SMX Advanced Live Blogging Post 1

SEO

Portent Staff Jun 8 2010

smx a1I’d like to start by saying that this is my first time doing this. I take notes at conferences. Incomprehensible and very short-handed notes that even I fail to decode from time to time. None the less, I will not fail you.

Here we go.

SEO For Google vs. Bing
Starring – In Order of Appearance:
Janet Driscoll Miller – Search Mojo
Rand Fishkin – SEOmoz
Matt Cutts – Google Inc.
Sasi Parthasarathy – Microsoft

And Matt came with his hair. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing but it’s nice to know he has a cover for when it starts raining here in Seattle.

Janet comes to the stage. (Applause)
Janet reminds us all of the great Binghoo search merger that’s been rolling around for a while and now she digs into the good stuff.

Why Worry About Bing? Reason 1: Binghoo. The merger will will give Bing a bigger search share and it’s nothing to sneeze at it. Reason 2: Bing has better usability. No joke. She’s got the slides to prove it. More pages/visit, more time on site and a lower bounce rate. See? Less, is more. Lame reference to metaphor over and back to the presentation.

Flash is still a problem. For both search engines. Sprite has no indexed content for it’s home page and it’s causing their listings to lack a meta-description.
XML sitemaps are universal. Video and news sitemaps? No go on Bing. Fortunately sitemap submission is easy to do in both webmaster tools centers. Other similarity? Local! It’s easy to do in both engines, so that’s good.

Personalization continues in the search war and Bing steps it up by showing where it’s getting it’s local listings information from. A search for snow displays local ski resorts followed by the line:
Source: www.onthesnow.com

You want your ski resort to rank in Bing? List it there. Now.
Sitelinks are a wonderful thing! Until you can’t edit it. You can in Google, but not in Bing.

But Bing fires back into the running with the Backlinks tab in their Webmaster Tools center. It also gives you a list of outbound links from your site. Very useful. Bing also shows the “Page score” of your backlinks. (PageRank anyone?) It’s a fill the bars system with 6 bars in horizontal succession.

Shopping! Listing your products in Google Base? Free. Awesome. Bing? Paid. Not awesome. Also, Bing’s cash-back system is going away.
Now away from the negative and toward the positive.

Bing has image sharing. How fun! Go ahead and look up polar bears and share the photo that’s your favorite. Yay! However, the image links send clickers back to Bing, not to the source.

Bing video results will actually play the video on a roll-over. No click required. Leaving the page? BING THINKS NOT! Just play the video here, and keep searching. Unless the video isn’t on YouTube. In which case it doesn’t work. Huh? Fail.
Document Preview Optimization tips!

To optimize:
Bing takes information in the following order: H1 tag (if it doesn’t match title tag), first paragraph of information, and any contact information on the page.

To disable:
meta name = “msnbot”, content = “nopreview”

Don’t forget your ” Rand comes to the stage (Applause)
Rand gets into the nitty-gritty of the research process and methodology that SEOmoz uses to determine the importance of ranking factors. Now some slides and graphs about understanding correlation and causation, and please understand that he’s put this all on a number scale of -1 to 1, so it’s going to be confusing.
And now the candy.

First up is Query Matching in the Domain Name. In the following order (low-high) these factors matter to Google:
Contains all query terms in domain name
Exact Match Hyphenated in Domain Name
Exact Match in Domain Name
According to Bing
Exact Match Hyphenated in Domain Name
Contains all query terms in domain name
Exact Match in Domain Name
Hyphenated versions are less powerful in Bing though more frequent in the results, G:271 vs. B:890. As always, if you have one term that you expect to get the majority of your traffic for, get that domain name, exact match is still very important.
Now for exact match domains with varying TLDs: “.coms” are still way in the lead. Followed by .org and .net. This holds true in Bing and Google.

Keywords in Sub-domains:
It matters in Google. But in Bing? Very small correlation. It’s possible it has no influence. Keywords in the sub-domain are not nearly as powerful as in the root domain.

On-Page Keyword Usage:
Keywords in body, alt attribute, and in URL are very important to Google, in that order. Bing? Keywords in alt attribute, in body, and in URL. The good idea take away? The alt attribute is important. Use images and give them alt-attributes. Putting keywords in the URL is a best practice, do it. Everyone optimizes titles, so differentiating in this factor is hard. On-Page is not a huge factor, it matters, but not as much.
Links! I love links.

# of linking root domains to URL is more important than # of URLs linking to. This means it’s better to have a large variation of links from more domains than a lot of links from only a few domains. Variety is the spice of life. At least for your website, I recommend staying away from the Unagi.

TLD extensions:
In order of importance:
.org
.gov
.net
.info
.edu
.com

WHAT?! Wow. If you’ll excuse me I’m off to buy some .org domain names.

Length of Domain, URL and Domain Length:
Shorter URLs are likely a good best practice (more so on Bing), long domains may not be ideal, but aren’t awful. Content length seems to have little ranking correlation but important to note is that it is a negative (very minor) in Bing and a positive in Google.

Website homepages are more important in Bing than in Google meaning Bing is more likely to rank your homepage than internal pages with the more relevant content.
More link goodies! # of Links w/ exact match anchor text are low on this correlation graph. The # of linking root domains with anchor text and keywords in domain is high. Again, variety is better than quantity.

Now for the search factors round-up. The part where Rand tells us what factors were most correlated to high rankings. And they are:
Number of Links
Exact Match Domains
# of Linking Root Domains
Domains Linking with Exact Match
Exact Match .com Domains
Link attributes have much higher correlation w/ rankings than on-page or domain attributes.
Good god that’s a lot of information. Go ahead and read even more about the correlation research done by SEOmoz here:
Correlation Analysis of Ranking Elements
Now on to the interviews with Matt and Sasi, respectively Google and Bing.

Matt Cutts is now reminding us that he loves users. Yes Matt, we will target the user. Now tell me the location of the rebel base!? Matt also points out that these correlations especially that of the title tag factor do not apply to facets of search. Long-tail search will always require a more diverse optimization strategy.

Sasi is now hopping on the Matt Cutts bandwagon telling us to target and optimize for users. I’m not gonna bother to ask where his rebel base is. Odds are it’s somewhere in the Microsoft Campus Death Star. I wouldn’t raid that thing even if I knew Vader was dead.

Danny mentions that Wikipedia.org may be skewing Rand’s research that caused .org to show as the winning TLD. Rand agrees.
Alright folks. Session 1 done! Hope this worked out.

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