I’m speaking at Search Engine Strategies SF!

 

Update 8-19: my presentation has come and gone, and I had a great time presenting. We had a surprise visit from Matt Cutts directly before my session, which meant plenty of SEOs woke up early and we had a great turnout at my session. The conference Vivastream account said that my session was the most attended session during the timeslot, and based on the size of the audience I was quite pleased. Thanks to all who attended, tweeted, asked questions, etc!

Original Post 8-7: Just a quick heads up that I’ll be speaking on August 15th at Search Engine Strategies (SES) San Francisco on “Key Metrics for SEO.” I’m working on the presentation as I type this, and my vision is to present extremely actionable metrics & data points to evaluate your search traffic, content quality, organic visibility and your link building efforts. This is probably a lot to cover in 25 minutes, but the deck will go on SlideShare and I tend to talk fast 🙂

I’m looking forward to the show, and hope to meet some familiar faces there…

New POV: Does Visibility Mean Credibility?

In a new POV on iCrossing.com, I respond to a question from a client as to whether Visibility = Credibility on the web. The short answer is (drum roll please!) – sometimes, but not always. One of the primary goals of any search engine is to use credibility as a ranking factor to determine visibility (rankings) on the web. The hard part is that credibility is a subjective measure to a certain extent, so measuring credibility requires a nuanced approach to evaluating links, social media, and other signals as a proxy for true credibility.

The key takeaways of my POV are:

  1. Never believe everything you read on the internet, no matter how high it ranks and
  2. As a marketer, never sacrifice your credibility or integrity for short-term gains, as in the long-term search engines (and users) will always be looking to credibility as a ranking signal of you and your brand.

Read on here…

My SMX West Presentation on Duplication & Aggregation

Nick Roshon at SMX West 2012

I was honored to be invited to give a presentation at SMX West this year on a panel about SEO issues related to Duplication, Aggregation, Syndication, Affiliates, Scraping and Information Architecture. You can check out the presentation here on Slideshare (the embed feature isn’t working so I’ll update this post when it does) as well as live-blog coverage on Bruce Clay and Search Engine Roundtable. I shared the panel with some very awesome speakers and had an amazing time at SMX learning a ton and meeting some new friends that are very passionate and smart about all things search & social. Thanks to Danny Sullivan and all of Third Door Media for putting on a great show as usual.

Photo credit above to the famous Bulkwark Exterminator marketer @Thos003!

SEO Infographic: What my friends think I do and What I really do

SEO Infographic - What my friends think I do, what my mom thinks I do, What I think I do, What society thinks I do, What i really do

I saw this on Facebook and thought it was too funny not to share. Photo credit via Alex Sczakiel.

SEO – What my friends think I do, What my mom thinks I do, What I think I do, What society thinks I do, and What I really do.

In defense of Ranking Reports

Today Matt Cutts posted a Google Webmaster Help video on the topic of ranking reports, which is embedded above. In it, Matt states that rather than obsessing over your rankings, focus on converting more users. I completely agree that it all comes down to conversions, and that one shouldn’t obsess over rankings, but the video seems to imply you shouldn’t report on rankings altogether, and that monitoring rankings for your most important (“trophy”) keywords is a bad use of your time. It also seems to imply that ranking reports are really just an annoying thing that “disagreeable” clients request.

Whether that implication was intentional or not, I do feel ranking reports still have their place in SEO reporting. Here’s why:

  • Ranking reports are a good proxy for overall SEO health – are you not able to rank for any of your keywords? Did you have a bunch of rankings that went away over night? Did you make a change and gain a bunch of rankings? Movements in rankings can tell you a lot about what is going on in a macro level – maybe those changes IT made to the site really helped (or hurt) your website’s ability to rank for your most important keywords.
  • Keywords matter to managers – like it or not, most managers are interested in what keywords their site ranks for, and they use this information to help justify SEO budgets. While it shouldn’t be your only data point, it almost always is a data point that managers want to know about (even the non-disagreeable ones). In my opinion, the more data, the better, and keyword ranking information is data.
  • They don’t take much time to create – in the video, Matt states that creating ranking reports might not be the best use of your time. There are many tools that create ranking reports automatically, and most also allow export into Excel for you to manipulate the data quickly. If you’re investing time into SEO, and already paying for premium tools such as SEOmoz, why not take advantage of automated ranking reports?
  • They help you understand your content strengths & weaknesses – if you have crappy content, it (usually) won’t rank well. Looking at your under-performing keywords is a great way to figure out where to focus your content marketing & IT budgets to improve the weaker areas of your website. Likewise, knowing what keywords and areas of your site rank well will expose additional opportunity for related content (and keywords) you could create.
  • Trophy keywords can convert, too – while focusing on conversions is extremely important, if you aren’t ranking on Page 1, you probably aren’t going to get much traffic to convert in the first place. Having business-relevant first page rankings can earn you a lot of traffic, and then you can convert that traffic into sales. But if you’re not ranking for any keywords relevant to the products & services you’re selling, you’re not going to have as much opportunity to convert in the first place.
  • Ranking reports keep you informed of the competition – a good ranking report also includes how your top competitors are ranking for your most important keywords. Much like ranking reports give a good finger on the pulse of your site’s SEO, they also give you insights into your competitors SEO.
  • Ranking reports help you understand how search engines work – looking for patterns in your rankings, and how they change, can give you insights into algorithm changes. Ranking data can also help you understand differences between search engines such as why you might rank well in Bing but not Google for a certain phrase, or even looking at the granular level of Google (web search) rankings versus Google Places rankings.
  • Ranking reports let you know if the correct page is ranking – if you have an international site, and the Canadian version of the content is outranking the US version of the content for a US searcher, you’ve got a problem. Tracking not only rankings but landing page URLs will help you find problems with your site that is causing the wrong page to rank for a given keyword.

