Help Shape Search Engine Land’s New Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

If you have been involved in search engine optimization over the past few years, you have likely come across Search Engine Land’s Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors. Whether I’m working on a consulting arrangement with one of my clients or I’m working with my staff at the agency – the printouts are everywhere – from cubicle walls to internal training binders.

The value of the table is simple; It shows you in clear and concise ways how all of the general areas of ranking factors involved in SEO can be used (or not) help shape your rankings and traffic earning potenitial. If you’re carefully addressing all of the items in green and avoiding the red items consistently – you’re likely to be successful.

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The greatest aspect about the Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors to me though is that it’s a crowd-sourced collaboration. And since the current version was last updated back in July, 2013 – it’s time to give this amazing resource an overhaul.

If you’d like to provide some input and direction on the current state of SEO, I’d strongly encourage you to spend 15-20 minutes to take the Periodic Table Of SEO Success Factors Survey.

Mobile SEO Tips from #SEOChat Community

Over the past year we have seen mobile search queries surpass those conducted on desktop environments.

In that time I have seen agency marketers, web designers and standalone webmasters all scramble to solve for a variety of challenges, including:

  • Reliably displaying content to support full topical comprehension on smaller screens
  • Capture and utilize device level analytics for improved content marketing initiatives
  • Prioritize technical aspects of on-page and on-site optimization for improved organic search performance
  • Utilize responsive design capabilities to promote mobile-specific calls to action and conversions

On Thursday, Twitter’s #SEOChat community got together at 1PM ET, rallied behind the host of the week’s forum, BloomReach Inc. (@bloomreachinc) – and jumped head first into the topics of mobile search engine optimization.

The following highlights are straight from the #SEOChat Twitter activity – and I’ve peppered in my own commentary along the way.

Pretty simple topic to get us started, but I was surprised by the number and variance of results provided during the chat.  Scanning the hashtag in TweetDeck, a few of the #SEOChat leaders really jumped out at me:

And for me – right out of the gate – these responses proved that there are a number of unique perspectives on mobile search engine optimization.

I highlighted the above responses for a few reasons:

  1. As Jason White (@Sonray, Dragon Search) points out, mobile SEO’s objective is capture and serve the user irregardless of device. At d50 Media, our creative director preaches “right audience, right time, right screen…” and it’s stuck. I’m simply an advocate of this because I have seen first hand how incredibly important this is.
  2. Connecting the right person with the right content through requires what Kristi Kellogg (@KristiKellogg, Bruce Clay, Inc.) introduces: the science of technical optimization.  With mobile devices criss-crossing from 3G to WiFi to 4G and public hotspots, connectivity is the only guarantee. When data speeds slow down, it’s up to you to deliver clean and efficient code in order to serve your audience before they tune out. If you can  you need to have a website that loads fast, works with mobile services and leverages device location and content intent to truly serve folks at a hyperlocal level… you win.
  3. Tying the previous reasons together, Lisa Buyer (@lisabuyer, Social PR Secrets) suggests that this is a PR thing. If we’re to look at PR as true and simple public relations, know that I could not agree more. Lisa’s assertion is spot on and really wraps up the “right audience, right time…” argument succinctly. Success means that you’re actively engaged in mobile. If you’re not, you’re flirting with a PR disaster.

The second question of the afternoon really required the audience to focus in on the agency/vendor relationship. I would have liked to see more activity on this particular question, but fear that as it was asked – it may have been a turn off for those working in-house or even on their own websites.

Regardless, the quality responses continued…

And again, Lisa is on her game. Brands and organizations do not have a choice when it comes to mobile presence. They’re either there, or they’re not. There is no fence to ride on or middle ground to occupy.

While Lisa boiled it down for everyone, Jason and I both provided a response more aligned with Google’s technical initiatives:

While I cannot speak for Jason – I get the impression that he and I were really trying to reinforce the importance of what Google has done over the past year.

That is, innovate – and invest – in mobile search.

