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Dealing With Algorithm Changes
Micah Fisher-Kirshner | Senior SEO Manager
www.become.comSeptember 13th
2011
Quick Background
• Become.com: price comparison website
• Competitors:
 US: NexTag, Shopping, Shopzilla
 UK: PriceRunner...
The Event: Panda Attacks
• Monitoring system goes haywire
 Traffic drops 20+%
, I knew I
should’ve called in
sick…
, I kn...
Event Checklist
 Q1. Is the data in?
 Q2. Are other business teams affected?
 Q3. Are other sites talking about an algo...
Q1 Is The Data Fully In?
• Maintain a good relationship with ops
• Massive events
require flexibility
within organization
...
Q2 Who Else Is Affected?
• Find the limits of the event
 SEO affects everything & everything affects SEO
• Communication ...
Q3 Algorithm Update Rumors?
• Read, read, read!
 Voracious
• Focus on forums and search news sites as they will get
infor...
Q4 What Was Recently Launched?
• Keep an event log
 Sometimes product launches a month back is the cause
• Bug the engine...
Q3 Algorithm Update Rumors?
• Read some more!
• Remember: just because you find one issue, does NOT
mean this is the only ...
Q5 What Areas Are Affected?
• Segment in any way you can
 Keyword groupings: keyword length, keyword traffic level, motiv...
Q3 Algorithm Update Rumors?
• Any mentions yet around the web?
 One or two people doesn’t make it so
GET BACK TO WORK!GET...
Q6 Did Anything Break?
• Let’s assume everything has been white hat, right?
 Sometimes broken or forgotten processes can ...
Q3 Algorithm Update Rumors?
• Can I find algorithm update confirmation now?
 Yes!
• Now what?
 Data collection time!
Q7 Who’s Talking?
• Recognize the regulars
 Skip the broken track records
 Always read the important people, even if it’...
Q8 What Sites Are Dropping?
• Your ranking data shows severity of impact
• Competitive ranking data is essential
 Seeing ...
Q9 What Are The Theories?
BeA WhiteHat SEO
Think like a Black Hat
Likely Pogosticking Impact
Strong Factor
 Many data sources (Google toolbar,
Chrome, ISPs, etc)
 Logical way to determin...
Q10 What Theories Fit?
• Find out everything you
can
 Work your business connections
 Read blogs for ‘in-depth’ analyses...
THINK LIKE A SEARCH ENGINE
Q11 What Can We Do To Recover?
Build For The User
Learning To Love Statistics
• Understand how changes were made
 Richard Baxter at SEOgadget emulates this:
Q[uestion]:
Wo...
Thanks And Good Luck!
Did you fix it yet?Did you fix it yet?
Learn more at: www.become.comwww.linkedin.com/in/micahf
k
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Google Survivor Tips at 2011 SMX Advanced

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How to deal with algorithm changes that was presented mainly at SMX Advanced in 2011 by Micah Fisher-Kirshner, but also at SMX East later that year.

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Google Survivor Tips at 2011 SMX Advanced

