Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 107.23.176.162

Forum Moderators: phranque

Message Too Old, No Replies

I'm tired of the "Is SEO dead?" question

let's talk about something more interesting

     
1:42 pm on Jun 24, 2016 (gmt 0)

Administrator from CA 

WebmasterWorld Administrator bakedjake is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 8, 2003
posts:3883
votes: 61


So, I'm building websites from scratch again like it's 10 years ago and I'm having a lot of fun doing it. There are unbelievable tools that let you build projects in a day and for $5 using one of the cloud platforms that used to cost tens of thousands of dollars just to experiment with. The cloud providers have amazing tools that really simplify things that used to be hard (like machine learning).

I launched a lab site in a niche content area with a colleague to test out an idea, and I went down my checklist of non-paid efforts. It's a content site that users in the niche will be interested in, and for now, it doesn't sell anything nor is there advertising. It's purely informational.

So I'm going down the list of things I need to do:

- AMP
- OpenGraph Tags
- Sitemap.xml
- (maybe later) Shopping Feed
- schema
- oembed

This site is MVC style, so all of these things are just different views into my data:

/amp
/sitemap.xml
/feed.xml
/oembed
/html (schema and opengraph tags get generated on the html rendered to the browser)

And it hits me - SEO has become a lot more pure. And a lot more fun!

I can truly separate my traditional "promotion" efforts (PR, influencer outreach) from my "technical" efforts (making sure I'm structuring my data properly for ingestion by multiple sources). Thinking in this way has really helped me to focus my efforts lately on the most effective avenues for promotion.
2:24 pm on June 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

Administrator from CA 

WebmasterWorld Administrator bakedjake is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 8, 2003
posts:3883
votes: 61


I mostly use Django which is rather more opinionated than Flask

Django is too much for me. But this is the great thing about frameworks. We can pick one that fits. :)

PHP

Yeah, I'm a python guy mostly, but we've used Laravel successfully too. Laravel + Forge + Digital Ocean is a pretty compelling development setup if you want to use traditional, cheap VPSes.
2:39 pm on June 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

Full Member

joined:July 23, 2015
posts: 254
votes: 76


@blackedjake - "free", "almost free", "five minutes" , your claims don't stand even a little bit of scrutiny.

I'd like to remind everyone that if you've been online longer than 3-5 years, you already paid heavily for those "free" or "near free" tools that Google deploys, with stolen content and with stolen Adsense revenue you did not get paid. I estimate mine in over 6 figures.

Scaling mobile end with a new flavor-of-the-month javascript is not what web is all about. In fact, once you go SLA you lose SEO, hence you lost your thread's topic.

I am very, very reluctant to give Google "cloud" a go for several reasons. They already took my content AND my images. They look for my niches and step in and try to compete. They took Urchin "free" Analytics data and bumped everyone's Adwords from 10 cents to over $1-$2. They slashed adsense earnings to 1/10. They do other things on a daily basis that give me very strong sense of their bait-and-switch approach.

I would not be surprised if they look for niches and ways to improve their own code on your behalf in your Google cloud code. And if they find your niche appealing, they'll try to put you out of business.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. Just they got Billions and we as webmasters got shafted.
3:19 pm on June 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

Administrator from CA 

WebmasterWorld Administrator bakedjake is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 8, 2003
posts:3883
votes: 61


Thanks for your opinionated contribution. Speaking of paid traffic:

I've been noticing that a lot of content niches are filled with old websites plastered with Adsense. With horrible usability. Anyone building display campaigns containing placements on your top organic SERP competitors? Seems like a quick way to leverage someone else's SEO work.
5:06 pm on June 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

Full Member

joined:July 23, 2015
posts: 254
votes: 76


Opinionated contribution, heh.

You started a topic proving that traditional SEO is not dead and that you "can make website in 5 minutes". Not me. Yet, the reality is that you did not start it from scratch, what you do is not in any sense "basic" or "5 minutes" or "5 dollars" for that matter.

AND there's a reason there's so many websites "plastered with Adsense with horrible usability". Because people can't afford to make them right anymore, the web became too complex, too time consuming and too expensive. There's no ROI on improving these sites.

THAT, at the peak earnings by ad networks.

I talked to a person about 2 weeks ago who actually works for a 3-rd party website ranking provider to a MAJOR search engine , wink wink. So, they have 1000 people (don't know exactly how many) ranking SERPs based on keywords. Which means if you don't get destroyed by animal farm algos, you are going to be de-ranked by a person because it doesn't look "modern". Who, incidentally, is trained to rank big brand pages as "excellent". <<< Right there is your death to the small sites.

