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…)

Increasing The Scope Of Existing PPC Campaigns Effectively

The complexity of Google Adwords is always on the rise and it takes time, skill and effort to achieve good results with PPC campaigns in terms of finding the sweet medium of increased conversions and reduced costs.

If you have an existing PPC campaign and it is performing decently, you can still increase its scope and hence improve its performance by targeting more keywords in the niche you are running your campaigns in.

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How To Breathe Life Into A Lacklustre PPC Campaign

PPC or Pay Per Click campaigns are a sure fire way of attracting traffic to your website almost instantaneously without the rigors of an SEO campaign that is required to bring your site on top of the SERPs. The most important thing to be aware of when it comes to a PPC campaign is understanding the rules to play the Adwords game.

Google’s policy of serving relevant ads in response to user queries coupled with complex factors like quality score can make Adwords a minefield for a novice or intermediate level practitioner so much so that a lot of money is coughed up to elicit a poor ROI (Return on Investment) or not the best bang for your buck in layman terms.

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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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Link Building Through Social Media – Is It That Difficult?

The post today deals with link building using social media. Most SEO practitioners love to use social media to build backlinks to a site. It is a powerful method and can gain numerous inbound links in a short period of time.

For this, the content has to be of high quality along the lines of linkbait and capable of going viral. It gets picked up by various social media properties and earns lot of link love. Yet, there are people who complain that they are not having success in using this technique. One of the major reasons for failure is the inability to build relationships.

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Natural Search Marketing is Just in Time Conversation

I had the extreme pleasure of presenting to some of the biggest brands around at the 2009 Brandworks University. This year represented 19 years that Lindsay, Stone & Briggs has put on this annual branding conference. Brandworks is very unique in many ways as conferences go: attendance is mostly done by invitation, but attendees still pay a fee to attend; rather than elective presentations running simultaneously, there’s one block and presentations flow back-to-back and are formulated to relate to and support each other as well as the underlying theme; rather than a typical podium setup, presentations are done “in-the-round;” and it isn’t hard to find attendees who are able to claim 5, 10 or more years of attendance. Needless to say, if you ever get the opportunity to attend or are invited to speak, I highly recommend it.

This year’s talk was around the core theme of the “conversation economy” and how marketing, branding, and business in general is being shaped by and around conversations. Not surprising, there was a fair amount of talk around social media. Of course, my portion was to focus on natural search as part of this conversation, which thanks to blended search, crosses over and intersects all marketing channels. While my view on natural search hasn’t changed much over the years, preparing my presentation for the conference helped me frame it up with the exact message phrasing that I’ve been looking for – “just in time conversation.”

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60-Second Website Audit

While your mother may have taught you not to judge a book by its cover, she probably wasn’t an SEO. Mother’s logic is still pretty good to live by, but for as complex as SEO is or may seem, it’s pretty amazing what you can learn about a website’s SEO quality in 60 seconds or less.

Okay, you aren’t going to fully understand the intricate details and you’d obviously spend far, far more time (closer to hours than seconds) on a true site audit, but I’d venture that 60 seconds is enough for a good gut check and for identifying areas that need deep exploration.  What may make this most interesting is to compare results that your “team” gets from this exercise since we all have our own approaches, hot buttons, etc.

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Key to Relevance: Title Tags

I recently penned an article at Search Engine Land on Leveraging Reverse Search For Local SEO. In it, I describe how in certain exception cases, one may benefit from adding the street address into a business site’s TITLE tag. It’s not the first time that I have mentioned how TITLE tags are key to relevance in Local Search — I’d previously mentioned how critical it is for local businesses to include their category keywords and city names in the TITLE as well.

Yet, a great many sites continue to miss this vital key to relevance, and they wonder why they fail at ranking for their most apropos keywords. Keywords for which they’d otherwise have a very good chance at ranking upon!

Key Relevance: Title Tags
W3C calls the TITLE the “most important element of a quality web page” (more…)

Town Changes Name For Better Google Rankings

This is just too cool to pass up mentioning in local search news: a town in Europe has decided to change it’s name in order to get better rankings in Google!

EUThe town of “Eu” in France has been edged out of search rankings for the term, since other pages about the European Union are ranking higher. According to them, they’re missing out on a lot of tourism because individuals simply cannot find information about them.

I’ve previously blogged in Ultimate Local SEO Tactics a tongue-in-cheek post recommending changing a town’s name for search optimization purposes, but I didn’t think it would actually happen!

Now, I’d say they possibly could save some money/trouble by first hiring some SEOs to try to help them rank for the term. For instance, it might be possible to get the Wikipedia page for Eu to rank on the first page.

In fact, I’ll call for a bit of generous community action here – why don’t all you other local SEO’s out there blog about this city and link to their Wikipedia page as well?  Let’s help that poor town out!

SEO

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