Archive for November, 2012

PostHeaderIcon What’s Really Included in An SEO’s Job – Whiteboard Friday



Posted by randfish

The world as we know it is getting bigger. On top of that, Google is continuously changing, changing, changing

With all of these changes, what's really to be expected from an SEO? What should you consider part of your day-to-day job? In this week's Whiteboard Friday, Rand digs into the ever-changing duties of an SEO in today's fast-paced, volatile world. Enjoy!

Video Transcription

"Howdy SEOmoz fans, and welcome to this edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, as you can see, I am doing Movember. Hence, I've got my sideburns separated from my chops and no chin on my beard and all these kinds of things. I took the technical rules of Movember and tried to play them out. Hopefully, I think our team is going to raise something like $5,000 here at Moz for Movember, so I'm excited about that. Justin Vanning has been leading the effort from our marketing team. It's very cool stuff.

This week I want to talk a little bit actually about the job of an SEO. This is an interesting one, because what's going on is I see in the field this conflict, conflict between practitioners of SEO and people who are outside of the industry and inside of it discussing: Well, where should the SEO's job end? Which tasks should not be part of SEO? Which tasks should be part of SEO. What do we really have the ability to influence? hat should we be hands-off of? When does SEO lose its meaning if it gets too involved with other tasks in the business? Those kinds of things.

I want to provide my personal perspective. This is not the kind of Whiteboard Friday where I'm saying this is how things are, and this is the truth and you should only listen to me. Of course, no Whiteboard Friday should ever be like that. These are all just my opinions, but this one is special. This is my personal opinion on what the job of an SEO really should be about.

I actually want to step back. I don't want to create a big list. What I want to do is provide a framework, because I think that anyone's job, no matter what your position, is about being effective at accomplishing your goals. I don't care whether being effective at accomplishing your goals means that you are touching on principles and ideas and jobs outside of a classic job description. I think the whole idea behind what makes companies effective, what makes people effective is when they remove those boundaries, those artificial boundaries that hold us back and do what they're supposed to do to get the job done.

So I want you to start by asking: What are the marketing goals? Let me give you a couple examples.

Let's say that you are trying to market a recipe site and a specialty food site on the Web. Your marketing goals are: We want to bring in people who are interested in food. We want to build up our brand through our content, through our recipes. We want to establish a reputation. We'd also like to get direct customers who are going to be buying our specialty food product. We want to get chefs interested and influencers interested. We want to get the press interested. So our marketing goals are fairly broad.

You might also be working on the type of campaign that's much, much more narrow. For example, you might be hired as an SEO or you might be part of an SEO on an in-house team who's job is, essentially, well there's not a lot of search demand for the product we make. One of my favorite Christmas presents, Hanukkah presents this year is going to be the Sphero, which is by another foundry company. It's an adorable little ball that you can put on the floor and then you can control it. I have an app on my phone where I can control the Sphero and steer it around and play all these little games with it. It's super cool. It's a mechanized ball. You can watch a video of President Obama actually playing with one in Colorado when he visited.

Super cool, but nobody searches for "little electronic ball that I control with my phone." This just does not get search volume, despite maybe Sphero wishing that it did. But there might be lots of other interesting things that they could rank for. Really, their goal is not this broad expansion and this content strategy. It's just about getting people to the site who might potentially buy. They might be trying to rank for things like gifts for geeks and these types of things. They're obviously trying to control their brand and reputation and build up some press around themselves. Their SEO efforts are going to be much, much more narrowly focused, which is fine.

You should know the goals of your marketing campaign first. Then ask: How can search traffic and rankings help achieve them? How can the stuff from here, the things that happen inside of Google and Bing search results, inside of search results on other platforms, maybe you are doing SEO on Kayak or on the App Store or in Craigslist, wherever you are doing sort of search engine optimization, you want to figure out how do the search rankings actually affect and achieve the marketing goals, rather than just trying to get traffic. Everybody's trying to get traffic. We want to rank for things. Why?

