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Google Rage 2012; where to next?

Posted by on in Rants and Ramblings
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Hey kids.... what's shakin? Old guy here. Listen, I'd like to impart something to ya. Anyone that's been around this business for even a while (you know, 4+ yrs) knows something simple; the 'voices' rarely talk anymore. Ever wonder why that is? It's because ya'll can't keep a secret.

I simply can't count on all my hands and feet how many great minds have gone silent. Thanks to this wondrous phenomenon, you're gripped by fear and uncertainty that is the modern world of SEO. Google has ya' by the nuts and the best you can do is start bitching about how life ain't fair.

b2ap3_thumbnail_reality-check.jpg

 

Welcome to the inevitable future

We had a little bit of a brainstorming session in the most recent Friday chat here in the Dojo. We talked about the crazy state of affairs between Google and the SEO world over the last 12 – 18 months. Part group therapy, part future proofing. We wanted to take stock and plan ahead.

And that last part, “planning ahead” is tenuous at best. I doubt many of us really had a sense of what was to come when 2011 came to an end. Sure, Panda was a shot across the bow, but really... look at the carnage;

  • Panda (ongoing)
  • Networks got smacked
  • Penguin link carnage
  • GooPLA adds to Panda
  • Manual actions go hard core
  • EMDs get downsized

And that's just the memorable stuff. And what about our new 'disavow tool'? Didn't really see that coming. We've also seen display changes as far as things like 7 paks for brand searches, increased universal elements, author mark-up and more. It's kinda nutty out there in the trenches this year.

But what does that mean?

Well, if one listened to the FUD out there, on Google's end and our own, you'd think that once again the sky is indeed falling. Fortunately, we don't subscribe to that. If you're prone to smoke and mirrors you would certainly believe that getting more granular and geeky was the answer.

There is just no bloody end to the number of posts and articles out there over the last while seeking to dazzle us with numbers that will unlock the magic black box.

Then of course there's those other types of articles. You know the types. Craft great content and the rest will take care of itself. All the while the writers and purveyors of said crap are looking slyly to the side to ensure Google is nodding and looking at them with approval.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Matt-cookie.jpg

 

Retraining a lost industry

I mean really. Are we so brain dead that someone actually needs to tell us that quality is the answer? Was SEO at it's core just about garbage to start with? And we need to be shown the light? Sigh.

Some other classics, predictions or not, that seem to be making the rounds include;

  • Stop 'low quality' link building
  • Go local/mobile (horrid conversion rates)
  • Social is the new SEO
  • Specter of negative SEO
  • Author mark-up as a ranking factor
  • PageRank isn't important
  • Site-wide links will be spanked

And many more. If you can't sort out the realities from the idiocy, maybe it's time for a new profession. No seriously, if you don't 'get' what's wrong with those above statements, you're a poser. It's a fact. We need to ask ourselves eventually; when did the bar get set so low?

 

Ever heard of on-site SEO?

And while I am at it, why do we still not see much in the way of conversation about the actual websites we work on? Sure, the 'great content' and 'content is king' thing is back, but that's only because most SEOs are so damned terrified of links lately that they don't know what else to talk about (that, and social of course).

You'd be amazed at what actually happens on a website that can make a serious difference, alone or in aggregate, to your SEO efforts. Things like;

  • Site architecture
  • Internal link ratios and anchors
  • Prominence elements (headings, lists, bold etc)
  • URL structures and page naming conventions
  • Cookies and session IDs
  • Site maps (regular and video)
  • Robots.txt and status codes
  • Rel tags (author, canonical, nofollow etc)
  • Image and ad placements
  • Content curation (updating, duplicate and thin)
  • Outbound linking (trust/authority)
  • Security (making sure yer not hacked)
  • Semantic targeting (related terms, proper TITLE etc)
  • SERP CTR via call to action in meta-descriptions
  • Image targeting and proper alts
  • Keyword mapping (also related to semantic and internal links)

And, I kid ya not, there's even more we look at when doing audits around here. But yer feeling my point right? Plug those into your great content and social programs and who knows... might just find ranking for things ain't as hard as it seems.

b2ap3_thumbnail_SEO-babies.jpg

Those SEOs sitting around scratching their heads because the link graph became harder to manipulate, are lost in space. If anything, the recent Googly activities towards links puts all that much more emphasis towards the on-site SEO. You want to get the most from the equity (links) that you can.

But how many will actually make this a priority to clients? We all know they tend to be resistant to on-site changes, thus we've gone the easier route; get more links.

 

Shape up or Ship out

So please, if you've gone all 'deer in the headlights' on us, stop writing about or talking about how great content is the key. Stop blathering about how social is the way to go. I know yer just scared and that's all you could come up with. Come put yer head on uncle Dave's shoulder, it's gonna be ok.

In fact, some of the best SEOs I know, haven't ever really played in the link building game. And there are others, including prominent link builders I know, that believe link building isn't actually SEO. That it is a separate discipline unto itself. So hey, maybe it's time to learn a little real SEO right?

As 2013 approaches let's all start talking more about the many avenues of SEO and less about how life ain't fair or how great content and social as being the new SEO. M'kay? Thanks

Until next time, play safe.

Hi my name is Dave and I, am an algo-holic


I am an avid search geek that spends most of his time reading about and playing with search engines. My main passion has always been about the technical side of things from a strong perspective rooted in IR and related technologies.


