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Next Generation SEO
tedster




msg:4503836
 4:58 am on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

In the Panda Update thread [webmasterworld.com] MrSavage suggested: "let's talk strategies and next generation SEO so we can battle back and fight another day."

I'd like to start that ball rolling. I see at least two key areas for top level strategy:
  1. Focus on your visitor/customer experience
    a. Understand your analytics package, make it perform to its full capacity.
    b. Find the technical means to tap into browser signals for yourself.
    c. Invest resources toward REPEAT visitors/customers. Offline marketers know that acquiring new business requires much more resource investment than holding on to those who have already found you.

  2. Avoid heavy handed and merely technical SEO
    a. The most obvious place this applies is link building. If a type of link doesn't generate traffic (there goes analytics again) then don't go after it in any way.
    b. In on-page and on-site SEO, appreciate that search engines today have many effective means to measure signals like relevance. We no longer need to "shout" at them to get our relevance messages to register.
    c. Appreciate that today's algorithms are extremely complex. A simplistic "checklist" approach can create problems, or at least be a big frustration.

[edited by: tedster at 8:34 am (utc) on Oct 4, 2012]

 

tedster




msg:4503847
 6:04 am on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Some comments about the specifics:

1) The joy of focusing on your visitors is that it is a direct, customer-facing action, rather than being a kind of indirect SEO, focusing on merely technical actions. And now that user metrics are also known as a set of search metrics, it also becomes important for SEO. Even if your rankings do tank at some point, you've still got something going with real people that can see your through.

1.a) One important thing about your analytics package is learning how to segment your visitors appropriately. How do search keywords and page views match up? Landing pages and conversions?

1.b) It seems clear that search engines are using some kinds of browser signals for a ranking metric - no matter how they are getting them. And so should we. In fact, we can get metrics from ALL of our visitors who have JavaScript active rather than just a subset.

1.c) Offline marketers know that acquiring new business requires investing much more investment in resources (about 10X) than holding on to those who have already found you. It's called "Retention Marketing" versus "Acquisition Marketing." There are so many ways to focus on existing visitors and customers that just doing a few of them well can bring about a big boost to your business. I also have think that repeat visitors and navigational queries are both important ranking signals.

[edited by: tedster at 8:36 am (utc) on Oct 4, 2012]

RedCardinal




msg:4503879
 8:09 am on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

This is really what needs to be discussed - how to recover and how to future proof your business.

It's really obvious that Google wants webmasters to stop thinking about themselves and by extension ways to game search to their advantage.

I think your first point (1) is the crux of everything we're seeing from Google. They want webmasters to focus entirely on providing a useful and rewarding user experience. It's somewhat a harking back to Business101 - focus on delivering value and the rest will fall into place. Of course the slight fly in the ointment is getting users to offer all this value to - chicken... egg. Social is going to be a ever-more emerging focus for small webmasters after the dust settles.

Personally I think the days of small SOHO type online businesses are numbered, as what's required is a more holistic and rounded approach to online customer marketing and service. Probably too much for most one-man teams to provide. There'll always be exceptions of course, and those exceptional marketers will reap additional rewards now.

As far as SEO is concerned I think you'll need to have strong technical skills and/or creative marketing skills in order to provide SEO. Link building approaches of old are far too risky, and in future I suspect it will be all about earned link acquisition.

One thing I do wish Google will offer in future is an indication of how toxic a domain has become so that owners wont waste time trying to recover something that will never rank again. Letting webmasters spend time creating value on a new domain would be far better for all parties than wasting resources trying to re-float a sunken ship.

indyank




msg:4503891
 8:39 am on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

I also have think that repeat visitors and navigational queries are both important ranking signals.


Do you mean repeat visitors to the site or repeat visitors to the same page on the site counts?

