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March 12, 2014

#SMX Liveblog: Long-Term SEO: How to Win for Years, Not Days (#21A)

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Up first is Rhea Drysdale (CEO Outspoken Media; @Rhea).

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What Makes a Great Website?

The single greatest factor in the success or failure of a website is YOU. It’s up to you to manage that website; everything from the consultants you work with to the strategies you implement.

She highly recommends the book Good to Great by Jim Collins.

Being good at your job means handling implementation and being disciplined, she says. It’s about understanding your values, the values of the industry, and where SEO is going as an industry.

SEO is not dead! It’s growing and maturing. And Rhea thinks this is very exciting.

As an SEO, it’s so important to work yourself into your internal systems and to gain trust with your company.

Your decisions affect brand, and the success of that brand.

Human behavior forces algorithm updates!

Humans write the algorithm, and when we – humans; SEOs; Internet trolls – make bad choices that produce crap quality, and that’s when the algorithm changes and causes a spike in another direction.

Invest in Strategy Not Tactics

Understand how to market your business and communicate the risks.

Highlighted areas represent risk areas:

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In Rhea world, I don’t like being told I cant write press releases. I think that’s crap. the point: understand that these tactics are ultimately tactics that are not going away, and, as such, it’s all about being smart and figuring out how to live with them (and use them to your benefit).

These days it’s all about being a brand. What does that mean? It means embodying the characteristics of a great brand. Great brands identify problems, cultivate talent, understand their audience and provide value. Do all of this and you will win for years not days.

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ModCloth Be the Buyer Example. This campaign is a win because they’ve crafted an interactive system that encourages consumers not to show up one time to buy a dress, but to come back day after day to be a part of that brand and engage:

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The key is to: Know what to create; look at feedback from social channels; capitalize on opportunity
Crowdsource (Let your customer tell you what to create); Curate; Create.

ModCloth knows their audience; they identified an audience problem; and created content about that problem, to serve that problem. (That’s what smart SEOs — and smart markets — do.)

Also remember: A diverse product offering naturally building natural links.

A second example: Complex
Identifies their consumers as “Ready to buy, collect, and obsess.” To respond to their consumer’s needs, they built out a multi-media platform with multiple domains and made a sizeable investment in video. As a result they saw a jump to 90 million monthly unique visitors across brands, and are still showing a steady climb. Their win: Producing their own content and investing in video.

A third example: Search Engine Journal.

Rhea suggests we not zone out here… she didn’t bring this up because SEJ is the event sponsor; she’s bringing them up because they are truly industry innovators.

They are experts who offer explanatory journalism, a type of journalism that informs marketers how to take action. Their goal is to provide value to you, the reader. As a result, they are ranking well for head terms like “Hummingbird” (458 backlinks; 266 referring domains). They succeed because they focus on really understanding their audience and what the audience needs.

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Mark-Monroe-SMX-1Up next is Mark Munroe (Director and SEO at Trulia; @markemunroe). He’s in the real estate space with a large organic footprint. Wants everyone to own SEO success! … and to own the problems.

Going to be talking about SEO from an in-house perspective, with an emphasis on reputation building and ways to embed SEO intelligence throughout an organization.

Part One: How to embed SEO intelligence throughout an organization

What Do We Mean By “Long-lasting SEO”?

All successful SEO initiatives (outside of branded SEO) tend to level off. Our challenge as SEOs is to keep that growth growing.

3 Steps We Need to Take To Become Better In-House SEOs

1) You need to work closely with internal teams, and you need to get those teams working closely with each other. It’s essential to break down the silos between QA, UX, HR, Engineering, Marketing, etc. When everyone works together with targets in mind the improvement can be staggering.

2) Over-communicate at every step. Offer guides; don’t just say “make the title this;” explain why the title should be that. Every SEO question should be followed with an explanation.

3) Keep in mind Google’s intent when making recommendations. Whenever making a decision on an SEO strategy or tactics, consider Google’s intent. If your strategy matches the intent of Google’s algorithm, you are moving in the right direction.

4) Link building is still incredibly important to SEO
– Set aggressive link goals across each organization
– Get executive buy in
– Perform periodic reviews (twice quarterly works) and adjust based on what’s working and what’s not.

