Natural Search Blog


Top In-House SEOs – Where Are They Now?

There’s been a lot of buzz lately criticizing TopSEOs, a business which purports to rate Search Engine Optimization experts, though ratings are influenced by payments. Both Aaron Wall and Edward Lewis skewered the service with pretty convincing points.

The rating service and talk about it reminded me that I actually did a sort of rating via a blog post here back in 2007 entitled “Some Top In-House SEOs“. In that post I sought to list out the cream-of-the-crop of search engine optimization experts working within major companies.

Top SEOs - On Top Of The Heap

The main difficulty of attempting to rate SEOs is that it’s quite hard to know precisely what they’ve recommended or done to optimize a company’s websites. For instance, you could be an absolute genius at SEO, but if the company is lethargic or incompetent programmers oversee their sites, none of the SEO expert’s talent might be reflected in the actual site. That’s an extreme example, and in most cases some degree of the expert’s recommendations will be properly implemented. But the point is that site configuration may not really be used to reflect an expert’s actual ability, particularly if compared with other colleagues.

Back when I wrote “Some Top In-House SEOs”, I wasn’t really prepared for the large amount of attention it received. I was immediately pressured by a lot of people who wanted to be added to the list, but didn’t meet the criteria I was using. Quite a few people asked me to update the list over time as well, and I quickly saw that it would be necessary if this was done ongoing to be open about the rating criteria I was using — else people would question why so-and-so was listed while so-and-so was not.

The criteria I used back then was very basic. I wanted to list only people who were employees of top companies that performed organic search optimization of one sort or another for those company’s websites. I wanted companies which were readily-identifiable by a majority of people in the U.S., so they had to be MAJOR brand names: top-50 websites, Fortune 500 companies, and Internet Retailer 500 companies. Finally, I had to be able to find/identify the SEOs who worked for those companies, which usually meant that they’d have to self-disclose what they did (many SEOs operated somewhat anonymously behind corporate walls). So, the SEO needed to blog or speak at conferences, and disclose who they worked for. In one or two cases, I discovered individual’s names through news interviews or press releases. I also mined the list of top-linked SEOs from LinkedIn (apparently no longer in operation? formerly: http://www.linkedseo.com/).

I made a number of mistakes, of course. I didn’t feel I had time to write to and receive confirmation from each person. In some cases I just “outed” people from behind the corporate curtain for the first time!

For the most part, people loved the attention and recognition! I felt a bit stressed from those who clamored to get in, and I pretty much stated that I wouldn’t add any until I updated a year down the road. In quite a lot of cases, I think that headhunters mined the list in order to lure people away to other companies, so many benefited from the exposure.

Here it is, about three years after the fact, and I thought it’d be interesting to see where are they all now? So, here’s the list once again, with individual’s former companies listed from back then, and who they work for now. Nothing scientific – I merely base this on what their LinkedIn resume or website states. It’s been neat for me to revisit this list! So many of these folks became friends and close acquaintances since I wrote this up! It’s also fascinating to see how many of them have moved on to advanced titles and to owning their own companies. (more…)

Check Out New Google Maps Labs Features

Many Google Maps users may have missed the recently added button, allowing users to opt-in to try out some of the Google Maps Labs beta features. The Labs options can be accessed via the new little icon button found in the upper right of the user-interface, if you’re logged-in to your Google account:

Google Maps Labs Icon Button

The new features might also reveal some secrets of Google Maps ranking factors. It’s definitely a space that’s well worth watching for local search marketing experts.

Are you an SEO Superhero?

I was tickled to see these SEO Superhero t-shirts that Covario was giving away to attendees of the SMX West conference in Santa Clara this week:

SEO - Covario's SEO Superhero T-Shirt

Naturally, I got my t-shirt sporting the SEO Superman-esque logo! I don’t wear t-shirts a whole lot, but this is one I’ll definitely wear sometimes.

It felt odd not to see Stephan Spencer, VP at Covario, at the SMX conference, since he’s been such a search marketing juggernaut over the past few years and his book, The Art of SEO, just came out. But, I understand that he may be hitting some other conferences, and these speaking gigs can sap the energy out of one really quickly.