While you build flavor of the month, big brands and content mills (that look pretty) will copy your best content and will outrank you on it.

What I am saying is your flavor of the month JS and SPA frameworks and social buttons - they don't solve fundamental problems of dead web and death to traditional SEO for sites of non-programmers. Because web is more than just that. They may give you traffic and you'll make money, as tricks that may work right now. But tricks change, ever faster.
5:23 pm on June 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

Administrator from CA 

WebmasterWorld Administrator bakedjake is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 8, 2003
posts: 3883
votes: 61


But tricks change, ever faster.

Now I think you're trolling me, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt one more time. Setting up metadata properly isn't a trick - the largest online media companies on the planet tell you explicitly how to do so for better positioning and engagement with your content on their networks.

You may not like the walled gardens, but they exist. And we must deal with them.
5:57 pm on June 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 16, 2005
posts: 2856
votes: 155


I am very, very reluctant to give Google "cloud" a go for several reasons.


So use another cloud provider. There are plenty: Google, Amazon, Red Hat, IBM, Microsoft, Rackspace, OVH,..... those are just off the top of my head, and only those of reasonable size (big enough to own their own data centres etc.). You can even get cloud with dedicated servers with cloud style charging and scaling (e.g. Scaleway). All provide at least an API to scale up or down automatically an some sort of object store.
6:17 pm on June 29, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 1, 2016
posts: 2357
votes: 625


AND there's a reason there's so many websites "plastered with Adsense with horrible usability". Because people can't afford to make them right anymore, the web became too complex, too time consuming and too expensive. There's no ROI on improving these sites.


Wrong, dead wrong. The new tools available have made it very easy to build a website fast, at little cost and with great simplicity.

I have not been doing this for very long, but when I started a person that was guiding me suggested that I use a website builder tool to starting building my site, a tool probably created in 1995. "It was the easiest way to build a site" he said, "No coding required". It built basic html with limited inline css, button were all images, and on and on... A real piece of junk. I created pages that were huge, slow to load, impossible to fix, and forget about responsive.

I then found bootstrap and within a less than a week I rebuilt the whole site, fully responsive, fast loading and beautiful. Yes there is a bit of coding involved, but it is simple.

The reason that many website's look dated and are plastered with crappy ads, is that the webmaster once were able to make money with these crappy sites by luck, more than anything else. They employed old school SEO tactics, italicized text, bold other text, stuff keywords anywhere and everywhere. Now they are reluctant to change. Since then those sites have seen there earnings eroded, so they add more ads, more affiliate links, build more links, and on and on... all to no avail. Today they say "I can't change my site there is no ROI". These webmaster took the easy money and spent it, no re-investment into the sites or into themselves, and now their ship has sailed.

It is 2016, machine learning, big data, NoSQL, dynamic web-sites, AMP, this is where it is at. Rank-brain is not going away. Even Penguin and Panda are probably animals of the past, now evolved into some other higher form of being. My site ranks for keywords that don't even appear anywhere on the page, or the site for that mater, but the searcher's intent is understood, and the searcher is correctly directed to my site. How cool is that?! Maybe not so much if your copy reads, "we sell red shoes for running, that are great for jogging if you like racing in sneakers that are red. Buy them here!".
9:48 pm on June 30, 2016 (gmt 0)

Preferred Member from GB 

10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:July 25, 2005
posts: 406
votes: 17


let you build projects in a day and for $5


@bakedjake - interesting approach. Is the content generated in a similar fashion? I've read articles written by AI bots and some of them even manage to make some sense, especially on technical topics.

June: 3000 unique users

lucy24 had a very valid question. If you haven't had a viral uplift and you don't build links, the traffic must be coming from somewhere? Is it bought/semi-auto traffic? How well is it converting? Sure, I'm aware you don't have anything to sell yet, however, you must have some goals set up (like, clicking through to the next article or signing up for a newsletter).
10:08 pm on June 30, 2016 (gmt 0)

Administrator from CA 

WebmasterWorld Administrator bakedjake is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 8, 2003
posts: 3883
votes: 61


Is the content generated in a similar fashion? I've read articles written by AI bots and some of them even manage to make some sense, especially on technical topics.

To be clear, the tools I'm talking about here help me build websites, not create content. All websites need good content, whatever language or technology you choose to use. For this site, this content is lovingly created by hand (and actually quite beautiful I think).

