SMX Advanced 2012: Ask The SEOs

SMX Advanced 2012 (Seattle)
SMX Advanced 2012 (Seattle)

It’s time for ASK THE SEOs with:

  • Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land (@dannysullivan)
  • Q&A Moderator: Jonathon Colman, Internet Marketing Manager, REI (@jcolman)

and Speakers:

  • Alex Bennert, In House SEO, Wall Street Journal (@seosylph)
  • Greg Boser, SVP of Search Services, BlueGlass Interactive, Inc (@GregBoser)
  • Bruce Clay, President, Bruce Clay, Inc. (@bruceclayinc)
  • Vanessa Fox, Contributing Editor, Search Engine Land (@vanessafox)
  • Todd Friesen, SVP, SearchFanatics (@oilman)
  • Rae Hoffman-Dolan, CEO, PushFire (@sugarrae)

What the hell is going on with Penguin?

VF: It’s nothing new at all, it’s just doing a better job. But now it has a name.
AB: It was just confusing because it had a name.
GB: It’s a broadscale implementation of things that they had been doing manually for a long time. The biggest takeaway is that it’s a behavioral adjustment filter. They don’t want you doing that stuff any more. It’s the cousin of Panda, which was a lot about high volume low quality content on your site. Penguin is about high volume low quality links to your site from sites with no human interaction. So if you’re doing that – stop it!
TF: It’s like Google is saying now: We’re not going to let those bad links help you, and now we’re going to penalize you for it.
BC: We have a penalty audit now. People who didn’t want to spend on SEO to do it right, didn’t. And now those are the people who are complaining about getting hit by Penguin and/or Panda. The people who were hit by this were the people who were taking shortcuts year after year after year.
GB: Describes the concepts of footprints and what looks normal and abnormal.
VF: There are positive and negative ranking factors.
TF: We’re back to the Google Dance.
BC: Many of you, in about  3 months, when the next update comes out…will not be immune.
GB: Take it as a warning to dig through your closet and  get rid of your bad links.

Can authorrank reflect positively on the authority of your site as a whole?
GB: Yes. It seems to work for Barry Schwartz. Google is pushing to get everyone into that environment. The real value is the whole package.
RH: For clickthrough rate, the one that has a picture next to it – that’s the one that gets the users’ attentions.
TF: And you’re searching for something in your industry,
the picture is often going to be someone you know.
GB: I don’t typically notice the domain if i see a picture. So you can hire writers and take advantage of their trust and authority.

IP Sniffing:
VF: I would never tell you to show something different to bots than to users.

Paid inclusion:
DS: I’ve never ever seen anything like this where they’ve taken a major search property and said now you’ve got to pay to be there.
TF: I used to work for  PositionTechnologies, who actually invented paid inclusion for Inktomi/Yahoo. I’m a big proponent of paid inclusion. But what Google’s doing is not what you’re thinking when you think of paid inclusion. Google isn’t going to do it like Yahoo. It’s only going to be affordable for the top 5-10 brands.
GB: If you’re a 3rd party aggregating site and/or comparison shopping,  you’re in a dying model. Google has been cannibalizing those because Google wants to be that 3rd party aggregator. You need to adjust your business model because it’s just going to keep going: travel, education, comparison shopping, it goes on
RH: I’m afraid of when Google does it with local…which will be like local paid inclusion. Give it away for free, and then once people are used to that income, start charging them for it.
BC: The search results page is changing. It’s now everything. a product directory, ppc, etc… We’ve seen instances where for some searches there are only 4 organic results. And sometimes only one organic listing above the fold. It’s going to be hard for Negative SEO to work because it will get really expensive. And it will get really really expensive to spam. If Google can’t make the top 4 organic results free of spam, then they will not be able to make money on ads. So they had to lean on everyone in order to get rid of the sites that aren’t contributing to the quality of the search results.

