Aug 18, 2011 113 reads by Navneet Kaushal

This session of Search Engine Strategies San Francisco 2011, was an interactive session among four speakers and the audience over the ongoing debate on SEO. If SEO is dead or it still helps the search engine charts like it used to?


  • Dana Todd, Vice President of Performance Innovation, Performics


  • Fionn Downhill, VP of Strategy, SyCara Inc.
  • Todd Friesen, Director of SEO, Performics
  • Mark Jackson, SEW Expert & President/CEO, VIZION Interactive
  • David Naylor, SEO, Bronco

David Naylor begins the session  by claiming that social media is not eating SEO. To this, another speaker Fionn says that the sad news is social media is eating SEO budget. It is not wise if we reduce the budget of SEO as you can make a million dollars on SEO traffic or you can find out what everyone is doing in starbucks. A budget is important for SEO. Todd Friesen, one of the speakers of this session says that social media is all the rage. Todd gives an example of Performics who are signing bigger and more expensive campaigns more and more.

Dana Todd, moderator of this session raises few questions and asks whether social is only for branding and it is good for what? To this, an audience replies by saying SEO is good for awareness. Todd further asks, Who is spending more on social? He is answered by an audience who is in the map business. In reply, he said to Todd that they are spending more on social but he said he deals in physical real maps, not online maps and  though he is spending more on social, his revenue is not increasing.

In reply to the above question, the speakers explain that “ the search engines are using social as a signal the quality of your brand. Domain relevance is dropping off”. Further, Mark Jackson puts forward his point by saying that “ social is making us better marketers”. To this, David gives the example of Mahalo getting burned to the ground. An SEO would have stopped the spam.

An audience member expresses his views by saying that “SEO doesn't matter anymore. Because if your doing a website and writing good content and doing what they are supposed to be doing. But it doesn't matter any more, you can't rank”. What is the new edge? The speakers asks him to hire a good SEO.

David Naylor's website is He tells a story about a company with a lot of traffic, big Twitter following. But, social didn't save them. Their duplicate news content killed them. He emphasized by saying that they could have been saved if they had a good SEO. David also mentions that Twitter didn't save them from Panda.

As soon as David completes, Fionn comes next in line and talks about a client of her. She said that she warned her client as their bounce rate was too high. Her client got wiped out in Panda 2.3.They finally gave in and fixed all the duplicate content. She says “if you got hit with Panda, you problem should be common knowledge”. The client even got a 20% lift in traffic. To this Fionn says that, “ internal linking is something they don't do very well, and something that is involved with Panda”.

Someone in the audience asks what social media cues are the most important these days?

David, replies to the question and says:

Twitter is awesome. Good retweets are gold. If you get them from important accounts.

  • He says if you get enough retweets, Google drop the nofollow and count the link.
  • Facebook is still difficult.
  • He says to look for the social indicators in your industry. Use
  • He further, says no one buys anything on Reddit. Stumbleupon is the same.

An audience member asks if using Quora is good? Any success there?

  • Todd,  replies by saying Quora is just another example how social is just bs.
  • He explains he hasn't checked in to Foursquare in 6 months, but people are still adding him as a friend there. WTF?

Moderator Dana Todd, raises a question for the panelists and asks them on how to defend your budget from a measurement standpoint? How do I value this? I see rankings, but how do I value that?Mark answers Dana Tood's query and says “you need to look at all your internal costs. Use to get an idea on the value of your traffic. Sales obviously is a good indicator. He says though, there is never going to be a perfect measurement. Everything that an SEO touches these days, its hard to track it all.”

Fionn shares his opinion by saying that it is pertinent to start the campaign with what is measurable and why SEO is important in the first place. Marks says years ago the way you measured SEO was with ranking reports.

An audience member says she is curious about long tail keyword phrases… is their a critical mass on the number of pages you can add where the benefit drops off?

The speakers replies to the above mentioned question by saying:

  • Mark says that as long as the content is good, resourceful, you can add as many as you want
  • David says you need to avoid the Mahalo example.
  • Mark says there are exceptions. But not always..He says that he is convinced that there are hand edits in the serps. Google will not admit this.
  • David says that site is on borrowed time. It will get caught.

An audience member asks about blogs…

  • Mark says bloggers need to be super transparent.
  • Dana asks what is the decay rate of SEO?Can you set it and forget it?
  • Todd says it will decay, it is definitely ongoing.
  • If you not #1 in the serps. Then your not done.
  • SEO is more than title tags.
  • If you get hacked, do you call your social media guy to fix that.

Another member from the audience asks, How about the new Google site speed servers?

Moderator Dana and Speaker David answers the question by saying that one should never give their DNS to Google because Google will use the DNS to gain information to serve ads. David says try for fast site speed. He also warns by saying that, “you don't want Google to see your upstream traffic and the sources of all your traffic”. He gives an example where Google came to a client and admitted they knew where all your traffic came from for a site.

Fionn also joins them and talks about another example, where a network of  websites not all but 17, got burned overnight. Google knew about all their websites, except those 17 that survived! Google is evil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Google has ruined Panda. They used to be cute, now everyone hates them.

An audience member asks Panda and if it is hitting in Germany. He asks do you think Panda will happen every several months?

Mark replies by saying that  Panda is a manual update and Fionn says that the updates run about every 6 weeks. David says to get out of Panda, you got to go through Panda update.

Another member from the audience asks about the  paid links from audience?

Mark says that the guy that turned in JC Penney for paid links, had a website that bought paid links!

The session ended here. It was an open ended interactive session

SEO is Dead. Long live SEO!: SES San Francisco 2011, Day 2!, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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