SMX Sydney 2012 – Stephan Spencer – SEO in 2012

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

Stephan Spencer is the author of two books: Google Power Search and The Art of SEO. He is also the founder of search marketing firm Netconcepts.

Stephan starts by talking about Google’s Penguin algorithm update released on 24 April. A lot of people were hurt by the algo change which impacts 3.1% of searches. Stephan says, if you haven’t already done so, remove any dodgy SEO tactics NOW. Google is keeping a rap sheet on you – too many infractions and you could get hit.

The algorithm is basically about killing old dodgy SEO – nothing new. Lots of customers are receiving warnings in their Webmaster Tools console about spam signals such as link networks. Google Search + Your World is becoming more important now and they are trying to clean up the SERPs to display more of this social content and improve user experience.

Stephan says to give your content a better chance of being shown in SERPs, make sure your content is above the fold. Google is now distinguishing pages that have ads above the fold and filtering them out. Google is also giving more relevance weight to fresh content, so make sure you blog, post or update regularly.

A leaked copy of the Google’s Quality Raters Handbook 2011 edition shows that user intent, malware, oudated or shallow content can impact your site ranking. Sites with lots of ads can be impacted. Keyword stuffed URLs can signal spam. Google’s Panda update was about low quality pages, but Penguin is about spam. Keep in mind that Panda impacts whole sites rather than individual pages.

You should also look at the number of clicks it takes to reach each page on your site. Make quality content easier to find. Something not widely realized is that Google Instant can interfere with your URLs if you use URL parameters. One tip, says Stephan, is to use position tracking in the SERPs to determine your site’s *actual* position and then find vulnerable ranking pages above you that wouldn’t take much SEO in order to overtake them.

Keep in mind that you need to be logged in to Adwords to see historical keyword trending. You won’t see historical data if you use the Google Keywords tool without logging in, says Stephan. Also – very important – make sure you only ever research your search terms using [exact match] in the Google keywords tool, otherwise data will be skewed and inaccurate.

When it comes to SEO for videos, track your YouTube rankings using the Online Video Optimization Tracker Voot.net. It’s currently in BETA but you can request an invitation. Another tip for video optimization is to optimize your YouTube video thumbnail rather than SERP position.

You can follow Stephan on Twitter via @sspencer.

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