Live: Ask The Search Engines: Best Practices Edition

Oct 6, 2009 - 1:20 pm 2 by
Filed Under SMX East 2009

Below is live coverage of the Ask The Search Engines: Best Practices Edition from the SMX East 2009 conference.

This coverage is provided by Barry Schwartz of RustyBrick.

We are using a live blogging tool to provide the real time coverage, please excuse any typos. You can also interact with us and while we are live blogging, so feel free to ask us questions as we blog. We will publish the archive below after the session is completed.

Ask The Search Engines: Best Practices Edition(10/06/2009) 
1:21 Barry Schwartz:  About 8 minutes until we start this session....
1:22 Barry Schwartz:  Ask The Search Engines: Best Practices Edition – In this session, search engine engineers and representatives share their most important takeaways and tips for those hoping to do better in traffic, plus there’s lots of time devoted to open Q&A.

Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land


Maile Ohye, Senior Developer Programs Engineer, Google Inc.
Sasi Parthasarathy, Program Manager, Bing, Microsoft
Cris Pierry, Senior Director, Search, Yahoo

1:31 Barry Schwartz:  Malie Ohye from Google is now up for her 10 min preso (maybe 15 mins)
1:33 Barry Schwartz:  Dealing with Downtime:
(A) Return a 503 response code with helpful message
(B) Create a tempoary disallow rule in
(C) Return a 404 response

Correct answer is A 503 response!
1:34 Barry Schwartz:  503 code is a service unavailable, it helps users and google will crawl it later and google won't index the content on the 503.
1:34 [Comment From Michael Martinez]
How do you do that if your server is down?
1:34 Barry Schwartz:  @michael, I think she meant if you schedule downtime.
1:36 Barry Schwartz:  Saving Bandwidth: If-Modified-Since

How do you help bots crawl your site more efficiently with this tag?

(a) configure your webserver to ignore anby repeated from the same source ip
(b) respond when appropriate with 304 not modified response
(c) add the if modified since metag tag to html pages

Answer is B
Twitterchristawatson:  Taking a pop quiz from google in ask seos panel, so far 1 for 1 :) #smx
Twitterpaulvalach:  RT @dannysullivan: taking server down temporarily? send a 503 not 404 code, google says, as an seo best practice #smx
1:38 Barry Schwartz:  Optimzing for Spiders

Which files might be good to disallow from cralwers
(a) invididual login pages
(b) calendars
(c) CSS

Answer is A and B are files you should disalllow
Twitterdannysullivan:  save bandwidth by using 304 not modified code if pages haven’t changed, says google. let’s them focus on other newer pages in site #smx
1:39 Barry Schwartz:  Page Speed:

What action(s) can reduce load time?
(a) Order the external scripts and cSS on your page efficiently
(b) compress images
(c) use fewer colors
1:40 Barry Schwartz:  Answer are A and B
1:40 [Comment From Michael Martinez]
How does the average Webmaster do this? Most can't even configure a robots.txt file. Bad advice from the search engine.
TwitterFlightpathNY:  When optimizing for spiders disallow login pages and calendars from crawlers #smx
1:42 Barry Schwartz:  80% of the time a page is loading, it is looking for these files, such as images... So compressing images is a good thing to do.
Twitterchristawatson:  Order the external scripts and CSS on your page efficiently in order for faster pageloads and google will love you ;) #smx
TwitterFlightpathNY:  To improve web page speed, and increase user happiness :) Maile recommends compressing imgs and put stylesheets above external scripts #smx
1:44 Barry Schwartz:  What is the possible result of this implementation of rel="canonical"?

(a) nothing will happen b/c the tag only works on 1 to 1
(b) only english version will be shown in results
(c) PR diluted between four versions

Answer is B
1:44 Barry Schwartz:  Here is the diagram

Twitterfabioricotta:  According to @maileohye canonical tag transfer all link properties to the canonical version! #SMX
1:46 Barry Schwartz:  Maile from Google now done...
1:46 Barry Schwartz:  Next up is Sasi Parthasarathy from Bing
1:47 Barry Schwartz:  His topic is security, it is "the biggest problem on the web now"
1:48 Barry Schwartz:  Why secure your web site?
- Spammers are quick
- Always looking for popular sites to hack for links
- User gen contentn is gaining immense pop
1:49 Barry Schwartz:  He showed some examples of hacked URLs
1:50 [Comment From Michael Martinez]
I'm curious about what they did for the Wordpress hack at the beginning of September.
1:50 Barry Schwartz:  @michael, ill try to ask, but room is packed...
1:50 Barry Schwartz:  He showed an example of fake anti-virus software which is really malware
1:51 Barry Schwartz:  EDU Spam:

