SMX Advanced 2015 Seattle - SEO Highlights

Learn all the things. June 9, 2015 SMX Advanced: Seattle

Transcript of SMX Advanced 2015 Seattle - SEO Highlights

Learn all the things.

June 9, 2015

SMX Advanced: Seattle

SEO Ranking Factor Correlation Studies

Marcus Tober, Cyrus Shepard, & Rand Fishkin


Correlation studies are useless unless you use those hints to identify

what the actual ranking signals are. A correlation of 0 doesn't meant it’s

not important, it means it’s important because everyone has it. “”


Top 50 Google results from about 15K keywords with commercial intent.

– TLDs

• .org still has a slight positive correlation (Wikipedia influence)

• .biz and .edu had negative correlation

– Social shares are not likely an actual ranking factor (too noisey)

• Facebook tied with Google+

• Twitter

• Pinterest

• Linkedin


• No correlation to higher rankings

• Still very little adoption highest markup type that was find was for the blog and the least was for


– PA

• Highest correlation to highest ranking of any factor

• Google does not use PA, but look at it for predictive performance of search results

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Top 30 Google results from non-branded keywords

and no Wikipedia.

– Flesch readability increased YOY

• Content with higher rankings could be easily understood by 11 year old


– Presence of unordered lists occurred 70 – 80% of the time and had

a slight positive correlation

– # of interactive elements (buttons, forms, menus, etc.) had a

positive correlation

– # of internal links for mobile was way less than desktop

• Google wants less links and less images on mobile

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Future SEO ranking signals.

– Usage data of pages and sites

– Accuracy vs. popularity of information (factually based results)

– Query structure as an anchor text-like signal

– Brands as entities - entities as answers (brand ambiguity)

• Be the first yup! on everyone’s mind

– Tracing the visit path to an answer

• Clickstream data paths are being stored

– Weighting elements of user experience (https, mobile friendly tech

webmaster guidelines like panda)

• Need high quality websites not just content

– Replacing flawed humans with deep learning machines5 5

Quick Answers (Featured Snippets)

Eric Enge


For informational searches, you want to be there. It’s easier to make

your own quick answer than trying to replace someone else that’s

already in the quick answers. This was non-existent 2 years ago.“”


Found that out of 850K keywords, 19.4% had rich answers in Google

and 1.1% in Bing.

– Question only partially answered

– Complete list results with link to source

– Complete list with partial items using the … (ellipsis)

– 74% of the time, Google gives a link to the source

• If they didn’t give a link, it was because the information was

considered public domain data – not a recommended strategy

– Over 50% of the domains in the rich answers had a DA of less than


• Google may be using domains with lower authority

• Getting listed in the rich answers does boost DA

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Test it yourself and watch your SERPs.

– Published 5 videos to common SEO questions with transcripts and

semantic copy, then shared it on Google+ and submitted to WMT

– Within 3 days, 2 / 5 videos were appearing in the rich answers box

1. Identify simple question – each word matters!

2. Provide the simple, direct answer within the first body paragraph and


3. Use uninterrupted spans of text without links or large images

4. Use unordered lists using the proper HTML (<ul>)

5. Offer value-added info using related topics and relevant semantic


6. Make it easy for users and Google to find it

– Dashboard in the works!

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Communicating SEO Priorities

Jessica Bowman


What you are doing vs. what you want to do vs. what your client thinks

your doing is a true gap analysis.“ ”



Address all aspects of SEO and if there are

gaps, then that's why you haven't done as well

and now you need to figure out how to add


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1 Slide Explanation SEO Strategy Scorecard

Identify anticipated value of each pillar based

on each need vs. what’s actually being

accomplished vs. desired (potential lift)

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Advanced Technical SEO

Maile Ohye & Jenny Halasz


Send the right signals to the search engines.

