Testing is a time honored tradition with SEO's from the days when infoseek provided the exact point at which the repetition of phrases, keyword stuffing images and other spamilicious activity would get you penalized and the penalty was simply it did not accept the submission! That's a test.... some "testing" is based on correlation and conjecture as to causation or an SEO theory and verification of the theory by reaching a benchmark or goal indicating verification of the theory.

SEO tools and Organizations like the Moz can do the big "tests" determine correlations between ranking and SEO techniques but in the end.... testing "the pack" means the correlation found is determined by the skill of the SEO and web development implementers in the pack.

If a design trend (like big asse sliders and images at the top of home pages and blog posts) is a "page quality" and/or a conversion menace everyone following that trend is being affected the same way so the data is to some extent skewed by everyone making the same mistake.

The Hangout Video:


Introductions: Bill Slawski blogs on SEO By the SEA and is Director of SEO Research at Go Fish Digital, Eric Enge General Manager of Perficient Digital is and Dr. Pete/ Pete Myers Marketing Scientist at the Moz and Steve Plunkett an SEO for hire in Dallas.

Deconstructing Google Algos 3:33: Dave kicked the debate off with a quick descriptions of testing that deconstructing of a Google algo and why and how these tests can be skewed by query space and classification. The panel covered correlation studies and other large scale tests/studies.

SEO Private Testing 23:50: Dave started this segment with a discussion of testing on a single site, split testing on a page, and annotating all activity on a site as other methods of testing.

SEO Testing 39:45: Dave asked the panel what have they learned about how to do SEO testing and/or learned about SEO from doing SEO testing.

Direct download: SEOTesting.mp3
Category:SEO -- posted at: 2:38pm EST

Search Geeks Speak Directors Cut: David and I have been doing these deep dives on the raters guide for many years and have found them very useful in making, to a lesser degree, adjustments to our SEO techniques, however, it is a big part of the content strategy because if Google is saying to raters rate this lowest if you see this on the website... I think it is a good idea not to do that on your website! I hope you enjoy the video or audio as much as we did making it! The Hangout Video:


Introductions: Jennifer Slegg of The SEM Post, Bill Slawski blogs on SEO By the SEA and Director of SEO Research at Go Fish Digital and Doc Sheldon Doc is the owner and editor of Search News Central and copy and technical SEO company Intrinsic Value SEO and Ammon Johns.

Are these Ranking Factors: The panel discussed how they explain to clients and other SEO's what the raters Guide is and what is it used for.

7:24 - Jennifer Slegg's Executive Summary of Changes: Like many on this panel Jennifer has been analyzing the Guide for years. What is the purpose of the page and reputation of main content creator/authors as well reputation of site were at the top of her list. Terry mentioned that they had added sharing as purpose of a page. 13:24 - Ammon Johns on copy, usability and Machine Learning: Ammon discussed how Google uses the raters assessments for use with in their Machine Learning systems to improve and assess the Machine learning Algos. Bill and others discussed how the raters are part of the machine learning framework.

20:58 - Discussion of Authorship: New stress on expertise and reputation of content creators not just the website. Bill talks about knowledgebase trust. There are a lot of tips for establishing reputation for authors

30:45 - Low Quality Pages: YMOYL pages need more trust and expertise. No expertise should be almost always low quality. Safety has been added to the YMOYL pages because of misinformation about safety (fake medical info). New emphasis on POP (Purpose of Page) and accessing clickbait title accuracy (likely to filter fake news).

48:55 - Deceptive page design and low page quality traits: Jennifer started the discussion outlining some of the deceptive tactics like disguising ads or affiliate links, distracting content, copied content

101:50 - List of Most Important Factors: Jennifer details the changes indicated in this new list which led to a discussion of beneficial purpose of page and value add. Terry and Dave took the position that value add was a page to page comparison whereas beneficial POP was about intent of user and website.

1:15:00 - Raters Guide For Future Proofing Your SEO: The discussion turned to how the Panel uses the rater guideline to adjust their SEO activity which Dave & Terry have been advocates of Future Proofing stressing its importance in the Dojo from the first day forward. Basically SEO future Proofing is taking info like the raters guide and using it to adjust your SEO activity going forward because as Ammon pointed out our recommendations should be useful for years not months. Show Notes and Links

Resources You may find helpful for knowledge and future proofing.

