What’s the reality of search engine optimization after the Google Hummingbird update? Can someone destroy your business with negative SEO? Did Google kill the concept of AuthorRank when it eliminated the Authorship initiative?
For these types of questions, there’s no better person to ask than Danny Sullivan, founder of Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, CMO of Third Door Media (producers of the popular SMX conferences), and a veteran search engine expert of 20 years.
Today’s show is just a warmup to Danny’s presentation at Authority Rainmaker 2015, May 13-15 in Denver, Colorado.
In this 32-minute episode Danny and I discuss:
- His search engine expertise dating back to 1995
- What the next generation CMO will focus on
- The biggest misconception about Google and SEO
- What’s (really) working with SEO right now
- The ongoing power of the humble hyperlink
- The true nature of good SEO practices
- Is Google “AuthorRank” really dead?
Listen to The Digital Entrepreneur below ...
The Show Notes
- Danny Sullivan on Twitter
- Authority Rainmaker 2015
- Search Engine Land
- Marketing Land
- Search Marketing Expo
- MarTech: The Marketing Technology Conference
- SEO is Dead: Long Live OC/DC
Three Misconceptions About Modern SEO That Confuse Content Marketers
Brian Clark: Hey everyone. Welcome to the show, as always. I’m Brian Clark, founder and CEO of Copyblogger Media and today we have a very special guest.
I’m really excited that not only was I able to convince this very busy, smart person to appear at our conference, Authority Rainmaker in May this year but as a little bit of a warm up to that, we are going to have a conversation with him today about search, SEO and Google. He is one of the most knowledge people in the work on all of those good topics.
Danny Sullivan is the founder of Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and is Chief Content Officer at Third Door Media. That’s right Danny, isn’t it?
Danny Sullivan: That’s right.
Brian Clark: That is correct.
His Search Engine Expertise Dating Back to 1995
Brian Clark: I’m just going to kick it over to you a bit because you have been doing this for so long, that I think a lot of people don’t realize how early you started paying attention to search engines. So take us back a little bit.
Danny Sullivan: Sure. I was actually a newspaper reporter back in the early 90s and had left to go and start doing web development with a friend of mine because we had seen the Internet and wanted to be part of it.
As part of that, in 1995 we had clients that we would list and get put out onto the web and we would promote them to the search engines but nobody really understood how they worked. And one client, was like “Why am I not at the top of the listing?” because I didn’t really know and no one actually knew. So I took some time to go through and do some research and try to see what had some of the common things were that caused people to rank tops or not rank tops and published all that out there, as what I called a Web Masters Guide to Search Engines.
I did this to try and help people understand some of the common things that they should be doing and it just rolled along from there and I’ve been doing it since.
I am the founding editor of Search Engine Land, where we try to cover everything that is happening in the search marketing space, and we also have Marketing Land, where we expand on covering digital marketing because they are not so separate anymore. People who are search marketers a lot of the times want to know what’s going on with digital marketing and you have digital marketers, who need to know search marketing. So we wanted to cater to the broader audiences as well.
Brian Clark: Absolutely. I think a lot of people are familiar with your conferences, Search Marketing Expo (SMX) and I think I spoke at the Marketing Land conference, which was really excellent. What else does Third Door Media do? Are there other lines of business?
Danny Sullivan: It’s primarily conferences and we have the SMX shows that you were at. And thank you very much for that.
We do one social media oriented show that runs in the fall in Las Vegas and we also have our MarTech (The Marketing Technology Conference) series that launched last year, which covers the marketing technology space. And then of course, the two websites, Marketing Land and Search Engine Land.
We also have a marketing services division, which is where we have contacts of people who are wanting to get in touch with different people, if you are an advertiser or whatever. So if you’d love to reach people who are involved with SEO and what not, then you can go through our marketing services division. They look at our audience to see if there is a possible match. For example, we can get messages out to let people know that you have a white paper that you want them to know about and if those people choose to say, “I want this specific information,” then they can get it.
Brian Clark: Excellent. So with the MarTech conference, Scott Brinker is working with you guys on that. Is that correct?
