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Every Marketer Should Be Technical

Posted by Jamie

There’s been a lot of talk of roles like growth hackers, marketing ninjas, and technical marketing in the past year. Regardless of whether or not you subscribe to these labels, technical skills are becoming a requirement for success in online marketing. The marketers who know SQL, can write code, leverage APIs, and perform quantitative analysis will be the most desirable and productive individuals in our industry. Those without these skills will find it increasingly difficult to find ideal career opportunities.

I’ve prepared this guide as an overview to the technical skills that are most helpful in online marketing and included a directory of resources to help you get there.

Growth hacker, growth cracker; the labels don’t matter, but the skills do!

There’s been plenty of discussion in the past year on the importance of growth hacking, who is and isn’t a growth hacker, and if growth hacking is really just marketing. Although I appreciate this conversation, I think we’re overlooking what’s most important.

Instead of focusing on what those who do technical marketing call themselves, I’d rather we explore what it means to be technical and help each other develop those skills. Refer to these marketers however you like; what really matters is what we’re capable of as professionals.

Can a marketer be technical? Of course. (And developers can be phenomenal marketers, too.)

I started my own career as a developer and slowly became more focused on marketing as the years progressed. I worked as a developer when Netscape Navigator was popular and Yahoo was #1 in search. However, I was a pretty lousy developer, slapping things together with table tags and transparent gifs. I was fortunate enough to keep my job because that’s how most of us did web development back then.

I’m actually more technical now as a full-time marketer than I ever was back then because I’ve been fortunate to continually be exposed to, work with, and do work that requires technical skills. And that’s really only because it was a matter of necessity in the organizations I’ve worked in. So, if an unfocused individual like me can do this, anyone can.

Better examples can be found in the phenomenal marketing and technical skills of individuals like Richard Baxter, Vanessa FoxWil Reynolds, Alex Schultz, Tom Critchlow, or Michelle Robbins. All of these individuals have different stories of how they developed their capabilities, but I’d bet they all share a passion for staying up late, tinkering, and hacking away at their work, with a strong desire to always be developing new skills. (As a side note, I feel so fortunate to work an industry with so many individuals like this, and it’s been an absolute pleasure to learn from them.)

Developers can be remarkable marketers, too, and some of the best marketers I’ve known work as developers first and foremost. The one difference is that a lack of marketing skills is not likely to prevent an engineer from being successful at their work. Marketers, on the other hand, are going to have a much more difficult time doing their work without some semblance of technical skills, which brings me to my next thought:

Generalist/specialists are the new minimum viable professional

For generations, professionals have been pressured to be either a generalist or specialist. The generalists were the managers who oversaw operations, and had a holistic view of how marketing was accomplished, but were less capable of doing the work themselves. Generalists relied upon specialists who knew how to write, design, code, or analyze. And for generations of marketing, this worked just fine.

But, this trend just doesn’t cut it anymore. To be successful nowadays, you need have both a breadth and depth of skills. You have to know what to ask for and how it’s done. Without both of these capabilities, you’re prone to be less efficient than a colleague or competitor who does.

This is especially pronounced in the startup world, where budgets are constrained and companies can’t afford to hire both managers and specialists. And this trend explains why the growth hacker meme is so popular in startup communities. You have to be able to do everything to hack it at a startup.

I like refer to these individuals as generalist specialists. These are individuals who have both knowledge of marketing channels, methods, and techniques, but also have the specialist technical knowledge to understand what’s possible and what’s not, and to do the work themselves.

Know what to ask for, or just do the work yourself

Perhaps my favorite reason to develop these skills is the ability to communicate better with everyone in your organization. If you know what’s possible, then you’ll know what to ask for when you work with developers, designers, and analysts. And in many cases, you’ll be able to just do the work yourself.

What is a technical marketer capable of?

Stated simply, a great technical marketer can devise, develop, launch, and analyze their marketing campaigns with little or no assistance. The example I’ve prepared below is fictitious, but by no means a panacea. I happen to be using a fictitious marketer at Incase, a company I randomly chose, but whose products I really like.

