Five Takeaways from SMX Advanced

Filed in Conferences/Educ. by Matt McGee on June 9, 2008 10 Comments

Moderator's ViewDespite what you may have read elsewhere, last week’s SMX Advanced conference in Seattle was not a black-hat spamfest. It was one of the most educational conferences I’ve been to, and a big improvement over the original SMX Advanced last summer (which was pretty strong to begin with). Strategies and tactics that I’d never use on my own sites or my clients’ were discussed and explained in a couple sessions, and I’m a smarter search marketer because of it.

At conferences, I now find myself listening to speakers and thinking more about big picture ideas based on what they say, rather than jotting down every bullet item on their slides. My note-taking has changed dramatically since I started going to conferences in 2006. Here’s about 5-10 things I wrote down at SMX Advanced:

1.) How the Engines Handle rel=”nofollow” Links

Google engineer Evan Roseman clearly outlined how Google deals with links that have the rel=nofollow tag. First, he said using the tag isn’t a red flag to Google. Second, he explained that Google won’t use such links to discover new pages. “We act like the link isn’t there,” he said. (Note: Fellow search marketers have done experiments that suggest this isn’t true.)

Yahoo’s Priyank Garg said that Yahoo will crawl nofollowed links to discover new pages, but that they don’t allow the links to pass any credit/authority to the page being linked to.

After some confusion, Microsoft’s Nathan Buggia said that Live Search doesn’t use nofollowed links to discover new pages.

2.) Interesting Matt Cutts comment #1

I wrote down two quotes from the You and A with Matt Cutts session. Here’s the first one:

“The original PageRank was purely a page-level document.”

That doesn’t sound too interesting on its own, but this thought occurred to me: When he says that PR was originally a page-level thing, is Matt suggesting that Google now uses some kind of site-wide PR score, too? Maybe not, but I was taken aback by his choice of words there.

3.) Interesting Matt Cutts comment #2

“We work very hard to make sure you can’t hurt a competitor by buying links to their site.”

Again, I could be off here, but the way this was worded and delivered comes across as You CAN hurt a competitor by buying links to their site, but we work hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.

4.) Speaking of PageRank….

During the Analytics Every SEO Ought to Know session, Jonah Stein made an interesting analogy: “Crawl frequency is the new PageRank.” Hmmmmm. In a lot of ways, I agree with that. More than two years ago, I wrote about training the crawlers to visit your site as often as possible, and the benefits therein. The more a search spider hits your site, the better you’re probably doing at giving it what it wants: good content.

5.) Too Much Analytics is Never Enough

I was the Q&A Moderator on that analytics session, and I’m glad the panel answered a question about running multiple analytics programs on a site. The audience member wondered if doing that might cause performance issues on your site, or cause some other conflicts s/he wasn’t aware of. The panel all agreed there’s no conflict and no negative performance issues in running multiple analytics programs on a site. Jonah suggested you use at least three.

6.) ………..

I actually had more to put on this list, but just realized at the last minute that I’d be referring to things mentioned during the Give It Up session, and that session is off-limits until July 3rd. So the list ends at five….

Meanwhile, even better than the conference itself was the networking opportunities and post-conference fun. I enjoyed a great dinner one night with Jonathan Hochman and about a dozen other friends/peers. On Wednesday, I played tour guide and took David Wallace and Eric Lander up to the top of the Space Needle, then we stumbled on a sports bar/grill for dinner before playing pool all night at the SEOmoz party. All in all, it was a great few days in Seattle.

If you want to see photos from SMX Advanced, most of which were taken after hours at dinners, parties, pool tables, and so forth, here’s my Flickr photoset:

SMX Advanced 2008 Photos

Comments (10)

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  1. I believe actual pagerank calculation now begins at the search query.

  2. Well said! Please don’t make SMX any less potent or revealing.

  3. Great succinct summary with some good take-aways. Thanks for the bullet points!

    Nice meeting you at lunch at SMX. As mentioned, your SEO Success Pyramid has proven to be very useful and educational to help explain the big picture to clients!

  4. Derek Edmond says:

    Thanks for a nice summary of some key points from SMX Advanced. I wish I could have been there but things have been too hectic recently.

    I’m catching up on some of the chatter online about the event and hope to see you at a conference sometime in the near future.

  5. You’re no Matt McGee….


  6. Great post! I really like your points about Matt Cutts – I also found myself trying to read between the lines with the majority of his comments.

  7. Marc says:

    Sincere kudos for the briefing. I almost cry when i miss these conferences.

    Matt’s second comment is like political double-talk. it negates itself…

  8. David Mihm says:

    Your “Matt Cutts comment #1” was a particularly good observation…I do think there’s a significant amount of DomainRank or something similar happening in the Google algo as it stands today.

  9. Tom says:

    With point 3, perhaps Matt Cutts is saying that bought links merely pass no link juice and no penalties are (now) given out to link buyers.

  10. Nice one Matt, great selection. And I’m with you on the thoughts about Matt comments…you are not off at all in my opinion…

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