The economic downturn is likely to continue to hurt businesses across every sector for some time to come, but investing in resources today to help marketers better understand how website and search optimization is evolving will pay big dividends in the near future.
This is particularly true as companies are placing a greater emphasis on customer acquisition - a goal that is best reached using search as the primary tool. Overall, U.S. spending on search engine marketing (SEO) is expected to have doubled from $12.2 billion in 2008 to $23.4 billion in 2013, according to a report from eMarketer.
That’s why events like last week’s Search Engine Expo (SMX) East in new York City are so valuable for anyone trying to optimize online business efforts. After all, what good is knowing about Google’s Web Crawl without understanding its relationship to SEO.
I've compiled few thoughts from the event for online marketers looking to improve ROI.
The Google Web Crawler provides every website with a "Crawl Budget" that is based on its perceived value, or authority. As demonstrated by Todd Nemet (@nemet) last week, it is increasingly important to review your server log files to see what pages and files GoogleBot is spending time on. This will ensure that your most important pages are getting a better share of your budget.
This is really a huge factor in your SEO success. Sure, there are multiple factors that determine the amount of pages crawled, but Crawl Efficiency has to be considered when developing an overall plan. If you are using up some of the Crawl Budget on duplicate content you aren’t leveraging your SEO to the fullest.
To the delight of publishers everywhere Google now supports pagination (the sequential numbering of pages). During SMX East the search-giant introduced two new link elements to demonstrate the schematic relationshipsof documents that span multiple pages. This helps to more clearly identify duplicate content.
First, they evolved how they detect and cluster components of a series with a view all page and launched new rel attributes to enable content owners to specify components of a paginated series.
Vannessa Fox of Nine By Blue notes here that Google discovered that the best experience for Web searchers is to rank the view all page in search results. This process can be advanced by also using the rel=”canonical” attribute to point all pages to the view all versions.
In response to these changes, Bing's Duane Forrester (@DuaneForrester) said that Bing does not yet support the tag, but added that if it is widely adopted and properly used, that the company would consider doing so.
Schema.org is an extremely important advancement toward informing search engines of various content types on your website. The most widely known and used today are for addresses, recipes, reviews, and product information. There are many more Schema.org tags, but not all of them are recognized yet.
Schema.org is a standards initiative that was jointly launched by Google, Yahoo! and Bing in June 2011. The standard provides a common set of structured data for marking up content on Web pages. This markup provides search engines with additional information about the type of content on a page.
The plan is that search engines will begin listening to these signals more and more. It is a great way to differentiate your content from other results on SERPs. Websites that have implemented the microdata have seen better rankings as a result.
When looking for guest blogging opportunities, don't just look vertically, look horizontally. Sugarrae CEO Rae Hoffman-Dolan (@Sugarrae) provided an excellent example of this practice by introducing BBGeeks.com, where she not only targeted tech blogs, but also went after travel sites as part of a link building strategy.
Another helpful hint to snare those links: when pitching for guest blog opportunities, using the blogger's first name in the subject line will dramatically increase the chances that they will open your email.
Down with Directory Listings
There is not much of a point in doing directory listings anymore. This includes the Yahoo! Directory, DMOZ, and BOTW.
Funny Facebook Ads
Marty Weintraub (@aimclear), author of "Killer Facebook Ads" and CEO of online marketing agency aimClear, says funny is good when it comes to building ads on Facebook. In fact, Weintraub recommended Humor is one of the best ways of getting clicks on Facebook ads.
He also suggests targeting publications as well job titles.
If you're doing marketing for a cool, new product, why not target journalists?! Facebook ads have been shown to decrease PPC CPAs, when done properly.
You might not think it matters that much, but it has been shown that websites with Tweet buttons get 7x more Tweets than those without, and websites with Facebook buttons get 3x more Likes.
If a Tweet is sent into the wild and nobody is around to hear it, does it make any noise? Not at all. So Tweet when it matters. Use Tweriod to find out when your followers are active. As Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) and Micheal Gray (@graywolf) of Atlas Web Services demonstrated at SMX East: most people don't use Twitter all day long, consider retweeting something after 3 hours to get maximum coverage.
No Longer Personae non Grata?
When planning a new website or looking to optimize conversions it is important to create personas. Venessa Fox of (@VanessaFox) showed a session at SMX how to go about doing it: use sticky notes, figure out what tasks need to be accomplished by each "persona", same queries they would use, what your website can provide to address their needs, some secondary needs (oh by the way), what you want the persona to do (actions to take on website), and reasons why they will do it.
Just like that!
SEO is, by its nature, is correlative and only very rarely, causative. As SEOs, we can only correlate events and results and try to isolate those events to come to hypothesis, but until Matt Cutts gives a definitive answer, one way or the other, it is hard to identify causal data relating to SEO.
Bing Likes Anchor Text Diversity
Bing likes anchor text diversity. Currently, this factor has more of an impact in their search results than in Google. Helpful hint for those looking to improve rankings: look at sites that rank well in Bing to come up with tactics to rank better there.
Authority Always Wins
If you are not the authority, link to the authority. When you have a page about a topic and there is a perfectly good piece of content out there, link to it! That increases the chances that someone will click-through rather than hitting the "Back" button - which is not a good signal to send to search engines.