So, let’s take a look at the process and capabilities a technical marketer would use to manage their efforts.

1. Find something to improve

A technical marketer can review their efforts and find and prioritize opportunities for improvement. In this case, our marketer has decided to try to increase repeat purchases.

2. Devise a strategy

From there, they need to determine how they are going to accomplish that.


3. Forecast the improvement

The next step is to estimate the efficacy of the campaign to see if it’s worth their time and effort. It looks like it is!

4. Pull customer list from database

The marketer would then use SQL to query their database for the appropriate users to generate an email list.

5. Wireframe the email, and write the copy

From there, they would create a simple wireframe and draft the email copy.

6. Design and code the HTML for the email template

Next up is creating the HTML template, first using an image editor like Photoshop, and then developing the HTML and CSS.

7. Instrument end-to-end tracking

The marketer will then ensure that there is end-to-end tracking in place, and likely place a few test orders to confirm it’s all working properly.

8. Launch the campaign

It’s time to send the campaign and wait for the results. Meanwhile, our fictitious marketer enjoys a bland, but reasonably-priced American beer.

9. Evaluate the results

A few days later, the marketer collects analytics from the various systems, combines them in Excel, and calculates the quantitative impact of the campaign.

10. Automate for ongoing success

The marketer determines the campaign was successful enough to do it each month and develops a script will automate the process.

11. Correlate those that receive email with purchases

Ever the ambitious individual, the marketer then performs some statistical analysis to determine if those who receive email campaigns have a higher propensity to make purchases on the site. 

12. Rinse and repeat

After a successful campaign, the marketer begins all over again, armed with additional experience on what sort of campaigns are successful, and is better prepared to be successful in the future.

What does it take to get there? Here’s a recipe to develop your technical skills.

The capabilities demonstrated above show a fictional marketer who is able to run a successful campaign with little or no assistance from others. So, how do you get there? Primarily, by jumping in, trying it out, and learning as you go.

To help you on your way, I’ve put together a recipe of skills with links to resources. Some resources are better than others, and you can pursue them in any order you’d like. Have better resources than what I’ve included? Please feel free to contribute them in the comments.

Databases and SQL

Pull your own data. Understand how databases work and create your own.​

Web development

Build web pages and emails. Use JavaScript to add functionality. Utilize server side scripting.


Web technology

Understand how HTTP and web servers work. Harness the power of the query string.​

Web design and UX

Pick up some design skills. Give better wireframes to your designers, or design it yourself.​


Learn to write for the web, email, and social marketing channels. Be creative AND pithy.


Know how you’re doing. Evaluate performance and determine how to make it better.

Forecasting and Statistics

Predict the future. Create a forecast or budget. Run correlations and regression analyses.​

Technical SEO

Become an SEO-friendly web developer. Use your knowledge of HTTP to fix on-site issues.​

Content platforms and Hosting

Know how to publish your wonderful words and code. Use the right tool for the job.​

E-commerce tech

Learn to accept money graciously. Discover how SSL works, PCI compliance, and industry vendors.​

Many paths, one result: an unstoppable force of capability, limited only by your own creativity.

Developing technical skills isn’t about being becoming indispensable; it’s about developing capabilities to be self-reliant when necessary and providing signficiant value to your organization. These skills help you not only in doing your own work, but in working with your team and other individuals. In other words, these skills will remain valuable for your entire career.

I’d love to know what you think in the comments. What resources do you like? What have you used to bolster your technical skills?

(Some images provided by Shutterstock.)

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Whiteboard Friday Live – When Keyword Targeting Gets Tough

Posted by Jamie

Below is the re-recording of the Whiteboard Session we did live last Friday.  Thank you for your patience!


Video Transcription

Howdy, SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Last week we had a little bit of a mix-up. What happened is we used Livestream to film a live version of Whiteboard Friday. It was an hour long. It was tons of fun. It was super awesome. But unfortunately, due to an issue with Livestream, who we normally like, but it just had this weird error that we eventually reproduced even though we tested it beforehand. It didn’t keep and capture the video content. So, here is Whiteboard Friday – Keyword Targeting Gets Tough all over again.