“ ”


Maile Ohye from Google on HTTP/2

– Original HTTP was designed for web pages that required very few assets that are

being downloaded serially

– In the last 5 years, Google has worked on workarounds for HTTP/1.X to improve


• Sprites - 1 image file

• Concatenating files - 3 JS files with 1 request

– HTTP/2 benefits

• Create infinite parallel requests

• Prioritized resource fetching

• Compressed HTTP headers

– Server and client can communicate for things that need to be above the fold

• Loads the same as HTTP and backward compatible and have extended


• Compresses cookies

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Maile Ohye from Google on HTTP/2

– HTTP/2 Installment

• Will require webmasters to upgrade servers for new

software because they have open 6 files at the same


• On the browser side, this is already in the works

(beta version of chrome)

– Think about HTTP2 and realize there will be

tradeoffs with workarounds

– HTTP2 not supported by Googlebot yet

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Maile Ohye from Google on HTTPS

– HTTP is separate from TLS and doesn't impact HTTP/2

– HTTPS benefits

• Authenticates the site

• Grants data integrity for the client

• Gives encryption which is good for privacy

– Rippling since 2010 with Gmail, then Twitter, then Facebook

– For new and particularly powerful web platform features,

browser vendors prefer to make the feature available only to

secure origins by default

• Secure by default moving forward!19 19


Maile Ohye from Google on HTTPS

1. Obtain 2048 bit TLS certificate ($)

2. Configure the TLS certificate

3. Monitor and tune server performance

4. 301 HTTP to HTTPS - don’t leave both available

5. Check your work by serving all resource through HTTPS (CSS, JS,

images, scripts, etc.)

1. Make sure existing on page markup, sitemap.xml, canonicals, all must refer to

HTTPS versions

– Only 1/3 of HTTPS URLs Google discovers become the canonical

because there are always mistakes

– Inconsistently signals with canonicals, sitemaps, hreflang, mixed

content20 20


Maile Ohye from Google on Page Rendering

– Fetch as Google rendering helps to accurately index more content

and determine layout such as whether it’s mobile friendly

• The code alone isn’t enough need, Google needs to render CSS

– Make important user content immediately visible to the search

engine without clicks or hovers

• Searchers prefer it too!

– Google considers hidden content as indexed with downgraded


• If it’s hidden and not present to the user, link credit isn't given

– URLs found through rendering can be crawled and pass Page

Rank 21 21


Maile Ohye from Google on Page Rendering

– Beware of lots of page assets because page resources are

crawled by Googlebot and can mess up crawling and

prioritization alongside more important things like product/article


– Allow Googlebot to access any embedded content

– XML sitemaps with dirty URLs don’t scare Google that much but

it is big for site discovery

– Use fetch as Google for any quick updates to a page

– Bing does have trust metric for sitemap.xml, but Google does not

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Definitive Signals

– 301 redirect

• Server setting, not a default, should be definitive but not always

– Page deletion (404)

• Can use 410 gone which is not a default and is permanent so no recrawling is done


• Bing came out and said that they will crawl a 404 three times until it gets removed from

the index but 410 is only once

– Meta noindex

• Links followed unless you set nofollow

• Page will not be added to the index but may be to the database

• Does not stop Page Rank from passing unless paired with nofollow

– Robots.txt

• Page may still be added to the index and does not stop Page Rank from passing

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Not Definitive Signals

– Canonical

• The one true page! But....there external/internal links, redirects, or just because (suggestion

and unclear)

• Make sure all redirects go to canonical

– Rel Next / Prev

• A page series but...there are external/internal links, redirects, or broken series can mess

things up

– Hreflang & Rel Alternative

• Most commonly messed up

• Says this page has a corresponding page in another language and you need to check it out

- language preference but...2 options, en-EN is considered different, (use Moz href


• Must correspond (can’t have region without the language but can vice versa), must

correspond between pages, site must be in language if -en is used, can use language

alone, but not region (handshake agreement)

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Inconsistent Signals to Avoid

– XML sitemaps need to include canonical URLs

– Main navigation should point to canonical URLs

– Internal links should not go through redirect

– Self referential canonicals not recommended

– Redirect chains

– For server maintenance, use 503 so Google doesn’t ignore it and assume

the site is down

– www vs. non-www


– Trailing slash vs. non-trailing slash

– Breadcrumbs

– Parameters in WMT 25 25


Other Things to Know

– Google hates popups and can be a negative ranking factor since it’s bad


• Content behind popup isn’t as valuable and is devalued when you have a popup!

