SMX Day One Round-Up


Kathrin Schwerthelm

Industry News

On Tuesday, a few of my colleagues and I attended the first day of SMX London at Chelsea Football Club. It was an interesting day full of industry updates and discussion, so I thought I would share with you some of the key takeaways from the day.
Chelsea Football ClubThe Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors: 2014 Edition

Grant Simmons – VP Search Strategies, @simmonet

  • Un-Optimization should be a ranking factor.
  • Today we are undoing what we have done yesterday – so clean up the toxic backlink profile
  • We need to create pages more about areas not about keywords – from scale over substance to substance over scale
  • Going forward you should focus on: creating strong quality content that generates user engagement and establishes a trust between you and your audience
  • Be an expert in your niche and showcase this online – this will help you establish your digital footprint which in return will bring you natural mentions
  • Get your site visitors engaged (beyond bounce rate) – get them to stay on your site and to read your great content
  • When creating content we need to focus on quality, topical-semantic connections and freshness
  • Ensure a better facilitated crawl by updating your sitemaps accurately and regularly to help the search engines understand all your relevant data/content and increase the speed of indexing
  • Bear in mind your CTR: make sure your meta data is relevant and strong

Leonhard Hennig – Chief Data Scientist at SearchmetricsTweet about content is still king

  • For the 2014 version of their ranking correlation study Searchmetrics looked at various factors with regards to positions of websites in organic SERPS to determine positive/negative rank correlations
  • When looking at correlations its important to point out that this is an observation not a rule
  • Key observation here: good on-page implementation is still a must and relevant keywords and backlinks still show a strong positive rank correlation – also, having more fresh backlinks (to the homepage) show a positive correlation regarding higher SERP positions
  • Dont look at keywords in isolation as Google can understand them in the wider context of your page
  • Google is working on a so called deep learning algorithm for i.e. language understanding, to learn and make sense of concepts
  • In the words of Yorkshireman and linguist J.R. Firth “You shall know a word by the company it keeps” (1957)
  • The study also shows that on ranking pages text length increased by 12% and word count by 20% – a noticeable shift towards more and longer content
  • Top ranking positions show a high proportion of branded anchor text
  • Site speed however correlates with rankings only on a very small scale – it seems having load your page faster could benefit you, but only ever so slightly

SMX panel THe Periodic Table OF SEOWhat Is Hummingbird & The Entity Search Revolution

David Amerland – Author, Analyst at HMS Media @DavidAmerland

  • Search – its taming of a mass of information
  • Hummingbird will make Google truer, faster and more accountable (to bring up search queries on an intelligent level)
  • Yandex is still behind in this regard
  • Google understands your intentions and provides a relevant answer to your lifestyle (past searches etc.)
  • Therefore the mentality of SEO needs to change – instead of chasing Google we need to move towards marketing relevant information to people
  • Think about semantic search including conversational context, personal preferences, search and purchase history, search patterns etc.
  • Trust has become an integral factor of search
  • Entities are based on connections around them, which give them meaning – keywords are linked to this meaning and thus part of an entity
  • From strings to things – from keywords, meta tags etc. to relations and connections that form the entity
  • Keywords are not dead, but it doesnt mean we need to create content that repeats our keywords over and over again – create content around the keywords entity
  • SEO now needs contextual thinking – we need to become more creative

Justin Briggs – Sr Manager, Organic Marketing at Getty Images @justinbriggs

  • Google becomes more about things – searches are longer and queries have a more natural language
  • Now with Hummingbird we can rank for things without saying “here is the exact thing (i.e. keyword) that I want to rank for” as Google understands context
  • Think about vertical search – let Google understand your data by tagging it correctly as ranking pages are in blended entity results
  • Therefore use entity attributes when keyword targeting in entity search as you will find occurrence leads to co-occurrence
  • So bear in mind what questions searchers might have and understand which entities are connected to those and how your content can fit in

Long-Term SEO And How To Win For Years

Duane Forrester – Sr. Product Manager at Bing @DuaneForrester

  • Searchers don’t think this site is more optimized therefore the product must be cheaper
  • User engagement is important to Bing – grab users attention and become the expert in your niche that offers the users all the necessary information
  • Dwell time (time spent on site before returning to the SERPs) is an important factor for Bing when determining a pages quality – dwell time factors depend on the query and the level of information needed to answer it i.e. looking for England’s capital vs. looking for the history of England
  • Future of SEO lies within mobile, new technologies and new marketing opportunities

Meet The Search Engines

John Mueller – Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google @JohnMu

  • Google does not use Facebook likes as a ranking factor
  • However, authorship is still a good indicator with regards to authority – if you create strong content regularly Google knows they can trust you more in the given field
  • In terms of international SEO, remember to correctly mark up your site with hreflang tags so that the right site is showing in the relevant country SERP
  • Google is working on reducing domain crowding – if you come across any examples forward them to Google to help them out
  • When using the disavowal tool, simply list a domain entry, so that they know everything on here is irrelevant

Duane Forrester – Sr. Product Manager at Bing

  • Thinking about links when forming strategies is fundamentally wrong – you need to create engaging content – natural links is what you want to aim for
  • Bing might be using Facebook interactions as a signal for interesting content
  • One of the biggest ranking factors on Bing is trust – this is determined by the engagement of others with your site – who do searchers stay longest engaged with?

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