I’m happy to announce that we have a new hire here at HIPPO Inc.
This may not sound exciting to most, but we are absolutely a family business so new hires don’t happen often. As most of you know, my wife handles (more…)
I’m happy to announce that we have a new hire here at HIPPO Inc.
This may not sound exciting to most, but we are absolutely a family business so new hires don’t happen often. As most of you know, my wife handles (more…)
This session is on Link Buying.
Jamie Steven, VP of Marketing at SEOmoz is up first. He is formerly of Rhapsody, Best Buy, and Microsoft.
SEOmoz recently did a survey:
14% of surveyors bought links from websites/web masters.
8% of them bought links from link brokers or service.
People who bought links are twice as likely to file a spam report about their competition.
NOTE: If your competitors are buying links, they are much more likely to report you if you try to. (In other words, it’s a dog eat dog world to play in.)
Jamie is promoting the idea of not buying links. He states that the companies he has worked for does not want to be in the market of buying links. It’s not because they don’t work. It is because they are too risky. He feels there are better ways to spend your money, such as “business development”.
He gave some data on three examples of how SEOmoz bought 3 different links and pointed them to different sites. The jump in ranking within 4-8 days was very impressive. Buying links does work.
If you do get “caught” buying links, getting penalized is terrible, awful, & horrible. Reconsideration can take months or years. If your competitors are buying links, they are more likely to report you for buying links.
Matt Cutts acknowledged just last night that some of the people at Google that have been working on web spam have been working on other projects. But there will now be a renewed effort toward getting rid of web spam. Even Matt admits that spam has been on the rise in Google and they are about to do something about it – soon.
At SEOmoz, they get inquiries from their customers that have been penalized. It is not uncommon to hear of websites that have bought links suddenly lose rankings. The penalty is hard to overcome. They file several reconsideration reports. They have even sent letters directly to Matt Cutts. Often it takes many months to gain back what you’ve lost.
He acknowledges that buying links is an option for businesses are turn and burn. If you plan on killing the domain, buying links can propel you to the top quickly. It’s just risky, that’s all.
6 Creative Ways to Spend Money and Earn Great Links…
1. Earn links through business development. Partner with legitimate businesses to produce valid and powerful links.
2. Political / Non-Profit Donations will often result in a good link.
3. Events – If you throw or sponsor an event in your city. Find Twitter influencers using the Top 50 users in your city via Twitaholic.com. Verify that they have blogs and websites and invite them.
4. Buy existing content – Host content on your site and pay to have a cross-domain rel=canonical to your site.
5. Corporate scholarship – Offer a corporate college scholarship and the scholarship will get listed in a bunch of directories. Universities and high schools will also link to you.
6. Target influencers on Facebook. Create Facebook ads targeted to specific people using “employees of” targeting. Direct to content on your site worthy of a link, or content specifically tailored to that influencer.
Jim Boykin of “We Build Pages” is up next.
Three years ago he was on this same panel and said “Don’t Irritate Google” and “Stay Under the Radar”. Those are the only two rules to buying links.
Use MajesticSEO, OpenSiteExplorer, and Blekko to determine links.
He admits that buying links is a Risk vs Reward. The odds of getting penalized is debatable.
Top 10 ways of getting caught by Google…
Trip a link buying filter
If your broker gets caught.
Someone blogs about your buying links
You are #1 for competitive phrase and not the best site
You irritate your competitive people below you.
You buy links from brokers that do it a lot.
You have no natural back links.
Start bragging about your rankings.
Report your competitor to Google when you buy links.
Talk on a panel at Pubcon about how to buy links.
Do you think you are penalized?
Just because you drop rankings in Google does not mean you are banned.
Remove links. All of them.
Do a reinclusion request. Beg. Tell Google you fixed it. Tell Google you fired your SEO agency that bought links. Have the CEO tell Google that they fired the guy that hired the SEO agency that bought links.
Todd Malicoat of MarketMotive is next.
He says that the “buying links” issue is real. He explains that you can call link buying “business development”. But either way, you are buying links. So the discussion will continue.
He encourages using MOZrank for determining the value of a link as opposed to PageRank.
Paid link brokers are generally a bad idea now. It doesn’t work or is too risky.
