This is conference coverage of the Search Marketing Expo Advanced 2008 event. There was an "embargo" on releasing these session notes until this time. Enjoy these outstanding SEO tips.
Give It Up! - No more secrets time. In this session, our panel of noted SEOs all share some of their favorite and largely overlooked SEO tips. Then we turn to the audience for more sharing. Attendees vow not to blog what's discussed for the now traditional 30 day waiting period. Search reps in the audience agree to a 30 day delay in fixing any loopholes, too -- or give up their own secret.
Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land
Q&A Moderator: Alex Bennert, Director of Client Services, Beyond Ink
Rand Fishkin, CEO, SEOmoz Todd Friesen, Vice President Search Strategies, Visible Technologies Michael Gray, President, Atlas Web Service Rob Kerry, Head of Search, Ayima Search Marketing Stephan Spencer, Founder and President, Netconcepts Marty Weintraub, a guy from Duluth and an aimclear.com blogger
I'm on embargo. 1PM PST on July 3rd.
Danny says that there aren't women on this panel. He is going to kick out three guys next time.
Stephan Spencer talks about conditional redirects. He says he doesn't want you to do conditional redirects if you have an affiliate programs. Do unconditional redirects, especially Amazon.
He is sharing a Link Ninja tool that they've had for a few years. - Underlying principles * the 80/20 rule that there's high value links that drive a lot of value * Logarathmic nature of PageRank * Thus PR8 and PR9 and PR10 are highly desirable * Topically relevant * .edu and .org Google Directly Mining Tool - spider the google directory - directory.google.com - google's robots.txt allows it. - Extract site name, URL, pagerank, and dump into a database. Mine this database via web interface to look for sites with super high PR by category and TLD. Optionally collect supplemnt info in a second pass (site age, TBPR, link neighborhood, monetization, present of attribution links, paid links, export to TSV file). He shows how it works and gets a full report for the TBPR and populating a spreadsheet with all of this. He shows sample output with all the cool data.
Other ideas and methodologies: - Proxy server based SEO - use a server as a middleman when you have a complex inflexible CMS e-commerce platform that you can't make changes to. You can have sitewite rules and page specific rules. Think scalable SEO and automation. Page-specific rules are best done through an admin interface or bulk upload. On top of that, add thin slicing. Think "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell. Overthinking can be detrimental. Make quick decisions. It only really works if you're an expert. e.g. hand optimize title tags across hundreds of page quickly (prioritized) Focus on title tags, H1s, URLs Don't obsess and you don't have to be perfect. Iterate instead. If you don't have an admin interface, use a spreadsheet and import. There's an SEO title tag plugin that has thin slicing.
Optimize URLs in an interative format. URL affects searcher clickthrough rates. Better URLs = shorter ones get more clicks. Iterative testing and optimization would be cool. You can do that with WordPress. If you change a post slug, the WordPress core automatically does a 301 redirect from the previous slug. You won't lose juice from that. He explains that you can mass-edit your URLs using the SEO Title tag plugin.
Marty Weintraub has 62 slides. Danny is afraid that this is too long. In 7.5 minutes? GOOD LUCK.
Three favorite overlooked SEO topics - defensible.
Nested iFrame Community Crawler - Automated browser crawl of targeted communities. (MyBlogLog) - We automate a browser crawl in targeted communities. LEave ambasssador's MBL and other community bread crumb badges behind. You're vanity baiting targeted authority community members. They see your avatar day after day. - StumbleUpon, Sphinn, MBL Tactic: research vanity bait topics (alltop, technorati, Google blog search) - make a bigass list of all your friends. Log into all the services. It crawls all the site every second. Ethics: we make clients participate in the communities that they're active in. Ignore web developer and other plugin so that people don't know where it came from.
Persona SEO with social media profiles. Why SEO? Great SEO comes from frequent participation. Worthy content will result in friends, buzz, and SEO, links. Close cousin to the sphinn scrape-all-users and auto-add-all-users as friends tool.
Using social media profiles, it's distributed interior linking. Friend, join groups, that creates a massive anchor text to your profile and if leveraged, it can be very powerful and defensive and offensive reputation management.
Authentic participation and hard work. It works for competitive niche keywords. Serious forethought is needed.
Keyword: soy candles. It's 65% difficulty in Rand's tool. The profile is a 51 year old female chick. There is a legitimate reason for this avatar to exist. She's a world class photographer, a 90s Prodigy instructor at NYU (she's bookmarking a lot of content!). She's totally hot. Persona blogging is twisted and brings oodles of traffic. We know she's bisexual and participates in monthly Lesbian poetry slams in Denver. - Don't forget to optimize that soy candle picture on flickr!
Next up is Michael Gray: how to beat the Google AdWords Landing Page Quality Score. - Search engines - stop trying to be a moral compass. Stop sidestepping the questions.
