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Duane Forrester of Webmaster Tools Speaks @SLCSEM


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January 16, 2013 - Duane Forrester, Sr Product Manager at Webmaster Tools ( spoke to nearly 200 Internet Marketers in Utah about the state of search - covering …

January 16, 2013 - Duane Forrester, Sr Product Manager at Webmaster Tools ( spoke to nearly 200 Internet Marketers in Utah about the state of search - covering real world searcher behavior, best practices for SEO & social media marketing, likes vs links, the value of conversion optimization and quality content creation for your businesses' online presence.

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  • From Nouns to Verbs
  • So once we have all these objects, and begin to understand intent, we can do some magic
  • What is semantic? Definition – in essence, it’s the study of language. In application, that means being able to make associations between objects as they exist in the real world in order to give us conetxt for conversations. I know a horse is a mamal, of phylum foo, genus foo. I know it has 4 legs, I know people ride on it (it doesn’t ride people), . All these things impose logical constraints on both the questions I ask as well as the responses I give when asked a question. I would never ask “Can I have a florida jaguar?”Engines today don’t benefit from this ability. They rely on a model of indexing and classification based on how close words are to each other, what pages link to what other pages, etc. It’s kind of like trying to learn a language by memorizign the dictionary – sure, you can find the definition for cat very quickly because you know that’s “c” but you wont know how to use it. Data – More collection of richly augmented data. Not just a crawl, but a crawl with more associated attributes.Knowledge – Mnet – we have to train Models – Achieve this through the above – an understanding of data, how it relates both technically and in the real world, and why it may be useful.Tasks - ultimately leads to tasks – how do you hav a conversation with an engine? How do you have it do things for you? Even our cool task tools you saw are embryonic – you still have to give us too many hints.
  • 9 billion to 25 billion in the next 8 years
  • According to estimates, there are more than 500,000 apps in the Apple iTunes Store and about 450,000 apps in the Android Marketplace. Apple has seen more than 25 billion app downloads, while Android has had more than 10 billion Agents (personalized structures, devices, push)Commerce (compare, pay)Control SurfacesChallengesBatteriesInterfacesNetwork capacityService interopdownloads. This includes both free and paid apps.
  •  From a machine perspective, getting harder to process. From a human perrspective, its harder to make decisions. Social neuroscientists have described this phenom as Decision quicksand where you get sucked into every decision … the amount of choices you have for every decision makes it hard to decide."There was 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every 2 days, and the pace is increasing...People aren't ready for the technology revolution that's going to happen to them." - Eric “Squirrel Boy” Schmidt, 2010. An Exabyte is 1 billion gigabytes. Or about 125MM Windows Phone 7s. So the world is creating enough data to fill a WP7 device for every man, woman, and child in the US – every day. Search engine model on links rapoidluy becoming unable to cope/strained/inprecise (scotty picture). Social isnt a fad, it’s a requirement to parse thru these data (need picture of scotty, other types of media (pics, video, etc that arent ‘indexable’ as a link)All about context ->How much data is out there – there is no way to cut thru the clutter for any query.  Every query ends up beign as ‘important’ as the next one becauae our brains see a huge number of choices, so we assume they are all equally important.  How do we break the tie?----- From:Tren GriffinSent: Friday, April 08, 2011 8:49:54 PM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada)To:Litebulb - Ideas and Resources (FTE)Subject: Rational InattentionThursday, April 07, 2011 InattentionThese models are interesting, but the mathematics underneath them can be challenging (here's a taste):'Rational Inattention' Guides Overloaded Brains, Helps Economists Understand Market Behavior, by AntonellaTutino, Economic Letter, FRB Dallas: Between Internet news sources, social media and email, people are awash in information, most of it accessible at near-zero cost. Yet, humans possess only a finite capacity to process all of it. The average email user, for example, receives dozens of messages per day. The messages can’t all receive equal attention. How carefully does someone read an email from a sibling or friend before crafting a reply? How closely does a person read an email from the boss?Limitations on the ability to process information force people to make choices regarding the subjects to which they pay more or less attention. Economists have long acknowledged the existence of human cognitive