Just for those of you who are wondering and worried, in the future live Whiteboard Fridays will always be followed up by a recording of that. So, we might end up actually doing them Thursday night so you can watch Thursday after work live and tweet at us, and then Friday morning the video will be right there. In fact, Thursday night the video should be right there. With that said, let’s go talk about when keyword targeting gets tough.

One of the first issues I wanted to address is when we’ve got multiple keywords on a single page and a lot of people worry. They sort of say, "Well, I know that I’m trying to target a bunch of different keywords. I don’t know whether I should have an individual page for each one, or maybe I should have one page that targets a lot of them. How should I spread things out? What do I do with plurals? What do I do with synonyms or variations?" I think a really good rule of thumb here is to keep in mind a few things.

Number one, the intent of the users. If what users are going to find on the page is useful to those people and there are three or four or five keywords that all make sense, there are plural variations, there are synonyms, etc., and that content makes sense for those users, one page is usually the best practice.

Number two, you need to be worried about natural word usage. It’s really weird to have something like keyword phrase one comma, keyword phrase two comma, keyword phrase three. Those pages you can see them getting fewer clicks in the search results. So even if you are ranking, you might not perform as well. People are less likely to link to them. For all sorts of reasons, they’re just not as good for SEO from a white hat perspective. If you’re a churn and burn spammer, you probably don’t watch Whiteboard Friday.

Number three, combining those things when it makes sense. I really like combining words that go together and that make sense. Let me give you a good example here. I think that will really illustrate the point.

I’ve chosen the keyword "Batman." Maybe I’ve got a website about comic book characters. I’ve got this keyword Batman. I know I want to go after Batman comics. I want to go after Batman graphic novels. Batman comic books. Batman versus Joker. Which of these things do you think I’d put together? My sort of feeling is Batman is a global topic. It is sort of too big for anything else and it is hypercompetitive. So it’d be really tough to target other things on there. I might go with Batman as its own separate page. Just one page on the site all about the character and have links to the comics and all that kind of stuff. Batman comics and Batman comic books, those are a natural fit. You can do a really good job of crafting a title tag and a headline that go together really well. Batman comic books or Batman comics and comic books, those work really nicely together. So I can connect those. But graphic novels are a little different. I could do something like combine it if I felt like the intent was the same. People who are coming searching for graphic novels are also looking for comics, or comic fans are also looking for graphic novels. I could do something like "Batman comic books and graphic novels" or "Batman comics, graphic novels, and comic books." Those three things work pretty well together. Natural word order. Those things, I would probably combine those because I think the intent is the same. Keyword targeting can be done pretty well and effectively all in the same page.

Remember, too, that it is not just about the keyword targeting. It’s about the links pointing to the page. If you’ve got lots of links pointing to one page, you want to leverage the power and importance of that page on the link graph to be able to get it to rank for many things. There are good reasons to try and combine stuff. The finally, Batman versus Joker, that’s its own thing. That’s probably its own comic book, own series. Maybe it’s a movie from the 1960s. I’m not sure. But Batman versus Joker gets its own page.

On the second piece, internal and external linking, what we want to think about is, "Well, I’m worried about these issues of where I should link to different pages and how to do it." Actually, the Web has given us a really good methodology to think about this. It is sort of the breadcrumb methodology, and that follows a category like structure that search engines love and that humans are very used to. Users are going to have a good time with it as well. So, it makes sense, right. We’ve got the Batman page that I created. We’ve got our Batman comics and graphic novels page, and then our Batman versus Joker comic. Obviously, we’d have lots of detail pages and subcategory pages, potentially under these. The way to think about these is in breadcrumb format. So, on this Batman versus Joker comic page, I’d have a breadcrumb that looks like this, Batman, Batman comics, Batman versus Joker. Those links, Batman is going to point back to this topic. Batman comics and graphic novels, going to point to that one. This one is going to link up. This one is going to link down. This one is going to link one level down. So you can see that level structure creates a really nice, easy to follow thing for search engines. They know, Aha! Someone’s looking for the broad Batman topic, that’s my page. Someone’s looking for Batman comics or Batman graphic novels, that’s the guy. Someone’s looking for Batman versus Joker comic, this is my guy. You can see a lot of confusion sometimes. SEOs will comment like, "Ah, jeez, this page is ranking great for this keyword, but it’s not the page I wanted to rank for." This kind of structure can help with that, but there’s also some cool advanced techniques and advanced strategies that we can talk about to solve particular issues. Some of these are pretty sweet.

