Day 2: My Daily Takeaways From SES Chicago

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marc-grabanski-SES-pictureGood morning. It’s 1 AM CST, no better time to be posting daily takeaways to continue my SES Chicago coverage. Day 2 sparked discussion surrounding Google’s privacy policy and how to capitalize on viral content.

The Battle of the Browsers: Personalization or Privacy panel featured industry luminaries Chris Sherman, Executive Editor, Search Engine Land, Mike Grehan, Global KDM Officer, Acronym Media and Gary Stein, Director of Strategy, Ammo Marketing.

You can’t mention privacy without sparking a conversation about Google. With their new web browser (Chrome) and free products, they continually gather data on their users.  Even so, the speakers were generally supportive of Google’s data gathering. They argued that data leads to better search results.

The other thing that comes up when privacy is mentioned is government. How will companies react when government requests access to personal information? Google has been the only company that has stood up to the government and not compromised all of the data they own. Therefore, the speakers thought they were the only responsible company to hold that level of information.

As far as personalization, all of the data gathered on users can be leveraged for better search results. The example used was the search word, “bass”. Do you mean bass fishing or the bass instrument? The bottom line is each user has different intent and the more you know about each user you can cater to that intent. The job of the search engines is to mimic the human brain and each is different.

The personalization discussion invoked my favorite quote of the day, “SEO is not going away, instead it will become more about segmenting audiences and understanding to how each group of people searches.”

Viral Link Building
Peter van der Graaf, Advanced Search Specialist, Net Society

The goal of viral link building isn’t always to get direct links to your site, it is to build link juice that will eventually land on your website. Even without directly linking to your site, the link juice from a viral campaign website can be passed onto your website through 301 redirecting or linking out to your website from each page on the viral website.

Viral link building starts with the content, so Peter shared some tips on creating viral content. Contests and videos were a big theme, but he started with a video on “what not to do”.  The example was a company video where they sang, “we like SEO”.  In the video, the company’s logo was shown every 5 seconds throughout the video and the audience recognized why users responded negatively. It looked too commercial and users don’t like commercially branded videos. Keep your brand off viral content.

The SEO’s goal is to drive traffic for certain keywords, Peter shared a pretty ingenious method of generating links to phrases that contain the keyword but aren’t necessarily tied to the keyword. As an example, Peter gave an example of a contest website to “show your best poker face”. People linked to the contest with the word “poker”, even though the website and campaign didn’t have anything to do with poker the game.  The website attracted viral links and was eventually 301 redirected to the client, boosting their search rankings.

SEOs had major concerns about how to stop negative viral break-outs in their tracks. “You don’t have control over negative viral”, he said. “If you take your website down that will spark an even greater negative viral rage.” Peter advised to let it take it’s course and do what you can to fix your identity through time.

On the technical side, Peter decided not to use YouTube directly for his videos because YouTube gets the links. So instead he uses the YouTube API to display the video on his website to make the links point to his websites.

Pop Labs Viral Video, “The SEO Rapper”
On the theme of viral videos. I hopped over to Pop Labs vendor booth and asked about the “SEO Rapper” viral videos. I remembered Pop Labs name being mentioned in the wildly popular videos. Pop Labs President shared that he had employed Chuck (The SEO Rapper) for 5 years. I was interested in if this had generated any business. He said, “Other than one client, no not really. It was more a fun thing that gave us press within the industry”.

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Marc Grabanski can usually be found blogging on his personal blog, Jack of All Trades Web Development.

  • WC Murray

    Marc, good job, especially appreciate your report on the viral linkbuilding. The “show your best poker face” is a strong theme that has been used many times with success.