capacities, but only in recent years have models embodying such limits known as “rational inattention” found their way into mainstream macroeconomics.Rational inattention models have a broad range of applications. They may reconcile relatively unchanged prices and volatile ones and how the two play out in aggregate demand in the U.S. economy. Moreover, such models can capture salient features of the business cycle, providing a rationale for sharp contractions or slower expansions. Finally, rational inattention models have significant implications for monetary policy. Since the focus of these models revolves around formation of peoples’ expectations, understanding how individuals perceive the economy is instrumental to policymakers’ efforts to achieve output and price stabilization objectives.Rational Inattention: A PrimerOne macroeconomic school of thought—known as rational expectations—assumes that people fully and quickly process all freely available information. By comparison, under rational inattention theory, information is also fully and freely available, but people lack the capability to quickly absorb it all and translate it into decisions. Rational inattention is based on a simple observation: Attention is a scarce resource and, as such, it must be budgeted wisely.[1]A world with overwhelming amounts of facts and data means prioritizing activities, recognizing individual processing limitations and accepting the consequences when acting, even if all information isn’t fully analyzed. Given a physical constraint on the rate at which people can process information—referred to as Shannon’s channel, after Claude Shannon, a Bell Labs researcher who pioneered information theory in the 1940s—people choose how much attention to devote to different subjects so they can maximize their productivity.This seemingly abstract concept has a familiar resonance with day-to-day experience. For instance, the maximum amount of information that somebody can download from a computer at any one moment cannot exceed a number—the transmission rate—provided by the manufacturer. Likewise, a person cannot instantaneously respond to a given email. The amount of time it takes to answer email depends on its content and how much information that person wants to process to produce a sensible reply. The brain, which has limits on its processing abilities, is the channel through which an individual directs information, from the original email to the reply.Incorporating such limits introduces great complexity into economic models. Still, economists are making progress, and results from this new avenue of research can explain several important aspects of macroeconomic performance. For instance, consider the business cycle, the period of activity between booms and busts. Data tell us that in aggregate, output contractions are faster than output growth during a typical cycle. Yet, mainstream models, whose intrinsically symmetric structure tends to make business expansion and contraction roughly equal, cannot account for this characteristic.Rational inattention theory allows richer modeling that does not assume a symmetry of reactions to positive or negative economic shocks—an unanticipated beneficial boost in technology or an unexpected oil price increase doesn’t produce the same pattern of reactions.Moreover, rational inattention models carry far-reaching policy implications. The underlying theory aims to provide a solid structure to study economic expectations as well as the public’s reaction to change. If central banks successfully reconcile the two, they can more effectively communicate strategies and goals, thus achieving policy objectives.Choosing How to ConsumeData show that individuals react more quickly and strongly to loss of wealth than to an enhanced financial condition. The overall economy reduces output in response to a negative shock more rapidly than it boosts production in the presence of positive developments of the same significance.[2] Rational inattention provides a possible reason for such behavior. Individuals choose bits of information according to their interests; risk aversion may induce people to process negative news faster than positive news. As an example, suppose someone reads in the news that interest rates are falling and businesses are cutting budgets. An interest-rate reduction doesn’t generally prompt people to rush to the bank to obtain a loan so they can consume instantaneously. However, news that companies are cutting expenses, possibly including worker pay, might encourage individuals to more readily seek clarification about their job situation and start making savings plans. Such behavioral differences are an example of an asymmetric response to an economic shock involving consumption and income.Rational inattention theory produces both micro- and macroeconomic dynamics—individual decision making and broader aggregate behaviors—observationally distinct from standard models.[3] These attributes have motivated new research into developing models that make sufficiently specific predictions that can be compared with actual data for individual and group actions.