SEO for the Non-SEO: Bruce Clay

October 15th, 2013

Get ready to have your pliable brain cells molded into the image of Clay. (He’s just about to start…an expectant hush falls over the room.)

Bruce is the world’s best SEO trainer, says Mark Knowles. (Not too shabby!)

Attendees were presented with a booklet that represents a 4 1/2-day course.

Most people have learned to do SEO by a process similar to the game “telephone.” I’m going to start by giving everyone how to fish–not any particular tools. I’m teaching you what SEO is, so you know what it is.

Ambiguity is the biggest problem the search engines have. When you search for “cars,” do you want the Disney movie, or the vehicle. Google makes their money on PPC. Google claims they spend 2 out of every $3 maintaining organic results–to them it is a necessary evil. Does Google care whether your site ranks? They are in the business of making money. Google says you have to earn your right to free traffic.

Look up “hammer” on Google. The only “tool” listed there is M.C. Hammer. People click on the bolded word(s). They don’t read every word, they scan for bolded words–so bold some of your keywords above the fold, even if it’s not a link. We know people will click on bolded words. If you want to rank for a particular keyword, you need to have the word bolded on the page and in the title so that it’s seen. When I click on a word showing up on the search engine page, there is an implied promise that this is what the page is about.

Is SEO responsible for conversion? NO. For traffic? YES. Google gets more and more complex and it becomes more difficult to track. We care about traffic, but do we care about ranking among keywords? The answer is no. What can we do to reduce the bounce rate. Two ways to make money: double your conversion, decrease the bounce–I think we need to do both. We get higher satisfaction when we meet the promise of the search page.

We want to target ourselves to be as high us as we can. Ranking matters, but it’s the traffic that matters most. In a normal world, most people stop clicking at page one–same reason you stop looking for your car keys when you find them.

Wikipedia: The “weed of the Internet.” Not THAT kind of weed!

It used to be 48% who went to #1 listing on page one. Now, Wikipedia is the “weed of the Internet” and most people skip over it. What we want is to be in the top three.

This year, Google has already changed their algorithm over 525 times–that’s about once every 13 hours. We can’t know what they are doing, but we need to UNDERSTAND THE GOAL. You’re not here to beat Google, you’re here to beat the competitors. You need to understand, “what is Google rewarding; how do we do it better than everyone else.” What is the natural behavior?

Bing is SO MUCH BETTER than Google. The Bing index is different than the Google index. It’s very common to have a site do well on one search engine, and not the other. Every keyword actually is truly a separate target. The search engines don’t understand what the words mean. The only way it “learns” is to read a million pages. It analyzes the pages and determines what is a natural fit. They look for pages that act the same way; that’s natural. It’s all software doing it, not humans.

Some people have over a million keywords–there’s no way you can optimize for that many. Keywords have to be analyzed and prioritized. Then you attack every keyword as a separate SEO project. Google looks at a word and figures out how much of a local influence should matter. We have a standard distribution curve. “I hate statistics” even though I have a lot of education and know how to use them.

Stay out of the penalty box.

Penalties–The sites that used to be top ranked were often spamming with multiple links. Now Google is penalizing for that. They have shrunk the guidelines–how low will they go. How many “bad” links will get you a penalty. Was 80%, then 60%–how low will they go. Everyone in this room has a bad link somewhere. You may have penalties and not know it. A bad link: A link to your website that is not earned (incoming link) that has nothing to do with you, or that are in spammy areas. Ever get those emails saying they will get you multiple links? People who took advantage of those set their houses on fire. Google can penalize you for how your page is laid out, when your domain name is exactly matched to a keyword that is not a brand.

Keywords are still important, unless you are a spammer. Google penalizes spammers.

It is the sum of the curves that matters most for your ranking, not just being #1 for one curve. There are many variables for ranking you. Whoever is closest to the top for the most variables wins. Google changes these curves all the time. There are 200+ curves in the Google algorithm. Sometimes there are events that occur that change the curve itself. For example, pre-accident, people looked for Princess Diana under “charity,” “royalty,” etc.; after, they were searching for “death.”

