FTC Preparing to Fine Google Millions for Safari Privacy Breach

In February, Stanford researcher Jonathan Mayer discovered that Google had bypassed a key Safari browser privacy setting in order to install tracking cookies. By hiding a “web form” within an online ad, Google circumvented Safari�s default settings and violated users� right to privacy. If the Safari user clicked the +1 button in the ad, Google tricked Safari into believing a web form had been submitted and as a result Safari allowed Google to install a tracking cookie on the device.

Today, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly ready to allege that Google engaged in deceptive practices and installed tracking cookies in an unacceptable manner. Google is reportedly negotiating with the FTC regarding the size of the fine it will be forced to pay for its misconduct. Although the exact amount of the fine has not yet been released, the FTC is able to fine Google $16,000 a day per violation and Bloomberg has reported that the fine is likely to be in excess of $10 million.

John M. Simpson, the director at the Consumer Watchdog Privacy Project, expressed support for the FTC taking strong action against Google:

�Google hacked past a key privacy setting on iPhones and iPads and other devices using Apple’s Safari browser, placed tracking cookies on them and then lied, saying the settings were still effective. I am delighted the FTC appears ready to take strong action against an obvious violation of Google’s promises to honor users’ privacy in its ‘Buzz’ Consent Decree with the Commission.�

If the FTC forces Google to pay a multimillion dollar fine for “unfair and deceptive” business practices, it could signal that the FTC is finally serious about protecting users� privacy.

Sources Include: MarketWatch & SFGateImage Credit: Shutterstock

The Real Impact of the Google SmartPhone Crawler (Part 2): Generating Mobile Redirects Properly

Google’s new smartphone crawler may have made mobile SEO easier or slightly more predictable, but that is not the end of the story. This is the second in a 3 part series aimed at giving more actionable mobile SEO tips for how to understand and respond to Google’s new smartphone bot. In the last post, we covered how the new smartphone bot works, and which sites will be affected by the change. This post will focus on how to generate mobile redirects that will help the smartphone bot find and index your mobile content correctly. The next and final blog post in this mobile SEO series will review common indexing problems with mobile sites, and how to prevent them.

Since the smartphone bot caches and follows mobile redirects when they are in place, the ranking of your mobile-specific pages (like ones on an ‘m.’) becomes much less important than the rankings of your desktop pages on smartphones. You can usually rely on the strong SEO and rankings of your desktop pages to make desktop pages out-rank mobile pages, even on a mobile phone, but now when a smartphone requests one of those desktop pages from a search result Google will automatically serve the mobile page instead of the desktop page. Problems enter the picture quickly when the redirection is not set up properly.

Google is not being very transparent about this new bot. As of the writing of this article there are many questions on the blog post with the official announcement of the new bot, but they have all gone unanswered by Google. (Here is the official announcement from Google with unanswered comments below).

What we do know, is that the smartphone bot emulates [pretends to be] a smartphone (specifically an iPhone 4.1) when it crawls your website, and thus, it follows any redirects that are in place that would be targeted at a smartphone – This redirection of visitors on smartphones to a different page is called user-agent detection and redirection. Essentially, when a page is requested from your server, the server looks to see what type of device is requesting the page. If it is a smartphone, the server sends the visitor to a different version of the page. (This is all controlled by PHP or ASP.NET code that is placed on the server, and in header of all the page templates.)

Based of what we know of Google, and how they handle mobile and desktop indexing, here are some notes and speculations about how to create the proper types of mobile redirects that will most likely get indexed:

Server Based Redirects - 301 & 302

In the SEO world of redirects, the 301 is King, but in mobile the 302 is a bit more common. This is because many mobile platforms generate temporary mobile pages that don’t actually exist permanently on servers anywhere, so the developers don’t want to open themselves to any risk that might be associated with a ‘permanent’ redirection. My guess is that the smartphone crawler can cache EITHER a 301 or 302 redirect but the redirect must be set to be ‘privately cachable’ in the html headers and it must go to a permanent, indexable mobile page. The likelihood of Google caching on-page Javascript redirects is low, as is the probability of Google caching multiple versions of parameter-based redirects to dynamically generated pages, because this would all be too hard to police and waste lots of unnecessary space in their datacenters.

Redirection on Every Page

Like with desktop websites, you cannot always assume that mobile visitors will enter your site from the mobile home page. For the mobile redirects to be indexed properly by the smartphone crawler you will need to set up user-agent detection and redirection on every page on your site, and not just the home page. If the redirection script is missing from internal pages, the smartphone bot will not see the mobile pages, so when the listing is clicked on from a smartphone search result, the visitor will still be delivered to the desktop version of that page since there is not redirect cached.

Always Page to Page

Google really likes having a discrete ratio of associated pages in its index. What that means for your redirects, is that they should be from a specific page on the desktop site to the corresponding specific page on the mobile site. This assumes that the mobile version of your site is a complete mirror of your desktop site, and creates problems for mobile sites that don’t entirely mirror their desktop counterparts. If your mobile site and your desktop site are significantly different, you have to do the best that you can to associate mobile desktop pages with the mobile page that is most closely related, even if it is not an exact match.

Example: A news site that does not bother adding all of its articles to the mobile site is a common situation where there is not a 1-to-1 ratio of mobile pages to desktop pages. When that is the case, your only option that is good for both users and search engines is to either have no redirect and serve the mobile visitor the desktop page, OR redirect the desktop visitor to the category page for the type of news they were looking for, with a small message inserted at the top of the page with Javascript, to explain that the page they requested has not been mobilized – and that they can click a link to see the desktop version of the story or view other topics in that news category.

If you decide simply not to include a redirect, and serve the desktop page, a simple alternative would be to add a separate mobile stylesheet to the desktop page template. With that in place, at least the desktop content will be formatted to fit on the visitors’ screen, even if it is not 100% updated to the full mobile page template.

One common way to handle mobile redirection is to detect and redirect from all desktop pages to the mobile home page. This is particularly bad for SEO, and likely bad for the smartphone bot in particular. The smartphone bot is probably comparing the content on the desktop page and the page it is redirecting to, and it might not redirect people if they do not meet a threshold of similarity. Even if that is not the case, this setup would be bad for users in a search scenario, who think they are clicking on a specific search result, but then arrive at a home page, and have to go about re-finding what they were looking for all over again.

