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PostHeaderIcon Highlights from SMX West 2010 – Part 1

I have been away from the blog for waaay too long. Not a good thing. As someone asked yesterday at the “Ask the SEOs” session at SMX West; “Is it more important to blog often, to blog long articles less frequently, or to optimize your posts for SEO in order to rank well in the SERPs for the keywords you care about?”   The answer from the panel of luminaries – Greg Boser, Bruce Clay, Rand Fishkin (substituting for Rae Hoffman) Todd Friesen, Vanessa Fox, Aaron Wall, and Jill Whalen – was mixed depending on who responded.  But to me, if I had to choose only one, it would be blog often as that gets you crawled more frequently, broadens your keyword base, and generates more followers because people tend to subscribe to folks who generate regular, fresh content.  So I’ve broken my own rule.

Well, let’s see if I can change that with a quick post today.  To help those who couldn’t be at SMX West these last three days, I will list some tidbits here that I found useful.   These will go all over the place, so bear with me. This is Part 1 – I will cover more of the highlights in subsequent posts.

Also, before I get started, let me say a big “thanks” to the folks at SearchEngineLand for putting on another great and informative event. It was fun and you never fail to educate me on things I hadn’t discovered for myself. I’ll see you, of course, at SMX Advanced in June.

Insights for Mobile Search

  1. Isolate mobile into its own unique campaign.
    • KPIs are lower than in traditional paid search – so isolate it to protect your other programs.
    • Isolating helps you optimize to raise KPIs of mobile specifically.
    • Adwords lets you segment your campaigns by carrier and site you are on. Cool!
  2. In mobile search that are only 5 results above the fold and you must be in position 1 or 2 or not at all – there is a HUGE falloff after those 2 positions.  Literally near zero clicks.
  3. Mobile query lengths are shorter – no big surprise there.  Search Term length example:  in a study of 414 broad match queries on mobile, the avg word length was 2.8 and longest phrase was 8 words (used 3 times).  So it is very important to run broad match on mobile campaigns.
  4. Length of query versus Click Through Rate is pretty similar between mobile and desktop search.
  5. Most popular categories for mobile right now are sports, celebrity, news, wall papers, videos, and ringtones.
  6. Other Best Practices for Mobile
    • Reinforce mobile friendliness in ads – “mobile optimized, “4 UR phone”, “Mobile ready” – indicates to viewer that site will work on their phone with best performance.
    • Have a URL that indicates mobile friendliness – it’s another signal to the consumer that you’ve made the experience usable on mobile devices.
    • Build landing pages specifically for mobile. Test landing pages for mobile separately.
    • Simplify the experience for mobile – you have to really get the content down to an essence – we saw an example of Home Depot versus Best Buy. Home Depot’s cluttered page really made the experience unusable.

New Tools to Explore

Of course I’m going to have a section on this, toolhound that I am.  Just a list for you to explore:

  • usertesting.com. Quick testing of your user experience for landing pages.  Cool idea: run this on your competitors sites as well – $29/user.  I’ve used this, btw – it has drawbacks, but for testing landing pages it is very appropriate.
  • crossbrowsertesting.com. See how your page looks in various browsers easily.
  • attentionwizard.com. A free tool that shows where people are looking on your page.
  • clicktale.com.  Records sessions and gives feedback/analytics on experience.  Free for one domain and 2-page playback.
  • crazyegg.com. Simple and affordable heat mapping tools that allow you to visually understand user behavior.
  • Lynx or seobrowser.com. A dedicated browser that allows you to see your pages the way the search engine crawlers see it
  • charles. An HTTP proxy / HTTP monitor / Reverse Proxy that enables a developer to view all of the HTTP and SSL / HTTPS traffic between their machine and the Internet.
  • Wave toolbar. Provides a mechanism for running WAVE reports directly within Firefox for debugging site issues.
  • gsite crawler. Another free sitemap generator for Google, Yahoo and Bing.

That’s it for today. Back to the day job.


PostHeaderIcon Matt Cutts, Nofollow, and the Consistently Inconsistent

I have avoided (like the plague) weighing in on the tempest Matt Cutts unleashed at SMX Advanced in June regarding Google’s change to the use of the <nofollow> tag for PageRank sculpting.  I have avoided it for two reasons:

  1. In my mind, more has been made of it than its true impact on people’s rankings.

  3. As far as I’m concerned, in general (and note those two words) the use of the <nofollow> tag is a last resort and a crutch for less than optimal internal cross-linking around thematic clusters.  When internal cross-linking is done right, I don’t believe the use of the <no follow> tag is that impactful.

Bruce Clay had a great show on Webmaster Radio on the subject of the <nofollow> controversy, and basically he was of the same opinion as me. There are also many more heavyweights who have weighed in than I care to name.  So adding my comments to the mix isn’t all that helpful to my readers or the SEO community generally.

But I was searching today for some help on undoing 301 redirects when I found this section on the SEOMoz blog (click here for the whole article) from 2007 that provides some historical context for these conversations – so I thought I’d share it here.  My compliments to Rand Fiskin of SEOMoz for reproduction of this content:

“2.Does Google recommend the use of nofollow internally as a positive method for controlling the flow of internal link love?

A) Yes – webmasters can feel free to use nofollow internally to help tell Googlebot which pages they want to receive link juice from other pages

(Matt’s precise words were: The nofollow attribute is just a mechanism that gives webmasters the ability to modify PageRank flow at link-level granularity. Plenty of other mechanisms would also work (e.g. a link through a page that is robot.txt’ed out), but nofollow on individual links is simpler for some folks to use. There’s no stigma to using nofollow, even on your own internal links; for Google, nofollow’ed links are dropped out of our link graph; we don’t even use such links for discovery. By the way, the nofollow meta tag does that same thing, but at a page level.)

B) Sometimes – we don’t generally encourage this behavior, but if you’re linking to user-generated content pages on your site who’s content you may not trust, nofollow is a way to tell us that.

C) No – nofollow is intended to say “I don’t editorially vouch for the source of this link.” If you’re placing un-trustworthy content on your site, that can hurt you whether you use nofollow to link to those pages or not.”

Just some interesting background as you consider the current debate.

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