The panelists consisted of representatives from Google (Pierre Far), Bing (Dave Coplin), Expedia (Martin McDonald) and well known Freelancer Rishi Lakhani -
Question 1 – Is SEO doomed, damned and/or in it’s infancy?
Google (Pierre) – SEO has never been dying. It’s evolving, and we’ve seen it change over time.
Martin McDonald – it’s in its infancy – but SEO will evolve, SEO will evolve into any organic medium. (e.g. mobile apps)
Rishi – The industry unfortunately has no standard practice, ethics board or a governing body – until this is implemented it will be difficult for the industry to be a formally recognised industry.
Bing (Dave Coplin) – SEOs were like magicians, alchemists. No one understand what SEOs do. However, SEO will evolve well beyond what we can imagine -
There is no career path laid out, but SEOs have the ability to shape whatever career they want.
SEOs are passionate; this alone is commendable – you’d never see 1000 attendees for an email marketing conference!
Q2 – Question aimed for Pierre – “Been getting inquiries from people who have got themselves de-indexed. However, it’s been very difficult to define what a bad link is? Could you broadly classify what a ‘bad link’ is? secondly, what is the re-inclusion, process?”
Answer, when you say de-indexed, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s out of the index, only that it doesn’t rank in the SERPs. There’s 2 ways of getting penalised: manual penalty (the more serious penalty) and algorithmic penalty (e.g. can get away by changing on-page layout etc.)
So how do you classify if a link is bad? Ask yourself the following questions:
1) does the webmaster of the linking website genuinely want to link to you?
2) does linking to you add value to the user?
In terms of reinclusion – show that you have made an effort – Let Google know that you have identified bad links, you have emailed all the webmasters, these guys say they can’t remove them, these guys never got back to me, etc. and we will make an effort to help you.
Also make sure to tell us what you did, and to be honest.
Rishi – Check GWT, and see if there’s any dodgy links pointing to you
Martin – “How about competitive industries where people buy massive amounts of links?”
Pierre – buying links is a definite NO! Definitely report it!
We use over 200 signals, and there are some websites that rank without any links.
Q3 – What about Content? What should shape a good content strategy?
Bing (Dave Coplin) – Definitely social; it’s the new kid on the block, if you are bloody good, then your content will get shared.
So What is social? (Dave) For Bing it’s Twitter and Facebook
Google (Pierre)- who are my users? what do they want? and do they get it? Every page on your site must supply a knowledge demand. Use rich snippets, when dealing with duplicate content think about what you choose to serve as canonical. Also content doesn’t only mean text, use video, images, apps, reviews etc.
Rishi – Think about whether you are making it easy for people to share?
Does your content have tips?
Update old content. Ask yourself if these need updating, are they still relevant?
Add genuine resources in your posts.
Q4 – Do you test before rolling out Google Analytics redesigns?
Pierre: yes, we do test. We serve webmasters, serve in-house webmasters, agencies, so eventually something will have to give, but we try to cover as much as we can. Also provide us with specific feedback – tell us why the design is bad? Don’t say “your redesign is crap!” tell us what is the deficiency and how we should improve it.
Q5 – What is good social signals?
Bing (Dave)- good social signal is the quantity of the shares, the speed of which it is getting shared.
Google (Pierre)- if you are raising awareness about something, and it is genuinely shareable content, then these will get the coverage naturally.
Q6 – Aimed at Pierre – “you mentioned that you should know who your customers are, and what they’re looking for? Can you tell us about not giving us the search query data”?
Pierre: We do provide this data in in GWT – for most webmasters this data is more than sufficient.
Martin – The data sample size is so small that it’s rubbish, I rank for Expedia!
Rishi – I rank for insurance according to GWT. The data isn’t accurate.
Pierre – GWTs process data differently, our main focus is about protecting users and we don’t want user’s personal data being compromised by providing search query data especially with the roll out of Google plus your world.
Bing – easy to be angry about this – I’m not defending Google, or “dissing” them, but you must genuinely appreciate that there’s a larger issue here. People are getting more concerned about privacy issues.
But it certainly does show that there is an underlying need for more discussion and engagement among all parties; users, webmasters, legislators and search engines.