Mirrored Mobile & Desktop Urls

Mirrored urls can give Google a stronger sense that the two versions of the page are closely associated, especially when serving one in place of the other, as Google’s new smartphone bot does. To create mirrored or parallel url structure between the desktop and the mobile site, you must simply replicate the file structure of the desktop site on the mobile site with the only modification being the addition of either the mobile subdomain (‘m.’) or the mobile subdirectory (…/m’) on the mobile alternatives.

Example: www.yoursite.com/cindy has a mobile version of m.yoursite.com/cindy or www.yoursite.com/m/cindy, so the file structure IS mirrored or parallel.

www.yoursite.com/cindy with a mobile version of m.yoursite.com/article_id12345#cindy is not mirrored, nor is www.yoursite.com/m/article_id12345#cindy

Again, this rule assumes that there is a one-to-one ratio of desktop pages to mobile pages, and that may not be the case on your site, but you should do the best you can to be consistent with the url structures and differences between your mobile and desktop pages. If your pages are already set up that way, there is a handy mobile redirection script generator to help you generate the page to page redirect rules, and it can do as many as 4 versions of a site, so desktop, smartphone, WAP and tablet in ASP.NET or PHP. 

iPhone-Specific Handling

Since the smartphone bot is emulating an iPhone, your server will likely send it exactly what it would send to an iPhone. That means that if you are handling iPhones with specific content or a different version of the site, you should be extra careful to make it crawlable, and to make sure that it is ok to serve that content to all of the smartphones. If you have different pages for non-iPhone traffic, then you may need to set up user-agent detection and redirection on your iPhone pages, to send the other types of smartphones to the other pages, to over-ride the automatic redirection from the smartphone bot.

If you are using iPhone specific advertising that is triggered by on-page Javascript that detects the handset and shows the add (very common for on-site app advertising and promotion) then that is fine, as long as it is crawlable, and not always redirecting to one specific page. If that is the case, then you might have to consider blocking the smartphone bot, until those settings can be updated; otherwise, you may have to block the smartphone bot totally. With the lack of transparency from Google it is hard to be sure about the specific architecture and settings that will have the most positive impact on your mobile rankings and user experience. This is a basic set of rules that are considered mobile Best Practices. They are most likely recognized and understood by the new bot, and should serve you and your users well, at least until we are given more clarity and have more time to compile and evaluate the long term impact of Google’s new smartphone crawler.

If you follow these rules you should be in pretty good shape for getting your mobile content indexed correctly by Google’s new smartphone bot. Stay tuned next week to find out how you can configure your servers or check the settings of your mobilization company’s servers to prevent common search engine indexing problems for your mobile content.

Google’s Holiday Gift To Webmasters: No Panda Updates Till Next Year

Yesterday, I made an assumption that Google would put all Panda updates on hold until after the holiday season.

Google tweeted yesterday afternoon that there would be “no major Panda updates until the new year.”

The last Panda update we had was labeled a “minor” update on November 18th and since then, it has been pretty quite on the Panda update side of things.

Google typically does not do major algorithm updates during the holiday season in order to not impact online retailers that much during their most critical business sales time of the year. This all stems from the historic Florida update that put many online retailers out of business right before the biggest holiday retail season.

Here is Google’s tweet:

Search weather report: no major Panda updates until the new year. Context: goo.gl/XqLuN

— A Googler (@google) December 14, 2011

Previous Panda Updates

Here�s the Panda update schedule so far, as we�ve tracked and had confirmed by Google:

Panda Update 1.0: Feb. 24, 2011Panda Update 2.0: April 11, 2011 (about 7 week gap)Panda Update 2.1: May 10, 2011 (about 4 week gap)Panda Update 2.2: June 16, 2011 (about 5 week gap)Panda Update 2.3: July 23, 2011 (about 5 week gap)Panda Update 2.4: August 12, 2011 (about 3 week gap)Panda Update 2.5: September 28, 2011 (about 7 week gap)Panda Update 3.1?: November 18, 2011 (about 7 week gap)

Since then we have not been tracking the Panda fluxes that closely.

Related ArticlesTaking a Closer Look at the Google�s Panda 2.5 �Flux�They�re Back! Google Issues Weather Report For Panda UpdateGoogle Panda 2.5: Losers Include Today Show, The Next Web; Winners Include YouTube, Fox NewsConfirmed: Google Panda 2.5 Update Arrived This WeekGoogle Panda Update 2.4: Panda Goes International, In Most LanguagesOfficial: Google Panda 2.3 Update Is LiveCan You Dig Out Of Your Google Panda Hole By Offloading To Subdomains?Why Google Panda Is More A Ranking Factor Than Algorithm Update(stock image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.)

5 Tips: Content Sharing Beyond Facebook

Alright, you’ve just come up with a brilliant and revolutionary idea that will forever change the face of your industry. So what do you do now?

If you’re like a lot of people, you run to Facebook and share it with your friends, colleagues, and anyone that will listen. Is that a bad strategy? Not necessarily, as Facebook and Twitter can be great places to reach large audiences. In fact, Facebook continued to groweven stronger in its use as a sharing site in 2010.

However, you can’t safely assume that Facebook is the only or best method of content distribution. Social media is a hot market right now and use of these channels are not a bad thing. Though a strategy of a few tweets and a fan page update will not get you to your goals. Ultimately there is no singular model that is always the ideal for any company but a few points to consider include:

Audience - I lead with this one as it should always be the first step in creating any marketing or communications plan. Who are you trying to reach and where are they? If you want customers that are highly engaged on mobile devices then Facebook could be a good fit with over 200 million people accessing the social media giant via their mobiles. If you’re seeking long-term content placement that might be reviewed in-depth, consider SlideShare where the demographics indicate �81 percent�medium to heavy internet users and eight minutes spent on the site looking at content.

Influencers - After establishing your target audience you should move to identifying who has the ear of the audience you want to reach.� Spend some time researching terms and keywords that connect to your topic. Take advantage of the many tools out there like Google blog search, Alltop, PostRank and see who shapes the views of your audience.

Blogs – The benefits of ablog as a central hub of contentare quite well established in terms of SEO for companies. Yet another benefit of a blog for many organizations is the simplicity of updates which can be made easily. Use your blog as a point of entry for beginning a dialogue. Engage here and you’ll begin to identify the content that your audience is actually seeking. Use it as a research tool to understand your audience further: check out the sites of those that leave comments on your blog, review your analytics to identify changes in referral sources, and offer opportunities for readers to share their questions with you.

