Calum I. Mac Ceod was first up. He discussed how Google used to rank pages (title and pagerank). Now its a bit more complicated, with proximity and linkage data. He goes through the various on page factors and describes how most are not too important anymore. He then goes into PageRank and how sites some times have PR 0 or gray PR. He also discusses how some pages that do not pass PR. He then moves on to anchor text and its importance. Google has done strange things with redirects. He then goes into geo-location very quickly. Content is of course important. To be honest, it is very hard to understand the presentation - I am bad with accents and the slides are a bit poor. That is the evolution of Google. What can we see next? localization you should see and better spam detection.
Next up was Keith Petterson from Red Zone Global, he just got married. He says SEO is a bit like gambling with the rushes he gets from ranking high and the downs he gets when he gets when his sites get banned (not sure if his pages do get bad). He describes how he first got into SEO, probably like most of you (client asked them to get traffic). He said he had the number 3 spot on Excite for the big "S" word on the Internet, then in 99 AOL dropped Excite. "Write good content and you will naturally obtain good traffic." He said he heard from many webmaster's who feel they have good content but bad rankings. He said its not all about content, obviously. Develop a strategy, where am I now and where do I want to be tomorrow. He said you need to keep track of your rankings. He thinks of an algorithm as a puzzle. A mix between on page and off page factors. He said its important to know what will and wont get indexed by search engine. He tracks rank over time, he says he is extremely analytical. "Scalpel versus hatchet", he believes you make small changes and do not destroy a site and rebuild it.
Daron Babin SEGuru, he started WebmasterFM, he said he has been in the game since before it was an industry. He discussed how every 10 minutes you were resubmitting and your rankings improved and then your competitors did it, etc. He gets a bit into the black hat and white hat discussion, today your ok and tomorrow your not. He is happy to see that the wall is down between SEOs and the Search Engines. He then goes into how the forums are a tool, it used to be where people used to say, here is a new bot IP address. He mentioned cloaking and how he got caught, or he might be joking. He said would take a slice of the pie, Google, AV, Excite, etc. and would extract 5000 listings and compare all the title tags and measure them using a statistical model (think he said linear regression trend analysis). He analyzed every factor by hand in the past, it took him two weeks to built the perfect page. He said he built a cloaked page and the search engine won because the searcher got the page he wanted and he won because he got the sale. The searcher was happy he said, because "he made his wife happy" - that made a laugh through the audience. He recommends writing a page of content and pulling out the keywords, then give it to someone and ask them to figure out what they keyword is. He said its about the other words on the page, its that important. If the keyword is "apple" is the page about computers or fruit? :)
They called out Matt in the back of the room and he waived. :)
Greg Boser of WebGuerrilla was next up. He said he started back in mid to late 1996. He built it and they did not come. So he stumbled upon Danny Sullivan's article - he said he had to mail him a check (before e-commerce). He said he is not ashamed, he optimized for algorithms and not for terms of service. Back in the earlier days, it was more about generating eye balls, because he could put up banner ads at high CPC. He said it was very on page and meta tag driven SEO. He described how he met John Heard who makes a product named "IP delivery" and discovered cloaking. The purpose was to stop his competitors from stealing his code and he had a ton of fun, because he gave the competitors weird tags to mess them up. He called these pages "poison pages". He said any content provided by the government is free to use. So he took content from these pages and then did find and replace on the keywords in the Web page with the other keywords. He fed it to the engines to see how the engines ranked them and figured out keyword density that way. He said search engine like their own search results a lot, so the SERP pages have good content. He said he is still a big fan of IP Delivery, even these days. Cloaking turned into a way to custom tailer each page to each individual engine. InfoSeek used to swap between 3 algorithms, so every Sunday at 11am they switched from domain A to domain B and got back to the top of the rankings. Then linkage data became very important with the rise of Google, Inc. So over time they built software tools to look more at linkage data. He didnt trust anyone, he tested everything himself. He sees IP technology is coming back with Yahoo, Google, and MSN all competing for the same landscape. He says he deploys IP Delivery based on the user's perspective, he doesnt care if the search engines dont like it, as long as the customer is ok with it - then its a win - win situation. He said, technically he is a spammer - but real spammers dont have conversion rates. He came out and said MSN loves side wide links (I have seen this to be true) whereas the others do not like site wide links as much. It will be interesting to see how text ad purchasing becomes more advanced.
Q & A Time:
Q: What are your thoughts on hosting a network of sites on the same IP or C-block? A: They all say get them all on a different IP address. He said don't make it easy for the search engines to find all your sites.
Q: Do you see any changes happening as the holiday season comes up? A: They said, do you have an AdWords account? :) He said he wants MSN out there, he misses those days. You need to prep yourself for the algo changes. Right now its just Google, it helps to have more engines in the game. He said use your PR to your advantage, public relations - PR. They then get into Florida and he said it was brutal and the most hideous thing he has seen before. He said, dont buy that car until January, because you might need it for AdWords. If you go in brute force, you must have your back up plan. Then Greg gets into spam reporting on the forums, he said he never reported anyone in any way because that is where he learned it (Google Cache).
Q: How do you displace a competitor from the rankings? A: No real answer. Just out rank them was offered.
Greg doesnt compare his spam to email spam or adware, spyware. "We" typically, SEM for us is targeted, unlike other spam. Government has some time to regulate SERPs and spam. AdWare is malicious and is different. Blog spamming is an http request, very little damage, less then a bot crawling your site.
Q: What do you think about redirect hi-jacking? A: Greg said it is sad to me that it works. He said it is probably the biggest flaw in the search engines today. Daron said "Do onto others as you want them to do onto you." What you can try to do to prevent it, is redirect the redirect.