Combine a panel of SEO experts and a roomful of Social Media Club Los Angeles members and what do you get?

  • A mountain of amazing tips and tricks to immediately apply to your own website’s inbound marketing strategy
  • 25 of the top SEO tools and links used by proven experts who have multiple top ranking sites for keywords
  • Tactics to use if you want to get to the front page of Digg, StumbleUpon or Reddit
  • How to research Google keywords and apply them to create the highest ranking blog posts with maximum SEO
  • And so much more…
SEO Cat Wantz Yer Link Juis
SEO Cat Wantz Yer Link Juis

The panelists included (listed by order of personal page rank):

Moderating her final SMCLA event as club director/founder was Jackie Peters: founding partner of Heavy Bag Media, a communication strategy firm based in Los Angeles.

What are some of the myths surrounding SEO and social media?

  • Barbara: SEO and Social Media are not one in the same. They absolutely do not equal each other.
  • Tony: There is no secret sauce. There is no one trick. It’s a holistic process.
  • Jeffrey: Search is constant traffic. Spikes occur from Social Media. Search is where they find you, SM is where they hear about you.
  • Sean: A big misconception is that you need to be ranked #1. You can still get a lot of traffic by ranking anywhere on the first page. Google is using a “freshness” rule to see who continually hits the keyword. Social Media is not a replacement for search. Search will always be #1 driver.

How important are social bookmarking sites to your SEO strategy?

  • Barbara: The goal is to get your content picked up and passed along via shared links. Driving comments and bookmarks to your site gives your page “authority”. It feeds upon itself with scrapers and reposters.
  • Tony: Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit are not for ALL of your content. Be selective and have a strategy.
  • Jeffrey: Digg/Reddit-write a sensational headline. Use IM to ask people for Diggs and be sure to build out a good network of Digg friends (using social media, in-life events, good old fashioned friendships). Be authentic or else you’ll get trashed.

Are there certain social bookmarking sites for certain content?

  • Sean: The female demographic stuff will not make it to Digg. There’s actually a female-targeted social bookmarking site called Kirtsy for that. Reddit is the “smart” version of Digg and focuses more political and analytical. StumbleUpon is for your aunt who has an AOL address and sends you random sites.
  • Jackie: StumbleUpon delivers the largest spikes for her sites.
  • Sean: StumbleUpon may deliver traffic, but it’s all NoFollow links, so don’t expect to get any authority along with your traffic spikes. Digg is for male sites & new sites (Monolith content hits Digg homepage 2-3 times a week). StumbleUpon is basically for random, unfocused, one-off posts.
  • Jeffrey: StumbleUpon is the gift that keeps on giving…very long tail for traffic with random spikes

What is link juice (and why does it make me feel so dirty) ?

Mmm...tasty link juice.

  • Tony: Described the history of Page Ranking and how things have evolved from HTML Meta tagging to # of linkbacks (inbound links from other sites to yours), and how things are now evolving into needing to do all of the on-page SEO stuff but also having a strategy to get to the front of Digg so that you get picked up by authority passing sites like TechCrunch or Read Write Web to give you the bump you really need. That passed “authority” is basically what “link juice refers to”. Think of it as a vote from one site to another…only not all votes are created equal.
  • Sean: The more inbound links to your site the better. There is a new emphasis on relevancy and freshness. Google will add more emphasis to a relevant backlink. Anchor text needs to be varied or else it raises flags (so be careful if you send out specific HTML for people to include in their posts)
  • Barbara: Backlinking relevance is very important. For example, if you’re an automotive site, a backlink from a site with high relevance to toys (but no relevance to automotive) is not really worth much

Top SEO Tips

  • Sean: For relevance, use the tilde character (“~”) before a search term on Google to perform a search. The resulting page will show you synonyms to the term you’re looking at in bold. For example, if you’re searching for “wave”, you’d type “~wave” and the results page would show terms like “surf, ocean, beach” in bold and bring back those results as well.
  • Sean: See the backlinks to your site using the Google search box. Type “” to see who links to your site. You can filter it down to the page if you’d like. (Ex: Hey! How come we don’t have more?)
  • Barbara: Tip: Know who the groups are who push things to the front page. Look at posts that go to the front quickly and see who the usernames are who are pushing these things forward. It’s kind of an insider community, but see what you can do to get into it or to figure out how to do something similar with a group of your own.
  • Sean: There is an art to writing a post for your blog/site that is positioned well to capitalize on trends, but also relates the trend itself to the subject of your site. Trends can be a very powerful tool to grabbing traffic (and subsequently authority and ranking).
  • Tony: .GOV and .EDU sites pass more backlink authority than regular sites. Consider engaging a university on a project, donation, sponsorship to get your logo with a high authority backlink to your site as a tactic to increase page ranking
  • Barbara: Don’t be greedy with only internal links. Link outward and you’ll get some reciprocal links from friendly people. Play in a “safe neighborhood” by linking to other sites with relevance. Writing a post on a trending topic can get good inbound links with authority, but spin it so it’s relevant to your keywords.

