Tag Archives: SEO

2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors

Every two years SEOmoz polls a bunch of SEOs on what we believe influences Google’s search rankings. They assembled new data today and have released their 2011 Search Ranking Factors report to the masses. We’re always very excited by this chance to see a community overview of what makes Google tick.

The ranking factors are fairly complicated, a lot of you aren’t SEO junkies like we are, so I wanted to break down a few of the really important details from the report.

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Zen of Search: The SEO Beginner’s Mind

Post written by Matthew Egan. Follow Matthew on Twitter.

We are so encouraged, personally and professionally to become an expert. We must become a “pro” a “guru” or a “master” in order to be successful. I’m not sure where that got started, but let me say it’s a bunch of bull.

When I was starting out with SEO, or specifically when I was working with the web for the sole purpose of placing well on search engines, my mind was a blank canvas. I had maybe some best practices in mind, some web navigation concepts, but my beginners mind was clear, and open.

I was free to be creative, to brainstorm, to dream.



There is a lot of talk in the Social Media space about these self proclaimed “experts” or “gurus” and often those I find I truly respect (Colleen Pence and Holly Hoffman to name a few) are the ones who own up to being a permanent student. To knowing how much there still is to learn.

Shunryu Suzuki wrote in his book “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” If we spend our time pushing so hard to be an expert, we’re saying that we can define perfection, we can be the best Social Media consultants, and we can optimize the perfect web site for SEO.

That simply isn’t possible. The world is change. We need to champion the people who stand up and shout “I HAVE MORE TO LEARN” and we need to be very wary of the people who get up and say “I KNOW IT ALL!”

I’ve hired a new person recently, who you’ll learn more about soon, as we approach Season Two. What I loved about speaking with her, she and I being a lot alike, was just how much she wanted to learn.

“Show me how to do that.”

“How does this work?”

“Teach me why this is important.”

A beginners mind is a valuable thing. Of course, sometimes dreams are unrealistic and it takes experience to know when something will or won’t work, but when we decide to label ourselves as an expert, to declare our own mastery of something, we’ve decided we’ve learned all there is to learn.

There is always something new, especially with SEO, and to close ourselves off to change and to continued learning, is to fail.

Matthew Egan is the President of San Antonio SEO consulting firm Image Freedom. When not dancing to the blues, Matthew helps web pages like yours get more traffic through content driven Search Engine Optimization.

Analytics: The Music in the Math

Post written by Matthew Egan. Follow Matthew on Twitter.

We all use Analytics to track the progress of our Internet Marketing.  Whether we use Google Analytics for our PPC or our SEO, or we use something like Web Trends or my favorite getClicky, we’re all watching the page views, the bounce rates, tracking conversions, following the math of SEO.  The numbers, up or down, good month or bad.

Analytics is like dancing to a song you’ve never heard before.  Maybe you’ve heard the band before, or you quickly pick up the tempo, but predicting the next cords, predicting the next section or melody is simply impossible.  If the musician did his job, the music will surprise you, the music will be unpredictable.

This dance, this instinct, this guessing game that we play with the math of SEO is everything.  No one knows exactly what to do on every SEO project.  Sure we put our Keywords in the Title Tag, we optimize key pages for specific keywords, we build links, we create content, we make our best educated guess as to what will work.  It’s still just guessing.

Anyone that gets up and says they have the secret, the math down, the one size fits all approach is simply lying.  No one has a partnership with Google for SEO, no one has an in that lets them change the rankings, Google’s algorithm is this brilliant fickle thing that just like a song, keeps right on going whether you’re dancing to it or not.

In SEO, whoever guesses the best wins.  It sounds awful, to think that we’re all just doing our best, pushing along trying to roll with our mistakes and adjust our strategies to succeed.  It’s the truth.  We’re trying to guess better than the other guy, but the fact remains the same.

At the end of the day, Analytics is the tool, the tempo of that song, that helps us correct our methods, improve our own rythm and God willing keep us from stepping on the poor girl’s toes.  All we can do is trust our instincts and learn from our mistakes.

