The #SearchLove Chronicles – Day 1 – Afternoon Sessions

The #SearchLove Chronicles – Day 1 – Afternoon Sessions

29th October 2012

After a much needed and good lunch (and a coffee escape in a bar close to the Congress Centre), we are back at SearchLove for the first two sessions of the afternoon.

There are two posts being written up to cover the afternoon of SearchLove, one by myself and the other by Jackie Hole.

And it starts with Wil Reynolds.

Session 4: Chasing Algorithms: Think Deviously, Act Angelic, and Never get Hit by a Penalty

Wil ReynoldsSEER Interactive

When Wil sees people doing theories about algorithms, Wil shakes his head.

He is not a techie, but maybe this is an advantage in how to look into the algo.

Wil asks who between the attendees has a PHD? Just one. So why the hell do we think we may understand better what tons of PHDs people is doing in Google?

But Marketing suddenly started looking at Search like a scientific formula.

But let’s be clear… marketing is Persuasion (people) and not really about Manipulation (Bots).

And we have transformed ourself into crazy scientists… but not many of us have a freaking idea of it.

Wil confesses that when he was younger he did everything possible in order to chase the algo… very stupid things too. Until he started to notice that “snow white” was not delivering (the Disney “Snow White”).

Let’s talk about cloaking. Its devilish use… and he discovered the hard way, with the Seer Interactive site being penalized.

Let’s talk about this penalty. Which means lets talk about the Seer history.

Wil did directories, which was something he did in 2005, as everybody else did. Easy, wasn’t it? Is the long term way to SEO success based on who has the best list of directories? No way.

In 2007 the Seer link profile was 50% directories and 50% something else.

In 2009 Seer did a 301 redirect of the old site…

And one day Seer disappeared. Oh s*t!!! I mean, Seer has links from very important reputable sites! Wil relied on Majestic SEO, checked the link profiles… and started digging for keywords like “SEO Company”, and realised what was wrong.

That means no RCS no Social will save you from algorithmic updates.

Check everything. Maybe your backlinks are not bad, but the sites you’re receiving the links from are in nasty verticals with a bad microsite, which maybe is part of a link network. So a penalty to a client may hit you as a side effect.

Was toxic? No links built in 3 years.

The problem with chasing algorithm is time. He needed two weeks to figure out what was going on. How much time do you need?

Then you really don’t know it, your suppositions are going to be the correct one? Remember, Google did 65 changes just in August and September.

Google Patents. The naked truth:

  1. They never implement them mostly
  2. If they do it could be 8 years in the future
  3. If it doesn’t work they’ll yank it;
  4. Surfacing Quality Content
  5. And maybe they are balancing the algo with other graphs.

All because their “mission” is rewarding quality.How many purposefully reward thin low quality content? None.

So, maybe, RCS can save you? Quality assets, in fact, are how to protect yourself.


Wil presented the case of “How do they Make Money”, an amazing interactive data visualization of how brands makes money. A piece of content where they experimented with success with a responsive infographic, to gain all the traffic from mobile.

Producing RCS kind of content makes quite easier to be promoted naturally. In their case: 1 good piece of content, 1 tweet, 1 retweet and boom. In 1 motnh 7,700 links from more than 500 domains.

And this not just creating an infographic, is creating evergreen content to which people can rely during time.

Yes, your best protection against updates is RCS.

Oh… protect yourself from affiliate/Partner risk. Remember what happened to Seer. Protip: buy their sites while they are hurting, then:

  • Do RCS
  • Clean up links
  • Disavow
  • Wait 2-12 months…
  • Get 10%/20% back…

Why directories/Articles can’t kill quality sites. SEOmoz is still ranking even after a negative SEO attack. Don’t panic!

Wil suggest to think about search breaking if…

Panic: link exchange! Mmm… really. That is something that happens naturally (just check major brands sites). And the same for when linking back editorially.

Panic: sitewide!!! Nah!

Panic: Link Velocity!!!! Don’t get crazy. How can be bad if a site suddenly create something that gets popular and links by tons of sites?

Then we must pay attention to tools. For instance Majestic SEO show as recents soon that actually are ancient, simply because it rediscovered them.

Panic is a bad adviser… and cause you doing stupid things, as deleting links from widgets when they are not harmful at all.

Panic: Infographic!!!!

How Seer avoided updates to kill itself?

  1. Doing RCS
  2. Think Devilish
    1. don’t find the outbound broken links from a competitor site to reply its schemes
    2. don’t put authorship in not authored pages. It works now, but for how long?
    3. if you passed safe Panda (20 of them) and Penguin (3 of them), then start following point 1 and do RCS to save yourself.

Then, Wil extends to Knowledge Graph, and invites us considering a new marketing tactics. With KG, or the seven links in SERPs. Those are the algo changes to pay attention to when doing RCS.

And don’t wait for the hit to come.

Session 5: Do Social Signals Actually Play a Part in Search Ranking?

Heather HealyStickyEyes

Heather background is communication. And she has a “unique” background; she is the daughter of deft parents. So communication was a necessity! Communication is everything for her.

In Internet Marketing communication is:

  • find out what stuff your customers like
  • find where they talk
  • give them what they want where they are

But what about the ROI?

And then one day Matt Cutts that, yes… social signals are part of our algorithm [Note: it was 2010].

Heather launched a complex experiment involving tons of domains, each one monitored for every possibile metric we can think about as a ranking factor.

And the result was that at first the 80% of sites rankings was not influenced by Social Signals…

But she found out a correlation was existing between the number of links and rankings:

  • Exrernal links to url 0.276 correlation
  • Unique links to url 0.275 correlation
  • Social for URL 0.219 correlation

In the last case it means an endorsement via Social Media.

Remember that correlation is not causation!

Dig more. If we correlate social interactions and unique links the correlation goes up to 0.638

Oh… by the way Matt Cutts said that it is still too soon to forget about links.

Case History: Batman infographic for Moneysupermarket. SEO was driven by Social Media shares.

What did happen?

  • Content produced
  • Socially shared
  • Heyuguys (movie blog) shared the infographic thanks to relationship marketing
  • Design Taxi did the same
  • And finally Mashable shared the infographic because influenced by Design Taxi.

In order to obtain those same results you have to work with influencers (Followerwonk is great for this, as MentionMap), connect with them and make them part of your strategy.

What is clear that the links’ acquisition graph is quite similar to the social shares graph, with a some sort of little delay, which is somehow demonstrating how first comes Social and just after the links.

You can assign a value to link using a citation-flow bracket. For instance, a link with a citation flow bracket between 40-49 may have a minimal value of 442 Pounds and a maximum value of 1,000 Pounds. Obviously you have to give a value accordingly to your niche. And create a value scale you can monetize the ROI of links and, thanks to correlation calculation, the Social Shares ROI.

But, again, Social Signals are related to better rankings. Some examples seems saying no to us, and some others show very negative results when it comes to rankings.

Things you should do. Social Media can be a valuable tool, but especially for influencers outreach if you’re thinking about SEOcial and Link Building. Not because of rankings. And monetize the ROI in the correlation between links and social mentions, not rankings.


Written By
Gianluca Fiorelli is an SEO and Web Marketing Strategist, who operates in the Italian, Spanish and English speaking countries market. He also works regularly as independent consultant with bigger international SEO agencies.
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