WTF is Matt Cutts saying that +1’s are not a good ranking signal?
VF:  Their official blog post says that it will be looked at as a ranking signal.
BC: The +1 is a ranking signal if the people who +1’d a site are in your circle.
DS: I don’t care what Matt says, I see the evidence with my eyes.
BC: They lost a lot of access to a lot of the places where people do hangout and share stuff (FACEBOOK!). Google will always be about analyzing the social connectivity of the web. You can fake links and social signals, but it’s hard to fake them both and have them line up. I’ll take a facebook share over a Google share any day of the week because that’s real people sharing stuff.
TF: Google demoting pages based on having no +1’s? No one has the balls to remove the +1’s from your site.
BC: I have buttons on my sites. I took all the counts off. It’s just buttons now. I don’t need to show them. People have stopped putting bookmarking buttons on their sites. Why is that?

Social: Do you think it’s an important thing to be doing for search? If you don’t have an audience, should you be getting an audience?
BC: CopyBlogger’s idea is get an audience first and then figure out what to sell them. Build the audience first. RSS is supposed to be dead, but RSS and metrics like Alexa and how many comments you have…we find that type of content does really well.
VF: You want an audience because you want an audience.
BC: Investing in a big audience is secondary to sales. You’ll invest years in getting an audience and building loyalty.
AB: The only social strategy we have (wallstreetjournal) is Google.  We probably wouldn’t even be doing Google+ if there wasn’t all the markup stuff you can do.

Danny goes on an EPIC rant about link building!

BC: If any linkbuilding thing you are thinking about and it has a name, don’t do it. If it’s a site with a link building service, don’t do it. Google doesn’t not want linkbuilding to be a standalone thing. It’s something that happens after you do other stuff. With that said, it makes it much harder. Now you got to build engaging content on other sites for new audiences. That content on your site does nothing for you.
BC: If anybody has a video of Danny, you’re going to get links.
VF: It’s marketing. You want SEO to be integrated into your business, so when PR people talk to reporters, they include a link back to your site. I still see this all the time where there is a PR move and the news sites don’t link back to your site.
TF:  There are still things that work. But those are the things that we don’t like to talk about because there are Google people here – and they are taking notes. We are working on arms-length linking.
BC: Don’t say “we” because I am not. Some companies were forced to compete or die. And now that gap that Google had between what they said and what they can do is very small. They are walking the walk now. They can catch you. I’m a marketing guy more than an SEO.
AB: Go where Google’s trying to go, not where they are now.
TF: Skate to where the puck’s gonna be.

Closing Comments
BC: No matter how safe you think you are with links, if you look at your link inventory, the thing that will happen is google only remembers the bad links. Everybody in this room probably has 10% of their inbound links that are on the edge of getting you in trouble. Start addressing those now.
AB:  Don’t chase search. Chase your audience. And our audience is growing internationally. Language tag. Geo-locations tags. And an href tag.
TF: Not a lot to add to the content and links thing. In light of penguin and panda, companies are hiring link auditors. Be honest about ALL your links. Also, does bounce rate influence rankings? Probably not. But if you have a high bounce rate, fix it because you’re losing money every single day. Get focused on rankings and conversion.
BC: Dirty little secrets. Social signals do not generate backlinks. If you’re doing content marketing, do it on sites with big audiences. Loyal site members are the people who link to stuff. Great content on your site is not going to do anything for you.
RH: Use markup on your sites. And use rel-author to increase clickthrough rates to your sites. Second, stop looking at your rankings and start looking at your traffic. Start keeping records of which keywords are converting.
VF: I’m going to agree with Todd. You have to make sure you are solving peoples’ problems and that they are converting. That in turn will help you rank.

