The Death & Rebirth of SEO
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The Death & Rebirth of SEO



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

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



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  • Thanks for an awesome presentation & sharing it here. Much appreciated :-)
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  • Nice PPT, i like it.
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  • Rand, you are the master of constructing a rich slideshow. I am fascinated at how consistent you are - how long did this one take you?
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  • I am always flattered when someone sites our content. But, man, when it appears in one of YOUR decks, I am doubly thrilled. Thanks for the shout out to The Content Grid. You made my day. -Joe Chernov on behalf of Eloqua
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The Death & Rebirth of SEO The Death & Rebirth of SEO Presentation Transcript

  • The Death (and Rebirth) of SEO
    RandFishkin, Bend Webcam 2011
  • When I Started in SEO…
  • 2001: A Crazy Search Landscape
    Via Bruce Clay’s classic search engine relationship chart:
  • The Algorithm:
    (Keyword Use + Anchor Text)
    Simpler times. Spammier times, too.
  • SERPs All Looked Like This:
    Via Google’s 10th Birthday post:
  • SEO Meant a Few Fundamentals
    Make good content, make it accessible, target the right keywords… That was pretty much it!
  • And a Lot of Link Building
    Links were pretty much everything once you got a crawlable, keyword-targeted page set up.
  • Or, More Often, Link Spamming
    Even I bought some of these back in the day…
  • Fast Forward 7 Years
    Google celebrated the year with a TCP/IP protocol reference:
  • Google’s Dominating
  • Local/Maps is on the Rise
    Matt McGee charted the astounding rise of Google Maps/Local starting in 2008:
  • There’s a Few New Protocols
    The homepage literally hasn’t changed since February of 2008!
  • But Not Much Else Has Changed
    In early 2009, I wrote a post about the shift in importance of algorithmic factors at Google:
  • Jump Ahead… to 2011
  • It’s a Whole New World
    Image via (which is pretty cool, BTW)
  • SERPs Rarely Look Like This Anymore
    It took me serious time to find a query this sparse
  • They Look Like This:
    Google’s instant answers are getting more detailed and sophisticated, as illustrated by
  • Or This:
    News results, shopping results and video snippets + the new, shrunken sitelinks for the top result
  • Or This:
  • Or This:
    Personalization and social sharing dominate the page because I’m logged in.
  • There’s Rich Snippets &
    There’s a good post by Rich Baxter on Schema here:
  • Rel=Author
    Good advice on how to get it set up here:
  • Video Results
    Google on how to create video XML sitemaps and appear in these results:
  • And Social Annotations
    Not only are the results annotated with the share / social data; they also outrank the top result
  • SERPs Are Almost Always Personalized
    Search history, social networks, previous clicks and more impact personalization + rankings
  • And Geographically Biased, Too
    Geography impacts both search result ordering and search suggestions/instant
  • Search Barely Requires Typing
    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 
  • Misspellings are a Thing of the Past
    A few years back, there would be entire sessions at conferences on SEO for misspellings
  • Instant Answers are Everywhere
    Google even offered instant answers as to the sexual orientation of celebrities: (but the feature appears to have been removed)
  • The Algorithm Has Changed, Too
    Check out Dr. Pete’s Algorithm History guide:
  • We Had Vince
    Aaron Wall did some excellent analysis on Vince here:
  • And May Day
    Barry Schwartz summarized the impact as described by Matt here:
  • And, of Course, Panda
    Some good analysis from Cyrus Shephard here:
  • Brands Can Now Dominate Entire Pages
    Nothing but from top to bottom
  • Some are Dominated by Google Itself
  • Social is on the Rise Like Never Before
  • In Social, Fragmentation Appears Certain
    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:
  • What’s More…
  • Search No Longer Works in a Vacuum
    Earning a click in the SERPs is merely one step in a greater process.
  • It Lives in the Broader Inbound Funnel
