SEO and Big Search

Melanie Mitchell Director of SEO/SEM at AOL:
She says that AOl can now find thir asses in the dark, they used to be in the business of sending out lots of CDs. They’re now giving away all their services and products, to generate an audience. They’ve changed their entire business model as a online network of properties and their new business goal includes SEO. They understand that the new AOL has to flip their topdown model, people don’t come in through the front door, they come in through their deep content, via search. They need to market the plays not the theater.
They had to establish a team to handle SEO by creating a person in each channel to be responsible for SEO and setting metrics and goals for them to aim at. Then they have to optimize their assets, this is very different from the way they used to work, because the search engines never before saw their content. Then tracking SEO metrics to justify the large amount of resources the SEO efforts have required. They created a monthly SEO dashboard, including pageviews and search referrals and financial SEO goals. The last thing they had to do was increase consistency by definiing “SEO complicance” training and guides.
Paid search is a much more centralized effort than SEO. They’re not very transactionaly based they look closely at number of pageviews consumed since their main model is advertising sales.
Their page views are increasing month vs month, and a 46% ad revenue increase ($151MM) since Q# last year. Using performance metrics as positive reinforcement to engineering and programming departments will lead them to believing in and being excited by SEO changes.
She brought up a ppicture of the new AOL homepage and the Yahoo homepage saying imitation is the sinceriest form of flattery.

Dave Roth Director of Search Engine Marketing, Yahoo!:
She thanks AOL for all the good ideas on the new homepage and says they’re flatrtered that AOL figured out they don’t have to charge for people to come to their homepage. He makes some jokes about David Lee Roth, but says that he’s really an “agency guy from way back.” He says “to anyone who works in SEM or SEO, this is our time, enjoy it, if you can find time to enjoy it.”
SEM is the best way to get customers.
The holy trinity of search marketing:

  • Paid Search
  • SEO
  • Affiliate

He says that if any unit in the company is spending a dime in paid search they have to do SEO. Managing SEM/SEO policies for afiliate is important. He shows a slide that shows a large number of parts of Yahoo that are doing SEO.
The things they measure in paid search:
What is the lifetime value of a conversion
What is the net present value of that revenue stream
What is the acceptable margin on NPV
and a monthly scorecard
Things they measure in SEO:
lifetime value of an SEO referral
SEO opportunity
how much of the total opportunoity can they realize
and they track that against progess.
they give properties a score on value.
Yahoo has central groups that provide traning and resources and business units/properties that do SEO measurements, execute SEO plans and evangalize SEO implimentation. Its the busines units that are on the hook for SEO performance and if they’re in the red they don’t get anymore money for paid search. He talks about centralize vs outsourcing, build vs buy and portable budgets. He says Yahoo does SEM just like anyone else, its just marketing, SEO is mostly about training and trying, they think a lot about trade offs, and they’re hiring.
Adam Lasnik Search Evangalist, Google:
His role is to work with webmasters to improve relationships between google and webmasters. They don’t have any fancy SEO tricks up their sleeve. SNACC: Speed, Navigability, Accessibility, Clarity, Comfort. They less concenered with getting attention than with improving experience to keep people coming back.
Speed: Throughput and latency count.
Navigability Users should be able to know where they are, how to get where they’re going, how to get back and how to share a page with a friend. We should all be past the “click here” anchor text. The back button should always go back and no two links on one page should go to the same place.
Accessibility Reasonables URLs, (common sense, memorable, and consistent URLs) useable alt tags, accesible search and audio captchas.
Clarity Don’t confuse your users, link should obviously be links (blue and underlined) and links on one line.
Comfort Make your site easy to use and simple, black text on white or gray screen. Italics are hard to read. Include hieght and width tags on all your images. No jumpy pages.
Consitency Routine can be rewarded. Put your messages in the same place, font and same color, like errors and alert boxes.
Google doesn’t do much SEO and its not Adam that does it. They don’t worry about page rank. Google does not rank for “search engine” in google. Actually they do, I just checked. They do not have a centralized group or person for SEO.
Treelike and web like structure
Simple pages
Same Domain don’t put different sections of a site on different domains, its horrible for SEO. “having more content on one domain will serve you better than having lots of domains”. If you have to, use subdomains.
Smart AJAX and Flash don’t include as foundation of your navigation.
301s use these for redirection, pagerank and “stuff like that” will be flowed over.
cheating sometimes they’ll add a link to the google homepage.

