SMX Sydney 2012 – Aidan Beanland – SEO Essentials for Web Migration

This is a summary of Aidan Beanland’s presentation at Search Marketing Expo / Online Marketer Conference held in Sydney 1-2 May 2012. Aidan Beanland at SMX Sydney 2012

Aidan Beanland is the SEO & Audience Optimisation Manager for Yahoo!7 in Australia. Aidan directs SEO operations for Australia and New Zealand and advises on international strategy for the Yahoo! network.

Aidan explains there are 3 phases to a successful web migration:

Phase 1 – Research / Strategy

What’s changing? Your migration situation could be any of the following:

  • Moving from one domain to another
  • Switching to a new Content Management System (CMS), creating new URLs
  • Significant changes to site content
  • Update to site’s Information Architecture
  • A new geographic audience
  • Merging one or more sites together
  • Changing your web host

…or a combination of these.

Aidan suggests asking the following questions prior to migration:

  • Why are you doing this? Content? CMS? Design? Acquisition? CEO says so? Be clear about your objectives.
  • Does this NEED to happen? Really?
  • What can be migrated separately? Know the roadmap and any dependencies.
  • Will this cause new SEO challenges? AJAX, Flash, poor information architecture?
  • What enhancements can be included?
  • Are you aware of the risks? Really?
  • Who’s idea was it? Make sure responsibility is clear.

Phase 2 – Planning / Benchmarking

Before migration, Aidan recommends taking benchmark stats so that you can check these again after migration. During the month before migration, record these stats:

  • Click Through Rates, average search positions, external/internal links, content keywords via Google webmaster tools
  • Top search referral keywords, conversions from SEO by keyword phrase/URL
  • Engagement metrics (bounce rate, session length, PVs/visit, etc)
  • Top referring URLs
  • Geographic locations of visitors
  • Search engine referrals (note seasonal variations)

SEO Migration Task List

Determine your ‘money pages':
• The most search engine referrals
• Highest link equity (page authority, root links, link diversity)
• Best conversions

Split search engine referrals keyword phrases into three buckets:
1. Brand terms
2. Competitive ‘head’ terms
3. Long tail terms

Rank check your top 50/100 referring search queries and take note. Record your most common internal search queries.

Planning Task List

  • Check new domain and/or host IP has no *ghosts*.
  • Ensure new domain WHOIS entry is correct (same as current if possible)
  • Put the new domain live with a holding page linking to the current site
  • Ensure current and new domains are verified in Google Webmaster Tools
  • Replace absolute with relative links
  • Evaluate new site wireframes/mock-ups and incorporate SEO requirements
  • Retain (and improve) internal link structure if possible
  • Crawl old site to generate a URL list
  • Inform registered users that a new site is coming

301 Redirect Task List

  • List most important current URLs and corresponding new URLs
  • Set up 1-1 redirects for all key SEO (and other traffic source) pages
  • For less important pages create redirect rules, e.g. Capture descriptive words from old URL to return a search listing on those words
  • 301 redirect old sitemap.xml files to their new location

New Site Final Task List

  • Put the staging site behind IP restriction AND/OR Password protect
  • robots.txt disallow
  • Crawl the new site (using Xenu or similar). Looks for the usual culprits:
    – 404s
    – Incorrect redirects (don’t forget images and files like PDFs!)
    – Dupe/missing page titles & descriptions
    – High click depth
    – Large/slow pages
    – Non-canonical URLs/content
    – Use old site URLs as a crawl list to check redirects are working
  • Set up a 301 redirect s/sheet so tech team has a clear map of instructions
  • Stress test! Can it handle the load?
  • Set up Google Alerts for something unique to your new pages so you know as soon as your new pages are in the index

Phase 3 – Migration

10 First Steps:
1. Remove robots.txt and/or password/IP restriction
2. Lower your DNS TTL (time to live) to ~5 mins/300s then update DNS setting
to new host IP
3. Verify new site in Google Webmaster Tools
4. Use Google’s ‘Change of Address’ tool
5. Re-crawl to check for errors
6. Submit new XML sitemap(s)
7. Check indexation (site: ) and sitemaps in GWT
8. Keep both sites live until ALL users are now going to new site
9. Inform your users and your industry – PR opportunity?
10. Update external links

Next steps:

Redirect old pages to new pages in stages, suggests Aidan. Splitting the migration process into manageable chunks allows for rollbacks and better cause/effect troubleshooting.

