As Barry said, we had an embargo on posting this for one month. It was composed on June 5th at 3:30PST (6:30EST) but publication was delayed (until July 5th at midnight GMT) due to the announcement by Danny that he'd kill us if we publish this beforehand. He gave us a real hard time about it and I'm afraid for my head so I have thus complied. Sorry for causing the wait, but I hope that it's an exciting read.
Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land
Speakers: Greg Boser, Search Engine Marketing Consultant, WebGuerrilla Bruce Clay, President, Bruce Clay, Inc. Todd Friesen, Director of Search Engine Optimization, Range Online Mike Grehan of Bruce Clay Jennifer Slegg, Owner, JenSense.com Stephan Spencer, President, Netconcepts, LLC Mikkel deMib Svendsen, Creative Director, deMib.com Shari Thurow, Webmaster & Marketing Dir., Grantastic Designs Jill Whalen, CEO and Founder, High Rankings
Danny Sullivan: This was going to be called a "Do Evil" session but we decided that it wasn't an appropriate name. We're going to discuss some of the best secrets in SEO.
Matt Cutts of Google shares his story by talking about his favorite spammer of 2006. He opens with: How would you like to get 7,000 domains for free and get PageRank from eTrade?
He talks about DNS. When you buy a domain, you own it for a year, but you also have hosting. Some people don't park a domain when they buy a domain. A lot of times, the domain server is set to lamedelegation.org. Millions of domains have been marked as such. Not at all of those were set that way, however. Some were set to lame-delegation.org, which does exist. A very smart Bulgarian spammer ended up registering lame-delegation.org and now had these domains that he didn't even pay for it. (In Google, we check for this. I don't know about the other search engines.)
Stephan Spencer has 7 tips in 7 minutes: Secret #1 - Grouped results: Google groups results from the same site together. To find the true position of an indented (grouped) result, you can add a &num=9 to the domain search to see if indented listing drops off. Secret #2 - view potentially cloaked page when "cached" link is not available. Use Google Translate and Translate it from English to English. http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=en&u=URLGOESHERE Secret #3 - Change Google preferences to English only. Google number of results is widely underestimated. The results will then decrease by 2/3rds. Secret #4 - Free Analyst reports - search Google for "forrester research grapevine endnotes filetype:pdf" Secret #5 - Build a link building spider - look for sites one-click away from Google; look for sites with a high PR; and with preference for sites that already give link love to patron/sponsor. If you're 2 or 3 clicks away from a Google property, it's good. e.g. look what's linked to code.google.com - python.org is a PR8 linked there. Buy a link on there! Find sites like this and help them out. Secret #6 - Cloak your home page. You can eliminate superfluous characters. Secret #7 - Link build your existing links. Mine your backlinks for opportunities to revise your acnhor texts. Pull some favors with friends. Use the We Build Pages Neat-o Tool for this.
Shari Thurow is up next. My SEO technique is always about usability. What made me a better SEO? I took a class. The description of the class was "The organization of information / information organization and access." This is a library science class. If you have the time and budget, take the class. Everybody gives fabulous tips. You have to get out of that tip mentality and evolve and think out of the box. The other thing is that I read some articles. MJ Bates (Oct 1989) - "The design of browsing and berrypicking techniques for the online search interface" Michael Buckland (Sept 1997) - "What is a document?" I learned that search is not a linear process. People don't go to Google, search, and then make million of dollars. Search encompasses more than querying. You should focus on refining, browsing/surfing, scanning, reading, expanding, foraging, pogosticking, and reading. What did this teach me? - When you hear the word "document," you think it's text-based. Metadata is a text-based document surrogate. When you optimize a document, compensate for all these search behaviors. Think of an interface and CMS that addresses both of them. Gather as many tips as you like. Measure and test them, but move beyond cat-and-mouse mentality. All of us should evolve. If you have time, take classes. Implement the knowledge into the optimization process.
Mikkel deMib Svendsen discusses his tips next. He doesn't want to give out his secrets because Matt is in the room. However, he discusses the possibility of revealing other tips: - What should people read? - How can you scrape Google without penalties? - How can you do fun stuff with cross side scripting? - How can you do computer based writing? - What's Matt's phone number? Content creation is what he ends up settling on. One of the big challenges is finding that quality content: Computer generated writing. Watch the movie Epic 2014. http://epic.makingithappen.co.uk. Computer generated writing is here to stay. It is going to improve and get better. What are the kinds of computer generated writing? Randomizing words and phrases and word replacements. Semi-advanced systems: Markov Chains Very advanced systems: original content-writing
What about quality of content creation? I am pretty sure we will get there. What we have now is not much worse than the average writing on the web.
What are examples? Cloaking sites - great keyword rich unique filter texts which scales well. Spam blogs - splogs - they can be used for a lot. It won't look much sillier than the average blog out there. Data feeds/affiliates - advanced rewriting of standard product descriptions from merchants. Foreign language sites - take the keywords from a foreign language system and you can then rewrite it without even knowing the language!
Markov Chains: a sequence of random values whose probabilities at a time interval depends upon the value of the number at the previous time. eblong.com/zarf/markov
There are 2 pieces - the Markov builder and Markov generator The builder is based on source text; a frequency table is built for every word pair.
Add additional processing of output - retrigger it, make keyword density adjustments, blend with other methods (works great with other "automated content types"), and create keyword based cross-linking (great for freshness)
What can you do? Make your own tools. Get good sample texts. Search for a keyword and scrape 10-30 pages that rank. Wikipedia is a nice page to go to. Experiment: set up your tools where you can adjust variables. Generate as much text as you want.
Bruce Clay is up next.
