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Early October SEO Shakeups at Google

New panda updates that target tag clouds and forum links? New paid adwords seems to be diminishing the quality of the free service? Landing page quality score improvements to be had with latest AdWords updates? What’s not changed over at Google this month?

Seeking change

Tag Clouds and Forum Links?

For some time now it’s been easy to add tag clouds to blogs and websites, most of them are even dynamically built so they reflect the ongoing topics of your pages, and the really clever ones make each keyword a link.

The result of all that effort leaves a typical tag cloud looks something like this:

.. and that’s a LOT of keywords + links for a crawler to ignore! Word from some of the worst hit sites seems to place a common factor on keyword clouds as the likely component that is now the target of this most recent Panda update over at Google. We’re a really aggressive source of content with a high level of trust, so I doubt one instance of using a tag cloud will tank our blog, but I did debate making the above example an image only.

Forum Links are Worth-Less?

One site that’s been taking a beating from Panda over and over again (eh! rocko!) is DaniWeb. They have been acting as a lightning rod during the storm of over 500 changes Google’s made this year alone to ranking algorithms. In a recent video post from the CEO and Founder of DaniWeb on WebProNews the topic of diminished return of value from forum posts begs for testing:
(Video removed – no longer available)

New AdWords Pro and Language improvements?

This is a topic we can’t just lump into a big multi-post and we know needs in-depth discussion. Many SEOs are discussing how the professional offerings from AdWords coincide with ‘improvements’ to the free service that have actually been viewed as setbacks by the users.

Right now we’re still working with the free version that all our clients are using, but I’d bet we’ll give the pro-service a trial by the years end and will have some input on how valuable we think the upgrade is. I doubt we’ll extract enough value to cover the monthly fees Google is currently asking for, but we would have to try it and see to be sure.

The recently improved AdWords language support means that targeted ads are improving the quality score of landing pages. This could be a bit of a change depending on where your competition is based. If you are a local US market you probably won’t see much if any competition change, but if you’re an international your customers for other countries could be looking at a fresh set of SERPs. As a result, SEOs, and people watching their stats closely would do well to note this factor.

Expect to hear more about these changes, and really any changes that effect SEO in a way that matters. It’s one thing to mention things as they happen it’s another situation entirely to have tested these things first hand and have intimate experience to share. Soon!

SEO news blog post by @ 12:41 pm on October 4, 2011


Google shares more details with Transparency Report

Yesterday on the Official Google Blog, Matt Braithwaite posted an article about transparency reports, including some very frank details about Google’s dealings with removal requests and user data requests.

Google, in their typical style of blowing us away with information, has given users multiple ways to view the information, broken down by country, date range, and request types. The detail goes right down to traffic by time and location, allowing users to actually visualize things like the Egyptian protests.

Graph of Google Services during Egypt protests

It is also very interesting to see the compliance of requests, showing an understanding of internet awareness and rights. Most countries had a rather high success rate in petitioning Google to remove information, South Korea managed 32, 152 requests with a sterling 100% success rate.

India however was at the opposite end of the spectrum with a %22 rate of compliance to their removal requests.

Compliance rate for Google removal requests originating from India

The only place I wasn’t impressed by the level of detail was the geographical sources of the removal requests. Map showing breakdown of Google removal requests by country

I wasn’t expecting to get street address details, but it would have been great to see what areas the complaints originate from vs. a country level map.

Unless Saskatchewan is really where all the complaints from Canada came from?

Still this is a new level of transparency for Google:

  • First time revealing compliance % for requests
  • More information on request sources
  • Breakdown of user, local, federal, police, government, etc.
  • Notification of effected users by request
  • Clear metric of Government influence on search results

Amazingly there’s still a rally cry for the FTC investigations into Google.
While I support honesty and thoroughly unbiased policing, I do have to wonder what anyone expects to learn that previous investigations hasn’t turned up. Especially when looking at a company as transparent as Google.