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Direct download: Raters_Guide.mp3
Category:SEO -- posted at: 11:13am EST

Search Geeks Speak Show Notes and Links

Technical SEO Audit Tools

Screaming Frog: Crawls a site and collects data and identifies issues. Screaming Frog will crawl M's of URLs if the data is stored locally. SiteBulb: For larger sites DeepCrawl: For larger sites Google Knowledgegraph Search API: Bill uses it to get entity information Google Trends: Terry uses this to find audiences and better understand search intent SEMrush: Terry and David use SEMrush for high level views of a site. Terry uses it primarily for SERP out analysis in Technical SEO Audits.

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Direct download: SGS-technical-SEO-audit.mp3
Category:SEO -- posted at: 11:28am EST


The panel this week included Steve Bonin, David Harry, Steve Plunket, Doc Sheldon, Terry Van Horne, Kevin Doory, Katherine Parsons, Blair Urquat and Bill Slawski who are either members of the SEO Training Dojo or Friends of the Dojo. We would like to thank them for joining the hangout (some were in and out) and for sharing!! Checkout the highlights, T's thoughts and show notes for links to posts the panel discussed and the highlights which "roughly" give the time where the highlight occurs in the podcast. This week the panel discussed Speed of site as a ranking factor with a Mobile First Index; Mobile First Index and Mobile Friendly Design; SSL as a ranking factor started a discussion about privacy and a webmasters RIGHT to collect some info; Flat Architecture and Click Depth; SSL migration; SEO's should become Video Marketers post by Google and more SEO Tips.


Introductions.... 12:45 Speed of site as a ranking factor: Bill shared about finding AMP Pages in desktop results so it seems that the Mobile First Index may be influencing desktop. 17:35 Mobile First Index and Mobile Friendly Design: At this point the site speed debate morphed into a discussion on the limitations of WordPress THEMES to use friendly Mobile design and how Google MAY use speed as ranking factor more with Mobile First Index. 26:15 SSL as a ranking factor: started a discussion about privacy and a webmasters RIGHT to collect some info 31:28 Flat Architecture and Click Depth: Dave started the discussion on flat architecture and click depth. The discussion started with the fact that many SEO's confuse architecture with URL structure. Terry discussed how HUB page or HUB design is one way to guarantee 3 clicks from SERP to task fulfillment. 44:00 SSL migration: discussion was started by Steve Plunket sharing that it took about 2 weeks to index and bounce back in rankings. 44:30 The SEO's should become Video Marketers post by Google: The consensus was that there was brand lift from banner advertising etc. Terry added that there is also a lot of benefit from videos such as better conversion especially for touchy feely products videos should improve conversion. Dave and Terry went on to discuss how they used Video to enter SERPs. This technique works very well in blended SERPs. Next this discussion moved to how video sites like YouTube are the preferred search destination for teens, tweens and younger people. Illustrating younger people are better targets and video popularity trenss will only likely to improve. Steve asked how we get clients to buy in. Terry and Dave made the point that the expectations of people using YouTube are different than people watching a commercial on TV. Make it informative was the consensus.

T's Thoughts:

