The Death & Rebirth of SEO


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Rand Fishkin's presentation from Webcam, Bend, OR on September 30th, 2011

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The Death & Rebirth of SEO

  1. 1. The Death (and Rebirth) of SEO<br />RandFishkin, Bend Webcam 2011<br />
  2. 2. When I Started in SEO…<br />
  3. 3. 2001: A Crazy Search Landscape<br />Via Bruce Clay’s classic search engine relationship chart:<br />
  4. 4. The Algorithm:<br />(Keyword Use + Anchor Text)<br />X<br />PageRank<br />Simpler times. Spammier times, too.<br />
  5. 5. SERPs All Looked Like This:<br />Via Google’s 10th Birthday post:<br />
  6. 6. SEO Meant a Few Fundamentals<br />Make good content, make it accessible, target the right keywords… That was pretty much it!<br />
  7. 7. And a Lot of Link Building<br />Links were pretty much everything once you got a crawlable, keyword-targeted page set up.<br />
  8. 8. Or, More Often, Link Spamming<br />Even I bought some of these back in the day…<br />
  9. 9. Fast Forward 7 Years<br />Google celebrated the year with a TCP/IP protocol reference:<br />
  10. 10. Google’s Dominating<br />Via<br />
  11. 11. Local/Maps is on the Rise<br />Matt McGee charted the astounding rise of Google Maps/Local starting in 2008:<br />
  12. 12. There’s a Few New Protocols<br />The homepage literally hasn’t changed since February of 2008!<br />
  13. 13. But Not Much Else Has Changed<br />In early 2009, I wrote a post about the shift in importance of algorithmic factors at Google:<br />
  14. 14. Jump Ahead… to 2011<br />
  15. 15. It’s a Whole New World<br />Image via (which is pretty cool, BTW)<br />
  16. 16. SERPs Rarely Look Like This Anymore<br />It took me serious time to find a query this sparse<br />
  17. 17. They Look Like This:<br />Google’s instant answers are getting more detailed and sophisticated, as illustrated by<br />
  18. 18. Or This:<br />News results, shopping results and video snippets + the new, shrunken sitelinks for the top result<br />
  19. 19. Or This:<br />Awesome!<br />
  20. 20. Or This:<br />Personalization and social sharing dominate the page because I’m logged in.<br />
  21. 21. There’s Rich Snippets &<br />There’s a good post by Rich Baxter on Schema here:<br />
  22. 22. Rel=Author<br />Good advice on how to get it set up here:<br />
  23. 23. Video Results<br />Google on how to create video XML sitemaps and appear in these results:<br />
  24. 24. And Social Annotations<br />Not only are the results annotated with the share / social data; they also outrank the top result<br />
  25. 25. SERPs Are Almost Always Personalized<br />Search history, social networks, previous clicks and more impact personalization + rankings<br />
  26. 26. And Geographically Biased, Too<br />Geography impacts both search result ordering and search suggestions/instant<br />
  27. 27. Search Barely Requires Typing<br />BTW – I tried this same search from Portland vs. Yoder, and “Fox News” is not a top suggestion, but “Firefox “and “Fred Meyer” both are <br />
  28. 28. Misspellings are a Thing of the Past<br />A few years back, there would be entire sessions at conferences on SEO for misspellings<br />
  29. 29. Instant Answers are Everywhere<br />Google even offered instant answers as to the sexual orientation of celebrities: (but the feature appears to have been removed)<br />
  30. 30. The Algorithm Has Changed, Too<br />Check out Dr. Pete’s Algorithm History guide:<br />
  31. 31. We Had Vince<br />Aaron Wall did some excellent analysis on Vince here:<br />
  32. 32. And May Day<br />Barry Schwartz summarized the impact as described by Matt here:<br />
  33. 33. And, of Course, Panda<br />Some good analysis from Cyrus Shephard here:<br />
  34. 34. Brands Can Now Dominate Entire Pages<br />Nothing but from top to bottom<br />
  35. 35. Some are Dominated by Google Itself<br /><br />
  36. 36. Social is on the Rise Like Never Before<br />Via<br />
  37. 37. In Social, Fragmentation Appears Certain<br />Users:<br />50mm<br />750mm<br />200mm<br />120mm<br />10mm<br />Users:<br />14mm<br />Millions<br />14mm<br />6.5mm<br />This growth is a big reason why I’ve changed my tune on social media marketing and now strongly endorse it for almost every business:<br />
  38. 38. What’s More…<br />
  39. 39. Search No Longer Works in a Vacuum<br />Earning a click in the SERPs is merely one step in a greater process.<br />
  40. 40. It Lives in the Broader Inbound Funnel<br />Eloqua’s content grid does a great job exploring where content sits in the marketing funnel:<br />
  41. 41. But is Nearly Useless By Itself<br />Via<br />
  42. 42. SEO from 2001-2008<br />
  43. 43. Make the Site Search-Engine Friendly<br />Via<br />
  44. 44. Target Keywords<br />Via<br />
  45. 45. Build Links<br />Via<br />
  46. 46. Good Enough<br />Yep; it really used to work.<br />
  47. 47. That SEO<br />is Dead.<br />
  48. 48. You Might Rank<br />Before you even do that, make sure you’re choosing the right goals:<br />
  49. 49. You Probably Won’t Convert Well<br />Unless the rest of the funnel rocks, SEO is in a rough spot:<br />
  50. 50. You’ll Probably Lose to Better Armed Opponents<br />A great post on brand building:<br />
  51. 51. Winning in 2011 and Beyond<br />
  52. 52. (Old School) SEO Can’t Be Our Only Strength<br /><br />