Questions:
Aol does not have a time line and different properties have different organic search goals.
For google: After a redisgn how do you keep your rankings: don’t go crazy doing everything all at once. Do things in groups and use 301s. Don’t redirect everything to the homepage with a 301. 301 like pages to like pages. It can takes days or weeks, pagerank and other raning measurements will flow appropriately when using 301s.
For yahoo and aol: what kind of SEO tactics where surprising: one of the yahoo engineers in the travel group was the guy who “moved the needle the most” up untill 6 months ago. Yahoo was surprised that there isn’t any tactics. Aol was surprised that each group had different ideas and ways about thinking about search. Instead of vying for aol homepage space the properties now have to vy for other sites’ traffic.
A questioner askes about 301 vs redirect permanant through ajax: first adam talks about bold vs strong, he says it comes down to really tiny factors and its not worth changing stuff. he says the ajax redirect permanant is the same thing as a 301.
Someone asks about a sandbox: “is there a penalty for new sites’ Adam “imagine that there is a breaking even and somehow after briteny divoreces k-fed, she determinds that purple hats are all the new rage and this gets to the news, it would not be in our interest or in our users in terest, we’re going to wait a few months to accept new pruple hat sites, but there are circumastances where it can take a whle for a site to be indexed and ranked the way they want, we can be better about balanceing these things, but as in terms of a flat sandbox that would not be in the best interest of our users, there are awhole lot of signals that can affect how long it takes your site to rank, if you have somerething that is timely and content rich put it up there and it is possible that it will be available to users in a good amount of time.”

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Guy Kawasaki Keynote

Guy’s about to start speaking, had some video problems he says “I promise its not the mac’s fault”.
He says he’s using the word “interesting” loosely and euphemistically when speaking about working for Steve Jobs, the guys there were some of biggest egos in the valley. The Macintosh division would not let the Apple II people into their buildings. He tells the mac and microsoft version of the lightbulb joke. He says his book and speach have to do as much with what he did right as what he did wrong.
His speach today is The Art of Innovation.
He says high-tech CEO speakers “suck as speakers and you have no idea how much longer they’re going to suck”. His speach is going to be based on a top ten list.
Guy is obsessed with his technorati ranking and his goal is to be on the top 10, but he’s on 46 and he’s asking for help with link optimization to boost his rank.

  1. Make Meaning
  2. Make Mantra
  3. Jump to the Next Curve
  4. Roll the DICEE
  5. Don’t Worry, be crappy
  6. Polarize People
  7. Let a hundred flowers blossom
  8. Churn Baby Churn
  9. Niche Thyself
  10. Follow the 10/20/30 Rule
  11. Don’t let the bozo’s grind you down