[4]Making Labor ChoicesThe relationship between Shannon channel information processing constraints and the human brain’s capacity suggests how rational inattention may be useful for economic modeling. Consider a person who must decide how much to consume and work while facing uncertainty about wages. Choosing the appropriate amounts and kinds of labor and consumption requires paying attention to current and future savings as well as various ways of earning income from one’s work. Information-processing constraints come into play, limiting the number of combinations the person would realistically evaluate. Applying rational inattention to this situation provides a useful framework for how the task will be undertaken.For example, the theory’s predictions are consistent with business cycles and secular trends in the U.S.—consumption is more changeable than the number of hours worked.[5] People are more likely to modify how much they save than the amount of time worked, a behavior corroborated by data.[6] Moreover, a group of such behaviors, which may greatly vary among individuals, can be much less volatile when taken together in the aggregate.Selling Low, Buying HighWhy are items on sale always noticeable at the supermarket, while price increases get much less visibility? Rational inattention models suggest that stores have an interest in attracting the attention of the customer to temporary price cuts to increase demand in the hope that the merchants can maintain consumption when the items go back to full price and the discount fades. Models of price-setting are designed to generate price and wage rigidity—the notion that goods prices and salary are fixed for a long time.Rational inattention not only accomplishes this, but also explains which types of prices are most likely to remain rigid. Moreover, the theory can account for an important feature shared by many grocery store prices: frequent temporary discounting that reverts to a relatively stable price not prone to change outside of the “sale” periods.[7]Consider the price-setting of a monopolistic producer who pays limited attention to demand. Importantly, the price paths drawn from such models are consistent in ways that rational expectation models are not. For example, under rational inattention, producers’ responses to input shocks, such as a supply disruption, are delayed and gradual; prices are rigid through time, and when changes occur, they are significant. Pricing is asymmetric, with sales (low prices) advertised to pique customer interest while diverting attention from price increases.Computational complexity prevents the building of a rational inattention model that could explain a marketplace in pricing equilibrium, the point at which sellers can attract buyers to purchase all that they have produced. However, the literature has produced one example in which both consumers and producers have limited capacity to process information about prices.[8]In that model, sellers produce a range of similar goods and compete perfectly for shares of the market, while consumers decide what bundle of goods to buy and where to shop. An unanticipated technology change affecting producers provides an outside shock. In this model, firms make real profits even if markets are perfectly competitive and prices don’t change for a prolonged period. Mainstream theory predicts that when markets are perfectly competitive, producers can’t charge a high markup without losing customers. Rational inattention models predict that competitive producers, exploiting the limited ability of consumers to process information about pricing, can make larger profits.Brand-name products are a case in point. They are well advertised and, as a result, people may purchase them instead of often cheaper non-brand-name competitors, though the items may be essentially the same with little difference to justify a premium price.Making Policy ChoicesWhether rigid prices and wages occur because of market structure, such as monopolistic competition, or rational inattention has important policy implications. For instance, regulation may address a monopolistic situation, limiting a firm’s market power. Conversely, if rigidities mainly arise from rational inattention, then efforts should be made to more actively communicate the direction of monetary policy.Rational inattention also strongly affects policymakers’ communications strategies. Most obviously, the theory suggests that rationally inattentive people make the most of available information by analyzing those bits that are very relevant to their decisions and disregarding the rest. As a result, the public can make better decisions with better overall outcomes if policymakers are highly transparent about what they do and why.Because rational inattention theory predicts that people pay attention to information according to their needs, people have little incentive to take note of economic bellwethers in times of stability. By contrast, in volatile periods, market participants will allocate more time analyzing current and future macroeconomic indicators. That