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      Thank you! Cre8asiteforums 1998 - 2018   01/18/2018

      Internet Marketing Ninjas released many of the online forums they had acquired, such as WebmasterWorld, SEOChat, several DevShed properties and these forums back to their founders. You will notice a new user interface for Cre8asiteforums, the software was upgraded, and it was moved to a new server. Thank you for your support as we turn 20 years old.  

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The most compelling theme out of PubCon last week was mobile. Mobile for search engines, mobile for design and mobile as the only possible consideration for the future.


To that end, AMP and SCHEMA were hot topics. I'm still wrapping my head around AMP. I got to sit with Bill Slawski one night at the bar where everyone eventually landed and he did his best to explain AMP to me. With any luck, he will come here and do it justice as it is still confusing to me (Google serves the pages, Google caches the pages)....


The future was a theme in various ways. Artificial intelligence, 3D, holograms, RankBrain (that black box of "intelligence" Google created), the emphasis on SPEED as a signal, and to my surprise, an emphasis on smarter development and marketing tactics related to user experience, targeting users' needs and a clear overlap between SEO and UX, the likes of which I've never seen before.


The number of companies exhibiting was down and their time shorter. No idea why.


None of the top themes at PubCon would have surprised any of the regulars here. You are forward thinkers. I thought of you all often and felt you would enjoy some of the scolding by some keynote speakers ("Be intelligent when marketing!") and constant reminders to understand user behavior as marketers (I was amazed).


Ethics was mentioned in one keynote..."No fake reviews." "Vanity metrics mean nothing"...


The data says we are using mobile for everything and so every app/web page must render/work/convert on mobile to be worthy of inclusion in the mobile index, which is going to be THE Google index soon.


Within months, Google to divide its index, giving mobile users better & fresher content

Edited by cre8pc
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There is really only one reason to attend most/all webdev conferences and that is to meet up with friends and get introductions to folks of conversational/knowledgable interest. The topics are rarely current, when they are they are typically simply news, reiterated without depth or understanding. Perhaps most fatally, while the topics may actually be of import, the presentations tend to the technical usage not the underlaying purpose(s) and accompanying positives and negatives.

To illustrate with the two 'timely' Google topics mentioned by Kim:
* RankBrain:
Almost every writer misrepresents what it is, what it does, and how to consider from a business perspective. Granted, what Google has shared is minimal, however what has been officially said and written bounds it's reality fairly well - unlike the fantasies so many SEO-types have spun and twisted to fit their particular product/tool or service marketing hype.

It has several very clear objectives:
* compete against similar walled garden services of Apple and FaceBook.
* leverage their cache of others pages/sites.
* get AdSense/DFP, past ad blockers.
Little to none of which is in their marketing or considered by the fanbois; while the benefits are widely shared the drawbacks are scarcely mentioned, not even (especially even?) at conferences.

It is all about how to take advantage of the RankBrain, the AMP, the snake oil, smoke and mirrors; almost nary a word as whether one actually should.

It is funny strange. Webdev conferences are really conferences for those selling to webdevs rather than for webdevs. From a business perspective webdevs would be better served attending conferences for their site niche whatever that might be. Something almost none actually do.

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I almost choked I laughed so hard when I read Kim's initial sentence:
The most compelling theme out of PubCon last week was mobile. Mobile for search engines, mobile for design and mobile as the only possible consideration for the future.

This is October 2016.
I started seriously thinking and hypothesising and testing 'for mobile' from Wednesday, March 19, 2008. That was the day that Reuters published Google sees surge in Web use on mobile phones.

"We have very much hit a watershed moment in terms of mobile Internet usage," Matt Waddell, a product manager for Google Mobile, said in an interview. "We are seeing that mobile Internet use is in fact accelerating.
"Faster is better than slow, especially on a mobile device, where fast is much better than slow," Waddell said. "Not only are we are seeing increased user satisfaction but also greater usage."
Waddell said Google had seen iPhone users perform as many as 50 times more Web searches on these computer-phone devices as users of standard mobile feature phones typically do.

Eight years ago the mobile 'future' was pointed out.
By (almost) everyone's favourite focus, Google. Yet conferences were too busy trumpeting nofollow et al.

2008 through 2010 was a time of enormous change, ideas as fundamental as that of CSS rather than table layout, were being shared widely: fault-tolerant design shifting from a primarily graceful degradation perspective to that of progressive enhancement, which nicely segued into designing for mobile first, fixed->fluid->elastic layouts, responsive design, etc. Many saw the trees, very few saw the forest.

I rebuilt my sites between 2010 and 2012 on the principle of designing from mobile first with progressive enhancement allowing additional content/features via a variation of RESS (Responsive Web Design + Server Side Components). So my sites have been not simply 'mobile friendly' but extremely mobile usable for 4-to-6 years.

That's 4 to 6 years ago that I treated mobile as the only possible consideration for the future, to use Kim's comment. It's the most compelling theme out of PubCon? Can you say 'behind the times'?

