October 31, 2014

SMX Advanced Live Critique

Everybody’s doing a live blog of SMX advanced Seattle. Since I’m not at the conference though, I figured I’d do something else: A Live Critique of SMX Advanced.

See, even though I’m not at the conference I’ve been following along via others who are live blogging SMX at Search Engine Land and the Outspoken Media Blog.

It seems like the first session dealt with the Periodic Table of SEO Factors so that’s a good place to start. I’ve noticed TONS of people here at work (many who have nothing to do with SEO) are printing out copies. That’s good, but it can be dangerous.

I really like this table, but I think there’s a couple of errors on the table that could lead people astray. For starters, Page Speed is listed at +1 – the same as Keywords in URLs. That just doesn’t make mathematical sense. According to Google, Page Speed is a factor in less than 1% of all search results. No reasonable SEO can believe that URLs are of similar insignificance. I’d rate URLs at +2 and put them above speed.

Another one I take issue with is that Description gets a +2 while headers get a +1. Experience tells that page headers have much more weight in ranking than meta descriptions do. These should be switched.

The other one is freshness. No way this should be a +1 – on the same level as number of links. Let’s face it, for many types of queries freshness just doesn’t matter. Freshness is great for news and blogs and other types of sites, but not a factor on all types of queries.

Ok, now let’s talk correlation again.

I couldn’t help but cringe when I saw twitter filling up with tweets about Rand Fishkin’s correlation values again. I know he starts out every year trying to explain the difference between correlation and causation, but every year about half the room fails to understand and goes off spouting things that don’t make sense. This year’s non-ranking factor that everybody will obsess about is facebook shares.

Rand noticed that Facebook shares are highly correlated to ranking, but what many seemed to miss is that Matt Cutts came out and said that Facebook shares are NOT a ranking factor. Sadly, I think many SEOs are going to overlook that and keep talking about Facebook sharing. In reality, it’s probably that the high rankings are causing the Facebook shares, not the other way around. (that, or the simple fact that good sites rank well and people share good sites.)

Update 1: panda

First, I’d like to say that I love how Alan Bleiweiss scheduled tweets to go off during his presentation. Bravo.

Somebody made a comment that Google didn’t target big brands with Panda. I don’t think that’s accurate. Perhaps it’s simply that big brands didn’t engage in the thin content techniques that other sites did. Doing SEO for a big brand myself, I know I’d never be able to put thin content or tons of ads out there on our sites.

Alan made a great point: “When you go about things the right way, you have to be less concerned with Google updates.” That’s so true. Somebody once said all good SEOs get hit by an algorithm change. I’d agree with that, and add that all Great SEOs anticipate where the search engines are going and never have to worry about algorithm updates.


So far, that’s all I’ve noticed on twitter that I thought needed further discussion. I’ll keep my ear to the ground and update this post if I notice anything else interesting.

About Ryan Jones

Ryan Jones is an SEO from Detroit. By day he works as a manager of SEO & Analytics at SapientNitro where his team performs SEO for Fortune500 clients. By night he's either playing hockey or attempting to take over the world with his own websites - which he would have already succeeded in doing had it not been for those meddling kids and their dog. The views expressed here have not been paid for and belong only to Ryan, not any of his employers or clients. Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RyanJones, add him on Google+ or visit his personal website: www.RyanMJones.com