SEO in 2011 What’s Working, What’s Not? – SMX London 2011

SEO in 2011 What’s Working, What’s Not? – SMX London 2011

16th May 2011

Hi again folks, in an effort to get posts out as quickly as possible I’m going to stick with a “Top Tips” format for this next session. Today we’ve got Max Thomas of Thunder SEO, Mikel deMib Svendsen of deMib and Christine Churchill of Key Relevance.

As an aside may I just interject the fact that Mikel deMib Svendsen is wearing an excellent patterned suit and the cover slide of his presentation deck looks a bit like it was inspired by a GeoCities website, very excited about this one! We’ll definitely link to it once the decks go live.

What’s Working?


Links, links from relevant sites and NOW links with active URLs are now also a factor.

Engagement factors and URLs that people are engaging with and sharing is now important.

The key is content and creating engaging content that attracts users and people want to share around.

Make link building part of your business process: example is creating a badge for vendors when a company does not work directly with the customers and has vendors that can use them. Possible to do this without hiring an SEO agency.

Create community as part of your content strategy – official guest blogging programmes as a potential opportunity to get more links as well by making use of truly knowledgeable individuals in the particular field. Also seeing an increase in qualified leads (perhaps more valuable and good information to have!).

Don’t put all your eggs in Google’s basket and diversify your traffic channels.


Top Tip: “do not optimise for search engines, optimise for users”. It is a bit of a vague one but it is important.

It is very very difficult to reverse engineer any algorithm but it’s not impossible. Particularly with all the on and off-site factors and signals being used (including social).

You can still trick the engines but you need to be much smarter.

Optimise for what you think the search engines will do. Think about social media, a couple of years ago everyone knew that it would and had to matter, and now it does. Starting work in the social space a few years ago is now paying off! Get ahead of the algorithm.


Instant has changed searcher behaviour, good titles are more important than ever for click through rates, but also still the number 1 on-page ranking factor.

Google Suggest is also influencing queries and behaviour. Site owners should adapt their keyword strategies in response (as we mentioned in the keynote this morning). May change future searches by virtue of people seeing it when they do a search now.

Good page layout and design works as does reducing the number of ads on a page.

Increasing time spent on site and not going back to Google is helping rankings (would be really interested to see some data to support this as many have mentioned this in the past). The “long click” as an indicator of a strong site.

Local search optimisation helping broader SEO performance as well.

Defensive marketing (diversification and optimising for numerous chanels such as press releases, other communities or blogs, using video, paid traffic, etc.).

Reviews also can help rankings a great deal as an emerging search signal.

What’s Not Working?


Having a lot of URLs with which people aren’t engaging with is not advisable.

Scalable linkbuilding by way of buying links, directories, comment spam, etc.


All the easy stuff that used to work in the 1990s. Much more competitive now than it ever was back then!

Spam and “tricking the engines” require much more intelligence and the life cycle is much shorter. Still worth it in some games but not in most.

Basing your strategy on entirely reverse engineering the search engines means you’re optimising for yesterday’s algorithm. Chasing the algorithm can be fun but the ends (results) will not justify the work it takes).

Sites with high bounce rates, duplicate content and crumby content farming (cue the Panda photos).

Low quality directories are no longer a good approach to take, they are polluting the space and Google has deindexed most of these.


Thin content mass produced and automated.

Sites and URLs that are not being shared.

One bad page with low quality content can hurt the whole site.


Written By
Sam Crocker is SEO Associate Director at OMD UK. Sam focuses on increasing traffic and conversions for websites whilst always keeping his eye on a company’s bottom line.
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