An example:
1. Migrate to new host – wait ~1 week
2. Redirect site to a new domain – wait until traffic stabilises
3. Migrate content (one section/directory of the site at a time) – wait several
weeks

Phase 4 – Monitoring

Some things to keep tracking after the migration:

  • Use the old site URL list as a crawl list to check redirects are still working
  • Check sitemap indexation & crawl errors/volume in Google Webmaster Tools
  • Remember to check rankings for other search engine gTLDs if your business relates to other countries
  • Check referrers to your 404 page. Use this to fix broken links (on and off-site)
  • Check internal search queries – have they changed from the old version? Use this to enhance navigation
  • Canonicalisation? Are all pages consistently with or without out www.? https://?
  • Keep ownership of the old domain! Indefinitely! Maintain redirects
  • Monitor key business goals
  • Tidy up broken links – return a 404 or 301 to logical equivalent
  • Regain site links if they got removed
  • Update & add external links – contact webmasters, may be chance to improve them or add more. Prioritise by value (SEO and navigational)
  • Backfill any organic traffic slump with PPC traffic
  • Ask your loyal users for feedback on their experience of the new site
  • Update your local listing entries (e.g. Google Places), if necessary
  • Flush out old links. Point links to these from an indexed but low value page to force recognition of the 301 redirect.
  • If things go really wrong – roll back!

Site Migration Dos and Don’ts

  • Don’t do it! (or at least don’t switch everything at once)
  • Don’t get excited when referrals increase immediately after launch – this can happen when old + new URLs are indexed and appear together in SERP, or when Google ‘tests’ new domains for CTR and engagement.
  • Don’t blanket redirect all old pages to your new home page
  • Don’t let your old domain lapse
  • Do hold your ground and be patient. You’ve explained the risks and time-frame to the business (right?).
  • Do update your most valuable links – Don’t rely on the 301 passing on link juice in full or quickly
  • Do be prepared for a roller coaster ride! Traffic can fluctuate, some things don’t work as expected, sometimes a post-switch site can perform more strongly than you’d hoped.

Good luck!

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SMX Sydney 2012 – Christine Churchill – Advanced Keyword Modeling

This is a summary of Christine Churchill’s presentation at Search Marketing Expo / Online Marketer Conference held in Sydney 1-2 May 2012. Christine Churchill SMX Sydney

Christine Churchill is the President and CEO of KeyRelevance.com, a full service online marketing company that specializes in helping businesses succeed on the web.

Christine starts by saying we need to understand the user intent with searches and where they are in the buying cycle.

Too many webmasters get the on-page SEO keywords right, but they don’t match content with searcher intent.

Keywords can indicate *exactly* where the consumer is in the buying cycle.

Christine recommends reading A Taxonomy of Web Search – a paper by Andrei Broder.

A lot of people still type in navigational queries into Google – using it as a browser e.g. CNN, Disney. Also typing informational searches eg, “How do I…”

Google rewards content that delivers the intent of original search. Searcher intent is key. Therefore, you should design your page to support the query type. Ideally, there should be no ads on an informational page.

Transactional searches should lead to a ecommerce or transactional page e.g. download, sign up, purchase etc.

 

Recommended Tools for Keyword Research

Google Keyword Toolbox is an obvious place to start. Another rarely used option is to put a URL into the Google Keywords Tool (as opposed to a keyword), to see related keywords for a particular site. Great source of potentially overlooked keywords.

