Long-Term SEO: How To Win For Years,
Director SEO, Trulia
In-house SEO perspective from sites with a large organic footprint.
My experience includes:
Trulia.com – current
EverydayHealth (includes EverydayHealth.com, WhatToExpect.com)
SideStep.com (now integrated into Kayak)
My focus today:
Enabling ‘Embedded SEO Intelligence’
The importance of ‘baking in’ knowledge throughout the organization.
Creating and leveraging a reputation in regards to link building.
What is long lasting SEO?
For us, we are not simply talking about preserving traffic! We are
talking about sustaining growth.
Yet all successful SEO initiatives are going to tend to level off
(outside of branded SEO).
My challenge … our challenge … is keeping that growth going.
SEO success – it’s not just about me!
• I don’t want to be the mysterious SEO guru
placed on pedestal, cautiously guarding
his SEO secrets.
• I want everyone to own SEO success!
• I want everyone’s eyes guarding our SEO
• I’d never have enough SEO resource to do
what I want.
Creating an SEO Machine
• My objective: embed SEO intelligence into every party of the enterprise,
every nook and cranny to create an SEO machine.
Teams to work closely with
UX – User
• Need to get the
• Working with
• With SEO
goals in mind.
Over-communicate SEO at every step
Informal, day-to-day communications
Formal training sessions
Every SEO question should be followed with an
Product Designer: ‘We are redesigning this page. Any SEO impact’
Me: ‘Well, you taken our most important keyword phrase, reduced it to
a small font and reduced the contrast to make it less visible.’
A. Don’t do it!
B. Make it an h1 – we should still be OK. (this was actually the designers suggestion).
A. That keyword is important to us. For Google to think it is important, it needs to
visually appear to be the most important thing on the page. Let’s keep in mind
Google’s intent. Fooling Google may work, but likely won’t be long lasting and at
some time in the future we may get a traffic drop and never understand why.
Example conversation 2:
Product Manager: ‘I fixed the canonicals on the page on
Wednesday. It’s 2 days now and yet I am still seeing the wrong
page in the index. What up?’.
In this case I do 2 things, I explain and I demonstrate.
1. Explain that it will take Google a while to re-cache the page.
1. Demonstrate how to find the page in the SERP and how to view the
Link growth is still critically important to SEO.
As a site and a brand grows, it becomes harder to move the needle.
When you have 50 linking domains, 20 new domains is a big deal.
When you have 5000 linking domains, 20 new ones will have minimal
Tremendous amount of work required to sustain impactful growth
Meeting link goals - break down the silos
PR BD Marketing ContentSEO
Set aggressive links goals across
How to you set goal for other groups?
Periodic reviews (twice quarterly)
Review goals and performance
Adjust based on what’s working,
Look for synergies between groups.
When everyone is working together,
with targets in mind, the improvement
Bad News: Your SEO is a disaster waiting to
Tech problems can crack you finely crafted SEO program
Some of these problems can go undetected for months or years
SEO Disasters – just waiting to get you!
Sitewide, homepage, site sections
Broken syntax, target to the wrong page, bad link
Sections of the site, entire site
Broken 301s Lost the value of historical 301s
Deletion of cross-
Lose value being passed to key pages
Making all the content in the search result un-crawlable
Link path to content removed
Robots.txt Blocking site
Crawler overload Crawlers hit your site so heavy that they kill peformance
SEO 101 All
SEO Tech QA, Engineering, Product, IT
PR, Content Marketing, Product, BD, Social
SEO, IA and UX UX, Product, Engineering
Content, PR, Product
Follow the spider
Where is the spider spending its
time? Don’t let it go down a rat
hole! On a large site with a billion
possible pages, this can be a
Even if a site is well indexed, key
pages may get stale in Google’s
cache because too much time is
spent on low-value pages.
Beware of search result modifiers
containing potentially nearly infinite
Log analysis is key to analyze
exactly where and when the Spider
is spending it’s time.
Always over engineer your crawler capacity.
If possible, have dedicated servers for crawlers vs. users.
If possible, have dedicated servers for Bing vs. Google.
Below is a conversation I never want to have.
Did our traffic drop
because of that
change we pushed
out last week?
Did our traffic
drop because of
that change we
pushed out last
No. We did a
controlled test on a
before rolling out.
Protect your Jewels
Most large organic sites have a few
different templates or content type
that dominate the traffic metrics.
These need to be protected!
These need to be nurtured for
The answer is testing!
How to test SEO changes
Implement changes on a random set of pages.
These changes will persist at the URL level.
Setup sample rankings and traffic monitoring on the test vs. control.
What is a Reputation?
Reputation - the beliefs or opinions that are generally
held about someone or something
With Google/Bing, links are citations that build a
reputation. Social, at a minimum help build reputations
by generating links.
As SEOs, we’ve scrambled for ways to build those
Reputation Building Techniques
• Link buying
Increased Skittishness with Link Building
Even brands have not been immune:
Halifax bank (unconfirmed)
With so many things crossed off the list, what can
Earned Reputation vs. a ‘faux’
An earned reputation:
Based on realized value proposition
Is not manipulative
Makes the recommender look good
A ‘faux’ reputation
Does not deliver on the promise
Is obviously an unnatural recommendation
Best Way to Get Links
The best links are not asked for. Create a reason
to be linked to.
Compelling content or tools
In short, the best way to get links is that a link to
your site makes the linking site a better site.
My favorite techniques are ones that build the brand and have a
potential echo effect.
I want influential news outlets and industry bloggers to know who we
are. The more we market valuable content, the more they will think
of us when we are not marketing to them.
Should I ask for links?
By creating a site, content, features that will
organically generate links, it is even easier
to get links via outreach.
It’s fine to ask for a recommendation, as
long as the recommendation is genuine.
Added value for the linking site.
What about anchor text?
Anchor text manipulation stills work but brings the most risk. Don’t
It is the single biggest signal to Google that your reputation is not
For distributable digital assets, I recommend to not optimize for
money keywords and focus on brand.
For SEO outreach initiatives, I recommend leaving the anchor text in
the hands of the linking site, let them do what makes sense. What
could be more organic than that?
Whenever making a decision on an SEO strategy or
tactic, consider Google’s intent. If your strategy
matches the intent of Google algorithm, you are moving
in the right direction.
Director SEO, Trulia