Email – Don’t forget about a core (if not as sexy) tool that works well and is still a top source of content sharing. Develop an email newsletter to communicate with prospects and others interested in your content. The content you create for your email newsletter can be a jumping off point to create interesting blog posts, which can then include surveys or interactive content to transform a single piece of content into a discussion between you and your audience. In concert with other tools, it facilitates a continual cycle of engagement with your audience.

Syndication – Services that offer the potential of extended reach and content syndication are excellent resources that are often being too easily dismissed in my opinion due to the alleged “death of the press release.” Aside from the use of services like PRWeb (a TopRank client) for trying to reach journalists, syndication will improve your reach to end-users and potentially appear in a number of locations and offers a number of share options for well written content that is relevant to your target audience. With the syndication you also have the opportunity to get your site in front of potential customers with anchor text links back to your own pages.

Consumers, across industries, expect greater personalization than ever before. Any singular content distribution channel will ultimately miss an important part of your target market. Take advantage of the communication tools available to create an experience that each user feels was made for them by taking the time to understand them and offer a variety of channels that fit their needs.

Moz's $18 Million Venture Financing: Our Story, Metrics and Future

Today is a good day. Whether you're a Mozzer, a fan of what we've built, a Seattle-startup supporter or even tangentially involved in the field of web marketing, there's reason to celebrate. After 5 years of organic growth (from our initial funding in 2007) and two tough, failed attempts at financing (in 2009 and 2011), I'm excited to announce that SEOmoz has raised $18 million in venture capital from Foundry Group and Ignition Partners. Brad Feld from Foundry and Moz's COO, Sarah Bird will be joining the board as Gillian Muessig steps down to pursue new goals. Oh, and that chip on my shoulder about VCs is probably gonna shrink a bit. :-)

You can find the official meme-based press release here. But, as our core values dictate, this post is going to be lengthy and extremely transparent about our progress to date, the financing process, our new investor, and the road ahead. I've broken these into the sections below:

The Past 5 years of Metrics & GrowthOur 2012 Funding Process & DeckBrad Feld & FoundryCompany Ownership and Notes on my Cofounder's DeparturePlans for the Months and Years AheadSEOmoz's Past 5 Years of Metrics & Growth

In February of 2007, we launched a collection of tools and resources for SEOs, hoping it would help bolster our traditional consulting practice. By the end of that year, it was responsible for nearly half our total revenue and Seattle's Ignition Partners and Curious Office, invested $1.1mm to help see the vision of software for professional SEOs grow. Two years later, we dropped consulting entirely to focus 100% of our efforts on PRO membership.

Since then, our subscription product has grown tremendously and achieved exceptional traction. We've iterated massively on the orignal product with launches of the Linkscape web index in 2008, Open Site Explorer and our Pro Web App in 2010, the Mozbar for Firefox and Chrome, SERPs Analysis and more recently, too, with additions like Social Tracking, Branded Segmentation, Google Analytics integration, Universal SERPs tracking, and our new, much larger, Mozscape index. And our customers seem to have appreciated it:

*As of April 2012, we're significantly ahead of budget for 2012, w/ a March revenue run rate of ~$19mm

As you can see, our small Series A has carried us a long way. Out of necessity, we've been re-investing nearly all of the money we've made in the last half-decade back into growing the company. Below, you can see the progress of our subscription model over the last 6 months.

*December's lower free trials (due to the holidays) means slower January growth

I've talked a number of times about our subscription metrics here at SEOmoz, but given this fundraising, I know there may be additional interest and scrutiny, so I'll try to describe them with a bit more depth:

On an average weekday, ~150 marketers take a free trialApproximately 56% of those 150 free trials will convert into paid membershipsOf those, ~40% cancel their membership in the first 3 paying monthsThe remaining 60% (~50 out of our 150) keep their PRO subscription 13+ months on average (meaning the monthly cancellation rate is ~2.5%)Approximately half of those (~25) retain PRO membership for 18+ monthsNote: historically we've counted upgrades/downgrades, billing changes and some other dumb stuff in "churn" which likely inflates those figures.

For an enterprise SaaS business, these metrics are fairly mediocre (well, the churn metrics anyway, the acquisition numbers would be phenomenal), but thankfully, we're not the typical enterprise model. Because we have very low costs for customer acquisition (we acquire ~85% of our customers using inbound marketing rather than paid channels), and very low COGS (no account management, sales people, or services costs), our model scales very nicely. You can see more detail about this in our funding slide deck, embedded in the next section.

Traffic's been growing at a somewhat shocking pace, too. In the first 122 days of the year, SEOmoz + OpenSiteExplorer had 6.85 million visits:

Our traffic from every source has been increasing dramatically. In comparison, the 122-day period from April 3rd - July 30th, 2011 had 4.46 million visits, a growth rate of 54%. Search engines have been sending more traffic, our email marketing efforts are getting better, social media sources are up dramatically, and referring links + branded/direct is up, too. The only traffic source that's remained relatively stable is RSS, which we suspect is due to more and more people replacing their RSS reader with socially-based referrals and apps.

Looking at Moz in 2012, it would appear that we've got a healthy, growing business, but as you can see from the growth chart above, we'd predicted that our last few years of doubling subscription revenue would slow. This is largely due to capital constraints on the business. We couldn't make the technology, infrastructure, people or marketing investments we knew were needed to accelerate. That's precisely why, at our early February board meeting, we decided that despite our setbacks the previous summer, it was time to hit the road seeking venture investment for a third time.

Our 2012 Funding Process & Deck

Our board of directors meets quarterly to discuss the key issues facing the company and review the progress made in the prior three months. At our February meeting, each of our executive team members - Jamie from Marketing, Adam from Product, Sarah from Operations and Anthony from Engineering - expressed the sentiment that their teams could benefit from additional capital and that the time was right for a raise. Kelly Smith (of Curious Office, an observer on our board) and Michelle Goldberg (who represents Ingition) agreed.