– Content under view more used to be discounted but now is counted just not

as much as viewable content (no help or hurt)

– Anchored content seems to work better if it’s super popular like FAQ

• Indexing fragmented URLs like anchors is coming in the future

– Canonical HTTP to HTTPS doesn’t work, so just 301 redirect

• Sitewide is better though because Google has detectors on that

– site: is weird because users don’t use it, and it’s not fetching stuff in

regular search, not on priority of things to fix, not trusted

– Users and browsers are expecting HTTPS by default so evolving to be

agnostic to all verticals26 26

AMA with Google

Gary Illyes


Author Rank is still a thing. Canonicals don’t matter. GIFs are in the

Knowledge Panel.“ ”


Take this with a grain of salt.

– Panda update in a few weeks (data refresh) - needs to be updated more often

because no real time update must require manual data updating

– Penguin is going to be updated continuously but months away - no data

update (real time)

– Google has a tool that shows everyone’s penalties both algo and manual

action (not public)

– Hacked websites could be notified via WMT through an algo

– CTR only used for personalization

– Mobile-geddon wasn't clear about the impact

– # of effected URLs was actually more than panda and penguin and the # of

searches effected (potential impact)

• Expected 50% impact and decreased 17% by launch

– Answers don't go off into the Knowledge Graph28 28


Take this with a grain of salt.

– Brand entity for rankings? NO

• Entities come from structured data, without it, its really hard for us

to know the entity and give ranking boost

– anything that looks like a link will be treated as a link like mentions

(which are almost like nofollow links)

– google and twitter early stage integration

– social signals create noise which aren't stable and long term

enough to be actual ranking signals (too temporal)

– Length of URL doesn’t matter just don’t pass HTTP limit

• Correlation studies showed otherwise

– Site structure does matter just for discovery not for ranking

– If something is far away from domain, then it’s less important


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Take this with a grain of salt.

– Keywords in URL doesn’t matter

– Link from home page helps with discovery not with ranking

– Don’t have enough storage for all URLs and sometimes have to

purge URLs from database

– # of URLs Google can crawl per day comes from 5 factors

• Page Rank of URL

• Host server speed

– User engagement and Chrome data? NO it’s extremely noisy

– Swears they don’t use GA data for rankings

– Don’t have duplicate content penalty

– Don’t care about video embedded in web page for universal but

does care in video search

• Be on YouTube…or else!30 30


Take this with a grain of salt.

– Don’t need to use canonical tag, Google can figure it out and you can

remove pages that you don’t want to appear from WMT (extreme)

• Better things to worry about

– Tried “not mobile friendly” label but people hated it so it was turned


– Tried phone icon but that was bad because people were confused

– Running test to label "slow" tag in some countries

– Author Rank may be used for in-depth articles -- yes for sure using it


– Secured search is his baby and it will be a bigger ranking factor

in future

– Quality content: valuable for user, satisfy user need, users

should be linking to it, Facebook, Twitter, Google+

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Ask the SEOs

Greg Boser, Todd Friesen, Cindy Krum, Carolyn Shelby


HTTPS will be essential one day. Don’t miss the adoption curve.

“ ”

Ask the SEOs

Expertise from the Industry.– HTTPS isn’t showing a lot of benefit right now, but will be essential in

the future.

– Don’t self-host videos, they don’t show up in Google unless they’re

on YouTube.

– Subdomain vs subfolder: “Treat it the same but don't treat inbound

links the same - didn't say they calculate the inbound factors.”

• Subfolders have the support of the domain; whereas,

subdomains are considered separate website.

– Seeing less markup in search results, more featured snippets.

– Keep SEO and PPC landing pages separate. SEO should be traffic

focused and PPC should be conversion focused.

– Render speed is going to be crucial in the near future.

• Avoid code bloat.

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Final Takeaways



If you remember anything, remember these.

– GAP Analysis

• Doing vs Should be Doing vs Client Thinks We Are Doing

– Featured Snippets

• What it is and How to Show Up

– Expandable Content

• Doesn’t Help or Hurt Rankings

– Dirty Sitemap

• Clean it Up, Bing Has a Trust Metric

– Site: Searches

• Strange and Unreliable


• Gary’s Baby, So It’s Going to Be Big35 35