Danny via @stncmp: Are we supposed to skate to where the links are? Funny

SMX Advanced 2012: Pagination & Canonicalization For The Pros

SMX Advanced 2012 (Seattle)
SMX Advanced 2012 (Seattle)

Adam Audette, President RKG (@audette)

Noindex Pagination Requirements

– pages 2-N annotated with noindex

rel-prev / next

Check out zales

Check out

Check out analytics (entries for paginated pages)

rel-canonical tag can interfere with rel prev/next tags

Keep in mind

– pages with rel next/prev can still be show in results
— but this is an extreme “edge case”
— can optionally use noindex
– use of rel next/prev consolidates signals

Cool techniques: Target uses a hash on their paginated URLs (Quora and Twitter does this, too)


– solves nothing for decreasing crawl overheads
– labor intensive and error prone

Canonical Action

Use rel-canonical to signal the preferred URL, not as a shortcut

Internal link signals should be consistent

Next Up: Jeff Carpenter from Petco

They had a messed up situation.


– 13% increase in conversion from natural search traffic
– reduced amount of pages indexed in SERPs

Maile Ohye from Google

2009: worked through issues of pagerank sculpting

2010:  zappos and faceted navigation issues, exponential number of URLs to crawl

2011: launched improved URL parameters in Webmaster Tools

2011: REI using rel-canonical for non-duplication issues
— Google launched rel-prev/next 5 months later
— helped us identify more sequences than we detect ourselves (2012 statistic)

URL Parameters in Webmaster Tools

Assists understanding parameters to crawl site more efficiently
– for URL removals to remove certain documents

URL Parameters is a hint (not a directive like robots.txt)

Advanced Feature
– some sites already have high crawl coverage as determined by Google
– improper actions can result in pages not appearing in Search

Issue: inefficient crawling
Step 1: specify the parameters that do not change page content (session id, affiliate id, tracking id)
– likely mark as “does not change content”

Step 2a: specify parameters that change content

Step 2b: specify Googlebot’s preferred behavior

This puts a lot of control in your hand.

Sort parameter: changes the order the content is presented

Option 1: is the sort param optional throughout entire site?

Option 2: Can googlebot discover everything useful when the sort parameter isn’t displayed?

If yes, go with crawl no urls

Sort parameter: same sort values used sitewide

Option 1: are the same sort values used consistently for every category?

Option 2: When user changes the sort value is the total number of items unchanged?

If yes, choose only urls with value x

Sort Setting

Narrows: filters content on the page by showing a subset of the total items


Translates: almost always crawl every URL

Paginates: displays a component page of a multipage sequence

Multiple parameters in one URL
– imagine all URLs begin as eligible for crawling, then apply each setting as a process of elimination, not inclusion


When there’s a low quality set of content (like content that got hit by Panda), don’t redirect it or rel-canonical it. Just 404 it. Maile agrees because often those 301s are hard to maintain. And a redirect is not going to help you beat the system. If it already is low content, it’s not going to pass any value.

Rel-canonical can be used as a good discovery signal. Now that’s interesting.


SMX Advanced 2012: iSEO – Doing Mobile SEO Right

SMX Advanced 2012 (Seattle)
SMX Advanced 2012 (Seattle)

Cindy Krum, CEO MobileMoxie (@suzzicks)

Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers Wherever They Are

1. Separate MObile Pages

– Mobile speficic design templates and content
– user agent detection, redirect from desktop to mobile

2. Responsive Design

– dual purpose pages for desktop and mobile
– same URLs for both versions

3. Mixed Solution (RESS)

Case Study: Info-tainment

DUST – duplicate URL same text

Mobilization Engine was creating lots of DUST

Kills the efficiency of the crawl

Since not all pages were mobilized, not all pages were redirected to a mobile version
– desktop pages still ranked in mobile search

Mobilization engine not caching and compressing pages correctly

– update feeds sent to the mobile engine to include SEO tags
– better server rules to reduce DUST
– Canonical tags up to the desktop URLs

Case Study: Doctor Directory

Mobile CMS driven templates in limited beta; wanted responsive design

Had launched hand-templated ‘m’ site but not happy with it

Beta mobile site does not contain directory pages
– concerned that deep pages would not get crawled or indexed very well

Current desktop pages too big to use responsive design effectively
– how many roundtrip DNS requests have to be made?

