Top Shelf SEO: Hot Topics and Trends

November 10, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

pubconI hope you all enjoyed lunch. I didn’t eat but I did lose my green apple. Oh yeah, and my wallet. Today ROCKS! Feel free to buy me a drink when you see me.  Back at PubCon we have some awesome SEO heavyweights up on stage ready to talk about the hot and sexy world of SEO.   Speaking are Bruce Clay, Scott Polk, Jill Sampey and Jill Whalen.

Ready? Let’s talk SEO.

Up first is Bruce Clay. Carolyn Shelby is moderating and says she’s not going to read his introduction because everyone knows who he is. That’s….one way to do it.

Top-Shelf SEO: Linking

Linking is a big part of SEO. You want:

  • Unidirectional – inbound links.
  • Keyword anchor text
  • Supplemental/Complementary content sites.
  • Direct links – followed
  • No JavaScript links
  • No Flash links

But anyone will tell you all that about links. It’s straight forward stuff. The medium complexity issues are:

  • Nofollow – works or not? You only have “evaporation” when you don’t use the nofollow appropriately. If a page has 5 links to Page A and you nofollow one, ALL links are nofollowed to that page.
  • Paid links – under the radar
  • Link life – should be random. If all your links last exactly 6 months, Google’s going to disallow the whole bunch. They can detect footprints.
  • PageRank – should be natural. You can pass PageRank in your site by linking appropriately. You need to know how that works.
  • Random IP – should be varied. Bruce starts telling “you might be a redneck” jokes.  Its really some of his most favorite material.

How do you attract links?

  • Link magnets – build things worth linking to. It reduces the labor burden to get links. He can get ‘100 links per hour more’ by building things worth linking to than by begging for links.  There’s a made up stat for ya. [Just kidding, Bruce! ;)]  In the Q&A, Bruce mentions the Will It Blend videos that ended up being such great link magnets that they outranked AT&T for the product for a while — which isn’t so great when you’re the SEO company for AT&T.  Heh.
  • Social media – indirectly results in links
  • International – ccTLD specific links
  • Local – local region specific links.  Focus on what is appropriate and natural for your industry. If your competitor has 55 links, you don’t need 500 to rank above him.
  • Sequence matters – text over image-ALT, first counts, nofollow kills target, link top words. Text links trump anchor text links. The anchor link changes to what was on the first encountered link (an image), to what was on the text link.  The first anchor text link to you becomes the anchor to the link for that page. UNLESS it is a stop word for linking like “next”, “back”, “home”.  [my brain hurts]

The goal here is to move PageRank around how we want it.

Next up is Jill Sampey.

How to compete with big brand SEO

Big brands used to think they didn’t need search.  Times have changed. Now, they’re looking to SEOs to help them maximize their global asset.   Big brands optimizing = Google’s Favortism = Grrrr!

Leveraging Current Assets

1. Log files: It’s such a simple concept. It’s something everyone has. By going through your log files, you’ll find so many new ways to organize your site and how to take advantage of past successes. Look for 301 and 302 strings, take those URLs, mine them for inbound links, and then redirect them to money pages.   Look at 404 pages. She says there’s very little need for a 404 page. Instead, make a reference of the URL and redirect them to a money page.   Look for pages that have links to them but that get very little traffic.

2. Optimize for Conversions:  If it doesn’t convert, you don’t need it. Look at the pages that aren’t converting, do some A/B testing, if it’s just not converting from the search engines you’re probably targeting the wrong term.

3. Re-Use Past Success: Use the same URL for seasonal content.  She talks about the Madden EA Sport games.  Every year it comes out they have a new URL:


Use a constant URL, otherwise last years content will outrank this years.

Develop New Assets

1. Listen and Learn: Set up a listening tool to understand the conversations happening in your industry, about yourself and about your competitors. Look to engage in industry brand, on brand, and on competitors.  She likes engaging when there’s negative press about her competitors.

2. Link opportunities: Twitter.  Use Twitter lists to get keywords appended to your Twitter account. They are starting to rank. Keep looking for domains to buy.  Acquire small sites. Consolidate as much as you can.  Look for partnership opportunities.

3. New Social Strategies:  Create a microsite and a presence in all the channels.   They did a campaign for Nike around the character of Leroy Smith. They launched with an infomercial. It went viral.  Wikipedia pages were created about it.  It was so viral that now there’s a new Leroy Smith shoe line.

Next up is Jill Whalen.

Who Checks Rankings?

SERPs different: Logged into Google, previous searches, browser settings, geolocation.

  • She search for [greek restaurants] on FF while logged in. The SERPs show: greecefoods,com, two local Yahoo, image results.
  • She performed the same search on Chrome and got a Boston restaurant site, and two local results.
  • She performed it in Vegas and got the greecefoods, a local Yahoo result, a place in Chicago and the image results.

They’re similar, but different. If you’re going to check rankings, which rankings do you believe?  And they’re not just different for local.  She shows some searches for [toddler toys] and they’re still similar, but not the same.

What does this mean?

Everyone sees something different when they search.  You have to know your target market and cater to them. Google is personalizing results so we’re all getting something different.

Use analytics – it will show you if things are going well. You’ll get more targeted traffic for what you’re optimizing for. She uses Google Analtyics. You can really learn which keyword phrases convert, where searches are located, etc. You can cross reference landing pages and keywords. That’s all you need to know. You don’t need to know what you’re looking for.

Scott Polk is up.  He doesn’t have a presentation because he’s pinch hitting for Greg Boser who, sadly, missed his flight.  Scott’s just gonna chat about some stuff he thinks is important.

  • On link building: You really need to strategize how you’re going to get links. You need a build the most natural link portfolio that you can.  You want to take a look at what your competitors are doing. You want to make sure that you’re building in the same kind of specs that they are.  They do a lot of their link building through social media. They take viral content and make it pop on the social sites.  That gets them natural inbound links and then you just have to pass that around to the pages you want to rank for.
  • Be Aggressive. B-E Aggressive (sorry): You should be aggressive about going after the rankings you want. Don’t OVER SEO, but be aggressive about it.
  • There is no black hat: There’s no white hat, black hat, grey hat. It’s all about risk. If you’re in an aggressive industry, you need to be aggressive about what you’re doing.
  • Always be testing: If you’re not testing, then you’re really not doing your job. This is one thing that people don’t really talk about that much but it’s one of the most important things you can do. You have to continually test for user experience.
  • Know your weaknesses: Outsource what you’re not good at. If you’re not good at building links, outsource it to someone who can.  You’ll spend less money.

Oh, and get over the toolbar PR.  That pretty much wraps it up. Off to go learn about affiliate marketing.

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