SMX London coverage: SEO 2011 What’s Working and What’s not.

In Hot off the Press by Louis Venter

One of the first sessions this morning is on where SEO is at today. Whats working and what’s not. We had three speakers, Mikkel deMib Svendsen –,  Max Thomas – Thunder SEO and Christine Churchill – Key Relevance.

SMX London

SMX London - What's Working, What's Not

Mikkel deMib Svendsen

“I have the Best SEO strategy Ever! – It will predict crawl, filter and index!” – “Do not optimise for SE’s – Optimise for users”

In 1990, SEO was easy, factors were only on-site, indexes were small, algorithms were simple, universal and easy to reverse engineer. (There were no local factors, no personalisation, no blended results). There was no spam protection either due to minimal technology and resources at the search engines.

Today we have all sorts of on and off site factors, algorithms vary based on verticals, and can be region specific. Indexes are huge and competition is high. It makes it extremely hard to reverse engineer the algo. Today’s “tricks” have a much shorter life expectancy.

The theory is simple – SE’s basically try to understand what users want, so they prioritise accordingly. If you are reverse engineering you are optimising for yesterday, optimising for users is optimising for tomorrow.

E.g. Social signals helps define what’s hot and what s not. We knew it was coming and we have been ahead of the algo. We now reap the rewards. Panda was no surprise for us. High bounce rates and crappy content farms are not good for the user but the SE’s were slow to catch up. Understand what not to do. Low quality directories pollute the index. Google started booting them and there have been many casualties amongst people who relied on them.

Chasing the algo can be fun but it is not justified by the work it takes (unless you are in a high margin industry where short term results can be highly profitable). Mostly it is just not worthwhile.

In conclusion – focus on the users and stay ahead of the engines – it is the best SEO strategy!

Max Thomas – Thunder SEO

Panda and farmer update rolled out in the USA in Feb 2011 and in the UK in April. Some big sites dropped, but so did some smaller companies. There are many stories of such companies who now needed to make redundancies.

It is fact that sites need links from relevant sites. An emerging  THEORY is that we need “Active” links. Links from URL’s that have activity. People need to be engaging with that content.

The Same THEORY extends to On-site. People need to be engaging with your on-site content. Old methods of link building are no longer applicable as there is no engagement at the source. We need CONTENT that people want to share, link to, content that attracts users!

Some Useful Tips:

Tip 1) Make part of the linkbuliding integral. E.g. Crest Capital  finance leasing services. They deal primarily with their vendors. They have created a leasing app on the vendor site that takes them back to a vendor branded page on the Crest page. This is highly interactive and relevant content and within each app they have targeted anchor text back to their site. There is nothing new in this but it is highly interactive and very relevant.

Tip 2) Create a community relationship. E.g. is a rehab foundation: the answer for them is a guest blog program. Celebrity guest bloggers provide content on the Pat Moore blog. Bloggers will often link to their posts from their own sites. Furthermore, the bloggers are given a badge to place on their sites! Pat Moore advertised this very publically and effectively endorsed the guest blog

Tip 3) Don’t put all your eggs in Google. Diversify traffic sources.

Tip4) Experiment, and track. Examine your Site structure – watch Webmaster central and Webmaster tools.

Tip 5) Great content rocks!

Christine Churchill, Key Relevance

New and emerging search factors

Google instant  is changing search behaviour. Good titles work. An eye catching title is compelling and can drive up click thru rate and is still the number 1 on-page ranking factor. People are scanning your titles because of Google instant. Remember that Google is looking at signals from users so don’t have your head in the sand – Click thru rate matters!

Users can change their mind on queries because of Google suggest (People are too lazy to type the rest of the query – it is easier picking up a suggested result.) There are distinct pauses in typing as users scan the instant results and refine. This causes recurrent searches and it is worthwhile considering what is in Google Suggest before you optimise.

Post Panda – How to get it right? Page layout is a factor: Reduce ads on page, have authoritative authors. Optimise beyond Google:

  • Images, video, blog press releases, email, books

Ranking factors – User behaviour signals are coming into play and are the new “Link building” endorsements. Possible characteristics include:

  • Bookmarking
  • Sharing
  • Likes, Tweets
  • The “Long Click” people who stay on the destination site and like the destination content.

Site quality questions to ask if you have suffered after Panda: Common questions: (Search “25 questions Google panda” for the full list)

  • Would you give this site your Credit card?
  • Is the site authoritative? Are the people qualified professionals or just any Joe Soap?
  • Would this be ok if it were in a magazine?
  • Are there excessive ads?

Clean up low quality content on a site. It has been shown that it can affect the entire sites rankings.

Optimise for local and mobile: Claim those listings NOW! Mobile is growing.

Emerging search signals:

  • Retweets (By number and authority)
  • Likes
  • Reviews
  • Shares
  • Diggs
  • Google 1Plus

In Summary: Best practices still work. Good titles are still the BEST on-page tool. Focus on site quality. Build and optimise social media profiles and participate in Social Media!

About the Author

Louis Venter