Danny Sullivan: Yeah.
Brian Clark: So that’s coming at the end of March, so let’s make sure that we point that out. Do you have the details on that? Boston, right?
Danny Sullivan: The first one we did was in Boston. The next one is happening in San Francisco, right at the end of March and that’s going gangbusters. It’s a big, huge exploding space where people are interested. You know, there has been talks about the idea that the next CIO will actually be your CMTO (Chief Marketing Technology Officer) because things are merging together so much.
Brian Clark: It’s so important. The tools are getting more powerful. Often the complexity, the application or execution require that hybrid of technologist and marketer. We’ll make sure we link that show up in the show notes.
The Biggest Misconception About Google and SEO
Brian Clark: :Let’s get to the topic at hand and as someone who’s been trying to make sense of it all for 20 years, you know better than most, that SEO, search, Google, is all a big mess of confusion to a lot of people. We have a lot more people commenting on what works, what doesn’t, what’s the best approach to SEO, so I want to focus on that with you. And really let’s drill down into the stuff that people are getting wrong because there is a ton of things that we need to do to do things right but if you are coming at it from the wrong perspective from the beginning, it gets really difficult to do well.
In your mind, what do you think right now, post Hummingbird, is the biggest misconception about Google and SEO?
Danny Sullivan: You know, it probably hasn’t even changed in pre-Hummingbird and for a lot of people for years and again, it will depend on who you are. If you are an advanced SEO, this probably doesn’t apply to you but if you are somebody who maybe thinks you are an advanced SEO and you are not, or you a playing with it, then it may do.
And that’s the idea that, “I am going to somehow reverse engineer the algorithm and I am going to go and find the exact right formula. I’m just going to manipulate the hell out of it, and rank number one.”
I think that’s a misconception because to me, SEO has never been about trying to outwit the search engine. It’s been about trying to understand what the search engine likes and make sure that you are friendly to it. And those may sound to some people as being exactly the same, right? Well understanding what the search engine wants, isn’t that outwitting it? And I would say, no.
Search engines, if you go back through time and you try to look at all the changes they have done and all the signals that they want to reward, they are consistently trying to do one thing, and that’s figure out what human beings like about websites and reward the ones that are deserving of it.
And so, as an SEO, the more that you are trying to create a side that is not natural in that regard, or you are trying to do things that go beyond what a human being would like, the more likely I think that you are going to get yourself into trouble and you are going to miss the point of SEO.
So good SEO is doing things that humans want. That means like, when you talk about why you want to make sure your site is crawlable, in part it’s because a human being might want to find a page that you have on your website. If a human being can’t find the page because you don’t have any obvious links to it, then the search engine itself isn’t probably going to find the page for the same reason.
And therefore, it’s either not an important page or there is something wrong. So then the wrong SEO move to that is, “I’ll create a site map and I will make sure that the site map is all a bunch of hidden links. Then I will be able to feed it all these pages that I want the search engine to know, but I don’t want the human beings to see.”
Where as better thinking SEO is, “Oh no, this is an important page. I want to make sure that there are visible links that go out to it, so that people can locate it.” Having said that, there are ways for you to provide the actual site map link files and you should do that as well. To some degree those might be invisible but those things were not really intended or designed for the idea that, “I’ll make up 100 pages, one for each city that I do car rentals out of, so that I have a page for each city and then I kind of go with it from there.” One of these kind of nightmare situations that you sometimes see.
By the way, links is another example of that. People understand that the search engines like links and they still do like links. It’s still important to have good link profile pointing at you but then the wrong headed SEO move or misconception is, “Well if I just need some links, I will go out and buy them or use a service and I will get a whole bunch of them. Or I’ll concoct a way to generate a bunch of links for me very quickly because maybe I’ll do an infographic and I’ll embed my link in there with certain keywords I’m hoping to be found for.”
Whereas a more natural approach is, “Yeah, maybe I did the infographic and I left it for people to link how they want to.” And surprise, when Google went through and did their Penguin update, these were the kind of things that got hit. The idea that people who had managed to spend all this time building up links with exactly one word leading back to their website, might have found themselves getting hit. And part of them getting hit is because it’s not really natural. That’s not how people normally link.
