Speakers: Microsoft’s Derrick Wheeler, NYTimes’ Marshall Simmonds, Yahoo’s Laura Lippay
and Search Engine People’s Jeff Quipp.

Moderator: ISITE Design’s Steve Kemper

Microsoft.com: Taming the MSCOM Beast
Derrick Wheeler
Senior SEO Architect

+ Microsoft’s SEO definition – the process of influencing the structure of content and authority of a site to increase the number of quality visits (Structure > Content > Authority). But always make sure you have compelling offers.
+ The Beast – 100’s of websites each having own goals and managed individually. Completely decentralized with over 1.2B URLs. Actually they have infinite muahhaa…
+ Who’s hands do you want your success to be in? Yours or the search engines? Um, I’m assuming the former.
+ MSCOM SEO Framework – create a process to attack all sites.

Sitewide SEO initiatives which included many “audits” to find biggest issues for biggest bang for the buck…
1. narrowed down to duplicate content
2. excessive use of redirect
3. improper error handling

Site Specific SEO Program
Page level guidance
+ Common page level scenario – keyword usage, free tagcrowd.com to visualize most important keywords for optimization strategy.
+ Biggest challenge from agency to in house – now actually accountable to getting things implemented. If you are going to budget for SEO, be sure to include budgets for implementation.

Investments to help ID top 5 issues. Easily helps to clean up millions of non valuable pages.

Beyond Theory
Marshall Simmonds
Chief Search Strategist

+ Goal is to lessen the load that marketing budget may have.
+ Build foundation for lesser competitive keywords – looking for long term benefits to eventually lessen PPC costs down the road.
+ Where does SEO department fit? At About.com and The Times – dedicated department.
+ Evangelize the service and best practices.
+ Rocky movie: underdog, trained relentlessly, he LOST. Much to be learned from this.
+ NYT challenges: 11 million docs, email registration wall, paid subscription wall, jounalists/editors to train, marketing hates IT and IT hates marketing, company ego, resistance to change, interdepartmentlal issues.
+ Crawl barriers, content moves/expires, limited CMS, massive duplicate content, lots of URL parameters.
+ About balancing editorial integrity – never say the word “change”. Enhance. Maximum SEO with all other integrity points.
+ Basic Training – keyword research, basics of on page SEO, title tags and headers
+ HTML and XML Sitemaps
+ Annotated links = Awesome.
+ Ability to divorce headline from the title. Gives more freedom to writers.
+ Measure as much as possible. SEO progress, ID potential problems, targeting new opportunities, etc.
+ Developed proprietary network diagnostic tool to go back to the team to help real time issues. (SearchClu)
+ Mistakes to avoid: undercommunicate success, don’t wall off content, not checking in with IT, lack of editorial insight, excessive expectations and timeframes.

SEO Tactics for the Job
Jeff Quipp
Search Engine People

+ Agency perspective
+ What is SEO? process of getting desired results from organic search using whatever tactics you feel comfortable using.
+ 5 main levers to affect desired results: the defined objective, site structure, amount/quality of content, power of site (authority), anchor text utilized.
+ What does Google say? Increase number of quality links.
+ Implications of interest: site structure can be an impediment, link power potential infinite?, quality content buils links but takes time and resources, the less competitive the industry is online the less need for content and vice versa. A serious committment to achieve desired results.

Tip #1: Make sure site and pages are well optimized and not an impediment.Utlize key areas of placement.
Tip #2: To improve overall site ranking/performance – build quality content routinely, build a reward system for quality content ideas and production from in house staff or agency, promote content online.
Tip #3: Ranking for specific uncompetitive keywords – submit to quality directories, syndicate articles, get links from suppliers and clients, ensure targeted keywords are in anchor text.
Tip #4: Getting business from more competitive keywords – guest blog on other (relevant) sites and link back to your site, hold a topic specific contest, build content to answer questions about the topic, SEM PR to promote new content, optimized anchor text, widgets, publish unique research, do something remarkable…sausage marketer? create the biggest sausage ever…

Conclusion: Wikipedia and NYT are powerful because of quality content; links are crucial; the more competitive the goal the more quality content is needed.

SEo Tips and Real Life Examples
Laura Lappay
Director of Technical Marketing

+ What does the in house SEO look like? Most of audience here reports into marketing over development or product.
+ Report into marketing – challenges are that there is no engineering accountability. Must make friends within the department, build relationships and execute training.
+ Report into engineering – typically works well especially in terms of the CMS.
+ Reporting into product – accountability is good but search marketing disconnects are more obvious.
+ Split into marketing and engineering – strategic.
+ When Laura first started they reported into business intelligence for SEO reporting. Then search moved under marketing which was advantageous because much closer to paid search. Now split SEO into strategy and technical subgroups.
+ Risks and the Hard Times. In house risks – retaining talent (slower pace, tough to influence), no accountability (many teams responsible), not producing results (set expecations and make small wins first), not broadcasting results.

Q&A Session
1. Category Killer Comment – ideas and strategies?
2. Multiple title tag strategy for NYT – much for internal search, no thoughts on whether or not symantic web has anything to do with that. Hasn’t really hit their radar yet.
3. SEO gaming the system? NO. Engines want you to organize content in a way that they can access it.
4. Keyword research process? At site level for Microsoft because of range. Jeff uses paid search for data.
5. Web 3.0 and symantic search – what’s in the future? Day to day outlook… let’s master the basics. Yahoo is taking on social media…being able to measure brand in other places and connect to traffic.
6. How do you measure a page against another that has identical content? Just focus on main body of the page, can typically ignore navigation and boiler plate info. Big variance between 90 and 95% similarity.

Rachel Andersen is an Account Executive at Anvil Media, Inc.

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