Mihai Aperghis (@mihaiaperghis), the search engine optimizer we refer to from time to time, is also a Google product expert and participated in the second week of Google search discussions. He has written this blog post, and I will post it on this site as a very rare guest. Why? (1) Mihai rocks and (2) this site is about the community and product experts are at the core of the Google community. I (Barry) personally could not participate because of the conflict. Note: Mihai did not request a link or mention, but I added this so it is clear that he wrote this.
A few weeks ago marked another Google search conversation almost a year after the first release (though probably remembering the first edition under a slightly different name, Virtual Webmaster Unconference).
Just like last year, the event was designed to bring in people from around the world with varying levels of experience and knowledge about SEO, Google search, and related products. Whether it’s webmasters, SEOs, developers, bloggers, or business owners, participants were able to join casually and openly on up to two of the 11 topics available, share insights, ask questions, and provide feedback.
If you are unfamiliar with the event or general form of deformity, the idea is to promote discussion and interaction between session participants by moving away from the usual speaker and presentation cover design.
To do this, here are some special features of Search Central Unconference:
- Although there were no official speakers, each Unconference session was coordinated by one or two “instructors” – either actual Google employees or Product Experts program people. Their job was to make sure everyone was comfortable and heard, and to guide the discussion when needed and to take notes on key points and results.
- Each facilitator can choose to conduct their sessions based on a number of suggested formats, from general group discussions or Q&A programs to display, narration, and feedback sessions. Again, regardless of form, it had to focus on interactivity (i.e., no monologues or long performances).
- Probably one of the most important (and frequently asked) aspects of the event was that no recordings (formal or informal) should have been made. While this meant that people who couldn’t attend or were curious about other sessions wouldn’t be able to watch them later, it also offered everyone the opportunity to share their experiences, despite the fact that the details of their conversations end up on YouTube.
The event, of course, took place entirely online and was designed for the EMEA / North America friendly time zone (8.00 PST / 15.00 UTC).
The call for proposals for the session came about a month before the event, in late May. Google employees and product experts were able to provide ideas on the topics, and the Unconference organizers chose which topics would eventually be part of the event.
Before the day of the event, each participant will think about each session, based on their own interest in these topics. Most were allowed to join their favorite sessions, although there was little balancing to avoid overloading the rooms.
There were two blocks of a 45-minute session, each followed by rapid wrapping, separated by a power outage:
Topics ranged from more general topics, such as website quality, to more detailed discussions around log file analysis. Here is a complete list of session titles:
- Video content in accordance with publisher policies
- Search Console Chit-chat
- What is good website quality in 2021?
- Building high-class support for the search ecosystem
- Core Network Vitalers – Common Questions and Success Stories
- Analysis of log files
- Video SEO
- The future of feeds in the open network
- Core online medals and e-commerce
- SEO scripts – facilitating search engine optimization through automation
- Webmaster and Podcaster
I had the pleasure of being one of the two instructors for the first Web Web Vitals session as well as the SEO scripts.
I’m really not going to go into detail about the content of each session, because the books have an official Google blog post that includes the main discussions.
Reserving the nerves involved in coordinating the official Google event, I have to say this has been one of the highlights of the year for me.
In each session, we had about 20-25 participants, many of whom gave insights into the challenges, tools, and successes they have had on each topic. Martin (Split) and Terry (Ednacot), the two main Google employees behind organizing the event, also made sure that people with different backgrounds and levels of experience were mixed in each session to get different perspectives on the discussions.
For example, during the Core Web Vitals session that I helped with Dave (Smart product specialist who also wrote about his experience of Unconference), we talked a lot about CLS, the difficulty of diagnosing problems, and optimizing them. We also discussed how less technical people view these metrics and how they think existing information and documentation on this topic would be improved.
In the SEO Scripts discussion (which I co-authored with Martin himself – Imagine the pressure!), Our discussion focused on typical areas where SEOs feel the need to automate tasks such as large-scale keyword analysis. A lot of people were really helpful in providing links to tools they found useful using Google’s Meet chat feature. This was also a personal favorite recently sliced with Python and NLP for complex site migration.
As mentioned earlier, each session block was followed by a 15-minute meeting with everyone, where all instructors were allowed to share a quick summary of their sessions so that people outside of them got an idea of the discussions. These key points are also part of a future Google blog post, so keep an eye on it.
There will be a blog post when I caught a missing dream 😉 pic.twitter.com/GFPO2FhDCA
– Martin Splitt 💉💉 (@ g33konaut) June 21, 2021
Overall, this was a great experience, and while I also loved last year’s first edition, this one managed to rise above it in terms of planning and coordination. Based on the interaction of the session and the final conclusions, it seems that most of the participants have also enjoyed the whole experience. The only thing I really hope for next time is to have even more sessions so more people can join and attend the event.
Until next time…
Forum discussion Twitter.