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Advanced SEO:  An Assortment of Tools, Tips & Tactics Stephan Spencer Founder, Netconcepts; Co-Author, Art of SEO
Who Am I? <ul><li>Co-author of  The Art of SEO </li></ul><ul><li>Founded Netconcepts LLC in Madison WI in 1995. Sold it to...
A Blog is an Asset My daughter, blogger & SEO. $5 - $30 / day passive income. Started when she was 14. SEO: So simple even...
Making Assumptions about Customer Vocabulary? <ul><li>Your customer doesn’t use industry-speak </li></ul><ul><li>Just beca...
Soovle.com
Soovle.com
Soovle.com
Soovle.com
Keyword Brainstorming <ul><li>Keyword brainstorming should be integral to your content planning. Think laterally! </li></u...
Soovle.com
Soovle.com
Soovle.com
Soovle.com
Soovle.com
Soovle.com
 
Use the Tools Properly <ul><li>Log in (to Google Trends, Google AdWords Keyword Tool, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Log out (whe...
 
 
 
 
Don’t Cannibalize Organic w/ Paid <ul><li>The so-called “synergy” of paid search with organic search is often manifested i...
http://searchengineland.com/organic-search-paid-search-are-they-synergistic-or-cannibalistic-36444
SEO Should Drive Your Social Media Strategy <ul><li>It’s not a social media “strategy” if it isn’t driven by SEO needs </l...
http://searchengineland.com/the-social-media-underground-22030
 
 
 
 
 
Watch Out for Duplicate Content <ul><li>Multiple URLs leading to the same piece of content </li></ul><ul><li>Duplicate con...
Canonical Tag Misfires <ul><li>Example #1: NorthernSafety.com </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many thousands of non-canonical URLs o...
XML Sitemaps <ul><li>An easy partial fix. Assists indexation of site. </li></ul><ul><li>Provides a canonicalization signal...
Robots.txt <ul><li>To bar crawlers from... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>non-public parts of your website </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><...
Robots.txt <ul><li>Done wrong, can block bots from entire site </li></ul><ul><li>Too often implemented incorrectly, unfort...
Rewrite Spider-Unfriendly URLs <ul><li>3 approaches: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use a “URL rewriting” server module / plugin – ...
Eliminate the Low- (or No) Value Activities <ul><li>Meta keywords, anyone? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google  never  supported ...
 
URL Testing & Iterative Optimization <ul><li>URL affects searcher clickthrough rates </li></ul><ul><li>Short URLs get clic...
URL Testing & Iterative Optimization <ul><li>Further, long URLs appear to act as a deterrent to clicking, drawing attentio...
URL Testing & Iterative Optimization <ul><li>WordPress handles 301s automatically when renaming post slugs </li></ul><ul><...
Tune Your Internal Linking Structure <ul><li>Make sure your  most  important pages (most profitable products etc.) are all...
Run SEO Tests <ul><li>Vary only one thing at a time </li></ul><ul><li>With SEO, tests can’t be run in parallel </li></ul><...
An Example Experiment <ul><li>Question: Is the site-wide home link that is full of keywords actually helping your home pag...
SEO Metrics <ul><li>Page yield – % of unique pages yielding search engine-delivered traffic in a given month </li></ul><ul...
Sample KPIs Page Yield & Keyword Yield
SEO Metrics <ul><li>Visitors per keyword – ratio of search engine delivered visitors to search terms </li></ul><ul><li>Ind...
Score Your SEO <ul><li>On-page factors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. title tag, heading tags, anchor text, keyword prominence...
Covario Organic Search Insight
Real-Time Feedback <ul><li>No need to wait for crawling, indexing and re-ranking to see the likely impact of your content ...
Scribe for WordPress
Real-Time Feedback on Content Compendium Blogware: analyzes the blog post’s keyword strength on-the-fly
Nonperforming Pages <ul><li>What percentage of your unique crawled pages aren’t driving traffic in a given month? </li></u...
Non-performing pages report, sorted by crawler activity
SEO Metrics <ul><li>Top converting/performing page 2 ranked pages </li></ul><ul><li>Top converting/performing keywords on ...
Don’t Buy into SEO Myths <ul><li>Myths are created inadvertently, unintentionally </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to confuse co...
Don’t Buy into SEO Myths <ul><li>Personalization means nobody’s #1 anymore </li></ul><ul><li>Meta tags will boost your ran...
http://searchengineland.com/36-seo-myths-that-wont-die-but-need-to-40076
http://searchengineland.com/36-more-seo-myths-that-wont-die-but-need-to-41999
http://searchengineland.com/seo-myths-reloaded-clarifcations-consensus-and-controversy-41816
Let’s apply our knowledge to a real-world scenario...
Here’s a super-important home page (PageRank 9)
What’s up with the weak navigation?
The lack of strong text-based navigation is a real missed opportunity
Contrast this with the strong text nav on Yahoo’s home page
Great that these are text links. Bad that these are uber-generic keywords.
What’s the keyword focus?
Google AdWords Keyword Tool https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
Sort by search volume and switch to exact match
CTR: ~40% ~10% ~9% ~5%
http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com
 
