The link buying session was extremely intense and interesting. In short, Matt continued to suggest that link buying was distorting the natural patterns of the web and is a bad SEO practice while the SEOs on the panel argued that links do work and Google has no right to police them so severely.
Unfortunately and as I’ve always seen, the debate tends to dwell on extremes on both sides rather than the important middle ground. I have a lot more to say about this but it’s time for the Google Party!
I’ve had a chance to talk in depth to several folks and will post that later, but wanted to check in before the session on “Is link buying evil” which will feature Matt Cutts from Google and some notable advocates for strategic link buying. I’ve been surprised to hear from some really good SEO folks here that link buying still works well as part of their strategy, though I think they’d agree it’s very difficult to find the types of links that “work”, and from my perspective you always have a potential gun to your head from SE’s which do not like this practice. So perhaps the best advice for most is to avoid link buying unless you want to live dangerously.
I had a nice talk at lunch today with Matt Cutts about his view on AI and severak search themes but no time now to spell out the details.
A key theme here is the number of SEM firms – many that seem fairly inexperienced. Lanzone mentioned that it’s increasingly common for large clients to buy out their SEM firm to bring it all in house and I think that may be a new strategy for the players in SEM.
ASK CEO Jim Lanzone was the first keynoter here at Search Engine Strategies San Jose, and Lanzone gave a lot of insightful answers to Chris Sherman’s excellent series of questions about ASK’s future in search and advertising. A few highlights:
“It’s not a zero sum game” said Lanzone, noting their cooperation with Google in a 100,000,000 ad sponsorship deal and saying the next deal will be in the billions and could be with other players as well as Google.
ASK 3d is leading to some interesting findings, esp. that 50% of the ASK 3d activity is not in the search listings portion. Lanzone feels the sweet spot is in the “Collective Context” that billions of searches are bringing to the table now. ASK’s new “Edison Algorithm” will seek to make sense of the maelstrom of data ASK has from their search property as well as the dozens of separate IAC online businesses.
“Search is now your co-pilot”, said Lanzone, and suggested that the value of search based ads is still very high compared to traditional media.
Sherman noted that Lanzone’s “Etour” was similar to StumbleUpon. Lanzone said it was before it’s time and was “Darwined out”. No plans to revive it are pending.