SEOQuake is a great toolbar for determining the value of a link.
Unique domains linking to the site is probably the most important aspect.
Domain age is important too.
Total number of pages indexed in Google.
Check the CPC of the keyword being targeted.
At MarketMotive, they have a full chart of what to look for.
Find good websites to get links from by using the Google Directory.
NOTE: The main takeaway from this entire session was that buying links is very risky. Yet, it’s about the only way to win in very competitive markets. So you need to know the risks.
Also, the difference between “buying links” and “forming partnerships” can be a very thin line. Google determines the difference. So be careful. How close you get to that line can be dangerous.
That being said, links work.
Each situation is different as to how you go about getting them and what you feel is appropriate or necessary for your site (or your client’s site).
Today is the final day at Pubcon Vegas. We’re starting off with Tim Mayer. For those of you who don’t know Tim, he was a director of Product Manager in 2000. He then became the VP of Overture and then a VP of Search at Yahoo! for seven years.
He and Brett Tabke (Pubcon owner) go back a long time. He is currently advising several startups including some in the mobile and online TV space.
He’s talking about the Future of Search: Mobile, Social, & Vertical.
Here are some interesting trends he is noting.
PC growth in growth is slowing down to single digit growth.
Mobile search growth is exploding.
Brands are becoming more important on the web. Consumers want to connect with their favorites.
Different types of inputs will become common. People don’t just use a keyboard to type into a box.
He feels the search engines of the future will use the information it knows about you to recommend choices for dining, entertainment, etc. He feels that transactions will happen on the web on the search engine while interacting with best of breed sites such as OpenTable, Fandango, etc.
Five Key Trends for Transforming Search
1. Mobile queries (20% by 2012)
They fall under three categories
3. Product Lookup
(These queries will become longer and more natural language than typical PC-based queries.)
2. Growth in Apps, not browsers
Apps are taking more and more time of users. HTML5 will similarly change the landscape of the web.
3. Input is difficult
4. More Context is happening
The sites are determining your preferences, the sites you visit, the friends you have, etc. They will use this data to make your web experience more relevant.
5. Verticalizing of SERP
Massive growth is happening in best of breed sites such as Ebay, Amazon, Youtube, etc. People are associating the brand with the activities. They do not start at Bing, Google, etc. They go straight to the site of their choice and search there.
The search engines will need to make a more compelling reason to start there to keep their audience. That is why Vertical-izing and Universal search is seeing such growth at Google and Bing. They want people to start at their site.
WHERE ARE THE FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES?
For technology providers…
App discovery. This is the key to customer satisfaction in the smart phone era. Right now it is difficult to find good apps. Determining which apps are better than others is tricky. This is a hard problem to solve. There will be a lot of growth in this area.
Matching Intent / Queries with Apps. It is difficult to not only find the right app, but to keep them separate. (People did not like tabbed search.) They don’t want to go through a two-step process. There is opportunity for technology providers to make a single search box to find the best app (and mobile website) for specific intents. Google has been doing this for web on the PC for years. This does not exist well on mobile yet.
If the past is search, the future is prediction and suggestion.
Location, social, and other data should be used to know what the user wants before he even asks or to refine his requests.
Mobile advertising. The rates are still very low. Most have not figured out how to use the mobile inventory and to make it work. There is huge opportunity in this area for those that learn it well.
First mover app in category on a new platform. Whoever comes out with specific apps for specific categories first will win the game. It’s wide open in many categories.
Commerce: Price comparison – offine to online. This is similar to the affiliates of the years ago. Price comparison apps have not been fully developed. People want this.
Optimize Vertical entity pages for search. Create videos, products, local, etc. Being strong in these areas is the future.
NOTE: With the changes in the industry, Tim expects more change in the next two years than we have seen in the last 6 to 8 years. We’re going to see online tv, more growth in mobile, etc. The ten blue links are becoming less and less important.
Adam Audette is up first.
What shoppers want in 2010…
Brand loyalty is less important.
Free shipping is more important.
Deals are more important.
Comparison Shopping Engines are actually gaining ground, even though Google is not sending as much traffic toward them.
Free shipping is one of the most important differentiators. About 51% of shoppers are “somewhat likely” to cancel their entire order if shipping is not free.
