SEO – Where To Next

March 24, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

You know what my favorite thing about SES is? It comes with Mike Grehan. This is our first Grehan sighting of SES NY so its all very exciting. He’s up there moderating speakers Marcus Tandler, Bill Hunt, Chris Boggs, Jill Whalen and Duane Forrester. I have a feeling these fine folks will be far less annoying than Guy Kawasaki was in the keynote. We all agree?


Mike blames his British accent on the microphone having “technical problems”. Hee.

Should we still be talking about textbook SEO?

Jill: It’s more like spam SEO today. It’s about finding the “trick of the day” or the latest hole in the algorithm. That can work today, but it’s not a long term SEO strategy. It’s been dead for awhile. It’s different for affiliate Web sites, not clients.

Chris: It’s powerful because just the basics can get you a long way, especially if you’re dealing with an eCommerce site.

Duane: MSN has a few Web pages (forced audience giggle), when you get things right at the basic level, you’re building more than just SEO. You’re affecting usability. If you get the Title wrong, you’re going to have a major issue and not realize it. But if you fix that one thing, you’re at a whole other level.

Bill: There are two parts. They spend little time on onpage SEO because it happens dynamically now. It’s been built in. That’s what the good spammers do. They build a structure that is set up correctly by default. They nail the onpage right out of the box. For the links, they do social media, events, partners, press releases, etc. They don’t call people. Most big companies don’t need to buy links or pay people to get linked to as long as they use the infrastructure. A trick doesn’t work for most companies.

Do you believe a search engine wants to teach its crawlers to look for an H1 tag?

Bill: The H1 tag pushes the emphasis. It can help. You have to tell the engines what’s relevant about a page. They’ve done that for so many people against highly competitive sites and then leverage the top down. And if the rest of the content is relevant, they get there.

[Mike: How do you know you just didn’t get a good link that day?]

Bill: Because we monitor our links. An H1 will trump someone who doesn’t have them every day.

Jill: At some point, you’ve done all your onpage and you need links. The onpage only works for so long.

Are there new signals?

Chris: You still need to have text on the page, or at least text replacement. If you’ve got a bunch of links or if there’s buzz and a link in that area, you still need to have the receiving end in order to close the connection and give the search engines the full view of the page and enable it to rank well.

Let’s talk about links. What if you’re a small company or an affiliate, how do you get links?

Bill: Small companies chase the wrong links. You have to think about what can you get freely. Links from a chamber of commerce, etc. People will read things on a blog and then start chasing some of these ideas. If you focus on what makes you relevant, what is contextually relvant for you, getting links from local assocations, your own blogs, your team blogs, etc., you’re okay. If you can find out where you can demonstrate your own authority, the links will come.

Marcus: Most companies just need the easy links they can legimiately get. People don’t chase after those links.

Duane: If you’re smaller and trying to attract links, it’s about being topically relevant and an authority in your niche. He talks about a form letter Eric Ward used to send out to webmasters showing them value and why they should link to their site.

Jill: But that’s been so spammed. People don’t read those anymore.

Duane: Agrees, but if you pick up one link from a related site, it could be worth your day.

Bill: He finds people linking to his home page and looks for areas where they should be linking to an internal page based on the anchor text. Sponsor an event and ask them to put the link towards the event you’re sponsoring. Find the broken links. The thing people do wrong with SEO is that they want some quick fix. That doesn’t work. It takes care.

Does Universal Search change everything? (Local, News, Blog, Video, etc)

Duane: It’s really important that you get the mix right and that your company is ready to support it.

Chris: People don’t realize how smart the Universal algorithm really is. It’s not as easy as people think it is, but you should still be working it in to get those listings. You have to think, “why would Google use one of their top 10 spots to put a video there?”.

SEO used to be based on the ranking report. Are ranking reports dead?

Marcus: It’s not about being number one anymore. You can be number one but there’s 10 local results ahead of you. What you want to do is scan your keywords and see what’s in there in regards to universal search and figure out how you can be in there too. [Marcus is dropping F bombs like crazy. I’m censoring them for your virgin eyes. And because we think Rae should be the first one to drop f bombs on the blog. ;) ]

Jill: There are so many reasons why the ranking reports are dead and have been for a long time. Especially now with personalization and geotargeted search where everyone sees different results. Rankings don’t equal traffic. If you’re ranking for words nobody’s searching for, it’s not going to get you any traffic. When you first optimize a site, sure. But that’s all its good for. Use your analytics, your conversions, and what really matters.

Chris: He thinks there is value for the ranking report. They act as good illustrative data for the performance of a campaign, especially when you have a large set of keywords.

Duane: Ranking reports are not metrics. They’re not something to make a decision on.

What do we provide for our clients? How do clients know they’re winning?

Jill: Analytics. You can see which keyword phrases converted into a sale. That’s what’s important.

[Is it a good performance indicator if you get a video result?]

Duane: It’s about the metrics.Referals, page views, sign ups, that’s what’s important. Then set a goal on it. Then beat the number. That’s success.

Chris: With advanced analytics you should be able to measure multiple instances along the conversion path.

Marcus: If you do analytics, don’t take anything for granted. Always be testing and looking to improve. Get the most out of that landing page. [More f bombs I’m leaving out for your pleasure. And because Bruce Clay told me last night that he doesn’t like me swearing in my new blogs. :) ]

Why does search get the credit for everything?

Bill: Because you can measure everything. Figure out what was the original stimuli. Was it the TV ad? The PPC ad?

Jill: That’s marketing. It usually takes a few different ways to touch people before they find you. You have to market it.

Mike: Analtyics is the new SEO.

Some slides are up:


  • No longer a level playing field
  • Incompetent SEO based on myths must stop. [Chris asks if he can submit your site to the search engines for you. Heh.]
  • Too much wasted time and money on things that have little or no effect
  • Developers need to learn the fundamentals of SEO.


  • Rule the SERPs: Don’t be satsified with being just number one.
  • Become more independent from Google: Get the most out of Facebook and other social networks
  • Optimize your Conversions: AB/Multivariate testing of your landing pages
  • Don’t buy links: Buy whole sites. You can get mulitple sites ranking in the top 10. You can make fake review sites. [Jill says not to do that. Hee! I agree.]


  • Deeper “real” integration of paid and organic.
  • Flash, Flex, AJAX, Air needs to be search friendly
  • Content creation based on real searcher. Match the page with the searcher.
  • Create digital content.


  • SEO as a usabiliy component — get a clue — they’re the same thing.
  • The SEO of tomorrow will know SEO, be a programmer, being a social media savant, be a developer, speaking 5 languages, etc.
  • SEO is not free — people will begin to see it costs money and they should listen to their expensive resources and in house experts. They know what they’re talking about.


  • In-House chamption and team supported by agency teams will grow to be the preferred model fo rhandling enterprise SEO. In house owners of SEO initiatives need to be empowered for model to suceed.
  • Analytics will get better at identifying instances of SEO effect on non-credited conversions. Advanced analytics are already capable of tracking users through display, organic and paid search, Marketers that are too quick to give all the credit to other brand campaigns for branding clicks should pause to consider that someone may have initally found their site via broad search.

[I’m sitting at an awkard angle so I’m missing the bottom half of all these slides. Blogger fail. Sorry, guys.]

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