Good. Now we know how search affects that. Then, we're going to figure out what inputs affect the success of your SEO, that particular campaign's SEO?
In the example of Sphero, it might be a, "Well, hey, we're trying to get more press, so we need more reporters and journalists to be coming to the site. Therefore, we need to make sure that anyone who types in any spelling of Sphero, misspelling of Sphero, anyone who searches for anything around us, or they think they're looking for us, anyone who's searching for geek gifts, or is searching for new electronics, that we're getting coverage in places like Engadget or a Techmeme or a TechCrunch, or those kinds of things, that we're reaching these influencers. Therefore, it's a little less about the direct search engine rankings for related stuff.

For the food folks, for the specialty food store, the metrics are a lot of the classic ones that we think about. It's rankings for recipe searches. It's rankings for food searches. It's rankings for the names of the particular products, all that kind of stuff, the generic search names as well as the brand stuff. From this, we can then derive the list of what should be included in the SEO's job.

The SEO's job, in my opinion, should have no boundaries other than what are the things that positively influence this cycle. What are the things that will help you achieve your goals? I don't care if someone says, "Well, UI/UX, that is completely outside the realm of SEO. Usability, that's outside the realm. Web page speed, page load speed, that stuff is in the department of software engineering and of web development. That's not an SEO's job."

Screw that. No, it is the SEO's job. If it positively impacts this process, it is now part of our jobs. Whether you get to have direct impact on that or whether it's indirect impact and you have to work with other people across teams, which is why companies exist, so that people can work across teams, then those should be the things on your list. If UI/UX is holding back the achievement of the marketing goals and the search rankings that can help get you there, then you need to work on that. Same story with speed. Same story with accessibility or responsive design, with content strategy, with branding, with press and PR, public relations. Maybe you are just doing classic SEO, the keywords and links and URLs, and these types of things and hundreds of other things.

It can include whatever it needs to include. I want to urge folks, because I feel so strongly about this, that the job of an SEO cannot be limited to what external people have put on the idea of what we think SEO is. What our job is, is to positively impact the items that are going to influence our goals. If we have to do things that are outside of the classic SEO job description to achieve a goal, we do it. That's what makes a great SEO, in my opinion. That's what makes a great professional in any field, someone who accomplishes the goals, not someone who checks off a task list.

All right. I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. We will see you again next week. Take care."

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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PostHeaderIcon Virtual Tape Measure Technology Could Transform Online Clothes Shopping



Tape MeasurerYou’ll notice we didn’t include any clothes items in our Geek Holiday Gift Guide 2012 or Black Friday 2012 and Cyber Monday Ads Round Up. It’s because we’re far more interested in dressing up our desktops than our waistlines (this isn’t Maximum Fashion, after all), but had we included clothes, would you know which size to buy, especially after eating a pound or two of Thanksgiving turkey? (Happy Turkey Day to those of you who celebrate, and to the rest, Happy Thursday, as it were.) A new virtual tape technology might one day help you figure it out.

Building the software that will allow online shoppers to take accurate measurements at home with their webcam or smartphone is a group effort. With funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the software is being developed by the London College of Fashion and computer vision gurus at the University of Surrey, along with input from body-mapping specialists Bodymetrics and digital creative agency Guided.

“The potential benefits for the fashion industry and for shoppers are huge,” says Philip Delamore from London College of Fashion. “Currently, it’s common for online shoppers to order two or three different sizes of the same item of clothing at the same time, as they’re unsure which one will fit best.”

The software utilizes body scanning technology that takes measurements at a number of different points and then combines them with a person’s overall proportions to build a detailed 3D image, EPSRC explains. It’s said to be even more precise than taking measurements in a physical store.

Body Measurement Figure

To truly be advantageous, the technology would require the cooperation of websites, which would display a logo or a pop-up window to let online shoppers know they’re participating. As for when this might come to fruition, EPSRC says it already has plans to take this new system to market, with an anticipated launch two years down the line.

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PostHeaderIcon Prediction: Anchor Text is Dying…And Will Be Replaced by Co-citation – Whiteboard Friday



Posted by randfish

Imagine this: you're checking your rankings, and you see a page ranking number 6! Awesome! But wait…you never optimized for that keyword. How did you end up there? Hmmm…
 
The answer, dear Moz friends, is likely co-citation.
 
This week's Whiteboard Friday focuses on just that. Rand discusses co-citation and its impact on the future of SEO and brand association. 
 
