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Old 08-09-2005   #1
rustybrick
 
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Session Five: Day Two: Indexing Summit 2: Redirects, Titles & Descriptions

Danny Sullivan introduces this session as the best session to be at now. He said the other sessions are for those who are not serious about SEO. In NY they did the first SES indexing summit and they got some weather reports out of it. Danny said he wants to talk about two things; (1) standards with redirection and (2) standards on how search engine create titles and descriptions in SERPs.

Topic One:

Redirect Issues

Tim Mayer from Yahoo! up first. He said people were able to use some redirects to hi-jack sites. He put up the Yahoo! Redirect Handling Rules (covered in many past conferences, will link to document later). Just to touch on how they handle it.

Danny then goes into explaining what this issue of redirect hi-jacking is, http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/blog/050801-130330.

Rahul Lahiri from Ask Jeeves was next up. He wanted to add, that Ask Jeeves had been looking at the problem and did not see a major issue with redirects at Ask Jeeves. He said if you run into these problems, let Ask know. He said again that people don't use the standards or guidelines. Ask realizes this and they make assumptions.

Matt Cutts was next up and he asks the audience a few questions. He then brings up the history of the Indexing Summit where Danny guilt-tripped the search engines to work together. It encourages Google Sitemaps for a paid inclusion, without the money, and any search engine can use the sitemaps standard. The robots.txt is from ages ago, and a good standard, nofollow attribute. He then moves into the redirect issue, like Danny did. A year ago, Google picked the URL with the highest PageRank. That worked very well most of the time but not always. So search engines had to pick the best URL, and PR wasn't the best way all the time. Right now, they are open to doing what Yahoo! does, just indexing the target URL. BUT, you don't have the pretty URLs. He said, Google will have lots of beer tonight at the Google Dance. But also there will be an event "Meet the Engineers" where you can discuss this with them. State at Google right now, is that Google is not aware of any hi-jackings, they need to tell Google about them.

Q: When is a 301 redirect spam?
A: Matt said a 301 is NOT spam when its a misspelling, redirected to the main site. A 301 spam redirect would be a doorway page, which are then redirected to the root page (i.e. cloaked pages).

Q: Do we need to use the robots.txt to block PageRank to them to be careful about spam?
A: Matt said just 301 redirect those. You do not need to exclude them in the robots.txt

Q: Is the redirect issue solved?
A: Matt said always go with the destination to be careful, but his engineers said, but we fixed all the issues with this. So he wants to show these engineers that there is still an issue.

So Danny then summarizes again, basically, all the search engines are doing different things. But this session is about the search engines working together. Randfish, said he is not cool with them all doing different things. One person stood up and said, if both are my sites, then allow me to denote so in the meta tags or in the robots.txt with the Yahoo! method.

Danny summarizes, we have different standards, a good chunk of us like how Yahoo is handling it now, but a good chunk wants to be able to specify the URL that should be listed in the search engine results. Clarity; give the Webmaster a way to define the URL they want anything listed.

DavidN looks at Google.com results for san francisco giants and shows that both redirected URLs are listed. He says that I can throw all 10 of my domains there and dominate the SERPs. Yahoo! has the same issue. This will be fixed, Danny said.

Nacho adds, once you figure out the domain you want listed, what information (link pop, age, etc.) flows through the the destination URL.

Some guy in the back adds there are legal issues why I might want to remove the URL from the search engines. So true.

Topic Two:

Title & Descriptions Management

Google dynamically created titles and then used some ODP directory titles sometimes, Yahoo! used the Y! directory and then stopped --- same with the description. Danny is being very very funny today, he goes through the various ways it is handled and he chatters incredibly fast to make a point. He brings up a forum thread, thread id=5759, the "Proposed Search Engine Standard for Titles & Descriptions" thread (see the poll there). Issue is, many pages have no title - so what do you do there? What do you do when a "created by adobe go live" in the title? What do you do when you have a CMS that inserts "Title Goes Here"? This is what should be listed in the SERPs? The search engines do not want it. The searchers do not want it. Do you?

Tim Mayer from Yahoo up first. The current behavior at Yahoo: (1) Feed titles and descriptions, (2) Yahoo! Directory descriptions, (3) Best match to query between contextual abstracts (on page) and meta title and meta description (on page), (4) If we cannot generate anything they use the ODP (implemented 1.5 years ago) or anchor text for the title. Abstract challenges; sites don't provide titles, sites use the same titles and descriptions for every page, meta tag T&Ds are not query specific, many sites over optimize their T&Ds and it does not accurately describe the page's content and different types of abstracts are appropriate for different types of queries (e.g. navigation versus informational). Going forward, Yahoo! will take all these different inputs and decide which is best based on user experience.

