2008 SEOmoz Expert Seminar Recap
The quality of speakers was exceptionally high, and the networking that the intimate conference size offered was fantastic. It was great to see so many folks I follow on Twitter, including Martin Bowling, Derek Edmond, Tony Wright, Brian Carter, Casey Yandle, Will Critchlow and Duncan Morris, and of course Dr. Pete.
This Matthew J. Brown guy has terrible taste in drinking establishments but other than that he’s OK too.
At any rate, I recently learned from Brian Carter’s Recap that SEOmoz would like to keep the bulk of the sessions confidential since they’ll be selling the content on an upcoming DVD, but I got the go-ahead from Rand to post just a few teasers:
The star of the show for me was SEOmoz COO Sarah Bird. Sarah is quite obviously brilliant, gave a very lively presentation, and informed me just how risky my current SEO and design contracts are! She gave actionable advice on clauses to include in every contract. Much of this she has published before: here here here and here. But she presented it in such a concise and easy-to-understand fashion that it really hit home for me at the conference. Needless to say I will be updating my contracts forthwith!
Thinking Like a Search Engine: Fighting Spam
Nick Gerner, who amounts to something like SEOmoz’s Technical Muse, gave a fascinating presentation on how the search engines may be considering spam, including using forward-flowing TrustRank, starting with a population of +/- 100 trusted websites and de-emphasizing sites which aren’t within three clicks away. But I thought the neater point to Nick’s presentation was a hypothetical inversion of this process — starting with a set of KNOWN spam websites and seeing whom THEY link to (since spammy sites tend to link predominantly to other spammy sites)–a sort of Reverse TrustRank.
International Search & Its Connection to Local Search
Will Critchlow and Duncan Morris of Distilled presented a ton of information on international search which I thought applied well to Local Search and also hinted at a couple of factors that might be similar between Google’s Local and International algorithms.
- Will noted that putting the address on EVERY PAGE of one client’s website helped Google key in on the clients international geo-location (as being in the UK) and improved their search results DRAMATICALLY in Google.co.uk. While it’s true there aren’t similar breakdownsfor Google.portland.or or Google.chicago.il, for example, it did signal to me that address information hard-coded onto a website is a major factor Google is looking for to determine geography.
- Foreign language keyword research tools are poor and it’s difficult to gauge accurate search volume…hmm, that sounds familiar…
- Will and Duncan’s preference is to host different language content within subfolders, and then uniquely register each of those subfolders within Google Webmaster Central. With Local content, I don’t think it’s necessary to register each subfolder separately. But I agree with Will and Duncan 100% that for business with multiple locations, siloing Localized content on one domain, rather than splitting into several domains (i.e. portlandbusinessname.com, salembusinessname.com, etc.) seems to have the best effect for Geo-targeted Organic Search as well as Local Search.
- If you’ve already got unique domains for each of your locations, Will and Duncan recommend interlinking them extensively.
- Will and Duncan noted that setting your domain’s WMC flag to a particular region (like North America) has a tremendous impact on which search engine you rank in. Google doesn’t allow this YET for Local searches, but given the incredible targeting strides they’re making with Adwords, I have a feeling we may see this shortly in Local!
More Random Tidbits
- Rebecca Kelley presented a great blog content research tactic which I’d heard her promote before, but had forgotten about it. If you’re stuck for content ideas (or even if you’re not!), search Delicious results to find blog content that your customers and potential linkerati are interested in.
- Jane Copland mentioned in her excellent Social Media presentation that Bit.ly is a better version of TinyURL for shortening URL’s on Twitter. The reason? Bit.ly allows you to track particular clicks far better than your Analytics will show and gives incredibly detailed information about the clickers, including their geography!
- Oftentimes, small businesses can rank exceptionally well for reasonably competitive searches just by creating +/- 40 Social Media profiles which offer followed links (SEOmoz PRO members have access to this list!).
- Stephan Spencer noted that seller ratings play a large role in who ranks in Google Product Search…hmm…does this continue to add fodder to the debate in Local over whether ratings can increase one’s ranking?
- Stephan also noted that certain cameras automatically geo-code images, which could have a tremendous impact for Local when you upload them to a service like Flickr or Picasa. The UGC tab within Google Local is almost brand new, but I speculate that a keyword-rich image title and filename, combined with this geo-tagging information, can create a UGC reference that’ll help your business rank better in the 10-pack…