can result in more changeable behavior, including overreaction to news and policy changes.Rational inattention implies that monetary policy instruments serve a dual role in the economy—as a stabilizing and signaling device. The theory provides a solid framework to study the effects of the policy changes on private sector behavior by taking into account this double duty.An implication of this suggests that in troubled economic times, central bankers must pay closer attention to their message. By contrast, in less stressful periods, difficult policy choices can be made with less likelihood of market overreaction.In email parlance, it’s almost as if an important announcement has been diverted into a spam folder, where it may sit for a long time while attention is given to the daily flow of news and messages. The critical information is there but escapes detection and reaction until much later, if at all.NotesSee “Implications of Rational Inattention,” by Christopher A. Sims, Journal of Monetary Economics, vol. 50, no. 3, 2003, pp. 665–90, and “Rational Inattention: Beyond the Linear-Quadratic Case,” by Christopher A. Sims, American Economic Review, vol. 96, no. 2, 2006, pp. 158–63. See “Some International Evidence on Output-Inflation Tradeoffs,” by Robert E. Lucas Jr., American Economic Review, vol. 63, no. 3, 1973, pp. 326–34. “The Rigidity of Choices: Lifetime Savings Under Information-Processing Constraints,” by AntonellaTutino, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, unpublished paper, 2010. “The Empirical Relevance of Rational Inattention,” by AntonellaTutino, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, unpublished paper, 2011. See “Intertemporal Substitution in Macroeconomics,” by N. Gregory Mankiw,  Julio J. Rotemberg and Lawrence H. Summers, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, vol.100, no.1, 1985, pp. 225–51. See “Rationally Inattentive Macroeconomic Wedges,” by AntonellaTutino, Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, vol. 35, no. 3, 2011, pp. 344–62. See “Rigid Pricing and Rationally Inattentive Consumer,” by FilipMatejka, CERGE-EI Working Paper Series no. 409, April 2010. “Implications of Rational Inattention on Market Power,” by Fabio Araujo and AntonellaTutino, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, unpublished paper, 2010.
  • Quality : Create unique, interesting and useful content.Trust: Work on getting trustworthy sites linking to your site. Be sure to manage the anchor text they use.Popularity: Being popular helps. While quality of your inbound links matters more, having a number of trustworthy links pointed at your content helps, too.Timeliness: Practice frequent updating of your sites or blogs. Visitors like to know your site is current.Simplicity: Make it easy to Like and Share content. Enable functionality which encourages visitors to share your content. Share: Include links in Tweets and Updates via your own social spaces. As we’ve seen, the perceived quality of your tweets and posts increases when you include links to relevant, useful content.Relationships: Seek ways to encourage trust-worthy people to share your links or tweets. Avoid spammy clumps or groups who randomly retweet or like things. Organic is best.Frequency: The number of people retweeting or Liking what you said/shared in the last minute, hour, day, week is easily seen by the engines. Work to increase your influence.Change: Be prepared to turn on a dime, and for the flash mob as new things go viral. Focus shifts quickly today, so be ready to take advantage of shifts as they occur.
  • Transcript

    • 1. what does duane do at bing Bing Webmaster Tools Speaks at shows, runs forums and blog, provides guidance on new WM tools Does he have a clue? 12+ years as an inhouse SEO; ran seo at MSN; has helped Disney, GAP, Walmart + @duaneforrester And this helps me how? Blogging since 2001; owns 150 domains; gets monthly Adsense checks ($x,xxx)!/DuaneForresterYour data, always fully provided.
    • 2. Your data, always fully provided.
    • 3. Search – were trying to solve…Your data, always fully provided. ComScore and Microsoft Internal Analysis
    • 4. Moving Beyond Queries to SessionsIncreasing Use for More Complex Tasks Time Spent on Sessions by Length Queries Over Time 0-3 mins >30 mins 9% Exact Repeats 46% 19% Partial Repeats 3-10 mins 30% Almost 12% Almost 50% 50% of all time spent 10-15 mins 10% of queries are searching is on returning to sessions > 30 minutes previous tasks New Queries 15-30 mins 51% 23%Search Sessions are Long and Repetitive…Your data, always fully provided.
    • 5. A hotel that’s near Bryant Park, sincethat’s near my meeting, has reliable airconditioning, good smelling shampooand a shower taller than me. A decentbar is nice to have. A coffee maker in theroom is critical. I don’t care if it’sStarwood. Needs to be under$200/night.
    • 6. A Changing “Web of Objects” Real-Time Firehose People Services Devices Places/Things MultimediaYour data, always fully provided.
    • 7. A Changing Web of Your Objects Mark up your can helpYour data, always fully provided.