SEO news blog post by @ 6:08 pm on June 28, 2011


Meaningful SEO Metrics – From SES

Sitting beside my radio co-host Jim Hedger I have the pleasure of attending the “Meaningful SEO Metrics” session with June Li, Horst Joepen, and Chris Boggs are speaking with Richard Zwicky moderating.

This is a “as it happens” post so you’ll have to pardon if it’s disjointed – I’m going to be including the points as fast as I can. :)

tape measure
June Li started by discussing the importance of first determining what data is meaningful. CTR, conversions and all the conflicting opinions are relevant provided that you understand the purpose of the data or that data segment.

She agrees with moderator Richard Zwicky’s statement that if you filter what you don’t want you may miss opportunities you didn’t know existed. She then goes on to reinforce the importance of clearly defining what the goals are for each type of traffic and understand what you’re looking for in the data and the opportunities. She paints the right picture when she tells us to be a teenager again and ask, “So what?” What does the data mean and why should we care. These questions need to be re-asked periodically to determine what’s relevant as time passes.
SES panel

She discusses how important it is to look at the big picture.  The conversion funnel and seeing who is exiting will help shape future efforts be them to improve the experience for though not converting or shifting the focus away from them.  The keyword/message/landing page combinations for the non-performing traffic may well provide new opportunities.  The question may not be the phrases, it may be the ad or the site itself.

It’s important to look at technical sides of the site if you see high time on site but lower conversions you need to look at what those visitors are doing and see if there’s a technical issue stopping them such as a broken form.

She recommends the same book I did in this blog a few years ago – Waiting For Your Cat To Bark.

Horst Joepen is up next.  I had the pleasure of interviewing him for Webcology just a couple weeks ago.

His company pulls massive data over broad numbers of phrases.  He starts off discussing keyword metrics when determining targets.  Watching phrases and search volumes over time, he believes, is a key to selecting good targets.

He uses a ranking score in their systems to rate the keywords based on search volumes, potential to to convert just to name a couple metric points.

He brings up graphs relative to the huge drops JC Penny took after the penalties.  He didn’t discuss the issue itself but rather used it as an example of their software’s ability to measure and record data.

Chris Boggs is up last.  He starts chatting about ROI models (and how to gain more budget for SEO).  His talk is more geared to SEO’s and how we can measure and predict ROI to gain more marketing budget from clients.

Predicting ROI for SEO is complex but possible.

He believe we shouldn’t be caring about rankings but rather traffic.  I personally agree and disagree but that’s a side point. :)

To predict ROI one needs to know conversion data and knowing the strategies underway and keyword volume, one can predict (loosely) what the traffic growth would be and thus, the ROI based on average conversion data.  This assumes that the broad keywords for longtail phrases gaining traffic from content generation have roughly the same conversions and/or you have separate calculations for the traffic anticipated for these phrases.

He points out that it’s important to discuss with clients that it’s not a silver bullet and it can take month and that in the short term, traffic may actually drop depending on the changes necessary.

He went into the math of determining the ROI – I will link to that info when it is available online as there were graphs that would make a written post irrelevant.

Now for the Q&A:

Q – Justification of using PPC metrics for organic SEO?
A – Yes as long as you take into account quality score, etc.

Q – 3 most common error in analytics?
A – ignoring brand terms with modifiers.  A little disagreement between Horst and Chris on whether you should bid your brand on PPC if you rank organically.  Chris thinks you should always go for both if you have the budget.

Q – Bid value for PPC ?
A – Base bidding on the ROI not position.  Determine what a phrase is worth and base the bids on what it’s ROI is, not just to rank.  Also, considering the combined value (are searchers searching twice and click paid once and organic another?)  The first time I heard this discussed was in 2006 with a whitepaper on just the topic.

I’ve had to summarize a LOT and I hope you found some value it this post.  For more information you’ll just have to attend the next event. :)

SEO news blog post by @ 7:02 pm on June 13, 2011



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