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Cracking the SEO Code for 2015: 
Tactics to Love vs. Leave 
Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz | @randfish | rand@moz.com
This Presentation Is Online Here: 
bit.ly/seoloveleave
What Changed? 
A brief look at how SEO has 
evolved over the past five years.
#1: 
Ranking algorithms are far more 
complex – more inputs, more subtlety, 
more quality checks.
Advancements in User Data Signals 
Via Eric Fischer
An Uncanny Ability to 
Spot Editorial VS. 
Manipulative Links
Keyword Matching is Now Intent Matching
Personalization by History, Device, 
Location, and Google+
#2: 
SEO has become a job 
description, not a job title.
Analysis of LinkedIn Profiles
SEOs Have Learned that Just Doing Their 
Jobs Often Isn’t Enough 
And, that the title “SEO” may limit influence
#3: 
Policing of webspam is more 
aggressive, more difficult to recover 
from, & less evenly applied.
Non-Editorial Links Are More 
Dangerous Than Ever
Webspam’s Become Every Site Owner’s Problem 
Via Moz: Preparing for Negative SEO
#4: 
Google is shortening searchers’ paths 
and disintermediating content creators.
Less Opportunity in Many Simplistic “Give 
Me the Answer” Queries
No Traffic For You, 
NFL
No Traffic For 
You, City of 
Boston!
No Traffic For You, 
Moz!
No Traffic 
For You, 
Hubspot!
Less Opportunity In Some Non-Simple Queries, Too:
If You’re Expedia, These Results Suck…
But It May Mean More Opportunity in the Long Tail 
Almost 6 Billion queries/day
#5: 
The ubiquity of social media has 
broadened the field of 
“influencers.”
1997-2011: 
The Linkerati Rule 
the Web 
13% of web users can 
amplify content 
Via Forrester Research
2012-Present: We Are All Potential Amplifiers 
72% of web users can 
amplify content 
Via Pew Research Data
#6: 
Disappearing data makes SEO 
more challenging to measure and 
improve.
Keyword Referral Data is Gone 
On average, 87.5% of 
keywords from Google 
are now “not provided” 
(source)
AdWords’ 
[Exact Match] 
No Longer Exact 
Via 
http://adwords.blogspot.com/2014/08/ 
close-variant-matching-for-all-exact. 
html
A Significant Portion of 
Search Traffic May Be 
Falsely Hidden in 
“Direct” 
Groupon’s experiment showing up to 60% of traffic reported as “direct” may be organic search
So… 
How do these changes affect which 
tactics we can still pursue vs. those we 
must leave behind?
Great SEO Is No Longer Just “SEO” 
Links Keywords 
SEO in 2004 
Crawl Rankings
Great SEO Is No Longer Just “SEO” 
Keywords 
Rankings 
Links 
Crawl 
SEO in 2014 
Social 
Content 
Design & UX 
Speed 
Webspam 
Mobile 
Press & PR 
CX 
Email 
Accessibility 
Localization Internationalization
Our Job: Choose the Tactics that Marry 
Our Strengths to Our Opportunities
No tactic will be right for 
everyone. 
But, awareness of our 
potential arsenal is 
essential.
Tactics to Leave Behind vs. 
Tactics to 
Embrace for the Future:
Keyword 
Research
AdWords-Only Discovery
AdWords-Only Discovery 
Leave It Behind
AdWords + Suggest + Customer Data 
Many queries with 
100s or 1000s of 
monthly searches 
don’t show up in 
AdWords but will 
show up here.
This tool makes the 
process easier. 
My favorite tool for keyword suggest research: Keywordtool.io
Popular questions, 
phrases, and terms that 
your audience uses in 
web forums/social media 
are excellent sources of 
keyword data expansion
Content 
Creation
Create & Scale Keyword-Targeted Pages of 
“Good, Unique Content”
This is a LONG 
page from Angie’s 
List that ranks #1 
for “Best 
Plumbers in 
Medford, OR”
This is the ONLY “unique 
content” on that page
Think you can build pages like 
that and rank? 
You’re dreaming!