Yahoo Clues offers a great source for keyword research and searcher demographic by region.

Google Contextual Targeting Tool (accessible via adwords) is like a digital version of the now defunct Wonder Wheel. It’s a free tool and builds a themed keyword list.

Google Trends shows US search trends in real time and related content themes growing in popularity.

DoubleClick Ad Planner is a great for competitive research.

Google Insights for Search is excellent for search term trends – future or past.

Google Instant makes a great keyword research tool as well. Don’t overlook Google’s predictive search for research purposes. It gives you great content ideas based on popular topics. But remember that Google Instant shows different results if used in Google Shopping Search.

Ubersuggest will give you alphabetical keyword suggestions.

Twitter Search is ideal for real time keyword trends.

YouTube Keyword Tool can give you additional ideas, particularly for promoting multimedia content.

YouTube Suggest is basically the same as Google Instant, but for YouTube searches. Search on YouTube for an initial keyword and notice the drop down auto-complete search suggestions to get keywords and ideas for popular video content.

 

Recommended Tools for Competitive Intelligence

Searchmetrics provides detailed competitor keyword information for paid, organic and universal search.

SEMRush provides competitor intelligence data for PPC bids, search rankings and more.

Spyfu enables you to see current and previous bids for PPC keywords, even ad content and historic performance.

SEOmoz Keyword Difficulty Tool allows you to compare two keyword phrases to decide best one. Also shows you the link competition you might face to target particular keywords.

When trying to cope with the loss of referrer data in your analytics (the dreaded *not provided* stats) – look at Google Keywords tool for missing queries to see those from persons not logged in to a Google account when searching. Look at Bing and other engines as well to fill in the blanks. Use PPC tests to get a guide from impressions and infer that missing data from your analytics by looking at referrer keywords and phrases.

When you’ve found your sweet spot keyword list, use those keywords in ALL your digital data, not just web pages. That should include podcasts, videos, tweets, infographics and so on.

 

Geographical Keyword Research

Use region-specific keyword research tools where available. Use Excel to power your keyword research strategy, it’s a much overlooked tool. Watch that the Google keyword tool is accurate for your region. Perhaps subsidise this data with local research and impression data from your locally targeted Google AdWords campaign.

 

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SMX Sydney 2012 – Michael King – Tools for pulling rank

This is a summary of Michael King’s presentation at Search Marketing Expo / Online Marketer Conference held in Sydney 1-2 May 2012.Mike King at SMX Sydney

Michael King is Director of Inbound Marketing at iPullRank and is also leading the expansion of iAcquire’s offering into on-page optimization and digital brand strategy.

Michael’s presentation is all about his favorite tools. He starts by saying he has 78 slides but only 20 minutes to present them so it’s going to be a FAST presentation. Here are the tools Michael uses:

 

Programming Tools

Code Academy – learn javascript

Udacity.com – learn python


On Page Analysis Tools

Screaming Frog

Scraper for Chrome

Web Developer Plugin for Chrome

SEOmoz Tools

HttpFox

Firebug add-on for Firefox

Page Speed Plugin

Open Graph Helper

 

Keyword Research Tools

Keyword Eye

Yahoo Clues

Soovle

Ubersuggest

Scrapebox

Google Adwords API Excel Plugin by SEO Gadget

 

Content Ideas

GoFish

Google Docs Tool by Seo Gadget

Facebook Recommendations Demo

Zemanta

 

Spreadsheet Tools

SEO Tools by Niels Bosma

Import XML for Google Docs

 

Link Building Tools

Link Research Tools

Link Detective

FollowerWonk

Outreachr Bulk Domain Check Tool

Ontolo

Link Building Guides

 

Competitive Analysis Tools

Searchmetrics Essentials

 

Analytics Tools

Keyword Level Demographics

Social Analytics WordPress Plugin

Google Analytics Debugger

 

Audience Targeting Tools

Facebook Ad Creator

Facebook Insights

DoubleClick Ad Planner

 