With personalization, and most recently Google Search Plus, rankings are less important to fixate over, which I think is what Matt is really trying to say. And while it is important to de-emphasize the importance of ranking reports, and understand rankings are for the “average user” and not representative of personalized results, it’s still important to collect this information and have it at your disposal…it can tell you a lot, and it’s something that still matters to both the SEO and the business manager.

Initial Thoughts on Google Search Plus (Your World)

I think Ben Parr puts it better than I could on his latest blog post: The Google+ Antitrust Disaster:

“The move was something that I expected, but I don’t think anybody expected the integration to be so massive. You can’t browse Google without seeing Google+ everywhere.”

I agree. Search Plus is fine in theory, and Google SHOULD integrate social and Google+ into its algorithm, but this particular implementation by Google is overkill, and that’s an understatement. +1’s dominate the algorithm to a point beyond logic or usefulness. The ads for people to circle are way too pushy. It’s just way too much.

Danny Sullivan points out some great example as to how Search Plus sacrifices relevancy for social noise/promotion of Google+ in his post here: http://searchengineland.com/examples-google-search-plus-drive-facebook-twitter-crazy-107554

But what hit home more than anything was a simply vanity search. I google “Nick Roshon” and here is the SERP:

Nick Roshon SERP Result

My own website no longer ranks above the fold for my name…wow. It’s a three year old site with a couple thousands links, PageRank 3, and an exact match domain. My Google+ profile is a few months old at most, and the only links to it are from my website itself…I can’t help but nod my head in agreement with those crying foul that Google is giving itself an special treatment in the SERPs, as from an SEO perspective there is no way my website should rank below Google+ and images I’ve shared on Google+.

On one hand, I totally understand & believe in the need for search results that are better informed by social connections and social data. However, Search Plus takes this idea to an extreme, where the link graph and standard notions of relevancy are being drowned out by even the faintest social signal. Even worse, the Search Plus Your World results are shown by default for all searches (rather than triggered algorithmically when it makes sense, or even better defaulted to off and turned on selectively by users when appropriate). There is no way to escape Google+ in the new Google Search Plus.

I think the experiment Google did in Google Labs back in January 2010 which displayed “Results from your social circle” was an example of how they could have done Search Plus well. This experiment (which never graduated beta status in Labs) displayed a small onebox within the SERPS showing a handful of results recently shared by those in your social connections.

Instead, Search Plus (Your World) isn’t a small onebox, it’s a full-on takeover of the SERP.

It’s a risky move by Google, as it drastically changes Google’s renowned search results in favor of an entirely new experience focused around Google+. While the general public, as well as search experts, typically believe Google has better results than Bing, I wonder how this will change with Google Search Plus, as it’s such a fundamental change in the search results that Google barely seems familiar anymore. I still think the average user hasn’t a faintest clue what Google+ is or why they should use it, which should make an even more confusing experience for those searchers…and those searchers are likely the first to leave.

My guess is that Google will scale back Search Plus drastically, and turn down the overwhelmingly powerful ranking factors powered by Google+ and Google products in favor of a more egalitarian and comprehensive view at relevance and authority. Or I guess that’s my hope, anyway…

From Android to iPhone 4S – My Review

iPhone 4S unboxing

I recently made the big switch from Android to iPhone. I’ve wanted one since it first came out five years ago, so needless to say I’ve had a long time case of iPhone envy as a Verizon customer.