Brian Clark: Yeah. That’s an excellent topic because it seems to me that after Penguin and it getting incorporated into the broader algorithm, the whole concept of trying to look natural just makes that type of linking building and/or buying, a tougher job.
Meanwhile, people like me, and I guess really like you, you were a journalist, that’s how you came to this trade. So you’ve always been a content guy but the thought of building links like that makes me queasy because I’m a writer guy. I’d rather create something for people and hopefully it works that way. But, we hear everything about signals, social signals and the metrics and all the data that Google has. Google+, Google Analytics etc but the link still matters. How does Google really factor in the fact that because of the mainstreaming of social media, people don’t link like they used to?
Danny Sullivan: We don’t know. And by “We don’t know,” and I don’t think they necessarily even know what their long-term strategy is. I have described links as being like the fossil fuel of search ranking signals and they still work. You can pump them into your search engine, literally, and it will get you to perhaps where you want to go but it’s very, very dirty polluted, there’s a lot of junk and a lot of crud.
So in order to make this sort of like a tar sands thing that we are getting now, into something that you can actually make useable, they’ve got to punch it through a bunch of filters. And that’s what we have seen Google do over the past decade, is add more and more ways to filter out all the crud from the link signal. Penguin being the latest of it. It’s like our super duper centrifuge. We’ll put them all in there and we’ll try and see what still sticks to the wall and that can be used. And so that leads over to what Hummingbird was all about and why that’s important.
With Hummingbird it was as if Google literally took their search engine apart. I mean, people hear about a Penguin or they hear about a Panda and they identify that with penalties and they get that’s our filters, so when they hear Hummingbird, they sometimes think that it’s somehow one specific type of thing that Hummingbird is doing.
Hummingbird was an entire rebuild of their search engine and it was as if they said, “Yeah, we know this link signal is really bad, it’s this bad fuel. We’d love to have our solar panelled car. Or we would love to have a car that can run on multiple kinds of energies.” So that’s what they did. They built a search engine that supposedly can do that.
It’s hard wired in there, so if they want to use solar energy or let’s say that social signals are a solar clean kind of energy or whatever, it can do that. Or if they want to use liquid natural gas, they can pump that in there and they have got a fuel cell, and they have got all these different things that are wired in to the core architecture, now so they don’t have to try and bolt stuff onto it. But by enlarge, it’s still using gas, or it’s still using links. But what they may be able to shift to, that’s what we are all waiting to see.
I long suspected that they would shift over to using more social signals. It doesn’t mean that I think they get away from the link signal entirely and it doesn’t mean that the social signal is less polluted, or is somehow not polluted. I think any signal that you get out there can be gamed but I think with the social signal there is a lot of advantages to it.
I did a piece once, where I talked about “when everybody gets the vote” and the idea that social allows you to do that. So Google uses links because when they started they thought, “Well links, it’s sort of like the democracy of the web and when you like something, you link to it, so we can count up the links. We will weight the links. We’ll do some other things but then that way kind of everybody votes. And I said, “If you think links are like the democracy of the web, then that’s like thinking democracy in America was fine when you had to be 30 years and older, white and land owning, in order to be able to vote. It’s democracy.”
Brian Clark: Right.
Danny Sullivan: Because most people don’t link.
Brian Clark: Yes.
Danny Sullivan: Like in the way that they’ve traditionally done.
You don’t go to a great restaurant or have a great experience with a product you purchased and think, “This is wonderful. I’m now going to go out and write a blog post about it. And, I’ll make sure I write the blog post about it and I’ll double check to make sure that the platform that I use doesn’t some how put no follow on all the links and prevent them from passing credit.
Plus, I’m savvy enough to think, that I’ll also make sure that I use a very descriptive link to just kind of help this extra site because they did such a great job.” It’s like, “No, nobody does that.” So you’ve got some who will go out there and do that but there’s a huge amount of great votes if you will, that don’t get counted because that’s not how they link. Although, the way people do tend to link is with social actions. “I like this restaurant. I literally will like it on Facebook.”