The first one, the move it. This is when you’ve got a situation where the page is targeting a particular keyword – targeting Batman, targeting Batman comic and graphic novels – and you either need to move it for one reason or another or the search engine is ranking the wrong page. Maybe they’re ranking a deep comic page for Batman comics and graphic novels. You go, "Ah! This is terrible." You can see this on SEOmoz right now. If you search for SEO on the front page, it’s our web developers SEO cheat sheet that’s ranking. It switched about three months ago from our home page. It’s sort of weird. It’s a useful and fine page, but it is probably not the broad topic that people are looking for when they search SEO. So, we might want to do some things around that.

One potential thing is to move that old page or to rel canonical it back to the page that you want ranking. Remember that rel canonical is really only designed for duplicate content situations. So, you should only do this if the page that is ranking is a copy of the original, it has the same content, but just isn’t the one you want. Newspapers have this a lot with print versions of pages. A print version will be ranking and they go, "No, no, I don’t want the print version. I want the one that shows the ads." They want to make some money.

The next one is the replace it. The idea is the old URL, the URL that is currently ranking, could use some refresher content maybe or could use an update, or you’re essentially saying it’s that URL that is ranking for this, but I really want this content on there. So, you can feel free to do that. Go ahead and swap out the content. Put in the new content and maybe recreate the old page at a new URL.

Let me give you a good example of this one. Every year or every couple of years for the past few, we’ve done our search ranking factors. Whenever we reproduce a new version we make sure it stays at the old URL That replacement, that new page, came up in 2007, 2009, 2011. A new one is coming again. We are essentially just replacing that content, and the old one is going to live at another location. It is going to live at 2005. So, by doing that, we make sure that all the links that were pointing into this continue to point into this. It ranks where it used to, and it is earning new links to that same old URL. Great, great tactic here.

Last, final one is the consolidation system. This is really when you’ve got content that you are potentially moving on to the page but you want to be able to directly point people to it. Yet, you think search engines are really going to appreciate having all that in one place. This is a great time to use the internal or named anchors, the hash tags. For example, if I say, "Oh, today I have a Batman comic page, a Batman comic books page, a Batman comics page, and a Batman graphic novels page. Those should really all be one." I might think about having different sections that talk about the comics themselves and the history of them, etc., current comic books that are available, graphic novels. All of those on the same page. If I want, if the user is interested in just the graphic novels, they can still link and drop to exactly this section on that page.

All right. So, hopefully, given these strategies and what we talked about today, your keyword targeting can dramatically improve and you can have these best practices to go forward with. I’m looking forward to some comments about this. I apologize again for the live version not going up. Hopefully this will help out. Take care everyone. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday.

Video transcription by

2nd update on the recording: Today we learned that Livesteam was unable to record last Friday’s Whiteboard Friday Live. We’ll be reshooting the video tomorrow (Wednesday) and will add it to this blog post shortly thereafter. We had expected this recording would have been posted and available as soon as the live event was completed– I apologize that this wasn’t the case. You can also expect a new pre-recorded Whiteboard Friday to appear on the blog this Friday. We appreciate everyone’s feedback about our first experiment and will definitely consider it when planning future live video events. — Jamie at SEOmoz

Update on the recording: The recording of the event is not yet available due to an issue with our live video provider. We’re working hard to get the video up as soon as possible, but it may not be up until Tuesday at the latest. We’re sorry for any inconvenience and will take precautions to reduce the risk of this happening in the future. — Jamie at SEOmoz

The live broadcast is now over.  You can watch the re-recording of the session above.