Maybe it was the hype, or maybe it was the years of anticipation, but at first I was let down. My first impression was that it was nice, but lacked some features that Android excelled in (most notably: Google Maps Navigation, and lightening quick Gmail integration). I knew to hold off judgments until I truly got to know the phone…as a self proclaimed Android power-user, I knew it would take time to learn the ins-and-outs of the iPhone as well as I did on Android.

After about a month – it clicked. It was strange really, I was ranting a few days earlier about how much I missed my Android, and still second guessing my decision of leaving. Then just like that, I fell in love with the iPhone.

Here’s why:

That intuitive thing…

I didn’t find the iPhone intuitive at all based on my first impression. I didn’t know what the heck I was doing, and needed to ask a lot of noobie questions on how to do basic functions. It was no worse than learning to use an Android, but I didn’t feel that iOS was an innate skill I was born with either. The big “ah-ha” moment occurred about a month later when everything clicked & came together. The Apps are tightly monitored by Apple, so the navigation and options for the apps all work the same. The way you change settings on Angry Birds is the same way that you’d change settings on the alarm clock. All Apps follow a uniform user interface, whereas for Android every app is designed in whatever format the developer wants to. For most functions, there is only one way to make a change to the app behavior, and that interface, as well as the way of accessing it, is always the same. Once you learn the ins and outs of even just one app, it’s the same experience across the entire phone.

The Apps…

Sure, Android may have more apps, but Apple has BETTER apps. They’re quicker, they’ve got more features, they don’t crash, they’re just simply better. The apps are better supported by developers and have more frequent updates since they’re all built for a specific device (rather than fragmented across various screen sizes & manufacturers), so they are easier to update by developers. Apple users get the cream of the crop when it comes to app quality.

The Stability…

The iPhone is ridiculously quick and stable, always dependable when you need it. My Android phone crashed at least once a week, usually more. Ironically, my Android phone most frequently crashed when using the Google Search app or Google Maps. Everything works, and works well together, in the iPhone.

 The Attention to Details…

Android is sloppy when it comes to the details – Apple is obsessed. A representative detail of this is the default ringers & sounds of the two OSs’. The Motorola Droid line of Android phones (owned by Google) has a default ringer that sounds like a techno rave party and might induce a seizure to the average user it is so obnoxiously terrible. At the very least, it’s horribly unprofessional and would be embarrassing in front of a business colleague or client. Apple, on the other hand, scrutinized every default ringtone & sound notification to be soothing, simple, and pleasing. This attention to detail permeates to things like the design of icons, the homescreen, the phone’s appearance itself, and most importantly the settings menu.

The Graphics…

The iPhone blows any Android phone out of the water when it comes to HD display. The colors are vibrant and jaw dropping. I have yet to see an Android phone with anything nearly as impressive when it comes to graphics. If you play games or view photos on your phone, iPhone has the best display on the market IMO. And rumor has it the iPhone5 will only get better.

The Games…

I don’t play games and have never been interested. In fact, my laptop doesn’t have a single one installed other than the Windows defaults. But on the iPhone, the games are really good, and oddly addictive. I’ve spent way too many nights since getting my iPhone playing Monopoly or Temple Runner since getting the iPhone, and still finding new games that are fun to play. The above mentioned graphics make the games that much better, and the App Store makes it much easier to find games.

The App Store…

The Android Market, while vastly improved, is still light years behind Apple’s App Store. The App Store is easy to use, has better recommendations, and is easier to casually surf and stumble upon awesome apps you never knew you needed, until you install them and wondered how you lived without them. In just over a month on the iPhone, I think I might have twice as many apps as I ever did in my 2+ years of Android use, and that’s mostly thanks to an incredibly easy to use App Store that Apple provides (although I’m still not sure why I need to enter a password to download a free app).

Siri…

Siri is way cool, and the most popularly cited reason of why users love their iPhone 4S over the previous model. I use Siri all the time, most notably to call or text someone, as it’s way quicker than trying to find them in my contacts directory (which has over 400 people in it). This technology extends beyond Siri, as it’s really superior voice recognition software which can be used for dictating texts, emails, and notes. Android, on the other hand, had laughably bad voice recognition.

Email…

If you use Gmail (and only Gmail), then Android is great, and the Gmail app on Android is far superior than that of iOS. But if you use any other email provider, from Yahoo! to your work email, then the interface on Android is nothing short of terrible. On iPhone, the native email client is excellent. It’s easy to use and super easy to read. It took me a while, but Gmail is actually pretty good on the iPhone too, you just have to install it as an “Exchange” account type rather than a “Gmail” account type – if you specify the account as a “Gmail” account type the alerts are slow and the contacts won’t sync.