 
 
The SEO power of WordPress.com lies with their community. Let’s pick one of their blogs...
Everything looks copasetic until you dig deeper...
Duplicate content & canonicalization issues
Uh oh. The redirect is a 302 instead of a 301, which doesn’t pass PageRank
Now What? <ul><li>What can you do tomorrow that will improve your site’s SEO? Write down 3 things. Get ‘em done! </li></ul...
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Stephan Spencer - SEMPO Atlanta. October 1, 2010. Topic: Advanced SEO

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Stephan Spencer - SEMPO Atlanta. October 1, 2010. Topic: Advanced SEO.

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  • Stephan gave a great presentation! If you'd like to read my writeup (and put narrative to his slides), it's here: http://www.searchadvisory.net/advanced-seo-mind-blowing-advice/ (note that I changed the order of some of his topics around to group them into categories).
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  • Transcript of "Stephan Spencer - SEMPO Atlanta. October 1, 2010. Topic: Advanced SEO"

    1. 1. Advanced SEO: An Assortment of Tools, Tips & Tactics Stephan Spencer Founder, Netconcepts; Co-Author, Art of SEO
    2. 2. Who Am I? <ul><li>Co-author of The Art of SEO </li></ul><ul><li>Founded Netconcepts LLC in Madison WI in 1995. Sold it to Covario in 2010. Founded Netconcepts Ltd in Auckland in 1999. </li></ul><ul><li>Lived in New Zealand for 8 yrs, returned to US in 2007. </li></ul><ul><li>Invented GravityStream, a pay-for-performance SEO technology (now Covario’s Organic Search Optimizer) </li></ul>© 2009 Stephan M Spencer Netconcepts www.netconcepts.com [email_address]
    3. 3.
    4. 4. A Blog is an Asset My daughter, blogger & SEO. $5 - $30 / day passive income. Started when she was 14. SEO: So simple even a child can do it!
    5. 5. Making Assumptions about Customer Vocabulary? <ul><li>Your customer doesn’t use industry-speak </li></ul><ul><li>Just because it makes intuitive sense doesn’t mean it’s right </li></ul><ul><li>Example: home loan vs. mortgage </li></ul><ul><li>Example: kitchen electrics </li></ul><ul><li>Example: digital camera(s) </li></ul><ul><li>Example: hoodie vs hooded sweatshirt </li></ul>
    6. 6. Soovle.com
    7. 7. Soovle.com
    8. 8. Soovle.com
    9. 9. Soovle.com
    10. 10. Keyword Brainstorming <ul><li>Keyword brainstorming should be integral to your content planning. Think laterally! </li></ul><ul><li>Example: Neopets </li></ul><ul><li>Example: baby furniture manufacturer </li></ul><ul><li>Soovle – autocompletes simultaneously from from Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, Wikipedia, Amazon, Answers.com </li></ul>
    11. 11. Soovle.com
    12. 12. Soovle.com
    13. 13. Soovle.com
    14. 14. Soovle.com
    15. 15. Soovle.com
    16. 16. Soovle.com
    17. 18. Use the Tools Properly <ul><li>Log in (to Google Trends, Google AdWords Keyword Tool, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Log out (when searching) – turn off personalization </li></ul><ul><li>Broad matching is the default in AdWords Keyword Tool </li></ul><ul><li>Run the right Google queries </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Estimated results w/o including omitted results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use “” or intitle: operator </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>white noise vs. “white noise” vs. intitle:“white noise” </li></ul></ul></ul>
    18. 23. Don’t Cannibalize Organic w/ Paid <ul><li>The so-called “synergy” of paid search with organic search is often manifested instead as cannibalization </li></ul>
    19. 24. http://searchengineland.com/organic-search-paid-search-are-they-synergistic-or-cannibalistic-36444
    20. 25. SEO Should Drive Your Social Media Strategy <ul><li>It’s not a social media “strategy” if it isn’t driven by SEO needs </li></ul><ul><li>Write “link bait” and seed it into social media like Digg.com </li></ul><ul><li>“ Power users” on social media get a lot more mileage out of their submissions </li></ul>
    21. 26. http://searchengineland.com/the-social-media-underground-22030