Whiteboard Friday Live – Friday, 1/21 at 10am Pacific Standard Time

We’ll do it live! For the first time ever, Whiteboard Friday will be broadcast live!  Will the whiteboard fall from the wall? Will Rand go crazy? You’ll have to tune in to find out!

The broadcast starts tomorrow morning at 10am PST.  Rand’s topic will be: "When Keyword Targeting Gets Tough, The Tough Get Whiteboard Friday".  Watch the presentation live, chat with other viewers, and ask questions using the Twitter hashtag #mozlive.  We’ll be live for a full hour so there will be plenty of time for questions.

The live broadcast starts on this page on Friday, January 21st at:

Pacific Time: 10:00am
Eastern Time: 1:00pm
London/GMT: 6:00pm

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Top 10 Web Apps We Love

Posted by Jamie

We often get asked, "What apps do the SEOmoz team use?"  To answer this question, we decided to put together a blog post with the Top 10 Web Apps We Love here at SEOmoz.

The SEOmoz team decided on the Top 10 apps below (in no particular order).  However, we found we liked so many apps that we decided to include another 15 that are definitely worth mentioning.  Take a look at our list and let us know your own favorite apps in the comments.

Embed video
<object width="640" height="360" id="wistia_250878" classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000"><param name="movie" value=""/><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true"/><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"/><param name="wmode" value="opaque"/><param name="flashvars" value="videoUrl="/><embed src="" width="640" height="360" name="wistia_250878" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" wmode="opaque" flashvars="videoUrl="></embed></object><script src="" charset="ISO-8859-1"></script><script>if(!navigator.mimeTypes[‘application/x-shockwave-flash’])Wistia.VideoEmbed(‘wistia_250878′,640,360,{videoUrl:’’,stillUrl:’’,distilleryUrl:’’,accountKey:’wistia-production_3161′,mediaId:’wistia-production_250878′,mediaDuration:296.93})</script> <a href="">SEOmoz – SEO Software</a>


The Top Ten List  (in no particular order)

Web Analytics

Google Analytics is an excellent free web analytics tool. Even if you have another analytics application, we think it’s worthwhile to add Google Analytics to your site– it’s that good. We use Google Analytics to report on the performance of the SEOmoz website and our online marketing campaigns. Our only requests? Real-time reporting, a referral report with complete URLs and the option to pay for a service level agreement. 

Also Recommended: Yahoo! Web Analytics, Adobe SiteCatalyst, WebTrends

#2 KISSmetrics

Funnel Reporting

Does your website require users to go through multiple steps? If so, you need good funnel reporting; we like KISSmetrics. Simple to setup and configure, but with plenty of options for segmentation and customization, we use KISSmetrics to monitor and report on the key user experiences of our site. It even provides details on the conversion funnel performance of each of our organic keywords– a big plus for SEOs.

Also Recommended: Adobe DiscoverGoogle Analytics (limited funnel capability)

Conversion Rate Optimization

These days, Conversion Rate Optimization seems to be more popular than Harry Potter. Google Website Optimizer is a free way to do simple conversion rate optimization testing on your website.  You can test varied landing pages using an A/B test or determine the ideal combination of elements using a multivariate test. Google’s tool is free, and capable enough to get you well on your way with CRO.

Also Recommended: Unbounce, Visual Website Optimizer, Adobe Test&Target

#4 MailChimp

Email Campaign Manager

MailChimp, oh how we love thee. MailChimp is one of the most intuitive and simple email marketing packages around. And yet, it remains incredibly powerful with detailed analytics, great social media integration and an adorable chimp, Freddie. MailChimp offers both free and affordable plans that work well for low-volume and high-volume email campaigns. Stay awesome, MailChimp.

Also Recommended: ExactTarget

Affiliate Program Management

SEOmoz re-launched our affiliate program this fall and we chose HasOffers as our new platform.  Our marketing team has collectively used several other platforms in the past and none are as capable and intuitive as HasOffers. Based in the cloud, HasOffers has plenty of capabilities and is designed to enable you to self-manage your own affiliate program (or even your own affiliate network).