  53. 53. SEO Cannot be Purely Tactical<br />We need a strategy<br />
  54. 54. SEO Can’t Win the Web Marketing Battle Alone<br /><br />
  55. 55. SEO Today Encompasses Everything We Do on the Web<br />
  56. 56. 5 Questions for Modern SEOs<br />
  57. 57. Are You Working w/ An Organization that Believes and Invests in Inbound Marketing?<br />Poor Fox Mulder. He just never believed in video recording or photography.<br />
  58. 58. Where Does Search Live in Your Funnel?<br />Via<br />
  59. 59. Where Does SEO Live in Your Process?<br />A few representational org charts via<br />
  60. 60. What are Your Competitive Marketing Advantages?<br />The day I got the NES advantage joystick was the day I beat Contra. Because auto-fire on the “B” button was essential to winning that game.<br />
  61. 61. #1: Product<br /> ‘s positioning and product selection naturally intersect with a sharing-heavy demographic, creating a virtuous cycle of inbound marketing.<br />
  62. 62. #2: Community<br />At the community powers the marketing of the brand, including the linking and sharing critical to great SEO + social media reach.<br />
  63. 63. #3: Content<br />The blog does a fantastic job sharing useful and interesting content – that’s helped them earn #1 rankings for incredibly tough terms like “online dating.”<br />
  64. 64. #4: Distribution<br />By aggregating jobs from across the web and powering thousands of job boards, has built a remarkable presence web-wide.<br />
  65. 65. Where Does SEO Live in Your Process?<br />If SEO isn’t part of the process, you’ll always be playing catch-up and begging for resources to fix problems rather than executing as you develop and innovating.<br />
  66. 66. How Will You Measure and Improve?<br />Via<br />
  67. 67. 10 Actionable Tactics w/ Examples<br />
  68. 68. #1: Data as Content Marketing<br />Tons of great examples via Kelly Ford’s blog post:<br />
  69. 69. #1: Data as Content Marketing<br />While Kelly shows lots of good ways to use your growth/financial/metrics data, I also love using user/habit/trend data like<br />
  70. 70. #2: Video Content + SERP Visuals<br />For a brief time, SEOmoz held the top 3 spots for “learn seo,” and the video result in position #3 actually earned more traffic/clicks than the top 2 combined.<br />
  71. 71. #2: Video Content + SERP Visuals<br />Getting a video snippet simply requires embedding a video on the page (though standard YOUTube embeds don’t work) and submitting a video XML sitemap file. We use which is awesome for this.<br />
  72. 72. #3: Thought Leadership + Rel=Author<br />Who needs to rank #1 when you can earn better traffic than the top ranking sites w/ a photo?! <br />
  73. 73. #4: Social Networks for Personalized Rankings<br />Last year, Google used Facebook, Friendfeed, Twitter, Quora and several other social networks to show connected content. Today, it’s nearly impossible to find something socially annotated that’s not through Google+<br />
  74. 74. #4: Social Networks for Personalized Rankings<br />More on this: can see your socially connected data via<br />
  75. 75. #4: Social Networks for Personalized Rankings<br />Create Share-Worthy Content<br />Share Socially<br />Win the Internet<br />Earn Rankings Boost<br />More Searchers Biased to Seeing Your Stuff<br />Get Natural Links through Visibility<br />Network Amplification Grows Reach<br />Earn More Social Followers<br />Growing your social network and sharing socially creates a virtuous cycle of marketing/influence.<br />
  76. 76. #5: Link Building w/ Your Social Followers<br />Tactic via Wil Reynolds of SEER Interactive:<br />http:/<br />
  77. 77. #5: Link Building w/ Your Social Followers<br />You can use Klout or Followerwonk scores (or just follower counts) to order the results<br />
  78. 78. #5: Link Building w/ Your Social Followers<br />Use vLookup in Excel with the Linkscape API to see if they’re linking to you yet<br />How to:<br />
  79. 79. #5: Link Building w/ Your Social Followers<br />Engage w/ or reach out to sites you want links from<br />This tactic can also be applied to blog commenters, email list subscribers and any social network where you can export a list of your friends/followers<br />
  80. 80. #6: Long Tail SEO via Gamification<br /> has been highly effective with this, as have,, and even Moz’s own<br />
  81. 81. #7: PR through Social Outreach<br />Starting a relationship over social media is easy and it leads to great press coverage surprisingly fast. Recent example from Moz:<br />
  82. 82. #8: Viral-Worthy Content via Q+A Research<br />Places like,,, virtually any web forum ( is a good way to find them) and even Google Suggest are good for this.<br />
  83. 83. #9: Influence Search Suggest through Branding<br />You can see the original experiment here:<br />
  84. 84. #10: Leverage Thought Leaders to Build Content<br />Via The concept is simple; identify leading influencers in your space, recruit them to contrbute something small, perhaps just a few survey answers, then aggregate and share the data. They’ll help it spread.<br />
  85. 85. SEO is Bigger than SEO<br />
  86. 86. SEO is Bigger than SEO<br />
  87. 87. And We Have the Skills, Knowledge, Experience and Adaptability to Win.<br />
  88. 88. SEO: Reborn<br />
  89. 89. Find this Presentation Online:<br /><br />
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