Lady_K




msg:4503902
 9:30 am on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

It now seems that the businesses with the most money are going to be the clear winners (as long as they know how to do marketing). I don't quite understand how small businesses that are struggling are going to get ahead of the big guys.

tedster




msg:4503916
 10:09 am on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

@indyank - I was think about repeat visitors to the site. But repeat visitors to the same page is another strong signal, I'd imagine. That's something I never split up before - thanks for the idea.

@Lady_K - The little guy doesn't need to get ahead of the big guy. They just need to succeed at their own level of business. I have several clients who are one man shops (well, two employees if you include them paying me) and who are also thriving on Google.

-------------

Does anyone have other approaches to "Next Generation SEO" - or insights/comments/questions about the ideas above?

piatkow




msg:4503917
 10:15 am on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)


Do you mean repeat visitors to the site or repeat visitors to the same page on the site counts?

Forget repeat visitors, worry about repeat customers.


I don't quite understand how small businesses that are struggling are going to get ahead of the big guys.

My delivering a product or service that is different from the "big guys". Main Street or on-line the same principles apply.

The loosers are affiliate marketers whose only differentiation from each other and from the major retailers is in their attempts to game the algorithms.

Marketing Guy




msg:4503929
 10:22 am on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Small businesses need to up their game, not necessarily their budgets.

Refining campaigns can offer a much more cost effective solution, particularly if you apply traditional purchase models to the process (AIDA is a good starting point, but there are bunch of different web related models [en.wikipedia.org...]

Need
Do you wait for a customer to need your product or convince them they need it? SEO struggles with this part of the process (people aren't searching at this point), but social media and display marketing can be effective.

Search
Not just 1 phase, but many. Sometimes the customer can even start off not knowing what to search for ("um I need a guy to get my rankings up on Google"). These are your competitive phrases - high level generic stuff - "widgets". There needs to be a judgement call here to decide whether or not to expend budget here. In likelihood, clicks won't convert into sales right away - the customer isn't finished making a decision.

Short List
Need indentified and the customer knows what they want - now they are picking a supplier (and/or short listing different product options) - "fuzzy blue widget sales" - high converting keywords - but there isn't much time to convert them. Lots of things can happen here that can impact your sales - customer may check review sites, site could go down, competitor could post an offer, customer asks friends or family, etc.

SEO is effective and less competitive. PPC is cheaper, managable and measurable. Remarketing is practically free it's so cheap! ;)

Action
The sale. Does it go smoothly? How many shopping cart drop outs? Can you get any back via PPC, remarketing, followup email? All very easy and cost effective to do. How easy is it to make them incredibly happy about their purchase (automated emails for delivery schedules, thank you, payment recieved, etc).

Advocacy
Free links, free reviews, free publicity, repeat business. What do you need to do to turn a customer into a brand champion?

The process is different for every product - car sales for example, the process could take 4-6 weeks from the point the person decides they want a new car to the point they buy. For hotel rooms, the process takes a couple of days with short list > action being a few hours.

The problem with SEO is the "one size fits all" approach. Identify your keywords and optimise pages for those terms. Little thought goes into where those pages fit in the decision making process, and for most sites, the call to actions tend to be standardised for each page.

"Next generation SEO", IMO, will be less about technical stuff like link building or on page optimisation (although a lot of tech stuff will still be important), and more about understanding the intent behind the search and delivering a good result for that query. Plan that out for an entire website, and map those objectives to your different marketing channels and you have a fairly tight strategy that should see a good return.

MG

zdgn




msg:4503993
 12:43 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

My delivering a product or service that is different from the "big guys". Main Street or on-line the same principles apply.


I find this simple statement to be a brilliant, say, SEO mission statement and I could not agree more. Kudos piatkow!

I always think unique boutique, not big-franchise-boilerplate! :)

I've been running a portfolio of (some high traffic) sites which I've all meticulously designed single-handedly over the years (some since '98ish) into unique brands in their niches with loyal following. I have always focused primarily on the user experience (even when if it has sometimes meant horrible SEO practices, e.g. heavy client-side scripting/styling; deleting tens of hundreds of truly 'gold' urls just to simplify and reduce overwork/load; consolidating perfectly fine money sites into others to funnel laser-sharp brand equity, etc, etc... ultimately all user experience decisions in the face of changing conditions.)