Unfortunately, that meant getting my weary, jaded head back into the funding world, something I'd been dreading since our last financing fell apart just after we signed a term sheet in August 2011. We strongly considered but ultimately rejected hiring bankers to help us run the deal process, and this was in large part due to my personal issues of confidence. It's hard to describe that feeling now, but I truly believed and feared that we'd once again spend months on road, pitching investors, and end in June or July with nothing to show for it again.

Much of February was spent contacting investors, colleagues and entrepreneurs we knew and asking for help with introductions, positioning and the creation and review of a funding slide deck. You can see a modified version of that deck below:

Some of those calls and connections led to early interest from some big names in the later-stage industry (VCs who typically put $15-50mm into companies at Series C, D and above). Unfortunately, these started out with a familiar pattern - a call expressing interest, a request for data, upon receipt of that data, a deeper request for more data, repeat ad nauseum. We were just settling in for the tough reality of a long slog to reach that first offer we could leverage to start a process when I got on the phone with Brad.

Brad Feld and Foundry Group

Nearly every entrepreneur and person connected to the startup field knows of Brad Feld and Foundry Group through the exceptional reputation they've built. Brad's been named the most respected VC in the business, makes hilarious music parody videos, funds dozens of successful companies, co-founded Techstars, is a two-time entrepreneur himself, runs inhumanly long distances and sponsors lots of public bathrooms. He's a very awesome, very weird and very Mozzy guy. I liked Ben Huh's recent post about him best:

I've been fortunate to have him on our board and he's helped us even before we took funding. In start-up lingo, he's my number one value add, even on a board studded with greatly helpful and wickedly smart people.

The funny thing is, I would describe my interactions with Brad as slightly weird. Yup. Weird. Not in the creepy WTF? kind of way, but good, like whoa-I'm-being-transported-to-another-planet kinda way...

...He's unlike any VC I've ever met.

When we got on the phone, I knew that A) Foundry almost always does early-stage deals and B) They almost never put more than $10mm into a deal and C) They hadn't asked us for any preliminary information or a deck. Thus, I was fairly certain that this call was purely advice-driven, though I hoped it would potentially lead to some helpful introductions. But, when I started the call asking for help, Brad stopped me. He said Foundry was interested in potentially leading the round themselves. My heart skipped a few beats, and we got into a conversation.

How do I know Brad? Through three of the more unlikely sources imaginable: first, Brad + Seth had looked at SEOmoz briefly in our 2009 raise attempt, but, like a lot of others, passed at the time; second, through my blog post on failing to raise money (which Brad read and wrote about); and last, through my wife Geraldine, whose blog and tweets are apparently a topic of enjoyment between Brad and his wife Amy. Side note: Next time someone asks what Geraldine's blog monetization strategy is, I'm replying with "it already made $18mm, what more do you want?!" :-)

The Saturday morning after that phone call, Brad wrote a post entitled "Don't Be Gunshy Because You Dealt with BucketHeads the Last Time Around." The Moz team was already enamored with Brad and working hard to keep our excitement in check. That post made it harder, and then this email (sent later that evening) made it 10X harder still:

We sent in excess of 40 emails back and forth over the next 3 days. Included in that volley was an invitation to come to Boulder, Colorado to meet some of the companies he'd invested in, his partners at Foundry, and talk seriously about an investment. I also got to talk to T.A. McCann from Gist, Ben Huh from Cheezburger and Keith Smith from BigDoor, Brad's other investments in Seattle.

Interesting side note: Many investors we've talked to over the years have told us to "talk to their CEOs." I almost always take those introductions and get on the phone, but VCs may not realize either A) how honest CEOs are with each other or B) what their CEOs actually think of them. Due to these, I've often heard recommendations that damn with faint praise or point out a lot of good reasons not to get involved.

Brad's one of only a few exceptions. The reviews were unbelievably positive. So much so that it was hard to believe they were real. Each one brought up example after example of Brad putting the entrepreneur's interests ahead of his/Foundry's own, even when serious amounts of money were on the line. He may never have heard of TAGFEE until our conversations, but Brad lives those values in his personal and professional life with the same obsessesiveness that we do at Moz.

On Friday March 16th at butt'o'clock in the morning, Sarah and I boarded a flight to Denver, rented a car and drove to Boulder. We had lunch with the crew from GNIP, another of Foundry's investments. They are clearly awesome dudes - the kind we'd love to work with (and the restaurant they took us to had the impossibly-hard-to-find cult beer, Pliny the Younger, in stock). The pattern of Brad's investment in very cool people was becoming clear.

After lunch, we spent the afternoon meeting with the Foundry team. There's only 4 of them, because Brad doesn't believe in associates (I'll let him explain in a blog post at some point). Jason, Ryan, Seth and Brad were all surprisingly easy-going and their styles put at ease, too. It was a welcome change of pace from the usual hours spent in VC offices. After the meetings wrapped up, Brad took Sarah and I to dinner down the street at Oak.

Within minutes of sitting down, he said (rough, from my memory): "I talked to the guys before we left the office; everyone wants to do this deal. We're in."

Have you ever been in one of those situations where you want to get up, run around the room screaming and high-fiving everyone then order all the beer on the menu, but you have to stay cool and act like everything's normal? First world problem, indeed. :-)

Luckily, 30 minutes later, I got up to "use the bathroom" and texted my wife. She wrote back in classic Geraldine fashion:

Can I just say again how awesome it is being married to her?

We finished dinner with Brad, grabbed froyo next door, walked around Boulder's promenade and went back to our hotel. The following afternoon, he emailed over deal terms, all of which looked good except the pre-money valuation (initially $70mm - we'd hoped for higher). I emailed back that we loved everything about the deal, but were seeking a slightly higher pre-money. Brad said he'd check with his team and get back to us Monday. Despite my illness, I headed out to a bar for Moz's help team manager's (Aaron Wheeler) birthday. On St. Patrick's day.

The bar was packed to overflowing. I think I ordered a "whatever sounds good to you" from the bartender. The wall was lined with Montana-esque memorabilia and knick-knacks. Nearly a dozen mozzers crowded around a jam-packed booth. I looked down at my phone and saw this email from Brad.

Cue me freaking out, standing up from the booth, screaming and possibly attempting to buy everyone in the bar a round of drinks (thankfully, Geraldine grabbed me before I did so as it would have been a very expensive proposition). That round of jumping around and high-fiving everyone I missed out on in Boulder came back that night. I hope that after reading this post, you can let that same crazy smile spread across your face and lift a glass of your favorite beverage to help us toast. :-)

Looking back on this process with Foundry, the calendar is practically unbelievable. The time from the first phone call to an offer and agreement on deal terms was literally 8 days.


