Author: Gareth Davies
With the latest Google Panda update, and the issues some webmasters have faced as a result of the update, attendees at this year’s SMX LONDON were looking for answers to what’s working for SEO in 2011.
The panel consisted of Mikkel deMib Svendsen, Christine Churchill and Max Thomas.
SEO Has Evolved:
First up was Mikkel deMib Svendsen. Mikkel began by reminding attendees that when it comes to SEO, things are very different in 2011 to what has gone before.
In the 1990’s SEO was relatively easy…simple algorithms meant that SEO was mainly about on-page factors and search engines had very few (if any) people dedicated to fighting Spam. Today the search engine algorithms are very complex, and there are huge teams dedicated to fighting Spam.
What this means is that any reverse engineering approach tends to have a much shorter life cycle these days, so much so that it’s not worth the effort in some industries.
Mikkel claimed that a number of people are still using an out of date approach to SEO. It’s a completely different game in 2011, the algorithms are now extremely complex. Onsite, offsite and social factors need to be taken into account.
Around 10 years ago Mikkel published an idea that he still feels is both very simple and the most effective approach anyone can have to SEO. The idea was and is:
Do Not Optimize for Search Engines…Optimize for Users!
As far as we’re aware Mikkel hasn’t been hired as a Danish Google evangelist, but its clear that he believes that optimising for users is what the search engines will always want to do in the future. As a result this makes it the best long-term strategy and what SEOs should be doing.
“If they want to optimise for users then so should you!” Mikkel deMib Svendsen – deMib
He added, if what SEOs are doing is not what users want – then it’s a short-term strategy as search engines are always seeking to understand what users want.
If you are trying to reverse engineer for search engines, then you are really optimizing for yesterday’s algorithm. Mikkel repeated that Spammy tricks have shorter life cycles – so much so that this approach is really probably not worth the effort in some industries. For most industries you simply do not need to reverse engineer.
However Mikkel did suggest that there were some exceptions to the rule and that for some industries such as the PPC sector (Pills, Porn, Poker sector) the value of getting rankings right away, even for a limited time, can sometimes still be worthwhile.
Use Your Common Sense:
A high level of social engagement is now an important indicator of a higher quality page and the Google Panda update has started looking at other factors as indicators of page quality – but its nothing new in the sense that we have always known that a high bounce rate is a signal for low quality content.
Next to speak at the ‘What’s working in 2011’ session was Max Thomas from Thunder SEO.
Max cited something that Matt Cutts of Google recently mentioned, and this was the notion that if you have a lot of URLs that people are not engaging with, then you might want to remove them from your website or no-index them.
As the Panda update moves the emphasis of quality more towards active pages, is this the end of traffic for article pages that people may only visit occasionally? Well, it certainly sounds like it.
Create Active URLs:
The new label for the type of page likely to do well in Google is being referred to as an active URL. An active URL is a page that plenty of people visit, link to and share.
“We now need people to ‘engage’ with our pages” Max Thomas – Thunder SEO
By creating pages lots of people want to visit and return to its possible to scale up and improve a sites links.
If your website content is something that people want to share, they will tend to link to it, revisit it, share it and so on. To an extent it is bringing the aspect of community firmly into the link building space.
Have Multiple Marketing Channels:
Max advised that it’s important not to put all your eggs in the Google basket. Having lots of paid channels along side organic traffic can mean your online marketing strategy is much less risky.
Alongside this diversity is key for each aspect of marketing and perhaps none more so than with link building. The larger and more diverse your inbound link profile, the less risky your link building is too. Max was not convinced the occasional risky link-building tactic would get your site burned if it was low-key, and added:
“Chances are a risky links scheme will not crash your site…unless the New York Times gets involved with Google” Max Thomas – Thunder SEO
The last person to speak on the panel was Christine Churchill from Key Relevance. Her first piece of advice was not to ignore social media and if you don’t have a pre-established, strong social network then its time to get to work on those now.
Clean Up Ads:
Post Panda, its important for webmasters to pay attention to their page layouts and quality. It may be necessary for some websites to reduce the number of ads appearing on a page. Christine suggested that webmasters aim for deep, original content and if possible have authoritative authors and to build trust with content.
The Basics Are Still Important:
Best practices are still sound and its wise to think about things from a user’s perspective.
“Good page title tags are still your best on-page tool” Christine Churchill – KeyRelevance
Google Instant is Changing Things:
Christine added, that search using Google instant is changing searchers behaviour. The dynamic suggestions feature that activates when people type queries into the search box means people are having to type a bit slower with Google instant. Users are now looking at the suggestions and the results, so site owners need to be paying attention to Google’s suggestions.