I love to nurture a site as if it's an application on an operating system (the Web in our case): there must be a purpose for it to exist, and upgrading it according new trends (I love Google Analytics!)

Thankfully uptill now (touch wood!), all Pandas have given the sites a boost, Penguin yet more, and EMD-algo even more. Sure, there have been occasional temporary organic slumps due to my horrible non-SEO approaches, but things have always bounced back many folds in just a short time.

Buy hey, I mean who knows eh, may be the Next Generation SEO will wipe me out clean! :D

atlrus




msg:4504009
 1:19 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google has been building the next generation of SEO for quite a while now - gray area and darker.

All these changes aiming to punish websites instead of awarding is forcing more and more webmasters to look at shady tactics to prevent complete loss of income in the future. Intentionally or not, Google has made it so if you actually follow their guidelines you are as good as smoked, it's just a matter of time, just a matter of which update will crush you.

I remember a few years ago, those algo updates were about "awarding", not "punishing". After the update you would wait to see which websites got promoted, maybe yours would be among them? Today, the only thing you wait for to see is if your website got obliterated by the algo tweak.

The loosers are affiliate marketers whose only differentiation from each other and from the major retailers is in their attempts to game the algorithms.


You couldn't be more wrong. Anyone who has been in the affiliate game for a while has long been preparing contingencies for the algo changes. The one who is losing is the small guy with a website trying to sell his/her service/product. Once their website has been crushed - that's the end of it. You may be offering an awesome product or service, but if people can't find you when they look for it, what's the point?

I will give you a real life example. Let's say you repair watches. You are the only surviving watch repairman in your town. You have a small website with your address, services, and maybe a price list, it could be all on one page. Naturally your website is "TownNameWatchRepair dot com" but lo and behold, your website just got destroyed by Google, since it's an EMD with zero links to it, "looks spammy" and has only one page. After all, from where would you get a natural link to your website? The local bakery? You do watch repair, not seo. You can't pay someone to do the SEO for you, you are barely getting by as it is.

Now, I need to repair my grandpa's watch. I search google for "townName watch repair", but you are no longer there. So I end up clicking on the ads, mailing my watch out of state and getting the job done. Yes, I would be inconvenienced, but I wouldn't know it's google's fault, I'd just be mad that there are no watch repairmen left in my area.

Let's incorporate the affiliate in this scenario. An affiliate is working with, let's say, a large watch repair shop in Philadelphia and will have 10+ websites focusing on watch repair. Using a script, a page for "your_Town_watch_repair" is created, some text is sprinkled or maybe the affiliate actually wrote something coherent. Either way, out of the 10+ websites, one WILL remain ranking. So I end up clicking on the affiliate website, instead of the ads, and mailing the watch to Philly. The affiliate gets their $10 referral fee, the large shop gets the customer and the small guy is still going out of business. And all the small guy did was to have a "low-quality EMD"...

But if google was to still "award" instead of "punish", the local guy's website may not have been #1, but it would still be on the first page, I would've seen it and do some business with him.

And if you think this is a far fetched example and that the little guy with the great service always wins, just search for "watch repair new york". In a city of 8+ million, not a single watch repairman is listed in the organic first page...

sylviadlyons




msg:4504011
 1:26 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Indirectly, Google's policy shows that people attract towards to organic seo and forget seo services. It might be possible that in future, SEO firm are for only on page optimization.

sylviadlyons




msg:4504012
 1:30 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Lots of small business faces the problem to get business through Internet marketing.

Marketing Guy




msg:4504014
 1:39 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

@atlrus - there are several businesses on the first page of results for the term you mentioned - in the Google Local 7 box. Which is free and takes no knowledge of SEO to manage.

