Shari Thurow, Founder and CEO of Omni Marketing Interactive reviewed the pros and cons of using CSS. Pros of CSS are the ability to control design parameters and change the look of a site quickly and easily, all while decreasing download time for a page. Usability pros say that a page should download within 8-12 seconds (on a 56k modem), while Yahoo reps are a bit more forgiving and allow for 30 seconds or less. I’m impatient and would prefer 7 seconds myself. The cons of CSS are that end users must have fonts installed on their computers or the page will not display as intended, A/B and multivariate testing, and the fact that spammers use it to place keywords in negative coordinates or Z coordinates and layered objects. She reminded the group that surrounding a paragraph of text with an H1 tag does not make the engines think the entire block is of H1 importance – they are smarter than this and will sniff it as spam. Shari’s parting words were: use CSS, ask your users if they prefer graphic navigation or text navigation, make sure your content appears correctly on multiple browsers, and don’t use it to exploit search engines.
Vanessa Fox of Zillow kept the entertaining and lively session going by lifting the hood to her new digs on Zillow.com. It sounded like she had her hands full by tackling such issues as 95% of search traffic comes from the keyword “zillow”, unoptimized titles and descriptions, blocking links, not putting links outside of Flash, empty forums, and Mikkel’s favorite Web 2.0 technology AJAX. Zillow, along with many other “kwel” and “hip” companies likes to create new terms to describe things – like using Zestimate instead of estimate. Vanessa reminded the audience about using real words for real searchers.
Final presenter was Amanda Camp from Google’s Webmaster Central. She must have had some sugar before the session, but her passion for Webmaster Central was endearing and I was all ears. She directed the group to read the latest piece on Flash and to stay tuned to see a similar stance on AJAX soon. She basically gave a run down on the great content located on Webmaster Central – so go check it out if you haven’t already.
Day 3 has been closed down!