The first thing he discusses is siloing. - Traffic increases 30% or more - Aligh by query, not random groupings - Landing pages receive internal links (and popularity voting) across themes - Anchor text management is critical http://www.bruceclay.com/newsletter/volume29/themepartone.html
The second thing is training. - Arguing about every action slows the project. - Training pulls the team together. - Failure to speak the same language results in missed expectation and "blaming" - The SEO is always to blame. - Project success more than doubles if the team all understands what is happening. - Training is critical. Customer satisfaction has more than doubled with training.
The third thing is universal search - what's next? - Futures research - Embrace change - Understand that participation in the Internet is critical to Brand Protection. Social media has eroded the brand - social media determines whether a brand exists or not. - Do it all: blog, video, podcasts, RSS, social - make it a religion or be gone in 5 years. - Think inter-galactic.
The last thing is to increase traffic. - Add a metatag to bruceclay.com. (Obviously, he's totally kidding*.) - Your mileage may vary. - His point is that we need to understand that there is no magic meta tag. *In fact, he adds a footnote on his slides that says: "Note: If you do this, you need more training."
Mike Grehan of Bruce Clay (recent acquisition) goes up next.
Mike says that he cloaked a website because he was working with a TV company that had a popular TV program in the UK and their website was totally animated. But now he thinks that the rules are changing because now there are animations showing up in results (videos, etc.)
Rolling out Universal Search is the scariest thing - you need to think differently about the way you optimize. Do a search for "shakira" and notice that the first result is under an image and is thus below the fold. People are going to click on the picture instead of any other SERP.
Now do a search for "American Airlines" - the site links are pushing other results below the fold. If you then click on the stock quote plus-sign, things go even further below the fold.
There's more than just writing copy now. People searching have broadband. Think different.
Link building is important but it is not the most important thing. The quality of the link is the most important thing. He talks about how he had to rank #1 for "restaurants in london." It's very competitive so he ended up going offline to the top 3 critics in the UK and forced them to eat there so that he'd still get the link.
Jill Whalen says that she doesn't have many secrets but shares the following: * Alt attribute of a logo - alt attribute text = anchor text. - Linked from every other page - Big money (competitive) phrase or word - make sure it describes your site completely
* Dynamic titles and descriptions - For titles - use the last 3 phrases from breadcrumbs, in reverse order, plus company name.
* Dynamic descriptions - Generic description at each category and page level - Substitute the keyword phrase appropriately
* If all else fails - Use the trapezoidal linking multiflux!
Jennifer Slegg speaks next about link love.
Internal link love - - As you add new content, link from homepage - Each content page should link to 2-3 related articles - Don't bury pages on the site - 2 to 3 clicks maximum
Anchor text - - Keywords that surround your anchor text can influence - Avoid Google Bombing by ensuring that the keyword is on the page.
Buying links - - Vary keyword phrases when buying links (10-20 variations; distribute links unevenly) - Check backlinks on the link page - Avoid common placements (footer, sidebar). Do it in the text of an article instead. - Avoid commonly known link networks.
External Link Love - Link to authority pages in your niche - Use nofollow on links where you don't want to give authority to. - Use target=_blank for external links.
Link Baiting - Carefully crafted linkbait can get you a lot of links very quickly: top X ways to..., tools/giveaways, quizzes/contests/awards, breaking news/huge exposes/exploits/scoops, rants/controversies - Caution: all linkbait can backfire badly. People might criticize you on the stance. If you think your target is weak but they can be best friends with people who can hurt you. You may need reputation management at that point.
Todd Friesen will talk next.
He says that if you want information, you should buy him a drink.
He says that they focus on multivariate testing. SEO is moving beyond traffic; it's now about conversions. You should use multivariate on landing pages for natural search, not only PPC. Offermatica is a great multivariate testing company.
Bread crumbs and title tags - you should consider where you put your brand but it depends on your brand strength. If you are not a known brand name, you should put it at the end.
Buying links should be thought of as media placement. linkexperts.com is a great link network. When you work with them, they view it as a media buy - great targeting. Buy links on a topical site, not on unrelated sites or thousands of blogs.
bazaarvoice.com is a company that provides customer reviews for products. They are unique to every site and are moving beyond product reviews to places like education, finance, and law. It plugs really well into your site.
What if you move from one URL structure to another? If you don't do it right, you might lose your rankings. I came up with a short process that helps with that - you build out your sitemap (XML) for the old site. Get your new site ready to go, build out the XML sitemap for that site. Focus on the domain architecture. Then map out 301 redirects for all old pages to new pages. Then, go ahead and launch the new site. Submit your old sitemap to Webmaster Central and SiteExplorer. Ideally, if your 301 is set up, the engines will do the redirection. Once your changes propagate over, upload the new sitemap. It worked very effectively for us.
Greg Boser is up last.
He talks about 301 redirects and getting creative with redirection. You can do good things or bad things with it. 301 redirects do not get utilized as much as they should. They can be like robots.txt files on steroids. We can use robots.txt to exclude links, but you can 301 one copy of a page to another copy. Then, the juice of 2 pages can be consolidated to one focal point. Google credits links very quickly but those backlinks may not show up immediately. If you want to get clever, you can mask where your juice is coming from.
If you own small sites that are not popular, buy some links from crappy directories to these sites and test redirection to another popular site. You can always turn it off (or deflect it at the competitor). Don't be afraid to toy with it or to be bot-specific.
Todd added about moving from sitemaps from one structure to another - he says he wrote an article for MediaPost.com.
Danny says: - If you ever want to read an NY Times article and it asks you about membership, just get the original URL from the link generator at nytimes.blogspace.com. - On the Google blog, if they do permalink, you can click on "Create a link" and get nice traffic. But you either want to be the first person to link or the last person (after 30 days). Google blog search takes what's in the actual feed. Make sure it's in the first sentence of your blog post.