Brian Clark: Yep.
Danny Sullivan: Or, “I’m at a place and I checked into it.” Or “I saw something that I liked, so I followed them on Twitter and I tweeted out that I like this sort of stuff.”
I think social offers an important new kind of signal that can be used to figure out what is good and what should be rewarded on the web that enables many, many more people to vote. Also to be able to vote with some accountability, because the social accounts themselves start to build up authority.
You know who these people are, and yes, they can all be manipulated, but so can websites. I think the social accounts can be manipulated, but more controls, or easier ways to detects that, will come. That the social signal will start to become more and more important but it’s taking it’s time to get there and hey, I could be wrong but Hummingbird is supposedly engineered so that it can take advantage of that, if that’s one of the things that Google wants to do.
Brian Clark: Yeah, absolutely. When you think about social sharing of content, each of those is a link, it just so happens to also be no followed, if it’s any sort of reputable search engine.
The Google and Twitter Firehose Deal
Before we move on, I want to talk more about dirty links, a very salacious topic. So Google and Twitter are reinstating the firehose deal, yes?
Danny Sullivan: Yeah. They did reinstate it. It hasn’t actually gone live yet but the deal is in place for it to come back.
Brian Clark: I still think Google+ is obviously of great value and we’ll talk about that later, but Google+ is not a Facebook killer. When are Google and Twitter going to get married?
Danny Sullivan: Ah well, that’s hard to say. I would have thought they would have gotten married long ago, right?
Brian Clark: Yeah, me too.
Danny Sullivan: And I think it becomes harder now that Twitter has gone public because you know, they are probably even more expensive. And I’m not certain that they will. The deal was signed.
You know, there is some bad blood between the two companies in various ways and that’s one of the reasons why it took so long for this deal to finally get signed. Now that they are a public company, you do what makes sense for your share holders but I just don’t think Twitter sees their future as going in there to Google. And also I think Twitter sees their future very much as, “We can grow and be independent and be out on our own.” So as much as Google perhaps may want them, I don’t think that they are thinking that they want to go there. And I also don’t think Google is at the point where they think they want them.
Brian Clark: Yeah. Well Google I think, if they have the data, they may be happy. I mean, because ultimately that’s what they are looking for. But it’s also a huge ad platform.
Danny Sullivan: It is but Google could get that data now. It’s easier if you have the firehose but it’s not for Google to go through and figure out, “Oh, right. This page had X amount of tweets. This account has this many followers.” This is basic scraping. They do stuff that’s even harder than that.
Brian Clark: Yeah.
Danny Sullivan: So the data would certainly help them. I think it especially helps them in that if they need the real-time stuff, you know, when you have the firehose coming in there, that’s a hard thing for them to do, which is grab a tweet within the second that it happens, so you can then make sure when someone does a search on your search engine, that you have it. With the backend analysis they can do stuff like that.
But I also kind of don’t know that they necessarily think they need it so much. I’m not saying that they think Google+ is the end all and be all but I just feel like they are kind of stalled with what they know what they want to do with social.
Brian Clark: Yeah. That’s a good point.
Danny Sullivan: I had this Google+ meal and it didn’t go down so well.
Brian Clark: Yeah, exactly.
Danny Sullivan: I’ll never eat again.
Brian Clark: Right. I know all the consternation that caused all of us, which we’ll touch on.
Danny Sullivan: Yeah.
The Ongoing Power of the Humble Hyperlink
Brian Clark: Here’s another thing. There was a huge amount of confusion around, and I think there is some merit to the topic, but I want to get a feel for how bad it is. And when we talk about bad links, bad neighbourhoods and negative SEO, which is effectively, for those who aren’t clear on that topic, your competitor generates a bunch of dirty links, throws them at your site, Google thinks you’re a spammer, penalizes you and they rise above you in the rankings.
Now I have heard of a few legitimate cases of people I know, who this has actually happened to, at least according to them. Now how big a problem is this? How easily can someone ruin another website by buying or generating bad links at it?
