SMX Live: Don't Panic! A Hitchhiker's Guide To Surviving SEO Changes

Feb 28, 2012 - 6:25 pm 0 by
Filed Under SMX West 2012

Live Blogging Coverage SMXBelow is live coverage of the Don't Panic! A Hitchhiker's Guide To Surviving SEO Changes panel from the SMX West conference. This coverage is provided by Barry Schwartz of RustyBrick & Keri Morgret of Strike Models.

Disclaimer: The coverage is brought to you in real time, using a custom live blogging tool. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments for inclusion into the live coverage. During the live event, live notes will auto-scroll with newest entries at top. After the session is complete the archive version will have the oldest entries at the top. We ask you to please excuse any typos, as these are live notes.

Finished Auto-Refresh: Off
Barry Schwartz: 3:27:35 pm
Starting in a few minutes....
Barry Schwartz: 3:32:23 pm
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Keri Morgret: 3:32:52 pm
Quick Solutions spotlight to st art.
Barry Schwartz: 3:33:05 pm
That is Elisabeth who is holding the mike like she is a moderator or something
Barry Schwartz: 3:33:13 pm
mic not mike
Barry Schwartz: 3:33:40 pm
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Barry Schwartz: 3:34:23 pm
First up is Mark Munroe from is now up
Barry Schwartz: 3:34:39 pm
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Keri Morgret: 3:35:17 pm
He shows a site that got penalized 13 times in seven months.
Barry Schwartz: 3:35:19 pm
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Barry Schwartz: 3:35:24 pm
This site was hit 13 times with a penalty
Barry Schwartz: 3:36:06 pm
The issue here was that hackers were injecting links and malware on the site
Keri Morgret: 3:36:17 pm
How do you protect yourself from Algo changes?
Barry Schwartz: 3:36:25 pm
Just write great content?
Barry Schwartz: 3:36:31 pm
Nope, it is not enough
Keri Morgret: 3:36:54 pm
Reviewing Google's goals for panda. Fast answers, relevant answers, high-quality sites.
Keri Morgret: 3:37:03 pm
What they said for Panda really applies to most of their updates.
Barry Schwartz: 3:37:24 pm
May Day, Above the Fold, Freshness
Barry Schwartz: 3:37:40 pm
In general, Google simply wants a good SERP experience that answers the search query
Keri Morgret: 3:37:52 pm
They want a result that makes it so the user doesn't need to ask the question again.
Barry Schwartz: 3:38:08 pm
Should you chase the algorithm?
Barry Schwartz: 3:38:13 pm
SEOs say no...
Barry Schwartz: 3:38:48 pm
Even after Panda, there is still poor content in the rankings, so Google is probably not done.
Keri Morgret: 3:39:08 pm
If Panda was completely successful, Google wouldn't have had to do the above the fold algo update.
Keri Morgret: 3:39:26 pm
Make your goals align with Google's goals. Create a quality SERP experience.
Keri Morgret: 3:39:45 pm
Think like a Google product manager to survive and thrive.
Keri Morgret: 3:40:08 pm
Every search is a question, every result is a promise to answer that question.
Barry Schwartz: 3:40:21 pm
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Keri Morgret: 3:41:48 pm
Why focus on the SERP experience? Because Good Content is not enough. What matters is that the user is satisfied.
Barry Schwartz: 3:41:53 pm
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Keri Morgret: 3:42:20 pm
Title and meta description in the SERP are the promise to the user.
Keri Morgret: 3:43:30 pm
You can have awesome content, original content, but you really need it to match what your promise the page to be about.
Keri Morgret: 3:43:52 pm
Example of great description of the history of San Francisco, but on a page about SF hotel reviews won't be a good page.
Keri Morgret: 3:44:17 pm
First, understand the users on keywords that dominate your SEO traffic.
Barry Schwartz: 3:44:38 pm
Understand the users on keywords that dominate your SEO traffic
Keri Morgret: 3:45:03 pm
Survey people from search, do user testing that starts at the SERP, not just at your home page.
Barry Schwartz: 3:46:45 pm
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Barry Schwartz: 3:47:17 pm
Expect Google do run somehting like Panda on a page level.
Barry Schwartz: 3:47:37 pm