It’s just like Jason Fried says in his book Rework; “Planning is guessing.”

My job is to be a better guesser than the other guy.  Any fluff, head in the clouds “guru” “expert” “visionary” crap is just that, fluff.  Filler.  Buzz words.  It’s about as useful as the best site ever with no backlinks.

Get out there and make your best guess, then follow up with Analytics and correct accordingly.  It’s not a secret, it’s just a little faith and an educated guess.

Matthew Egan is the President of San Antonio SEO consulting group Image Freedom. When not dancing to the blues, Matthew helps web pages like yours get more traffic through content driven Search Engine Optimization.

SEOmoz PRO Seminar Day 2

It would probably take me four years to execute on all the information I’ve absorbed (or at the very least tried to absorb) at the SEOmoz PRO Seminar here in Seattle.  I can’t express the value of that, typically we go to seminars to learn from folks who are repeating the same old crap we’re used to hearing, and we walk away with maybe a few nuggets of information, but I have been just blown away by the wealth of knowledge at this Seminar.

Ryan Kelly @PearAnalytics, Rand Fishkin @randfish & Matthew Egan @ImageFreedom

Ryan Kelly, Rand Fishkin & Matthew Egan

Yesterday, Day 1, featured a fantastic line up of speakers.  Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, broke down the changes to what we see in typical Search Engine Results (SERPS), David Mihm got into the range of options available to those targeting Local Search or Google Places results and my very favorite session came from Lindsay Wassell from Keyphraseology who broke down the magic and presentation of a superior SEO Site Audit.

On the Social Media side of things, Dan Zarrella broke down analytics and observations from Social Media resources.  Did you know that the volume and frequency of the links you post on Twitter impacts how likely they are to get clicked?  Did you know that men tweet less than women, and women follow more people than men do?  Dan’s research and insight was invaluable as we construct strategies for SEO that greatly involve Social Media integration.

Meet and Greet with Will Critchlow @willcritchlow

Meet and Greet with Will Critchlow @willcritchlow

The best part of any seminar like this is the chance to meet others who share the same passions that you do, and those who may create content that you follow.  One such chance was with Distilled’s Will Critchlow, who has been one of the inspirational bloggers I’ve followed as the owner of an SEO Consulting group.  During a powerpoint battle with Rand, Will shared that overnight successes take years, an idea I’ve always subscribed to and loved seeing up in the talk.  I have a lot of respect for these guys and what they’ve been through to get to where they are, it gives me a lot of inspiration and drive seeing how far we’ve come in our short time, and also where we’d like to see ourselves in a year, in five, etc.

We’re halfway through Day 2 of the Seminar series and I’m really looking forward to Will’s final session, “How to Make SEO Data Reporting Sexy”.  It’s one thing to be factual, it’s one thing to be easy to follow, it’s another thing to make data reporting inclusive and I’m excited to see his thoughts.

Just a fantastic workshop so far, and we’ll be sure to bring more tidbits and wisdom as the event wraps up and everyone returns to their little corners to spread the SEO love.

Live from the SEOmoz PRO Seminar

Today myself and Image Freedom VP of Operations Steven Addison are proud to be attending the SEOmoz PRO Seminar series at the Seattle Westin.  The sheer volume of SEO brainpower in the room is very impressive.  I’m inspired, intimidated and excited all wrapped up into one Adderall fueled fury.  We’re really stoked to be here.

SEOmoz PRO Seminar

We just broke into our first break here for the day and so far Rand Fishkin and David Mihm have discussed Image and Video results in the Search Engine Results, as well as what factors impact where you show up in a local result.  A lot of what we’re hearing today is about consistency and that is going to be echoed to just about everyone we work with upon our return.  Have you claimed all your listings?  Have you embraced Google places?

The room is packed with over 600 folks from various pieces of the Search Engine community with I’d say a majority hailing from Search Engine Optimization firms.  I’m excited to be here, excited to be fervently typing notes and most of all excited to get back home and put a lot of these new techniques into practice.

If you’re here, come and say hello, if you’re not stay tuned for some amazing insight into the sharpest minds of the SEO community.