Attending an SEO conference following the recent changes in search was always going to be interesting. Dave Snyder CEO of SteelCast described perfectly what we here at PushON have witnessed from afar as “linkpocalypse”; the devaluation of low quality link building due to recent algorithm changes and manual reviews.
Google Issues Webmaster Notices of Artificial or Unnatural Links
To bring you up to speed with recent industry news; a large number of low quality link networks have been de-indexed and some 700,000 warning messages stating the detection of “artificial” or “unnatural” links have been sent out to webmasters. As a result of this action taken by Google many users of ‘blackhat’ SEO techniques recently dropped rankings quite dramatically.
Unsurprisingly these recent changes in search were spoken of extensively at ionSearch. The message coming from almost all of the speakers was the same; ‘whitehat’ SEO techniques are more important now than at any point previously if you want to stay ahead of the competition.
Key points from the conference:
Dave Snyder and Tom Anthony of Distilled both presented an accurate recreation of the evolution of SEO. Both speakers showed how search engines have participated in a game of cat and mouse to prevent blatant gaming of the system, bringing us up to the most recent update.
Recent unnatural link penalties and notices to webmasters were a recurring topic. Tim Grice of Branded 3 showed how easy it is to spot an unnatural link profile using SEOmoz, hammering home the point that if we can see it search engines certainly can.
Tim had also undertaken some testing on anchor text variation. He concluded that it is dangerous to over optimise for specific terms and algorithmic penalties exist to penalise those participating in this activity. Tim’s recommendations that incoming anchor text should be varied with a maximum 10% focus on any particular search term to avoid algorithmic filters and/or penalties were agreed with by all on the day. Tim had also seen improvements in search positions through choosing anchor text that had relevance to the surrounding content on the page.
Moving onwards from what we shouldn’t be doing, Tom Anthony delivered what was for me the session of the day in which he spoke extensively about Google authorship.
‘Social shares are the new link building’ – Tom Anthony
Tom presented a believable theory that when a Google+ account is linked to an article it will act as a system of quality control. Authors content will be naturally vetted by the community as only quality content will naturally be shared (+1’s). Ultimately, links from authors who achieve a higher social status in the community will have more weighting than those without prominent Google author accounts.
The rising prominence of Google authorship provides a clear case of why the development of an SEO plan around quality, engaging content is so important and Lee Odden’s session provided more insight into this. His approach of ‘segmentation of customers and creating a content and editorial strategy that considers all of these segments’ really struck a chord with the work we have been doing here at PushON.
Unibet provided some useful insights into their Google+ strategy. Offering customers exclusive hang out’s with betting experts and engaging users with tongue in cheek Meme’s have proved successful. Despite the prominence of their brand the uptake has been slow, refreshingly though Unibet do recognise the long term importance of building a strong Google+ following for the search benefits it presents.
If anyone was left in doubt about the rising importance of social sharing in SEO, Google+ representative Danny Gray made an appearance and spoke enthusiastically about the social network. Gray presented us with the facts; ‘90% of people trust a friends recommendation and as a result CTR’s are up on average 5-10% from +1’s’.
ionSearch 2012 certainly provided a clear indication of how SEO is evolving. Creative marketing strategies that engage customers and facilitate social activity are now more powerful than ever in search.
For more information on the event visit: www.ionsearch.co.uk
PushON SEO Executive: +Tom Fitton