    22. 32. Watch Out for Duplicate Content <ul><li>Multiple URLs leading to the same piece of content </li></ul><ul><li>Duplicate content triggers Google’s “duplicate content filter” – all but one gets filtered out </li></ul><ul><li>It also results in PageRank dilution </li></ul><ul><li>Technical reasons: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Canonicalization (www.domain.com vs. domain.com) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Session IDs, tracking codes, superfluous parameters </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Indicators of (likely) duplicate content: duplicate title tags, duplicate meta description, duplicate page copy </li></ul>
    23. 33. Canonical Tag Misfires <ul><li>Example #1: NorthernSafety.com </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Many thousands of non-canonical URLs of northernsafety.com are indexed, despite use of the canonical tag </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>For example, click on the listings on http://www.google.com/search?q=site:northernsafety.com/products/+inurl:protective-clothing and compare those URLs to what's listed as the canonical URL in the link tag in the HTML source of these pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Canonical tags have been in place for many months </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Why did it happen? Hint: it has to do with space characters </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Example #2: Wikipedia </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What’s the reason for this one? Hint: absolute vs. relative </li></ul></ul>
    24. 34.
    25. 35.
    26. 36.
    27. 37.
    28. 38.
    29. 39.
    30. 40.
    31. 41.
    32. 42.
    33. 43. XML Sitemaps <ul><li>An easy partial fix. Assists indexation of site. </li></ul><ul><li>Provides a canonicalization signal </li></ul><ul><li>Industry standards at: www.sitemaps.org </li></ul><ul><li>Google vertical specific sitemaps: news, video, mobile </li></ul><ul><li>Can obscure the true problems with your site </li></ul><ul><li>If using Sitemaps, use “autodiscovery” </li></ul><ul><li>Moving URLs around (e.g. redesign)? Submit all your old URLs, have 301 redirects to everything </li></ul>
    34. 44. Robots.txt <ul><li>To bar crawlers from... </li></ul><ul><ul><li>non-public parts of your website </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>trying to index scripts, utilities, or other types of code </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>duplicate content, such as “print” versions of html pages </li></ul></ul><ul><li>For auto-discovery of XML Sitemaps </li></ul><ul><li>Syntax: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>User-agent: * </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disallow: /admin/ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Read my primer on robots.txt: http://searchengineland.com/a-deeper-look-at-robotstxt-17573 </li></ul>
    35. 45. Robots.txt <ul><li>Done wrong, can block bots from entire site </li></ul><ul><li>Too often implemented incorrectly, unfortunately </li></ul>Tip: This will block all bots from your entire site User-agent: * Disallow: / Are you sure that’s what you want?
    36. 46. Rewrite Spider-Unfriendly URLs <ul><li>3 approaches: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use a “URL rewriting” server module / plugin – such as mod_rewrite for Apache, or ISAPI_Rewrite for IIS Server </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Recode your scripts to extract variables out of the “path_info” part of the URL instead of the “query_string” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Or, if IT department involvement must be minimized, use a proxy server based solution (e.g. Covario’s Organic Search Optimizer) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With (1) and (2), replace all occurrences of your old URLs in links on your site with your new search-friendly URLs. 301 redirect the old to new URLs too, so no link juice is lost. </li></ul></ul>
    37. 47. Eliminate the Low- (or No) Value Activities <ul><li>Meta keywords, anyone? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google never supported this worthless tag </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2009/09/google-does-not-use-keywords-meta-tag.html </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Free info for your competitors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Guaranteed there are items on your SEO to-do list that aren’t worth doing </li></ul><ul><li>Be outcome-focused, not activity-focused </li></ul>
    38. 49. URL Testing & Iterative Optimization <ul><li>URL affects searcher clickthrough rates </li></ul><ul><li>Short URLs get clicked on 2X long URLs (Source: MarketingSherpa, used with permission ) </li></ul>
