#SMX Liveblog: Q&A Session with 5 Expert SEOs (#34A)
It’s been a bat-nutty #SMX. I’m in my last session, a power-point free open-forum with Danny Sullivan (who is moderating) and four top-of-the-line SEO speakers:
- Rae Hoffman, CEO, PushFire (@sugarrae)
- Warren Lee, Senior Global SEO Manager, Digital Media, ADOBE (@warrenleemedia)
- Laura Ann Mitchell and Mellissa Jensen, Digital Marketing Strategists, Intel
- Marshall Simmonds, Founder and CEO, Define Media Group, Inc. (@mdsimmonds)
Let’s jump in.
Question 1: High quality content, clearly plays a huge role in ranking but what about quantity?
If it addresses their pain points, a lot is fine. If you’re just writing content to write content; don’t do it.
It’s not about “barfing out” all this content around keyword data. In fact, we challenge our editorial team to throw out the editorial calendar and write about what they’re passionate about. It’s not about generation and promotion; it should be about your audience and communicating with them as they need it. Instill in your editorial teams what you know and what you’re passionate about. Don’t try to force it too much. (Marshall)
It all depends on your business model. I mean, quality content, that’s a business model, right. If you need a lot of content to support your authority you need to think about what you can do to make your content useful. If you’re having problems creating content to scale, don’t forget you can also turn to user generated content. It just really depends on your business model.
It really depends on your audience, and your brand. If you’re Engadget it may be expected that you will come out with dozens of pieces of content a day. If you are managing any other blog (more or less) you just don’t need to do that much content. Create the amount of content that is right for your brand, your resources and your audience. (Rae)
You shouldn’t be creating any content that is mediocre. I don’t think you need to follow any strict editorial schedule. It’s not as simple as “four posts a day.” I am lucky if I come out with a post a month because I am busy. If I don’t actually have something to say I’m not going to take the time to write the post. Don’t publish crap just because the calendar says to. (Rae)
Question two: If you have quality content that’s linked to an author in the company, and an author leaves the company, should you re-attribute the content to someone else who is still with the company?
Set up your Google+ authorship. It follows you around wherever you go; so even if you leave a company what you write is still associated with you.
Another consideration: Be careful about who you are giving content byline credit to. Giving bylines to only those people who are loyal and stable with your company can help keep your brand strong.
Question Three: Should you block internal search crawling?
Google crawling your internal database really takes up valuable crawl time. Keep the Google spider where it wants to be; you only get so much crawl time, why would you want them to waste their time on your internal search? They don’t want to be there, you don’t want them to be there – so don’t direct the spiders there.
One situation where having the spider crawl your internal search may be appropriate: Cases where you can use the internal search crawl to help Google discover content. (Although it can still be kind of a waste of crawl budget.)
Question Four: At what point do you think Facebook will become an active search player? Either with their own engine or with another third-party relationship?
Facebook can’t even figure out how to let me search my own status updates so, if they cant manage search within their own system, I don’t put a lot of stock in them being able to manage search outside of their own system. (Rae)
“We all want the competition.” “Everyone in this room would like to see Google get some viable competition.” (Danny Sullivan jokes.)
Question Four, for agencies: How do determine your pricing models? Any general tips?
Marshall speaking on behalf of Define Media Group: Why would you lock someone into a contract?? If you suck, why should they have to stay with you? If they (the client) sucks, why should you have to stay with them?
We limit the engagements we bring on for a reason. We want to take on projects that we like; that we’re passionate about; that we can move the dial on. It’s more about audience development and business management than SEO. SEO is really different as compared to five years ago; today it’s all about content creation; about creating value. We have to value what we do. We always think how much value can we offer to the client and we go from there.
Rae speaking on behalf of PushFire: I can’t imagine working with someone who hates my guts for another six months because some piece of paper says we have to work together. As far as pricing goes, it all depends on the service. I know clients hate not seeing prices, but honestly, there are so many factors that can affect the price. An audit is really necessary in order for a price to be determined. It really needs to be case-by-case pricing depending on what the client needs and what the job demands. There’s no real “charge X amount for X and X amount for X per X time frame” cut and dry model. You have to really think about bringing value.
Don’t ever take money if you don’t think you can provide someone with the ROI they deserve.
Question Five, for Intel: Can you talk more about how you are using search for insights?
Laura and Mellissa from Intel say: In the past it was SEO is an afterthought. Now we use search to inform content.
We’re always looking for opportunities to look at the SERP and decide where the best place to put advertising is. And for opportunities to go off domain. For instance, we can look at the SERP and think: Where are people going to land? If it’s Best Buy (because Best Buy is high up in the SERP for a specific keyword phrase), can we put an Intel asset on that page to get in front of them after the SERP click? For us it’s more than just reining in the search page rankings.
We’re really using search as market research. We’re looking at how people are using search to learn more about what people want. What they’re looking for. If tablets for kids is a hot search topic, then your assets need to align with that need.
Question Six: Does Google+ provide SEO benefit for your business?
Danny Sullivan is quick to clarify that “+1s do not affect rankings,” as Google and Matt Cutts have said over again over again. This has always been the official word, but it’s becoming more and more evident that Google+ content does have an affect on personalized results (based on G+ connections).
Rae chimes in and adds that “everyone says ‘oh, there’s no one on Google+,’ but there are lots of people on Gooogle+”. There are country music pages that have more than a million +1s; and those are just normal people using the network (as opposed to online marketers, or other people in the search/tech industry).
Keep in mind also that Google is working to make Google+ more and more important month over month.
Marshall adds: It’s about building a community and outreach. Look at what Eric Enge is doing with his hangouts every other week; it’s about building a brand.
It’s not really about “what you can do so that Google will reward you.” It’s more about building a community. You shouldn’t be being doing it to trick the algorithm. You should be trying to build authority and community. Marshall strongly recommends we go and check out what Eric Enge and Stone Temple Consulting are doing with Hangouts on a weekly basis.
Question Seven: For the agencies on the panel; what are your pain points for collaborating with in-house SEO teams? Or, conversely, what works well?
I don’t usually have a problem with our in-house SEOs. They’re usually good at their jobs. What I find a lot is that SEOs usually just need help communicating value to stakeholders. The part where we find the problems is usually not with the SEOs, it’s with the content team and the PR team. They feel competitive about who’s getting credit for the win at the end of the month; like we (the SEOs) are invading their territory. I’d recommend that everyone just keep in mind that everyone is dealing with all kinds of internal bosses; the trick is opening communication and getting everyone to work together.
Mellissa form Intel adds: Another note: you have to really own your relationships. All of them. If she fails (whoever she is in whatever role), you fail. As consultants we need to really find the people who can help us get out jobs done and we need to learn how to work together better.
Question Eight: Do you need a big team to get things done?
I don’t really think size matters. Really. You can do your job with just two people. If you have a smaller team you’ll need to be really careful about your prioritization. For instance, if you have to choose between authorship or marking up video, I’d put my small team on video because we’ve seen the impact the latter can have.
Laura from Intel: It’s really about empowering the right people. I don’t think it’s about the size of the team, I think it’s about who you can call on as you need them.