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

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: (note that I changed the order of some of his topics around to group them into categories).
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  • Application Development with SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2005
  • Transcript

    • 1. Advanced SEO: An Assortment of Tools, Tips & Tactics Stephan Spencer Founder, Netconcepts; Co-Author, Art of SEO
    • 2. Who Am I?
      • Co-author of The Art of SEO
      • Founded Netconcepts LLC in Madison WI in 1995. Sold it to Covario in 2010. Founded Netconcepts Ltd in Auckland in 1999.
      • Lived in New Zealand for 8 yrs, returned to US in 2007.
      • Invented GravityStream, a pay-for-performance SEO technology (now Covario’s Organic Search Optimizer)
      © 2009 Stephan M Spencer Netconcepts [email_address]
    • 3.
    • 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. Making Assumptions about Customer Vocabulary?
      • Your customer doesn’t use industry-speak
      • Just because it makes intuitive sense doesn’t mean it’s right
      • Example: home loan vs. mortgage
      • Example: kitchen electrics
      • Example: digital camera(s)
      • Example: hoodie vs hooded sweatshirt
    • 6.
    • 7.
    • 8.
    • 9.
    • 10. Keyword Brainstorming
      • Keyword brainstorming should be integral to your content planning. Think laterally!
      • Example: Neopets
      • Example: baby furniture manufacturer
      • Soovle – autocompletes simultaneously from from Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube, Wikipedia, Amazon,
    • 11.
    • 12.
    • 13.
    • 14.
    • 15.
    • 16.
    • 17.  
    • 18. Use the Tools Properly
      • Log in (to Google Trends, Google AdWords Keyword Tool, etc.)
      • Log out (when searching) – turn off personalization
      • Broad matching is the default in AdWords Keyword Tool
      • Run the right Google queries
        • Estimated results w/o including omitted results
        • Use “” or intitle: operator
          • white noise vs. “white noise” vs. intitle:“white noise”
    • 19.  
    • 20.  
    • 21.  
    • 22.  
    • 23. Don’t Cannibalize Organic w/ Paid
      • The so-called “synergy” of paid search with organic search is often manifested instead as cannibalization
    • 24.
    • 25. SEO Should Drive Your Social Media Strategy
      • It’s not a social media “strategy” if it isn’t driven by SEO needs
      • Write “link bait” and seed it into social media like
      • “ Power users” on social media get a lot more mileage out of their submissions
    • 26.
    • 27.  
    • 28.  
    • 29.  
    • 30.  
    • 31.  
    • 32. Watch Out for Duplicate Content
      • Multiple URLs leading to the same piece of content
      • Duplicate content triggers Google’s “duplicate content filter” – all but one gets filtered out
      • It also results in PageRank dilution
      • Technical reasons:
        • Canonicalization ( vs.
        • Session IDs, tracking codes, superfluous parameters
      • Indicators of (likely) duplicate content: duplicate title tags, duplicate meta description, duplicate page copy
    • 33. Canonical Tag Misfires
      • Example #1:
        • Many thousands of non-canonical URLs of are indexed, despite use of the canonical tag
        • For example, click on the listings on and compare those URLs to what's listed as the canonical URL in the link tag in the HTML source of these pages
        • Canonical tags have been in place for many months
        • Why did it happen? Hint: it has to do with space characters
      • Example #2: Wikipedia
        • What’s the reason for this one? Hint: absolute vs. relative
    • 34.
    • 35.
    • 36.
    • 37.
    • 38.
    • 39.
    • 40.
    • 41.
    • 42.
    • 43. XML Sitemaps
      • An easy partial fix. Assists indexation of site.
      • Provides a canonicalization signal
      • Industry standards at:
      • Google vertical specific sitemaps: news, video, mobile
      • Can obscure the true problems with your site
      • If using Sitemaps, use “autodiscovery”
      • Moving URLs around (e.g. redesign)? Submit all your old URLs, have 301 redirects to everything
    • 44. Robots.txt
      • To bar crawlers from...