Rahul Lahiri from Ask Jeeves is up. If the page has a title, they use that one. If it does not, that is when they look elsewhere. They look at ODP, then they create a title from the text in the page (query words and content). The description, they look at ODP description and if the query term is in there, they will use the ODP description. If not, they will use the content of the page to build a description. Ask Jeeves prefers a single snippet over a longer one (like Google & Yahoo) if the query term is short, if its a longer query term they will try to match all the keywords in one or more snippets for the description.

Matt Cutts from Google is now up. He says all search engines want to show the most relevant listings title and snippets in the SERPs. When Google added the cache, people loved how you highlighted the keywords in that cache page. Matt hates "your browser does not support frames" as a snippet, so they will do what ever they can do avoid showing those snippets. A real issue with meta tags, you can not trust what people say. They have been doing a lot more experiments with the snippets. He said they tried and try things every day and test user experience. He said it will be time until you see standardization.

other sessions at www.seroundtable.com
---- Meet The News Search Engines (Ben Pfeiffer)
---- Search Engine Advertising Forum (Chris Boggs)
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Old 08-10-2005   #2
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Quote:
Nacho adds, once you figure out the domain you want listed, what information (link pop, age, etc.) flows through the the destination URL.
Exactly.

So, I've seen issues when doing 301s and believe all data from old url to be completely wiped and the new URL starts fresh. I can not confirm if any data gets transfered on, but would be very interested to hear from Matt, Tim or Rahul about their thoughts on this indexing issue.

Thanks! It was an awesome session!
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Old 08-11-2005   #3
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Good summary, thanks :-)

I appreciate it a lot, as I wasn't able to attend.

Nice that Google is open to doing what Yahoo does already - I believe that Yahoo has (perhaps even accidently) "struck gold" by choosing that particular method, as it really does seem like the best possible way to solve the problems. (imho, fwiw, ymmv)

As to "nice urls", I'm afraid I'll have to disagree with Matt C: Of course it's nice as a SE to be able to show some "intelligent" or "enriched" information but whatever you do to "interpret" "absolute stuff" like URLs there will be loopholes and errors will happen.

So, if people want nice URLs (and/or nice snippets/titles/whatever) in the SE result pages, they should learn how to make a good site that will get them those benefits. Or hire a SEO person that can do it for them. There's an interesting sub-discusson here about whether or not the SE's should be "neutral" towards the overall web, or if they should excercise influence (eg. in the way people emply redirects, links, etc).

I take it that Matt would prefer it the way that people just go about minding their own business without thinking too much about SE's (and leave the information extraction and presentation to them), and I principially agree on that. However, in very few, very distinct cases it helps (the average webmaster) a great deal to have specific directions to follow in order to get the desired result.

Redirecting is one such case, especially as (mentioned by the guy in the back) there might be legal reasons why you would want to produce one specific well-defined result by doing something relatively simple and straight-forward.

Quote:
So, I've seen issues when doing 301s
I have reason to believe that in some cases 301's totally fail to produce desired results, much like you report. I have no clue yet about the cause for these cases.
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Old 08-12-2005   #4
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anyone seen the actual session PPT or DOCs?

I was at the conference, and am logged into their area where we can download the session/speaker notes (PPT and DOC files, etc.), but there's no entry for this one.

I wanted that diagram showing how Yahoo handles the 301/302 depending on the situation...

Anyone know where/when those speaker notes are/will be available?

TK
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Old 08-14-2005   #5
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here you go http://www.seroundtable.com/archives...rect-rules.pdf
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Old 08-15-2005   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
State at Google right now, is that Google is not aware of any hi-jackings, they need to tell Google about them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rustybrick
Q: Is the redirect issue solved?
A: Matt said always go with the destination to be careful, but his engineers said, but we fixed all the issues with this. So he wants to show these engineers that there is still an issue.
I think Matt found an example to show them. Outside one of the presentations, someone brought up a wireless laptop and entered a search which Matt found fascinating, wrote down some query information, and effectively said, wait till they see this!

I'm sure he'd welcome additional examples.
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Old 08-15-2005   #7
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Let me clarify what Matt said. He told the audience that if it were up to him, he'd go with the Yahoo solution. In fact, as he also told the audience, he'd had a long argument with the Google engineer who is in charge of getting the hijacking fix together. That engineer says things are in place so Google can deliver both "pretty URLs" and stop hijacking. Matt was simply reporting what those in charge of this have told him and further encouraged the audience to send feedback if they still see the problem. Because if they do, then he's got the "I told you so" ammunition to get the Yahoo solution adopted.
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