Google’s “Best Bets” party = Meet the Engineers

Another eventful day here at WMW wraps up with the Google party. I’m afraid it’s going to be mobbed with some 1600 in attendance here, but the New Orleans Google party was the highlight of that WebmasterWorld conference.

And for all those fans I can say for sure that Matt Cutts has entered the building. He just flew in from California.

Pubcon Las Vegas – Duplicate Content Session with Google and Yahoo

OK, I lost power and couldn’t blog the beginning of the session which is wrapping up but I’ll try to get a link to the simply excellent presentation by Tim Converse at Yahoo which detailed many aspects of the Duplicate Content issue. This is probably a major problem for Travel site Online Highways despite a huge investment in editing over the years. We still have lots of thin content pages and this appears it could be all or part of our problems ranking at Google and (very recently) Yahoo.

Amanda Watlington, Bill Slawski had good presentations and Brian White of Google also gave a PPT with similar but less detailed coverage. Brian did indicate that the info presented by Tim was in line with Google’s thinking about this complex topic that IMHO affects a growing percentage of the web’s total pages, and kills off many inappropriately. It was suggested that the ideal is thought of as a single page, removing all the duplicate content. [I’d argue that queries are too vague to define things this specifically, and often the “best” site will have hundreds of “similar” pages that are best left to user’s choice. Unfortunately this approach would be too spammable so I think lots of collateral damage ensues.]

RE: Citation tag – sounded like Brian and Tim hadn’t even heard of this tag, so I’m now skeptical it’ll help remove duplication penalties for a site that had been scraped heavily.

Wow – It was just suggested by Tim that in some cases it’s best to start a new site if you’ve been penalized, but first he said to clean up the site and then get it reviewed.   This is the first “official” recognition I’ve seen for the idea that a URL can be so poisoned it must be abandoned.

Great session – Kudos to Tim for a super helpful PPT and other presenters for tackling this complex topic so well.

Pubcon – ad optimizing session

Jenstar is giving a great talk about the importance of testing, saying it can impact the publishing bottom line by as much as 10x current earnings. YPN vs Adsense –

Most of her testing uses the custom channels at Adsense.

Sometimes borders work better than borderless. Hyperlink blue” is generally the best link color. Second is the same color as other links on page. Try image ads enabled as test. Mix ads up to avoid “banner blindness”. AVOID right upper corner = low conversion.

I missed lots of good info here her blog is great for this stuff.

Cody Sims from Yahoo – What motivates publishers to publish? 4 things:
Lifestyle, Community Aspect, Technology enthusiastics, The “game” of publishing.

Measure of success = maximizing revenue and increasing traffic = same as Yahoo’s own goals.

Article text on the page is the most important in terms of contextual matching. Robots choke on i frames, flash, etc. as one of the best optimized environments on the web = high signal to noise ratio.

Do’s: Write the way a user thinks. Creates relevant content and ad matching.
Optimize key areas. Keep tags relevant to content.
LIMIT low content pages.
Don’t use unnecessary code.
Limit page to one or two topics.
Walk in the advertiser’s shoes – “would I want my ad here?”
Integrate keywords into URL structure. Permalinks>using IDs in links.
Strong keywords in anchor text.

Tom from Google: Shift in Media Consumption= opportunity. Approaching 40% of time online which will shift more ad money online soon.
Adsense: 76% reach via adsense publishers. 110 monthly page views per user
—Missed some of this —

Jay from ContextWeb, now 25th largest ad supported property online. Venture backed by same firm that brought Overture to market. Like Federated, looking to better match ads and publishers than can be done by the big players. Decision making engine works on the fly. Keyword sensing plus category taxonomy disambiguates the search. (got that?).

Google is NOT real time, but Context Web is. Dynamic content is therefore better targeted by Context Web. (the Samsonite Suitcase ad at Suitcase murderer story problem)

Quigo‘s introduced by Yaron Galai as another “cream vs milk” advertising optimizer.  I missed his very interesting slide suggesting how crappy publishers are effectively subsidized by current pricing models – hope to ask about that later.   I met Yaron in Boston I think and was really impressed by Quigo, but soured on it after talking with somebody else at SES San Jose who had a negative sort of pitch.  Probably a case where the founder’s a better salesman than the salesman.

John Battelle at Pubcon

John Battelle, author of “The Search” is talking about “The New Age of Advertising” and making the case that search is the new computer navigation tool.

Search: Allows adverts to focus on “intent over content”. Shifting from pre-search to post-search world is frustrating, but essential, for advertisers. Google is that nexus.

Marketing as dialog. Attention is increasingly controlled by users, not distributors. Content is once again king and landing page is the queen. John says marketing is now an opportunity to engage the customer in a dialog.

Case studies: Microsoft dinosaur heads vs Wifi awareness. Changing the pitch to acknowledge the reader’s interest (wifi aware vs dinos) increased response 60%.

Cisco – Wikipedia happiness from respect by not posting company propaganda, rather waiting for a natural listing to appear.

Dice: Invited surly IT peeps=most IT peeps, to rant. Tech news “hummingbirds” became sticky stickarounds.

Demo of Federated media campaign manager. Hmmmm- keynote as a pitch?
I guess this is OK because John …. has a PhD.
Federated = bundling of quality sites with advertisers who want targeting.
750 million ad impressions from 100 sites booking a million per month in ads, 60% of which goes to publishers [ummm – why is this lower than adsense rev share of about 70%?].
Here’s the answer – they devote lots of staff time to take care of authors needs?

How to separate editorial from advertising?: Blogging allows transparency and trust in a way print does not. Disclose and don’t sell words, but OK to blog about things you like/know/use etc. Ultimate test is whether audience stays with you.

Google radio vs Federated CPM advertising. Quotes Beth Comstock from Web 2.0 about needed humans in the equation. FM is in the “cream” biz where Google’s in the milk biz.
Federated will work to make sure every impression on the site is monetized in the best way.

What’s most unique thing you’ve seen a blogger do to increase traffic?
Lists are good. Blogoscoped asked for posts with most comments. But need the core essense of passion. High integrity voices always win.

Jason Calcanis suggests you should do in-house ad sales after 1 million page views (per month?).    John says he does not agree and thinks the Federated model is very viable as an intermediary.