Having not participated in the first Google Webmaster group chat I really didn’t know what to expect when I signed up for today’s session. A few of my colleagues at the office had participated in the first chat earlier this year, and felt it was quite beneficial so I decided this time to give it a try.
The sign up and sign in process were painless, but unfortunately Google had some troubles starting the session. After about ten or fifteen minutes of listening to what sounded like Darth Vader raping a cat over the phone, the session began.
Today’s session consisted of three main topics. John Mueller talked about Personalize Search, Maile Ohye discussed case sensitivity in the robots.txt file, and Jonathan Simon talked about how to remove indexed content from Google. The presentations were solid, but as a search marketer there really wasn’t too much take away from the 3 presentations. Perhaps the most useful and sometimes amusing information came from the Q&A section. With that said I have decided to outline the good and the bad from todays event.
- Maile clarified that the way you present your data in the robots.txt file can make or break your site. The directories and filenames in the robots.txt file ARE case sensitive. By not paying attention to case sensitivity you risk duplicate content problems because as Google crawls your site it will see pageA.html and PAGEA.HTML as two different pages hosting the same content. I figured this might be a useful tidbit since the room was split in the poll 111-70 as to whether or not case sensitivity matters.
- It was clarified that new websites are being crawled by the spiders usually within a week of existance, however linking can speed this up. Also mentioned was that Google’s index is refreshing about once a month.
- The .com vs .everything else conspiracy was cleared up. Matt Cutts explained that .edu’s and .gov’s do not actually pass on any more authority than other domains. Also, .info domains have not be devalued as a lesser domain. Essentially Google says all TLD’s shall be created equal.
- PR plays a critical role in how often your site is crawled. They went on to say that some news sites are crawled every 2 minutes by the search engine spiders.
- Matt Cutts gave the “official” word on whether or not Google thinks that SEO has a future, and the answer is, “Certainly, as long as the SEO is whitehat.”
Here are some of the Questions and answers that stood out that I felt offered some good information or at least piqued the interest of the panelists:
Q: Hi Matt, Are there any guidelines available on keyword density we have pages that are about 1 single subject and the keyword density is quite high
Matt Cutts – 2:27 pm
A: Antony, you may not believe this, but we tend not to think much about KW density here at Google, b/c our algorithms handle it pretty well. My advice is to pull in an innocent/non-search friend and have them read the text. If they raise their eyebrow, …
Q: Does google differentiate between searches in lower case and searches with proper capitalization?
John Mueller – 2:28 pm
A: We may take this into account if we can recognize that it is relevant to the query.
Q: Will Google consider giving any incentive to webmasters/users who helps google to fight spam? Maybe some sort of point based system would be interesting..This will certainly motivate all the webmasters to come forward and help google to Keep Spam out..
Matt Cutts – 2:30 pm
A: Saad, I do like that suggestion a lot. Something for us to think about.
Q: Does Google support or plan to support hCard microformats?
John Mueller – 2:42 pm
A: I’m not aware of changes in that regard, but we are always open to new ideas!
Q: Why don’t you include actual search numbers in trends or kw selector tool?
Matt Cutts – 2:52 pm
A: I think we’re worried that some people could scrape or abuse that information. Personally I think it would be cool to offer better/more numbers or stats though. We’ll think about ways that we could offer crunchier numbers to people.
Here are some of the Q&A follies for your enjoyment.
Q: whats matts cats name?
A: I have two cats. One is Emmy (she’s a scaredy cat) and the other one is Ozzie. He’s a handful.
Q: I’ve got 3 cats,.. cindy, caty and penelopy..
Q: Matt, I was going to ask you about your cat – I’ve got two Persians – is that cat grooming tool you posted on your blog as good as you make out?!
A: Pete, I wouldn’t recommend the tool unless I thought it was really good. I think it would work well for Persian cats, esp. because they have very long hair. 🙂
Q: Hi Matt! It’s me Zafar
A: Howdy! 🙂
Q: I just want to know since I am not breaking any rules anymore, is there a chance that I can expect a increase in my PR again? or would Google ignore it in the next update?I am not really a PR fan, btw.
A: Zafar, a reconsideration request would be the best place to do that.
Q: Mariya, I’m in Brazil and listening to the conversation via my cell phone – who’s paying for this international call???
A: Hi Wall-E, WebEx provides toll-free numbers for most countries. I hope you dialled the toll-free number and not the regular number (-:
Q: what does googlebot like?
A: milk and cookies!
A: no thanks 🙂
Q: IS there a problem with URLs that end in .0 like example.com/seo2.0
A: I think this has been resolved.
Q: is position SIX a penalty?
A: Position 6 is always between 5 & 7. One site has to be at #6.
Q: Has Maile been on the Cranberry and Vodka yet today?!
A: Maile looks sober to me, Pete. 🙂
The unfortunate part of the Q&A was that a lot of the time was spent answering bogus bonehead questions that basically just wasted the time of the panelists. There is no such thing as a stupid question, but there is such thing as the proper time to ask a question. If you want to talk to Matt Cutts about his cat, see if you can catch up with him at a conference about it. Don’t waste the time of over 400 other people!
Sadly my question wasn’t answered. I asked, “Is there a rule of thumb to consider when thinking about PR vs the number of links on a page and how many of those links will get some of the link juice passed on?” This inspired by last Friday’s White Board Friday where Rand discussed how many links you should max out on based on it’s PR. As a follow up I mentioned in the survey sent out by Google that they should answer the remaining questions in a blog post or group so that everyone gets a chance. Obviously they could weed out any duplicates to shorten the list.
In conclusion I would say that the chat was a success and thanks to the Q&A actually offered some good information for SEM’s. Google announced that they intend to do more of these based on the success of the first two, and hope to hold them on a quarterly basis. I hope they do. While I didn’t feel this one was that informative, it definately has some great potential.