In case you missed it, I was in Las Vegas last week for PubCon 2009. It was my first PubCon and as you can imagine, lots of fun! As far as presentations, every presentation was great but I do have a few favorites. Here they are in order of appearance…

- One of my favorite presentations at PubCon was Rob Snell's "Ecommerce and Shopping Cart Optimization." Rob always impresses me with his creativity and common sense approach to increasing conversions with things like original content creation. Rob stressed liberating manufacturer content in addition to creating original product descriptions and content. Maybe it's a "southern thing" but is for certain, Rob is no "Dummy" when it comes to ideas for developing great content to increase ROI.

- Another great presentation was Ted Ulle's "SEO Design & Organic Site Structure." Ted's FRANKENSITE analogy was really great! He focused on the importance of keeping things simple and setting goals early. Ted offered some other really great advice about documenting decisions, graphic design being placed lower down the priority list and why "code geeks" shouldn't write copy. Splitting a cab with Ted was also a big thrill, it's not every day I get to ride with celebrities.

- Vanessa Fox's "Multivariate Testing and Conversion Tweaking" presentation was really interesting. In addition to providing recent data about the average number of keywords per query, Vanessa dove into the topic of personas and the role they play in conversions. According to Vanessa, focusing only on ranking reports can cause you to miss important information. That said, I've already pre-ordered Vanessa's new book and strongly suggest you do too.

- As always, Matt Cutts was truly entertaining during the "Interactive Site Review: Organic Focus" session at PubCon. (Tip, if your site is obviously spamming don't sign it up for review! ;) ) I know Barry has been giving Matt a hard time about not attending conferences lately but, Matt really went above and beyond even shaving a spammy head or two at PubCon 2009 :).

- Greg Hartnett, Michael McDonald, Barry Schwartz, Lee Odden and Loren Baker teamed up for "Search Bloggers: What's Hot and Trending?". This session was a jam packed PowerPoint free dialogue between the best in the industry.

- Saving the best for last, my favorite session was "Super Session : Search Engines and Webmasters." Shawn from Microsoft was up first and talked about Bing's recent changes. He demonstrated Bing's hover preview feature and talked about the new and improved MSNBOT 2.0b According to Shawn, Steve Blamer expects to win search and acquire 51% market share with Bing. After Shawn, Matt Cutts presented Google's "State of the Index." Matt talked a lot about the importance of site speed and Google's new social search experiment. He suggests digging deeper into Google Webmaster Tools as well as subscribing to the blog and YouTube channel.

PubCon was a great conference and I strongly suggest it to anyone interested in interactive marketing. Thanks again to Neil Marshall and the PubCon staff, Barry Schwartz and Search Discovery Inc..

First reported by AussieWebmaster and jkwilson, Google will soon add "load time" to their list of criteria for Google's AdWords Quality Score. In a new version of the Google AdWords FAQ posted prematurely by accident and then removed late Wednesday Google said:

"Beginning in February 2008, you'll be able to see a grade for your website's load time in your AdWords account. 'Load time' refers to the amount of time it takes for a user to arrive at your functional landing page after clicking your ad. Several weeks after your load time grade becomes visible, it will begin to impact your landing page quality and, therefore, your Quality Score. We recommend working to improve your load time during this interim if it's received a low score."

All this talk of website load time made me wonder if Google had updated what it considers a "reasonable" amount of time for a page to load. According to the AdWords learning center 4 seconds still seems to be Google's standard."Make sure your page loads quickly — under four seconds if possible. Slow load times deter visitors from staying. "
- http://www.google.com/adwords/learningcenter/text/19428.html

So, what sites will be the most negatively impacted? Obviously sites that take the longest time to load. And what sites take the longest to load? One word, FLASH! If you have an all Flash site I would consider steps to speed things up and quick. In addition I would consider limited use of Flash as well as increasing content in HTML. Hmmm... I feel like I've said that before oh yeah, I have. : )

Either way, as I said at SearchEngineWatch.com:

"Interesting that load time is now part of quality score since the factor has always been important at Google. After all, load time is one reason why Google's homepage seems so simple. I understand that in the early days, Larry was known to count the number of words on Google's home page daily as well as to check it's speed using a stopwatch. In fact the content at the bottom of the page was added after early user testing because participants sat waiting for the rest of the page to load....

Oh well sorry for the history lesson, I'm a little surprised it's taken this long to be added or "officially" at least. Either way I think this step is great for users."

- beu