What do you think? How do you approach co-citation and branding when the keywords are no longer the only game in town? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below!
 

Video Transcription

"Howdy, SEOmoz fans, and welcome to a second beardless edition of Whiteboard Friday. I apologize. The beard should be back by next Whiteboard Friday, but this time we're gong to go clean shaven, which it was for Halloween and Movember. I hope we'll get some good donations for that.

I want to talk today about a prediction that I've got around not the complete death of anchor text, but that anchor text is actually diminishing as a signal and being replaced by something else, something Google has gotten very clever about. I think Bing is using it as well. That is co-citation, so co-citation of terms and phrases along with a brand or a link, and I'll show you what I mean.

First off, some examples that you can check out for yourself. One of very favorite things to do is to go find relatively competitive keyword phrases and find sites and brands that are ranking without appearing to target the keyword, meaning that keyword isn't in the title tag. It's barely even on the page. It doesn't seem to be something that they're going after. They're not getting much anchor text for it.

How do they rank well against folks who are doing all of these classic SEO best practices? Well, here are a few examples.

For the query "cell phone ratings," coming in at number four is a web page on ConsumerReports.com without the words "cell phone" or the word "ratings." Actually, I do think they have the word "rating," and they might have the word "phone." But it's in the text. It's not even in the title. Really remarkable that they're ranking so well for such a competitive query. I'll talk about why in a sec.

Number two, "manufacturing directory." Again, another very competitive phrase, and ThomasNet is ranking number three without mentioning any of these terms, without seeming to try and target that phrase at all.

Number three, "backlink analysis," where Open Site Explorer, SEOmoz's own tool ranks number two, and yet not in the title. It's not anywhere on the page. Neither of these words are anywhere on the page. In the snippet, Google is actually using some text from another article that they found that mentions backlink analysis.

So it's just fascinating to see these sorts of rankings, and you kind of have to question like, "Boy, there's a ton of people with a lot of good anchor text, with a ton of linking root domains who are all trying to go after that phrase. They put it in the title tag. How does Google know? How does Google know to associate these terms with these websites if the classic signals that we think about as SEOs aren't there?"

The answer, in my opinion, is co-citations. Let me show what I'm talking about.

You can see a lot of articles on the web that mention cell phone ratings and reviews and mention Consumer Reports. They don't necessarily link to this page. In fact, very few of them link to this page. But many of them will do exactly this. If you look at a text snippet on the page, it'll say, "Cell phones as rated by Consumer Reports." This doesn't even link. This is not a live link. It's not even pointing to their website or to that specific web page. But Google is noticing the association. They see the words "cell phone." They see the word "rated," and they see "Consumer Reports." They put two and two together and say, "You know what? It seems like lots of people on the Internet seems to think that Consumer Reports and cell phone ratings go together."

Same thing happening here. Directory of Manufacturers from ThomasNet, it's not even linking to the manufacturing directory page. It's linking just to the home page of the website. But it's mentioning ThomasNet, and it says, "Directory of Manufacturers." So the words are in there, and Google is kind of going, "Oh, yeah, I see this association happening a lot. It's not directly in the anchor text, but you know what? I'm getting smarter."

Google is getting a lot smarter about this. A ton of articles that mention backlink analysis, how to look at backlinks, talk about Open Site Explorer. Some of them link to it. Some of them don't. But because Open Site Explorer is very commonly cited in addition to the keyword phrase "backlink analysis," you're seeing OSE do really well for that query term.

This, in my opinion, is one of the kind of future looking elements of how we're going to do SEO, brand association, having people write about us and do PR about our brands, associating those terms together so that very frequently when you see an authoritative, high quality source mention a keyword phrase, talk about a keyword phrase, they're mentioning your brand. They're linking to your site. They don't even necessarily have to link to exactly your page. This type of SEO is something that's not very practiced today, but it certainly should be on a lot of people's minds for the future.

I would urge you, anytime you see something ranking that doesn't have the classic SEO targeting types of things, the anchor text and on-page text and the title tag, you take a deep look and try and figure out whether co-citation is what's causing it to rank higher.

All right everyone. Look forward to seeing you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care."

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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