Landing page quality score is a lie. Landing page quality score algo has nothing to do with your landing page. It looks at organic factors. The better organic rankings, the better your quality score.
He shows the methodology to do this. Campaign - sanjia ringtones - He ran it for $10.00. - Landing page is a standard page. - He ran another one for $0.75 - Landing page is identical.
What's the difference? All of these campaigns were in the identical account. Keywords were identical. Ad copy identical. Landing page - identical. The difference? The domain name was different. Domain from 2006 was $10 and the 2008 domain was $0.75. It's not just the domain age. They're looking at the number of trusted links over a period of time. You need to prove to Google that you're trustworthy and need to do that over a specified period of time. It will go up to $10 if you don't get those links. The quality score goes through iterations - just like the sandbox.
George Bush does not sell ringtones (yet). You're not looking at the landing page if you believe that. - Main factor - organic stores - Trusted sites have low pricing because they're good - Nontrusted sites are bad and have high pricing - New or unknown pricing - unknown and unknown pricing. As Google updates its organic trust rank every few months based on link data. Unknown sites move into trusted or nontrusted categories. If your website moves into a non trusted price jacked category, buy a new domain, create a new ad group, and move all keywords. Lather, rinse, repeat
Google is a data borg. Every piece of data you give to Google through toolbar, email, analytics - you're giving it to Google and it can be used against you in a court of Google. Think twice before you give them what you give them.
Rob Kerry is next. He's a white hat green hat monkey. But he says that some people will see this as black hat. These aren't ideas you should use on non-brand sites.
1. Microsite creation: creating many anonymous sites which appear as third party links. Independent websites that link to your main site. - Benefits: complete control of inbound links, control and manage anchor text, often cheaper than buying links, sell links to non-competing sites. To do this, get free/cheap hosting and domain names. Avoid .infos but because everyone sees them as spammy and duplicate class C class ranges - different hosting networks to be more independent. Choose a CMS like WordPress. Roll out content. Link over to the main site once aged. Don't: use the same whois data, register domains on the same day/week, get links from the same places, use the same content on different blogs, and use the same templates and linking structure.
2. Automated content - generate unique content using software. Mikkel deMib Svennson introduced us to Markov Chains last year at Give It Up! - it uses a mathematical equation to create unlimited content from a single source. - downside is it's hard to perfect and the content produced doesn't pass human review Also, multi-souce sentence arrays. Write original piece of content. Rewrite each sentence 5 times. Each must be unique but say the same thing. Variant 1: Link development is the process of attaining links to a website in order to increase the site's perceived value and popularity. Variant 2; Increasing a website's perceived importance and popularity through the acquisition of inbound liks is called Link Development.
If you're not a coder, get someone off elance or a Russian. They're usually very Good. You can get someone to explode sentences to big arrays as variables. Randomly pick one sentence, then the second one, then the third, etc. The result is 6 articles with 25 sentneces that turns into 28 quintillion articles according to Yahoo answers (6^25). You still can get quite a bit of content. Benefits: It passes human review because it makes sense. It's always sentence 1, sentence 2, sentence 3, and it looks unique. It's the fraction of the cost of copywriters. You can distribute articles across your microsite network. Submit content to every article directory with embedded links and offers the unique content to other sites in exchange for links (they'll think it's unique content). This is white hat, isn't it? It is, because content is king!
Issues: not all generated articles will pass dupe tests. Full sentences can leave a fooprint - So use CopyScape to check before publishing articles. Randomize words within sentences - "don't" is "do not", "pub" is "bar", etc. Then you'll have more than 28 quintillion articles.
3. On topic spamming. Auto post comments and trackbacks to blogs and guestbooks that relate to your site. This isn't really spamming. It's a time saving device for Rob. He uses technology to use exactly what he'd do but he's not as fast as a computer. - Useful for getting links into your network of microsites. Free links for affiliate sites. Rank for long tail terms. Increase site visibility. e.g. target the term "red wine." Run precise searches on Google and Yahoo (site:.edu +comment + "red wine" + "you must log"] - scrape all URLs from comments. Create an array of comments to post - "I'm still trying to find good red wine. Can you help me find good California Red wine?" - Get your coder to create bot to auto post comments to the blogs - Use your target term as your name, which will form anchor text in the comment. Benefits: It looks human, massive success rate, even passes through pre moderation, nany blogs still don't nofollow comments or trackback list. Yahoo and MSN still have problems handling nofollow.
Todd Friesen is up next. He has a cool website called traintalkwithtodd.com where he posts his Twitter messages.
- Old blogs - this is one that he's had success with. Go and find old blogs on blogspot or Wordpress (better on blogspot, though, because you can find ones that haven't been updated but they rank for keywords that drive you nuts). You look at the profile page. He might have a hotmail address too. Hotmail addresses get recycled to public domain if they don't check it. Request the login credentials. Then go back to the blog - get the password sent to you, and now you own the blog.
