Coverage of SES San Jose: Search Engine Q&A On Links

August 10th, 2005

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I’m a bit behind on my conference session blogging. Waaay too many parties going on; doesn’t leave much time for blogging. The Google Dance last night. Yahoo! party at Great America the night before. And tonight I’ve got another party to go to. Yesterday I spoke on RSS. I’ll post a recap on that session later.

I just attended “Search Engine Q&A On Links”, which was great. Lots of useful advice from Google and Yahoo! about linking (nobody seemed to want to ask poor Ask Jeeves any questions). It was funny how obviously diametrically opposed the engines were to the immediately prior session on “Buying and Selling Links”. It’s hard to reconcile the two different sets of advice. Matt in the hallway before this session was adamant: “Don’t buy links!”

Anyways, without any further ado, here’s the session recap:

Kaushal Kurapati from Ask Jeeves:
Be cautious of: reciprocal links and purchasing links
Avoid: link farms, cloaking pages, invisible or hidden links that trick the crawler
Become an authority on a subject
Focus on your busines and content. Rest will follow. [I say: “yeah, right…”]
Teoma uses subject specific popularity: garner respect in your industry, subject-specific text based links can be understood. (hubs and authorities model)

Tim Mayer from Yahoo!:
Here’s some important news!! Yahoo! has just launched a brand new service: Site Explorer from Yahoo! Search. Stop scraping the Yahoo site for backlink results and use Site Explorer instead. Access via an API is offered too. And you can export as a CSV file.
Yahoo has 19.2 billion web objects in its index. Over 20 billion objects, when you include the audio and video.
Plans to use community to improve search quality. Social search = within a trusted network, where someone within your network vouches for a site.
Create natural linking strategies. when things start to look unnatural, is when you’ll start getting into trouble. We look at intent (linking to plasma TVs, diamonds, and Viagra all on the same page) and extent (i.e. what looks normal. Having everything on the page as links or 200 links on the page is too much!)
Yahoo! offers a much more comprehensive sample of backlinks than Google, but not a complete set of backlinks. New system (Site Explorer) will be reasonably comprehensive, in his opinion the most comprehensive out there.
It’s unnatural to link to sitemap-1 sitemap-2 sitemap-3 sitemap-4 sitemap-5. If you are doing this, you’re headed in the wrong direction.

Matt Cutts from Google:
Good links are earned links, links that are based on editorial discretion.
Create services that really useful. e.g newsletters, an article a day, syndicate through RSS (attribute my article and give me a link). start a blog.
Matt launched his blog today: mattcutts.com
Think outside the box.
Only SEOs and librarians do backlink searches. Historically we decided to dedicate a subset of our servers to backlinks. Only a sampling of backlinks would be displayed but only for a threshold of PageRank 4 or higher pages. A suggestion was made to show backlinks for lower PageRank pages too. We liked that idea so we now show a random sampling of backlinks, including low PageRank scoring pages too. We show twice as many backlinks as shown before, but still it’s only a sampling of the backlinks.
In graph theory, a clique in every node in the graph is very unnatural. So don’t link to every single node in your network of sites; it’ll get flagged.
For dynamic sites, you’re very safe if you have fewer than 2 parameters; keep the values of those parameters to fewer than 5 digits, and don’t name a parameter “id”. Googlebot sometimes tries variations of URLs by dropping parameters, but we only do that deep level analysis on big, quality sites.
Another good approach that alltheweb came up with: spider would always go 1 dynamic page deep from a static page.
Search engines only grab 100k or 200k or 500k so be careful loading up a huge page with a lot of links.
PageRank isn’t as important as SOME people make it out to be. BUT it’s NOT like “PageRank? Oh yeah let’s shuffle that one under the rug! That was sooo 4 years ago!”
“BO” = backlink obsession
We export PageRank only once every 3 months or so.

Technorati tag: Search Engine Strategies