Video sells! 65% of people are visual learners. People process info 30% quicker with video and text as opposed to just text. (Everyone knows no one reads on the Internet, they just scan.) Retail sites that have video have a 64% more likely chance of purchasing. Zappos has seen an incredible lift, even when their videos are not that well embedded. Experiment with product videos.
Regarding Google Instant and E-commerce, they examined the difference before and after Google Instant. The number of keywords per search barely changed. They sampled 12 retailers and when aggregated, the changes were even less. MayDay had a much bigger impact on SEO.
Rel Canonical is a good way of removing duplicated urls in the Google index. They experienced a bump in traffic and revenue when using it correctly. It is only used by Google right now, not Bing. Bing may start using it soon. Fix the problem via other methods if possible, but use Rel Canonical if necessary.
Bing is not Google. They do not have the market volume. However, there are differences. They do not seem to favor e-commerce as well. They are very vulnerable to link spam. They are focused on user experience. Bing users are 31% more likely to buy than Internet in general. Bing users are 11 % more likely to buy than Google users. Their users tend toward shopping, for sure.
Bing engineers have stated that they rely on XML site maps, especially for deep content. They rely on RSS feeds also. They want normalized urls. They encourage using parameter handling in Bing Tools. They use that better than 301 redirects. Keep it simple for Bing. Make consistent urls.
Follow @audette on Twitter for more from him.
Next is Bill Atchison
He encourages using descriptive keywords in the descriptions of products.
Verify that your meta descriptions and titles are unique per product page.
Go into Google Webmaster Central and let them know which parameters are not unique pages. Do the same in Bing Tools.
He recommends trying Google AdSense on the footer of every page – temporarily. It can help with indexing of your site and also show how good your SEO is. He also recommended blocking bots such as Internet archive and caches from the search engines.
He also discourages PageRank sculpting. He’s seen it go very wrong too often. He also encourages checking out www.noarchive.net.
Next up is Rob Snell. He wrote the “Starting a Yahoo Business for Dummies” book.
He also says that Google MayDay had more of an effect than Google Instant. He recommends prioritizing seo pages based on revenue. Determine how much revenue you get per keyword phrase. He uses that to determine what to optimize and prioritize.
He has 20K store pages. Doing a site: command in google shows 4.5 K pages. Only 575 page actually drive revenue from the last 30 days. The top 100 pages drive 71% of the revenue. That helps him to determine where he should send links, etc.
Bing does not drive enough revenue to make it worth paying attention to yet. Yahoo traffic has grown in the last 30 days.
Most of my customers are PC people with IE. They use a specific resolution. He uses that type of computer to see what they see. Typically, the top two SEO results are the only ones that get seen above the fold.
Universal search is now showing products within the SERPs. Make sure your products are in Google Products. Go to Google Products and do a site: command.
Use Google Webmaster Central to determine Impressions. Drill down into the info to find out how well Google Products is working for you. Put your manufacturer name in there.
He feels Google Instant is pushing people toward higher CPC terms. Interesting thought.
He recommends using Safari and choosing the pull-down to “reset Safari” to get true clean results that are not tainted by your previous searches, etc.
Learn more from him at RobSnell.com. He has some other info on e-commerce SEO.
One more comment from William Atchison: Use an anonymous proxy server to filter out local results.
Wesley Cox is up first.
Video SEO is the next frontier. There is a lot of opportunity, low barrier to entry. Over the last 24 months, Google started adding more and more to their SERPs.
Google loves video. They show a preference toward them. They put them in the forefront often. Why? They are often very relevant results.
Very few videos are optimized. Google is looking for your videos. You just need to show them what they want. They will then rank them. It’s easy. You just need to do it.
For video SEO strategy, think about your core brand values, products, services, offerings, features and benefits, key differentiators, positioning, and integrated communications.
Know your audience. The various styles of video include promotional, documentary style, learning and teaching, news and information, comedy and entertainment.
For production tips, use good camera equipment, lenses, lighting, special effects, and motion graphics. Production process includes creative strategy, storyboarding, script writing, production planning, shooting, editing.
For optimization, optimize the title, description, tags, and captions. It is not as voodoo as regular SEO. It’s pretty straight forward. Follow what Google tells you to do. Do a Google Video site map. Just follow the instructions.