Online search share: Google–66%, Bing/Yahoo–%30ish. #1 search term right now is “Facebook”; second is “YouTube.” We need to give YouTube more credit.

Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 9.54.49 AM

Advance three, build your brand.

Associated words: Your keyword will be defined by the company it keeps. Surrounding words help keyword clarification. Synonyms, proximity. Use words your competition uses and the Search Engines will reward you.

Variance: You MUST use the variances of the words in your body copy, or you may be seen as a spammer. Ex. Use “smile” AND “smiles.” If you do things spammers do, Google will treat you like a spammer. Don’t optimize for just one word; optimize for the variants.

Google analyzes pages, but also sites. You need to make the search engine understand what your site is about (theme). Supplemental, complimentary, synergistic words to clarify meaning of keywords.

Internal navigation: Not everything should link to everything. You have to structure the site appropriately. You have to build a hierarchy. Homework: Look at the white paper on our site on the topic:

  •  Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links
  • Make a Sitemap for your users with links that point to the important parts of your site.
  • See the rest in the presentation booklet.

Figure out how people search and set your themes around that.

Behavioral Search: Has been in Google for over 5 years. They look at Web history. This is critical.

  • Disjointed consecutive searches form a long-tail filter for subsequent searches–Web history defaults to “on”
  • Based on persona and community
  • Last query in sentence is misleading
  • Analytics becomes “less valuable” since last query tracked by analytics (last search results) may not have shown results based solely upon what the used queried last
  • Analytics sees “hammer” and cannot see prior search for “tools”

Becoming a subject matter expert in your area of search isn’t that hard if you pay attention. Analytics may not be as good and useful as you think.

Pay attention to social media–It is a catalyst for people to go do a query.

It’s 10:45. 10-minute break.

Performance Factors:Screen Shot 2013-10-15 at 10.49.01 AM Important site to give you an idea of page load time–important when people are doing mobile searches. A second-and-a-half page load time is about a 20% increase in adoption. Work on this. The number of files that are being loaded, extending cache dates,

Spiders: The search engines “crawl” your pages.

Do the work for the search engines–Fetch HTML. We need to make sure we don’t spam and that we understand how we get crawled. The spidering process begins in 3-days. A new page is indexed, then three days later, they re-spider that page. If you haven’t changed the page, your index won’t change. If you’re not going to change your page, they won’t keep spidering you frequently. A page that’s never changed after you write it won’t be spidered on the same schedule as a page that’s changing often. It’s not how often you change a page, it’s whether or not you improve it.

Page Rank: From Google’s perspective, this is not a number from 1-10. Google isn’t going to update this formula till next March. I get “points” based on who links to me and how many links. PR Number is an exponential curve tier based on the largest site on the Internet (Ex. Amazon). The guys at the top get faster, bigger than niche sites. When the guy at the top gets bigger, I can’t compete–but I have my points. You don’t want so many people linking to you that you look like a spammer. Used to be the one who dies with the most links wins–now it’s the one with the most links relevant to your keywords, not all linked in the same way. We actually remove links from sites that have been penalized. You don’t want links from spammers–get rid of them! I want to help my algorithms, but do I have too many links and look like a spammer?

Google has at least 200+ variables in the algorithm. The site that is “Least Imperfect” wins.

BMW was spending millions on their SEO and PPC, but Google took them out for spamming.

*Spiders get stuck in dynamic content. If you have three or more parameters in your URL (long URLs) for your dynamic content, they won’t index you.

Spiders don’t go “through” forms–Need static links instead.

Google likes unique content–they don’t like to see the same content on other sites, even on other pages on your own site. Make sure your “About” content is different across your various media. Duplicate content triggers filtering. Plagiarism software is everywhere. You can register your content with the government (cost me $45) and then it’s enforceable. A copyright is advised if you have a lot of valuable content. If you syndicate (sell) your content, it can cause you to lose ranking and authority to the site syndicating you. will tell you any violations you may have against plagiarism standards.


