Informal Discussion with Tim Mayer and the Yahoo! Search Folks

Nov 16, 2004 - 11:21 pm 5 by
Filed Under SEO Interviews

I had the opportunity to speak with Tim Mayer, Aaron Ferstman and Nancy Evars from Yahoo! Search after the last session of the day. Let me take you through the conversation in chronological order, as best as I remember it. After the "Search Engine Friendly Design and Coding (Especially Flash)", which Tim spoke at, I met up with Aaron at the speakers platform. Aaron was waiting for Tim to finish answering individual attendee questions. Aaron and I discussed the normal stuff you discuss with people when you first meet them. We discussed the fact that people in California like to buy big 4 wheel drive SUVs and how people in New York like to buy small fast cars. I myself just leased the Lexus SC430 (sporty convertible), and as you know, it does not drive well in the snow - you also probably know that New York tends to get its share of snow. We just found it funny that people in Cali like cars that are more suited to New Yorkers and New Yorkers like cars that are more suited for Californians.

After the car talk, we discussed what it takes to speak at these conferences, especially as a representative from the search engines. I commented that Tim does an excellent job. We agreed that these speakers need to be politicians. Soon after, Tim was ready for a cigarette so he pushed his way (being dramatic - he did not push anyone) out the conference room out onto the street where he can get a breath of fresh air (or cigarette). There Tim, Aaron and Nancy sat to talk about various topics.

We discussed the Yahoo! Search Blog, which Nancy works on and the conversations ultimately lead to Jeremy Zawodny, who will be arriving tomorrow, and his blog. Jeremy is known to say things in his personal blog which ruffel the feathers of some of the more corporate types over at Yahoo!, but overall it seems to me that most of the people over at Yahoo! are fairly relaxed. After meeting Tim, I get that impression.

The blog conversation moves on to, of course, to comment spam. Yahoo! Search Blog, as you know, allows for commenting - as opposed to Google's blog. Jeremy has a lot of experience with blogging and he uses MT Blacklist to fight comment spam on his blog as well as the Yahoo! Search Blog. Tim made a comment that he was at some bar with the WMW crew and one mentioned that they tried to comment spam Jeremy's blog. Of course Jeremy blocked the comment spammer from doing so in the future. But another WMW folk said that if he was spamming blogs, he would make sure not to spam a Yahoo! employee's blog.

We then discussed, NickW's blog, Tim loves reading it. Tim finds ThreadWatch to be more of a forum then a blog, I see his point - but I disagree. We discussed giving a link on the left hand navigation of the Yahoo Search Blog site. I think it might happen in the near future. From ThreadWatch we moved onto forums. We discussed some of the exciting threads, such as the one about how people post spammers in order to show Yahoo! and Google who the spammers are. Tim kind of hinted that he wouldn't do anything manually when he finds such a thread. Of course he could not comment on Google's behalf.

I then asked Tim about all the PM's he gets or Sticky Mails (as they are referred to at WMW). He says he gets some of the funniest things. One story he told me was about this Sticky he got from someone who basically copied content off another site and complained that his site was not listed. After Tim responded to the member who sent him the sticky mail, the member responded that he was a cab driver and he should give him a break. Of course, Tim knew that this person was not a cab driver - so he found the whole situation funny.

That conversation lead to how Yahoo! handles the re-inclusion of pages that were delisted. He said that you can email an address and Yahoo! should review it within 2 weeks or so. He gave me specific examples of such cases, but no need to mention them here. At first, he explained, Yahoo! was bombarded with requests for re-inclusion (this occurred after Yahoo! merged all the other engines into one). But now, a re-inclusion request should be reviewed quickly.

Then the Yahoo folks split up and I walked with Tim back to the Hilton. During the walk, we talked more about giving NickW that link on the Yahoo Search Blog and some football talk. Tim is a Steelers fan, I myself am a Jet fan (yes I know). We talked a bit about how we used to run rotisseries before it was all automated on the Web. He used to fax back and forth sheets between people. I actually had my brother write small programs to help keep track of the stuff.

As we approached the Hilton, we talked about how Yahoo's Blog links to Google's blog and how MSN's blog links to both Yahoo's Blog and MSN's Blog. But you do not see Google linking to either Yahoo or MSN. :) Which lead us to talk about those Google bombs, and the recent "more evil than Satan", when queried at MSN Search Beta brought up Google. Of course the engines play games with each other, and he shared some funny stories with me on that. At that point we exchanged cards and parted ways.

It was nice meeting the folks at Yahoo. Nancy was nice to talk to, real smart and fun. Aaron is an all around nice guy, seems very hard working and honest. Tim has way too much fun over at Yahoo!, seems way to laid back and, to be serious, is an excellent communicator.


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