I attended Google India SearchMasters 2009 at Google’s Bangalore office today. They had a tight program for the entire day. Items covered were
- Webmaster Central and Best Practices (Adam Lasnik)
- Webmaster Help Forum (Koti Ivaturi)
- Webmaster Hands-On Session (Adam Lasnik)
- Google Custom Search (Rajat Mukherjee)
- Building Mobile Friendly Websites (Ankit Gupta)
- Google Analytics and Website Optimizer (I did not attend)
I learnt about this from my colleague Sriram Hebbar who had received an invite. I wrote to Google for an invitation and finally managed to get a few more to attend with me. It was well worth it.
The attendees were very enthusiastic and it would be reasonable to say many were well prepared with their questions. They had a cloakroom which had few laptops where you could ask your questions in advance. I put in my share of questions well before the event started. I met Amit Agarwal, one of the top and most respected Indian bloggers today. A humble and down to earth person 🙂
I liked Adam’s and Rajat’s sessions the most. They had a small video clip from Adam’s boss, Matt Cutt. I liked what Adam said in his opening system -” Google needs more and more good local content without which their product will not be liked by their users”. Exactly, unless Google indexes the content well we will not find the SERPs useful.
I attended it mainly because of Webmaster Tools as I use it a lot. I mentioned to Adam and his Hyd colleague (Vivaik Bharadwaaj) about three issues I had with Webmaster tools,
- Deletion of URLs in bulk
- Cannot export the data (URLs) in “Linked From” column in Webmaster tools (Adam wasn’t aware of it and promised to look into it)
- At times the “Linked From” column shows the text “unavailable” which confuses the site’s webmaster further.
Managed to interact with the search team and gave my long list of Indian language crawl issues 😉 They heard me patiently. For those who don’t know, Google is the only search engine that is investing a lot into Indian languages. Rajat also mentioned that they intend to bring in Indic features in Custom Search.
I felt most of the attendees had come prepared for Webmaster Tools. People had SEO related questions which were very well attended by Adam. Some numbers that were given by Google about the Indian internet and mobile users were,
- 8% of India’s population is English speak (Folks, do you at least see now Indian languages is important on the net?)
- 11.7m Internet subscribers (of which 4.38m are broadband users)
- Mobile: 300m+ users
- 76-80m mobile handsets are GPRS ready – I felt Google had to do a little more homework. This number is of no use. How many are using GPRS? That is more important. If you extend this logic to PCs, there are millions of “internet ready” PCs in India but how many are internet users, that number is relevant.
People were excited about being able to interact with the Google team directly. If other search engines are serious about increasing their loyalty base they too need to interact directly with their users.