Remember: As a site and a brand grows it becomes increasingly hard to move the needle. Tremendous amount of work is required to continue sustained growth.

Your whole site is an SEO disaster just waiting to happen! Be proactive!

That’s just how it is. Rises and falls happen. These (in this here slide chart) are all issues that could happen….

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Some potential SEO disasters that come with the territory…

How to be proactive? Training, training, training! Train your in-house SEO team and any of your in-house touch points (remember we want to break down silos). Here are some training recommendations:

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Pay attention to where the Spider is crawling:

– Where is the spider spending its time? On a large site with a billion possible pages, this can be a concern.

– Even if a site is well indexed key pages may get stale in Google’s cache because too much spider crawl time is being spent on low-value pages.

– Beware of search result modifiers containing potentially nearly infinite combinations.

Pay attention to Crawler Capacity

– Always over-engineer your crawler capacity

– If possible have dedicated servers for crawlers vs. users

– If possible have separate servers for Bing vs. Google

Be Sure to make calculated optimization changes and then be prepared to talk about those changes in the light of unforeseen traffic drops.

Don’t be unprepared when the CEO asks you about a drop in traffic.

 

Part Two: Reputation Building Techniques

The evolution of reputation building techniques:

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Content marketing is really where it’s going right now.

Building an earned reputation versus a faux reputation

It’s important that your brand is building a genuine, earned reputation that is based on realized value proposition. Your reputation should arise naturally and not be manipulative. If you are trying to build your reputation by any non-organic means, this is faux reputation and it will hurt you.
Link building is no problem if your reputation is earned; if your links are earned. You want to get links without every having to ask for links.

Should I ask for links?

Sure! As long as the recommendation is genuine. If you honestly have a piece of valuable content that will honestly add value to the site you are reaching out to, it is a-ok to ask a site to link to your blog post. It’s natural , it’s not manipulative and it makes sense.

What about anchor text manipulation?

Don’t optimize for big-dollar keywords; focus on brand. If you’re pitching an article to a website to get a link, don’t recommend anchor text; let them choose whatever is appropriate.

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Eric-Enge-SMX-1Closing today is Eric Enge (CEO Stone Temple Consulting; @StoneTemple)

First off Eric jumps right in with a strings vs. things conversation. He tells us (as we probably know by now, so this may be review for some of you) that search engine used to be all about strings; they would return your content if they crawled your page and found strings of words and attributes that made your page appear to be a more relevant result for X search query. Now — in 2014 — with a things-base search engine; it’s all about context and how one consumer search can influence the next. It’s not just plug and play SEO anymore.

And then we have wearable devices and embeds…

The point? We’re not necessarily in a stable landscape. The times are changing. We need to have a forward-facing point of view.

People want to have a trust relationship with the people they buy from. From Sam’s corner store to buying on the Internet this trust relationship has eroded a little bit.

In the future consumers will always check your reputation and “trustability” before buying from you.

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10 one-liners that can help frame your SEO strategy (Click to Tweet)

1) Be an expert or go home. It’s hard to build trust with random writers creating content on your behalf.

2) Peruse extreme differentiation. Think of Seth Godin’s purple cow. Regular old run of the mill content just isn’t going to cut it. Bring something new to the conversation. Highly differentiated content is the goal.

3) Links are the result, not the goal. Instead, focus on reputation and brand as your top priorites. If you make these factors your guiding light you will end up with organic links that make an impact.

4) You can’t vote for yourself! Building your reputation is about setting up the circumstance so that other people choose to endorse you and vote for you.

5) The true value of press releases is to generate interest from media. (Seriously. They’re not content marketing and they’re not for link building.)

6) Strong social media presences are like a built in PR channel.

7) Pursue relationships with influencers. They are the accelerators in the process. Their word is worth quite a lot so they can help you build trust and reputation quickly. These are the signals the search engines want to find anyway; the real life signals.

8) Don’t just focus on influencers! Give back to the larger community and interact with a lot of other people in it. Make yourself be seen as open and available (and actually be open and available).

9) If you’re ever arguing about whether a link is a good link, the conversation is already over. It’s not a good link. If it’s a good link ther shouldn’t be any questions.

10) The company you keep defines you. Even if you can’t get into the New York Time, start smaller; go for the Boston Globe or The San Francisco Chronicle and work your way up the ladder.

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