        • non-public parts of your website
        • trying to index scripts, utilities, or other types of code
        • duplicate content, such as “print” versions of html pages
      • For auto-discovery of XML Sitemaps
      • Syntax:
        • User-agent: *
        • Disallow: /admin/
      • Read my primer on robots.txt:
    • 45. Robots.txt
      • Done wrong, can block bots from entire site
      • Too often implemented incorrectly, unfortunately
      Tip: This will block all bots from your entire site User-agent: * Disallow: / Are you sure that’s what you want?
    • 46. Rewrite Spider-Unfriendly URLs
      • 3 approaches:
        • Use a “URL rewriting” server module / plugin – such as mod_rewrite for Apache, or ISAPI_Rewrite for IIS Server
        • Recode your scripts to extract variables out of the “path_info” part of the URL instead of the “query_string”
        • Or, if IT department involvement must be minimized, use a proxy server based solution (e.g. Covario’s Organic Search Optimizer)
        • 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.
    • 47. Eliminate the Low- (or No) Value Activities
      • Meta keywords, anyone?
        • Google never supported this worthless tag
        • Free info for your competitors
      • Guaranteed there are items on your SEO to-do list that aren’t worth doing
      • Be outcome-focused, not activity-focused
    • 48.  
    • 49. URL Testing & Iterative Optimization
      • URL affects searcher clickthrough rates
      • Short URLs get clicked on 2X long URLs (Source: MarketingSherpa, used with permission )
    • 50. URL Testing & Iterative Optimization
      • 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.
      • Don’t be complacent with search-friendly URLs. Test and optimize.
      • Make iterative improvements to URLs, but don’t lose link juice to previous URLs. 301 previous URLs to latest. No chains of 301s.
    • 51. URL Testing & Iterative Optimization
      • WordPress handles 301s automatically when renaming post slugs
      • Mass edit admin for URLs (post slugs) in WordPress – via the “SEO Title Tag” plugin (
    • 52.
    • 53. Tune Your Internal Linking Structure
      • Make sure your most important pages (most profitable products etc.) are all linked to from your home page
      • Try to keep all pages no more than a couple of clicks away from an external link source
      • Move your important internal text links from blocks of "SEO copy” at the bottom of the page or sidebar to more visible parts of the page.
        • Think in terms of whether the link is likely to get clicked on by a typical surfer or not (i.e. Google's "reasonable surfer" patent). If it's not likely to get clicked on because of its placement, then it's probably getting discounted by Google
    • 54. Run SEO Tests
      • Vary only one thing at a time
      • With SEO, tests can’t be run in parallel
      • Try different synonyms, different verb tenses, different word order
      • Tighten the keyword focus of the title tag
      • H1 tags are no longer a strong signal. Don’t take my word for it, though. Test it for yourself.
      • Measure the success of tests based on multiple metrics - not just rankings. E.g. spidering activity, traffic, sales, page yield, keyword yield
    • 55. An Example Experiment
      • Question: Is the site-wide home link that is full of keywords actually helping your home page rank higher in Google?
      • Hypothesis: It is not.
      • 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 "Home" and watch for the rankings impact.
      • Further confirmation: Then switch it back to the original keyword-rich link. Did it drop then rise again?
    • 56. SEO Metrics
      • Page yield – % of unique pages yielding search engine-delivered traffic in a given month
      • Keyword yield – ratio of keywords to pages yielding search traffic
      • Brand-to-nonbrand ratio – % of search traffic coming from brand keywords vs. nonbrand keywords
      • Unique pages – non-duplicate pages crawled
    • 57. Sample KPIs Page Yield & Keyword Yield
    • 58. SEO Metrics
      • Visitors per keyword – ratio of search engine delivered visitors to search terms
      • Index-to-crawl ratio – ratio of pages indexed to unique crawled pages
      • Engine yield – how much traffic the engine delivers for every page it crawls
    • 59. Score Your SEO
      • On-page factors
        • e.g. title tag, heading tags, anchor text, keyword prominence, meta description, etc.