Create & Scale Keyword-Targeted Pages of 
“Good, Unique Content” 
Leave It Behind
Modern Criteria for Content: 
One-of-a-Kind – doesn’t appear elsewhere on the web 
Relevant – contains content the engines can interpret as on-the-topic 
to the searcher’s intent & phrasing 
Helpful – resolves the searcher’s query in a useful, efficient 
manner 
Uniquely Valuable – provides information that’s unavailable (or 
hard to get) elsewhere 
Great UX– is easy & pleasurable to consume on any device
A Great Example from Genius.com
Accurate, readable lyrics 
Uniquely valuable 
annotations 
A community of 
contributors 
One click to play 
Data re: 
popularity 
& activity
Link 
Building
Acquire Links Via Directories, Forums, 
Account Profiles, etc.
Acquire Links Via Directories, Forums, 
Account Profiles, etc. 
Leave It Behind
Acquire Links w/ Off-Topic Infographics & 
Embeds
Acquire Links w/ Off-Topic Infographics & 
Embeds 
Leave It Behind
Acquire Links By Scaling Up Guest Posting 
& Commenting
Acquire Links By Scaling Up Guest Posting 
& Commenting 
Leave It Behind
The Truth: 
Google doesn’t want 
to count links you can 
“build.”
The Truth: 
Google only wants to 
count links you 
editorially “earn.”
Instead, Build Relationships 
My haircut place built a 
relationship & partnered 
with a local sex toy shop – 
now both get more 
branding, exposure, 
customers, & links!* 
*partnering with nearby sex toy shops may not be the perfect bizdev action for everyone
Use Content to Drive Editorial Links
Aim for Resource Pages & Blogrolls
Buy Exposure that Leads to Links 
(not the links themselves)
For more link 
building tactics to 
love, see: 
Link Building from the MozBlog 
Paddy Moogan’sLink Building eBook 
Experts’ Favorite Link Building Tactics 
How to Leverage PR for Link Building 
The Future of Link Building
Social Media 
& SEO
Share Socially to Get Rankings 
No doubt about it – there’s a strong CORRELATION between tweets (and 
Facebook and Google+ shares) and higher rankings.
Share Socially to Get Rankings 
Leave It Behind 
No doubt about it – there’s a strong CORRELATION between tweets (and 
Facebook and Google+ shares) and higher rankings.
Social Impacts SEO Indirectly 
Social shares expose content to 
those who might link to it (and 
amplify in other ways) 
This blog post from OKTrends earned 100s of links after launch
G+ is the Exception for Logged-In Results 
Because I follow Mark on G+, what he shares/+1s can usually 
ranks higher when I’m logged into my Gmail.
Content 
Marketing
Publish Content to Get Links & Rankings 
Blog Post 
Blog Post 
Article 
Article 
Blog Post
Publish Content to Get Links & Rankings 
Blog Post 
Blog Post 
Leave It Behind 
Article 
Article 
Blog Post
Links & Shares Skew to the Top 5% of Content 
http://www.simplereach.com/blog/facebook-continues-to-be-the-biggest-driver-of-social-traffic/
There’s No Prize For Hitting Publish
Rules for Content Investments: 
Strategic & Relevant– the content must tie to business goals and fit 
with your branding 
Targets Likely Amplifiers – there should be an obvious answer to the 
question “who will help spread this content and why?” 
Cannot Be Fire & Forget–most content will fail; you need to be 
willing to invest longer and harder than the competition to find 
success
Need Inspiration? Check out Buzzsumo 
Buzzsumo – my favorite tool for researching the competitive content landscape
Measuring 
ROI
Traffic & Performance by Keyword 
Pre-2012 Post-2012
Traffic & Performance by Keyword 
Leave It Behind 
Pre-2012 Post-2012
Instead, Measure Search Traffic 
Performance by Page (or Section) 
Observing the pages that receive search visits can get close to 
the old keyword-based performance reports.
And/OrUse Estimates in SEO Software Packages 
If you use a tool like Conductor, Searchmetrics, or 
Moz Analytics, you can see predictions for KWs 
sending traffic to given pages
Attribution Models 
This is how most companies (& software 
packages) do web analytics by default
Attribution Models 
This is how most companies (& software 
packages) do web analytics by default Leave It Behind
Attribution Models 
A model something like this 
makes far more sense.