So maybe that's part of the confusion. I'm handwaving the content part, because I'm assuming you're always starting a website with good content.
lucy24 had a very valid question. If you haven't had a viral uplift and you don't build links, the traffic must be coming from somewhere? Is it bought/semi-auto traffic? How well is it converting? Sure, I'm aware you don't have anything to sell yet, however, you must have some goals set up (like, clicking through to the next article or signing up for a newsletter).

Yeah, I owe lucy24 an apology for my grumpiness. Sorry lucy24! I put a few stats above but in case you missed them:

Time on site is > 2 min and av. pages/session is 5.8
site wide av. bounce rate is 30%
Repeat rate is about 55% in the second month
Conversion rate for information sheet download is 37%, and sitewide newsletter subscription conversion rate is around 6%

In May, traffic was primarily from social media (almost 100%), but this month it's a healthy mix of social (40%), direct (20%), email (20%), and other referrals (20%).

All of the numbers above are non-paid sources.

I started playing with paid on this site this week. To follow on to my question above, I'm now starting to supplement with paid display traffic where I'm buying spots on my top SERP competitors. I set up two campaigns:

1. Placements on top SERP competitors - this is a display only image ad campaign restricted to placement on specific pages on my competitors sites where I can make an ad I'm sure will have solid CTR because of poor page design. Like I said this is a lab site so it's low budget, but:

impressions: 65,852
clicks: 838
ctr: 1.27%
cpc: $0.08
information sheet downloads: 389 (note that these aren't necessarily unique)
newsletter signup: 16

2. Then, I set up a remarketing campaign to target those downloaders only, on any available display inventory

impressions: 8,826
clicks: 116
ctr: 1.31%
cpc: $0.18
newsletter signups: 43
1:29 pm on July 6, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Feb 3, 2014
posts:1299
votes: 380


I started out with pure hand coded html and for years the site did great. Eventually blogs became the rage and I installed Wordpress CMS in a sub directory, then linked over from the pure html pages. That was a bumpy ride. Out of the need for simplicity I eventually went all in with the CMS and migrated all the static pages over. Traffic is now a fraction of what it was...so my point is to start out with a fresh domain when you want to shift gears or you'll be stuck with years of mess and potential dings.
9:09 pm on July 30, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:June 15, 2003
posts:2412
votes: 5


> and since users can one-click authenticate to social networks, I just use that as my user login mechanism

They can ony one-click authenticate IF they have a social network account, that is: at the network of YOUR choice. If they do not have such an account, and they still want to login at your site - they have no option at all? So, in fact you are giving your users away to the competition?

I see many sites where users can "log in using f*book" or other such nonsense. I don't understand this.
5:11 am on Aug 1, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Nov 16, 2005
posts: 2856
votes: 155


@claus, I agree - social network login can be a nice option, but it should not be the only option.

Even some people who have social network accounts do not like login mechanisms that let the networks follow them around the web. One of my clients got so many complaints from users worried about the privacy implications of social network logins that he removed them. Probably an an unusual audience (tech savvy, but not experts), but it shows it is possible.

Another problem I see is sites that have a huge "login with Facebook" button complete with logo, and a tiny link to login with username/password, so people think that Facebook login in the only option.

So, in fact you are giving your users away to the competition?


Facebook and other social networks are themselves competition for a lot of sites: forums, any sort of community based site, news sites, and an every expanding list.
4:01 am on Sept 2, 2016 (gmt 0)

Senior Member

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:June 25, 2007
posts:1110
votes: 9


It's funny, I started my online biz over ten years ago. I am by no means an SEO guy, and I actually don't like that part of it. I make my own products, so a huge portion of my time goes to that. I wouldn't even want a big-time designer to look at my site, because I can imagine the issues they would find. However... Through dumb luck, I have somehow managed to stumble into having many of my key products come up in first page, or even #1. I think mainly because, I just built a good business. I gave people something to look at. If you do that, I don't think you have to be an SEO wiz. I think sometimes people spend so much time trying to learn every last trick of SEO, they forget the actual content part.

I started working on sites back in the early 90's. Part of me really misses those days. Personally, I hate today's internet. I hate the look. I hate what it has become. The dumbed down preschool look to cater to mobile... I keep hoping retro sites become in vogue again, but... I doubt it will happen. :)
This 43 message thread spans 2 pages: 43
 

Join The Conversation

Moderators and Top Contributors

Hot Threads This Week

Featured Threads

Free SEO Tools

Hire Expert Members