SES Thought Leaders Discuss The Future Of SEO


I’m all buckled in and ready for the ride, latte in hand. We’re talking about the road ahead for Black hat/White hat SEO, dynamic delivery, Flash, Google index updates, universal search and the whole gamut.

Moderating this SES New York session is Mike Grehan, SES Advisory Board & Global KDM Officer of Acronym Media.  The esteemed panelists are:

Marcus Tandler, CEO, Creativity in Action
Bill Hunt, CEO, Global Strategies Intl, Director, Global Search Strategy, Neo@Ogilvy
Chris Boggs, Director, SEO, Rosetta
Jill Whalen, CEO, High Rankings
Duane Forrester, Senior Program Manager – SEO, Live Search, Microsoft

…and we’re off.

Grehan poses the question is the value of text book SEO diminishing? Hunt: We’ve seen the evolution first hand. The way most people approach SEO is completely wrong. You need to approach it like big companies approach optimizing their digital assets, thoroughly.

Whalen: You mean spammy tactics, finding loopholes in the algo, trick of the day?  It can work for the DAY but you’ll be chasing your tail, for long term its definitely dead.

Forrester: We wholeheartedly still believe in that. The  basic elements are critical and the bigger the site the sooner you have to nail it. You’re gonna have a major issue if you don’t.

Boggs:  The basics are extremely powerful when you have an e commerce site with several products. If you can get meta tags on there its a huge stride.

How has universal search changed the playing field?
Forrester: Companies need to be able to support it. Get all your digital assets in line.

Hunt: It’s important to optimize all of your digital assets.

Boggs: The universal search algo is deep. You have to constantly look for opportunities to leverage these different assets.

Tandler: Need to keep an eye on where you can optimize for different types of content. How can I be in that news result, product result, video result.

Do you believe a search engine wants to teach crawlers to spot h1 tags?
Hunt: The H tag helps push the emphasis. You have to tell them what’s important title, h1, paragraph.

Hunt: The time spent on page is little, we’ve built it into work flow at the start of the project. Make sure its search friendly to begin with. NEED to nail on page out of the box.

What if you are a small company or affiliate? Are we getting same value out of links?
Tandler: Need to target the links they’re going for. Too many chase crappy links. Many are gun-ho to grab directory links but it’s not about being number 1 for a certain keyword.

Forrester: Links need to be topically relevant. There’s always the tactic of sending a templated form that explains to the recipient why the two sites are relevant to each other.

– Whalen In response to sending link forms: Yeah, but it’s been spammed, is anybody even looking at those anymore?
– Grehan: One man’s spam is an affiliate’s good strategy

Boggs:  Do you have anybody linking to you with broken links? A lot of the time its easier to ask them to change the link rather than ask for a new one. Sometimes you find that you’ll get linked to, but the link would make more sense to point to an alternative page. Why not send a polite note asking to move this link to the better suited page?

Hunt: Small companies sometimes end up chasing the wrong links. You need to focus on what makes you relevant and doing some fundamental link building like links from Chamber of Commerce.  It is about quality not quantity.

Is rank reporting dead?
Whalen: There are so many reasons why rank reporting is dead. Rankings don’t equal traffic, you need to use your analytics and look at what matters.

Boggs: still some use – performance of a campaign when you are dealing with a large number of keywords – still some strategic uses, occurring trends – what do we need to do to move up in this space.

Forrester: Ranking reports are not metrics! don’t base business decisions on ranking reports. actually knowing what you rank for can be useful in terms of determining how much more work to do to reach for a higher position.

How do you communicate to a client whether they are winning or not?
Whalen: Analytics, that’s whats important.

Forrester: Conversions, referrals, etc. Set a number on what you need and meet it, that’s what the focus is.

Tandler: Get the most out of analytics. You may be able to get more by identifying weak areas and/or trends.

Boggs: Need to measure on that granular level. Where are they coming in? Where are converting? Who found the site via broad search? Need to reach across analytics to get right metrics.

Analytics is the new SEO!

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