Business Thoughts

What Can Social Media Do For You?

The SEO team here at SEER Interactive was proud to host our first #SEERQandA session via our Google+ page this past Wednesday, January 25th. What resulted was an hour full of rapid-fire SEO questions and answers from users all over the world interested in learning more about our industry and company. Read below for some of our top questions and answers on best practices for SEO, the SEO culture in a small business, and site audits! For the full thread, please view it here!

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Ed Fry  –  Two burning questions about SEO for online marketplaces where users are creating listings where users buy and sell products. So here goes:

1. When a listing expires (e.g. product runs out permanently) should you 301 or rel-canonical, and point the result to either the users profile or back to a category page (the one you want to rank) based on link juice, optimal user experience and appeasing Matt Cutts. :]

2. How do you try and rank for competitive terms if you’re a marketplace and you’d really like to rank in one country where you have lots of users (e.g. the UK) without ranking in another country where you don’t have as many users (for instance, you haven’t got critical mass of sellers in the USA, and the USA is really several different markets – East Coast vs. West Coast if the product is really local). And no, we don’t have the budget or resources for the multiple TLD’s and hustling across every country :( Any advice?!?

Wil Reynolds  –  +Ed Fry thanks for coming out and supporting us…You are asking the tough questions. So here is my take… I am a bigger fan of 301’s than anything just because they are tried and true. +Rand Fishkin has done more research than I have on how they pass juice. The one thing I wonder about is how does 301’ing vs canonicaling impact social signals for a product (I know that 301’s don’t pass vote value) but let’s say that as Google starts using Google +1’s to value pages, then I bet you a canonical is better because you keep the social voting juice and push the link juice as well. I think as long as the 301 is on topic our buddy Matt Cutts would be OK with it. That is a great question, cc: +Mike Essex +Dana Lookadoo

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Andrew Dunkle  –  Do you guys have any advice for developing an effective SEO culture in a small business? We have a team of 8 and I’m looking for ways to get everyone involved in the process so important SEO related decisions are understood by everyone. Thanks!

Adam Melson  –  +Andrew Dunkle Love this question. It’s totally important to get this across your developers, PR person, President, etc. Everyone has to get on the same page as to why SEO is important and what you’re working toward. This can be shown to the web devs by showing them the impact of a page that was optimized. It helps get more conversions & doesn’t have to take forever. The PR person can start linking in releases and they’ll also be tracking who picks up the release and might have a contact at that website to get links in there if they were taken out during distribution. Copywriters can be briefed on different keywords they will want to include in their copy so that their articles/blog posts/pages get more visibility. The ego stroke is always a great route and if their content gets more eyes, your company gets more eyes. If there are 2-3 big keywords that you know are your money makers, share these as a goal with the team. Share that it’s important to have them rank. Maybe show how these keywords convert in PPC and the actual value of a sale. If you can save the cost of paying per click, it makes the company stronger, job security stronger, but more importantly it shows people that what they’re doing for SEO contributes to the bottom line of a company. If people are having trouble understanding why SEO goals are important, everyone can relate to dollars. “We need to get this SEO recommendation implemented because it could get us moved from #5 to #4″ isn’t motivating. “We need to get this SEO recommendation implemented because if we move from #5 to #4, it could bring in another $10k over the course of the year. Do you have an hour to implement?” is much more motivating.

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Cleo Kirkland  –  Hi all, What’s your process for a technical site audit? What are the top 10 errors you look for, how do you find them, and what tools do you use? I come from a link building and copywriting background, so trouble shooting site indexation issues is a bit foreign to me. Thanks!

Rachael Gerson  –  +Cleo Kirkland We have some basic starting processes, but every site ends up being different, so part of the plan needs to be flexibility. We may start an audit only to find there’s an issue with this particular site that we haven’t seen in hundreds of sites previously.
Some basic things to look for:
* Is the site content spiderable to the search engines? Try spider simulators like http://www.webconfs.com/search-engine-spider-simulator.php.
* Is the navigation spiderable? The Web Developer Toolbar (https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/web-developer/) is an absolute favorite. Get it for Firefox and Chrome, b/c Chrome is missing the ability to disable JavaScript. Do basic things like checking out Google’s text-only cache of a page. 
* Do you have redirect issues on the site? We had a client previously on a platform that 302 redirected every single link on the site to another URL. Since 302 redirects tell the search engines the redirects were temporary, the actual pages weren’t being picked up. The platform couldn’t be edited. If the site was/is redesigned, make sure there’s a redirect strategy in place. My favorite redirect checker is http://gsitecrawler.com/tools/Server-Status.aspx.
* Using the same tool, check to make sure that either http://domain.com 301 redirects to http://www.domain.com, or vice versa.
* Make sure 404 pages actually return a 404 server status. 
* Go through Google Webmaster Tools. Find the errors, figure out how to resolve.
* Review the robots.txt. Are pages being blocked that shouldn’t be? This can be a huge issue!
* Are there duplicate pages/domains/subdomains? Would a multi-faceted navigation make more sense for the site? 
* Do they have basic things like HTML & XML sitemaps? 
* Check for pagination issues, mistakes with canonical tags, etc.

Pausing my response here b/c just got a note that you were already answered… :)

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Now what does this all mean?

Besides the 100+ comments we received and an admirable attempt at justifying having a Google+ page, what we noticed more was the increase in our overall social media following. Here at SEER, I help manage the many social media accounts we have and find myself always looking for innovative ways to increase our fans and followers. We know that as a company, we have extremely valuable insight in both the SEO and PPC worlds, and we want people to know our thoughts and opinions! Hosting this G+ Q&A gave us exactly the push that we were looking for! Using our lunch break on a Wednesday afternoon, we were able to boost our name virally for an all-time high of 63 mentions and gain over 1% more followers (and beat our competitor’s follower growth that day)! Using SEOmoz’s Social Dashboard (which I highly recommend), the below two graphs highlight my exact enthusiasm (SEER is represented as the green line in the Follower Growth graph and competitors are represented as the red, blue and purple lines, respectively).

Interactions from the past 30 Days

 

Follower Growth from the past 30 days

In Conclusion

Now, looking back, I see that our first Q&A session was a huge success. We were able to inspire people with our knowledge and our creativity using Google+, all while enabling new benchmarks for our future social media efforts. My simple and quick words of advice for other small (or large) businesses that are trying to actively increase their presence online is to be provide knowledge or actionable items for your users, think of creative ways to invite and include your audience and have fun! I hope to continue learning more about social media and implementing new trends for SEER, but as for now, stay tuned for our next #SEERQandA session coming up in early February! We’ll be switching things up with SEO and PPC-themed discussions, so bring out your best questions and let’s rock and roll.

I’d love to hear about your social media successes and failures! Follow me @Melissa_Alam and fill me in!