Industrial Strength SEO


We. Are. Back!  I hope you are, too. I just grabbed a handful of M&Ms from Dana Lookadoo and some dark chocolate Hershey kisses from Jonah Stein. My mother will be happy to know that my chocolate diet at SMX continues. Sugar highs, FTW! Muahaha!

The very-sick Vanessa Fox is back moderating speakers Eric Enge, Dave Lloyd, Craig Macdonald, and Marshall Simmonds.  She said that Q&A moderator Adam Audette is going to rap after the speakers finish their presentations. Ooo! That should be fun. For now, let’s just get into the presentations, eh?

[The ‘eh’ is for Dawn.  We’re missing her at SMX West. Come visit, Dawn!]

Eric Enge is up first. He plugs his book and holds it up to show the audience. Aw, it’s like show and tell. I wish I had something to share with everyone. This recap is all you get.

Typical SEO Issues:

  • Assessing site crawlability
  • titles and headings
  • dealing with duplicate content
  • anchor text
  • review redirects.

Some link building examples

  1. Getting your CEO Interviewed: Great link building tactic. When your CEO gets interviewed, people read the interview and they’ll link to your Web site.
  2. Contracts:  Requiring a link back to your site in the contract. [Really? People do this? Eeesh.]
  3. Public Relations

Picking an e-commerce or content management system

There are tons of problems that occur based on your CMS.  Typical problems include lack of control in specifying:

  • Titles
  • Heading tags
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Image Alt Tags
  • Anchor Text
  • Breadcrumbs
  • URL structure of site

Eric provides a case study for a site he worked on that had a lot of problems. There were issues with session IDs. Every page was trying to rank for the same term because they had the same Title tag on every page. They did a Forecast for them. The original site had 50K uniques a day. The new site they wanted to launch would drop that down to <5,000 a day. They ended up delaying the rollout of the site by 9 months and paid the CMS vendor six figures to put in very basic features. Oy.

  • Platforms for GOOD SEO: Drupal, Joomla, Mambo, Pixelsilk, SEO Toaster, WordPress, etc. All of these can be set up and run so they’re good for SEO. Some require substantial configuration but they give you a good starting place.
  • Platforms for BAD SEO: Open Text, ATG, IBM WebSphere, Broadvision, Escalate

Make sure you have an SEO professional review your proposed CMS before you start. Use a proxy optimization product such as GravityStream.

Scalable Content Development

Eric talks a bit about mass content options and the way that some brands get around it. For example, Amazon uses a lot of user generated content, but you need A LOT of traffic for that.  As a brand who is NOT Amazon, you’ll need to assemble a writing and editing team. You need to write decent content. He mentions using some low source writing resources like off shore labor, students, and semi-retired people. I cringe. A lot.

He advises creating a pyramid setup for content. You want to put your best writers on top quality pages and the less skilled writers on the pages that don’t matter much. That makes sense.

Next up is Dave Lloyd.

He’s playing with rocks and putting them into a glass. I lost the analogy because I twittered I was cold and someone from behind me threw their leather jacket over my shoulders.  It could have been creepy but I went with it. Search people are just super friendly.

Stack the Right Rocks First

  • Rock 1: Know the algorithm. He mentions SEOmoz and its Search Engine Ranking FactorsJennita is here and ‘woots’. Heh.
  • Rock 2: Strategy First, Tactics Second.  Figure out WHO and WHY first. Then HOW. And then the WHAT, WHEN and WHERE.
  • Rock 3: SEO Ambassadors Have them.
  • Rock 4: Define expected results. What are your Key Performance Indicators?  Cost Per Lead, Value Per Visitor, Search Traffic, etc?
  • Rock 5: Think of SEO in a larger system: 94 percent of all failures is a result of the system, not the people. [That quote, no pun intended, ROCKS]
  • Rock 6: Evaluate SEO maturity: There are five levels… which I missed because he went too fast. Sorry.
  • Rock 7: Know project management basics
  • Rock 8: Manage bottlenecks: If you can automate your bottleneck, you can be much more efficient. They have a keyword database that’s available to everyone in the company.
  • Rock 9: Opportunity costs: if you do task X, you can’t do task Y (at the same time). There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently what should not be done at all – Peter Drucker
  • Rock 10: Master the core skills. Search marketing, Technical, Content, Interpersonal, and Consulting.