There’s not a lot of companies that could pair themselves up with an SEO superhero promotion and still be taken seriously, but I think Covario can do it. I know from formerly working with Netconcepts that their automated SEO solution, GravityStream, is an awesome service, and pairing it up with Covario’s analytics makes for a very strong combination. As a technologist, I certainly think it’s best to simply program a site to have excellent optimization for search rankings, but I’ve seen time and again when large companies are unable to get past bureaucratic IT development processes to roll something out in a timely fashion. For those companies, GravityStream is a really good solution.

For all of you who also attended the SMX West conference, did you get your SEO superhero t-shirts? How often will you wear them?

Relationship Between Link Growth And Indexation

With every passing day, the number of websites and hence the number of web pages are growing at an explosive rate on the internet. This can cause a major headache to the search engines as they gear up to meet the challenge of crawling and subsequently indexing the new sites popping up everywhere in the cybersphere.

Today, when a new web site is launched, it will take a while before its pages get crawled and indexed in Google. With the increasing strain on hardware and resources due to the rapid growth of new sites, Google has become very strict in its policy of admitting sites and retaining web pages of sites in its index. It is a case of survival of the fittest in cyberspace.

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Inbound Deep Links Benefit Page Rank Distribution Sitewide

Many a time, you would have come across sites (especially the large ones) where the deeper you dig into the site hierarchy, you can see the Pagerank toolbar grayed out or having a value 0. In general, the home page is the starting point for a website and it accrues the maximum Page rank.

The entire domain’s authority and trust is reflected by this page rank value. The home page then tends to distribute this page rank to the first level (categories), the second level (sub-categories) and the third level product pages which we often refer to as link juice. In general, the first level pages tend to derive the maximum link juice from the home page. But in a site with excessive number of sub-categories and product pages (money pages), the pagerank distribution is not proportional with some gaining link juice and a large majority not gaining any.

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SEO Followed By Website Optimization – Beat Your Competition

As search marketers, most SEO professionals are focused on the optimization aspects (both on page and off page) that will help a site achieve top rankings in the SERPs of the major search engines. The complexity of achieving top rankings increases by the day with the algorithms focusing more and more on factors that cannot be manipulated by a site owner/webmaster.

In this scenario, it is imperative that a site owner with a fairly new site maximizes her chances of retaining as many visitors to her site as possible by giving them an opportunity to communicate with her site through a comment on her blog, leaving feedback or collecting the visitor’s email address.

This will allow her to sell products/services on the backend through email marketing. This is where website optimization techniques coupled with solid SEO strategy can pay huge dividends in the long run.

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Key Factors To Include In Competitive Analysis

As a site owner, you would be analyzing the Google SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages) frequently to see the sites ranking on Page 1 for terms that are of particular interest to your business or niche. Today it is vital to rank in the top 5 results on the first page to get the lion’s share of user clicks (approximately 70%).

Ranking below the fold on page 1 or on succeeding pages is not going to help your site’s cause in gaining better visibility and hence more traffic. The key factors you have to consider when doing a competitive analysis to dethrone a site ranking in the top 5 results and get your site listed in its place is what constitutes the meat of this post.

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Google Maps Should Consider A Canonical Phone Number Tag

Google Maps, local search engines, internet yellow pages and other online business directories often receive biz listing info from a great many sources and must merge it together (see my description of this in Eric Enge’s interview with me). When this happens, loads of variations in the business’s name, address and even phone number can cause listing data to fail to be merged. All this makes me think we might need a “Canonical Tag” for phone numbers! Read on, and I’ll elaborate… (more…)

Unique Content And Its SEO Implications

The world wide web is still dominated by content on websites though audio and video content have come to stay. There is no sign of textual content and its importance dissipating in the eyes of search engines in the future.

There is a crying need for unique quality content nowadays. Copywriters are in demand and I have come across cases where journalists in leading dailies and magazines have kicked their full time jobs and taken to writing content for the web. But the uniqueness of the content has come under the scrutiny of the major search engines.

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Local Store Inventories Might Help Yellow Pages SEO

In an article posted on Search Engine Land this morning, I outline how Google Maps are increasingly appearing for keyword searches, reducing referral traffic to internet yellow pages. In a brief companion piece, I also mention how embattled yellow pages should step-up their SEO game. If Google Trends is truly indicative of a sea-change that is hitting online yellow pages sites, then they must do something about it:

Top IYPs & Business Directory Sites
Natural Search Performance of Top Yellow Pages Sites in Google

(Click to enlarge) (more…)

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