Of course the reason for the mobile perspective wasn't actually mobile, rather mobile is the context in which a whole slew of marketers are selling AMP and RankBrain and other latest and greatest Google offerings all wrapped up in their editorial 'expertise', tools, services et al. The same folks that shoved increasingly twisted thoughts and tools and services about/around nofollow... and every other misunderstood, misapplied, mis-sold bit of Google 'stuff'.

There are superb knowledgable people with deep understanding of various aspects of webdev at conferences. Unfortunately what is pitched to conferences as suitable topics is one or more of shallow, old, wrong, vague, unless specifically technical. In other words: marketing wrapper bumph. The bars and the meal tables are where the value resides. If you already have a solid foundation from which to understand, to separate the yes from the maybe from the you gotta be kidding.


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The target attendee for PubCon is 30 and under. The first day is just Master's Classes that companies send their employees to. For new people, the sessions are the first time they've had a chance to learn. For the experts and exhibitors, it's a trade show where they network, try to get new business, and see old friends. For the SEO industry, relationships are a traditional part of their customs.


RankBrain - has been around before anyone took notice of it, working in the background. That was the nugget they got from Google. The other was that even Google doesn't truly understand what their "black box" is doing.




Eric starts by asking Gary to explain RankBrain.

Gary: RankBrain is a machine-learning algorithm. It tries to predict what would be a better result based on historical data. It looks at a bunch of signals. It adjusts ranking based on the query. Gary says that it works really well with queries that they’ve never seen before – long-tail queries. They typically use data collected for specific queries to decide how to rank results for a query. But if the query is new, they don’t have that data yet and that’s where RankBrain excels. It makes predictions based on similar queries in the past.

Eric: Is RankBrain doing language analysis?

Gary: You are going too deep here. It’s doing many things.

Eric presses for a list. Gary is dodging. We are six minutes into this talk.

Eric keeps pressing and says that it was originally discussed as being focused on query analysis. It sounds like there may be some other elements?

Gary: There are many elements. It hasn’t taken over the entire algorithm.

Eric: If it’s responsible for 20% of the queries, that’s a lot of queries that RankBrain is potentially acting on.

Gary says yes.

Eric: Why did you end up calling it RankBrain?

Gary has absolutely no idea. Eric saves us all by changing the subject.

Eric: Let’s talk about machine learning more generally. It’s obviously a very big initiative at Google. The new head of search is a big proponent of machine learning. Can you tell us more about what Google is doing with machine learning?

Gary: Machine-learning is a tool. It’s like having a Swiss Army knife. You can use it for many things. It’s not appropriate for everything but you can use it for many cases. You probably don’t want use that Swiss Army knife to punch a hole in concrete because it will not work well. Similarly, RankBrain will not work in every scenario. We are using it where we can. Obviously, we are not trying to deprecate all of our other algorithms. If it’s working well, then we prefer not touching the algorithm. But we are experimenting with what else we can do with ranking.




The emphasis on mobile was a bit of surprise for me and I disagreed with several speakers on what they were saying. (As a side note, when I began to push back on PubCon on my Facebook page, I took heat for it. I removed everything as a result.)


Google reps use PubCon to announce new things and answer questions. SEO's pounce on it.


AMP and SCHEMA were hot because the attendees came to learn about it for their jobs.


People don't come to forums to learn like it was done in the old days. These particular forums lost ground in the past few years and continue to do so, which is a shame because the community here are teachers at the expert level and don't BS around.


Back to mobile...it's Google making the decisions for marketers and website owners. There isn't enough rejection of this and so it continues. I was telling a young person on the bus from the hotel to conference center that I work at a horse stable where the owner and stable help do not have smart phones and what laptops or tablets they have are ancient. They don't have the funds or interest in upgrading. They still need to purchase, learn, search, socialize online, but it's as if they don't exist. The same goes for baby boomers and retirees. Marketers aren't thinking about them and neither are designers. I was definitely on the outside looking in at PubCon.

Edited by cre8pc

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Looking at 3 of our local small business sites and for the last 2 months mobile traffic was greater than desktop/laptop traffic in each case. That is a first for us. Of those 3 one is primarily focused on older more affluent folks but for the last 2 months more traffic on mobile than on desktop.


Oh yeah the world is changing.

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Yep, old news now, but still needs hammering home - build for mobile. Assume that within the next few years, over 80% of your visitors will be on mobile. People are not buying desktops. Unless you are purely business-2-business, and your client base are office based, assume they will be looking at your site on a mobile device.


Sites built for mobile can look nice. I recently ditched my right sidebar (responsive layout meant it was shoved down to the bottom, all it did was slow things down). Means a cleaner looking, faster site. Less clutter, more focus on the content!

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One of our challenges is that I have yet to figure how to convey as much detail and information on mobile as on the desktop. And at the same time give mobile users an option for fast response.


In our case this is driven by interviews from buyers/customers. Over the years we have learned from many buyers that one of the features that differentiates us from competitors is that our business, by virtue of the website, appears more real and substantive than competitors. That is primarily via content....although I suspect we could convey the same thing by combining pics with far less content. I guess I should experiment---I will.


Many of our buyers have told us over the years we simply appear FAR MORE SUBSTANTIVE than competitors (substantive being my word) To date that has come from content (sometimes looking very clunky). but it has worked for over a decade now.

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