Speed of site as a ranking factor is a controversial topic for SEOs and you'll likely see that debate heat up as the Mobile First index is rolled out! Using the site speed metric as ranking factor makes far more sense for a mobile first index. The fact this is rolling out slowly with alerts to webmasters when it occurs could mean that Google is running some sort of program to establish a "baseline" Quality Score for the mobile version of a site. The rollout of the Mobile First Index would seem to be a similar situation to Panda and Penguin where we saw these updates rolled out slowly. If that is the case be ready for considerable flux as new layers are added to the algo using data from machine learning. John Mueller recently posted in Social Media that incremental improvements to site load could be beneficial to rankings which would make sense if site speed is part of the Quality Score. IMO, Quality Score is also where Google uses machine learning extensively to gain insights into what to add to these updates to algos like Penguin and in particular Panda. My thoughts, and the consensus of many on the panel is that responsive design does not necessarily mean it is Mobile friendly and IMO, a Mobile First Index means that SEOs now need to access the affects of Mobile design not only Google but users who increasingly use our sites on a smartphone! Smartphone usage is only going to increase so it's time to review our responsive design and access the impact of resizing large images on the fly using height and width instead of providing the appropriately sized image for the device, forms where design breaks on Mobile etc. SSL just don't get me started... life's too short! Just another way for the EU to POSSIBLY indirectly tax the world. I think it's a joke that people believe the EU will try and invoke their stupid laws on small North American businesses. I think a webmaster deserves to know how a user is using their site so they can improve it. GDPR is just more indirect taxation BS from the EU! Those who think they will prosecute US and Canadian small businesses when those stupid laws are not applied in their jurisdiction... there's a saying about sharp tools and toolboxes, IMO, it applies here. It's a sort of scare mongering! Maybe my feelings about this are influenced from a similar situation in the past. I heard the same BS when accessibility laws were passed in the US about a decade ago. Yet to hear of any Canadian company being sued or any sort of litigation... those selling it were implying it was a sure thing. It is no surprise to me that ambulance chasing lawyers in the US are suing people based on these old out dated laws...that'd be par for the course wouldn't it? As to logs infringing on people's privacy, personally... it's worked for over 25 years because IP addresses change and there is no identity info transfer in an IP (which could have several other users using the same IP).... and the only way to provide any PERFECT protection for peoples privacy is to instruct them to unplug the modem/internet cuz if someone is looking to sniff IP's it won't be at a website with no transactions! That is the last place they'd be looking to do it from!! It's overkill in epic proportions! I understand as soon as a website is collecting ANY info SSL should be used. I won't even go into how confusing it must be to newbies who see Google saying site speed and SSL are ranking factors. One directly affects the other negatively ie: sites slow down on SSL! Personally, Google's ads are the slowest element to load on most pages hence they want site speed! SSL sites makes it easier to manage the Google analytics scripting and deters remote scripting of the script. Both of these factors affect webmasters negatively and benefit Google. Google calling these ranking factors IMO, is a stretch! They don't work like any other ranking factor I can remember today! Flat architecture has been the basis for my architecture design from day 1... even before I ventured into SEO. The reason? Simple! Usability and enhanced navigation. On large sites achieving 3 click task fulfillment is only possible through a flat architecture. Basically..... main navigation contains top categories. Categories should, at the very least, contain all sub categories. I would also include specials, closeouts, product reviews and any related posts that enhance the sale/close usually chosen through category of the posts. Sub category pages have all the products in the sub with links to related subs like drum accessories linked to from. So as an example for drums... they'd be in the Percussion category, the drums subcat would link to the drum accessories, foot pedals, cymbals etc. and the subcats listed on drums link back to drums in both breadcrumbs and in the copy. Also on the drums page would be links to brands, however, I don't always link to all brands in a category because sometimes the number of sub categories and brands can overwhelm the user and they are unable to make any choice!

Here's the Hangout Video:

Show Notes and Links Some we may not have discussed but are good to see anyway!

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Direct download: TWIS-S2-E23.mp3
Category:SEO -- posted at: 5:44pm EST

SEO Dojo Radio The group kicked off with Anne talking about a program she is trying that enables you to leverage video in a marketing campaign. Tim asked about newsletters and if the video program would be worth a look. Bill Slawski joined the group and we discussed Bill's post titled ranking factors. It seems Bill had his snarknado on because after receiving kudos from the group for not including NON BS factors and his sensible approach to implementing SEO to achieve maximum visibility on the post. Bill went on to share his motivation for the post (beyond training material for his employer) and in his feelings about Brian Dean's posts on Rankbrain and Google Ranking Factors. Bill's share started the group down the path to discussing how they choose the content they read. Terry apparently thinks SEJ should be avoided, however, Doc disagreed saying Danny Goodwin (past editor of Search Engine Watch) had improved it substantially. The group went on discussing Rankbrain and in particular how misleading posts tried to share how to optimize for Rankbrain. Eventually the group moved on to "Mobile First" index and crawling and Bill shared some info on what it means and doesn't mean for desktop ranking. Bill also shared that Screaming Frog will crawl larger sites due to a setting to increase memory or store it on disk! It turns out Anne is experiencing issues with gmail where people who were invited to gmail who had a "." in their name were receiving email for people w/o the dot in their name. Terry shared how these sorts of unfixable glitches aren't new and gave 302 hijacking on all Search engines as an example. As the group signed off Terry went on a rant about the new policy by Majestic SEO where accounts that aren't used for 25 days will be deleted if the user doesn't login.

