was just released).
    • I always felt Google was the Marsha Brady of search. Cause it was always Google Google Google. And Yahoo! was Jan saying what about me?
    • If I wanted to create a new search engine I would create a type of content that doesn’t exist and then provide a search engine for it. That’s happened twice: YouTube & Twitter.
    • To Google’s Jeremy Hylton: Can you give me a list of those ranking factors? Eric said it’s OK.
      • Jeremy replied via Twitter:  @GilR @dannysullivan i started writing a tweet that listed all of the ranking factors but then I ran out of characters. [Hmm … Twitter isn’t the perfect format for all documents. Who knew? Hey, we finally found a great use for Google Buzz!]
    • Google remembers. [Then as an afterthought] Bing too. Forgot you were here. [at panel with Google & Bing reps]
    • You all see the facebook movie yet? I hope I didn’t give anything away. He gets rich in the end.
    • A little known fact: TrustRank is named after a Google employee named Larry Trust [I had never realized that PageRank is named after Google co-founder Larry Page (according to Google]
  • Bruce Clay: SEO is like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube while juggling it.
  • Kevin Ryan: That .25 seconds I saved from Google Instant really changed my life. (great laugh line. But if the average search is  really 2-5 seconds faster, as Google claims … well, that is huge)
  • Stephan Spencer: I’m just going to get the Google Implant when that comes out (after being asked if he’s concerned about the Google monopoly)
  • Maile Ohye: I’m just glad I have a day job (after explaining how she would optimize the Google Store if she were responsible for its SEO)
  • Rae Hoffman: My biggest waste of time the past few years? Optimizing for Yahoo.

Best stats:

  • Daniel Ruby: Google has 97% of mobile browser search traffic  (hat tip: Greg Sterling)
  • Dennis Glavin: People expect to buy within an hour after using mobile. From a PC it’s 7 days. (hat tip Amber Mullin)
  • Baris Gultekin: 55% of queries 3+ words, 70% have no exact match, 20% never seen before in past 90 days (hat tip: Danny Sullivan)
  • Othar Hansson:
    • The probability you want YouTube when you type Y is insanely high (hat tip: Danny Sullivan)
    • Google Instant increases clicks on videos by 28%. (hat tip: James A Martin)
    • Typical users do <1 google search/day  (we are not our target audience) (hat tip: Dunrie Greiling)
  • Tony Adam: MySpace reduced page load times and increased indexing from 5 million to 20 million (hat tip: Vanessa Fox)

Best points & insights:

  • Steve Tullis (Bing): We use whatever information we have to try to make the results better. That includes click-thru rate on links, and actions in our browser or toolbar. (Google said they use CTR to analyze GUI changes, but didn’t say they use it for rankings) [Update: In 2011, Google ran a sting to show that Bing used the toolbar to see what Google results were being clicked on, allowing them to “steal” (?) some Google data].
  • Marty Weintraub: Be a marketer first. Facebook is a channel, it’s not a strategy.
  • Brian Cosgrove: URLs are your content NOT a reflection of your backend (discussing URL structure)
  • Maile Ohye: Google recognizes that URLs whose only difference is parameter order are the same page
  • Eric Papczun: (YouTube optimization): People don’t watch just one video. So get them to watch your next one. You can use annotations to link within YouTube, so the end of each video should have links to others.
  • Othman Laraki (Twitter search): Traditional search is about routing (get to where you’re trying to go). Realtime search is about filtering.
  • Rebecca Lieb: Is social the new search? Yes. [She started with a quote from a facebook VP and presented her study. I still beg to differ. My take is here: Google & the Facebook Fantasy. Also see Lisa Barone’s review of the study Rebecca quoted]  … and the very next speaker:
  • Kristjan Mar Hauksson: We did this study to prove that Twitter was fantastic at driving traffic to our news sites. Instead we found that it’s crap. The vast majority comes from Google.

Best interactions:

  • Chris Sherman: Every year we say this is the year mobile is going to be big. Is it? [listens to all the panel’s answers] So it’s no then. So I ask this question again next year. [Update: At SMX Toronto 2011 Chris finally said “Yes, this was the year that mobile became big.”]
  • Marty Weintraub: Wait, I need my coffee.
    • Elisabeth Osmeloski (moderating): Like you need more caffeine.
  • Elisabeth Osmeloski: Changing your name in facebook gets problematic, like if you get married …
    • Greg Finn: So don’t get married.
    • Elisabeth: That’s totally what I was saying.
  • Vanessa Fox: How many of you are having trouble with WiFi? [Nearly every hand goes up.] So a couple of you.
  • Question: You said that the average e-commerce site loads in 2 seconds. Matt Cutts said that Google would penalize sites that loaded slowly. At what point would Google penalize a site?
    • Maile Ohye: 2.01 seconds. [She and Vanessa clarify: It’s not a penalty. It’s a very minor ranking factor that affects about 1% of the cases. And the users will be penalizing you for your slowness far more than Google does]
  • Rich Skrenta: That SEO works is a fundamental flaw in ranking algorithm
    • Vanessa Fox (via Tweet): SEO is understanding the online space. Not a flaw. [Hey Vanessa, you should write a book about that]
  • Matt McGee: Bruce Clay has been doing SEO for what …
    • Bruce Clay: 200 years
  • Greg Boser: It’s rare that somebody putting bad links to you will hurt you
    • Jill Whalen: That’s why you keep a high quality link profile
    • Rae Hoffman: That’s why you never piss off an SEO
    • Todd Friesen: Especially a black hat SEO

Best euphemisms:

  • The Bing / Google duopoly. Uh, yeah, duopoly, that’s what we have. That was part of the session title, but the conversation quickly got to the Google Monopoly and whether or not the government should intervene. Consensus was NO.

Best studies:

Best ideas:

  • Gregg Finn: Donate $1 to a charity for every comment on a facebook post. People have to become fans first.

Best anecdotes:

  • Tom Petryshen: Client decided they would worry about the users first and the search engines later. Went from 100,000 pages indexed to 10,000. Then Google added 80,000 bad ones. The Google bot started shopping and adding items to Shopping Carts and Wish Lists and indexing those.
  • Danny Sullivan: Googled a police station. Called the number there. Got the jail. They said they know Google has the wrong number. Danny said he knew people and could help them fix it. It was ridiculously hard to get Google to fix the info and get the correct number for the police station.

Best Tweets:

  • @ShielaS: I refuse to SEO my damned tweets. :) RT @LivLarge: A tweet’s first 42 characters determines the title tag in google
  • @ThomCraver: Day 3 at #smx East is the best all week and some of the best content in years! Where Are the Links #3a2, best EVER [OK, maybe I’m biased on this one]

Best blog coverage:

Did you catch something great that I missed? Did I mention you and not link to you? Leave a comment here or Tweet to @GilR.

Also in this series: