Live from #SMX East: Google Survivor Tips

By Sarah Lokitis | Sep 13, 2011
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Good morning New York City! I am live blogging the sessions I attend at SMX East 2011. This morning I am in the session, “Google Survivor Tips.” Google said that only 12% of all websites were “pandalized,” but many legitimate websites were affected by Google’s change in  algorithm. If your site was affected by Panda 1, 2 or 3 you can get back into Google’s good graces. As Matt McGee moderates, Alan Bleiweiss, Micah Fisher-Kirshner and Mark Munroe share their insights.

Mark Munroe, Senior Director SEO Everyday Heath

On February 24 the Panda Update hit. He argues it is the most significant change to organic search since PageRank and link reputation. You may not have been hit in Panda 1, but Panda 2 may have impacted your rankings as well. Content farms, thin content sites, sites about lots of topics and more were hit even if they were valuable and had good content. Pre-panda, content quality was essentially binary – either accepted or rejected.

SERP positions are now being modified based on a new reputation factor based on user metrics – how the user interacts with your sites in the SERPs. The block this site link was part of Panda 2. It is all about user experience.

“Google knows more about the user experience of an SEO visit to your site than you do!” If user goes to one site, isn’t happy, and goes back to Google to keep searching, Google knows that action happened – you don’t. Google collects signals on their website as we look at signals on the sites we monitor. If they are measuring behavioral actions, its based on data collection and it will take time to see results.

We know about conversions, bounce rate, and page visits, but can’t really tell what percentage of users are satisfied. If you get hit, you will see less traffic and we need to wait for good data to counter the bad history. You will need to improve the SERP User experience across a large section of your traffic.

SEOs and User Experience Engineers – Going forward you both need to think about search and user experience as they are tied together.

Know your searcher and make sure you can answer your searchers questions based on your keywords and content. Understand the people who land on your website and direct them to content that can help. If you are not an authority, link to the authority, so the user doesn’t leave your page to go back to Google to find that authority. Mark Munroe suggests as a good source to check your website.

In addition, mobile-friendly versions should be created as more users are using mobile search.

Alan Bleiweiss, Click2Rank Consulting and Author Guide to SEO for Content Writing

Myopic SEO – focuses only on Google based magic bullet methods. (#myopicSEO)

  • Topical cross contamination
  • Internal link poisoning – too many links on a page with different focus
  • Unnatural off-site patterns
  • Brand and generic inbound link profile
  • Inbound links coming from few sites

Sustainable SEO – focuses on User Experience as seen through the eyes of search bots and algorithms (#sustainableSEO) Very important to gain long term success and fight Panda.

  • Consistent signals on topical focus
  • Does this confirm or confuse focus?
  • Have to help Google better understand your sites
  • Off-site diversity (links, social..)
  • More sites sending fewer links to your site – stronger inbound link to root ratio
  • Higher percentage of visits from other search engines

It is possible to recover from Panda, you just have to be willing to make changes and focus your content.

Bing has trouble finding content on its’ own, so remember to submit sitemap.xml to Bing Webmaster Tools. Bing likes diversity of anchor text a lot and anchor text needs to be directly related to the page you are linking from to the topical focus of your sites page. Establish a social authority presence in social presences for improved results in Bing. Strong spread of anchor text can allow you to have more pages indexed in Bing than Google.

What are the biggest emerging tech trends? What myopic SEO technique is Matt’s next target? Google +1?? will be a ranking factor in 2012 – be ready to get on board.

Micah Fisher-Kirshner, Senior SEO Manager for Become, Inc.

Create steps and processes for figuring out what is happening, if an algorithm update is occurring, and how you should respond. Follow along with major authoritative figures who have more insight than you do. Not every traffic drop is from an algo update. Investigate if there were any other possible causes for the change.

Seeing who survives help provide answers about algorithm updates.

“Hate content farms? Wait for the new click farms!”

If users aren’t happy with the search result and change a search query or go back to Google right away, the user wasn’t satisfied and these are ranking factors for your site that are defined by the engines. Build your site for the user and always test your pages.

He ends with “Good luck – Did you fix your affected site yet?”

Site speed can improve traffic if you were affected.

Don’t use Javascript – use CSS tabs.

Create unique content – develop quality content specific to every page you define.

Answer question the user typed into the search engine to get to your page.

Do not de-index content that’s working for you. Repurpose it.

Next they will continue with Panda, Site Scrapers, Google + and +1, Check out Janet Driscoll Millers presentation tomorrow.

If you want more insights on this session follow #smx and #11D on Twitter.

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