From Webmaster Tools inclusion of more search query details to Google Analytics shedding more light on the device use of your content, it’s clear – Google is treating “mobile” as a leading actor in it’s primetime show.

Making more and more appearances, webmasters and marketers are encountering this “mobile” character in many different places. I tend to see Webmaster Tools as being the de facto home for all things mobile SEO these days and have found the Mobile-Friendly Test and the ability to track mobile usability in Webmaster Tools as being jumping off points for many mobile SEO initiatives.


As the #SEOChat continued, the host then asked for a little more details around technical optimization efforts. The responses were mixed in with those from the previous answer, but I found the following exchange to be deserving of a callout:

Now, the embed feature doesn’t do Jason’s Tweet any justice. Click on through to the full details and just look at the replies Jason received on his initial response.

While there were all sorts of tangents, my absolute favorite was this:

…and it’s pretty clear that when you mash up Google’s Hummingbird, Siri, desktop voice search and all of these technical devices leveraging active listening technologies… well, that’s where we are going. Major kudos to Jason for not only being aware of the movement, but advocating for it too in this group setting. In years’ past, many SEOs would simply skirt the topic altogether with an inclination of using it as a competitive advantage.


Question five was a little light for me both in substance an response, but Jason’s agency – DragonSearch provided the following which I did think could be used for more conversations down the line:

We do in fact need to be careful to note that being “mobile friendly” is not strictly limited to appeasing a search engine’s criteria or recommendations. It’s about the user. It’s always about the user.

Thankfully, the next question latch onto those user needs.


 

I really loved watching the responses to this one come in. On one hand, I could spend hours talking about how content is consumed and how conversion requirements change on mobile devices. On the other hand, I really liked how the following users focused on the comprehensive experience of viewing mobile search results and using that as their basis for mobile SEO work:

….And all in all, this week’s #SEOChat ranks up there amongst my all time favorites. Thanks to everyone involved this week – it was great to see so many folks participating and providing their take!

Coca Cola’s ‘America the Beautiful’ Super Bowl Commercial: On Point, or Out of Line?

As a blended Portuguese American marketer director aspiring to work with global brands who married a Scottish Native American all I can say is…

How dare the third largest global brand suggest that the country I call home is beautiful after we washed ashore a few hundred years ago to steal it from its rightful owners!

Perspective, like America, is indeed beautiful. <opinion>Suggesting that a global audience viewing one of the largest International sporting events should accept bigotry though, is not. </opinion>

Which leads me to wonder this:

(h/t to Jordan Kasteler)

What was your take on the Coke commercial and the #FuckCoke reaction across social media?

First Time Attendee Tips for SMX East 2013

 

Yesterday I learned that a former colleague is attending his first SMX conference when he’ll travel to New York in October for SMX East 2013. Having attended a number of SMX conferences in the past as a speaker, attendee and member of the press – I wanted to share some tips with him to help him get the most from this impressive lineup and agenda.

So, in no particular order – here are my first time attendee tips for SMX conferences:

Book Early

It may be too late in the game to have this apply to SMX East 2013, but booking early has some distinct advantages. Aside from saving up to $200 on registration, you can also get a jump on others and ensure that you can stay in the conference hotel. There are many meetups that will start (or end) there – which means you’ll have plenty of chances to make new friends, share a taxi, etc.

Pack a Power Strip

If you’re hammering out notes during a presentation or simply following the social conversations of the events in real time – battery life on your laptop or phone will become an issue at least once. Be prepared and help others out by packing a lightweight power strip that you can bring with you in your bag. It’s a great way to meet new friends, help others out and make sure you’re fully charged and ready to go at all times.

Dress in Layers

With 50+ sessions across nearly a dozen venues you’ll be on the go and walking frantically from place to place to make sure you’re on time and have a great seat. In the process you’ll encounter rooms with heating or AC issues, break a sweat or just need to get more comfortable. Be ready for it all with some lightweight layers to keep you comfortable and tuned in.