      • Off-page factors
        • e.g. inbound links, trust, authority (harder to change quickly)
      • Technologies:
        • Enterprise level: Covario’s Organic Search Insight
        • Small business: HubSpot’s
      • See
    • 60. Covario Organic Search Insight
    • 61. Real-Time Feedback
      • No need to wait for crawling, indexing and re-ranking to see the likely impact of your content revisions/additions
      • Content analysis tools like Scribe, a WordPress plugin, that gives real-time feedback on the SEO of your content
      • Content analysis baked into enterprise-level tools like Compendium Blogware or Covario Organic Search Insight
    • 62. Scribe for WordPress
    • 63. Real-Time Feedback on Content Compendium Blogware: analyzes the blog post’s keyword strength on-the-fly
    • 64. Nonperforming Pages
      • What percentage of your unique crawled pages aren’t driving traffic in a given month?
      • These are affectionately known as “freeloaders”!
      • This percentage is larger than you think
      • Target the most frequently crawled nonperforming pages. This is the “low-hanging fruit”
      • These pages are likely to have some good PageRank and changes will get picked up quickly.
      • If you can’t get them to perform after repeated attempts, consider dumping them from your site’s link graph (nofollow, noindex etc.)
    • 65. Non-performing pages report, sorted by crawler activity
    • 66. SEO Metrics
      • Top converting/performing page 2 ranked pages
      • Top converting/performing keywords on one engine that are non-performing on another
      • Highest potential keywords you’re getting traffic for
      • Highest potential keywords you’re not getting traffic for, based on potential referrals, revenue, and ROI
    • 67. Don’t Buy into SEO Myths
      • Myths are created inadvertently, unintentionally
        • Easy to confuse correlation with causation
      • Some myths are perpetuated by snake oil salesmen
        • e.g. If some SEO consultant starts talking about how they’ll help you rank by optimizing your meta tags, turn and run!
      • Bottom line: SEO is an experimental science
    • 68. Don’t Buy into SEO Myths
      • Personalization means nobody’s #1 anymore
      • Meta tags will boost your rankings
      • Country sites are “duplicate content”
      • JavaScripted links will keep the spiders away
      • Googlebot doesn’t read CSS
      • You must update your home page daily
      • Linking out (such as to helps rankings
      • SEO is a one-time activity
      • Using Flash will tank your SEO
      • SEO is free
      • Google penalizes for duplicate content
      • .edu links get extra weight
      • etc.
    • 69.
    • 70.
    • 71.
    • 72. Let’s apply our knowledge to a real-world scenario...
    • 73. Here’s a super-important home page (PageRank 9)
    • 74. What’s up with the weak navigation?
    • 75. The lack of strong text-based navigation is a real missed opportunity
    • 76. Contrast this with the strong text nav on Yahoo’s home page
    • 77. Great that these are text links. Bad that these are uber-generic keywords.
    • 78. What’s the keyword focus?
    • 79. Google AdWords Keyword Tool
    • 80. Sort by search volume and switch to exact match
    • 81. CTR: ~40% ~10% ~9% ~5%
    • 82.
    • 83.  
    • 84.  
    • 85.  
    • 86. The SEO power of lies with their community. Let’s pick one of their blogs...
    • 87. Everything looks copasetic until you dig deeper...
    • 88. Duplicate content & canonicalization issues
    • 89. Uh oh. The redirect is a 302 instead of a 301, which doesn’t pass PageRank
    • 90. Now What?
      • What can you do tomorrow that will improve your site’s SEO? Write down 3 things. Get ‘em done!
      • Remember: you eat an elephant one bite at a time
      • To contact me: [email_address]
      • For an SEO Best & Worst Practices whitepaper & checklist, e-mail me