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What the * is SEO


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Slides used in a guest lecture at The Hague University

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What the * is SEO

  1. 1. What the * is SEO ... and how to use it Guest Lecture at The Hague University of Applied Sciences International Communication Management (ICM)
  2. 2. Agenda • Introduction • The web search landscape • What is SEO? • Ranking Factors • Personalization of results • How to measure SEO success • Roundup / Questions
  3. 3. Name: Arne van Elk Current position: Specialist SEO & Information Architecture @ RNW Media. Experience: • 18 years in online research, information retrieval & management, journalism, web search • 5 years in Search Engine Optimization. • 10 years training editors in web search, online research & SEO
  4. 4. • NGO using media for social change • Connecting communities and change-makers • Target groups 15 – 35 year • Training Centre RNW Media: Informed people shape a better future
  5. 5. • Democracy and good governance • Sexual health & rights • International justice Themes
  6. 6. We work globally
  7. 7. Powered by
  8. 8. The Web Search Landscape When did you last perform an online search? What kind of search?
  9. 9. Content quality: E.A.T. In the beginning ... we could browse the web
  10. 10. We used many search engines
  11. 11. Content quality: E.A.T. And ‘SERPs’ looked something like this
  12. 12. Content quality: E.A.T. Today’s SERPs look different
  13. 13. And only a few search engines remain
  14. 14. In large parts of the world there’s one dominant player
  15. 15. Why was Google succesful where others failed? Major innovations in search technology, like Pagerank They developed an efficient system of auctioning ads that appear alongside search results in a relevant way See:
  16. 16. You need deep pockets to keep track of ‘everything’ that’s being produced online
  17. 17. Social can be ‘search’ too
  18. 18. We used to search on desktop only
  19. 19. Today we’re constantly mobile
  20. 20. From search to personal assistent
  21. 21. Integration of web results and in-app results
  22. 22. There are many ways for visitors to reach your website Search is just one of them, these days often trumped by social
  23. 23. DIGITAL MARKETING: Many ways to reach potential audiences / customers
  24. 24. Search Engine Marketing How important ‘search’ is to your overall marketing strategy depends on your business (what you have to offer).
  25. 25. Search Engine Marketing:
  26. 26. What is
  27. 27. Source:
  28. 28. SEO: Free traffic to your website SEA: Paid traffic to your website What is organic search traffic?
  29. 29. Free vs Paid results
  30. 30. Free vs Paid results on mobile PLAs (product listing ads) Regular mobile ads Organic results below the fold
  31. 31. SEO starts with ... understanding the needs of your audience, target groups, customers.
  32. 32. What kind of needs? - 3 Types of Search Queries Do (Transactional) Know (Informational) Go (Navigational) Searchers want to go directly to a website or a specific page. Searchers want to know or learn more about a topic. Searchers want to do or perform some web-mediated activity.
  33. 33. How can you help your audience or customers? What do they want to know, read, watch or buy?
  34. 34. SEO = optimizing for PEOPLE who use search engines
  35. 35. How to rank in organic search results? What do YOU think is most important
  36. 36. You don’t search the web, you search in Google’s index Ranking Factors
  37. 37. Ranking Factors
  38. 38. 1. Content Semantics, structure, layout, media rich 3. Backlinks quantity and quality of other websites linking to you 2. Technology Site structure, internal linking, load times, meta tags, mobile friendly 4. User/Usage signals bounce rates, high time-on-site But what are the main ranking factors? Ranking Factors
  39. 39. User signals: does it matter where users click? And how soon they return to the SERP? (long/short clicks)
  40. 40. User signals: clicks Danny Sullivan (Search Engine Land) interviews Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes. Go to 15m 45s. Ranking Factors
  41. 41. “The main things that we use clicks for, are evaluation and experimentation” Ranking Factors
  42. 42. There are other tools too that can be used to harvest user signals Ranking Factors
  43. 43. Machine learning is now part of Google’s algorithm It becomes difficult to tell how usage signals are taken into account to improve results (even to Googlers) Ranking Factors
  44. 44. Ranking Factors
  45. 45. A keyword is the main link between the query typed in by the searcher, and your content It is how you ‘catch’ the searcher. Ranking Factors
  46. 46. Google for a fishing icon and you’ll find this page. It has the right words in the right locations. 1. Page title 2. On-page headline (H1) 3. Image alt text 2 3 1 Ranking Factors
  47. 47. In addition: Google understands that the whole website is specialized in icons. Ranking Factors
  48. 48. Ranking Factors Keywords are important, but Google will try to match searcher intent with the best result.
  49. 49. Content quality: E.A.T. Ranking Factors
  50. 50. Expertise Is the content on the page relevant to area of expertise of site and author Trust Domain history, link graph, spam analysis Authority Who is linking to you? Content quality: E.A.T. Ranking Factors
  51. 51. Which website has performed better in search engines? Ranking Factors Website 1 • Targets India • Exists 4 years • Provides lots of information on private, sensitive issues Website 2 • Targets Zimbabwe • Exists 4 months • Mostly publishes opinion
  52. 52. Ranking Factors Website 1 Website 2 Which website has performed better in search engines?
  53. 53. Number of social shares a ranking factor? Ranking Factors
  54. 54. Important element of ranking: Google’s battle against spam Ranking Factors
  55. 55. Important element of ranking: Google’s battle against spam Ranking Factors Examples of negative ranking factors: • Keyword stuffing • Hidden content • Scraped content • Too many ads • Shallow content
  56. 56. Apart from true ranking factors, what you see in search results is influenced by: search history
  57. 57. Logged in? Check
  58. 58. Apart from true ranking factors, what you see in search results is influenced by: Location
  59. 59. Apart from true ranking factors, what you see in search results is influenced by: Language settings
  60. 60. Apart from true ranking factors, what you see in search results is influenced by: Device (Desktop or mobile)
  61. 61. Let’s do a ‘personalization’ test Take your mobile, tablet or laptop and perform these searches: 1. international communication 2. SEO 3. Dutch lessons 4. Apple 5. The Hague Take a screenshot of the results and share them on Twitter with hashtag #HUSEOtest
  62. 62. My desktop ‘The Hague’ results, searching from Hilversum
  63. 63. How does your website perform in search? (When you do test-searches for your site, don’t forget to open a private session)
  64. 64. How does your website perform in search? 1. Search on your brand’s name. Which results are shown? 2. Do a site: search. How many results? Is the number of pages equal to what you have on your site? 3. Search on keywords you want to target. Is your site visible for those queries? 4. Check traffic from organic search, spot the trend 5. Verify Google Search Console for your site and check all kinds of info there 6. If your pages are shown in results, what do they look like? Do the search snippets look good, are any sitelinks shown? 7. Check results on mobile. Do they look alright? Do you have mobile friendly pages?
  65. 65. Rank monitoring, no exact science
  66. 66. More metrics to track
  67. 67. You probably don’t have any questions, do you ...
  68. 68. Remember: optimize for people, focus on your users (but facilitate easy crawling and indexing by search engines)
  69. 69. Thanks for listening! Contact me on or