EDU sites are targeted by spammers because they are not often patched

He shows some examples...
1:51 Barry Schwartz:  Forum/Blogs are spam fests
1:52 Barry Schwartz:  If you don't take security seriously?
- make users watch more porn
- help them buy viagra
- infect their computers with malware

but this all leads to you losing your reputation.
1:52 [Comment From Michael Martinez]
And do they trust any forum/blog links any more? :)
1:53 Barry Schwartz:  Good Practices:
  • Strong Passwords
  • Keep software up to date
  • Use malware and spyware detection tools often
  • Hide your sensitive files
  • Monitor your directories and forums
  • Keep tabs on your web site
TwitterFlightpathNY:  Sasi Parthasarthy from Bing team believes website security should be a priority when selecting back Links for seo. They must be vetted #smx
1:54 Barry Schwartz:  Cirs Pierry from Yahoo is also on the panel, but no preso...
1:55 Barry Schwartz:  Q&A Time
1:55 [Comment From Pavlicko]
I'd also recommend limiting the file types users can upload if you're using a cms
Twittersi1very:  Sasi Parthasarathy @bing just presented securing Ur site or else "you’ll show your users porn when they don’t want to see it"! #SMX
2:01 Barry Schwartz:  Question for Google: is it good to keep the rel-canonical tag for search engines to only rank english site... but use JavaScript to redirect users based on IP..


(1) Google excuted JS more
(2) You still won't rank for those pages, cause those other pages won't be in the index.

The panel is getting frustrated by the question...
2:02 Barry Schwartz:  Google said JS redirects doesn't mean they don't treat it like a temp redirect
2:03 Barry Schwartz:  FYI, Matt Cutts has a video...
2:05 Barry Schwartz:  Google said... Images with alt text do get pass along as anchor text
2:06 [Comment From Michael Martinez]
Images are passed with the anchor text?
2:06 Barry Schwartz:  @michael the alt text in an image, is considered anchor text
2:07 [Comment From Michael Martinez]
Okay, that I knew. I was just wondering if we were now going to have to debate ImageRank Sculpting.
2:07 Barry Schwartz:  Bing said linking out does not help your rankings, it is not part of the algorithm... Interesting he said that.
2:09 Barry Schwartz:  Google doesn't like "Soft" 404s, but they do not penalize by it
2:09 [Comment From Michael Martinez]
Probably because more SEO bloggers are saying it does, perhaps because I have been telling people to create resources where the outbound anchor text is indexed as part of their onpage content. The message is getting shifted to "here is how to spam the search engines".
2:09 Barry Schwartz:  Cris from Yahoo said they do use linking out as one of many signals for ranking.
2:11 Barry Schwartz:  No search engines use meta keyword tag, even Yahoo. Yahoo dropped it a few months ago...
2:11 Barry Schwartz:  Repeat: No search engines use meta keyword tag, even Yahoo. Yahoo dropped it a few months ago...
2:15 [Comment From Michael Martinez]
Yahoo! was the one that screwed up the "soft 404" tactic. They kept indexing home pages under multiple URLs. Not advisable to use it any more for that reason alone.
2:15 [Comment From Michael Martinez]
Or maybe more SEO bloggers have noticed Yahoo! rewarding linking out.... Interesting how the search engineers are disclosing some algorithmic stuff.
TwitterLauraLacy:  Change of address in Google webmaster tools for moving domains. I had no idea. #smx
Twitterdemicco:  RT @jmaxson1: At SMX East, Yahoo confirms (with Bing, Google) that the meta keywords tag doesn’t influence their ranking algorithms. #smx
Twitterxbuzz:  No search engine looks at the meta keywords.. Don’t waste your time. #smx
2:21 Barry Schwartz:  Changing hosting companies doesnt in itself hurt your rankings
2:21 Barry Schwartz:  A 301 and rel=canonical do the same thing in passing links
2:23 Barry Schwartz:  You can have a shared host with a porn site, it wont hurt your site on Google, Yahoo or Bing
2:24 Barry Schwartz:  Why is Google Webmaster Tools "aways" not accurate?
2:25 Barry Schwartz:  This is specific to top search queries and we are trying to make it better, they are aware of it.
2:25 Barry Schwartz:  Google is working on it.
Twitterjennita:  Maile says its true that the rel canonical does work just like a 301 and google wants you to use it #smx
2:27 Barry Schwartz:  Bing hopes to add position ranking to webmaster tools, but not likely by end of the year
2:29 Barry Schwartz:  Bing supports RDFa in the verticals... in images and video, but not in the blended results.
2:32 Barry Schwartz:  Not feeling well - I am going to skip out a few minutes early



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