Track success by monitoring views, comments, ratings, social graphs, etc.
Morgan Brown is now talking about 25 steps to video search domination.
Video is going up, up, up. It is a total land grab. He agrees.
38% of online users find video via search. Search is the #1 referrer to web videos. A video is 50 times more likely than a text page on the same topic to appear on Google SERPs. The thumbnails are very compelling to click on.
HERE ARE HIS TIPS…
Create compelling content
Save your money. (Do it cheap)
Keep them short.
Create good thumbnails
Optimize your titles
Optimize your descriptions (first 140 characters)
Nail the end slate (give a url)
Make an offer
Make it easy to share
Add video to YOUR site
Get the basics right
Put video on pages that convert
Use video site maps
Put your videos on Facebook (#3 in viewership)
– and everywhere else (tubemogul)
Keep them watching. Use playlists, annotations.
Get subscribers. Ask them to do so.
Comment, comment, comment
Track and learn
Be what people are looking for
Maximize benefits of sharing
Drive views with promoted videos (YouTube)
Put it all together
Be sure to validate your video site map with Google. If it is broken, they will ignore it. Give YouTube your transcription.
Brian MacDonald is next from Barefoot proximity, talking about SEO for rich media.
Different video locations have different demographics. He produces slightly different videos for Vimeo than for YouTube. He also uses different video locations to test different thumbnails to see which get clicked more.
Again, video sitemaps are critical.
Match your site map
Marty Weintraub is next. He recommends Mozenda and Scrapebox.
The way he showed to use it was incredible. I was so captivated I could not take the time to blog it. I need to check out his blog at www.AimClearBlog.com. In particular, he showed how to use Scrapebox to figure out what people are searching on in YouTube. You can then create videos to match what people want.
First up is Andrew Beckman, CEO of Location 3 Media. He is giving an overview of Universal Search.
Starting back in 2006, Google started showing Local Maps, Videos, Images, News, Shopping, social. It keeps changing all the time. Within the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), much is showing up now besides just regular blue links to web pages.
He shows some examples of local map listings showing up on the SERPs. Google local listings were originally inputed oversees by hand from phone books. (I did not know that.) Now you can work with that data by claiming your listing via Google Places. It is getting more accurate over time.
for Local SEO, entering the same accurate data in other sites such as Yelp gives Google more to use.
For Video SEO, Create unique pages and add targeted phrases in the url, page and video titles, description, video tags, video site maps.
For Image SEO, use keyword rich image file names, alt text, surrounded keyword rich text, targeted url text, use jpgs (not gifs), use image site maps.
For News SEO, use permanent, unique urls, at least 3 digits, use sequential paragraphs, put dates between title, become an authority as a publisher.
For Shopping SEO, use the shopping feed. Use typical SEO techniques.
For Social SEO, timing is critical. Tweets get buried quickly, so you will need to time your posts so that your listing will get shown when your customer is searching. More specifically on Bing, the “like” feature in Facebook is making a difference.
Brian Combs is next. He is the principal at Ionadas Local LLC.
He needed to change his entire presentation due to the changes that Google made on October 27. Google local results looks completely different now and the ranking factors have changed.
He did an eye-tracking study on how people were using Google local pages. But now it has changed. When you do a Google local search now, the map image is now on the right side, not the left. The listings on the left are combining the local listings and organic SEO.
It is a blend of Organic and Local SEO.
Sentiment analysis is more prominent
Only one listing per company. Double listings are rare.
Update your local directories!
Listings without websites are extremely rare now.
The number of reviews and the source of them is much more prominent!
The ongoing debate…
Is this a reaction to Map spam? Perhaps. There was a lot of junk in there.
Are you limited by physical location? Not sure.
Is there less real estate for PPC? Yes. Top 2 are going to be more expensive because of this.
Are unclaimed listings showing less? Perhaps.
Is Google picking IYP winners and losers? It seems as if the ROI is not there to continue to work with Internet Yellow Pages. Google may be pushing them out. (No surprise there.)
Clearly, Google is changing things right now and it’s hard to determine exactly what is working and what is not. It is still all in motion.