…to be fair, here are the things Android bests Apple at:

Not everything in iPhone-land is superior. While iPhone used to be such a clear-cut winner in the “which phone is best” competition, I believe Android has come a long way and excels in some areas the iPhone lacks. Here’s my two cents as to where the Android phone is superior to the iPhone.

Google Maps Navigation…

The Google Navigation feature in Android phones is amazing, and something I sorely miss. While I could download a paid app for turn-by-turn navigation on my iPhone, the native Google Maps navigation app was fantastic (despite being somewhat unstable at times, likely due to Google’s “always in beta” development style).

4G LTE Capabilities…

I demo’d a co-workers RAZR with 4G and holy crap was it fast. Fast, if not faster, than when I have Wi-Fi enabled on my iPhone. I’d love for that technology on my iPhone, although I think that will be coming soon in the iPhone5. Still, I was jealous.

Gmail Integration…

The Gmail integration on Android can’t be beat. This is logical, as obviously Google cares more about making Google products work well on Android phones than it would a competitor’s phone. Still, the Gmail integration was incredible on Android, getting push notifications on emails quicker than a desktop web browser would, and syncing everything effortlessly. Gmail isn’t bad on the iPhone, just not as good as it was on Android.

iTunes/Device Syncing…

Android is great for syncing – you just plug it in to your computer, and the phone becomes an external hard drive. You don’t need any special software, and you can easily copy files to your computer or drag & drop files on your Android phone with no issue. Apple requires that you install iTunes software, and personally I’m not a fan of iTunes. While it’s a great marketplace, the software itself is slow & cumbersome, and I’d rather just control my phone directly rather than have to go through iTunes. Additionally, if you pirate media, the Android is much easier to bootleg music & videos whereas iTunes requires a few extra steps to import. I understand why iTunes is a requirement for the iPhone, and how it contributes to many of the advantages listed above, but it’s still a negative compared to the Android system that doesn’t require any software on your computer to be able to connect with (other than drivers, of course).

The TL;DR

The iPhone still eats Androids lunch. If you switch from Android to iPhone, you might not feel that way immediately, but give it time and you’ll see the apps, OS, and hardware itself is far superior to that of Android’s offerings.

Content Sharing Infographic

content sharing infographic

Make your content as easy to share as ice cream with a puppy – cute & funny, but very true.

All your rankings are belong to us

Larry Page & Sergey Brin

Undoubtedly the best photo of Larry Page & Sergey Brin ever.

SMX Scottsdale Day 2 Recap

SMX Social Media Scottsdale Day 2

…and following up my Day 1 recap of SMX Scottsdale 2011, here are my takeaways for Day 2:

  • Viral Content – appeal to the emotions of your audience. People share content because it reflects their personality or stirs their emotions. Emotions don’t have to be limited to funny content – it can reflect a person’s beliefs, altruism, or things that make them happy.
  • E-cards, Infographics & Videos – they (still) work. eBay creates really stunning infographics on a global basis, but Parenting Magazine keeps it simple with “E-Cards” which are just a nice image with a funny joke or tagline within the image. Find a way to present visual content to your audience within your resources & assets.
  • SoLoMo – mobile usage, and mobile search in particular, are extremely locally driven. Most folks on mobile search just want to call a business (62%) or Maps/Directions (24%) according to BIA/Kelsey. Mobile continues to advance in local social sharing & local deals. Facebook gets the most traffic via mobile (by a longshot), but don’t ignore Foursquare either.
  • On Social Media ROI – If you’re wondering what the ROI is of using social media, just consider what the ROI is if your not using it. (via @Mary_Callahan). Social Media isn’t a cost, it’s an investment (@TyDowning).
  • Forget automation – it’s about engagement. If content is king, engagement is queen (via @TyDowning). You are a social media tool, and you’re the best one you have.
  • Embrace a cause – partnering with a cause or charity can help you connect with your audience better and increase interaction. Build longevity into that partnership/cause and gains are realized over time.

Also, here are some social media tools mentioned throughout the two days that I jotted down to try later…I probably missed some, so feel free to chime in with those I missed in the comments section or via twitter (@NickRoshon) and I’ll add ’em in.

  • Aggregation/Feeds: Summify.com, Storify.com, Delicious
  • Timing/Scheduling/Syndication:  Tweriod, Buffer, SocialFlow.com, CrowdBooster, EdgeRank Checker, IFTTT.com, Timeu.se, SayItSocial.com, Roost.com, Hootsuite
  • Tracking: Radian6, Position2, Google Analytics, custom URL shorteners, Involver
  • Community Building: Twitter lists, Social Bro, FollowerWonk.com, Social Mention, uberVU, http://bit.ly/gplusweapon
  • Post Ideas: Did-you-knows.com, Google (“funny quotes”), Image Search, Ubersuggest, Trending Topics (Twitter, Yahoo, Google+), Q&A sites (Yahoo Questions, Quora, LinkedIn, Facebook), Google Discussions (advanced search option in left sidebar)

Thanks to all the speakers & SMX staff for putting on an awesome show!