Now back in Seattle, we spoke to Michelle from Ignition and went to their Bellevue offices that Monday to pitch their partnership (using the deck you've seen above). The timeline was accelerated by an upcoming 2.5 week trip I had to Madrid, Munich, London, Boston, and San Francisco, but we made it work. When I left for Madrid on Wednesday, March 21st, we had already started the diligence process for our Series B.

On the middle leg of that long trip, in Munich for SMX, I had the chance to share some exciting news with friends at a downtown pub:

And somehow, Geraldine captured their reactions (and mine) with impeccable timing: 

I think Will Critchlow's face in this photo perfectly sums up how all of us at Moz are feeling about this event.

This, of course, was followed by much drinking of German beer:

The round formally closed on Monday, April 23rd, when funds were wired to our account. Sarah sent around a nice screencap:

Prior to that, $2.17mm was our highest-ever account balance (we've been a bit more profitable than expected the last few months). I have to say that after years of aiming for investment to help us grow the business and, yes, to get some additional, external validation of our work, our model and our market, the transaction itself feels pretty good. But, perhaps stranger still, was a reflection on the funding I shared first with Geraldine, and then later in an email to Brad:

It sounds cheesy or overly-sentimental to say, but it's the truth. The money is going to help us do amazing things, and it's going to mean we can do a lot more of them faster and at greater scale than we could have on our own. But money can come from a lot of places. There's only one seat on our board for a new investor and I'm more certain than I've ever been about anything in my long tenure with this company that he and Foundry are the right match for our special brand of startup.

The Company Today and My Cofounder's New Path

For those interested in the VC world and the specific of the transaction, I'll try to provide some detail:

The "pre-money" valuation of SEOmoz for this round was $75mm, which is ~4.1X our revenue run rate at the time of the deal.Ignition contributed $3mm to the round; Foundry put in $15mmThe round carries mostly Series A terms, meaning a liquidation preference of 1X, but with no "participation" (this means in the event of a sale/liquidation of the company at less than their investment price, they get their money out first, but in a higher-than-investment price, they get only the percentage of the company they own and not the investment capital + stock returns, known as "participating preferred")Sarah Bird, our longtime COO, will be joining the board of directorsBrad Feld from Foundry will also be joining the boardGillian Muessig, my co-founder (and my mom), will be stepping down from the board of directors and resigning her title of President (more on that below)Both Gillian and I gave up some shares without compensation in this round in order to issue grants to current employees to protect them from dilution (also more on that below)

Following the transaction, here's how the ownership breakdown of SEOmoz looks (be sure to mentally place a ~ in front of numbers):

As part of this round, Gillian and I had initially planned two somewhat unique moves.

First, to take some "money off the table," meaning that we'd sell shares directly to the company and use some of the funding for personal capital. We had initially intended to have Gillian take ~$4mm and me take $1mm, but ran into a challenge around pricing. In order to fairly value "common" stock (which is what Gillian, myself and employees own), companies must undergo a 409A valuation by an external party. Ours came back valuing the common stock at $49mm (vs. $93mm for preferred). This low number is great for employee option grants and recruiting, but means that we'd be selling a lot of shares to reach those target numbers. Hence, we opted to take more minimal payouts now of ~$440,000 each, most of which is going into a fund for some family members' debt we've long wanted to pay off. In the future, we'll have the option to sell back more shares at future 409A valuation prices.

The second move is more non-standard. When a new employee joins a startup, they usually receive stock options equivalent to some percent of the company's total ownership (if you're interested in learning more, I recommend this post from Dan Shapiro and this one from Tony Wright on the topic). For example, let's say John joined SEOmoz in January 2012 and received 1,000 stock options and we have a total of 1,000,000 shares. John has options equivalent to 0.1% of the company. In a normal fundraising round, everyone takes some "dilution" to make room for the new investors. If the new investors own, say, 20% of the company in the funding round, John's options now represent 0.08%.

Gillian and I have always been passionate about three goals around SEOmoz:

Make it easier for people to spread ideas on the web (first with consulting, then later through software and education)Create a role model company in Seattle that will inspire others in the startup and marketing ecosystemsMint a large number of new millionaires in the Seattle region through the value the company creates

Saying those are goals is one thing, but making tangible, visible moves to prove that commitment is harder. This is one of the few times we can show how serious we are about goal #3. Thus, we each sacrificed shares we owned to give back to each active employee at the company so they maintain their ownership percentage. In our example of John above, this would mean 0.02% of new stock options granted to him.

I'm incredibly grateful to Gillian for helping to make not just this transaction and stock sacrifice possible, but for all the amazing support and effort she's devoted to the the company over the last decade. For those who don't know, Gillian founded the business that eventually became SEOmoz in 1981! That's more than three decades ago. For the first two, she was the sole propietor. After 2001, when I dropped out of school, we joined forces with Gillian as President for the next 6 years. In 2007, after our funding transaction from Ignition, she stepped out of a day-to-day operational role to contribute as a full-time evangelist and member of our board of directors. Today, she takes another step toward pursuing new goals and aspirations.

Thousands of folks in the Moz community have met and interacted with Gillian over the last few years through her extensive world travels. I hope you'll join me in thanking her for the amazing work she's done and supporting her new, more independent direction.

Plans for the Months and Years Ahead

The few people I've told of this transaction before today almost always ask "what are you going to do with $20 million in the bank?!"

We do have some big plans, but we also want to be very cautious and deliberate with spending. Given our revenue and expenses run rate, this is a decent amount of operating capital, but it certainly doesn't give us the freedom to be reckless. Several items on our roadmap in the next 12-18 months include:

Hire 12-15 new mozzers in roles across the company. We'll be posting those here and would love to have your help recruiting.Move offices, hopefully by January/February of 2013, to help accomodate a larger team.Grow Mozscape, our link graph, dramatically in both size and freshness. In April, we spent nearly $500K to keep things running. We have a lot of infrastructure and code investments to make to get better here. Short term, we're looking to have new indices close to 100 billion URLs every 2 weeks, then improve from there. Later today (possibly tomorrow) we'll be launching a new index (~150B URLs, almost 3X our previous record).Launch one very big, exciting new project we've been building since last year, hopefully in October or November of 2012, but possibly early 2013.Look into some potential acquisitions of companies/assets for technology, data, people and strategic considerations.Ramp up marketing, both on the inbound front and in paid channels.Invest in some research and content-focused projects across the field of inbound marketing - content, community, search, social, analytics and CRO. I'm looking forward to doing more work like our beginners' guide and ranking factors projects in each of these arenas.