Social Media Tools

Twitter Follow / Link Tool

Simply Measured

KnowEm

MentionMapp

IFTTT

Rapportive

BuzzStream

 

Time Saving Tools

Boomerang

ManageWP

 

Infographics & Data Visualization Tools

World Government Data

Google Public Data

Infogr.am

Dipity

Story Bird

 

Link Analysis Tools

Majestic SEO Site Explorer

Ahrefs

Blekko

Link Diagnosis

Broken Link Index

 

Search Engine Ranking Tools

Stat Search Analytics

 

Staff and Freelancers

Mechanical Turk

 

Phew! That’s a lot of tools. If you want to see some screengrabs or read more, Mike’s full slide deck can be downloaded from here.

A couple of my own favorite tools that weren’t in Mike’s list:

Copyscape – which enables you to search for stolen/scraped copies of your content on the web.

Raven Tools – which is a suite of time saving tools for a wide range of SEO / SEM tasks, including keyword research, link building, rank checking, reputation management and social media posting and monitoring. I’d be absolutely lost without this one!

Do you have a favorite Search Engine Marketing tool not in this list? I’d love to hear about it. Please share it in the comments.

 

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SMX Sydney 2012 – Robert Moorman – Developing a video content marketing campaign

This is a summary of Robert Moorman’s presentation at Search Marketing Expo / Online Marketer Conference held in Sydney 1-2 May 2012.Robert Moorman at SMX Sydney 2012

Robert Moorman is a Video Strategist at Hunting With Pixels, a company that specializes in strategic social video campaigns. Robert has over 20 years of experience working as a video producer for media organisations like Fremantle Media and MTV in the UK, Australia and Europe.

Content is king but distribution is queen, says Robert. Content is now about ideas, not tech. For example, 8 year olds who use iPads don’t need to know interface design in order to use it. Video content must be engaging, authentic, simple and memorable.

Robert kicked off showing a corporate video that emphasizes the relationships formed by a business rather than the product they sell.

 

Video Content Optimization

There are a couple of major things to remember when optimizing your video content, says Robert:

  • Highlight your branding early so people associate it with the visual message.
  • Include your call to action early, in case people don’t view the entire video.
  • Don’t forget audio quality. Poor audio will automatically reflect poorly on your brand. TEST it!
  • Short videos generally perform better. If possible, keep your videos to 2-3 minutes.
  • Use graphics and captions in your videos to highlight key points.
  • Be engaging and relevant.

Robert then showed a Nintendo 3DS promotional video that acknowledges the audience is smart. Clever approach, it worked well with the target market and had a viral impact because it was funny.

Video Distribution Channels

There are quite a few video distribution channels available – YouTube is not everything. So here are the options:

  • YouTube – the obvious choice.
  • Vimeo Pro – is an excellent HD quality hosting option.
  • Vid.ly - is great for video transcoding and checking if your video is viewable on multiple platforms.

Video Content Syndication Tips

  • Get your videos embedded by others. If you haven’t already read it, read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. It will give you some ideas for how to make your videos memorable and sharable.
  • Make sure your videos are fully searchable. Fill out all the fields when uploading them to YouTube and other content placeholders. Put the http URL in the video title and/or video description so it becomes a clickable link.
  • Use playlists to your advantage.
  • When viewing YouTube, choose the right thumbnail, do keyword research to find popular related keywords.
  • Turn on transcription / subtitles when uploading your videos to create an automatic text version of your content.
  • Context matters – be wary of where your vid appears.
  • Use seeding and video advertising platforms – eg. TubeMogul or YouTube advertising to auto distribute your video content via similar content.

Video Marketing Tips

  • Be sharable – use video plugins that make it easy.
  • Be easy to use.
  • Make your video content easily navigable.
  • Don’t use shortcuts – quality is key with video content.
  • Use YouTube analytics to keep up with viewer statistics and tweak your videos based on viewer activity.
  • If you need to create a video-based site, try Vidcaster – instant micro websites made for videos.
  • For tips on how to SEO your videos, read Reelseo.com regularly.