The Hangout Video (unedited):

Show Notes and Links

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Direct download: TWIS-S2-E22-final.mp3
Category:SEO -- posted at: 1:20pm EST

This Week in Search Anne led off the hangout talking about Yelp. She mentioned using Yelp wifi to increase reviews. The jury is out on that as it has not been in long enough to evaluate it. The group went on to discuss the difference between the number of Yelp reviews in the US and Canada Google results. It seems far fewer are in Canadian results. Tim went on to add that Yelp is in many of his clients knowledge panels, to which, some others added they have the same problem. Tim was able to improve his Yelp visibility with a time consuming audit of Yelp reviews and he was kind enough to share some of the ways he was able to not only remove negative reviews on his clients but also get positive reviews for competitors removed. Steve was bringing on a new SEO client which turned the conversation to using co-occurrence analysis as a way to optimize a page. Terry discussed his method of using the top 10 results for a query as the record set for the analysis. The discussion then turned to using SEMrush to increase visibility and finding new audiences. Terry suggested that using Google Trends is a good way to discover new audiences because it measures interest across many industries. Next Tim discussed putting short videos on client sites. Terry continued the discussion discussing what the plans are for SEO Dojo Radio and how he has used Libsyn as a low cost host and distributor. Terry then went on to describe how a strong content strategy can utilize Video productions can be used for images, slide-shares and videos. Show Notes and Links The panel went on to discuss the Local SEO Ranking Factors post on Whitespark.ca. Terry mentioned that there was some information in the post on Googles guidelines for use of virtual offices that was misleading. Tim went on to discuss the use of the Service Area option which is a way to not disclose address. The panel went on to discuss some thoughts Terry had on changes in the blending of Universal Search results in particular. Next we discussed Building Links in Boring Industries. The consensus was that it comes down to the creativity of the SEO or marketer. Next Terry introduced a Post by Barry Adams Mobile SERP survival: Technical SEO checklist which brings the point home that a responsive design is not necessarily Mobile Friendly. We went on to Related Articles & Internal Linking: Will It Help Your SEO Results? where the consensus was that they can help if the articles are closely related, however, in most cases the choices made by plugins are not the best with the other issue being that often the images are not mobile friendly.

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Direct download: TWIS-S2-E20-final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:57pm EST

This Week in Search Anne started the hangout discussing a Local SEO campaign including a Facebook app which Terry added that he had done it in the past and wished her luck! Bill Slawski went on to discuss an upcoming post on Google Ranking Factors which Bill has since written and it is the best post I've seen on this topic. Bill, Terry and Steve discussed some of these factors in detail. Next, the group discussed Machine Learning, AI and analytics and how these terms are used improperly calling analytics machine learning and vice versa. Doc discussed his new site Mentors on Tap followed by Steve Bonin who talked about the joys of changing themes in WordPress. Steve discussed some local SEO he was doing that had many issues. Tim Colling also discussed a Local SEO project and asked Steve how he was handling reviews. Steve went over several actions and techniques for getting reviews. Terry Suggested SEMrush for actionable data. Terry continued the discussion talking about the new site coming from the SEO Training Dojo Community. SEO Dojo Radio has over 240 shows some are just audio (pre Google+) audio and or videos. Next Terry discussed implementing Event schema and how there is some confusion about the difference between the Event and Events schemas.

The Full Video:

Show Notes and Links

The Hosts

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Direct download: This_Week_In_Search_Season_2_Episode_21.mp3
Category:Local Search -- posted at: 10:56am EST


Direct download: SGS-StartUp-MP3.mp3
Category:SEO -- posted at: 10:15pm EST





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