This session had the various speakers highlighting the SEO/SEM strategy their companies have employed, the challenges they have faced in the field as well as the areas that need to be worked upon.
- Joseph Morin
- Melanie Mitchell, Vice President of Marketing, Foliofn Investments, Inc
- Dave Roth, Director of Search Engine Marketing, Yahoo! Inc
- Derrick Wheeler, Senior Search Engine Optmization Architect, Microsoft
- Maile Ohye, Senior Support Engineer, Google
Melanie Mitchell, who worked first at AOL sometime earlier this year, was the first speaker. Search, she said was good, because it made the consumer in control of content. She emphasized that search is only one part of SEO. A few case studies were presented to show how offline marketing may affect online sales.
Dave Roth spoke next. He started out by asserting that Yahoo is involved in marketing because of its tremendous marketing potential. They do paid search, organic search and affiliate search. He pointed out that while working with SEO, they interact with search product managers but are hampered by the fact that do not speak to the engineers. As a result, they are not knowledgeable about the algorithms used, particularly CTR by position algorithms.
SEM in Yahoo has a lot of properties which makes it challenging. First of all there is the sheer variety of businesses- subscriptions, downloads, some are e-commerce, some are lead gens and some are display ad revenue.
He spoke about Life Time Value metric, which helps them measure these businesses. It enables them to calculate the value of a conversion for a subscription, referral, CPC/CPM, etc. and to determine the net present value of their lifetime revenue stream.
To figure out what opportunity Yahoo has in SEM, the company created a predictive model, based on click and search data. This enabled Yahoo to determine its position vis-a-vis the competition. The model told the company how much a click was worth for it. Yahoo was able to clearly see the competitive gap and thus direct its SEO/SEM strategy.
Instead of adopting a fix-it strategy, Yahoo decided to make SEO part of the product/website development process. They came up with 6 different check points for the process.
He however commented that Paid Search Execution is easier. The decisions involve choosing between house versus outsource, build or buy, etc. Usually, Yahoo wants a slice of each pie.
The company standardizes a seemingly complicated workflow document. Subsequently, they come up with a marketing scorecard for all their businesses. This provides them with the information needed to decide where to move money. Done weekly, this process enables them to keep an eye on all businesses. Further, they make use of an SEO dashboard track workings at the VP level.
Derrick Wheeler was the next speaker. He mentioned that although he is lower down in the SEO hierarchy, he is involved in and familiar with the entire process.
Microsoft, he said is not a single site but comprises of hundreds of individual web sites. Besides Windows, Microsoft has to look after micro sites and directories such as microsoft.com/australia. Optimization is carried out on a site by site basis, which however brings problems. They currently have 9 CMSs.
While they have been consistently working to make their sites search engine friendly, the work is made challenging by the fact that they have 100 billion plus URLs to deal with. The fact that Google and Yahoo have fewer pages than Microsoft, has structural issues they need to fix.
Three levels of SEO:
- Sitewide SEO initiative
- SEO at the level of individual web sites
- Page level SEO.
Surprisingly, Microsoft does not know how much traffic it owes to organic and paid search separately. Besides determining this, the company is attempting to make the metrics they use uniform for all sites. Besides carrying out training worldwide, Microsoft has had to build internal tools as some standard SEO tools aren't compatible with Microsoft.
Microsoft's SEO strategy has focused on :
- Reduction of undesirable pages (big issue for Microsoft)
- Minimizing use of redirects
- Incorrect error handling
- Unorganized structure of subsidiary content
- Inferior quality page titles and meta tags
The speaker vehemently asserted that SEO should focus on structure, content and authority. Microsoft has made its own spider which is being used to crawl its website in order to zero in on the problems their search engine is currently facing.
He went on to throw light on the 6 Site Level SEO steps Microsoft has taken:
- Business Outcomes and Metrics.
- Keyword Research.
- Carrying out a structural and technical audit.
- Content editing for keyword incorporation.
- Link building tactics.
- Focusing on outgoing optimization.
Maile Ohye from Google was the last speaker. He praised YouTube for its SEO, bringing out the fact that gives each video a unique URL, a different title and a relevant description. Ohye also commented on its excellent navigation features and search effectiveness.
Subsequently, he spoke about an SEO starter guide, Google had come up with. This is the guide internally used by the company, and it has recently been made available to the world at large.
Ohye concluded the speech and the session by advising SEO sites to act responsibly and concentrate on value.SEO and Big Search: PubCon Las Vegas 2008, Day 2,