#6 Wistia

Video Hosting

Wistia is video hosting on steroids. Not only does this video hosting platform support HTML5, which makes your videos viewable on a slew of non-Flash enabled devices, but the platform is inherently designed for SEO.  Try searching Google for "Top 10 Web Apps We Love" and you’ll likely see the above Wistia-hosted video that’s included with this blog post. Their tracking and analytics are also the best we’ve seen in video hosting.  See a sample report here.

Also Recommended: Delve Networks, Vimeo (not recommended for commercial videos)

SEO Insight from Google

Google Webmaster Tools is SEO insight straight from the horse’s mouth, and a must-have for any website. Get information on how Googlebot sees your site, view (some) links to your site and edit preferences for how your listing appears in the Google search results. While not as comprehensive as we’d like, it’s still a welcome set of capabilities.

Also Recommended: Yahoo Site Explorer, Bing Webmaster Tools

#8 SEOmoz PRO

SEO Campaign Management

We may well deserve criticism for adding our own app to this list, but we really are proud parents. The SEOmoz website is large enough that the crawl diagnostics help us find issues we haven’t fixed, the rankings report manages our large list of keywords, and Open Site Explorer provides invaluable data on backlinks. These features just scratch the surface of what you get with SEOmoz PRO.  It’s a toolset our marketing team uses everyday.

Take a 30-day free trial of SEOmoz PRO.

Twitter Account Management

CoTweet provides an excellent interface for managing your Twitter account, especially if you need multiple people to manage it.  Jen, who manages our community, approves of CoTweet– and that means a lot!  CoTweet makes it easy to access multiple Twitter accounts and keep an eye on your mentions. Even better, CoTweet integrates with our #10 App, Pro.

Also Recommended: HootSuite

#10 Pro

URL Sharing and Analytics

While most people only use a URL-shortening service for tweets, we like to use URLs wherever possible. Pro permits you to use a custom domain (we use and provides useful analytics for each URL you create. SEOmoz uses the data from Pro to determine which tweets generate the most clicks.  Pro Tip: add a + to the end of any URL to see a detailed report, like so:

Other Apps We Love

Below are more of the apps we use and love.  While they all can’t be in our Top 10, they’re definitely worth mentioning:

What are your favorite apps?

Are we missing a must-have app for your website?  Please let us know in the comments!  We’d love to know what you’re using to make your work easier, more productive and fun.

Update: Reader and PRO member shanedj created a Google form to collect your favorite web apps.  He plans to write a YOUmoz post once he’s got enough votes.  Vote for your favorite apps here.

Happy New Year!

We’re taking a few days off to celebrate the New Year, so things might be a little quieter around here than usual.  We’ll be back first thing next week to begin our most exciting year yet!  From all of us at SEOmoz we hope you have a very Happy New Year!

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Top 10 Things We Learned About SEO in 2010 – Whitebeard Friday

Posted by Jamie

It’s that time of year when it’s not uncommon to be sitting by a fire, sipping a glass of Egg Nog (with brandy), and listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas on the stereo. Wait… that might only be me. Whatever your holiday traditions may be, SEOmoz is pleased to present the ‘Top 10 Things We Learned About SEO in 2010′, with special guest, Rand Claus. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the video (the Egg Nog is optional)! From all of us at SEOmoz, we hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Embed video
<object width="640" height="360" id="wistia_247319" classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000"><param name="movie" value=""/><param name="allowfullscreen" value="true"/><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"/><param name="wmode" value="opaque"/><param name="flashvars" value="videoUrl="/><embed src="" width="640" height="360" name="wistia_247319" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowfullscreen="true" allowscriptaccess="always" wmode="opaque" flashvars="videoUrl="></embed></object><script src="" charset="ISO-8859-1"></script><script>if(!navigator.mimeTypes[‘application/x-shockwave-flash’])Wistia.VideoEmbed(‘wistia_247319′,640,360,{videoUrl:’’,stillUrl:’’,distilleryUrl:’’,accountKey:’wistia-production_3161′,mediaId:’wistia-production_247319′,mediaDuration:624.82})</script> <a href="">SEOmoz – SEO Software</a>


Video Transcription

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Oh, hi there, boys and girls! I didn’t see you there. Welcome to White Beard Friday.

