SEO legends Matt Cutts and Duane Forrester with Journalist Danny Sullivan headed up the Monday afternoon all star panel at SXSW. To summarize:

  • Matt talked about penalities and said that 30 days can be a normal “minor” penalty. These may be if your site got hacked and malicious code got inserted. If you have hidden text, or other poor man’s spam tactics.


  • Matt emphasized the importance on creating new, original cool content. If you can add value and build your reputation, the more likely you are going to get quality links in return. He further emphasized having cool applications or widgets on your page can be another great link baiting strategy.


  • Danny brought up a great point that anytime you have to consider if a link is spammy, it is a red flag and you should not do that tactic.


  • Duane said the site age is just one of thousands of criteria for ranking. He said that a new site can rank well if they get a lot of social signals.  Matt said that reputation and topicality are huge factors for ranking.  He also said that social signals are being incorporated and they will continue to look into building social into their algorithm.


  • Bing launched some new webmaster tools applications that are worthwhile to check out. Our San Diego SEO company uses these tools and we are really impressed.


  • Matt mentioned that .org’s can pull from more resources than .com’s.  Other .org’s may be more likely to offer a link to a fellow .org.


  • Matt gave a solid analogy about how automation, and content management systems can really get you into trouble if you don’t follow best practices in your development.


  • In general, Online Marketers most important metric should be conversions, not rankings.  Duane really hammered home that ranking is not a metric and ranking reports are worthless and ultimately sugar pills.  Danny had a funny joke that said the only people who should do scraping are when Google scrapes Bing and Bing scrapes Google!


Even though SXSW really messed up by not providing a bigger room for this panel, it was a great session!