    39. 50. URL Testing & Iterative Optimization <ul><li>Further, long URLs appear to act as a deterrent to clicking, drawing attention away from its listing and instead directing it to the listing below it, which then gets clicked 2.5x more frequently. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http://searchengineland.com/080515-084124.php </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Don’t be complacent with search-friendly URLs. Test and optimize. </li></ul><ul><li>Make iterative improvements to URLs, but don’t lose link juice to previous URLs. 301 previous URLs to latest. No chains of 301s. </li></ul>
    40. 51. URL Testing & Iterative Optimization <ul><li>WordPress handles 301s automatically when renaming post slugs </li></ul><ul><li>Mass edit admin for URLs (post slugs) in WordPress – via the “SEO Title Tag” plugin (www.netconcepts.com/seo-title-tag-plugin) </li></ul>
    41. 52.
    42. 53. Tune Your Internal Linking Structure <ul><li>Make sure your most important pages (most profitable products etc.) are all linked to from your home page </li></ul><ul><li>Try to keep all pages no more than a couple of clicks away from an external link source </li></ul><ul><li>Move your important internal text links from blocks of &quot;SEO copy” at the bottom of the page or sidebar to more visible parts of the page. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Think in terms of whether the link is likely to get clicked on by a typical surfer or not (i.e. Google's &quot;reasonable surfer&quot; patent). If it's not likely to get clicked on because of its placement, then it's probably getting discounted by Google </li></ul></ul>
    43. 54. Run SEO Tests <ul><li>Vary only one thing at a time </li></ul><ul><li>With SEO, tests can’t be run in parallel </li></ul><ul><li>Try different synonyms, different verb tenses, different word order </li></ul><ul><li>Tighten the keyword focus of the title tag </li></ul><ul><li>H1 tags are no longer a strong signal. Don’t take my word for it, though. Test it for yourself. </li></ul><ul><li>Measure the success of tests based on multiple metrics - not just rankings. E.g. spidering activity, traffic, sales, page yield, keyword yield </li></ul>
    44. 55. An Example Experiment <ul><li>Question: Is the site-wide home link that is full of keywords actually helping your home page rank higher in Google? </li></ul><ul><li>Hypothesis: It is not. </li></ul><ul><li>Run the test: Establish a baseline of rankings for the home page for the keywords in the anchor text. Then change that link to simply say &quot;Home&quot; and watch for the rankings impact. </li></ul><ul><li>Further confirmation: Then switch it back to the original keyword-rich link. Did it drop then rise again? </li></ul>
    45. 56. SEO Metrics <ul><li>Page yield – % of unique pages yielding search engine-delivered traffic in a given month </li></ul><ul><li>Keyword yield – ratio of keywords to pages yielding search traffic </li></ul><ul><li>Brand-to-nonbrand ratio – % of search traffic coming from brand keywords vs. nonbrand keywords </li></ul><ul><li>Unique pages – non-duplicate pages crawled </li></ul>
    46. 57. Sample KPIs Page Yield & Keyword Yield
    47. 58. SEO Metrics <ul><li>Visitors per keyword – ratio of search engine delivered visitors to search terms </li></ul><ul><li>Index-to-crawl ratio – ratio of pages indexed to unique crawled pages </li></ul><ul><li>Engine yield – how much traffic the engine delivers for every page it crawls </li></ul>
    48. 59. Score Your SEO <ul><li>On-page factors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. title tag, heading tags, anchor text, keyword prominence, meta description, etc. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Off-page factors </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. inbound links, trust, authority (harder to change quickly) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Technologies: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enterprise level: Covario’s Organic Search Insight </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Small business: HubSpot’s WebsiteGrader.com </li></ul></ul><ul><li>See http://searchengineland.com/the-science-of-scoring-your-seo-28769 </li></ul>
    49. 60. Covario Organic Search Insight