Every year here at SEOmoz we like to have a tradition where I don this ridiculous white beard and present some interesting SEO stuff to you. So, I want to do that again today. I figured it would be a good time, it’s the end of the year, and 2010 is coming to a close. We have learned a lot about SEO this year. I think it would be a great idea to talk about some of the great things that we have learned. I even might have a bonus number 11 for you.

First off, number one, search is here to stay. I think that a lot of prognosticators for years have been saying, "Oh, this whole Web 2.0 thing and this social thing, these are going to take over the SEO world or the search world. People are not going to be searching as much. They’re going to be using Twitter and Facebook to find the things that they want. They’re going to use these alternative sources. Maybe they’re going to turn to Q&A sites." Mm. Until the data shows otherwise, here’s what we’ve seen. Basically, every year there are more searches, there are more searchers, and there are more searches per searcher. That suggests a behavior where people are happier, not more frustrated, with the results that they’re getting. You and I and the tech elite set might be thinking to ourselves, "Yeah, you know, some of these results aren’t as good and maybe I can get some better recommendations here or there." But for your vast majority of search users both in the U.S. and around the world, searches just keep going up. I think that’s certainly a good thing from an SEO perspective. It’s definitely a great thing if you are Google or Bing or you are thinking about competing in this area.

Number two, social and search are interconnected. In fact, in ways that I think we surmised but did not realize fully or did not have confirmation of until just recently. We now know that at least with Twitter and Facebook those two services, the tweets that you send, the links that are in those tweets, the Facebook shares that Google can see through their index, those are influencing SEO directly in Google and Bing’s results. They’re using those signals to help know which pages to rank and how to rank them. This experiment that Danny Dover performed recently with SEOmoz with the SeeYourImpact site showed that, boy, the one that got about 20 or 30 different links is not performing and the one that got 450 tweets is ranking number one. This strongly suggests that those Twitter signals could be quite powerful, in fact, more powerful than we might suspect today. Whether they last a long time is yet to be seen. We don’t know whether over time their power fades.

Number three, mentions can trigger crawling and indexing. This is something I haven’t presented data on yet. It is something very interesting that we’ve been able to observe. Now we have, in my mind, very good evidence. Very, very strong evidence, direct evidence that if a brand is mentioned or a website name is mentioned in the press, but it isn’t linked to, that mention will trigger Googlebot to start crawling that site like crazy and perhaps even inflating their rankings. We’ve seen some data with some local startups here where their new brand was mentioned, specifically in The Wall Street Journal, literally within sub few minutes of the RSS feed pushing out, like less than five minutes, Googlebot hit their site very, very hard. They didn’t have any other activity, and they don’t usually get crawled like this. They sort of saw some extra search traffic from it. So, very good suspicion that Googlebot’s a comin’ to town if you get your brand mentioned in the press, even if they’re not linking.

Number four, Bing and Yahoo are not a Google killer. I think that a lot of people thought, hey, you know, when Bing and Yahoo come together . . . maybe not a lot of people. Some people, some industry press folks thought when Bing and Yahoo came together, they’re going to own 30% of the market share. Maybe they can start to grow that. Bing had been growing market share up to that point. It looks like Bing was mostly cannibalizing Yahoo’s market share. By and large this year, Google has been the benefactor of most of the growth. Right now we’re living in, according to comScore, something like a 70%-30% world where Bing and Yahoo are responsible for about 30%, and Google is about 70%. You know my take on comScore data. Basically, what they’re showing is all the searches performed on the networks, not the traffic that’s coming out. If you look at traffic coming out, this is more like maybe a 15% or 20%, and this is something like 80-85% for Google.