Interestingly, in the old page for local listings, heat maps show that barely anyone looked at the actual map. That seems to be why Google moved it over to the right side where it will typically get ignored – still.
Greg Boser is next. (He’s another genius.)
He explains that the October 27 change was major. It changed everything in local search. Combining organic and local ranking factors changes the game.
He also noted that everyone that does a search is now assigned a location. When you check rankings, you now need to keep under consideration where you are searching from.
If you get a little too strong or heavy on one specific anchor text for one specific page, it is not site-wide punitive. Google may affect one specific phrase / page.
With this new arrangement, we are seeing that websites with good natural links and SEO on-page factors are doing the best. Also, be sure to put your accurate info on other sites such as Yelp.
Algorithmic trust is critical now for local listings rankings.
Companies that actually have a local presence are now dominating over the directories that simply list lots of sites.
Greg makes a great point. He explains that Google has moved from “organizing the world’s information” to “owning the world’s information”. If you are a local or small directory, they are not wanting to send people to you. They want to send traffic directly to where the user wants to go.
It is unlikely for Click Thru Rate to influence local much because it is easy to manipulate. However, Greg mentions that it does affect SEO rankings. If a lot of people click on your listing and return back to Google quickly, that is a signal to them that you did not provide what the user wanted.
Of course, Pubcon is not really about social media that much, that is what other events like Social Fresh and Blog World Expo are famous for. But I went to a little session on Twitter anyway.
The funniest part is that Jerry West was moderating it. He’s not exactly a Twitter fan-boy but rather an expert affiliate SEO. (I had to tease him at lunch about it.)
At any rate, Brian Breslin from Infinimedia Inc is up first.
He mentioned a few tools you may want to check out..
Assistly.com – Good for listening to customers.
SocialToo.com – Good for auto-follow, unfollow bulk, etc.
Tweethopper.com – Simple bots
Manageflitter.com – Unfollow your non-followers
Dan Zarella from Hubspot is next.
He shows the products that Twitter has purchased and implemented into their own company. He feels strongly that the direction of Twitter is that they are going to move more toward owning all that is involved in using Twitter.
Overall, the session was not too insightful. One panelist was missing and we let out early and beat the very long lunch line. I was happy because I’m still not feeling well and was happy to not stand in line any longer than I had to.
Here are the notes from my first session at Pubcon Vegas.
I did not bother blogging the details of the initial keynote by David Pogue of the NY Times. It was a fun and light-hearted keynote, but did not have much specific actionable notes.
(Did I mention that I have a cold. That’s also part of the reason. I feel like garbage!)
But this first actual session I attended is a good one. Here are some notes from the “Advanced PPC” session.
Craig Danuloff from ClickEquations started off.
He has some e-book that may be good. I’ll check it out when I have time. If anyone can find it for me, please leave a note in the comments.
Keywords are magnets you use to attract search queries. Google decides how they will match queries to keywords, especially via broad match. If you look at the list of search queries, you will typically be disappointed that Google is showing your ad for many of these phrases. (No surprise here.)
Put keyword phrases that are exact match in separate ad groups than the phrase match keyword phrases. Monitor the phrase match ones carefully.
Separate all of your brand name keywords in their own campaign. Then, negative out your brand keywords from the other campaigns. This keeps all your branded keywords together so you can handle them differently.
(I think the reason he encouraged using a different campaign is because you can input negative keywords at the campaign level.)
IMPRESSION SHARE shows a percentage for each keyword. It is the percentage of times your ad was shown as opposed to all the times it could have been shown. If the impression share is low, you can go after that. There is opportunity there.
When Quality Score goes up, your CPC goes down. Sometimes dramatically. Work on your QS.
And that was the lead-in into Brad Geddes of bgTheory. NOTE: Brad is one of those guys that you could easily just follow all day long and learn something from every time he speaks. He’s brilliant and provides real world examples.
This time he is focusing on Quality Score. He is going to help us learn how to fix the “Google hates me” theory. Many times clients will not be able to get their QS above 2 or 3 even though they have tried everything. (I’ve seen this. This should be interesting.)
Quality Score (QS) is important because it determines Ranking. (Bid X QS = RANK). Type “Quality score factors chart” into Google to see a chart of what QS involves.
The most important factor of QS is the CTR.
