This session examined how search engines take tons of signals such as structured data, links, social sharing and top quality content to decide where the user should go. Speakers examined how to use long term strategies than just short ways or dead ends for dealing with the challenge of handling search engines.
Danny Sullivan – Founding Editor, Search Engine Land (@dannysullivan)
Dennis Hart – President, Analytics SEO (@click2dennis)
Rhea Drysdale – CEO, Outspoken Media (@Rhea)
Mark Munroe – Director SEO, Trulia (@markemunroe)
Laura Ann Mitchell – Digital Marketing Strategist, Intel (@intel)
Ken Shults – Managing Director Global Consulting, Global Strategies, An Ogilvy Company
Rhea spoke of how it is important to focus on what matters when it comes to honing SEO that benefits you in the long run. She has touched on numerous topics in this context such as education and retention for creating employees who care about SEO in the long term. Mark spoke of how intent was very important for long term SEO and giving Google what it wants is all about success. Laura and Ken spoke of action and impact for long term SEO as well as the insights to shape the same.
Rhea said to focus on what really matters when it comes to influencing long term SEO. She has caught on to the secret of long term SEO success as being:
She has defined each term in detail and gone on further to explain them in the context of long lasting SEO.
Algorithms Vs What Really Matters
Rhea spoke of how it is easy to get caught in chasing algorithms and the day to day challenges of SEO rather than focusing on the long run. She has said that Google made 890 “improvements” last year and it is constantly changing.
She speaks of how it is so easy not to invest in the company's future if employees will only stay there for around 2 to 3 years.
Rhea cited the Bureau of Labor Statistics which found that men and women aged 25-34 years spend a grand total of only 3 years with each employer.
Contributing to Long Term Success
She has identified the factors for long term SEO success as being:
- Putting first things first
- A 4 step matrix for deciding urgency
- Lack of importance of short term, tactical thinking
The 4 step matrix focuses on:
- Urgent-Important: Deadlines
- Non Urgent-Important: Focus
- Urgent-Not Important: Interruptions
- Not urgent-Not Important: Waste of Time
She has studied methods of generating viewership such as:
- Press Releases
- Guest Posts
What Matters For Long Term Success
Rhea has really focused on what matters for long term SEO success namely incremental positive results through:
Rhea says the focus here should be on being RAD or:
She has also cited the American Center for Progress which says the cost of replacing the employee equals 1/5th of her or his total salary.
Rhea has discussed why SEOs fear education and questions whether this could be because of competition or turnover.
- She quoted findings from UNC Kenan-Flagler School of Business which found that 46% of employees said they lacked the training or the education to get ahead in their careers.
- She also cited the Net Impact Talent Report 2012 according to which, 78% of employees felt that their ability to learn and grow was most important.
Importance of Being a Talent Producer
Rhea speaks of how important it is to be a talent producer and steps taken for long term SEO should include:
- Investing in intellectual capital and creating industry leaders
- Focus on the following
-lunch and learns
-statuses every week
-stand up meetings
-cross functional teams
- Emphasize knowledge sharing
Rhea says businesses also need to focus on technical considerations namely:
- Switch costs
- Technical Debt
With regard to communication, Rhea says the following needs to be stresses on:
- Location where the trusted information/communication is received
- How that information is applied
- Communication of strategy to external and internal teams
- Manner in which everyone is held accountable
She concluded her presentation by talking about how she hopes 2015 and beyond for each of us will be a year of diverse and versatile growth strategies and marketing campaigns that result in:
- financial gain
- brand gains
- team gains
- technological gains
What Is Needed
Mark provided a brief background of SEO Radar as an SEO disaster management agency and also spoke of his associations before moving on to what is needed for long term SEO.
He traced how the effective techniques developed by SEO Radar have evolved over a long time. He also divided the time span in terms of years and traced the developments over this period of time.
2004 to 2009
This was a period when Mark observed the following occurred:
- SEO was fairly deterministic and this translated into big bucks for many
- Getting links such as swap, buying, directories and article actually worked
- Content aggregators got rich as some good and relevant content with a lot of long tail spewing made for a get rich quick process Clear path and target keywords actually did good
“February 23, 2011”
This is the day the things really changed, says Mark as he talked about Panda, Penguin and of course, Pigeon.
Giving Google What It Wants
Mark identified the following steps for long lasting SEO:
- Consider Google's intent before framing your SEO strategy
- Give Google what its asking for in terms of search user experience, getting technology right and creating a well-deserved reputation
Traditional UX Vs Search Experience
He compared the differences that have come about due to search algorithms by Google. Mark also spoke of how the Net Promoter Score of many businesses post Panda was biased to give them a good score. This is because companies asked 2% of those who liked a site to subscribe even as the 98% were missing in action.
Getting What You Want
Mark indicated that it is not easy to get what one wants. Specifically, he has stated how:
- Many product UX people and specialists for conversion focused on those users companies want
- Great SUX equals on focusing on users that actually perform the searches and this is now an SEO job
Personas Vs SUX
Mark speaks of how many think personas are great for optimization of search user experience. But he feels SUX is equally vital.
Here's what's wrong with personas, feels Mark:
- While personas are wonderful for content strategies and conversion, they generally represent users, companies assume.
- Personas are focused on users websites want. But SUX is also vital for improving the experience
Conversion Vs SUX
Mark feels conversions often conflict with SUX (Search User Experience). He also discussed how pushing users into a funnel will not help you to get what you want, if you are a business that wants to do well.
Interstitials are a clear example of how conversion can annihilate search user experience, Mark said. Google has clearly voiced their dislike for interstitials because users do not get what they are looking for, as a result of this, Mark also said.