  1. 1. Dealing With Algorithm Changes Micah Fisher-Kirshner | Senior SEO Manager www.become.comSeptember 13th 2011
  2. 2. Quick Background • Become.com: price comparison website • Competitors:  US: NexTag, Shopping, Shopzilla  UK: PriceRunner, Twenga  DE: Idealo, Billiger  JP: Kakaku • Why does Google ‘hate’ us?  We are a vertical search engine • Why should Google ‘love’ us?  We had the highest ROAS for CSEs in 2010
  3. 3. The Event: Panda Attacks • Monitoring system goes haywire  Traffic drops 20+% , I knew I should’ve called in sick… , I knew I should’ve called in sick…
  4. 4. Event Checklist  Q1. Is the data in?  Q2. Are other business teams affected?  Q3. Are other sites talking about an algo update?  Q4. What launched recently?  Q5. What areas are affected?  Q6. Is something broken?  Q7. Who’s saying and looking at what things?  Q8. What kind of sites are dropping?  Q9. What are the algo change theories?  Q10. Does our issue match any theories?  Q11. What can we do to quickly recover?
  5. 5. Q1 Is The Data Fully In? • Maintain a good relationship with ops • Massive events require flexibility within organization • Utilize Google Analytics hourly reports with advanced segments Let Me Check… Let Me Check…File @ Bug! File @ Bug!
  6. 6. Q2 Who Else Is Affected? • Find the limits of the event  SEO affects everything & everything affects SEO • Communication is essential  This isn’t the time to send emails  Keep your departments near
  7. 7. Q3 Algorithm Update Rumors? • Read, read, read!  Voracious • Focus on forums and search news sites as they will get information out quickly  Webmaster World  Search Engine Land
  8. 8. Q4 What Was Recently Launched? • Keep an event log  Sometimes product launches a month back is the cause • Bug the engineers  Not every detail is always written down  Watch for rollbacks that undo critical changes
  9. 9. Q3 Algorithm Update Rumors? • Read some more! • Remember: just because you find one issue, does NOT mean this is the only problem  Go back to the same forums and search news sites
  10. 10. Q5 What Areas Are Affected? • Segment in any way you can  Keyword groupings: keyword length, keyword traffic level, motive  Page groupings: home, category, product  Domain/site groupings  Affected all but one sub-domain, in internet explorer, only during certain hours Bad display ad
  11. 11. Q3 Algorithm Update Rumors? • Any mentions yet around the web?  One or two people doesn’t make it so GET BACK TO WORK!GET BACK TO WORK!
  12. 12. Q6 Did Anything Break? • Let’s assume everything has been white hat, right?  Sometimes broken or forgotten processes can lead to a broken website that looks like black hat SEO • Know what is fundamental to your site’s SEO  Backend functions are the easiest to miss  Worker transitions always miss certain processes  Go back to ops team to run through the SEO checklist
  13. 13. Q3 Algorithm Update Rumors? • Can I find algorithm update confirmation now?  Yes! • Now what?  Data collection time!
  14. 14. Q7 Who’s Talking? • Recognize the regulars  Skip the broken track records  Always read the important people, even if it’s just one sentence • Scrutinize the strangers  Read the long commentators, usually something to gleam  Short comments are junk comments • Jerks will be jerks  Push past their annoyances and listen
  15. 15. Q8 What Sites Are Dropping? • Your ranking data shows severity of impact • Competitive ranking data is essential  Seeing who survives help provide answers about algo updates  Searchmetrics, Sistrix, seoClarity, and SEOMoz are just the beginning
  16. 16. Q9 What Are The Theories? BeA WhiteHat SEO Think like a Black Hat
  17. 17. Likely Pogosticking Impact Strong Factor  Many data sources (Google toolbar, Chrome, ISPs, etc)  Logical way to determine better quality  Amit Patel’s quote: “If people type something and then go and change their query, you could tell they aren’t happy[.] If they go to the next page of results, it’s a sign they’re not happy. You can use those signs that someone’s not happy with what we gave them to go back and study those cases and find places to improve search.” Confirming Factor  AdWords ad traffic quality  Paid traffic through botnets  Hate content farms? Wait for the new click farms!
  18. 18. Q10 What Theories Fit? • Find out everything you can  Work your business connections  Read blogs for ‘in-depth’ analyses Site C Site A Site B • Jot down likely possibilities  Make sure you have enough data!  Get out in front fast before others
  19. 19. THINK LIKE A SEARCH ENGINE Q11 What Can We Do To Recover? Build For The User
  20. 20. Learning To Love Statistics • Understand how changes were made  Richard Baxter at SEOgadget emulates this: Q[uestion]: Would you trust the information presented in this article? SEO translation: “‘Trust’ could be measured by the links (citations) awarded to the article, the more authoritative the link, the more trustworthy the article. […] Linking to low quality sites, penali[z]ed sites or downright awful places on the [I]nternet is hardly likely to inspire trust, is it? … “If significant volumes of links aren’t available just yet, perhaps a shorter term solution could be to analy[z]e the social buzz associated with the article. Was there a big discussion surrounding the URL on Twitter? How many people shared the URL via Facebook?”  Coding clues and LinkedIn • A/B test  Sub-domains, categories, page types How to test when the algorithm is overall instead of page level?
  21. 21. Thanks And Good Luck! Did you fix it yet?Did you fix it yet? Learn more at: www.become.comwww.linkedin.com/in/micahf k

How to deal with algorithm changes that was presented mainly at SMX Advanced in 2011 by Micah Fisher-Kirshner, but also at SMX East later that year.

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