SES Chicago Day 3 Roundup

Dec 7, 2006 | 3,767 views | by Navneet Kaushal
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Day 3 at SES Chicago had some interesting sessions. Below is the roundup for some of the sessions.

Linking Strategies

The Linking Strategies session was moderated by Danny Sullivan. Eric Ward, CEO,; Mike Grehan, International Search Marketing Consultant; Justilien Gaspard, Principal, Justilien Internet Marketing Solutions; Todd Friesen, Director of Search Engine Optimization, Range Online Media were the speakers for this session. At the end of the session, the audience knew how far is too far in optimizing internal link structure, about link spamming, handling affiliate links and much more.

Eric Ward made an announcement that he would be starting a free e-newsletter which will have tips and tricks for linking. Coming on to the session, it is advised that deep and wide linking is better as sites having links throughout the site are ranked higher. Use Blog directories, Podcast directories, audio and video directories. Directories are the foundation for stable links. They ensure visibility. Rely on backlink make up as major quality indicator. Go for good directories that have strong link credibility. Use different words for directory descriptions and keywords in anchor text. There is a lot of link potential. Thanks to blogs, forums, and influential media. Linking with reporters, media directories, radio stations, and other bloggers is a good idea.

Web Analytics & Measuring Success

The panel for this session consisted of Laura Thieme, President and Founder, Bizresearch and Matt Williams, Managing Partner, Prominent Placement. The panelists discussed ways to measure success and importance of conversions and unique monthly visitors. You can check your rank at search engines for particular keywords, analyze log files to see the actual terms people used to reach your web site or make the ultimate jump and close the loop by measuring sales conversions and return-on-investment.

You can track organic, paid as well as referral traffic to ascertain who is increasing or decreasing. It is important to keep a track of new and return traffic rates. Remember a month to month change is not a trend. It is over six months data that constitutes trend. It is a good idea to check if some engines are converting at a higher rate. Keep changing and modifying track with your company and goals. The ranked pages have good and latest information. If people find your site for uncommon terms that you are not targeting you may have high bounce rates. Remember, no analytics software is perfectly accurate. The packages have some scope for error due to server, DNS as well as Javascript errors. So, use more than one analytics package. Analytics would be useless if you do not analyze, report and act on the information you find.

Buying & Selling Links

“Search guru” Danny Sullivan moderated this session. The speakers were Eric Ward, CEO,; Thomas Bindl, SEO Consultant; Patrick Gavin, President, Text Link Ads Inc. Buying ans selling of links holds importance even before search engines started using links to influence rankings. While the links are acquired to improve rankings, some links may lead to search engine losses that is when search engines finds link to be a spamming attempt. The speakers in this session talked about best ways to buy and sell links.

First of all you need to be sure of the theme when buying links from a site. The links you buy must be of same or complementary theme. Google PageRank helps to ascertain real link value and worth of a site. Alexa is also helpful to find if any traffic is going to a site. If you find a site is not on Alexa or has very low rank, you know the site is not worth buying links from. The positioning of link is also important for search engines as well as direct traffic. Google SERO heat maps is another helpful tool. You can find out which area is viewed the most. This helps you to determine where to place the links. A good link must be placed on the top of the page. Eric pointed out offers an advertising platform based on blogs with niche and targeted audiences. E-mail, web magazines and newsletters may not help your PR but these help targeting demographic for you. Before you buy links, have a look at robots.txt file to check that it does not allow a section of the site that may contain your link. View Google cache of the page to ensure that meta tags do not change when engines view them.

SMO: Social Media Optimization

The panel for this session consisted of Andy Hagans, Strategist, Text Link Ads; Neil Patel, co-founder, Advantage Consulting Services; Rand Fishkin, CEO,; Todd Malicoat, Independent Search Engine Marketing Consultant, Lee Odden, Online Marketing Blog. Chris Sherman, Executive Editor, President of Searchwise moderated the session. The speakers examined how community built web sites can be a smart way to tap into links along with search driven traffic.

Neil Patel talked about the benefits of getting associated with Wikipedia. These include authority links, brand recognition, increased traffic and of course great information. Rand pointed that sharing valuable content and displaying your company is helpful. It helps to shape how people view search engine optimization community as a whole. Creating a user profile for your company and using it among different sites helps in creating a 'friendly' image. The social sites recommended for use are Digg,, Flickr, Reddit, Newsvine, StumbleUpon, Technorati, MySpace, Yahoo! Answers, Google Co-Op.

Social media offers several advantages. Andy advised the link bait must be 'bookmark-able' which means there must be a piece of content or tool that would prompt people to bookmark it. Getting your message in front of right people is important. Writing a personalized email to relevant bloggers may be a good idea to get links. Tag your content on It is important to keep repeating these. You may not get results immediately however repeating these will eventually be beneficial.

