It was another stonking day of search at yesterday’s SES London. The
day began with a Meet the Crawlers session with representatives from
Google, Yahoo!, MSN and Ask. It was a Q & A session – a great
chance to quiz the spiders themselves – well their masters anyway. The
best thing about the session was the absolute lack of hyperbole and,
dare I say it hysteria, that I find sometimes in forums where
speculation runs wild on the evil crawler that refuses to index your
pages. (I know I shouldn’t read that stuff, but I like to freak myself
The panel touched on issues like how to deal with multi-language sites,
and all concurred that the best thing to do is put all your language
versions on the same canonical domain with subdirectories for each.
(domain.com/eng, domain.com/de, etc), then buy the country variations
on your domain (www.domain.de, www.domain.fr etc) and put 301 redirects
that point at the main domain. This allows you to maximise your
incoming links by pointing them all at the same domain. The general
advice was to avoid the use of IP detection mainly because it causes
problems for the user. Other topics included whether subdomains or
subdirectories were preferable and all agreed that directories were
The take home message was avoid session IDs in your URLs and there is
no problem at all with using a script to change the URL as long as the
spider sees the same page as the user.
This session was followed up by a brilliant presentation by Mikkel
deMib, positively resplendent in a tangerine suit. I took screeds of
notes but will try to boil it down a bit here. Mikkel emphasised the
fact that dynamic sites can rank very well and gave some useful Do’s
and Don’ts of dynamic sites:
Consider the spiders as a user group and provide navigation options for
them. Make a default version of your site to feed to the spiders.
Have duplicate content with session IDs
Create spider traps with infinite loops of dynamically created pages
Warren Cowen of Greenlight shared some great tips about getting your
site architecture right and making sure your entire site is crawlable.
Lastly Kristian from Nordicemarketing
fills us in on various free Content management systems (CMS) including
Joomix for php, DaCoda for .Net and VYRE for Java, and to be careful of
self-generated 404 pages without a header.
The third session was on Web Analytics. Rand Fishkin gets very excited
about the subject and advised that the best way to track your site,
your visitors and what they do on your site is to create a dashboard in
whichever analytics programme you use that shows you your most
important metrics on a daily basis. Sara of Global Strategies
focused on using analytics to raise your ROI, and suggested that
ongoing analysis of your keywords, the performance of your landing
pages and that you use your analytics to benchmark against your own
performance, not that of your competitors. Chap from WebAnalytics
pointed out that the most important thing is to use the analytics to
improve your site – tweak, refine, measure and tweak again.
The last session of the day was all about link baiting. David Naylor’s
characteristically outspoken take on acquiring links was fascinating.
It was stressed that link baiting is white hat, but that takes a long
time to reap the results.
Excellent link bait includes white papers, blogs, video, or
downloadable widgets. And once you’ve written it, get it out there via
RSS, old-fashioned networking, and article submission. Sounds a little
bit like PR doesn’t it? The last very important tip from Nick Wilson of
was to keep it clean, follow the rules and play nicely with the other
children (he actually said that in another seminar but it fits in here
I’d summarise the last three days as an exploration of how to get your
message out via channels other than natural search results – news,
video or podcasts, blogs, social media sites. It’s all about creating
buzz, traditionally the camp of PR but there will be an increase in
blurring between the two disciplines and consequently the need for PR
and SEOs to collaborate to maximise results for the clients. It’s also
about dominating the real estate on the search page which is of course
what we’re all about. The conference brought together all these
strands, and for me breathed new life into Search as all these
opportunities are going to require imagination, testing, and new
strategies – all very very exciting.
Lastly big ups to Elisabeth O from SearchEngineWatch who did a great job moderating many of the forums I went to and with whom I had a great chat on Thursday evening.
(P.S. The photo below in no way forms an endorsement by Matt Cutts of Tamar; He’s just a really nice guy!)