Holy Jesus, he’s flipping through these so quickly that I can’t get a word in. I’m sorry. And suddenly it’s over. It was all just a dream.

Next up is Marshall Simmonds.

Learning SEO is easy, implementing it is hard. He talks about the challenges that the New York Times faces. There are 22 million documents, they have a paid subscription wall, they have technical barriers, they have a limited CMS, lots of URL parameters, their content moves/expires, etc.

Examples Of The Fail

Depending on the timeliness of the story, there’s a window of opportunity to build that link equity. When the plane crashed into the Hudson, the window of opportunity was two hours long. You  had two hours to do KW research, content creation, and get everything else done and up so the engines could index it.  They missed that opportunity because they didn’t go after the right keywords. They lost any ability to rank for it. The solution to that would have been to use keyword research tools like WordTracker, Keyword Discovery, Google Trends, etc. You need to hit it right the first time. They constantly reinforce how to do keyword research and how to use terms that people are actually searching for. The Editorial teams don’t get that because they want it to be right. But what’s “right” isn’t what people are searching for.

Create a checklist to tell people what to do and create checklists for specific to each department.  He talks about The Checklist Manifesto.

Moving Content

301’s have to be built into the cost-structure of an organization because you can’t take those down. Make sure that you’re protecting your structure forever.  They were slow to adopt link journalism.  They didn’t link out to other people. learned this early in the game. You want to be a hub for information. The engines want to be able to crawl your topic and find relevant information on top of that.


Measuring SEO progress.  Identifying potential problems. Targeting new opportunities.  They had to bring in new tools because Google Analytics doesn’t scale to what they need.

Mistakes To Avoid

  • Under communicating
  • Maintain 301s forever
  • Implementing the changes
  • Excessive expectations: timeframes, growth
  • Lack of editorial oversight

Craig Macdonald is up next.

Economics of SEO

  • 10 percent Keyword Discovery
  • 30 percent Site Audits
  • 45 percent Site Changes
  • 15 percent Monitoring

He didn’t include training because it would have made the numbers dumb.

Governance Model – Center of Excellence

SEO isn’t like medium (okay, I don’t think he said medium but… that’s all I got). You don’t just go buy SEO. It requires a team effort across IT, marketing, SEO specialists, content management systems, etc.   You have to have a center of excellence to incorporate quality concepts into the organization.  The center of excellence should set criteria for:

  • Best practices to follow
  • Technology startup
  • Agency approvals
  • Purchasing synergies
  • Education and training
  • Metrics

Metrics for Executive Reporting

  • Make SEO look like media channels
  • Augment with market share or share of clicks
  • Stay away from channel specific jargon

Social media drives SEO. The query stream of the consumer will drive SEO dynamically and automatically.

As promised, Adam Audette raps at the end of the session… it’s really good…that he still has a day job. Not the rapping.  We heart you, Adam.  And we’re done. Back in a bit with advice on to fit social media into your life. I think that’s what’s next. Maybe the next session is about bunnies. The Outspoken Bunny!

Your Comments

  • Adam Audette

    Rapping is way harder than I thought it was. Think I’ll stick with my day job :)

  • Michel Leconte

    Hello Lisa,

    For info, the link for seotoaster which you mentioned in your report is

    it boasts a number of unique SEO related features out of the box, including automated 301, deep-link, link sculpting using Java Script, and even point & click link siloing. It’s also very easy-to-use, free, open source. An unlimited number of toasted sites can be remote controlled for SEO and Internet marketing (email integration, Google news/Yahoo news compliant news facility,RSS feeds & press release distribution) with an SEO Samba subscription. The whole solution is also available on a private label basis to Agencies.