    50. 61. Real-Time Feedback <ul><li>No need to wait for crawling, indexing and re-ranking to see the likely impact of your content revisions/additions </li></ul><ul><li>Content analysis tools like Scribe, a WordPress plugin, that gives real-time feedback on the SEO of your content </li></ul><ul><li>Content analysis baked into enterprise-level tools like Compendium Blogware or Covario Organic Search Insight </li></ul>
    51. 62. Scribe for WordPress
    52. 63. Real-Time Feedback on Content Compendium Blogware: analyzes the blog post’s keyword strength on-the-fly
    53. 64. Nonperforming Pages <ul><li>What percentage of your unique crawled pages aren’t driving traffic in a given month? </li></ul><ul><li>These are affectionately known as “freeloaders”! </li></ul><ul><li>This percentage is larger than you think </li></ul><ul><li>Target the most frequently crawled nonperforming pages. This is the “low-hanging fruit” </li></ul><ul><li>These pages are likely to have some good PageRank and changes will get picked up quickly. </li></ul><ul><li>If you can’t get them to perform after repeated attempts, consider dumping them from your site’s link graph (nofollow, noindex etc.) </li></ul>
    54. 65. Non-performing pages report, sorted by crawler activity
    55. 66. SEO Metrics <ul><li>Top converting/performing page 2 ranked pages </li></ul><ul><li>Top converting/performing keywords on one engine that are non-performing on another </li></ul><ul><li>Highest potential keywords you’re getting traffic for </li></ul><ul><li>Highest potential keywords you’re not getting traffic for, based on potential referrals, revenue, and ROI </li></ul>
    56. 67. Don’t Buy into SEO Myths <ul><li>Myths are created inadvertently, unintentionally </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy to confuse correlation with causation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Some myths are perpetuated by snake oil salesmen </li></ul><ul><ul><li>e.g. If some SEO consultant starts talking about how they’ll help you rank by optimizing your meta tags, turn and run! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Bottom line: SEO is an experimental science </li></ul>
    57. 68. Don’t Buy into SEO Myths <ul><li>Personalization means nobody’s #1 anymore </li></ul><ul><li>Meta tags will boost your rankings </li></ul><ul><li>Country sites are “duplicate content” </li></ul><ul><li>JavaScripted links will keep the spiders away </li></ul><ul><li>Googlebot doesn’t read CSS </li></ul><ul><li>You must update your home page daily </li></ul><ul><li>Linking out (such as to Google.com) helps rankings </li></ul><ul><li>SEO is a one-time activity </li></ul><ul><li>Using Flash will tank your SEO </li></ul><ul><li>SEO is free </li></ul><ul><li>Google penalizes for duplicate content </li></ul><ul><li>.edu links get extra weight </li></ul><ul><li>etc. </li></ul>
    58. 69. http://searchengineland.com/36-seo-myths-that-wont-die-but-need-to-40076
    59. 70. http://searchengineland.com/36-more-seo-myths-that-wont-die-but-need-to-41999
    60. 71. http://searchengineland.com/seo-myths-reloaded-clarifcations-consensus-and-controversy-41816
    61. 72. Let’s apply our knowledge to a real-world scenario...
    62. 73. Here’s a super-important home page (PageRank 9)
    63. 74. What’s up with the weak navigation?
    64. 75. The lack of strong text-based navigation is a real missed opportunity
    65. 76. Contrast this with the strong text nav on Yahoo’s home page
    66. 77. Great that these are text links. Bad that these are uber-generic keywords.
    67. 78. What’s the keyword focus?
    68. 79. Google AdWords Keyword Tool https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal
    69. 80. Sort by search volume and switch to exact match
    70. 81. CTR: ~40% ~10% ~9% ~5%
    71. 82. http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com
    72. 86. The SEO power of WordPress.com lies with their community. Let’s pick one of their blogs...
    73. 87. Everything looks copasetic until you dig deeper...
    74. 88. Duplicate content & canonicalization issues
    75. 89. Uh oh. The redirect is a 302 instead of a 301, which doesn’t pass PageRank
    76. 90. Now What? <ul><li>What can you do tomorrow that will improve your site’s SEO? Write down 3 things. Get ‘em done! </li></ul><ul><li>Remember: you eat an elephant one bite at a time </li></ul><ul><li>To contact me: [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>For an SEO Best & Worst Practices whitepaper & checklist, e-mail me </li></ul>
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