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July 12, 2006

Yahoo!’s Laura Lippay Dishes About SEO, Circus Life

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I’m pretty easy to please. I like people who are witty, intelligent, whose past jobs include working for the circus, and who don’t get swept away in mindless rumor and propaganda. Yahoo!’s SEO Program Manager Laura Lippay provides me with all four essential ingredients.

Lee Odden sat down with Laura and uncovered some interesting truths, like what exactly she does for a living, whether SEO and the circus are related (Laura says no, I’m tempted to disagree), what blogs she reads (sadly, not ours) and how sometimes all the information you need is right under your nose.

In respect to the often debated one-engine-fits-all approach to SEO, Laura says there is no reason to turn the matter into a guessing game. If you want to know if optimizing for Google is all you need to rank well in MSN and Ask, take a look at your statistics.

“You need to optimize for what makes you money. If your target market is techno geeks and you think you tend to get more referrals from techno geeks from Google Search, then see what you can do to get more quality traffic from there. But if that takes away from your Yahoo! traffic and you end up losing more money when you lose the Yahoo! traffic than you do by your gain in Google traffic, then it’s obvious what you need to do.”

What I like about Laura, besides her Yahoo! 360 profile picture and past Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey stunt skater job, is that she’s logical. Site owners need to optimize their sites based on what makes them money, not what works for their competition. And there’s really no need to make it more complicated than that. Only you (and your team of minions) have access to your site’s data. Try taking a look at it.

If you were hoping Laura would reveal what Yahoo! puts into their secret sauce, no luck. Laura says not even she has the answer to that questions.

"Unfortunately, I don’t get any secret sauce from the Yahoo Search people. I have to get them drunk and hope to get secrets out of them just like everyone else."

Just one more reason why you should head over and sign up for SES San Jose. Heh. I’m sure there will be quite a few Yahoos walking around. Be a friend and hand them a drink. Not that we don’t condone liquoring up those in the know. Totally unrelated: will Matt Cutts be making a trip to San Jose? I’m just curious.

Yesterday I stated I thought links were the most important component to an SEO campaign. Today, we get three more important site optimization tips for webmasters to keep in mind:

    1. Usability comes before SEO
    2. SEO isn’t just about H1 and title tags
    3. Don’t listen to what anyone else says about SEO. Figure it out for yourself. (I’m paraphrasing.)

That second item is pretty much a no-brainer, but I’m big fan of the other two, especially that last one. I think as a webmaster you can either waste your time following forum speak and listening to SEO propaganda, or you can learn the fundamentals, experiment and perfect methodologies and actually learn the craft. It’s your choice, but here at Bruce Clay, Inc., we’re big fans of the latter.

Overall, I thought Lee’s interview with Laura was one of the better I’ve read recently. I was with Laura for most of their chat, or at least until she equated Yahoo! with Falkor. I know, I’m uncultured, but I had no idea what Falkor was (is?). I guess it’s kind of like an overgrown flying cocker spaniel? Am I close?

[Editor's note: Falkor is a luck dragon, Lisa.--SE]

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