Measuring the ‘Long Click’ – Keep It Sticky:
Click through rate (CTR), bounce rate and time on site have all become potential measurements of page quality. This means that everything from a good page title to increase your click-through rate, to producing engaging, quality content so that users stay on the site longer, can all help.
Time on site factor, or the ‘long click’ is what is seen as a satisfactory search outcome for Google. If the user immediately goes back and in effect ‘bounces – then this is deemed a ‘short click’, and the page is seen as less valuable. So consider producing content that will help keep a user on your website
In time when the Google algorithm has become much more complex and dynamic (Google updates its algorithm around 300-500 times a year), webmasters need to think more and more about creating sticky content that is both active and something people will want to share, revisit and link to.
At the same time, it’s important to look at multiple marketing channels and consider other search engines and social media channels to reduce reliance on Google traffic.
Webmasters should look to leverage websites like YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Blogs, PR, local listings and social bookmarking websites as part of an overall SEO strategy.
For the original article go to: http://bit.ly/lisFpS
Author: Cyrus Shepard
Did you know that if you include Google Adsense on your website, you are likely to rank higher?
We’ve heard this rumor before from prominent SEOs. It makes sense. Google stands to make more revenue by promoting websites that display its ads. Exciting? Yes.
But completely not true.
Well meaning folks spread a lot of Google myths that can harm your SEO efforts. Sometimes they come from your boss or even an Internet hack trying to make a quick buck.
Earlier this month SEOmoz released the 2011 version of its Search Engine Ranking Factors. This year’s survey contained a number of new insights, but also debunked a number of Google myths that have persisted far too long.
Myth #1 – Using Google Services Improves Your Rankings
Many webmasters believe that installing Google Analytics on their site improves indexing or that displaying Adsense will help them as described above. While it’s true that the insights provided by Google Analytics helps are invaluable, the service itself has absolutely no impact on rankings.
In the case of Adsense, the correlation data actually shows a negative correlation between Adsense slots and rankings. This makes sense, given the recent Panda update and Google’s emphasis on high quality content. The data implies that the more Adsense on your page, the less likely you are to rank.
This isn’t to suggest that you shouldn’t display ads at all. Best practices are to ensure your original content to ad ratio is high, and to place your original content prominently above the fold.
Note: Google Analytics is a super useful service and I recommend every website owner should create a Google Webmaster account.
Myth #2 – Keep Your Link Juice Internal
It’s the pet peeve of online marketers. Another website mentions your brand – heck, they even write an entire article about how great you are – but they fail to include a single link to your site.
This anti-social behavior stems from the false belief that you should preserve link juice within your own site to improve your rankings. It also springs from the absurd rational that you don’t want visitors to leave your website – ever.
Contrary to this thinking, the Ranking Factors correlation data actually shows the opposite relationship. There exists a positive correlation between the number of external links on a page and higher rankings.
- For years top SEOs have share anecdotal evidence that linking out to quality, relevant sites improves their rankings
- Linking out fosters goodwill among webmasters and visitors alike, which can lead to an increase in backlinks and other positive ranking signals
- External links can help Google to better understand the content on your page
Myth #3 – Nofollowed Links are Worthless
Yes, followed links still rule, but one of the most surprising results from this year’s Ranking Factors was the negative correlation between the percent of followed linking pages and ranking ability.
What this means is the higher percentage your link profile is in followed links, the less likely you are to rank. It’s not a big correlation, but it exists. For example, if 100% of the links pointing to your site are followed, the correlation data predicts a lower ranking for your site than a website with a link profile of only 80% followed links.
Surprised? It stands to reason that the natural, healthy link profiles Google favors contain a range of nofollowed links and citations. We’ve believed for years that nofollowed links from high authority domains like Wikipedia, although they don’t pass PageRank, act as ranking signals.
This also makes sense considering the strong correlation data surrounding link diversity. One of the strongest indicators of ranking ability is the number of linking root domains. This means the greater diversity and breadth of your link profile, the more likely you are to rank higher. A broad, diverse link profile undoubtedly contains a number of nofollowed links. This is also an actionable metric that you can use to improve your SEO.
Good SEO is hard. Use science and best practices to ensure SEO myths don’t get in your way.
As SEO Strategist for SEOmoz, Cyrus Shepard helps guide content strategies, link building, customer education, information architecture and feature development for the fast growing SEO software company. His diverse experience includes innovative SEO, paid search marketing, web design and a strong background in customer-focused services. Follow Cyrus on Twitter @cyrusshepard