Wednesday, April 1, 2009

SEO: From Soup to Nuts--Web 2.0 Expo Workshop

It's workshop day in the first and only pre-conference day of Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco.  Among the first sessions of the day, I opted to attend the presentation given by Stephan Spencer of Netconcepts: "SEO: From Soup to Nuts."

His presentation was organized around his "three pillars of SEO": Content, Architecture, and Links.  His SEO practice is very data driven as evidenced by his egregious use of statistics.  Among the highlights of those statistics:

  • 1.25 to 1.5 times more conversions to PPC versus "natural" (normal search result click-through)
  • 86% of search engine clicks are natural
  • 47% click-through on first Google result falls to 10% on second, and half of the first natural for the first paid
  • Double click through rate for short URLs according to Marketing Sherpa

It definitely isn't all about statistics in the SEO game, though.  In fact, it seemed as if getting hard data about efficacy was the biggest and enduring challenge.  There are some hard-and-fast techniques to employ, thankfully.  Page titles, using 301s, nofollow links, canonical tags, there should be only one url for any given content, etc., as well as some great tools (both free and pay) including:

  •'s LinkScape
  • Google Web Optimizer
  • SIFR
  • Adobe Search Engine SDK
  • Yahoo! Site Explorer

There were also a lot of surprises, at least to me:

  • Search result rankings can vary from city to city (of searcher)
  • Underscores do not count as word separators to Google
  • YouTube doesn't give link juice (nofollow)
  • Digg users do not buy anything
  • User generated content can get you so-called "long tail terms"

eyetrackingseoOne thing I wondered, looking at this image that shows the distribution of eye movement on the Google results page, is what are people actually looking for one Google.  They aren't looking for knowledge, but information, a gateway to knowledge, perhaps.