    Thanks for the taking the time to report from SMX, are you going to be at SWSX?

  • Dawn Wentzell

    Awww, I wish I was there too :( Looks like there are lots of awesome sessions. At least I can read about them.

  • Dana Lookadoo

    I’m so glad that feeding you chocolate helps keep those fingers going as fast as your brain. I’ll bring bags of it to future conferences!

    I’m returning to your coverage of this session to compliment my notes.

    I really liked David Lloyd’s rock preso and his Peter Druker quotes. His slide deck is a MUST DOWNLOAD for those at the conference to reference. I liked how he broke down the action steps for Rock 5 when dealing with people and the system:


    Adam Audette rapping? Priceless!

    Lisa’s live blogging? Invaluable!!

  • Hitman

    I’m the actual creepy guy who spontaneously threw his leather jacket over Lisa’s shoulders. Next time when I REALLY want to creep someone out, I’ll let someone merge in front of me on Hwy 101 during rush hour. Or maybe I’ll aim to be nominated for the sex offenders list by giving someone the Heimlich maneuver when they’re choking on their surashi dinner. These are the consequences of growing up in a small town. *shigh* It’s a burden.

    I think I’ll roll with this and use the name “Hitman” and link to a creepy little Flash site I made a few years back. (enjoy!)

    Seriously though, I could tell Lisa would rather be cold than embarrassed, and for her sake I would have hit CTRL+Z .

    Regardless, Lisa is a good writer and did an excellent job on all these notes here – much better notes than I took. Thanks for sharing these outside of the ‘inner circle’ ;-)

    Andrew Brewster

    • Lisa Barone

      Not creepy. Friendly! See, I said I knew you were just trying to be friendly. Oh dear… No one thinks you’re creepy. [goes and hides behind a rock]

      • Andrew

        Awww I’m sorry; now I’ve done it (beginning Chris Farley self-abuse). Admittedly, I tunnel-visioned on the “creep” keyword for a little fun. When is now a good time to emerge from behind the rock. Isn’t it? Coming from behind the rock reminds of Easter. Here, please accept a humble offering of some delicious Swiss chocolate eggs.

        At any rate, this particular session hit home for me for a previous project from a couple years ago. There were some areas of a site I didn’t have direct access to at the time, so I just did as requested and submitted a checklist. I then naively assumed it would be done and went on to other things. Some better project management and following up (even if annoying) would have made all the difference. In short, “under communicating”.

        At the time I was disappointed at others for not doing what they said they were going to do a month earlier, which wasn’t fair to them (out of sight, out of mind). On some level I knew that I assumed too much and didn’t stay on top of things but thinking about that didn’t excite me yet. They had a lot of other things to take care of just as I did, so since I wasn’t asking for an occasional update, SEO aspects were eclipsed by other priorities. While not exactly the same, it reminds me of a sign on the office door of one of my favorite professors: “Your Emergency Is Not My Priority”. He would point to this when students needed help the last day of the semester.

        This “Industrial SEO” session underscored that for me again. At the time of that project, I was hiding behind only two familiar rocks of my previous role: Technical and Content. I forgot that I was now the leader and driver of the project and didn’t step up quite enough. I was slow but got there eventually.

        It’s true that there is no other role that’s even similar to what I’m doing at my employer, so it was refreshing to realize that others went through these things too (getting into everyone else’s business is rarely appreciated by default). Most every challenge/disadvantage mentioned in this role is also an advantage though, with much opportunity to do a lot of good things for a deserving brand as a whole. At this point it gets away from monitors and servers and touches people, which is the main point of all of this.

        I’m hungry.

  • Jen Lopez

    I just saw that I got my own call out here. Woot! :) By the way I took video of Adam rapping: I also have a pic of Lisa with the industrial sized leather jacket on her. I won’t give it away, but just know that it exists. hah!