Pro Tip: Note which channels are frequently 
part of your overall conversion process 
Many times, these 
contain channels that 
can’t be tracked, and 
you’ll only miss them if 
you stop investing
The Best ROI Often Comes from Non-Measurable, 
Serendipitous Marketing
SEO is getting 
harder
But, that high barrier to entry means greater 
opportunity for those who succeed.
bit.ly/seoloveleave 
Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz | @randfish | rand@moz.com

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SEO Tactics to Love vs. Leave

  • 1. Cracking the SEO Code for 2015: Tactics to Love vs. Leave Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz | @randfish | rand@moz.com
  • 2. This Presentation Is Online Here: bit.ly/seoloveleave
  • 3. What Changed? A brief look at how SEO has evolved over the past five years.
  • 4. #1: Ranking algorithms are far more complex – more inputs, more subtlety, more quality checks.
  • 5. Advancements in User Data Signals Via Eric Fischer
  • 6. An Uncanny Ability to Spot Editorial VS. Manipulative Links
  • 7. Keyword Matching is Now Intent Matching
  • 8. Personalization by History, Device, Location, and Google+
  • 9. #2: SEO has become a job description, not a job title.
  • 11. SEOs Have Learned that Just Doing Their Jobs Often Isn’t Enough And, that the title “SEO” may limit influence
  • 12. #3: Policing of webspam is more aggressive, more difficult to recover from, & less evenly applied.
  • 13. Non-Editorial Links Are More Dangerous Than Ever
  • 14. Webspam’s Become Every Site Owner’s Problem Via Moz: Preparing for Negative SEO
  • 15. #4: Google is shortening searchers’ paths and disintermediating content creators.
  • 16. Less Opportunity in Many Simplistic “Give Me the Answer” Queries
  • 17. No Traffic For You, NFL
  • 18. No Traffic For You, City of Boston!
  • 19. No Traffic For You, Moz!
  • 20. No Traffic For You, Hubspot!
  • 21. Less Opportunity In Some Non-Simple Queries, Too:
  • 22. If You’re Expedia, These Results Suck…
  • 23. But It May Mean More Opportunity in the Long Tail Almost 6 Billion queries/day
  • 24. #5: The ubiquity of social media has broadened the field of “influencers.”
  • 25. 1997-2011: The Linkerati Rule the Web 13% of web users can amplify content Via Forrester Research
  • 26. 2012-Present: We Are All Potential Amplifiers 72% of web users can amplify content Via Pew Research Data
  • 27. #6: Disappearing data makes SEO more challenging to measure and improve.
  • 28. Keyword Referral Data is Gone On average, 87.5% of keywords from Google are now “not provided” (source)
  • 29. AdWords’ [Exact Match] No Longer Exact Via http://adwords.blogspot.com/2014/08/ close-variant-matching-for-all-exact. html
  • 30. A Significant Portion of Search Traffic May Be Falsely Hidden in “Direct” Groupon’s experiment showing up to 60% of traffic reported as “direct” may be organic search
  • 31. So… How do these changes affect which tactics we can still pursue vs. those we must leave behind?
  • 32. Great SEO Is No Longer Just “SEO” Links Keywords SEO in 2004 Crawl Rankings
  • 33. Great SEO Is No Longer Just “SEO” Keywords Rankings Links Crawl SEO in 2014 Social Content Design & UX Speed Webspam Mobile Press & PR CX Email Accessibility Localization Internationalization
  • 34. Our Job: Choose the Tactics that Marry Our Strengths to Our Opportunities
  • 35. No tactic will be right for everyone. But, awareness of our potential arsenal is essential.
  • 36. Tactics to Leave Behind vs. Tactics to Embrace for the Future:
  • 40. AdWords + Suggest + Customer Data Many queries with 100s or 1000s of monthly searches don’t show up in AdWords but will show up here.
  • 41. This tool makes the process easier. My favorite tool for keyword suggest research: Keywordtool.io
  • 42. Popular questions, phrases, and terms that your audience uses in web forums/social media are excellent sources of keyword data expansion
  • 44. Create & Scale Keyword-Targeted Pages of “Good, Unique Content”
  • 45. This is a LONG page from Angie’s List that ranks #1 for “Best Plumbers in Medford, OR”
  • 46. This is the ONLY “unique content” on that page
  • 47. Think you can build pages like that and rank? You’re dreaming!