Also hook up via

Comments

  • Guest
    Matt Ridout Thursday, 08 November 2012

    Spot on Dave, people look too often for the quickest fix for their SEO strategy and often neglect the house they live in.

    Reply Cancel
  • David Harry
    David Harry Thursday, 08 November 2012

    It's a bit crazy mate. I mean we're busy cleaning up people's link profiles as forensics is a large part of the consulting I do. But most often we also find the on-site SEO is little more than an after thought. If links are harder to come by, then indeed the on-site SEO should be nailed down tight to ensure one gets the most from the equity they do have. Instead of the ol' "throw more links at it" mantra. I am a bit tired of the way things seem to be going with post after post about "great content" and "social is the new SEO". Or of course the ever popular "SEO is dead/dying". Maybe crap hat SEO is, but from where I sit things just keep getting more complicated, all the more reason to have a kick ass SEO on the team.

  • Guest
    Grant Simmons Thursday, 08 November 2012

    Dave - voice of reason!
    We share a lot of sentiment, and old age :-)
    Been pushing onsite engagement for a while, including those factors noted above, the core architecture thing is a massive blow to "everything is about linking" crowd, because it takes effort and action and collaboration with clients, and actual fundamental changes to some sites that SEO's often avoid so clients stick around.
    Generally work with bigger brands / sites, so linking is less than effective "We need to target 40,000 keywords, how many links should we have" type BS.
    I'm experienced enough to detract from questions like that and focus on the foundation of good SEO, which *does* include content that connects to intent, but *fundamentally* that content needs to be found and crawlled by bots... back to architecture :-)
    With fundamentals in mind, speaking at SES Chicago next week, covering the 'basics that folks miss' in SERP analysis and diagnosis.
    Hopefully will guide a few naysayers toward the light ;)
    Cheers mate. Keep the light on for me. LOL

    Reply Cancel
  • David Harry
    David Harry Thursday, 08 November 2012

    Sorry to hear it... about being an old war horse like this poor fool. hehe.

    Funny that you touched on that... I have often said that good architecture, usability and hey, customer service even, is infact also link building. People tend to share good experiences. How do they share them on the web? With links, last I checked. Granted, I too work with bigger sites/brands these days, so having some authority to play with helps, but that's a reality in business in general, not just the web. But we've an equal problem of Corps not wanting to commit to the changes required. This again gives the SMB a place to be more nimble/competitive.

    The fixation on links is what got many where they are (negatively wise) but they still want to focus on it. I don't doubt there is a need, plenty of link related techologies being used by Google. It just seems the world of SEO all too often gets caught up in them. We can't limit ourselves in what we are.

    Good luck on the SES gig, drop me a link and shall put 'er out through the usual channels

  • Guest
    steveplunkett Thursday, 08 November 2012

    my skillz have evolved... but they are still the same thing.. wait.. that's poop...
    my skillz were 5% of what they were today 2 years ago.. because all the crap i kept to myself started to get validated.. time and time again....

    BTW.. easy convo for link acquisition... yahoo directory.. $299... stop there... if you must buy a link..

    but.. before you do that..
    fix all the errors, read GWT, pay attention to CONVERSIONS... don't spam social.. make friends with your customers.. talk to the receptionist at client's office.. what do people ask for? What are most common, What are unusual that people say but actually apply to client's business?

    Wanna learn SEO?

    type this in: Site:(page url) + [keyword] - i.e. site:clientsdomain.com (keyword)

    is it the right page? no? then why are you reading this.. you have plenty of work to do, if you are an SEO.

    =)

    Reply Cancel
  • Guest
    Grant Simmons Thursday, 08 November 2012

    Hey Steve!

    My SES preso focuses on SERP, queries, results, CTR and seeing why Google doesn't like* 'your' site as much as you think they should :-)

    Foundation and fundamentals generally surface as the first errors to fix.

    We (at TSA) also talk about Intent, if you don't understand what, how & why people are searching, you've already lost the battle.

    Onwards and upwards, mate!

    Cheers

    -------
    *Like = recognizes you as a relevant, topic expert

  • David Harry
    David Harry Thursday, 08 November 2012

    LOL... page mapping. One of the things that make me giggle time and time again. Had a guy wondering the other day why Page A wasn't ranking for a term but Page B wasn't. Gee, you've got like 3x as many internal links to Page B and the exnternal link equity is about par for both. Problem is? I see that WAY too often. Lack of planning and strategy has peeps eating their own lunch.

    But this thing of ours grows on. You'd have thought the Panda/GooPLA would make peeps reconsider the on-site, spose not. SEO is alive an well and continues to evolve in ways that many seemingly aren't noticing. Speaking of which lol... My reading for the day; http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2012/0279485.html

    Some fun stuff on the social graph... might enjoy. Likely write something up over the next few days.

    Thanks for dropping into me new hangout. Always good to cya on the trails.

  • Guest
    steveplunkett Friday, 09 November 2012

    The solar energy can be converted to electricity by the receiver or a generator that is coupled to the receiver. Typically, a working fluid that circulates within a receiver is heated by solar energy incident on the receiver. The heated working fluid can then be used to power a turbine and generator to produce electricity.

    what about wireless signals?

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