- What about hotlinking images? If you hate that, you can fix that bastard. Make it a pornstar picture. Or say "XYZ is a thief." If someone links to your images, that's a link to your image. Pop open that .htaccess file and 301 that image link to wherever you want.
- Todd isn't a social media guy but he has these ideas about what you can do with Digg. You have a great domain that has hit the front page of Digg but you can't use it anymore because Digg has banned you. YOu can't get unbanned. What do you do? Scrape content - put the list of funny things and throw it on a new domain and submit it to Digg, call your Digg army, wait for the fervor to die down. Then redirect off of it.
- Custom 404 pages. Why do you use custom 404 pages? You've had a product go out of stock or whatever so you put up this 404 page. Google, Yahoo, Live, AOL will take you out of the index. But people may link to that page - why would you put up a 404? 301 that one level up. 301 it to an associated product instead then! Custom 404s - why would you ever want a page taken off the internet if there were links to it? You can recover from it but you should still do related pages.
- Reputation management is important. Help clients hide skeletons in closets and clean up messes. Occasionally, the sites you're monitoring on a regular basis goes down for a few days. He's not advocating DDOS attacks. Monitor sites in the space. The second you get an email that a page is down, use the Google removal tool so that Google can remove it (for at least 6 months to the date). It buys you 6 months of time to get positive content.
- DaveN suggested this: Google bowling is alive and well. Because different link brokers moved from sponsored links to inline linking, his theory is that there's a filter that looks for too many new links from old blogs that are tied together so they can knock sites out. Say you have an old network of 40 blogs; add a link to a site you want to knock down in the search results.
Rand Fishkin is up last. He has 58 slides.
- Searching for links Less common query operators. Use the related: tag. Find out who your competitors are related to with the related: tag. Top ranking sites. These are sites to get links from even if they're not directly related. intitle: search. The intitle: results are very different. Go across playing fields. They've earned the ability to be there but not the trust to be there. inurl: intext: intext is crap. It doesn't work. inanchor: The last 2 are broken, he thinks. allintitle, allinurl, allintext, allinanchor (last 2 not working) Do wildcard searches (everybody likes *) - what's very popular? When you plug in a product search (dell desktop *), you can see what people are typing in and using as their keywords - good competitive keyword analysis. Temporal searching - you don't have to obey the little dropdown. You can modify the query in the string - as_qdr=d43
Linkfromdomain: only offered by MSN/Live Search - what domains are linked to from a given domain ip: tool to see who is linked where. They set their DNS to resolve to Google's address.
Competitive link searches - Yahoo! Site Explorer. Append a parameter - yahoo will show you links through their regular search interface. link: inanchor: works there
Google blog search - accurate link data at Google. Literally see
Exalead - link: operator - order of importance.
Alexa also shows links, as does Technorati.
linkdomain:zzzz. region:europe - great for geotargeting.
Experiments in advanced queries - linkfromdomain: + linkdomain: - or linkfromdomain: + site:
Pages in order of importance www site:yourdomain.org.
Brand mentions with no links "seomoz -linkdomain:seomoz.org -site:seomoz.org"
Linkingto multiple competitors but not yoursite linkdomain:seobook.com linkdomain:searchengineland.com
COmpetitor Domain and Add URL searches - "bruceclay.com" "add URL" -site
Keyword + inURL directory
Tracking manual link building efforts - use a unique word while conducting manual link building and track progress through engines.
- Google local ranking tips - in order of importance 1. Registration with Google Local 2. Perceived closeness to center of city 3. Number of local reviews 4. "Local" link popularity 5. Local phone number 6. Participation in the online menu services - Zagat, menupix, menupages, allmenus 7. Quality of local reviews 8. city name inclusion in anchor text 9. Local non-Google directory listings. Gayot, Zagat, citysearch, lilaguide, superpages, Yelp 10. Keyword in the business name 11. Domain authority 12. Address inclusion on webpages
- Reputation tracking techniques Google Temporal Web Search - do a search for "seomoz" within last 24 hours Google blog search Google links Search Google news search Summize Twitter search
Obligatory black hat slide: Google bowling - point the DNS of your banned sites so they fall out of the index pretty darn fast.
Donna Burnett gives a tip: - Google has this wonderful site tool and part of their AdWords - doing keyword research, type in a keyword into Google, then grab the URL out of Google, go to the site tool and put that URL into the tool - it spans every keyword possible in the search results. It works great.
Some guy gets up: - Local is frustrating, he says. He was flamed for being inept. Use categorization from superpages and disable Google categories. If the categories don't work well for you, disable the categories completely and use Superpages. Went completely unlisted to the top of Google in about 10 pages.