  • 48. Create & Scale Keyword-Targeted Pages of “Good, Unique Content” Leave It Behind
  • 49. Modern Criteria for Content: One-of-a-Kind – doesn’t appear elsewhere on the web Relevant – contains content the engines can interpret as on-the-topic to the searcher’s intent & phrasing Helpful – resolves the searcher’s query in a useful, efficient manner Uniquely Valuable – provides information that’s unavailable (or hard to get) elsewhere Great UX– is easy & pleasurable to consume on any device
  • 50. A Great Example from Genius.com
  • 51. Accurate, readable lyrics Uniquely valuable annotations A community of contributors One click to play Data re: popularity & activity
  • 53. Acquire Links Via Directories, Forums, Account Profiles, etc.
  • 54. Acquire Links Via Directories, Forums, Account Profiles, etc. Leave It Behind
  • 55. Acquire Links w/ Off-Topic Infographics & Embeds
  • 56. Acquire Links w/ Off-Topic Infographics & Embeds Leave It Behind
  • 57. Acquire Links By Scaling Up Guest Posting & Commenting
  • 58. Acquire Links By Scaling Up Guest Posting & Commenting Leave It Behind
  • 59. The Truth: Google doesn’t want to count links you can “build.”
  • 60. The Truth: Google only wants to count links you editorially “earn.”
  • 61. Instead, Build Relationships My haircut place built a relationship & partnered with a local sex toy shop – now both get more branding, exposure, customers, & links!* *partnering with nearby sex toy shops may not be the perfect bizdev action for everyone
  • 62. Use Content to Drive Editorial Links
  • 63. Aim for Resource Pages & Blogrolls
  • 64. Buy Exposure that Leads to Links (not the links themselves)
  • 65. For more link building tactics to love, see: Link Building from the MozBlog Paddy Moogan’sLink Building eBook Experts’ Favorite Link Building Tactics How to Leverage PR for Link Building The Future of Link Building
  • 67. Share Socially to Get Rankings No doubt about it – there’s a strong CORRELATION between tweets (and Facebook and Google+ shares) and higher rankings.
  • 68. Share Socially to Get Rankings Leave It Behind No doubt about it – there’s a strong CORRELATION between tweets (and Facebook and Google+ shares) and higher rankings.
  • 69. Social Impacts SEO Indirectly Social shares expose content to those who might link to it (and amplify in other ways) This blog post from OKTrends earned 100s of links after launch
  • 70. G+ is the Exception for Logged-In Results Because I follow Mark on G+, what he shares/+1s can usually ranks higher when I’m logged into my Gmail.
  • 72. Publish Content to Get Links & Rankings Blog Post Blog Post Article Article Blog Post
  • 73. Publish Content to Get Links & Rankings Blog Post Blog Post Leave It Behind Article Article Blog Post
  • 74. Links & Shares Skew to the Top 5% of Content http://www.simplereach.com/blog/facebook-continues-to-be-the-biggest-driver-of-social-traffic/
  • 75. There’s No Prize For Hitting Publish
  • 76. Rules for Content Investments: Strategic & Relevant– the content must tie to business goals and fit with your branding Targets Likely Amplifiers – there should be an obvious answer to the question “who will help spread this content and why?” Cannot Be Fire & Forget–most content will fail; you need to be willing to invest longer and harder than the competition to find success
  • 77. Need Inspiration? Check out Buzzsumo Buzzsumo – my favorite tool for researching the competitive content landscape
  • 79. Traffic & Performance by Keyword Pre-2012 Post-2012
  • 80. Traffic & Performance by Keyword Leave It Behind Pre-2012 Post-2012
  • 81. Instead, Measure Search Traffic Performance by Page (or Section) Observing the pages that receive search visits can get close to the old keyword-based performance reports.
  • 82. And/OrUse Estimates in SEO Software Packages If you use a tool like Conductor, Searchmetrics, or Moz Analytics, you can see predictions for KWs sending traffic to given pages
  • 83. Attribution Models This is how most companies (& software packages) do web analytics by default
  • 84. Attribution Models This is how most companies (& software packages) do web analytics by default Leave It Behind
  • 85. Attribution Models A model something like this makes far more sense.
  • 86. Pro Tip: Note which channels are frequently part of your overall conversion process Many times, these contain channels that can’t be tracked, and you’ll only miss them if you stop investing
  • 87. The Best ROI Often Comes from Non-Measurable, Serendipitous Marketing
  • 88. SEO is getting harder
  • 89. But, that high barrier to entry means greater opportunity for those who succeed.
  • 90. bit.ly/seoloveleave Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz | @randfish | rand@moz.com