Marshall Simmonds – New York Times
Dustin Woodard – SEO Naturale
Moderator: Mike Rosenberg
Summary: No matter how big or small your business is, you’ll be more successful if you have a battle plan. Organic search, local search, pay per click, banner ads,
Facebook and Twitter all want a piece of your time–and your wallet. How do you know what’s right for you, and how do you make it happen? This panel will help
you figure out how to leverage both internal and external resources to optimize your online marketing mix.
Marshall Simonds: Implementing Enterprise Level Strategy
Focusing on Major, enterprise-level content publishers with big teams like AOL, NYTimes, Conde Nast etc. Some of the major trouble spots for these types of organizations include:
- Duplicate content
- Ad sales/marketing(/tech)
- Barriers to entry
Every new engagement needs to beging with a triage process, dividing problems & fixes by priority:
- Error reports
- Duplicate content
- Image optimization
- SEO style guides
- Link flow
- Video SEO
- Cost/traffic/revenue projections
- …(couple others)
- Site speed
- META tags
- …(couple others)
The #1 priority should always be indexation & sitemaps — they’re easy to implement and there’s plenty of free tools:
- Image, video, news, blogs
Remember that Google’s info is incomplete…numbers are often off (but generally representative), and errors are not always true errors, etc.
The #2 priority should be “dispelling voodoo” — instilling education & alleviating mistrust from others in the organization.
- Educate & demystify
- Get everyone in the organization to being searching & thinking about search
- Attach SEO principles & best practices to non-believers
- Present digestible, simplified, unified metrics/data across the organization
Some strategies for dealing with duplicate content — which is inescapable on a site like the NY Times:
- 301 redirects tends to work better than rel=canonical
- Address login/paywall issues via use of robots.txt
Best practices for internal linking:
- Spiders don’t crawl the whole site equally — think about how many clicks off the homepage is the meat of your site?
- Establish a spider crawl priority visualization
- Never, even use relative URLs! Always absolute.
- Use high value pages (according to GWT) as “link hubs”
A couple favorite tools:
Make sure all content & assets are optimized. Big sites need to automate everything because of volume…meta description/alt text/photo captions
Make sure you have solid analytics in place.
- Omniture overreports
- Webtrends underreports
- Analytics is right in the middle, but doesn’t scale to enterprise level
The ultimate goal is to create “site symbiosis,” a circle in which efforts reinforce each other:
- SEO/Social Media
- Search rank
- Time on site/bounce rate
- Ad inventory
- Metrics analysis
- Keyword development
- Copywriting/content creation
Dustin Woodard: Small Company Search Battle Plan
Small companies are great because they are:
Different situations call for different measures. Different skills call for different tactics. So, breaking small businesses into categories, different sizes and different budgets will dictate different strategies:
The one-man show
- Blog – easy content creation, become part of online discussion (humor, controversy)
- SEO – get links guerilla style, learn optimization basics, creative linkbait
- Free keyword tools – AdWords, Instant, Trends, Wordtracker
- SEO resources – blogs, forums, books
- Watch sophisticated industries
- Not enough time
- Poor information
The one-man show w/$$$
- PPC – hire consultant, learn keywords
- SEO – hire consultant (separate from PPC?), hire p/t writers, sponsorships
- Social Media – twitter influencers, power diggers
- Team up w/specialists – SEO, social, PPC, writers
- Buy data – hitwise, compete, spyfu, majestic SEO
- Buy exposure
- Frugality – you must pour fuel on the fire if it’s working!
- Tracking results
- SEO – guerrila link building, optimization basics, consider equity deal w/specialist
- Network – especially in person opportunities
- (Pay for) SEO audit
- Set up an advisory board of people with connections in your industry
- Relationships with other startups
- Lack of expertise
- SEO – in-house expertise + hire outside
- PPC – learn top keywords, improve conversion
- PR – get press, become newsworthy
- Social Media
- Build + hire expertise
- Build site w/SEO in mind, build into company culture
- Fall prey to hype – constantly chasing the latest thing
- Failure to monetize – leads to pressure from VCs
Established small companies
- Community – long tail content, create fans, mitigate engine changes
- SEO – always room for improvement, grow internal SEO intel
- Social Media
- Continually grow SEO & Social
- Include alternative areas of search — images, video, news, shopping, places
- Via new types of content
- Search can get forgotten in favor of new initiatives
- Search is never done
Small companies w/$$$
Tactics: Try it all!
- Internal + external w/expertise & perspective
- Continually experiment & optimize
- Design by committee tends to devalue SEO over time
- Don’t fall victim to paralysis by analysis…if you know it’s the right thing to do, just do it!
- Don’t get blinded by hype
What are the best ways to build SEO culture within a company?
Dustin: Need an internal SEO expert…and he/she needs to be able to communicate with all parties — talk source code w/developers, etc.
Marshall: Need to identify & address pain points, and validate what people are doing right.
What are the best ways to prioritize offline content to be ported to online?
Marshall: Make sure you have the freedom to optimize content — catchy headlines v. SEO-friendly headlines
Dustin: Seed content in directories (especially specialty ones…still a player), community outreach (forums, etc.)
How best to move into a new audience/category?
- Add community contribution/involvement to site…even if it’s not SEO gold.
- Fear over forums & monitoring usually outweighs actual problems…don’t be afraid to take risks.
Can you recommend a marketing automation tool to connect SEO/SEM with closed sales?
- Salesforce – relatively inexpensive
- Talk to Todd Malicoat & Tood Friesen
How to approach budget & time allocation across SEO/SEM efforts for each business category?
Dustin: Classic breakdown is 20% social, 30-50% content, the rest on community outreach (start w/outreach if you’re brand new)
Marshall: Don’t forget search still dwarfs social. Social can be a time suck, since it’s not directly responding to queries & needs.
Do Google & Bing require specific, distinct strategies?
- Working with editorial requires consistency & trumps engine-specific optimization — can’t chase algorithm changes
- Optimization is still essentially the same (despite Bing’s desire for uniqueness)