The third day of the SES San Francisco kicked off with the session titled- SEO 2.0- Less Is More. The eminent panel included:
- Danny Goodwin, Associate Editor, Search Engine Watch
- Dr. Horst Joepen, CEO, Searchmetrics
- David Naylor, SEO, Bronco
The first speaker, Dr. Horst Joepen, put forward his presentation 'SEO 2.0 – Walk the Line' on Panda and Web 2.0. Dr. Joepen began by a trip down the memory lane on Google’s most noticed penalties. Then he came to discussing the Panda.
Panda – Auto Penalty or Auto Quality Rating:
Dr. Horst said that prior to the Panda, there were analytics-supported (manual) quality rating and (time-limited) penalties. He then showed how the Panda impacted a site each time it hit- the site in question was -ezinemark.com. With each Panda release, there were dramatic drops- they lost traffic. However, they managed to recover until 3.0 hit-then they bottomed out and have not recovered. The conclusion- search position is always under pressure.
He said that the warning signal to look out for is to notice any shifting that is happening in the SERPs that matter for your site. He gave a world wide level insight into the effect of the Panda-right to when it hit France, and how many 'innocent' sites went down with the defaulters.
He showed the examples across various countries as to how, the Panda may hit your position, but if you are a big and established site and have dedicated and huge traffic, then your business will not suffer. The key- size matters.
He then iterated that the Panda does not like spammy link building, as was evident after the JC Penny scandal. It all boiled down to this, if you have not been hit, then you need to look for the warning signals-so that you can save yourself from being penalized. Also, if you have been hit or penalized, then look at those sites, that got away-compare and analyze.
Dr. Horst listed these signals to look for before or after you have been hit by the Panda:
- What competitor got away and why
- Who got hit and why
- Compare backlink structures- Is anyone doing aggressive link building that could hurt them?
- Compare content and structure of competitor domains
- Compare Adsense and affiliate load
- Compare social network activities
- Compare user experience
You need to analyze which site is doing it right and follow that to safeguard your website against penalties.
So the big question- who will win with SEO 2.0?
The answer is pretty obvious- The winners will be those with original content (but not always). Brands and established businesses are also safe. Google also is a winner because of their reach.
The takeaways for Panda Watch-
- Quality is now more important than ever.
- If hit by the Panda or faced with penalties: Modify your SEO strategy.
- Focus on the long-tail keywords.
- Target the short-tail keywords with PPC
- If you can't recover-Re-launch your site.
He concluded by saying that peer group monitoring is really important so that you learn from others' mistakes as well as smartness.
The stage was then taken over by David Naylor, who explored the evolving SEO specially in relation to the Panda. He stressed on the need to stay ahead of the game and think of the changes Google is making. He listed down the major changes that have taken place:-
- Universal search and personalization is in
- Social gaining importance
- Google stepping in the social scene
- The recent Google updates
What is unchanged and will remain so, is that Google wants you to build sites for people-users only and not for the search engines. This will probably always be the case.
He said that the purpose of the Panda was very clear- to be rid of poor content and poor user experience-and also the spammy sites with bad network links. After the Panda hurricane, these are the pieces left behind to pick up and further build, as these are still important:
1.On-page optimization is still important- Include title tags, headings and unique content. Have a good site structure in coding and speed. On page linking must also be good.
2. On-page factors to keep in mind- Your site must be useful for both visitors and Google. Work on building the long-tail search traffic and then focus on the main terms.
3. Enhancing the users' experience- Add some conversion tracking so that you can more easily optimize your site for your visitors. It will be helpful in the long run.
How the Panda works
David then gave an insight to how the Panda hits sites with bad linking schemes
It begins at the bottom – the bad page! Then finds out the other pages linking to it. The bad page gets “pandarized’, then the pages linking to it also get hit by the ‘cancer’. The process goed on page by page, until your whole site is hit, along with any link related sites.
Hot Tip- Be smart with your linking and link to good content.
For off page optimization, link profiling is changing. Closely study and analyze the sites and pages you want to link to. Steer clear of any suspicious sites. David said, “Mix up your anchor text and linked to page for inbound links. Spy on the competitors to see what they are doing in their link campaigns and take hints from the things they are doing right.”
Link building takes time, and if you are able to do it fairly quickly, then stop and think, as you may be doing it wrong. The right way is mostly a slow process- for the same, you can put out content or widgets that are link worthy.
Hot Tip- Create relationships in your industry that can turn into links.
He also stressed on the need to analyze your site's data. To know which direction to take, and also, find new keywords by looking at the untapped traffic streams, conversions and new sources.
Then David came to the big question of the issue- 'What does SEO 2.0 mean for the future of SEO?'
Here are the tips that he believes will lead SEO in the to the future:
- Build sites for the users, not the search engines.
- Take a more holistic approach and use many different techniques.
- Build up your brand and dominate 1st page real estate.
- Build a strong community and interact with users.
- By building up your brand you can help train people to talk about your company using the terms you desire and this will help your organic rankings.
David also stressed on the importance of managing social media-in house. So that the right message goes across to your fans and in case of any damage control, it can be done in the right manner.
On the social scene, he outlined these ways to improving the web presence:
Blogging- An informative blog can add to credibility and authority. Don’t forget to include the Share buttons.
Multimedia- Using Videos and images also adds to your purpose. Creating a YouTube channel and including the same on your site is recommended.
Social Networking Sites- Twitter and Facebook presence is vital. Interacting with fans and followers via Tweets and updates must be done regularly.
Social Bookmarking Site- StumbleUpon and the likes are good for driving traffic.
Coupon sites- provide incentives to the users- but tread with caution here.
Affiliate schemes- Smart ones will be helpful for you.
Future Ranking factors and survival tips:
- Google+ will be a big player.
- Social media activity can help you rank better. Top survival tips
- Keep following the direction Google is taking
- Traditional SEO – targeting and focusing on main traffic terms for visitors will be the same
- Quality content will be important.
- Slow down with keyword driven articles titles
- Content needs to be engaging for real people (Panda hits sites for publishers like ezinearticles.)
- Engaging with your audience is so so important. Get people talking about you and your brand.
Concluding Tip- Find the right fit for your site and business. David advised not to follow methods deemed SEO 2.0 blindly. Think and find out what works for your site and business, then apply the same.
We have more coverage of SES San Francisco, Day 3 coming up. Stay tuned.SEO 2.0- Less Is More: SES San Francisco 2011, Day 3!,