Flash & Search Engines:

Since search engine crawlers are designed to index html text, it is difficult for content built with Macromedia Flash to appear in search engines. The speakers: Shari Thurow, Webmaster/Marketing Director,; Gregory Markel, Founder/President, Infuse Creative, LLC; Massimo Burgio, Co-Chair, Global Committee, SEMPO; Jonathan Hochman , Founder/President, JE Hochman & Associates LLC; Dan Crow, Product Manager, Google, Inc., give tips for sites having flash.

If Flash is important for your site make sure you have proper link development. Create multiple pages with flash in each page. Most flash sites do not have much text. Use appropriate title and content for flash movie. If you must have a flash site do create an HTML version. Flash accessibility is not spam if primary content and visible flash match. W3C recommends using different versions of multimedia content for accessibility. According to Jonathan Hochman, JE Hochman & Associates, “Search engines don’t rule the world; do what’s right for your users.” Flash can be a problem for PPC in quality score as it is difficult to connect the ad keyword to the deep section of the Flash movie.

CSS, AJAX, Web 2.0 & Search Engines

The session was moderated by Andrew Goodman, Principal, Page Zero Media. The speakers were:
Shari Thurow, Webmaster/Marketing Director,; Jim McFadyen, Senior Web Developer, Critical Mass; Scott Orth, Executive Director, Selytics, Inc.; Amit Kumar, Engineering Manager, Yahoo! Inc.; Dan Crow, Product Manager, Google, Inc. The sites are increasingly making more use of CSS, AJAX and other advanced and interactive design techniques. However it is essential to note how are the largely Web 1.0 search engines reacting to these, from an SEO perspective. This session explored the issues and plausible solutions.

CSS is an HTML addition which allows webmasters to control design, placement of elements, etc. It can be used to change the look of a site very quickly and easily. It even decreases the download time of the page. The disadvantages of CSS are that it requires end users to have font installed on their computers else the page does not display. CSS formatted hyperlinks may dominate the content of a web page and may overshadow the content. Other issues with CSS include text formatting, text wrapping, the X, Y, Z coordinates, ways of hiding text and links inside of CSS invisible layers. AJAX is highly desirable for sites. However, many may not even know what it means. It is not a programming language. AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript And XML, and allows the browser to communicate with the server without refreshing the page. It is extremely helpful in improving user experience. Search engines can not see AJAX delivered content and AJAX created navigation would not be crawled. Remember every page must be HTML and every page must have its content on the page. All links must already be in the HTML and must be tested by turning off JavaScript in your browser.

Usability & SEO: Two Wins For The Price Of One

The session was quite humorous, thanks to the speakers Shari Thurow, Webmaster/Marketing Director, and Matthew Bailey, President, Site Logic Marketing. The moderator for the session was Alex Bennert, Director of Client Services, Beyond Ink. The speakers gave great examples for building a user friendly as well as search engine friendly site.

The session highlighted that if you build up a user friendly site, it is good even for the engines. You need to consider search usability overview, its components and case study. People perceive that usability and SEO do not mix well. Usability homepage must have clear directions. Keywords must be used for naming categories and products. People must find a reason to stay on your site. A site lacking content will not rank well in search engines. Some site would focus on just one product even if they sell many. Usability displays established hierarchy of categories. It is important to know what users look for. Size of text may not be concerned with SEO but it is vital for people. Stuffing product categories on one page is not advisable as it dilutes the page.

Blog & Feed Search SEO

Detlev Johnson, VP, Director of Consulting, Position Technologies moderated the session. The speakers were Amanda Watlington, Ph.D., APR, Searching for Profit; Stephan Spencer, Founder and President, Netconcepts, LLC; Rick Klau, FeedBurner. The session underlined how specialized blog and feed search engines gather content. Speakers provided tips on tapping into growing forms of traffic.

It has been predicted that 2007 will be the year of RSS. This is primarily because of the launch of IE7 which will make RSS accessible to everyone. So much so that people would not even realize that they are using RSS feed. Before you start building your feeds you must know the number of feeds that are appropriate for your company, content needed to keep the feed fresh and attractive, content piece to be included in the feed, whether to include multi-media content, audio and video, ways to propagate the feeds both initially and on update, measuring performance of feeds, and finally how to monetize it.

A powerful keyword rich content can be created by following these steps: Write the post; review keyword research list for relevant keywords; a headline must have a keyword; anchor text must also include keywords. Joining a discussion is one of the best ways to bring traffic to your blog. You can notify other blogs of your existence either by commenting on the blogs or dropping an email. An important tip from the session: Blogs are not the only source for feeds. Feeds can be used for podcasts, video blogs, Web services, retail outlets and other areas.

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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.
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