Move forward with current m. beta launch
– rely on UA detection and redirection from desktop to mobile
– test success and track performance
– New smartphone bot will get around the need for directory pages (eventually)

Smartphone bot relies on desktop rankings

Start a resp design with serverside components

Case Study: e-commerce site

Improve mobile rankings to drive more mobile shopping and sales

Desktop content ranking really well in mobile search

Wap & smartphone sites

Clean, light mobile pages with mostly good redirects

Inconsistencies between robots.txt, canonical tags, and XML sitemaps

Javascript Error message was the first thing indexed and cached – became a description tag in SERPS

Misdirection – desktop pages ranking well & redirecting to blank error pages

Only 6 pieces of unique anchor text on the entire site

Almost all links on the site (internal links)  have no anchor text

Fix parsing error in redirection rules

STOP JS ERROR indexing by adding bot specific instructions

Changing linking on DIVs to linking on images and anchor text

Hard to get lots of ecommerce rankings on one search
– pushing Universal Search Results & App Results in Google to own more of the mobile SERP page

Improve social interactivity on the mobile content
– better profile page rankings for the brand
– good for future of mobile search

MobileMoxie tools: SMXA2012

Bryson Meunier (@BrysonMeunier)

Mobile search will surpass desktop search in a matter of years…not decades

Many paths to mobile SEO

Desktop vs Mobile

Responsive Design

Smartphone, Tablet optimized

Site that works well on all devices

Disagreements within Google

Matt Cutts said mobile sites don’t cause canonicalization issues

Google Webmaster Team selected Responsive design for maintainability

Different search behavior requires different content to achieve user goals

Case study: Arby’s

Some categories need dedicated mobile sites

What content appears in smartphone search results?

Tested code validation, mobile usability and pagespeed and 37 total factors

Validation is key? Only 1 site validated, so it’s not true that you need to be validated.

Mobile usability/page speed is helpful? — 65% of sites in sample actually failed W3C’s Mobile OK test

72% got a score of bad (

Linkbuilding is unnecessary? — Linkbuilding is necessary even though it is mobile

dotmobi helps? — not true. Distribution of TLDs resemble desktop distribution of TLDs.

Mobile sites help ranking? — 64% of sites in the site had mobile content…a mobile site or responsive design or both.

How do top sites approach mobile SEO? Top 100 SEMrush sites response to smartphone googlebot crawl”

– 83% redirect or reformat
– 10% not crawled
– 7% no response

What they do?

–  60% redirect to mobile URL

71% of top 100 SEMrush sites have a mobile URL, 10% have no mobile site

Data-driven mobile seo best practices

1. understand differences between what mobile user wants vs desktop user wants

2. build a mobile homepage at OR build a mobile first responsive design driven site if goals are same

3. Don’t block mobile URLs with robots.txt. Use canonical tags for duplicate URLs and redirect smartphone URLs to smartphone Googlebot but make mobile homepage unique to appear for mobile navigational searches

Next Up: Pierre Far from Google (@pierrefar), webmaster trends analyst

Smartphone sites and Google search

Recommendations for building smartphone-optimized sites

First choice: mobile site on same URLs or on different URLs

Are you going to serve same HTML or different HTML?

Responsive web design

Dynamic serving

Responsive web design

+ Same URL
++ CSS Media Queries

With responsive web design, there is an efficiency win because we don’t have to crawl your site with all of our different crawlers.