    Eloqua’s content grid does a great job exploring where content sits in the marketing funnel:
  • But is Nearly Useless By Itself
  • SEO from 2001-2008
  • Make the Site Search-Engine Friendly
  • Target Keywords
  • Build Links
  • Good Enough
    Yep; it really used to work.
  • That SEO
    is Dead.
  • You Might Rank
    Before you even do that, make sure you’re choosing the right goals:
  • You Probably Won’t Convert Well
    Unless the rest of the funnel rocks, SEO is in a rough spot:
  • You’ll Probably Lose to Better Armed Opponents
    A great post on brand building:
  • Winning in 2011 and Beyond
  • (Old School) SEO Can’t Be Our Only Strength
  • SEO Cannot be Purely Tactical
    We need a strategy
  • SEO Can’t Win the Web Marketing Battle Alone
  • SEO Today Encompasses Everything We Do on the Web
  • 5 Questions for Modern SEOs
  • Are You Working w/ An Organization that Believes and Invests in Inbound Marketing?
    Poor Fox Mulder. He just never believed in video recording or photography.
  • Where Does Search Live in Your Funnel?
  • Where Does SEO Live in Your Process?
    A few representational org charts via
  • What are Your Competitive Marketing Advantages?
    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.
  • #1: Product ‘s positioning and product selection naturally intersect with a sharing-heavy demographic, creating a virtuous cycle of inbound marketing.
  • #2: Community
    At the community powers the marketing of the brand, including the linking and sharing critical to great SEO + social media reach.
  • #3: Content
    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.”
  • #4: Distribution
    By aggregating jobs from across the web and powering thousands of job boards, has built a remarkable presence web-wide.
  • Where Does SEO Live in Your Process?
    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.
  • How Will You Measure and Improve?
  • 10 Actionable Tactics w/ Examples
  • #1: Data as Content Marketing
    Tons of great examples via Kelly Ford’s blog post:
  • #1: Data as Content Marketing
    While Kelly shows lots of good ways to use your growth/financial/metrics data, I also love using user/habit/trend data like
  • #2: Video Content + SERP Visuals
    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.
  • #2: Video Content + SERP Visuals
    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.
  • #3: Thought Leadership + Rel=Author
    Who needs to rank #1 when you can earn better traffic than the top ranking sites w/ a photo?! 
  • #4: Social Networks for Personalized Rankings
    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+
  • #4: Social Networks for Personalized Rankings
    More on this: can see your socially connected data via
  • #4: Social Networks for Personalized Rankings
    Create Share-Worthy Content
    Share Socially
    Win the Internet
    Earn Rankings Boost
    More Searchers Biased to Seeing Your Stuff
    Get Natural Links through Visibility
    Network Amplification Grows Reach
    Earn More Social Followers
    Growing your social network and sharing socially creates a virtuous cycle of marketing/influence.
  • #5: Link Building w/ Your Social Followers
    Tactic via Wil Reynolds of SEER Interactive:
  • #5: Link Building w/ Your Social Followers
    You can use Klout or Followerwonk scores (or just follower counts) to order the results
  • #5: Link Building w/ Your Social Followers
    Use vLookup in Excel with the Linkscape API to see if they’re linking to you yet
    How to:
  • #5: Link Building w/ Your Social Followers
    Engage w/ or reach out to sites you want links from
    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
  • #6: Long Tail SEO via Gamification has been highly effective with this, as have,, and even Moz’s own
  • #7: PR through Social Outreach
    Starting a relationship over social media is easy and it leads to great press coverage surprisingly fast. Recent example from Moz:
  • #8: Viral-Worthy Content via Q+A Research
    Places like,,, virtually any web forum ( is a good way to find them) and even Google Suggest are good for this.
  • #9: Influence Search Suggest through Branding
    You can see the original experiment here:
  • #10: Leverage Thought Leaders to Build Content
    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.
  • SEO is Bigger than SEO
  • SEO is Bigger than SEO
  • And We Have the Skills, Knowledge, Experience and Adaptability to Win.
  • SEO: Reborn
  • Find this Presentation Online: