Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land
Matt Cutts, Software Engineer, Google, Inc. Peter Linsley, Senior Product Manager for Search, Ask.com Tim Mayer, VP of Product Management, Yahoo Aaswath Raman, Program Manager, Live Search, Microsoft
Q: What are you doing to eliminate the .edus ranking for Viagra, etc? Are you banning people based on their WHOIS registration?
MC: Registrars do not automatically get WHOIS info, so I can dispel that misconception right there. Additionally, Google is a very algorhythmically centric engine, so we try first and foremost to “fix” things via the algorithm first and use human intervention and manual fixes as a last resort.
TM: From a Yahoo perspective, the automated approach is much more scalable. So across the whole index, it’s much more feasible to use an automated approach because really, how many pages can real humans touch?
PL: You can employ 2000 people to work everyday for the next 2 years and they still couldn’t clean up all of the stuff that would need to be manually touched.
Danny: The whole Jason Calacanis "we’re going to have Mahalo", etc. It’s that whole idea that we’ll manually build all the search results out and eliminate the spam.
Danny: A suggestion was made that the SEs post some sort of “Johns” list for sites that have been penalized. “Let the rest of their industry know they did something wrong; make examples of people”.
Danny: Is there any frustration that sometimes it’s more about the exact technique, rather than the “intent”.
Question: Life after banishment… cleaned up site, submitted reinclusion request, 6 days, site was back in the index… except there’s no backlinks credited, no PR, nothing. WTF? Are we on parole?
MC: Look at your traffic. Backlinks and PR get pushed every 3 months. You might have caught it in a weird part of that cycle.
Same Questioner: So even though it’s showing 0 for everything, it’s not really gone-gone?
MC: Right. If you continue to have any questions you can contact us and ask someone to take a look at it. It’s also a good time to do an audit… you know when you get a flat, it’s a good time to make sure the rest of the car is in good working order.
Jonah: Why can’t we report spam right out of the SERP? Why do we have to go fill out the form?
AR: Because it can be gamed by your competitors.
Danny: How many of you would like to be able to throw a switch in your WMC console and turn on the Spam Report buttons on the SERPs? (Hands go up)
PL: I would imagine most people prefer a consolidated location where you can report spam.
MC: They do a thing in Germany where they compile a master list of things people don’t like and we (the SEs) can go get that and look at it.
TM: We would want trusted people to go out an report spam. If you make it easier to report spam, the quality of the spam reports will go down.
Question: I really try to get in contact with you guys, and I never hear from anyone. I don’t know if it’s because I’m Canadian or what?
TM: In terms of Yahoo, if you don’t hear back, like sometimes if you’re breaking a ton of rules, you’ll get a very terse “Please review the guidelines”. But if you’re a small mom & pop and just need a few tweaks, you’ll probably get a lot more feedback.
Question: What about if we had some type of wiki where we could agree on coding standards so that they aren’t mistaken as spam?
Danny: Shout out a solution in 5 words or less…
-- List of actual penalties -- Full list of penalties -- Get more input from webmaster about their own site. -- Trusted webmasters… give an exam (lots of applause) -- Give us a "clean" report -- Trusted API through webmaster tools -- Maximum number of keywords per tag -- Better training for advertising reps -- Ban Viagra -- Give Viagra away so there’s no profit in selling it -- Details in the penalty (when, where, when does it end?) -- Negative Rank on the Toolbar -- Bad Neighborhood API
AR: (couldn't really hear what he said... he's softspoken and I'm a little deaf)
TM: We have an interface that’s dig like in that you can give feedback. It’s fairly cool. WE’ve been integrated this stuff into site explorer.
MC: We love you infinity times infinity. Seriously, we take spam very seriously. We’re going to keep going forward with our webmaster console.
PL: It’s all about getting the feedback from you guys. We can’t do it without you.