1: Make Meaning Entrepueners are (or should be) in it for very pure reasons, VC are looking for people who are looking to make meaning, not who are starting off to make money. You’ll attract only MBAs, investment bankers and consultants if you start of looking to get rich.
He uses Nike as an example of a company that has given meaning to two piecees of cotton, leather and rubber.
2: Make Mantra Two or three words why you exist. He uses Wendy’s mission statement as an example. In all the time’s he’s been to Wendy’s its never occured to him that he’s participating in “leadership, innovation and partnerships”. This type of think is too long. It should be “healthy, fast food”.
nike is good: “authentic althetic performance”
fedex is “peace of mind”
Ebay “democratize commerce”
Why should your company exist? Mission statements are bullshit.
3: Jump to the Next Curve He uses Ice harvester, ice factory, refrigerator as an example of innovation. Most companies try to be a 10 or 15 percent better ice factory, instead they should try to jump to the next curve. Don’t duke it out on the same curve.
4: Roll the DICEE More parameters about what defines a great product.
Depth: Like the sandle made by reef call the Fanning. It has a beer bottle opener on the bottom.
Intelligent: Panasonic BF-104 flashlight, it takes multiple size batteries.
Completness: Lexus GS Hybrid. The whole experience around a product (not just the software, the support, the community the adons)
Elegance: Ipod Nano, simplicity.
Emotive: Harley Davidson, great products create strong emotions.
5: Don’t worry, be crappy Version one of a revolution means you don’t have to apologize, we ship and then we test. He says the first mac was crappy, but it was revolutionary crap. You should ship revolutionary stuff with elements of crap.
6: Don’t be afraid to polarize people Create a product that you yourself want to use and you will polarize people. People will either love it or hate it, like harley davidson or tivo. Some people hate Tivo, others are tivo evangalists. Like the Scion XB, “rolling refrigerator”. Otherwise you’ll create medocrity. Make things that appeal greatly to some people and ignore the rest.
7: Let a hundred flowers blossom Some companies freak out when unexpected people use their products. His first advice is “take the money”. He says this is a good thing, take your best shot at who you think your best customers is, but plant fields of flowers, because you won’t know which will take root and hallelujiah if flowers take root that you didn’t expect, like apple. Aldus pagemaker saved apple. He believes in god because there is no other reason for apple continued survival, god loves digital music and wants you to pay 99cents per song. Its very hard to convince an athiest to switch gods. rather than ask those people who have not bought your product why not and trying to fix it, you should ask the people who have bought your product and ask them and give them more reasons. Do not waste your time with athiest.
8: Churn Baby Churn It is not ok to ship crap and stay crappy, reiterate often. Innovation is not an event, it is a process. Like the people who said the mac needed slots and a bigger processer. Version one must become vrsion 2.
9: Niche Thyself he shows a graph with one axis as “ability to provide unique product or service” and the other as “value to the customer”. You want to be high and to the right. One corner you provide something of great value to the customer but you’re not unique like dell you have to compete on price. the next customer is you provide something of no value to the customer and you’re unique (you’re stupid). another is you provide something of no value and you’re not unique (the dot-com corner). He uses the dog food online store example. The discount was more than compensated for the cost of shipping heavy dog food. They were also not unique. The high and to the right corner, his example is fandango. another example is the breitling emergency watch, with an emergency transmitter. Or a smart car, or the LV Kimchi Refrigerator. Unique and valuable to the customer.
10: The 10/20/30 Rule He uses his beneers disease as an example, there are lots of things you can control. He says he listens to people pitch him all day long who say they have paradigm shifting ways to sell dog food online. One juicy idea was to build a geodisic dome over la to control pollution, another was to buy israel to make it a theme park, another was a paradigm shifting way to save drowning people they have tech to save these people. It was 15 feet of red tape rolled up into a ball. The 10/20/30 rule of power point.
10 slides
20 minutes
30 point font
11: Don’t let the bozo’s grind you down They’ll tell you it can’t be done. there are two kinds: the slovenly looser bozo. The dangerous bozo is the skinny svelte dressed in all black rich bozo. Not all rich famous people are smart.
Examples of bozosity:
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers” Chairmen of IBM in 1943
“This telephone has too many shortcomings to be sertiously considered as a means of communicaion. The device is inherently of no value to us” Western Union memo from 1876
“There is no reason why anyone would want a computer in your home” Founder of DEC in 1977
“its too far to drive, and I don’t see how it can be a business” Guy Kawasaki when he was asked to interview for the CEO position for Yahoo. He says this response cost him 2 billion dollars. He’s obsessed about it.
he needs some links to his blog.

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Pubcon Introduction

8:53: Tons of people here already, huge line of people still waiting to register, looks like we’re going to be starting 15 minutes late or so.
9:05: We’re starting, Brett says pubcon has more than doubled since last time. The exhibit hall isn’t going to be open untill tomorrow. Brett says there are 4 invite-only private parties, he tells us to go talk to our reps, and mentioned that Google, Yahoo, Text Link Ads and Ask all probably have something going on.
Brett says thatr the Super Session “Search and Research on a Rail” is likely the best session he’s ever put together.
Danny Sullivan is not here yet, he’s “still on a plane”.
Pubcon will be at “Nine Fine Irishmen” on Friday.
Guy’s keynote speach will be video taped and sent out on the presentation CD.

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Gearing Up for Pubcon

Just wanted to let everyone know that I will be liveblogging (or is it live blogging?) Pubcon specifically the SEO and SMO sessions, so make sure you tune in here throughout the week. And if anyone has any requests, let me know, I’ll see what I can do.

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ReviewMe Leak

An unamed source sent me this a while before Review Me Too (seriously guys we want in on this sponsored posts thing too!) launched, but I sat on it, but now that the cat is out of the bag about a contest sponsored by the Review Me guys for their upcoming launch, I figure its about time.
So I think you may be able to get a head start on that $25,000 giveaway here.

PS. Good thing Chris Pearson has a place to get away from it all.

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