So Google is testing out alternatives to using links in their algorithm?
That raises a interesting question? How much should I invest in linking initiatives if Google is looking at ways to exclude links from their algorithm?
For me, it’s about building a reputation that happens to get you links. A real reputation, an ‘earned’ reputation is what Google is looking for. The problem with links, of course, is the ‘faux’ reputation created by spam. For Google, reputations (as built by links) has been their differentiator that enabled them to be the dominant player in search.
I don’t see reputation as the mechanism for measuring the value of a domain or piece of content as changing. Only the way they calculate the reputation may change.
Therefore, link initiatives that are based on an earned reputation will provide other signals that will still make themselves visible to Google, even if they happen to make a major algorithm switch. Whether it is in-content mentions or social sharing, PR campaigns or other marketing campaigns which results in building your reputation, if you are building an ‘earned’ reputation you will continue to reap the benefits. So, I certainly think it is a good idea to continue pushing those link initiatives and continue to build that reputation!
BTW – I originally posted this on LinkedIn and there is a bit of discussion over there if you’d like to comment.
I’m pretty excited to be speaking on 2 sessions at SMX west, particularly the session on Long Term SEO and how to win for years. It is a great topic and there is a grant panel, moderated by Danny Sullivan with Eric Enge, Rhea Drysdale.
No doubt SEO has changed significantly the last few years. I will discuss changing the mindset inside an organization, pushing aside old ideas and moving on to the new strategies that will result in perpetual success for the life of a website. I’ll also be on creating an earned reputation, which is really what Google had in mind when the developed their original PageRank algorithm. The key point, reputations that are earned, persist.
Hope you can make it. If you can’t, I am going to be chronicling my thoughts on the topic as my talk evolves in the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, please feel free to share your thoughts on the topic!
Early on in SEO I learned traffic to individual keywords is bound to be disappointing. I remember my first client, a company that makes folding bikes named Breezer (yes and I just gave them anchor text and no they are not paying me. Hey, they gave me my first gig, I owe them something!). We got their keywords to the first page and the traffic was yawn worthy (despite what WordTracker predicted).
And then over the years I have ranked for some of the best individual keywords in search (“Airline Tickets”, “Used Cars”) and while the traffic was very nice, it was not game-changing. Besides, there are a precious few of those keywords and it is harder than ever to target specific keywords. Game-changing has always been the Long Tail. That’s what I learned by studying TripAdvisor’s tactics many years ago.
As I have discussed before, a bounce (or the un-bounce) is a vague indication of whether or not a user got what they want from search. You certainly can’t tell how much time a user spent reading your page based on how Google Analytics functions (at least by its default settings). Did the visitor spend 90 seconds carefully digesting your content? Or did they treat your page like a bad bathroom stall and do a quick about face back to Google , a short click. Google Analytics has no knowledge of time to bounce which is what you need to calculate a short click.
The visit duration report is no better because Google Analytics assumes zero time for a bounce.
But you can know!
And it’s easy.
You have to do this to get better visibility into your the user experience.
I am going to be speaking on SEO metrics at SMX advanced on Wed. Specifically I’ll be talking about the daunting task of identifying metrics to measure user experience and specifically to gain insight into the data Google accumulates about our sites as it pertains to user experience. This is a quick overview of what I plan to discuss.
As SEO’s – we have huge blind spots to the way Google measures our sites. If you have any doubt, just look at the aftermath of the Panda fallout. The best minds in the SEO community came together and came to a fairly unified response to Panda. (Noindex thin content, get rid of tag and search result pages, get great links …. yada yada yada). And yet here we are, 30 months down the line and there have been few documented recoveries.
Few people are actually measuring improvements beyond looking at out-of-the box Google Analytics metrics. These metrics are a poor reflection of the true user search experience. We need to do better.
I like the quote from Duane Forrester:
“When your visitors are happy with your site, search engines notice”
Of course they will – and the corollary of course:
When your visitors are NOT happy with your site, search engines notice
So how do we measure? How do they measure it?
Great news to all sites that have been smoked by the ever-cruel Panda algorithm. According to Matt Cutts
This is fantastic news for the afflicted. I have long felt that Panda came down way too hard on certain types of sites (particularly if you were not a brand). Generally sites with a very sort visit profile, blogs, informational sites, review sites … basically non-transactional sites … got clobbered by Panda. For sites like these, users often bounce back for multiple results (Pogosticking). Especially think of shopping comparison sites, not much to do and the normal user behavior is probably to go back and look for more prices! And these sites got hit hardest by Panda. So an easing will be coming … this will be really interesting to see!
To this point, many sites have worked for 2+ years on site improvements with little payback from Google. No reward for their efforts means site owners of Panda afflicted sites may stop trying and simply focus on monetizing those sites as much as possible. Certainly that was not Google’s intention with Panda.
Good luck to those anticipating the update.