That's "free" - thousands of dollars worth of advertising for no cost and no effort.

textex




msg:4504031
 2:19 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Do we try and fix the existing or start over with a new site?

Lady_K




msg:4504032
 2:22 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have the same question as textex. Sites that are affected by penguin and panda may never rank where they were before, and this 'new generation seo' may prove a lot more difficult for such sites.

atlrus




msg:4504034
 2:35 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ Marketing Guy

Come on now, really? These are not organic results and even they have 50% success in delivering good returns.

The organic results are dominated by yelp and citysearch, both websites having nothing to do with watch repair. In other words, the big boys still take the traffic, while the small guy is out cold.

My point is that not a single watch repairman in NY is actually ranked for the search of a watch repair in New York.

Now, compare this with the same search on Bing. I don't know about you, but I see four watch repair companies ranking in the organic results, not the local box. And the #1 result is...wait for it... a watch repair company in New York! Can you believe it?!? The audacity...

Before all those algo changes, this is exactly how it would've been on google, too. But now - forget about it. If you still believe that the small guy can win the battle through great service and product, I can only wish you good luck.

Marketing Guy




msg:4504054
 3:04 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Do we try and fix the existing or start over with a new site?


Not that tough to fix IMO. Just need to take a long hard look at the site that's affected. I've yet to see an example where the problem isn't obvious. After that you can make the judgement call as to whether it's more cost effective to fix or start again - it should be a simple choice.

Wouldn't recommend starting again and following the same strategy as before though.

FYI, it's perfectly possible to recover from Panda with same rankings as before. Not sure about Penguin - tougher to fix the problem, but still doable.

These are not organic results


So what? I've got dozens of clients making millions each month from local listings on top of their organic, PPC and other marketing efforts. It's a tool to be used and it's effective. Where's the problem?

You also assume too much about the intention behind the search - mainly, that a small business should be number 1. It shouldn't. Google isn't there to act as a slightly more functional Yellow Pages - their goal is to provide information, not sales leads.

The first page of results has:

1. 7 box results with a bunch of different businesses offering the service.
2. A map of the city, pinpointing those businesses.
3. Some review sites.
4. A couple of news pages listing top suppliers.
5. Directories listing more suppliers.

Refer to my first post in this thread about a customer's decision making process.

Only the Action stage (the purchase) is served if Google were to return only business results. However, with the SERPs as above, the customer can identify, compare, review and locate local businesses via the first page of results.

That gives the little guy several different ways to have a presence in the customers decision making process - and doesn't need to hire an SEO to do it.

textex




msg:4504065
 3:29 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

My concern with fixing is that we will piss google off and any pages we do make changes to will tank b/c of the Rank Modification patent. Thoughts?

Marketing Guy




msg:4504067
 3:35 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

@textext - see the opening post from Tedster...

Avoid heavy handed and merely technical SEO

scooterdude




msg:4504068
 3:39 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

for me, Search engines are not going away, and Google will probably be master of all it surveys for quite a while yet, so learning to exist in this environment is important .

I've only a questions right now.

Q1
How do folk who are either new entrants or , got knocked back to really low traffic, or never figured out how to rank under the old order

Going to break into the top 4 meaningful SERPs positions, under the new order (most SEO activity now penalised) ?


google current new order enforces the Status quo, tis veery much know your place, upstairs downstairs,

move up too quick without flashing vast amounts of cash(publicised VC money), all the squadrons of the Spambusters brigade wup your touche

atlrus




msg:4504073
 3:44 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

You also assume too much about the intention behind the search - mainly, that a small business should be number 1. It shouldn't. Google isn't there to act as a slightly more functional Yellow Pages - their goal is to provide information, not sales leads.


You missed it again.

The point is not that small business should be in the top ten results, but that a relevant business should be in the top 10. The algo should aim to return watch repairmen in NY when the user searches for watch repairmen in NY, not yelp pages. In this example just so happened that the relevant business is a small business.