    • 8. To crawl a URL costs roughly a penny…a little less, in fact There are over a trillion pages online, from ~ 650 million sites We need to crawl them all to see if they’re worth indexing REAL-TIME SOCIAL LOCAL & MOBILE COMMERCE DEVICES PLATFORMS SERVICESYour data, always fully provided. 9
    • 9. Your data, always fully provided.
    • 10. Reinventing Search Across 3 Dimensions Information Architecture Creation of new information via social graph and geospatial index Interaction Model Not just mouse and keyboard, but also voice, touch, gesture & vision Entry Points Not just browser, but devices, services and social networksYour data, always fully provided.
    • 11. Search - EvolvedDeliver knowledge by computationally understanding user intent. “Linda” Query Intent Detection Task Derivation • Who • Purchase • Where • Install “home gym” • Others • Sell • Semantic • Set fire to • Research • Impress friends Content Services Media + UX Real TimeYour data, always fully provided.
    • 12. Other Major Trends Semantics MobileYour data, always fully provided.
    • 13. Semantic User ExperienceYour data, always fully provided.
    • 14. MobileYour data, always fully provided.
    • 15. The State of Mobile App chaos Agents Commerce Control Surfaces Challenges Batteries Interfaces Network capacity Service interopYour data, always fully provided.
    • 16. Your data, always fully provided.
    • 17. How social impacts search HoverYour data, always fully provided.
    • 18. The Case for Social
    • 19. Humanity is leaving its traces…Your data, always fully provided.
    • 20. More than just traces, a collective convo… engineering/visualizing- friendships/469716398919Your data, always fully provided.
    • 21. Twitter on NYE 2010Your data, always fully provided.
    • 22. • Signal of topical authority • Real-time – engines want fresh content, fast • Integrated social signals influence click actions of searchers • Social signals remain only a few of thousands of signals for organic rankingHow users click on your results can impact rankings and when we show cues like yourFacebook friends with results, click rates can be impacted.Your data, always fully provided.
    • 23. Social graph and Patterns Social Graph Patterns Retweets/Likes Natural (by whom) Follows (Twitter) You: Who else Followers Posts/Shares Follows (reputation) Likes Replies Followers Unnatural (Twitter) Fans (Facebook) Focus Quality Trust Popularity TimelinessYour data, always fully provided.
    • 24. • • • • • • • How to be an expert • Share your knowledge freely • Limit self promotion (80/20 rule) • Share items related to the topic, not just your POV on the topic • Answer questions promptly • Match level of detail to the audienceYour data, always fully provided.
    • 25. Search – you’re trying to solve…When optimizing your site for search, you invest in these major areas QUALITY TRUST POPULARITY TIMELINESS Content Authority Traffic Current Links Usefulness Repeat Visits Fresh Appearance Resource Links RelevantYour data, always fully provided.
    • 26. Man’s History of Marketing Billboards Radio Email Mercantile shops SEO Throwing rocks Smoke signals Trading goods Mail order catalogues Television PPCYour data, always fully provided. Image credit:
    • 27. • Keyword stuffing • SEO software works • Google and MSN Search launch • Google fights spam all the rage very well for #1 • Word spreads that links help rankings with Florida update;• SE submissions placements • DMOZ launches and starts directory • First paid link hurts legit sites help rankings • cloaking makes its movement network appears • Blogging takes off appearance • Text Link Ads creates network link buying • Google Toolbar shows PR – • Dawn of modern search drives link requests engines w/Altavista • Google notes the • Death of SE submissions “sandbox” • First SEO conference held: SE Strategies • Link Farms appear 1994 1995 1997 1998 1999 2000 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 • Social • XML sitemaps • Google’s “Brand” • Canonical tag • Google launches G+ signals jointly supported update uses “trust appears • G launches +1, tells continue by all engines signals” to restack • Caffeine rolls out sites they rank to SERP around allowing faster better displaying it influence brands indexing – “real SERPs time” search is here • Bing partners with• Nofollow tags appear; • Universal search appears • Tweets integrated Facebook to • Bing expands PR sculpting follows • Text Link Ads banned by Google showing future of integrate social social inclusion• G Jagger/BigDaddy • Wikipedia shows the future – social influencing signals into SERPs with updates seek link spam domain authority through search • rich snippets FB, Twitter, Quora content depth starting to be used & 4Square by sites • Rich Snippets impacting SERPs Your data, always fully provided. Data credit:
    • 28. Your data, always fully provided.