Danny Sullivan: First, back a bit, it’s not new. It’s been out there for almost as long as I can imagine and it has come up in the path to sometimes tag different names like Google Bowling and stuff like that. But it kind of came back out into the forefront with Penguin because people started saying, “Wow. This renewed push to punish for bad links, well what happens if somebody buys me a bunch of bad links?”
And then Google’s like, “Well, as we said, it’s always very unlikely that that will happen.” So then people were like, “Right, well I’m going to prove to you that it can happen” and they go out and they do it. You do get these cases where it can happen but I don’t think it’s an issue for most people. And by most people, I mean virtually all the people who have reputable sites that are doing well and that have been carrying on.
I say that because you haven’t seen that kind of an outcry. You can get these occasional weird things that will happen but you know, if it was just that easy to take out a good site, with a good link profile, you’d hear a lot more noise about it and a lot more complaints.
Where I think it becomes an issue is if you are a site that is not necessarily an essential for Google, or that you are not essential in your space. You don’t have a really good back link profile to overcome the sort of link attack that you might suffer. You know, you don’t have this other natural thing that kind of goes with it.
Then I think you are in more danger about it and you know, it’s still a concern. It concerns me. I don’t like the idea that somebody might be vulnerable to this type of thing, even if they are a small website that just hasn’t had a good chance to really build up profiles that are like that. And I would far prefer it if Google, rather than punish people for links that they think are bad, just don’t reward them.
Brian Clark: Right.
Danny Sullivan: That to me is the equivalent of vote buying, right? So you can think if you found somebody was buying votes and you absolutely knew they stuffed a ballot box, then maybe you would say, “Right, you don’t get to be a candidate anymore. You’re out of the election.”
But if you just come across ballot box stuff and you don’t know who did it, then just throw out the bad ballots. That’s the safer and cleaner solution that doesn’t generate all this sort of stuff and I kind of said that repeatedly to Google, and I have written about it, and that just doesn’t go. They seem to feel like they need to have this sort of penalty kind of aspect of it and I hope that will change because if it does change, I think it will be harder for people then to come up and start talking about the negative SEO stuff that comes up. But I do think for most people it’s not worth your time to worrying about.
Brian Clark: Yeah but you do make a good point though. So if you don’t have an established link profile, you are probably not ranking, so no one cares about you, to attack you. If you do have a well established link profile and you are ranking well, you are a target but it’s less likely to work. It’s sort of what we are hoping for here.
Danny Sullivan: Right, and you do get these horror stories. I had one person say, “Send it to me.” And I think this is the kind of stuff that is terrible, where somebody gets a threat that “If you do not purchase this type of thing or whatever, we will attack you with all this stuff.” So then they are like, “I better pay off this protection because I’m afraid what might happen.”
I think a lot of people can safely ignore that sort of stuff and they will be carrying on just fine.
Brian Clark: Excellent.
Danny Sullivan: And you know, I think of all the things that you have to worry about on the SEO front, I wouldn’t be sitting around freaking that someone was about to do negative SEO on me and that’s going to be the end all and be all.
Brian Clark: Yeah. Good perspective.
The True Nature of Good SEO Practices
Brian Clark: Okay, so again, you are a long time journalist. You have always been a content person. Interesting to me. I started preaching, effectively what has always been the Copyblogger approach 9 years ago, and it just took Google a while to catch up. And now some of our mutual friends, who have typically worn the darker shade of hat, are now you calling themselves content marketers. You knew it was going to come, right? I mean, you’ve been preaching it forever.
Danny Sullivan: Oh sure and you know, there is a bunch of mysteries with that too. You have some people who are saying, “A good SEO is also a content person.” Or “It’s more about the content, than it is about the SEO.” And then I think you have other people who are like, “Maybe it’s sort of the same thing, where we are all content marketers now or whatever.”
I don’t think it’s as clear cut as that. I think a good SEO understands that the foundation of their success comes from having great content. But it doesn’t mean that if you are the SEO, you have to the person who also is a content marketer, or someone who comes up with all the great content.
