Original, unique, compelling content is, in so many ways, still the cornerstone of a website’s SEO goals. I would emphasize the word cornerstone, as it is one ingredient or building block in a larger recipe, and that unique and compelling content is paramount, as this content will stand the best chance of getting picked up and linked to. The better we can get at our keyword discovery, and the better we create and develop our clients site’s into comprehensive local resources, the more we will ascend the rankings and produce real results. For on-site SEO, bolded text, header tags, meta keywords are basically cosmetic, but title tags, anchor linking, great keyword topics certainly still help and we should be doing perfectly.
One way to look at how Google Search actually functions is a two-tiered system. When the engine seeks/finds search terms that it finds further down the long tail, less competitive, many of the techniques we apply towards SEO fall fairly-well in alignment with ranking methods -proper page tags, original page tags, anchor linking. The closer you get to the short tail, and more importantly the more competitive the target, the more authoritative links become the measure to meet. Authoritative links means; if highly-ranked authority hubs in your industry and location haven’t heard of you, you must not be that important. This means that even our best on-site optimization, perhaps 100′s of pages of SEO copy, will not compete for a Grade A target.
“Think about this, Google has over 24 of the world’s top mathematics PHD’s full-time on staff, every day. The algorithm can almost perfectly define and rank relevance to a website without ever visiting a page on the site, purely through link analysis…!” –Our new Pubcon friend Jeff from San Diego after about 5 martinis.
If you find all this above wildly fascinating, learn more about how Google works here:
http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/papers/google.pdf – super-interesting stuff, the original Google prototype, in 1997, 12 years ago…
http://web.archive.org/web/20070115000853/http:/www.cs.toronto.edu/~georgem/hilltop/ – super-interesting stuff, expert documents.
http://www.cs.cornell.edu/home/kleinber/auth.pdf – more on authority.
I think regarding our current keyword research techniques, web strategists would be wise to avoid keyword terms that have Top Tier scores, and within those results, higher anchor link and page rank numbers. (FYI – my experts at the conference claim the pagerank tool to be totally unrelated to whatever is Google’s current, actual “pagerank”, but rough gauges are better than none for us at the moment…)
A few cool things to brush up on:
using Boolean search operators: AND, OR, etc
using site operator searches more in Google and Yahoo
understanding benefits of the canonical tag, and cross-domain canonicalization
There were many other super important things I learned at Pubcon, but in the interest of job security I’m going to keep them to myself. jk – but if I think of anything important I’ll let everyone know.
Some helpful (in no particular order)
There are great tools/links on Jon Henshaw’s presentation slides: http://www.slideshare.net/jonhenshaw
http://www.semrush.com – a variety of cool tools, from the makers of SEOQuake
http://search.twitter.com – scrap user content for keyword ideas and more
http://training.seobook.com/hubfinder – identify authority hubs for link building strategy
http://www.majesticseo.com/ majestic seo – link analysis
Google webmaster channel http://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleWebmasterHelp
http://www.bruceclay.com/video/audio.htm – a dinosaur, but still sharp
www.webuildpages.com – Jim Boykin – a Link Building Conference Panelist, and former park ranger
http://www.thinkseer.com/blog Sharp SEO from Philly
http://www.huomah.com/ – SEO Dojo