If you have suggestions, we are, of course, all ears!

My sincere thanks and great big hugs go out to everyone in the Moz community, Seattle startup world and of course, our investors, new and old. We know that the road ahead will have more big challenges to overcome, but it's been so much more fun and rewarding taking this ride together. Here's to finally putting the psychological fear and disappointment of failed funding behind us and to an incredibly bright future.

p.s. If you have any questions related to this news, feel free to ask in the comments and I'll do my best to reply (am on my way to the Future of Web Insights conference in Vegas this afternoon, so please forgive if I'm a bit tardy).

May the Fourth Be With You; SEW's Favorite Star Wars Parodies

Last year, ABC News posted a story, leading with the words, "Help me, Google, you're my only hope ... to figure out why everyone on the web is wishing each other a Happy Star Wars Day."

It's May 4th, which is unofficially Star Wars day. However, on the web we may as well agree that today is officially Star Wars day every year, as last year's stats from Google Realtime (now defunct) prove its popularity.

Just look at that search traffic spike for 2012! Star Wars day is the 9th most trendingsearch today, ahead of the Facebook IPO.

The best Star Wars reference made by the search marketing community in recent memory comes from the Google Adwords Thank You Video, when their contraption has some problems with it's "thermal exhaust port". Google really knew their audience when it came to this video - and played off the popular meme of parodying Star Wars.

Why does the Star Wars theme resonate so much with our industry? Try and deny it, young SEO. George Lucas is your father. Search your heart, you know it be true.

Need more proof, just look at their happy, smiling faces!

Is it because most SEOs taught themselves or have their favorite teachers? Or just because Google guidelines are like a code of honor? Are we obsessed with hokey religions? Is it a factor of how much technology we have at our disposal? Or is it a reflection of how tempted we are to spam the search engines? Or is it just that whole black hat/white-hat thing?

Below are SEW's favorite Star Wars parodies and remixes. You may well have seen all of the videos listed, but if not, you are in for a treat. Be warned that swearing and 'almost' nudity follows, so if you are sensitive to that kind of thing you had better adjust your set.

Search Engine Optimization: SEO Wars

This is the earliest mention of SEO wars I could find (that wasn't spammy).

SEO Wars

An "award winning" (almost!) video project from Lisa Myers.

SEO Wars - Planet Linkspace

The sequel to the film by the same name :)

Star Wars iPad Briefing
Almost everything Steve Jobs says gets remixed in some way on YouTube.

Darth Vader Being a Smartass
A golden oldie.

Star Wars Kid: Remix
The original and best remix of this video.

Man Killed in a Street Fight, Jedi Style
Pretty new! You might have missed this one, although it is disconcerting at first.

Chinese Lightsaber Duel
Yay for the Olympic remixes. If you like this, you'll probably love these two Real Sumo fighting videos.

Star Wars Strip Show
Another golden oldie. The pause at the end is timeless.

Eddie Izzard - Death Star Canteen
Famous British comedian, and occasional Hollywood actor's famous Darth Vader skit, visualized in lego.

Enjoy! If there are any Star Wars parodies not on this list, that should be, please leave a message and the URL in the comments.

Twitter Helps Prove That Fame Isn't Fleeting

Forget 15 minutes of fame. Researchers at Google have concluded today's stars don't dim quite so quickly, thanks to sites likes Twitter.

A group of researchers from Google, eBay and Berkeley University have been studying the famous and wanted to know how fame had changed over the past two and a half centuries.

They suspected that thanks to social media and 24-hour rolling news, fame today would be far more fleeting.

But how to set about measuring fame? The researchers, led by Alex Fabrikant of Google Research, alighted upon a pair of measurements: the likelihood a reader might read a news article at random and find their name mentioned in it; and the period around which that name continues to appear in news stories.

They also accounted for those that appeared genuinely famous – either by a large volume of mentions or a long-lasting series of mentions. Luckily for them, to help with this they had access to Google's digitized news archive, which stretches back 250 years.

The researchers then set about using tools to pick out people's names from this vast archive – some of which is stored as digital content, while a huge proportion is generated from optical character recognition tools being applied to microfilm.

Up until the 1940s, the researchers predictions appeared to be correct: there was a gradual decline in the length of time people stayed in the news.

But following the Second World War, the researchers detected a complete volte face.

"Over the course of 70 years, through a world war, a global depression, a two order of magnitude growth in (available) media volume, and a technological curve moving from party-line telephones to satellites and Twitter, both of our fame duration metrics showed that neither the typical person in the news, nor the most famous, experienced any statistically signi?cant decrease in fame durations," the report explained.

What's more, after 1940, those people that were famous appeared to stay famous for a longer time than previously.

Twitter and the web help celebrities stay famous for longer originally appeared on V3.

Google Hangouts On Air Live Broadcasting Ability Coming to All Google+ Users

Hangouts On Air allow Google+ users to broadcast live to an audience while recording to YouTube. Since the launch of this feature last year, live broadcasting via Google Plus Hangouts was offered only to a select few users. In an announcement on the Official Google Blog, Google's social network opened the doors for all users to participate by starting Hangouts On Air of their own.

Selecting the "Broadcast publicly" option on starting a Hangout allows people to view the broadcast within the Google+ stream, on YouTube, or on the creator's website. The number of viewers is displayed and updates throughout the production.

Google uploads a public version to the creator's YouTube channel and Google+ profile once the live broadcast is completed, allowing for sharing and further conversation in comments. Users can visit the Hangouts page to see live broadcasts in progress and join in as they're happening.

What Google Analytics New Social Reports Offer & What They Can’t

When Google Analytics announced their new social reports at SES New York last month there was a lot of online buzz declaring Google was “squaring the circle” of social media ROI by putting in place a more robust collection and filtering mechanism for more than 400 sources of social media data (including the most familiar suspects along with several more obscure sources most of us wouldn’t have thought to specify in an advanced traffic filter).

