Top Shelf SEO: Hot Topics and Trends

Stay with me, folks! We have one more session to go before we wrap up Day 1 of Pubcon. Speaking we have Stephan Spencer, Greg Boser, and Mike Grehan. Let’s see if the boys can manage to behave themselves.

First up is Mike Grehan.   We’re having some technical issues getting his presentation to appear.  All we see is a pretty blue screen. He jokes he cloaked his presentation. Greg Boser says he taught him to do that.  Hee. Geeks.

We’re going back to 1945 to the days of Vannevar Bush. For you non-history buffs, he was a prominent scientist during the second world war.  He had an idea to bring together all of his colleagues to do something for the benefit of mankind. He wrote an essay for The Atlantic called As We May Think. It’s about making all collected human knowledge more accessible [Hmm, Google much?].  That’s awesome. What’s more awesome is that you can READ that essay in 2010. I love the Internet.

Tim Berners Lee took the hypertext idea, connected it to the Transmission Control Protocol and domain names system ideas, and ta-da – the World Wide Web. Skip forward another ten years and we have Larry and Sergey.

Information Retrieval on the Web: Phase One

Web spiders crawl the Web and compile indexes of content. Determining “authoritative” sources proves difficult – the “abundance problem”. It’s very easy to manipulate results.

Information Retrieval on the Web: Phase Two

Inbound link analysis provides a major new signal. HITS and PageRank algorithms apply network theory to search results. Web content creators have the only “votes”. Inbound links can be inflated.

Square Pegs – Round Holes

There’s a pervasive myth that Google has access to the whole Web. The truth is Google doesn’t even know how big the Web is. They don’t have time to look at every Web site or piece of content. User-generated content is now beating media generated content 5 to 1.  They can’t keep up with that.

What’s the Strongest Signal

  • Text on an HTML page?
  • Linkage data and link anchor text?
  • Social Media – Tagging, bookmarking, rating, etc.?

Mike says its the data coming to Google via the toolbar. Why is toolbar data so important? PageRank is elitist. Only web page creators can vote. What about the end user? Looking at what users are doing when they search gives them better data.

What is Connected Marketing really about?

Its more about the change in consumer behavior than it is about the technology available. Much of the received wisdom in marketing circles is undergoing reconsideration. The nature of consumers and biz marketers is going through major changes. Decision makers no longer act independently of each other but are all the more connected to other consumers, to other channel members and often to brands. In turns, brands and companies are now vying for central positions inside consumer networks. Consumers are attracted to vapidly emerging third party information providers, through collaborative product reviews and price comparison services.

Also Read: SEO Clients: What’s a New One Cost?

Stephan Spencer is up next. Stephan’s brain usually crumbles my fingers. We’ll see how this goes. Speak slow, speak dumb, Stephan. It’s the only way I’ll keep up. 😉  Oh great, Stephan says he has way too many slides and speaks fast. I whimper.

Making Assumptions about Consumer Vocabulary

  • Your customer doesn’t use industry speak
  • Just because it’s intuitive sense doesn’t mean its right
  • Example: home loan vs mortgage; kitchen electrics; digital camera; hoodie vs hooded sweatshirt [Stephan shows the difference in search traffic for each term pair]

Keyword Brainstorming: Should be integral to your content planning. Think laterally!

Example: Neopets; baby furniture manufacturer

Soovle: Auto-completes simultaneously from Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, Wikipedia, Amazon,

Use Tools Properly

  • Log in (to Google Trends, Google AdWords, etc)
  • Log out (when searching) – turn off personalization
  • Broad matching is the default in AdWords Keyword Tool. Use Exact Match to get truer numbers.
    • Run the right Google queries
    • Estimated results w/o including omitted results. Use “” or intitle:operator [a white noise vs “white noise” vs intitle: “white noise”

Don’t Cannibalize Organic with Paid: The so-called “synergy” of paid search with organic search is often manifested instead as cannibalization. Sometimes you’re paying for traffic you’d actually get for free.  Watch out for that.

SEO Should Drive Your Social Media Strategy: It’s not a social media strategy if it isn’t driven by SEO needs. Write “link bait” and seed it into social media like “Power users” on social media get a lot more mileage out of their submissions. He talks about a contest a client of his did with Shoemoney. Obviously, it kicked serious ass.

Watch out for Duplicate Content: Multiple URLs leading to the same piece of content is duplicate content. It triggers Google’s “duplicate content filter’ – all but one gets filtered. It also results in a page rank dilution.

Recommended Article: SEO Techniques: The User-Centered Approach

URL Testing & Iterative Optimization: URL affects searcher clickthrough rates. Short URLs get clicked on 2x long URLs. Further, long URLs appear to act as a deterrent to clicking, drawing attention away from its listing and instead directing it to the listing below it, when then gets clicked on 2.5x  more frequently. Don’t be complacent with search-friendly URLs. Test and optimize. Make iterative improvements to URLs, but don’t lose link juice to previous URLs.

He mentions Scribe and says it’s a cool plugin. Gives content recommendations.

[Apologies to Stephan for not doing his awesome presentation justice.  My fingers couldn’t keep up!]

Next up is Greg Boser. He doesn’t have a deck because he learned a long time ago you can’t compete with Stephan.

Greg says we’re getting to a point where everything has to become more big picture in the way you think and plan because of the way things changed. He’s not a mathematician.  It’s not about chasing the algorithm. He spends more time forecasting and thinking about what Google’s GONNA do than he does thinking about what’s happening right now. He asks himself what would he do if it was his engine? He starts plotting and mapping things out. It’s allowed him to stay ahead of the curve in a lot of ways. Things like the devaluing of links based on where they’re placed.

301 redirection: He’s done his share of playing with that. The idea that you can take a URL that’s never existed before and bounce juice to make it rank — that’s silly.  Google doesn’t give the same juice to a link that it does to a moved piece of existing content. That makes sense.

We have a whole generation of people who think SEO is links and that’s all it is. Links are a supportive element of SEO. Links worked for a long time, but just links doesn’t work anymore. After Caffeine, it will never work like that ever again. If it was his engine, if you have more targeted anchor text than links with your brand name, that’s not right. He’d use that as a signal to see if you’re trying too hard. In the last month, we’ve seen exactly like that. Google is auto-filling at the query level, pages that are just too strong for a particular phrase.

They don’t put anchor text in navigational elements anymore. You don’t have to pound Google in the head with a stick.  It’s hard to get clients do things ahead of the time.  Take a step back now to be in a better spot when these things come. If you take that approach to it (what if it was my engine), you’ll be pretty on target with what Google wants to accomplish.  The authoritative approach takes longer to earn, but it holds once you’re there. That’s where we’re at. The bigger it gets and the more signals Google looks at, the less it can be about “what works right now”.  It’s less technical and more marketing.

Greg is adorably smart. I think we’re seeing a kinder, softer Greg Boser these days. 🙂

And that’s it, kids!  Hope to see you back here bright and early tomorrow morning for Day 2!

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