Monthly Archives: December 2009

SEO New Year Resolutions for 2010

2009 was a big year personally in my world of SEO. I have done major website moves and domain reorganisation. Hired and expanded my team domestically and internationally. Institutionalised SEO into many divisions and departments including internal training. Optimised websites from the ground up. Commissioned large scale content projects. And we have changed our development process to an agile methodology for projects and a new continuous improvement work stream. Sometimes I wish I could say more, but the really good stuff is secret due to my obligation to my current employer. Obviously I had some help with some/all of this, but you get the idea why I am enjoying a bit of time off over these holidays.

There have been some more shifts, changes and shake downs in my macro world. Bing and Yahoo are doing things together. Google is launching a new product or service every other week. Algo changes towards brands, something about caffeine and social media & “real time”. The ever-ever-flux of the SERPs. Personalisation of SERPs even for people without accounts. New innovations in search from fringe players (love the visual search from Bing). With as much advice, commentary, and noise in the SEO community as every (me included). 2009 has been busy in SEO.

So, at this festive time I thought I would jot down some notes to self and anyone else who wants to read them.

Now the fundamentals won’t change in twenty-ten of:

1. Make accessible pages
2. Understand your audience and how they search and use their keywords and key phrases
3. To build out content and a site that users value and engage with, and
4. Earn inbound links from authoritative site organically or with some help

But on top of this I was thinking about my New Year resolutions for SEO 2010. Here is my provisional list:

1. It’s all about Conversion in 2010

You have done everything you can to get visitors to your site. You have worked on accessibility and site performance. You have even optimized your meta to help with your public SERPs snippet. You need to do one more thing – work on Conversion. This is the next easiest thing you can do to affect your bottom line. If your targets are $£€ then you have your visits, now you need to make them work harder. If you are able do MVTs (Multi-Variant Tests) do so. Keep your best known page for SEO, as the default, but change the order, presentation, layout of your page and content and measure what is best for visitor conversion. A small percentage improvement could mean tens of thousands of dollars per day.

2. ROI, ROI, ROI

Take the reports you have asked for over the last year and really use them. There are obvious caveats about some reports around rankings, pages in the indexes etc etc. But spider reports and onsite metrics you have to trust. We all know there are issues with last click attribution but it is equally wrong for everyone. If SEO is to be taken seriously within the organisation and resources appropriately, senior management have to believe and the easiest thing you can do is find “causality”. If you pay for something; what does it do for you? And if you can prove that with numbers you will be a serious corporate SEO.

3. Team, team, team

There is so much knowledge within your own teams. Use it. Maybe we should hold an internal SEO summit with a real example ‘Show and tell’. You can learn more from things that don’t work sometimes. And if you set up a prefix of total honesty and amnesty you can learn a lot.
This could be with your own team or with other SEOs within your company or family of companies. And if you are brave within your extended network and non-competitors. You can easily set up internal d-lists and allow your widen stakeholders to pose questions, share observations etc etc. Ideas are not exclusive to people with SEO in their job title. The skill of a corporate SEO is the harness this enthusiasm and filter for the nuggets that can make a difference.

4. Read less blogs and rely on my own experience

This year I have found so many blogs from SEO commentators that get recycled extensively especially if they have a great headline or claim to have an inside tip. But much of these have been noise. I think my ego is big enough and knowledge secure enough to read a smaller set of sites/authors that I respect.

5. Sign up for the Webmaster Tools and use them

There is an ever increasing about of real information being shared back within the tools especially Google’s webmaster central. From the simple optimisation, a clue to crawl behaviour and crawl errors, to feedback on sitemaps, to page load speeds and performance to the engines telling you if you have any problems. If this matches to your own bot and user metrics then there is something in it. These tools for robots.txt and parameter handling are especially useful if you work for a large corporate and making the proper changes is difficult to do. Generally a clean site is a healthy site.

That’s my draft SEO resolutions as of the 27th. Maybe I will think of more before 2010 starts?

SEO explained in under a paragraph

One of my favourite questions around the office from layman is… What is SEO? And trying to explain it without using a single piece of jargon or anything specific !

Here is my latest version.

“SEO is about 3 things. You need to make your website totally accessible to all search engines and users alike.
You need to making sure your site content is relevant and engaging. And then make your site as popular as it can be. And, more popular than your competition. And that’s it.”

Or Accessibility, Usability and Linking strategies.  The secret is knowing how to combine them into a pragmatic plan.

How do you explain it?