I could have joined the fold of people speculating about the new features, but I prefer to write about platforms I actually work with, and the insights coming out of using those platforms to solve real world problems, and didn’t yet have access to the new features. Now I do. I reasoned that an ounce of my own personal experience is worth much more than many hundreds of pounds of someone else’s.

Platform Speak vs. Reality

After examining the new features of Google Analytics on my own blog, I found the platform speak, as explained in Google Analytics Social Overview page, (“where social traffic sources and pages identify communities interested in my content”), doesn’t match up with my experience of what the platform provides.

Even the measure of a social “assisted conversion” only tells us that a social media takes part in certain conversion events, but doesn’t tell us by how much – at least, not yet.

What Google Analytics is actually providing with these new reports is similar to a “faceted mirror.” There are a lot more bits and pieces of information, some of it useful, much of it not, providing me with more information, but not telling a story. Perhaps only an analyst, particularly, someone who is a subject area expert, can leverage the information that Google Analytics provides us.

Let’s look a few examples from the new social analytics reports Google Analytics now provides.

Social Network Sources

For example, networks such as Twitter and Facebook are communities in much the same way that Manhattan and Brooklyn, two places I hang out at, often, but most of those people there do not act together in any communistic sense that relate to my content, so I’m not getting any useful information about people who visited my site due to social media really are.

Traffic networks are mixed up with traffic tools. For example, Twitter and Facebook are termed networks while HootSuite, which is a tool, and WordPress, which is a blogging platform, are treated identically by Google, as being the same type of traffic – social media. While technically true, it’s incorrect to place these sources on equal footing. They should be further subdivided so as to better represent what they really are.

Six percent of the conversions I set up on my site are connected to social media, and 4 percent (2/3 of the 6 percent) show social media what the last interaction before converting – and I have no idea if that is a good or bad percentage, though we should always strive to improve it. Other profiles I have access to where Goals were set up (without setting Goals in GA, conversions cannot be calculated) show 2 percent of a large CPG site has social conversion activity while a small restaurant chain in New York City has a 3 percent.

In every case, there’s a lot of information and context a person must add over the Analytics to make sense of what Google provides, suggesting a user of these tools must first frame their activities and marketing goals in terms of how the platforms are designed and structured, align the tools to measure those goals, and then decide what it all means.

Social Referrers

One could argue, we, as marketers, should take the time to structure our communications medium along the line of what, and how the platforms measure. If we did that, our Google Analytics readouts would be much better and more insightful.

The traffic to my site that came from my LinkedIn profile indicates people who viewed my profile from within LinkedIn’s own URL structure were double (10 visits) those who used the my LinkedIn personal profile URL (5 visits), but unless I better understand why someone would prefer one view over the other, the distinctions are probably meaningless, even though people who viewed my personal profile URL spent almost 7 times longer on my site, than those from LinkedIn who didn’t.

Pages Getting Traffic from Social

They say that content is king in social media and in SEO, and it so happens one of my most popular recent posts is on the subject of Big Data. According to the sharing widget on my site, my content was shared 30 times.

Yet Google Analytics records only 21 visits

What happened to the other 7 shares? Does a share necessarily result in a visit back to my site? Probably not! I suppose I could interpret the 21 visits as a representation that 3 out of 4 times that my content on Big Data was shared, it was clicked on and a visitor viewed my blog post).

While Twitter drove the lion’s share of the social traffic to my blog post, clicking on it shows me a bunch of shortened URLs, most of which don’t make much sense unless I deliberately create and apply these URLs to different situations beforehand, something that is very difficult to foresee and structure effectively.

In the case of t.co/GM24ACUU, the average visit lasted over 22 minutes, far longer than any other referrer, and yet, unless I can tie the t.co url back to the individual account on Twitter who shared that URL, it’s unlikely to do me any good.

Clearly, GNIP’s new service that provides 30 days of historical information on Twitter (and may eventually extend as far back as 2 years), for a price, might give me the answer I seek, but it would cost me a small fortune to get it (and I’d need a programmer with access to the GNIP API, first).

New & Noteworthy Features

Google Analytics provides detailed information about Google+, and if you’re heavily invested in Google Plus, the readouts can be very helpful, otherwise, not so much.

The Social Visitors Flow charts are the most interesting visualization the new reporting provides, because it can be segmented in many different ways, including geo-location (such as in the image above).

Imagine my surprise to discover that there were 51 visits to my site from Madrid. That fact alone might give me some ideas about cultivating Madrid in my marketing efforts, but unless I can find those people and reach out to them, it may be difficult for me to do much useful with the information (similar to the analogy of the faceted mirror mentioned earlier).


The new social reporting in Google Analytics provides a marketer and site owner a lot of additional information, but as tools such as Google Analytics continue to evolve, they typically requires a lot more configuration and planning, beforehand, in order to leverage the new capabilities.

Using blekko's SEO Data to Evaluate Web Directories

If you haven’t tried it out yet, blekko.com is a unique search engine. Along with allowing you to customize your own search results (or view results customized by one of its editors) it transparently provides a plethora of data showing why it ranks sites in the search results. The best part is, even if you aren’t trying to increase visits from blekko, their SEO data is very useful.

Getting blekko’s SEO data

It’s simple to get the SEO data from blekko. First you need a blekko account. Then all you have to do is type a URL into the search box, hit the spacebar, and add /seo (what they call a “slashtag”) at the end of your search string.

One of blekko's most distinctive pieces of data is “Host Rank”. This is not so much a ranking of websites but a measure of website authority- like Domain Authority or PageRank. Unlike these other metrics, Host Rank is on a linear scale rather than an exponential scale. Typically a linear scale is a little easier to wrap your brain around. For example, while you might be tempted to think that a website with a PageRank of 4 is only a little bit better than a PR 3 website, we need to remember that this is an exponential scale and the former has a significantly higher authority than the later. In other words the difference between a Host Rank 30 and 40 website is simply 10 points but the difference between websites with Domain Authority 30 and 40 is not 10 points, it is 10 to the power of X points (it is an exponential scale- what's the exponent? ask Mr. Fishkin). Host Rank also avoids a maximum value on its scale unlike the coveted PR 10 website (or comparatively strong DA 100 website).