15 Useful SEO Tools

  • Trellian SEO Toolkit: includes everything you need to optimize and promote your web pages, to increase your web site traffic and search engine visibility.
  • StumbleUpon Toolbar”>StumbleUpon Toolbar (Firefox): discovers web sites based on your interests, learns what you like and brings you more.
  • Instant Messaging: To communicate to people that it’s time to spread the link love and get busy with the social bookmarking, tweeting and re-tweeting.
  • Majestic SEO is a company that offers a service for SEO that Barbara recommends for competitive link intelligence.
  • SEO Toolbar by The SEO Toolbar pulls in many useful marketing data points to make it easy get a holistic view of the competitive landscape of a market directly in the search results.
  • Yahoo Site Explorer: Use this tool to see who is linking to you. Or, better yet, use it to see who is linking to your competitors! Pages here are listed by rank, so pay close attention to those that show up first and learn from them.
  • Toolbar (Firefox): Quick and easy access to save sites into your social bookmarking stream.
  •”>Digg Toolbar (Firefox)
  • Google Keyword Tool: type in a keyword and get back tons of information about volume of searches, trends related to that term, local and global data about that keyword and synonymous words.
  • Google Keyword Search-Related Keyword Tool: similar to the keyword tool, but adds what Google thinks is related based on search patterns
  • SEO Quake (Firefox or IE): allows user to obtain and investigate many important SEO parameters of the internet project under study on the fly.
  • Google Webmaster Tools: a one-stop shop for webmaster resources that will help you with your crawling and indexing questions, introduce you to offerings that can enhance and increase traffic to your site, and connect you with your visitors.
  • WordTracker: a must have resource for any search engine marketing professional. It combines both a respectable search term database with tools that make mining the information easy.
  • Google AdWords: Once you have an account, you have access to key information about keywords, the cost of keywords, related keywords and more…
  • Google Trends: understanding trends and predicting user behavior is more than half the battle when it comes to creating compelling content that gets picked up.

10 Useful Sites for SEOs of All Levels

  • Search Engine Land: Search Engine Land is the industry’s leading online publication for the latest search news, research and anaylsis, commentary and expert advice. Led by search authorities Danny Sullivan and Chris Sherman, an experienced editorial staff and wide range of contributors produce the most comprehensive coverage in the industry.
  • SEOMoz: SEOmoz serves as a hub for search marketers worldwide, providing education, tools, resources and paid services to help every SEO to be the best they can be.
  • Alltop’s SEO Page: Alltop aggregates RSS headlines from all of the top search engine optimization news and headlines from across the web.
  • Matt Cutts (Google Engineer) Blog: Matt is the head of Google Webspam and provides an inside view on Google’s search engine. This is his personal page, and isn’t primarily focused on SEO, but if you dig a bit you’ll get some good info.
  • Google’s YouTube Videos for Webmasters: This is the official YouTube channel for Google Webmaster Central, your one-stop shop for webmaster resources that will help you with your crawling and indexing questions, introduce you to offerings that can enhance and increase traffic to your site, and connect you with your visitors.
  • SEOChat: Search Engine Optimization, Google Optimization – SEO Chat
  • SEOBook: SEO is a leading SEO blog by Aaron Wall covering the search space. It offers marketing tips, search analysis, and whatever random rants come to mind.
  • Sphinn: Sphinn is a social site for search and interactive marketers. It’s designed to allow you to share and discover news stories, read and take part in discussions, discover events of interest and network with others.
  • Brent Csutoras
  • 10e20: 10e20, LLC is THE Global Internet Marketing & Web Solutions Company® dedicated to helping small and mid-size companies meet and exceed their Internet marketing goals. Each day we strive to deliver a strong return on your investment.