    • 29. • Build social followers & fans organically • Wall posts/tweets with links are perceived as more credible and useful • Get the basics of SEO covered, then focus on content • Its worth repeating: unique, compelling content still worksYour data, always fully provided.
    • 30. • The engines really respond to unique, useful content • Your visitors respond to this as well • It’s a wise investment of your time • Don’t take shortcuts – limit syndicated contentYour data, always fully provided. image credit:
    • 31. • The Internet is B.I.G. Slice and dice to find your niche. • Plenty of niche areas to explore/exploit – start your fight where you can dominate • Choose your voice wisely; don’t be afraid to express an informed opinion • Watch what users respond to, then amplify along those linesYour data, always fully provided.
    • 32. • Know exactly what users are searching for • Data can help you uncover new niches or refine your focus • Helps keep you focused on creating compelling content • Got writers block? Check your keyword research for inspirationYour data, always fully provided.
    • 33. • Be realistic – this is a business after all • Set goals and plan your work • There are no failures, just learning opportunities • Be thoughtful, helpful and informedYour data, always fully provided.
    • 34. • Crawlability • Content – Xml sitemaps – Build based on keyword research – Navigational structure – Down-level experience enhances discoverability – Rich media cautions – Keep out of rich media and images – Graceful degradation – 250 words per page or more – URL structure – Produce new content frequently – Robots.txt – Make it unique – don’t reuse content from other• Site Structure sources – Links – Content management – using 301s to reclaim value from retiring content/pages – URL structure and keyword usage – <LINK> canonical to help engines understand which – Clean URLs – no extraneous parameters page should be indexed and have value attributed to it (sessions, tracking, etc.) – 404 error page management to help cleanse old pages – HTML & XML sitemaps from search engine indexes – Content hierarchy • Links – Global navigation – springs form hierarchy planning + – Plan for incoming & outgoing link generation style of nav (breadcrumb, link lists, etc.) – Rich media – don’t bury links in Javascript/flash – Internal & external link management /silverlight/AJAX – Content selection – planning where to link to• On-Page – Link promotion via social spaces – direct traffic & seo value – Head copy – Managing anchor text properly • Titles – unique, relevant, 60 characters or so long • Descriptions – unique, relevant, grammatically – URL structure can help insert keywords where they are correct, 160 or fewer characters (Google shows up to needed 160 characters) • Social – Body Copy – Build your community • H1, H2 and other H tag usage – Interact often • ALT tag importance & usage – Share useful content • Keyword usage within the content/text – see “Perfectly Optimized Page” image – Be consistent and useful • Anchor text – using target keywords to support other – Grow facebook, twitter, etc. internal pagesYour data, always fully provided.
    • 35. Where does SEO fit in? Content Social User Experience Link Building SEOYour data, always fully provided.
    • 36. • Different sources must be handled differently • Organic traffic is building trust • Paid traffic is ready to open their wallets • Email traffic is ready to buy…now Each source of traffic to your website requires a slightly different approach to getting the conversion. People using search are researching and need to build trust. Those clicking on paid ads are typically much closer to a purchase decision. Traffic from valid email lists is usually ready to buy immediately, though respond best to special offers. Users clicking on banner ads are driven by offers. In all cases, strive to ensure your conversion path is short and sweet. No surveys, no extra options. Get them to the thank you page cleanly. Off the shelf carts can usually be tweaked to gain improvements in conversions.Your data, always fully provided.
    • 37. Your data, always fully provided.
    • 38. Your data, always fully provided.
    • 39. Your data, always fully provided.
    • 40. Your data, always fully provided.
    • 41. Your data, always fully provided.
    • 42. Your data, always fully provided.
    • 43. Your data, always fully provided.