Questions and Answers With Google, Yahoo, Ask, MSN

Normally, during most conference sessions that cover linking strategies, the participating audience pays close attention. However, at the link Q&A session during the 2006 Chicago SES, things got a tad contentious – that is until Abhilash Patel and Rand Fishkin got their respective turns at the mic.

Before we go on, I don’t want to paint a picture that the session was filled with arguing between the audience and the panel (which was quite good, consisting of Yahoo!’s Tim Converse; Google’s Adam Lasnik; Eytan Seidman from MSN; and Ask.com’s Vivek Pathak). However, a couple of audience members didn’t appear to like the answers they were being given.

One person in particular decided to argue about the need of sub domains, indicating he knew more about his given field than the search engines did… and perhaps he was right. However, when it comes to sub domains, I always remember something Danny Sullivan said at a previous conference – if a sub domain could stand on its own as an individual site, then creating one is fine. If not, just use the normal web page structure… but I digress.

While this session may have had a tense moment or two, there was still some really solid information provided:

– The panel was asked about relative or absolute links when it comes to internal linking with your site. They all said absolute (while many of you probably know this, it’s good to hear the engines confirm it).

– Contrary to the belief of many, Google is not against the buying and selling of links for advertising purposes. They are against it if it’s done to manipulate rankings and/or PageRank.

– Adam Lasnik was asked why Google doesn’t show more or all of the backlinks during this type of query. His answer was revealing, which I’ve paraphrased below:

Google doesn’t show as many backlinks because they don’t want people to focus as much on the linking aspect. They, of course, want great content, however, they are considering showing more links, but nothing has been confirmed.

The session’s best questions were asked by Rand and Abhilash.  I thought their points added a lot in terms of audience participation. Rand’s question concerned the way the search engines treat pay-per-post blog entries, something he has already blogged about.

Abhilash also had a great question about 301 redirects. He asked whether or not 301s pass the age of the link along with everything else they ferry.

Adam’s reply indicated that he wasn’t sure if every single aspect of the link is carried over by the redirect. 301s will carry the established “link love” and PageRank, but there’s some uncertainty about all aspects of the link being carried over.

Like Rand said in his post concerning pay-per-posts, it’s certainly nice to see the panel being so open and forthright with their answers. The only area that they made off-limits were questions concerning their ranking algorithms and that’s entirely understandable. All in all the link Q&A was again informative even though the atmosphere was a little “hotter” than usual.