Adam Audette will be speaking about “Advanced Off-Site SEO” at SearchFest 2012, which will be held February 24, 2012 at The Governor Hotel in Portland, Oregon. For more information or to purchase tickets, please click here.

1) Please give us your background and tell us what you do for a living?

Today I’m the President of RKG (, a data-driven online marketing firm. Back in 2008 when you gave me a shot at Searchfest, I told you that “internet marketing is in my blood.”

That’s probably still the best way to describe my background! I’ve been doing it for long enough to realize there’s no end to the things you can learn. Usability, information architecture, conversion optimization, display advertising, the list of new areas to explore is endless.

I’ve been primarily interested in search marketing throughout my career, with stops in areas like community development, social media, email marketing, and content strategy. Search always brings me back because it’s what I’m most challenged by. I love the unique creative and scientific problems SEO and PPC present.

Up until August 2011 I was president and founder of AudetteMedia, a boutique SEO shop. We were over 20 strong and solely focused on SEO when RKG acquired us. Today with RKG, we are over 100 strong and provide integrated SEO and PPC services, display, social media, comparison shopping, attribution, and re-targeting.

2) How important is deep linking for Enterprise SEO?

Not as important as most people think. At MozCon this year, I presented a number of solutions for getting product- or item-level URLs ranking well . What I’ve found over the years, is that your main category URLs (and for that matter, important sub-categories) are the most valuable pages in which to build links. Why is that? There are a few reasons, but it can be boiled down to this:

1. Product pages (or item-level URLs) tend to come and go, because of inventory, etc. There is flux at that level.

2. The internal link profile of product-level pages has a tendency to ebb and flow. One week, there’s a special promotion for a set of products and links are peppered across the site — including the home page. The next week when that campaign ends, those links disappear.

Building links into important category pages is one of the keys to successful ecommerce SEO. From there, you can control how equity is passed down to a deeper level. Even more importantly, the category (and to some extent, sub-category) levels must reinforce a strong “information scent” to the deeper links that matter for your users.
(Think: Reasonable Surfer Patent.) You need strong site architecture, that’s what this is all built upon.

But there is so much more… I could type for days.

3) Can you quantify the value of social media mentions for an Enterprise SEO effort?

A great question. Short answer: no. Long answer: maybe. My favorite answer: you need social media to help drive your SEO, so do it! I know that won’t satisfy many.

What we know, is that most links in social are nofollowed. But wait…most links on major social sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) are also syndicated to other sites in various ways, to other apps, etc. So we know that the link we see on Twitter is not the only form of that link. Remember awhile ago when we found out that Twitter’s feed, for example, did not have nofollow applied on the links? Danny wrote about this again recently in his seminal piece, A New Way of Looking at Ranking Factors (an article proving that he’s still the king.)

So the conclusion we can make, after practicing this, is that there is a certain amount of “spillover” in the links secured via social media, and that spillover can be favorable for rankings, too.

We also know, categorically, that Bing counts social factors like Facebook shares, because they told us.

Another thing we know, categorically, is that Google wants to make progress on using other factors than the link profile to calculate rank. They want social data, and their bid is Google +. That makes it an important channel for SEO.

We also know that social allows us to connect with bloggers, site owners, and influencers, and build relationships which can then facilitate the creation of links.

All this leads us to the conclusion that we actually need social media to help drive SEO. But to quantify it? Not yet. We can’t do that, and frankly, I don’t think we ever will.

What we can do, is quantify the lift and potential traffic and revenue impact of our SEO work, which includes social media.

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