Ask The SEOs SMX Advanced

SearchEngineLand just posted my transcript of the Ask The SEOs session from last week’s SMX Advanced 2016. I started reading it to make sure I had accurately represented the conversation and it occurred to me there were some real gems in there that might benefit from being summarized here. I also loved the shot I got of Greg, Todd, Laura and Adria and couldn’t resist using it on these hallowed pages. With that, I proudly present Ask The SEOs Cliff Notes in handy ordered list form to try to generate Answer Box results:

Q: How Do You Do SEO?

  1. On Going HTTPS:
    Boser: Understand that once you go, you can never go back. If you request a secure link and it redirects to http, the browser will give an “insecure” message, which is not good.
  2. On Affiliate Marketing
    Boser: If you are doing affiliate marketing, you want to do everything you can to make sure Google has no idea what you are doing.
  3. On Google Devaluing Hidden Content
    Lippay: If you have hidden content, Google will index it, but they claim it will not be as helpful to ranking. (Author’s note: I have seen little evidence of this!!!!!!! exclamation points added to tell you I really mean it)
  4. On Links From The Home Page
    Boser: It’s not about whether or not you can crawl it. The mistake people make is having too many links on the home page. Google still likes a hierarchy of links. Why pass equity to all those long-tail pages that are better linked to lower down the path?
  5. On Borg-Like Assimilation of All Sites Into The Hamburger Menu
    Boser: The hamburger thing always starts with some designer thinking it’s cool, or they see it on a competitor’s site and instead of testing it with users, they roll it out.
  6. On RankBrain SEO – For More Fun on This Subject See This Twitter Conversation
    Friesen: RankBrain could be substituting “did you mean” results without you knowing. Basically, they are thinking they know better than you what you are looking for.Boser: At the end of the day, it’s just re-sorting stuff, and you have to get into the consideration set to be sorted. That’s links and content. So stop worrying about RankBrain.Kyne: Ninety percent of the time, when someone asks me about what they can do to affect RankBrain, their site shows they are not doing the basics right.

    Boser: Mining [Google] Suggest is a much better way to spend your time.

    Sullivan: I was trying to get Gary [Illyes] to clarify whether this was a query refinement thing or a ranking signal thing. Gary suggested it was a ranking signal thing, but every other Googler has said it was a query refinement thing, so I think it’s a refinement thing. My theory is RankBrain is mapping queries to more popular queries, i.e., “Super Synonyms.” This doesn’t mean you have to put every synonym on every page, as Google should understand that a page about “shoes” should rank for “footwear” queries.

    Friesen: Nobody has seen any changes since RankBrain supposedly rolled out. It’s not like started ranking for everything. (Line of the day!)

  7. On AMP Results in SERPs
    Boser: Google is going to bring carousel-style results to the desktop.
  8. Subdomain v. Subdirectory?
    Friesen & Kyne: Subdirectory.Boser: Depends. Subdomains can be great for head terms, not so much for tail.
  9. SEO Strategies Du Jour?
    Boser: If you are hosting duplicate pages on partner site subdomains, cloak for Google and 301 to the main site. That may not still work. 😉Friesen: One of the biggest things we did was educate our copywriters to use the words we want to rank for in our copy.

See the full post at SearchEngineLand

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5 Response Comments

  • Andrew Shotland  June 29, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Hey Darren,

    We did a fairly large test of this on a client site. Each page had something like 750 words of text mostly hidden behind a “More” link. We exposed all of the text on a test group and we saw a positive response by Google relative to the control group – organic traffic to the test group rose by ~2% over four weeks after the test v ~1% growth for the control group. Based on this we decided to release this to a larger set of pages and saw no difference in performance. So it’s possible that on the margins hidden content could make a difference but not enough to spend a lot of time worrying about it, at least for now.

    • Laura Lippay  June 29, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Nice pic. Was wondering where that was going to end up. 🙂
      Specifically, what Google has said is “…if the content isn’t visible, we just wouldn’t give it the same weight as the visible content. That way, if the hidden content is unique, we’ll still be able to rank the page for it…”

      • Andrew Shotland  June 29, 2016 at 5:16 pm

        Thanks for following up Laura. In the test case I mentioned, I guess you could call it unique, but it was pretty generic “SEO text”.

        BTW my 9 yr old daughter thought I was pretty damn special that I knew someone from Netflix 🙂

        • Laura Lippay  July 12, 2016 at 4:22 pm

          Aww 🙂 There’s some good kid’s stuff coming out (Stranger Things, Voltron, Danger Mouse, The Little Prince, etc) and if I can make it work, one day we’ll *tell you about it* too! 🙂