Number five, there’s new search engines still emerging. I think after the death of Cuil, a lot of people were sort of like, "Oh man, no one’s going to try to compete in that space unless they’re huge." And yet, this year we saw the launch of Blekko. We saw the launch of Yandex’s English language results. And we’ve seen continued popularity and growth for DuckDuckGo, which is sort of a relatively long-standing search engine. It’s been around for a few years now from Gabriel on Hacker News. There’s quite a bit of popularity around it. All of these are potentially interesting. I think a lot of people would say maybe the most interesting among these for SEOs is Blekko, which is sort of opening up how they do their search results’ calculations, how their algorithm works, providing some link data. It could be very interesting. Their index is still small right now, but it could get really interesting over time.

Number six, Google is very intent on competing in the local space. The Places launch. The move of Marissa Meyer over to local from running search strongly suggests that Google cares a tremendous amount about the maps and the local space and that they really want to invest there. They tried to buy Groupon. They made that offer last year to Yelp. They clearly care about local. But, I think I’m going to argue, Yelp is still way, way better at this. If I’m looking for a restaurant, a salon, an office supply store, Yelp just has, not more business listings necessarily, but the fact that they are willing to show how they filter and organize results and how you can sort things and filter, how you can find reviews about the place, etc., it’s just a much better experience than Maps has today. So, I think Google Maps has a long way to go if they want to catch up and play in this space. They’re really winning right now on the fact that lots of people just use Google as a search engine source and then get to these results, so Google can put their stuff in front of them.

Number seven, alternative data sources are going to be found for what’s gone missing with Yahoo and Yahoo Sites bar. As Yahoo has gone into the Bing world and as they spin down Site Explorer this year, the Site Explorer API’s going to turn off, Yahoo will no longer be maintaining a web index at the end of 2012, people have turned to other places to get this sort of link domain stuff. They’ve done clever stuff with Linkscape data from here at SEOmoz through Open Site Explorer and that kind of stuff. There is also Majestic SEO. Blekko is now providing some link data. People are starting to do some crawls on their own. There are lots of sources. I don’t think that the death of Yahoo Site Explorer will be quite as painful once it does hit as we might have presumed previously.

Number eight, we did some cool topic modeling. Remember the stuff around LDA this year, and found that, yes, there is probably a good chance that topic modeling is something the engines are doing and are using to rank results. Over time, we as SEOs might be able to learn more about this process and do a better job at serving both engines and users with the content we provide to both. Just being more relevant with the words and phrases we’re employing. Making sure to talk about the things that people care about when they are researching a topic.

Number nine, Google is still struggling, struggling hard, against link spam manipulation. But, on the plus side, depending on your position, maybe it’s on the bad side, they know it. They know that they’re having a tough time. Matt has talked about this at PubCon that the webspam team is coming back together and they’re going to be working very hard on this for the next few months or few years. So it’s possible that in 2012 we’ll see a lot more action being taken against this link spam issue, buying links, getting manipulative links, using link farms, and these kinds of things. I think it remains to be seen whether Google can pull this one out. It’s going to be a tough battle. Adversarial information retrieval is just an incredibly tough art and science.

Number ten, last but not least, SEOs, man, we still don’t get no respect. I don’t know what’s up. It’s the Rodney Dangerfield here for us. In 2010, estimates are that between Bing and Google there’s going to be about 20 billion advertising dollars spent on paid search and that receives about, maybe around 15% of all the clicks, so 15% of traffic. SEO, which receives about 85% of all the clicks, the spend is predicted by some people to be around $2 billion, maybe a little under $2 billion this year. That includes consulting, software, in-house SEOs. Man! We’ve got a long way to go. On the plus side, if you’re in SEO and you’re looking at this and you’re getting depressed, you shouldn’t be. This is a growth industry. There is no way that something like this lasts forever. You know how you can trust it? Because look how big this beard is.

All right. Well, everyone, it has been a great year. It’s been our pleasure to join you for it. We’re looking forward to seeing you again next week and next year for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Ho, ho, ho!

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