Pack Snacks (& Caffeine)

Everyone is pretty amped the first day but as the conference continues through the week it’s easy to feel tired, run down or mentally exhausted. Pack some snacks like almonds or trail mix and if it’s your thing – some caffeine. You need to be prepared to hear some great information at all times, so make sure your body and mind are ready to soak it all up.

Get Social

Between hashtags and streams, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook action will be at an all time high. Subscribe to the feeds, get yourself out there and connect with others. In a large conference like SMX there are plenty of first timers and veterans willing to meet up and talk shop with others who express interest and passion in the industry.

Provide Feedback

As a speaker at a number of SMX events in the past I always wanted to know how I performed. Did I share enough information? Speak too quickly? Skip over key details? Attendees are provided with a number of ways to provide feedback… use them. It helps speakers to improve their presentations and it helps Third Door Media to run a better conference. The goal here is to have you attend more conferences in the future, so everyone wants to make sure as a first time attendee, your experience is a solid one.

Diversify Your Agenda

The sessions in SMX conferences are often divided into a series of “tracks” including Boot Camp, SEO, Mobile, Paid Search, etc. It’s my advice to jump tracks and hit some varied sessions to make sure you’re getting fresh information all of the time. It’s quite common within a particular track to have exposure to the same recurring themes, tips or advice from speakers and panelists. That’s not a bad thing, but when you get back from the conference – everyone will want to learn about all of the things you took away from the event. Having more to share is an excellent way to make sure you’re covered to attend more events in the future.

Meet the Speakers

If there are opportunities to ask questions, meet the speakers or you catch them in the hallways in between sessions – talk to them. Make an introduction. Be respectful of their time, but let them know that you were there, paying attention and interested in what they had to offer. It’s validating for the speakers and you’re much more likely to get some customized tips off the cuff from industry experts.

Plan Time for the Expo Hall

Collecting little tchotchkes was never my thing, but the SMX Expo Halls are swarming with people willing to give you free stuff in exchange for a little of your information. Bring some business cards, practice your “No, thank you…” but be on the lookout for software demos, free account access or takeaways that can help you to be a better search marketer.

Readers Recommendations?

Use the comments area below to help spread the love and show others how to make the most of SMX and similar Internet marketing conferences!

“Sorry, I’m Late…” & Other Overused Phrases in the Workplace

Earlier this evening, Andrew Clarke, a fellow Associate Director at d50 Media shared an article with me via email. The article is actively passed around on LinkedIn and is showing up in a number of feeds – so perhaps you’ve already seen it.

if you haven’t, it’s called Stop Using These 30 Phrases At Work! – and includes a number of gems, including these (my favorites of the list):

  • It’s on my radar
  • No brainer
  • Best of breed
  • Think outside the box
  • At the end of the day
  • Across the piece
  • All hands on deck

As is always the case though, I thought the list was missing something that’s super important… (Warning: ranting Eric in 3…2…)

“Sorry I’m Late…”

In the world of business phrases like “time is money” are thrown around all day long. I don’t care that those phrases are overused, but I do care when people fail to realize that time is the most valuable resource in business. It cannot be returned once it has expired. It’s simply gone. Forever.

There are few things more frustrating than running a meeting. You start with finding a time that works for everyone, then you schedule an appropriate time and place, invest in working hard to run and hold an effective meeting… only to have it all crumble in the first 10 minutes when committed invitees aren’t there, are ill prepared or simply don’t communicate that they won’t be attending.

It all builds off of common courtesy. And I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve certainly been late to far too many meeting in the past… and that’s something I need to change.

The Concept of Integrity

When you accept a meeting invite you are committing to the sender that you will be present and prepared at the time and place submitted to you.

That’s an important concept to fully grasp if you haven’t been.

Accidents happen. Things change. Interruptions will… interrupt. When you build a habit of coming to meetings late though you’re demonstrating a lack of integrity and showing the host (and other attendees) that you have things that are more important than their time. And that time is something you can never give back to them. That line of thinking is far from new, too. Here’s an article from 2004 that sums it up well for me:

Being late for anything — a business meeting, a luncheon, an appointment with a client — suggests a gross lack of integrity. Being fashionably late is neither fashionable nor profitable. It’s inconsiderate, discourteous, and often, insulting.