Poor SUX for Google
Mark also identified what a poor SUX looks like to Google in terms of:
- Users bouncing back from a website because they did not get what they wanted
- Link of the domain getting downgraded as a result of this.
Metrics Used by Google
In this context, Mark has identified the following metrics:
- Quickness of bounce back
- Next action following bounce back
- Higher than average click-through rate
What matters is that Google actually focuses on how metrics are driven by pages that attract traffic. Site metrics will only improve if you have pages that drive traffic.
User's Intent on Address Search
Mark discussed how user's intent during the address search is focused on:
- Who is searching
- What type of information are they looking for
He then suggested businesses should use surveys to find out what was on the user's mind and 100 to 150 responses can provide results which are statistically significant. He also identified online survey sites such as Survey Monkey which can be used for this purpose.
Surveys to measure user intent should focus on the following, according to Mark:
- Users from the search and soon quickly following landing should be surveyed
- Landing page type specific surveys need to be created
- Survey should represent important percentage of SEO traffic
Surveys to measure user satisfaction should be inclusive of this, he feels:
Only users from the search should be surveyed
Survey should give users time to get feel of the website before being put across to them
Ultimately, whether they could find what they are looking for is important
Website Metrics To Look Out For
Mark said this includes:
- Bounce rate on Google visitors
- Time on site
- Short clicks
- Custom defined success metrics
He also emphasized that semantic search boosts the reputation of the site. Bottom line is less volume, more quality wins every time, feels Mark.
Google as well as Bing build reputations through citation and social minimally helps by generating links, Mark said.
Link building has evolved over the years from 2009 which revolved around link swapping, link buying and directories to 2014 where content marketing and PR are of supreme importance, emphasizes Mark.
Faux reputation was another area Mark focused on.
Earned Reputation Rules!
He also emphasized on why an earned reputation is far better than a faux one on account of the following points:
- Earned reputation emerges naturally and it is based on realized value proposition
- It is not manipulative
- It makes the recommender look really awesome
Faux reputations were oriented towards not being able to deliver on promises and being manipulative, highlighted Mark.
Link building techniques are no go where earned reputation really wins. In fact, there are penalties for brands such as Expedia which have been scrutinized, points out Mark.
SEO For 2014
Mark stressed that SEO for 2014 should be based on:
- No link swapping or buying
- Outreach and not just focusing on anchor text
- Directories respected within the industry are fine
- Infographics should only be included as part of a large campaign though the anchor should not be used
- Widgets should be one thing to be used only in the absence of anchors as Google is not being hard on the former
- PR is vital with links
- Press releases should have one brand link and avoid anchors
- Content marketing where anchor text optimization should be avoided
- Partnerships with only links that are limited to being relevant
- Social can be used for reputation building
Mark also stressed on the importance of technical SEO and the following points for SEO disaster management:
He also mentioned the technical issues to watch out for such as spammers, crawl issues and no-follow links.
Action To Take
Mark stressed the following to be important for long term SEO:
- Internal testing and education
- Audit tools
- SEO specific Diff checking
Ultimately, Mark has reiterated that long term SEO success is predicated on giving Google exactly what it wants.
All About Intel and SEO Takeaways
Laura commenced with the presentation by giving an idea about Intel which is a Forbes Top Brand. This Fortune 50 Technology company employs more than 100, 00 employees, she said.
She also gave the background about Intel and spoke of how it has offices in 63 nations.
She also indicated that natural search to Intel has increased by about more than 20% following its successful SEO program which is centrally managed.
One person may have the SEO title, but many employees have SEO as part of their job at Intel, reiterates Laura.
Guiding Principles of SEO at Intel
Laura said the following principles for SEO were followed at Intel:
- SEO is not an afterthought
- People must be given what they want
- The engine must be given what it wants
- Intel has the gift that keeps on giving to close the loop
Ken took over from here and went to elaborate further on SEO at Intel.
Ken has indicated that Natural Search has brought more referrals and insights to Intel. Creating content to cater to the user has become easy for Intel because of this, as Ken says the company is now in a position to answer all the questions.
Search insights also help to do the following, says Ken:
- Drive for correct, precise and meaningful customer engagement
- Extend through scalable distribution of content
- Create seamless content via thematic hubs
- Ensure customer's voice is heard
Zero Moments of Truth
Ken has touched upon Google's Zero Moments of Truth and discussed how there are now many ways to engage the customer.
Paths may be unique, but the search is part of the journey, he stresses.
Ken talked of how the 3 are interrelated and gave examples of how insights lead to action and impact at Intel. Here are 3 of the many interesting examples he gave:
- Insight was when tablets were being searched, the brand qualifier turned out to be important in nearly 40% of the searches. Action was that Intel then initiated a shop redesign to capture this brand aspect. Impact is that now nearly all the searchers at the Shop are for the brand/model thereby increasing the visibility of the Shop.
- Insight was consumers were uncertain about new devices were called. Action was that Intel has more popular device search description in the content. Impact was that this had the impact of increasing flexibility in Paid Search to move budget areas through Natural Search and improve visibility in an area which was previously not dominant.
- Insight was comparison oriented search queries rise during holiday seasons as compared to deal related or brand searchers. Intel took the action of using social media to highlight comparison content in their site and also display presence on authority content sites for this type of content. The impact was that top ranking Natural Search for early buy cycle terms drove large amount of traffic and engagement with little competition from Paid Search.
Ken stressed on the following vital takeaways from this session:
- SEO is not an afterthought as content is influenced from search insights
- Casting a bigger shadow and insights from Search influencing all marketing
- SEO is everybody's job and workflow needs to be improved
- Technology must be leveraged for optimal results
He concluded the presentation with these takeaways.Long-Term SEO: How To Win For Years, Not Days: # SMX New York 2014, Day 3!,