Aaron Wall writes (that is, wrote, and continually rewrites) the most well-known search engine optimization ebook on the Web. He is also the man behind Search-Marketing.info, which, while lesser-known than SEO Book, is a great source for instructional SEO articles.
1) Yahoo!’s search algorithm: Closing in on Google, or 18 months behind?
I think they are closing, but when they started they were far more than 18 months behind, and as they draw closer they reach more toward a point of diminishing returns. I recently interviewed NFFC and he stated:
“This is what I think, SEO is all about emotions, all about human interaction. People, search engineers even, try and force it into a numbers box. Numbers, math and formulas are for people not smart enough to think in concepts.”
and that if he worked at a search engine
“I would look to give good things a boost and stop focusing on finding bad things to penalise.”
In the past Google was able to give people more reason to give back user data (ie: toolbar and PageRank), Yahoo! is trying to catch up with their My Web idea, but even though they allow users to block sites and share them I still feel none of the competing search services have a brand that can compete with Google, and none of them make users feel like they own and help improve the results.
Look how Google launches other products: Gmail, Orkut, using other brand names. Google wants their name to be synonymous with search. Yahoo! wants to be synonymous with everything, and that thins the brand. Owning content networks means having internal customers, and that creates a biased search service which some people will question the relevancy of.
Google has also bought Urchin and may be creating a payment system to help create the micropayment business model or get more end to end consumer behavior data. As far as collecting user data I think Google has the competition beat, but there is only so much you can do with the data before the focus on more data creates algorithms which resist innovation and change.
I think most of search distribution is down to positioning and who can lock in more users with their other services. The search service which makes you feel like you own the service will be the one that wins in distribution. As far as quality goes I think NFFC was right on that, whoever focuses more on signs of quality than reasons to penalize will win. Adding more human interaction to the algorithms would help a ton as well.
2) NickW: Highly entertaining SEO personality or rebel without a cause?
Based on regularly linking at his site and posting comments to it I obviously like it. My opinion does not matter that much though in the grand scheme of things. If you look at the more official type links, he has got blogrolled on sites like Search Engine Watch, Yahoo! Search Blog, Ask Jeeves Blog, has been Slashdotted a few times, and has had press mentions from sites like Guardian, Slate, etc etc etc.
My site is not on any of those blogrolls, has had little mention in any traditional type of press, and has had limited reach outside of the search community, so I would say in that regard he is doing a much better job than I, especially when you consider that he gets away with far more cursing than I do
Even when he calls people out, like ClickZ recently, they still feel the need to comment on his site, so that is fairly impressive. In less than a year his site has probably moved into the top 10 search related sites in terms of quality inbound linkage data, and with modern search algorithms it is all about linkage data.
3) SEOBook: Reached its peak, or just getting started?
Will steal a line from Larry Page at Google’s recent quarterly conference call. It is still in the first inning.
4) Do you think the guy that posted here (and in subsequent comments on that thread) is really GoogleGuy as we know him (aka Matt Cutts)?
You don’t know a person for sure based on a few heated forum posts. I am not sure if that was GoogleGuy or Matt Cutts. Rumour has it that Matt loves tomatoes though.
5) If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you’ll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy!
Never been in the Sears Tower. Do not plan on going. I am a HUGE FAN of the dummies http://www.crashtestdummies.com/ though. Luckily I was able to link your question to that great band, or there would have been no link based Q&As