Panda might eventually work specific to mobile and specific to sub folders, he thinks.
Barry Schwartz: 3:48:24 pm
The above the fold page algo is looking at ads
Barry Schwartz: 3:48:46 pm
Another thing that interests him is the "Reasonable surfer" model
Barry Schwartz: 3:49:00 pm
Keri Morgret: 3:49:05 pm
Still lots of links done solely for SEO reasons.
Keri Morgret: 3:49:26 pm
Start thinking about good information architecture so you get your stuff indexed naturally.
Keri Morgret: 3:49:43 pm
- Concentrate on improving the SERP experience for users coming to your site.
Keri Morgret: 3:50:01 pm
Invest heavily in marketing, branding, social, widgets, linking.
Barry Schwartz: 3:50:57 pm
Next up is Kerry Dead from PMG
Keri Morgret: 3:51:10 pm
Kerry is also a writer at Search Engine Land.
Barry Schwartz: 3:51:33 pm
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Barry Schwartz: 3:52:35 pm
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Keri Morgret: 3:52:54 pm
Too many clients hear about social and forget all of what they learned in SEO.
Barry Schwartz: 3:53:37 pm
They want to go with what is hot and not what you first need to do to set up a foundation to work the hot stuff off of later.
Barry Schwartz: 3:53:46 pm
(Yes, I am talking about SEO )
Keri Morgret: 3:54:04 pm
Don't forget the basics of title tags, navigation, information architecture, crawling, sitemaps, etc.
Barry Schwartz: 3:54:13 pm
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Keri Morgret: 3:54:32 pm
Double up on your analytics! Pay for Omniture? Add Google Analytics for free!
Keri Morgret: 3:54:42 pm
Or if you use GA, add Statcounter.
Barry Schwartz: 3:54:53 pm
Omniture is like Photoshop, so it is so complex and people don't know how to use it.
Keri Morgret: 3:55:37 pm
One helpful thing is that there are a lot more people that know Google Analytics than Omniture.
Keri Morgret: 3:56:16 pm
Track everything that matters to you, then track even more.
Keri Morgret: 3:56:30 pm
Go hire a copywriter!
Barry Schwartz: 3:56:35 pm
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Keri Morgret: 3:56:57 pm
Tips include editoral calendars, being unique, rewriting product descriptions, posting to the blog.
Keri Morgret: 3:57:49 pm
You want to solidify how authoritative your brand is.
Barry Schwartz: 3:58:28 pm
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Keri Morgret: 3:58:44 pm
Every visitor tells you something -- even if they don't appear to do anything.
Barry Schwartz: 3:59:16 pm
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Keri Morgret: 3:59:21 pm
Embrace the age of personal branding. Building your team's authority will increase your website's authority.
Barry Schwartz: 4:00:03 pm
Author Rank & Agent Rank
Keri Morgret: 4:00:35 pm
Have everyone set up rel-author.
Barry Schwartz: 4:00:59 pm
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Keri Morgret: 4:01:18 pm
Give prominent placement to social sharing buttons. Be relentless about making it easy to share / check in.
Keri Morgret: 4:01:32 pm
They can help drive traffic, even if they aren't (currently) ranking factors.
Barry Schwartz: 4:02:38 pm
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Keri Morgret: 4:02:38 pm
Be even MORE relentless about mobile ecommerce.
Keri Morgret: 4:03:15 pm
Use HTML5 for mobile, it's awesome. All the SEO work you've done for the main site will help the mobile site.
Barry Schwartz: 4:03:50 pm
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Keri Morgret: 4:03:54 pm
Great content is like a panda force field!
Barry Schwartz: 4:04:04 pm
Panda was about the lack of value out there in the SERPs.
Barry Schwartz: 4:04:30 pm
Then JC Penney was caught buying links, then Forbes for selling links, then Overstock for incentives links...
Barry Schwartz: 4:05:01 pm
(1) Great content is like a Panda force field.
(2) Don't be stupid about paid links
Keri Morgret: 4:05:32 pm
With social media, use ALL the social media sites and start monitoring referral traffic.
Barry Schwartz: 4:05:33 pm
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Keri Morgret: 4:06:15 pm
People treat social media like Weekend at Bernie's. Someone comes around, you make thing look alive, but ignore it otherwise.
Keri Morgret: 4:07:08 pm
Wrapping up this talk:

Google is telling us:
- Don't buy links
- Produce Quality Content
- Get involved in Google+
Keri Morgret: 4:07:22 pm
We know two things:
1) Fundamentally, SEO is still SEO.
2) Now, we have to get social.
Barry Schwartz: 4:07:41 pm
Last up is Marshall Simmonds from Define Media Group
Barry Schwartz: 4:08:12 pm
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Barry Schwartz: 4:08:28 pm
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Barry Schwartz: 4:08:52 pm
More has happened in the last two years since search has happened, he said.
Barry Schwartz: 4:09:34 pm
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Keri Morgret: 4:09:35 pm
These types of changes are a great opportunity to remind people again of SEO and get some stuff done again after people have forgotten about the SEO department.
Barry Schwartz: 4:09:47 pm
Universal Search has given us a way to integrate this stuff
Barry Schwartz: 4:10:04 pm
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Barry Schwartz: 4:10:36 pm
Freshness came out in 2011, so if you have fresher content, you can get up there in the SERPs faster
Barry Schwartz: 4:11:00 pm
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Keri Morgret: 4:11:11 pm
What are some of the things you can do?
Keri Morgret: 4:11:40 pm
Blog more often, pay attention to the technical details that sometimes slip.
Barry Schwartz: 4:11:46 pm
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Keri Morgret: 4:11:59 pm
Watch timely queries. Things people are searching for now, not necessarily historic data.
Barry Schwartz: 4:12:11 pm
This all feeds into the freshness update.
Keri Morgret: 4:12:48 pm
He shows a page of typical Google recommendations about content being trusted, and lots of nice vague suggestions.
Keri Morgret: 4:13:02 pm
Real panda suggestions:
Do an SEO audit.
Barry Schwartz: 4:13:12 pm
This was an opportunity for him
Keri Morgret: 4:13:39 pm
Basically, take the stuff that's been on your wish list to get done and go and push for it to be done, this is a great opportunity to get some of it done.
Barry Schwartz: 4:14:18 pm
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Barry Schwartz: 4:14:34 pm
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Keri Morgret: 4:14:39 pm
Search engines are distracted and can be confused.
Barry Schwartz: 4:15:05 pm
Sitemaps are key:
- Image
- Video
- News
- Blogs
- Products
Barry Schwartz: 4:15:41 pm
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Barry Schwartz: 4:15:49 pm
Sitemaps work, see this chart...
Barry Schwartz: 4:16:05 pm
Video: There is only one way in, and that is through YouTube.
Keri Morgret: 4:16:11 pm
Great post by Eric Enge about Bing and what you can get out of their webmaster tools. Bing is looking for a sitemap with less than 1% of "dirt" in the URLs.
Barry Schwartz: 4:16:17 pm
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Barry Schwartz: 4:17:06 pm
Google News Standout Tag is one of his favorite, it is a tag to put on your news stories that this news item should really stand out.
Barry Schwartz: 4:17:32 pm
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Barry Schwartz: 4:17:40 pm
Keri Morgret: 4:17:57 pm
You can use the standout tag for your own content seven times a week..but as many times as you want to for OTHER content.
Barry Schwartz: 4:18:05 pm
Rel=author is great
Barry Schwartz: 4:18:20 pm
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Keri Morgret: 4:19:12 pm
Internal Links is his favorite report in Google Webmaster Tools. Help find where their power pages are.
Barry Schwartz: 4:19:30 pm
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Keri Morgret: 4:19:58 pm
Shoutout to Open Site Explorer. They discovered a top page had an error.
Barry Schwartz: 4:20:03 pm has great insight there
Barry Schwartz: 4:20:42 pm
Google constantly changing is a good thing for job security but more importantly, it is an opportunity
Barry Schwartz: 4:21:09 pm
Panda isnt bad, it was needed.
Barry Schwartz: 4:21:28 pm
That is all, now Q&A Time
Barry Schwartz: 4:21:55 pm
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Barry Schwartz: 4:25:13 pm
Michael Martinez introduces himself, he is at
Barry Schwartz: 4:29:50 pm
Everyone says YES, Panda improved Google's serps. Except for Marshall said in most categories.... (fyi, that was my question but for some reason Elisabeth didn't give me credit, she must hate me)
Barry Schwartz: 4:30:00 pm
Marshall said review category "got trashed"
Barry Schwartz: 4:31:59 pm
Michael revamped his site from scratch to cure himself from Panda.
Barry Schwartz: 4:36:54 pm
Michael now says that site's that accept guest posts will see a downgrade in about a year or so
Barry Schwartz: 4:37:35 pm
He then followed up to say what Search Engine Land does it high quality in terms of columnists
Barry Schwartz: 4:39:27 pm
That is about it, Q&A still going on... Michael is talking about machine learning but it has been a long day. Session is over in 5 minutes.
Barry Schwartz: 4:39:42 pm
Good night all, big keynote in the morning, 9am PDT and you don't want to miss it.

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