In a lot of cases, it may work if you are the same sort of person but there is so much that goes on with SEO. It can be a full-time job, that to then turn around and say, “Now you are going to be the content editor and you are going to have to solicit great content. You are going to have to write great content.”
And you know, “Hey, I’m trying to write a million page website, where I am making sure that we are being spidered properly and people are still doing the basic site architectural stuff that should be happening, that is out there and dealing with new spotlight tags.”
I think it can be fine for you to just be an SEO. I think as you have seen this change come in where — not just content marketing has grown — but digital marketing has grown into social and other areas, that you have some people who say, “I can’t just be an SEO. Or you’ve got to be more than that. Or we are not SEO’s anymore, we are all this other stuff.” I think the answer really depends on who you are. It’s fine to just be an SEO.
If it is literally taking up your full-time work to just be focused on how your site is being crawled, the kind of content you have coming in. Is it being optimised well? Are we getting all the things tagged up the way they need to do? And so on. There are companies that are big enough to where if it’s not just a full-time job for one SEO, then there are multiple SEOs that are involved with it.
So if you really are being consumed with core traditional SEO stuff, that’s fine and you don’t need to feel like, “Oh dear, I’m screwing up because now everybody says I’m supposed to be a content marketer, an inbound marketer and all this other stuff that is supposed to be there.” That’s fine. Nobody says to the social media marketer, “Oh by the way, now you are a content marketer.”
Brian Clark: Even though content is what works in social.
Danny Sullivan: And that’s the core but what I think happens is, that in whether you are a social media marketer or an SEO marketer, you understand that you have to have that foundation and if you are not responsible for it, you are working with the people who are.
Brian Clark: Yeah. The analogy is like film production. You know, the screenwriter doesn’t do makeup, production and direction and all this.
I guess the person who is just starting out, a single site, a single content creator, the good news is that at least post Hummingbird, it’s easier I think than ever to focus on content. As long as you understand that things like keyword research, it’s a language that your audience is using. Don’t even think about SEO yet but you still need to know how they choose to talk about these topics.
Danny Sullivan: And that’s an example where your core SEO foundation goes in to help, say, your content people. Because your content people might not be thinking in that regard. So they might not be considering what people are after in order to determine the kind of content that they should write, or if they do write the content, they might not be thinking about the ways people who might actually be searching for it.
And while the keyword research stuff has gotten much more sophisticated now, where you know, if you don’t use the exact words, you are not necessarily dead in the water, it’s still helpful to understand the language of your audience.
And so that’s an example where the SEO can go back and help other people. And this goes to the idea again that, “Oh well, you know, if you are an SEO you have to be all these other things.” If your job is to actually create content, you are probably not spending all the time thinking about all the ways to find out how you can do keyword research. You are probably more focused on, “How do I actually create the content?”
Brian Clark: Yeah.
Danny Sullivan: And nobody would say to the content person, “And you better be an SEO as well.” But what you do tell content people is, “You ought to understand some fundamentals to SEO and understand some fundamentals of social media.” It’s the same thing with SEO. “You should understand some of the things that are going on with content.”
Is Google “Author Rank” Really Dead?
Brian Clark: Yeah and that’s an excellent kind of bridge to what I want to talk about because I think there was this, I don’t know, and certainly people like I championed it as, “Look, Google is really serious about content and that was Authorship.” And then we all put in the tags and people talked about Author Rank in a way that they didn’t really understand. Everyone was looking to the future, where the content creator matters as a ranking signal. I know you have some very interesting views on this. Yes, Google ended it but does that mean that identity, when it comes to content, is irrelevant?
Danny Sullivan: No. And while Google ended the overt Authorship aspect, they actually said that they might still be doing it behind the scenes.
So while Authorship, as a formal display aspect of Google came to an end, the idea that an Author Rank may still be used, so determining who authors are didn’t. And in fact, I think in Google News, they can still may occasionally list actual authors that are there.
So I think Authorship is going to remain important and that Google is going to continue to look at what they can do with it. I just think that the way they ask people to signal them, who’s an author and so on, will change. And some of that I think is just a result of dealing with the fallout from Google+.
