Thanks for the SEO Innovations in '09

So, in the spirit of the past holiday season, there are a couple of things happening in the SEO world that I am very thankful. Here they are:

#1 Google Analytics API

Google Analytics team & Avinash to you I say THANK YOU! A few things we’ve been able to do this year using the Google Analytics API include:

Pulling referring sites automatically from client profiles, allowing us to work on optimizing anchor text for linking sites that are already linking to our target sites but with suboptimal anchor text.

This is valuable to us because as SEO’s we know darn well that seeking out referring sites to ensure we're are getting maximum bang for our buck is critical, but checking all referring sites every day (or even every week) is a time consuming task that often doesn’t yield dividends worth the time invested, the API has made it worthwhile.

Using the API we are able to pull the referrers, score them (with other api’s like SEOMOZ’s MozRank), and then based on the scoring only spend our time evaluating the highest quality referrers. No more going to a referring site, to check its PR, Delicious Tags, Domain Age, etc. This saves us a lot of time, and helps us spend more time on strategy for our clients.

The other area where the Google Analytics API has helped is with my obsession about checking 3 client metrics from search every day:

    Unbranded Traffic Conversions Bounce rates And for e-commerce clients - (Revenue / Google Base Traffic / Conversions)

We use the GA API to pull this information and put it in one dashboard. This keeps me from having to go into Google Analytics, click on up to 30 different client profiles, and dig into the report to find how our clients have done the previous day (or open 30 e-mails every day with this information). I think this saves me about 15 minutes a day, which over the course of a year is almost 100 hours saved. This time savings allows me to work on link building strategies.

Thank you Google Analytics and the Google Analytics API team. Looking forward to having our team play around with the new gifts you’ve provided.

Oh one more thing, much love to the more mature but very useful Google Adwords API our work on automatically pulling top converters in PPC that are not ranking well in natural search will help us discover new converting keywords automatically, thus allowing us to spend our time developing strategies for clients to take advantage of these opportunities. Shout out to you guys as well, thank you!

#2 Googles never ending innovation

Google, while so many people complain about you guys, whether its personalized search, social search, sidewiki or your new innovations in older data sources:

Google Local – The attempt at buying Yelp, tells us all we need to know…Google must realize that there’s a ton more potential in local search and that they are not dominant there, thank God for people like David Mihm who keep us on top of it all. This is yet another area for SEO’s to research, learn, and help our clients gain traffic and sales.

Google Shopping Results – Google’s heavy inclusion of product feeds in the top results for queries from snowboarding goggles all the way to POS software is an exciting and new thing that so many of us need to keep our eyes on to help our clients get maximum exposure anyone can submit a feed, but the small changes in a feed can help you get so much more traffic and sales.

Google / Youtube Video Integration into SERPS – While this is nothing new, NO ONE that I know of has a strong handle on how to promote video in the top 10 organic consistently. People are producing video with blinders on as to how to get that video to rank well in the top 10 on natural search. This is another area where SEO’s need to test, learn, and optimize, your best bet to stay on top of video search is hands down

Google Adwords w/ Product Listings – how does this pretty new feature impact CTRs on PPC ads, does not having images when many others do have a negative or positive impact on conversions? Is having a pretty picture in the PPC ad enticing more clicks? Probably, but is it enticing so many more that it is hurting your overall profitability? Is it a good thing or bad thing (for advertisers), who knows but we do know that this recent innovation is going to cause a LOT of people to spend time optimizing their feeds and understanding the impact of feeds on bottom line results in paid search channels.

Google Real time search – Personally I think real time search won’t be all that big in its current form, but who knows. Regardless, it is something SEO’s should evaluate for their clients to understand how (if at all) real time search is impacting their clients CTRs, rankings, etc.

Here’s why I am saying thank you Google. Your consistent innovation helps keep me and my team employed. Your consistent innovation on what shows up on the first page of results requires even more focus and dedication to understanding how search works. Just when people thought following basic best practices were enough you guys continue to innovate which helps not only keep us, but a lot of other people employed.

#3 There’s an App for that – My blogging to increase 2x

What many of you won’t know is that about 50% of this post was done via voice transcriptions with the Dragon Speaking App which is FREE - I started playing with it a few weeks ago. This handy little tool is going to help me do more than just use Jott to transcribe a quick 30 second idea, I am able to use this app to get 200-500 (or more) words out. This is great because it lets me get more of my thoughts down than just sound bytes, which Jott was good at, but by the time I got down to expanding on my thoughts it was often not flowing so well.

Tip for this app: Don’t go too long without reading the output of your brainstorms b/c there will be errors in the transcription and you’ll have a hard time reminding yourself of what you meant if you wait too long.

Looking for other great apps, here are two lists.

#4 Bing - we needed you!

Monopolies are bad and while I am thankful for all Google has done, in the eyes of many folks they are getting a little too powerful. Last month I switched to Bing as my default search engine just to get more immersed in how you compare. So far, so good. Keep at it. With you creeping up in market share, no one can afford to ignore you guys anymore. Your 10% market share is great news for search professionals everywhere, and for users. Now I wish I didn’t have to switch to Google to find that article above using date based search, which you don’t seem to have in your advanced search.

Keep at it though guys!

#5 Linkscape / Majestic SEO battle for link analysis.

I must say thanks to Rand Fishkin & Dixon Jones - thanks for giving us more scientific ways to look at link patterns, it has helped the us tremendously, by allowing us to focus our efforts more on certain aspects of link building for certain clients – I am really looking forward to you guys duking it out!

But I must say lately the use of pivot tables, and extracting your data and seeking trends is starting to look big, a lot of SEO’s are barely scratching the surface of both of your tools. A recent 10 hour dive into your data for a competitive space showed me a lot about uncovering areas of strength for the top 10 in a competitive niche.

Shout out to Will Critchlow, once we saw how you guys were using Excel it gave us a ton of ideas, thanks for sharing this insightful post on using excel for SEO, its a great read.

Ok that is enough thank you's, happy 2010 everyone.

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Wil Reynolds
Wil Reynolds
CEO & Vice President