The 2nd component is relevance.
How close is your ad copy to the keywords?
How close is your ad copy to the landing page?
The third factor is landing page relevance.
How do you get QS to go from 2 to 10, or even just 7? The pricing is dramatic if you can make it improve. Brad suggested using “Google Sets” to find words that Google feels are are closely related to the words being used. Google may not “get” the word you are using. Use Google Sets to understand how Google understands your keywords.
Similarly, you can use the tilde in a search for your keyword. For example, if you want to find what words Google thinks are similar to cart, you can do a search for…
I just did this now and you will see on the page that Google bolds words like Car and Basket. Therefore, Google feels these words are similar. You can then rerun the query to find more. For example…
~cart -cart -basket -car
You can then see words like Trolley and Order as similar.
…Keep adding words to learn what Google thinks is similar.
Again, look for bolded words. It shows the one degree of separation of words that Google thinks are similar. It helps you understand what Google thinks are similar words.
So how do theses words help you? Brad showed an example of how he made three campaigns and created 15 minute increments and ran each of them switching every 15 minutes. Each of them were exactly the same, but the ads were different. He switched out a word or two here or there and included words that were found using the above process. The QS went from a 3 to a 10. Amazing. Huge savings in cost.
QS can also be affected by geography. Ad Copy can change CTR from 16% to 2% based on the state. Even Philadelphia vs the rest of Pennsylvania can change CTR dramatically. Brad recommended being aware of that because QS is largely based on CTR. Do whatever you can to raise your CTR.
Christine Churchill from KeyRelevance then talked about the value of using the AdWords Editor.
It is good for bulk repetitive changes
Good for copying
Good for making a backup of your account
Advanced search options works well
Keyword grouper tool lets you take large lists and break them up.
Works well for importing into MS AdCenter.
Now it is time for Q&A
How to improve your QS for a competitor’s branded keyword?
Try creating a comparison page. Try finding keywords that their brand is similar to. See above ideas. Find a way to get more clicks to improve CTR. If you have really bad QS, be sure to put them in a different account altogether. QS does affect the rest of the account. Be careful with this one. Accounts can get banned when several accounts point to the same domain name.
NOTE: Once you get a really bad lifetime quality score and CTR, you can do nothing to make it better. Google looks at the lifetime. So scrap the account and start over. Increase your CTR slowly and prove that you are “good at this”.
I am spending this week at Pubcon Vegas this week. If you have never heard of Pubcon, it is primarily a search engine conference. It’s a little different from some of the others, but it’s hard to explain why. It seems to cater more toward individuals and helping them to succeed. Other conferences seem to cater toward companies, brands, and best practices.
The conference now includes some stuff on social media and other topics, but it is still obviously a big hit with those that want specific tips for succeeding in search marketing. In other words, they want to know how to make more money.
I did not get to go last year, so it’s exciting for me to be here this year. I’ll be posting my notes as I usually do at conferences. You’ll probably notice a lot of “tips”, as opposed to rounded out explanations of topics.
So let’s get started…
Probably the most interesting person I met at Blog World Expo 2010 was “Grammar Girl”. Her real name is Mignon Fogarty. I first met her and a couple others at lunch on Friday.
Since July 2006, Mignon has been doing a weekly podcast that is about 5–10 minutes long about common grammar questions called Grammar Girl – Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. It is part of the Quick and Dirty Tips Network, which she owns.
Although we only had brief conversations, Mignon is clearly a friendly and humble person. She was a pleasure to speak with and we struck up a few brief conversations about podcasting and content after a couple of sessions.
She also was on a panel called “Expirable vs Evergreen Content”. She and Jeffrey Powers explained the benefits of creating podcast content that can last (evergreen) and not be date sensitive (expirable).
They both made some great points. The one fact I found most interesting is that after four years, Grammar Girl’s archived shows make for over 70% of incoming traffic. Creating and archiving content that is not date-dependant is something definitely worth thinking about.
As I continue to work out the details of my plans for content in 2011, I’m hoping I can talk Mignon into having a brief phone conversation with me to discuss them. She’s clearly an intelligent, yet humble person.
Oh, and just in case Mignon is reading this, I appologize in advance for any spelling or grammar mistakes on this post (and any others)!