Google's First Live Chat Webmaster Help Session a Success

Mar 31, 2008 • 7:14 am | comments (5) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

google-webmaster-central-lo.gifAs reported, Google held their first live chat even hosted by the Google Webmaster Help team. I listened and participated in the live chat event, and I can personally attest that it was a huge success. I believe there were well over 200 attendees, maybe almost 300.

It was hosted using an 800# call in, to hear the Googlers. Plus a WebEx plugin to view slides, video and two methods of chat. The first was a general chat area, which Matt Cutts spent most of his time in. He even helped out this webmaster who had his site recently hacked (it was nice to see). The second chat area was reserved for Q&A, webmasters submitted questions and Googlers answered them either live or via the chat.

I did copy the transcripts of each chat area, and I was going to post it today, but no need to. Googler, JohnMu, posted both transcripts in Google Groups, so if you missed what went down, check it out there.

If you have questions about the transcripts or have feedback on the live chat event, use this Google Groups thread, started by MattD.

I was told by one webmaster that they were recording the audio and they would email it to me. But I have not yet received a copy of that audio. If you have it, I would love to add it to this post.

It appears to me that Google will be hosting the events more regularly. It seemed like almost every Googler associated with web search and webmasters was on board (maybe we were missing Brian White?). But it seemed like they were all there, all helping webmasters. A great thing to see - like I said before. Kudos Google and great job!

Forum discussion at Google Groups.

Postscript: John posted audio recordings of the chat session. Check them out over here.

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Michael Martinez

03/31/2008 03:41 pm

Do you ever notice how, when someone asks a Googler, "Should I do X?" the Googler invariably replies, "You CAN do X..." and then moves on? I wonder how many people take the "You CAN do X" replies as specific recommendations to actually do X? Another variant of these exchanges looks like, "Would you recommend that I nofollow my [very important page that someone else says is not important] so it doesn't accrue PageRank?" and a Googler will reply, "If you don't want a page to accrue PageRank, then use nofollow". Moral of the story: Don't go to the Googlers for SEO advice, for they will say both "you CAN do that" and "Read [the absolutely useless] Webmaster Guidelines".

Jaan Kanellis

03/31/2008 09:03 pm

So true Michael. I was just commenting to a client today on how obtuse Google is when being asked specific questions. I actually asked Matt Cutt's about the PR Sculpting issues again at the end of the call last Friday and he gave the same answer as before. Sure you can use nofollow on your website, but didn't exactly say it would help, how much (more importantly) it would help or if we should definitely do it. Just more of the same "you can if you want to or have time to".

Susan Moskwa

03/31/2008 10:49 pm

Thanks for the write-up, Barry! Glad you enjoyed the event. Michael, when I'm answering people's questions (in my capacity as a Googler) I feel my role is to help them understand how things work, or what the likely effect would be of X or Y; not to make decisions for them. I'd rather not say "You should (or shouldn't) do X," but rather "Here's what will happen if you do X." Whether or not they want that effect, or want to spend their time doing X, is up to them. The example you cite is actually very apropos. If I were to simply answer the question "Would you recommend that I nofollow my [very important page that someone else says is not important] so it doesn't accrue PageRank?", I would say "No," because I believe that there are better uses of most people's time than PageRank sculpting. However, that's probably not what the questioner wanted to know. Instead, I tried to help him understand the effects of robots.txt vs. nofollowing links, so that if he does decide he wants to block the flow of PR to a particular page, he'll know which methods will achieve that result and which won't.

Jaan Kanellis

04/01/2008 03:20 am

First thanks for the response Susan. I guess a flat question(s) for you would be: 1. Does sculpting PR work? Meaning by doing this will other pages on your website accumulate more PR by blocking others through nofollow? And would this then result in your non nofollowed pages getting better rankings and traffic like so many SEO's out there are telling people? If it doesnt do this why would we use nofollow at all?

Dan Thies

04/02/2008 05:18 pm

Jaan, many Googlers have already answered the second part of your 3-part question (will other pages accumulate more PR) in the affirmative. That doesn't imply that the other pages are going to get better rankings and traffic. If it helps you get more pages indexed, which would allow you to influence rankings via internal anchor text, then it could have an effect, but a little extra PageRank on a page isn't likely to move that page's ranking much if at all. All you can do is shift the distribution a bit. Whether you can accomplish anything useful by doing that depends on the situation, the implementation, and what you're trying to achieve. Let's say that you nofollow the home page links to your privacy/contact type pages, and leave other internal links to those pages intact. Those pages will likely still get indexed (sorry Michael) but simply hold less PageRank. The difference (what your privacy/contact/etc pages lose) would accumulate in other pages that you're actually trying to get indexed and ranked in SERPs. Anyone who tries to sell "sculpting" as a magic silver bullet is overselling it. Anyone who claims that it has no utility is in denial, or just posturing for their own twisted reasons.

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