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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Adam Lasnik: Super Top Secret SEO Takeaways

When Google spokespeople for the organic search side, such as Matt Cutts or Adam Lasnik, share their thoughts in Q&A's on the conference circuit, typically what you expect to get is three parts official Google philosophy, and one part personal insight. Sometimes you get that little extra interpretation that helps you sort out where things really are now with the algorithms, and where they may be headed. In that regard, Adam didn't disappoint in his talk yesterday here in Oslo at the SEM '09 conference, hosted by IAB Norway.

Leaving aside a relatively well-traveled topic, underscores vs. hyphens in URL's, Adam explained a couple of other interesting nuances in the Q&A part of his talk.

He put this into overall context by saying (paraphrasing here) that there are often points made by speakers at conferences where he wishes he could jump in to discredit a myth or otherwise set the speaker straight. So often, it's possible to overanalyze something and take it in a direction that just doesn't stack up with how Google's technology really works.

On that front, Adam seemed to take issue with the overall point (jumping off the SEOmoz expert survey of ranking factors, and correlations with what appear to be real rank) that keywords in URL's and domains help with rank. He suggested a couple of other reasons why this coincidence occurs (other actual causes that are actually in the algorithm). I think the point is valid, and could think of a couple of other reasons why savvy companies who happen to be putting keyword-rich URL's into the public domain happen to do several other things well; and it's these things that really cause them to gain higher rankings. IMHO a disproportionate number of high organic referral type companies (Yelp, TripAdvisor, Kijiji, etc.) have the keywords-in-URL thing covered. These guys rank well for all sorts of reasons. And as a proportion of high ranking pages, they take up a large number of 'em. So there's that skew. It doesn't follow that any old company will see a great ranking benefit from pursuing relatively trivial changes to their site architecture or nomenclature. It's a small piece of the puzzle at best. But the mindset that causes companies to do it (user experience) is the right mindset to have.

Adam went on at greater length about why H1 and H2 tags, etc., don't correlate with rank. More to come on this. It's time for dinner.

Posted by Andrew Goodman




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