Please let all Googlebots to access all your HTML

Responsive web design tips

– Max width 640px

– Allow all bots

Dynamic serving

Different HTML
+ Same URL

Separate mobile site

Different HTML
+ Different URL

We need you to annotate these pages (relationship annotation)

rel-canonical from m.domain to www.domain

on rel-alternate

It’s a URL-level annotation

1. rel=”alternate” in sitemaps

2. Vary HTTp header if you automatically redirect (this is another signal to Google)

3. If not, understand trade-offs and pitfalls, and implement correctly (if you can’t get it right, use responsive website design instead)


Pierre says ranking factors are same on mobile for desktop. I’m not going to say anything definitive because I know you guys will break it.

SMX Advanced 2012: Hardcore SEO & Social Power Tools

SMX Advanced 2012 (Seattle)
SMX Advanced 2012 (Seattle)

Michael King @ipullrank

javascript –

python –

  • ScreamingFrog
  • Scraper for Chrome
  • Pagespeed plugin


  • Yahoo Clues
  • Keyword Eye
  • Soovle
  • Ubersuggest
  • Scrapebox
  • Adwords API Excel plugin seogadget

Content ideas

  • GoFish at
  •  SEOGadget Google Docs Tool
  • Facebook Recommendation Demo (a widget for your site, based on content that is already popular on a site)

Excel Tools

  • SEOTools by Niels Booma

Link Research

  • Link Research Tools
  • Link Detective

Competitive Analysis

  • Searchmetrics Essentials


  • Keyword level demographics
  • Track Social Networks Users are logged into
  • Google Analytics Debugger


  • Facebook Ad Creator
  • Facebook Insights
  • Doubleclick Ad Planner

Link Building Guides

Brand Fans

  • SimplyMeasured (download twitter followers)


  • dipity
  • storybird

OpenGraph Helper



  • (and stat codex, track a lot of different words for many different brands)
  • FollowerWonk
  • Outreachr
  • MentionMapp
  • Rapportive
  • Boomerang
  • Buzzstream
  • Zemanta

Merry Morud from aimclear (@merrymorud)

What are my goals?

What are my KPIs?

How big is my circle? Degrees of separation?

Where can we associate conversations?

To what extent was my content exposed?

What types of content received the most exposure?

How did users engage?

What are the demographics?

Facebook Insights:

Post-level data.

Find out what people hate. Lifetime negative feedback.


Page management

Manage multiple accounts

Social listening


Robust analytics


Button & URL analytics





Location demographics

Identify influencers

Assign welcome messages

Janrain – social and opengraph site tool

Google Social Interaction Analytics

Social Monitoring Tools

Social Mentions


Twitter Tools

The Archivist


Page Management Tools (Tab/Contest):









Buddy Media



Sprout Social

Social Powerhouses:



Raven Tools

Next Up: Rhea Drysdale (@rhea)

Finding the right tool for you.

Epic Fail Tool Case Study

Actual Cost of Tool (the “Switch Cost”):

  • New CMS
  • Internal time
  • agency time
  • loss of sales due to drop in organic traffic
  • agency seo audit and consulting
  • travel down to see the client
  • internal team morale and productivity
  • turnover
  • missed opportunities

Tool Selection Criteria

1. Access

  • Is the tool accessible by windows and mac users?

2. Cost

  • Is there a cost for additional users or features?
  • are there limits to data usage?
  • is the tool free?

3. Usability

  • Is the tool easy to use?
  • does the tool have a robust help section?

4. Privacy & Intellectual Property

  • Does the tool protect your personal data?
  • Does the tool protect data submitted through the tool?

5. Resource Management
6. Added Value

  • Can the tool be easily replicated?