Title tag, description tag

Title tag, Description tag

  • Title tag: What shows up in Google search results. 14 million sites have not title tags. Keywords have to be in the page title. Can be up to 70 characters.
  • Description tag: Generally longer, appears under the title. Generally, keyword in title should also be in the description.
  • Heading Tag: In the body of the page text. Needs to be in order: H1, then H2. Having too many H1 tags is spammy. Don’t go crazy with them.
  • Images: ONLY use jpegs. That’s all Google wants to look at, especially for media releases/news.

(Lost blog connection for 5 min due to internal server error–sorry!–your blog slave, Kelly.)

You can be in the Google penalty box for 4 months or more, and it can take a lot of money to get things fixed. STRONGLY recommend looking at the links to your site and get the junk ones removed. If you are a Web developer and you have a link on sites you created, “Site Created by…” then you will be penalized for this. Google announced it.

Writing Content for SEO:

  • Text content holds keywords, which indicate relevance to search engines and readers.
  • Content holds text links that can be used to direct PageRank and point users to additional content or through a conversion funnel.
  • Don’t keyword stuff content–become least imperfect
  • Do make sure your content reads naturally to a human reader
  • Link to top landing pages from relevant content
  • Use optimized anchor text to link to landing pages
  • Don’t spread PageRank too thin by including excessive outbound links on a page.

Length of content: Length isn’t super important. Content that’s too long won’t be read on a mobile device.

Most people don’t write content correctly. Get out of writing for a Pulitzer. For example, writing an article entitled “Killer Waves” won’t be searched under “tsunami.”

Search engines classify spam as “anything deceptive.” If you wouldn’t show it to Google, don’t do it!

  • Hidden text/links–Ex. using same/similar color for text and background, placing keywords inside a <noframes> or <noscript> tag, using hidden layers that cannot be exposed
  • Cloaking: A hiding technique. Cloaking is an SEO technique in which the content presented to the search engine spider is different from that presented to the user’s browser.
  • Deceptive redirection: Often a Malware issue you may fall victim to
  • Doorway pages–Creating lots of pages tuned to one keyword and submitting it to get ranked; can be an external domain, not just pages.
  • Unrelated keywords: Ex. using “sex” as a keyword because it’s searched on a lot. Keyword stacking/stuffing: ex. free online gambling gambling free free gambling free.

The SEO process

Bruce talked about The Floor–All the Rest: Very techno-geek info on “Robots exclusion Protocol. You can tell the search engines NOT to index a page. You can say “crawl the links, but don’t index” or “don’t cache.”

You should always do a 404 page (error-recovery page). Put search on the 404 page. A 404 error occurs whenever a user requests a non-existent page. Don’t EVER have your 404 page go to your home page. Make it easy for people to get back to your site from the 404 page.

All of these are important opps to appear on page #1:

  • Images
  • Videos/MP3
  • Shopping
  • Places
  • News
  • LiveSearch

Redirects: To display another Web page for the Web address that you are visiting. Often done incorrectly.

When to use a redirect:

  • If you rename or move a page (esp if it is well-ranked)
  • If you move a domain
  • If you have multiple domains pointing to the same content
  • If you need a shortcut URL (perhaps for ads)
  • If Social/Twitter uses “tiny urls”

ONLY do a 301 re-direct. MetaRefreshes are penalized. 302 redirects not good–never use!

Thanks everyone who tuned in! I (Kelly) picked up a few extra booklets. Text me today if you’d like one. (541) 419-9976 :)

Your madly-typing blogger today: Kelly Walker, Creative Director for Intrepid Marketing in Bend, Oregon.

SEO Bend Oregon

You’ve got to be a little crazy to volunteer for live-blogging!

Marketing Bend OR

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