But I think you have got a search team that kind of had Google+ thrust upon them in some ways and might have thought, “Well we can figure out Authorship just fine, thanks very much. We don’t need to have all these other things put in there.” And kind of wanted to get back to just doing it that way. So I think that Authorship has not gone, but how Google calculates it, is simply changing.
What He Will Be Talking About at Authority Rainmaker
Brian Clark: All right. Can you give us a little bit of a preview of what your talk in May at Authority Rainmaker will be about?
Danny Sullivan: It will be an amusing and all encompassing. No.
Brian Clark: A staggering arc of heartbreaking genius.
Danny Sullivan: I will expand a bit on what’s been going on with the whole Hummingbird situation and I will also talk a bit more about what we didn’t get into on this call, which is what’s been going on with this whole entity search thing. The idea that Google really understands beyond just words.
I’ll also spend some time talking about what’s going on on the mobile space and why I think people need to be really thinking about that mobile experience. And how that all comes out into play. Plus, I’ll explore a little bit about what’s going on with the direct answers that happen out there.
You know, Google is morphing into almost being an answer engine, as we used to talk about. That you are not actually searching and then clicking and leaving, but they are actually just giving you answers. And there are concerns I think, and rightful concerns about, “How does Google get these answers because Google doesn’t actually know anything? And yet you do these searches and here’s an answer right at the top of the page.” And “Oh, here’s a link to where it came from.” But you probably don’t click on that anymore, which is great for Google and great for Google’s users but not so great for the people who actually power the answer.
Brian Clark: Yeah, it really changes your content strategy because if Google can answer for you, that may not be a question you want to be focusing on.
Danny Sullivan: Exactly.
Brian Clark: Well I can’t wait to see you in May. I may actually see you out on the west coast at the end of March, so we will keep our fingers cross for that. But thank you so much for your time Danny.
Danny Sullivan: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
Chad Barnes says
As always, thanks for the post. I’m thankful I discovered these podcasts. They are incredibly helpful to me. On that note, I’ve been doing SEO for 5 years or so and while I’m improving there is still a massive amount that I don’t understand. You guys touched on one such thing in this post, which is attempting to rank everywhere that a particular business reaches. For example, if you’re an attorney in Houston you want to be found in the surrounding areas as well (e.g. Katy, Beaumont, Galveston). What’s the best way to let Google and the general public know that you serve those areas without creating pages for each city?
Erik van Mechelen says
Thank you Brian and Danny. I’m a young (27yo) user of the rainmaker platform. This conversation not only gave me a solid recap of google-related seo trends but some action-items for my business and google profile. Cheers.
David Bennett says
Inbound links have got to continue to be important – even though, as Danny says, not everyone has a website and that therefore not everyone has ‘voting rights’ to link out.
Contextual analysis cannot be the biggest factor in Google’s mathematical formula for giving you what you asked for because what one person finds riveting about a particular subject, another person may find of no interest at all.
Inbound links beget another question, which is what kind of information is shared. Some information is valuable, but it doesn’t tickle the ‘sharing’ gene in people, so they don’t share it.
And what is relevant to a sixty-year-old academic will be different to what is relevant to someone else… even when they are both looking for the same subject.
Leaving that aside, the only other way that Google can give you what you want is to learn who YOU are and to tailor search results to you.
That’s why it wants you to allow it to track your searches and why it wants you to have a Google+ account and be logged into it… so it can track you and deliver tailored results.
Josh Currier says
Glad to hear your thoughts/insights on Google Authorship. Once Google stopped showing this in the results, it seems that most SEMs stopped talking about it completely.
I think though that these small steps, that have seemingly little impact on the results, will actually signify something more important, which is that you are not solely focused on manipulating the results, but rather focused on producing valuable content.
Great interview! There are so many ‘SEO Experts’ out on the web, it’s hard to know who to listen to. Danny Sullivan has been around since the dawn of the web and his name is one that comes with great authority. Learnt a lot, cheers!