Matt Cutts Debuts Shaved Head at SES San Jose 2009

Shaved Head Duo: Greg Boser & Matt Cutts look tough for the Live Site Clinic session at SES San Jose 2009
Shaved Head Duo: Greg Boser & Matt Cutts look tough for the Live Site Clinic session at SES San Jose 2009

Well, here we are. It’s Thursday, August 13, 2009. SES San Jose 2009 is coming to an end. What did I think of the conference? Actually, it was fairly quiet. I wasn’t able to catch many sessions, but the sessions I was able to attend were relatively mild. It was kinda quiet, and the Expo Hall was not very crowded. In year’s past, SES San Jose has been a place where breaking news from search engines creates a buzz or some other stuff has got the SEM world in a tizzy. Sure, Google Webmaster Blog announced the Caffeine update on Monday, but that did not seem to really have an impact on the SES crowd. I surfed around sandbox for a while, noticing some changes in the top results. However, it was kind of boring after a while. I even found this cool tool that allows you to see side-by-side results from the sandbox and the current Google. But it, too, was nothing to write home about.

Furthermore, I did not hear anyone talking about the recent Bing/Yahoo merger deal and how it might affect SEO. I heard nothing about the recent Facebook acquisition of FriendFeed. The site clinic with Matt Cutts was very funny, and I’m not used to that. I mean, Matt’s a great guy and his banter with seasoned SEO’s is always hilarious. But in the end, those sessions with Matt Cutts typically devolve into in-your-face questions about nofollow tags and disclosing links (thanks to Michael Gray, who is also awesome btw).

Danny Sullivan wasn’t there, and I didn’t see Rand Fishkin or Dave Naylor there. Could it be that allegiances have been sworn and sides have been picked? (Stay tuned for UFC 103: SES vs. SMX! ) I had a few drinks with Greg Boser and Todd Friesen, and Todd Malicoat’s charity party was awesome. But overall, the conference was nothing to write home about. For me, it was really a great chance to enjoy the weather in California. My love affair with this State continues…

Anyways, there were still a few highlights.

  • Social is killing SEO
    This is such bullshit. Stupid claims and rumors driven to gain readers or followers – that’s all this really is. If you consider that SEO is an entire industry based on driving free traffic to a website, then there is nothing to fear from social media and social search. It is not replacement for SEO. It’s a supplement and a complement to SEO. In fact, whenever ‘social’ comes up in sessions, it is usually followed by a conversation of how to optimize it (ie. SEO). Social and SEO are all part of the same game. Can’t we all just get along? [Note: Personally, I believe claims like this are happening because people are bored. We’re in the middle of an industry news lull. I think big things are on the horizon, but I’m sick of hearing about social media.
  • Matt Cutts shaved his head
    From Matt says “I bet my team that they couldn’t meet a certain turnaround speed for an entire quarter. They were able to maintain that turnaround time for the whole quarter, so they got to do whatever they wanted to my hair. :)” I asked Matt about his hair before the live site clinic session, and he was all smiles about it. Matt’s a good sport. During the session, he talked addressed a sex toys website. His back-and-forth with Greg Boser was great for the rest of the session. I’m glad that guy from MyPleasure was there. It made the session hilarious.
  • Matt Cutts says not to use nofollow attributes on internal links
    Matt said this during the live site clinic session. Okay. Uh…should we follow this advice (no pun intended)? This news was big at SMX Seattle back in June. I feel like the dust is still clearing. I might wait a little bit longer before I follow Matt on this one.
  • Tim Ash handed out cash in his session on landing page optimization
    Tim Ash wrote the book on Landing Page Optimization. Literally. He has a book called Landing Page Optimization. I had a chance to meet him. Super nice guy. During his session, he asked questions, and he was handing out $10 and $20 bills to people just for attempting to answer the questions. I have never seen anything like that before. But his session was awesome. It’s really the next big frontier for SEM. From my experience, conversion optimization and landing page optimization is falling under the SEO umbrella, but it really deserves its own category. He said for every $80 spent on driving visits to websites via PPC, only $1 was being spent on landing page optimization. This is tragic. After spending years optimizing our PPC and SEO campaigns, it’s definitely time to focus on what our visitors see when they get to our site. It’s the natural, organic next step (no pun intended).
  • Clay Shirky’s Keynote: Here Comes Everybody
    Clay Shirky is a great speaker. If you’re even remotely interested in human behavior and interaction with technology, I definitely recommend checking out his book (Here Comes Everybody), and I certainly recommend catching one of his sessions.

That’s it for now. Sorry it’s kind of a half-assed post today. I only had 30 minutes before I have to get on a plane. Cheers!