Why isn't google returning at least one watch repairman in the organic results? Because google is not a search engine anymore - there are 10 perfectly targeted ads running (no mistakes there, they are all NY watch repairmen). In other words, google is indeed a version of the Yellow Pages :)

Basically people these days are searching ads on google, they just don't realize it.

Marketing Guy




msg:4504082
 3:57 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Then Google would be a business directory and not a search engine. People search for information - sometimes that includes business details, but not always.

tedster




msg:4504092
 4:11 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Again folks, this thread is here to discuss Next Generation SEO. This is not a place to criticize the current SERPs. We have threads here that are stuffed with that criticism - like our own version of duplicate content.

Please focus on what ACTIONS we can take and what DIRECTIONS we can go.

scooterdude




msg:4504097
 4:29 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is the sight of "yelp" ranking for query mentioned above a sign that google is starting to enforce boundaries on itself?

If so, for how long

Perhaps Google will lurve directories again :)

textex




msg:4504099
 4:30 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

& marketing guy & tedster
I think my issue is over use of KWs on page and in the title. Would that be considered technical to rework our copy and titles?

Panthro




msg:4504101
 4:34 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Small businesses need to up their game, not necessarily their budgets.


Can't agree with this more. (And thanks for all the thoughts and tips in that post). Most small businesses seem to have a lottttttt of room for improvement in a lot of things they do. Maybe it's where I live, but I'm always shocked at how many small businesses remain to stay in operation. The good ones find ways to be successful and expand if they choose. The rest stagnate or die off. And most that do deserve to. Very few dedicate serious effort to creative marketing and miss out on a lot of business because of this.

atlrus




msg:4504104
 4:37 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

People search for information - sometimes that includes business details, but not always.


This is way too general, "people search for information". Everything on the internet could be described as information.

I would say the reason people go to google is to find a destination. They need the information, but they don't know where to find it - they go to google for the destination. They know google does NOT have the information, they are basically telling google "which websites have this information".

And google as of late has been working the following way:

1. Is the information "money generating" (lots of adwords)?

1.1 If "yes" - return "general information" (wiki, ehow, yelp) organic results with relevant ads

1.2 If "no" - return on target organic results.

1.3 If "unsure" - return general information results (wiki, ehow, wikihow, etc.) with some targeted organic results.

My advice to actual webmasters who find themselves competing in this type of environment is to try and disguise their "money generating" website as a "general information" website.

tedster




msg:4504105
 4:39 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

& marketing guy & tedster
I think my issue is over use of KWs on page and in the title. Would that be considered technical to rework our copy and titles?


Yes, but very appropriate if the copy and title were written mostly for Google and not for your prospective audience. There's been a big shift in the area of the need to use keywords over and over.

It's been a sigh of relief for me when I work with online copywriters. They can be more creative and less concerned about cramming in all those exact phrases that they want to rank for. Now their writing can have a better flow and be more engaging.

That doesn't mean we abandon good keyword research, just that we can implement it without keeping our pedal to the metal. There's a lot more space today to create an online personality that's actually fun to visit.

[edited by: tedster at 9:43 pm (utc) on Oct 4, 2012]

Zivush




msg:4504116
 5:07 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

For me, SEO today is all about value.
Keep asking, do you genuinely think that you bring something of value (and unique approach/idea) to the users OR do you sell them BS.
If the answer is not "absolutely yes", it's definitely going to cost you down the road, because a new competitor will do it + outrank you.
Value could be: product, info, research, brainstorming, technique, tip, comfort zone, connections, discussion, ideas, etc etc.
All have to be packed in an attractive design. You may deliver your message using text, creative media, images, graphics and whatever required but it has to be convincing.

* Not even one word about plain old SEO techniques.

aristotle




msg:4504205
 8:46 pm on Oct 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

Everyone in this thread seems to be assuming that Google will eventually fix the flaws in its algorithm. I'm not so sure that will ever happen.

This 72 message thread spans 3 pages: 72 ( [1] 2 3 > >
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