A summer interview with… Jane Copland: “noticing a lot more over-optimisation penalties and filters”

A summer interview with… Jane Copland: “noticing a lot more over-optimisation penalties and filters”

10th August 2010

There are many great search-experts out there. We decided we wanted to give some extra attention to some of them. Therefore we will be interviewing some of these experts. During the entire summer you will be served with short interviews with influential people in the industry. You will be seeing interviews with the likes of Joost de Valk, Marcus Tandler, Chris Sherman, Mike Grehan and Danny Sullivan, and off course our bloggers! Be aware that some interviews will be published in the newsletter!

Jane Copland, search expert at Ayima in London.

This interview was first published in the State of Search Newsletter. Find the last interview of the series in the next newsletter which will be sent out within the next 24 hours!

1- Can you introduce yourself in one paragraph?

I’m Jane, I’m 26 and I work at a search marketing company in London called Ayima. I’ve worked here for a year and a half: before Ayima and London, I worked for two and a half years at SEOmoz in Seattle, Washington. I work solely in organic SEO, doing both on and off-page work. Outside of work, I’ve done a lot of competitive swimming, representing New Zealand (where I was raised) and Washington State University.

2- What are you doing this summer?

Aside from working, I’m enjoying what is (so far) quite a good British summer! I’m getting to know my new country better, doing some driving around, going to festivals and concerts, and generally taking advantage of living in the UK, which I’ve really enjoyed for the past eighteen months. The Internet never stops, of course, so every weekend away comes with a week of hard work once I get back to town!

3- What is the most hottest subject in search at the moment, what should every SEO be looking into

We are noticing a lot more over-optimisation penalties and filters, almost exclusively related to sites’ backlink profiles. Some of these are pretty intricate, relating to both anchor text distribution, ratios of links to pages, and IP questions that contribute to how natural backlink profiles look. It’s now almost a given that mindlessly building optimised links to a few pages won’t work, or if it’s still working, the ground on which the site stands is shaky. Analyse your sites’ current backlink landscape and don’t neglect it. Google is only going to get better at this; they’ve taken big steps in the last few months.

4- What do you think is the “state of search” at the moment, is the industry doing good?

From the amount of time recruiters spend cold-calling our employees, and how tough it is to find good SEOs when you’re hiring, I would say that the state of search in the UK is very good. We are certainly very busy! I do see the industry maturing a lot during 2010 too, which is a good thing. People whose commentary is focused on professional subjects, rather than the mundane or the political, appear to be valued more now than ever before. Mainstream marketing and web dev’s heightened interest in search really helps this. We’re being blessed with the knowledge and commentary of people who bring new perspectives to what we do.

5- What is your favorite website, apart from your own?

For purposes completely unrelated to work, I’ll read Reddit and b3ta. I wouldn’t even say that my own website would be my favourite if given that choice, since I update by blog so infrequently (although I put a lot of effort into anything I do write there as well).

6- Can “social marketing / media” and search survive apart from each other?

Despite what is commonly believed, I believe that they can. They can help each other, but would one fail to survive without the other? Of course not. I do think that there is a strong argument that search engines take citation in social media is taken into account, and I would definitely look at what was shared on Twitter and accessible parts of Facebook if I were a search engine, as well as on a vast array of socially-focused services like Tumblr and Posterous.

If search engines are savvy enough to filter spam on the web as a whole, they are good enough to sort through spam on Twitter and in other social media centric locations, and find the quality links that people are sharing. Thus, if your content is being shared by trusted networks within Twitter, it’s likely beneficial. Is it essential when ranking for [mortgages]? No. Could it help if three hundred trusted accounts tweeted messages containing both your brand name, a link to someone you created and “mortgages”, a misspelling of the word, or its singular form? It’s definitely not going to hurt.

Much of social media’s usefulness is also going to depend on the market in which you’re working. We have most definitely worked with clients for whom social media is important. We’ve also worked in sectors where our entire effort is focused solely on technical SEO work.

I’ve developed quite a reputation as being skeptical of social media, when my skepticism is more with how it is promoted as “where search is heading”. It’s certainly convenient for someone whose technical ability is poor to deride traditional SEO as a dead discipline or one that should be left to some underpaid developer. I’m definitely less interested in it, but this is more because “marketing” is less natural to me than technical creativity and analysis.

Lastly, there is so much utter rubbish written about social media. Filter what you believe; filter it well.

7- What’s your search tip for the summer?

From a purely search perspective, make your site’s name synonymous with its goals. I’m afraid you’re going to have to work out for yourself what that means.


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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