Q&A from SMCLA Crowd

Pick me!  Pic Me!

Question: “I have a client with 300 company acquisitions (each has a website in a relatively similar and relevant field)…should their sites link to each other?

  • Sean: There is an extreme power in having a network of sites. Be careful going overboard on it and use “no follow” with some moderation to keep the quality of cross-pollination high. For highly advanced users, people use different IP blocks, data centers, load blanceers, etc… to really randomize the source of authority building links. The more random the source, the less likely it is that Google will nerf them.

Are there any strategies that apply to image galleries?

  • Jeffrey: You definitely want to use filenames that are “human readable”. A picture with a filename of “best-golf-clubs.jpg” is a LOT better than “1234.jpg”.
  • Sean: ALT tags are important too. Since search engine bots can’t see your picture, make sure that the picture has machine readable tags to describe what the picture depicts.
  • Sean: I once saw a massive spike from a post I did with a picture of Megan Fox. It was a perfect confluence of filename, alt tag, page title, etc…coupled with an extremely popular female celebrity.
  • Tony: That brings up a great point: “universal search” (searching across images, videos, text, and other media) does have a vast reach. Be sure to populate your content across sites like Flickr and YouTube to take advantage of those search sites as well.

What about measuring the success and results of your SEO efforts? Tools?

  • Jeffrey: To measure success, you must have good baseline stats and well defined goals for what you want to achieve.  This could be anything from just traffic stats to very specific conversion goals like opt-in email list joins, ad banner clicks, or filling out a survey.  Define your goals, and have a strategy for what your site is supposed to do and then use the tools to measure your conversion rates.  Use Google Webmaster Tools, Website Analytics, Rank Checker, Excel
  • Sean: Tons of ranking tools are available.  Google has a bunch of “ranking tools”.  I use custom Excel sheets in-house to track these things (example:  weekly Google positioning for specific keywords).  I track growth based on ranking on certain terms and  # of pages indexed as a metric.  Google Webmaster Tools has “diagnostics” for your site that provide most of these metrics.
  • Barbara: Look at analytics – 90% bounce rate is bad.  Do your research on the topic and find competitors who rank higher.  See if you can make changes to switch up your bounce rate so your site is stickier.

More Tools: SEO Goal Conversion & Ranking Measurement

  • Web Position: WebPosition® 4 offers all of the tools necessary to improve your web site’s search engine rankings and increase revenue. WebPosition 4 now includes a summary dashboard, trend graphs, essential off-site metrics (link popularity and search engine saturation reporting) and 200+ new search engines.
  • Rank Checker by SEOBook (Firefox):Want to know where your website ranks in the search results? Our Firefox Rank Checker extension allows you to easily check your website rankings in Google (US and international), Yahoo, and Microsoft Live search.
  • Web CEO: Complete SEO Toolkit offering a whole suite of features and services all centered around optimizing your site for search.
  • SEO Tools on SEO Moz: The SEOmoz toolset includes over twenty SEO tools designed to help with every aspect of search engine optimization, including on-page targeting, site crawlability, competitive analysis, rank checking and keyword difficulty.
  • Google Analytics Goal Tracking & Funnels: Google Analytics offers a number of conversion measurement tools to help you define and assess whether or not you’re accomplishing your goals with your website.

Ways to optimize your content to rank within the social networks.

  • Sean: Include the social network badges to encourage social sharing. I recommend that you don’t go overboard with the badges because people develop a blind spot to a noisy area of logos/icons. Choose the ones you want to target (ex: Digg, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Twitter). I especially like TweetMeme buttons to encourage Re-tweeting of content.
  • Jeffrey: WordPress is your friend here.  There are so many plugins you can use to faciliate the optimization around your content.  I use All in One SEO and Google XML Sitemap Generator to name a few.
  • Barbara:  Get on those Instant Messaging channels and get your network of friends to boost you up.  Ask for favors saying, “can you Digg this?” or Ccan you please tweet about this or post it into your Facebook wall?”.  That groundswell of popularity and passed link sharing is worth its weight in gold.

This was such a great panel and we’d like to thank everyone who assisted with the event.  Special thanks goes out to Jackie Peters for her year of service to the club as a founder and a director.  We’d also like to thank our sponsors: Rubicon Project and EasyTweets for making it all possible.  Congrats to our 4 winners on their fully licensed copies of EasyTweets!

Go get you some.

Go get you some.