Robert then talked about a new marketing trend – interactive video content. He showed the Choose a Different Ending video that paused and gave viewers two storyline options to choose from eg. “take the knife”, or “don’t take the knife”, like the alternative ending books you used to read as a kid. Ultimately, you choose whether to live or die. The video was created by DropTheWeapons.org as an awareness tool to break the circle of youth violence and weapons crime.

Robert then showed a video that was a Flash video that entirely mimicked a YouTube page – A Hunter Shoots a Bear – with the word *shoots* able to be replaced by user chosen via keyboard [fun tip – type in *dances with*]. It was a clever ad for Tipp-Ex correction fluid. Apparently they shot over 100 different keyword scenarios. Robert showed another where the company had created an entire website just using video.

In summary, video marketing doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Just give it a go. Look into buying a mid range video camera, a cheapish background screen and a spotlight in order to DIY videos for your site. You can get an entire package for under $1,200.

 

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SMX Sydney 2012 – Anne Kennedy – Duplication, syndication & all that other mess

This is a summary of Anne Kennedy’s presentation at Search Marketing Expo / Online Marketer Conference held in Sydney 1-2 May 2012.Anne Kennedy at SMX Sydney 2012

Anne Kennedy has co-authored the first book on international SEO and PPC, called Global Search Engine Marketing. Anne provides search engine consulting to hundreds of companies worldwide and formed an international online marketing consortium with Nordic eMarketing in Reykjavik, London, Stockholm, Rome and Beijing.

Duplicate content happens, says Anne. URL duplication is a big one. This is where you see several different versions of the same page being indexed and/or linked to. For example:

– http://www.site.com
– http://site.com
– http://www.site.com/index.shtml
– http://iste.com/index.shtml

and so on.

You should always use the Rel=canonical tag to lose the canonical versions of pages and also let Google know in Webmaster Tools which version of your pages to index.

Anne says to watch your crawl budget. Your crawl budget is the percentage of your site that Googlebot will crawl. Googlebot rarely crawls your entire site, so keep your low quality pages out of the index by excluding them from your sitemap and blocking them using robots.txt.

Common Duplication Causes

A very common duplicate content mistake is to have printer-friendly versions of your content. Whatever you do, lose the print friendly versions from your sitemap!

Use 301 redirects on your pages, but only when necessary because not all link value will transfer to your replacement pages. PageRank will not transfer 100 percent over to pages if you 301 redirect them – keep that in mind.

Think about using a separate XML feed for your product pages, says Anne. Separate out your e-commerce or product-specific pages from your main sitemap and create a sitemap just for them. Upload the two sitemaps separately in your Google Webmaster Tools account.

Content syndication and site scraping can cause duplicate content headaches. If you are an article syndicator or blogger, make sure you link back to the original article with the title in the anchor text within the article, not the footer, because some syndications sites strip links out of footers. Require syndicators to use the canonical url version or require a no index (exclusion) of the article link in their robots.txt. This will ensure Google finds the original article more easily.

Another trick is to give syndicators a logo or image to go with the article that contains a link to your article and article title in the alt tag of the logo/image. Syndicators will often miss those.

Be sure to update your XML sitemap immediately whenever you publish a new article or blog post – you can use WordPress plugins to update your sitemap automatically for this.

If your article is out of date or no longer accurate and you want it gone from the SERPs for good, use a 410 code to tell Google the article is GONE. This is a more permanent solution than 404.

Dont put your international content on your English TLD. If you want your content to rank well in a particular international market, you should put the content on a related TLD e.g. a German language site should site on site.de or at the very least, de.site.com. Your international content will rank better in regional markets if you have links pointing to it from related TLDs e.g. site.de will rank better in Google.de if it has plenty of .de sites linking to it.

And finally – dont leave it up to the bots! Take control of your content.

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