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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

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