Image credit: SearchMarketingExpo.com

SMX Scottsdale Day 1 Recap

SMX Social Media Scottsdale Day 1

SMX Social Media in Scottsdale has been awesome. Rather than trying to cover each session individually, which could easily be done as each was jam packed full of tips, stories & insights, here are the high level themes I noticed across the various presentations and presenters to guide your overall social media strategy:

  1. Be different – doing the obvious will produce mediocre results. Think big, do things different, and see what works and what doesn’t. Social Media isn’t where you want to be conservative and stick to the book.
  2. Understand your customers – personas and demographics data is critical, and can save you money in Facebook Ads and Twitter Promoted Ads, as well as greatly increase interactions.
  3. Understand your metrics – You’ll have a variety of KPIs for Twitter & Facebook depending on your goals and audience. From harvesting email addresses to branding, understanding what your KPIs are is crucial to developing even the most rudimentary SMM strategy.
  4. Make your ads count – for Twitter, your promoted tweets should kick ass – use an infographic, or otherwise awesome content, rather than a salesy page. For Facebook – use contrasting images and leverage highly targeted copy based on the targeting settings for that campaign.
  5. Make room for Google+ – now is the time to join, get in there and start experimenting & expanding your reach. Be sure to tightly segment your followers into circles so you segment your messaging accordingly. From Google’s perspective, it’s a play for data. Your social circle + search history = more effective personalization. This is what Google wants (h/t to @DanaNotman).
  6. Tools Matter, but Strategy is King – all marketers used a handful of tools (free & paid) for each channel, but the focus was never on the tool. The tool was a means to an end, not an end itself.
  7. Get feedback and adapt – whether you ask for it directly (how are we doing? what do you want to hear from us?) or your feedback comes in the form of angry tweets or facebook posts, listen to your feedback and adjust. Data is important, but equally important is listening to overall sentiment and comments.
  8. Twitter can be a good testing ground for what you want to post to other networks (blogs, Facebook, etc). In Twitter it’s okay to post more, and even repost content (aka the second chance tweet), so it’s a good “lab” for you to test various content types & strategies to apply to your broader social ecosystem.
  9. All social networks should be treated differently (amen!). If you’re syncing Facebook & Twitter, stop it right now (amen x2!). Beyond that, figure out your audiences (see above) and what they are looking for, and have separate content strategies per network. Timing & Frequency matter, too. All panelists had data & thoughts on when & how often to update your various networks, and they definitely vary by network…
  10. Advocate Outreach is critical – and it can be leveraged for all social media channels, and has the potential to both help your stories/posts spread further, as well as defend you/your brand when an irate customer bashes you. Identify your advocates and make them feel welcomed.
There was a ton of amazing information dropped, but to me, these were the sticking points. Regardless, the speakers all kicked ass, and it was awesome to be part of it. Thanks Danny Sullivan and the rest of the Search Engine Land/Marketing Land/Third Door Media group for putting on a awesome show!
Update: Be sure to also check out my SMX Social Media Day 2 Recap.

How to Optimize Your Google+ Brand Page

In my latest iCrossing Great Finds blog post, I talk about the newly launched Google+ Pages, and how brands can optimize them for better visibility. If you own a business of any kind, now is the time to join Google+ and create a Page for your business – I hope this post is helpful to you in the initial setup of your page and making sure its findable by your customers & supporters.

Chances are you have started to create a Google+ Page or plan on creating one very soon. And chances are that you want your Google+ Page to be visible. Here are some quick tips to make sure your Google+ Page is findable in search engines and will contribute to your website’s overall SEO visibility.

Google+ Page Optimization Quick Tips

* Use your official business name. Your business name will also be your Page Title, which is an important ranking factor. However, do not insert keywords unless they are part of your official, trademarked name.

* Make sure you pre-populate your page with content before announcing it to your fans on other networks. That way, they’re more likely to add you to their Google+ Circles when they get to your page.

* Include your core generic keywords in your tagline if appropriate.

* Fill out as many of the fields as you can, and be sure to include various types of media (text, photos, video, etc.) so that search engines see a rich experience when they crawl your page.

Read more: http://greatfinds.icrossing.com/how-to-make-your-google-brand-page-more-visible/