The Business Case

Tool Value – (true cost + risks)

SMX Advanced 2012: Surviving Personalization with Google & Bing

SMX Advanced 2012 (Seattle)
SMX Advanced 2012 (Seattle)

First up is Marty @aimclear

Brand Identity Feed

The SEO stuff doesn’t have to do with SEO

Offering strong incentive for existing community classic social advertising and PR hooks: product updates, deals, offers, commercial plays, hr news, etc…

It’s not about fancy SEO changes

Use classic feed marketing tactics

Alltop – go to Alltop and find your site and reach your users

Internal relations: start by wiring up internal stakeholders

Get to know the media: bloggers, tv journalists, publishers, newspapers, radio jocks, circle subscriptions as seo targets

Run facebook ads to people who are in your niche

Customer service: intersection of commerce and seo

The best SEO is a product that doesn’t suck

Celebrate community: where your business lives

Sync with publication calendar

Blog headlines and serial concepts – then returned to aimclear with client feedback

AJ Kohn has written about optimizing Google+

More aggressive participation
– set community based KPIs
– Active participation to serve and delight
– Research and proactively engage users
– social ads to build circles
– give, give, give, give, give
– network w/ competitors’ community

@aaronfriedman from Spark

Buy ads on Facebook

Don’t plagiarize

Don’t neglect your network

Don’t use generic images

Be creative.

Be useful and helpful.


  • Twitter longtail suggestion
  • opengraph optimization
  • “tweet what you want” code

tweet the longtail. First, find the keywords. Second, look at the social data (socialmention). Next, develop content. Have a list of users for outreach. Grow your network.

OpenGraph Optimization. Sample of 300 webpages. The OG meta tags content is sometimes empty.

OG titles: 95 characters

OG desc: 297 characters

Put some code in your twitter button: p class “tweetThis” – change you message the next day

Engines are more social – THE RISE OF ENTITY SEARCH

Engines are creating a new database, a non-text database

It’s about understanding concepts through words

verbs, action attribution, frictionless sharing

Entities are the sections in the SERPs

Be excellent to eachother and relevant for what you want to be known for.

The future of entity search is interest-based demographics

What I tell you I am interested in defines me

Social data is your attributes

Klout and Peerindex and mentionmapp are already defining you based on your interest and influence

For now:

Focus on rel-author
– This will play a huge role in entities

Focus on quality content
– Develop according to what users are looking for

Spend time growing your userbase

Next up is @rhea CEO at Outspoken Media, Inc

The future of search is personalization.

The business case for personalization.

Google Personalization methods Oct. 2006

Google Now personalizes everyone’s search results Dec. 2009 by Danny on SELand


  • Location
  • Search History
  • Social Search

Check out to see your search history

Google allows you to connect accounts. And they crawl that profile and they start to see the network.

How does google track your friends?

– GMail
– Interactions you have with other people on google products
– Connected accounts
– Links
– Friends on other sites who connect to you

2 primary signals to identify you:

– similarities between your accounts and profiles
– similatiries between your connections


PostRank, now Social Reporting in Google Analytics

– Conversions
– Sources
– Sharing

Measure personalization in GA

Rhea shows 41% of OM traffic is signed into Gmail

Amit Singhal: secure search was the key to personalized results

Rhea thinks ‘not provided’ would let us deconstruct personalization, and it would be much easier to game

Google doesn’t want to take over Facebook, they want to enhance search with the search graph


Write geo-targeted content (location specific organic keywords)

Use markup language (Schema informs freebase, which then is used by Knowledge Graph)

Offline networking to build relationships

Identify networks where if you get in a car wreck, you probably also need a chiropractor, a mechanic, etc…

Make your site mobile friendly.

Targeting for multiple languages.

Local search.

Write great relevant content.

Submit data through Freebase.

Setup authorship – it improves clickthrough.

Brand thought leaders.

Publish content often.

If you are not on facebook publishing content, you are a dumbass.

Create community account logins. Let people login on your site through Facebook.

Use gmail for login.

Use events to drive queries.

Create and post to Google+ page

Setup Google+ Direct Connect

Increase your Google+ followers

Use LinkedIn to identify your network

Use facebook login for comments

Create long and short tail content (check out hubspot for resources)

Engage community like SEOmoz — threaded comments, vote on comments (ego bait)


Marty,with personalization, do you still use rank checking tools? – Nope.

What are your thoughts about buying personalization? It sounds really shady.