Be considerate. Be respectful. Demonstrate integrity. Be where you you said you would be, and dammit… Come prepared.

3 Common Issues Found in Recent SEO Audits

I have worked on building my SEO Audit and Site Review business over the past year. In doing so, I have had the opportunity to work with everyone from entrepreneurs trying to run a company themselves, right on through to Fortune 500 companies.

Amazingly, many of the mistakes or issues I come across are consistent across the board – regardless of who’s responsible or how large the site is.

Three of the most common issues I’ve found so far in 2013 include:

robots.txt Typos

The robots.txt file is an incredibly powerful resource for site owners. For SEO purposes, it also serves as the instruction set (well behaved) bots and crawlers should follow. With the ability to open up or close down entire sections of your site, you really need to be careful about what directives you place in there.

One client was having tremendous difficulty with having their content spidered regularly. When I took a glance at their robots.txt file, I found that they had implemented a crawl delay and layered on a value of 3000. When I uncovered this and brought it up for discussion, they told me that they wanted to delay crawling of more than 3,000 URLs on their site per day.

Unfortunately, what they had done was told GoogleBot and other spiders listening that they could only make one request every 3,000 seconds. If you do the math, that meant that crawlers could get one page every 50 minutes… or about 29 pages a day. That’s a far cry from the 3,000 they were looking to have grabbed.

Another time, a robots.txt file introduced wildcards against all pages with a .html extension as the CMS being used was rewriting those pages with vanity URLs. Unfortunately, those vanity URLs also dropped canonical URLs that pointed to the .html pages.

You can probably imagine the difficulties that created both for SEO as well as for tracking link values.

Lack of Webmaster Tools Integration

For some reason, people love visitor analytics… But don’t care much about domain analytics. Webmaster Tools (both for Google and for Bing) are incredibly useful. From diagnosing crawler or indexing issues to controlling key display characteristics of your content in the SERPs, Webmaster Tools is your friend.

When it comes to integration though, no one takes is seriously – and if they do, it’s because they’ve adopted the Ron Popeil approach to SEO… “Set it and forget it.”

WMT interfaces are real time statistical centers of information you need to use to ensure your site is performing as it should. More recently, too, we’ve seen Google improve the messaging features in the wake of Penguin 2.0 to help police unethical link profile development.

Building Exclusively for Engines

At the risk of sounding like a broken record here, we should all be clear that content needs to be created (and attributed) by someone… And it should be created for a real reader – not a robot or algorithm.

The number of sites I’ve seen over-engineered for SEO is almost ridiculous. Some recent examples include:

  • Learning of a CMS that whips together Mad Libs style page titling and heading creation. Best of all? You can’t change those variables… You can only toggle them on and off. Need a real H1 with actual content? Sorry. Not possible. Need one that jams in your targeted keyword phrase, physical location and nearest DMA? Sure, that’s just a toggle away.
  • A “Search Engine Friendly Redirects” module in a homegrown CMS. The module was fantastic if you ever had to edit your content’s URL. It would allow the old URL to exist, apply a 302 to the new page once, then 302 back to a “node/xyz” style URL, and then drop a 301 back to the new URL with a canonicalization reference against the old, changed URL. I’m glad you were trying to get a 301 in place from the old to the new, but you can’t really just make this stuff up as you go. It’s got to work, kids.
  • Automatic internal link dropping… Listen, internal links are great. Necessary, even. But having a tool that scans your content and drops internal links across every single instance of “keyword 1″ and points to “URL” with link titles matching the content title is a little excessive… Particularly when you’ve managed to identify keywords like “technology” and magically end up with some 300+ internal links (some of which are looping from current pages to themselves) with zero diversity.

At the end of the day though, I love audit work. It keeps me on my toes. Helps me understand things that don’t initially make sense, and when you make the connection with someone who’s really limited by their existing web presence – it’s very rewarding.