Evening Forum With Danny Sullivan

Where am I? Do I have to blog again? Is it daytime? Why’s the room doing that funny spinning thing? I’m confused. Susan, are you there? [Oh good heavens. Rae? Becs? Tamar? Someone take care of her! –Susan]

Oh, here we are. I remember now; it’s time for an Evening Forum With Danny Sullivan. I get it. Hi, Danny!

Danny starts out with his usual banter. You know how Danny is. Adorable. Endearing. So cute you just want to eat him up or take him home. Yeah.

I was hoping this would be akin to the speech Danny gave in Chicago last December but tonight (this evening?) it’s mostly question and answer.

The first audience questioner asks where search going to be in 3 to 5 years from now.


Danny says it’ll be called Google: Even More Powerful and Potent Then Before (hee!). No, no, putting his serious face back on, Danny says he wouldn’t be surprised if search still looks similar to how we’re seeing it today. He does think that in three years you’ll be able to type in "ny hotels" and instead of getting links going to info about New York hotels you’ll get a big map featuring New York hotels. Or if you type in "Madonna videos", you’ll get videos, not pages that may have a video. I think the search engines are going to get smarter about presenting the information you want faster, says our leader.

As for the major players, he still thinks Google, Yahoo and MSN will be there, but he’s not sure if MSN will have grown by then. Danny predicts more human intervention in the search results, maybe even a Digg-like thing. It just seems to be a wave that’s not dying off.

Next question: What technologies or search companies are you really excited about?

Nobody. Danny says he hasn’t seen anything that’s made him jump up and down but he was pleased with Hakia. Overall, he thinks there’s a lot of hype that goes into natural language search, but it’s not going to go anywhere. He does look at the social media sites, finds them fascinating, and wonders if they’ll transfer into better search results as a whole. The fascinating thing about Digg is that it’s all run behind the scenes. By and large he just doesn’t see a lot happening and when he does, the companies are usually overpriced and over hyped. Word.

Next question: When will the incentive of spamming through AdSense break?

Danny says Google did roll out all that stuff to take away the attractive of creating MFA sites. However, it doesn’t cost a lot of money to do. So…he’s not sure.

Out of nowhere Danny starts cracking on Windows Mobile. It’s beautiful.

Also out of nowhere (I think), Danny starts trying to remember that one engine that was designed for the older 55 crowd. He’s mumbling to himself until he comes up with it – Crusty! Heh, no, Danny; it was Cranky. Kind of like all the old people in the audience you just insulted. :)

Someone questions Danny on his thoughts on personalized search? (I guess she doesn’t read Search Engine Land.) Danny answers (slightly paraphrased, naturally.):

"I’ve always described this as when you do a search you’d have multiple fronts. Right now there’s a lot of incentive to get the top ranking to get eyeballs. When you do personalized search, one person might see my results, but another person won’t. It makes it harder for me to go out and blatantly spam. That’s one benefit.

It doesn’t make SEO go away thought because if I have a good site and I still hit all the good ranking criteria than it gives you a good search at ranking."

Danny talks about the old regime of personalized search. Where you’d perform an ego search, get excited by the results, and then see the little Turn Off Personalized Results link mocking you on the right hand side. I can’t tell you how many times I got excited over something, told Susan, and then had my heart broken when she told me I was probably logged in. It’s funny; she always had a smile on her face when she said that. Curious.

Another audience member asks if a toggle button (like the one that lets you switch between searching UK results and the entire Web) be a good idea to let users turn personalized search on and off at their own discretion.

Danny says yes, it would be, but Google doesn’t want that. She asks why and Danny says because Google doesn’t want you to be toggling. Heh.

He then asks if people think it’s weird Larry and Sergey have to share the Google jet. He finally concludes that, no, it’s a good thing – they’re doing it for the economy. (And sharing is caring!)

Next question: Who’s going to win the local space?

Danny responds, "who knows" and asks if there’s anyone left not in it. He then recounts a fun story where him and Jim Lanzone almost got into a fight over search while out to dinner. But then controlled themselves, because it was time to order desert.

Danny says his difficulty with local search is that he lives in a small town where there’s no sense local searching anything. He jokes: If I need a painter, there’s one person who does it and I know him. (His name is Terry and he’s from Wilshire. Hi, Terry!).

After many rants and rambles, Danny says he imagines it’ll be one of the bigger players who wins local search because they’re the trusted resource for users.

After lots of questions and attempts to poll the audience, Danny realizes that no one is raising their hands. He then asks how many people are alive and about 2 percent of the room humored him with a hand raise. The rest of us have just admitted to being dead.

Another questioner asks Danny to describe the biggest session disaster he’s ever seen. He offers up several responses:

"In San Jose I lost the bet in the World Cup and I had to weird lederhosen for the last session of the day."

"Two years ago there was the big "Google is small" scandal when Yahoo rolled out the big index. When they ran out of food at the Google Dance, everyone ended up at the local In "N Out Burger. Tim Meyer from Yahoo was there with Paul Gardey [Ask.com] and a Google guy and [everyone’s] mocking each other. Paul finally gets up on his chair and goes, look at me, I’m Yahoo, I’m the tallest of them all."

"There was one show where we had one guy about to speak and then he ran off the stage saying "I can’t do this!". He showed up the next day and was fine."

“I have a whole lot of stories. I should write more of them down, shouldn’t I?” (YES!)

Oh, no the lights just almost went out. I think they’re telling Danny he has to go. Lastly, some guy asks everyone to thank Danny for his contribution to search and everyone claps and hollers. Aw. I think we all had a moment.

Search hearts Danny.

Lisa Barone is a writer, content marketer & VP of strategy at Overit Media. She's also a very active Twitterer, much to the dismay of the rest of the world.

See Lisa's author page for links to connect on social media.

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One Reply to “Evening Forum With Danny Sullivan”

“Lastly, some guy asks everyone to thank Danny for his contribution to search and everyone claps and hollers”

That “some guy” is Greg Jarboe.


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