There's much more to blekko besides another number to compare websites. The /seo slashtag also provides a nifty pie chart outlining what countries the links tend to come from. Although there is nothing wrong with a link from India, for example, if a website is based in the United States and the audience is primarily in the United States, the origin of the links can be indicative of some (shall we say) risky SEO techniques.

I also find the “co-hosted with” list at the bottom of the /seo page very interesting. Does this website have dedicated hosting? If not, that’s not necessarily bad thing but if it is co-hosted with some (shall we call them) questionable websites, that might be a neighborhood you wouldn’t want to be associated with.

Blekko’s data gets even more specific. You can also slashtag a URL with /domainlinks to find a list of inbound links (you can also access this from the right sidebar of the /seo page). Now this list of links most closely resembles the defunct Yahoo! SiteExplorer in that it provides a very long list of links that you have to manually filter through to be useful, but it does a good job giving you an indication of the source of this website’s link authority.

I also like to take a look through a websites /sitepages. This gives a list of all the pages on a website, as sorted by Host Rank. This is a great way of seeing how Host Rank (and presumably PageRank or even Domain Authority) flows throughout a website. Of course, the homepage of any website will always have the most authority- but does any authority flow to interior pages on the website?

Let’s get a little more concrete with this data. We can use blekko’s SEO data to evaluate a couple of web directories to see if we should submit our site to them. Starting with SEOmoz’s directory list, let’s take a couple of authoritative directories (as measured by Domain Authority) and a couple of low authority directories.

The Yahoo! Directory (Domain Authority 100): http://blekko.com/ws/dir.yahoo.com+/seo

Anyone with (shall we say) the means to afford $299 a year has probably submitted their website to the Yahoo! Directory. For a while Google’s Webmaster Guidelines even suggested it. Is it worth the cost? What will we get out of this listing? Let’s use blekko’s SEO data and find out.


With a Host Rank of 2,054.9 we clearly see this is a very authoritative website (at least in blekko’s mind). Although this number doesn’t mean much in itself, I bet it’s higher than your personal website.Most of the links are from the United States (64%). Not to be so Amero-centric here but there’s nothing in the geographical distribution of the links that would make me concerned here. This is an international directory, after all.The site is co-hosted with (wait for it) Yahoo!. Even though it’s been a while since I’ve used Yahoo!, that’s a neighborhood I wouldn’t mind being associated with.


Websites actually link to the Yahoo! Directory (who knew) and these seem to be authoritative and clean. It seems like a legitimate and natural backlink profile to me.


Authority seems to flow very quickly into the directory listings and the Host Rank doesn’t seem to drop-off very fast. If your website falls into one of these top ranked categories you’d definitely want to be listed there.One of the top-ten pages, according to blekko, is the list of newly submitted websites. FTW!

The Better Business Bureau (Domain Authority 99): http://blekko.com/ws/bbb.org+/seo

Got a brick-and-mortar along with your website? Why not submit it to BBB.org?


This site, according to blekko, actually has more authority than the Yahoo! Directory. It has a Host Rank of 2,948.4. This is tempting!It makes sense that 86% of the links come from the United States- this is for US-based businesses, that’s how it should be.WOW! What a list of sites are co-hosted with the BBB! Well, it’s co-hosted with pearljam.com so it’s gotta be a good neighborhood! (By the way, did you see Pearl Jam 20? Highly recommended)


Sites linking to the BBB seem to be very similar to the Yahoo! Directory and they are all from legitimate and authoritative websites. You wish you could have a backlink profile like this site!


Unfortunately the first business I found was on the 6th page of blekko’s /sitepages results. Most of the authoritative pages are designed to get you to sign up or are content pages. Getting a listing on this directory won’t pass much authority to your site.Clearly the authority of the homepage does not transfer well to listings. The first business listing has a Host Rank 1/100th of the homepage. Sure, you might get some eyeballs from a BBB.org listing, but I wouldn’t count on it for link building efforts.

Sporge (Domain Authority 33): http://blekko.com/ws/sporge.com+/seo

With a name like that, who wouldn’t want to be in this directory? (I’m not much for branding but I’d recommend a name-change in this case). Still, it might be worth something. Let’s see


The Host Rank of this website is 20.2. Now you start to see the value of a linear website ranking scale- the Yahoo! Directory is 100x more authoritative that this directory.The geographical distribution of the backlinks is actually fairly similar to the BBB’s website. Nothing unusual here.Also similar to the BBB, there is a massive amount of websites co-hosted with the Sporge directory. Most of them seem benign.


Most of the links to Sporge.com come from other web directories. Could this site be part of a directory network. Is there any value of submitting to this directory as opposed to any of the others? If I submit to this directory, should I even bother to submit to any of the others linking to it?


The Host Rank ends very quickly, but there’s not much authority to this website to start with in the first place. At least what little it has is able to get to the directory listings easily.

The Brick Wall (Domain Authority 22): http://blekko.com/ws/thebrickwall.com+/seo

This is the least-authoritative directory, according to SEOmoz’s list. Is it even worth the 10 minutes it would take to submit your website?


The Host Rank is a whopping 4.3. This is another good illustration of the value of a linear ranking for websites. If you only looked at the Domain Authority of this website (as compared to Sporge- why do I blush when I say that?) you might think, “hey, that’s not so bad,” but blekko doesn't think very highly of this directory.The links to this site come from four “other countries.” I can’t seem to find that on my globe. This is a little fishy.It’s co-hosted with a few other UK-based websites. Nothing seems too bad among these websites.


There really isn’t a large number of links to this website. Where is it getting its authority (what little it does have)?There it is! Many of the links to this directory are reciprocal.


This little directory doesn’t have much authority to share, but if it did it seems it would get to the directory listings fairly efficiently.

Now blekko’s search market share is (shall we say) still growing, but the data they provide can help you do SEO in other search engines too. As with any third-party tool, you wouldn’t want to rely on this data exclusively- obviously neither Google nor Bing are using this data to determine how they rank webpages- but this information can still be a big help to any SEO attempting to evaluate websites for potential authority and value.

Outsmarting Your Competition in High-Stakes PPC Markets

Are you competing in a high-stakes PPC market with bids in the $25 to $40 range? If you are, don't simply fight your competition head on; if you do, you'll end up paying premium prices for clicks you might capture for far less. There are several shrewd approaches you can employ to side-step your less-vigilant competitors. We've learned a few valuable tricks that can earn you valuable clicks for less-than-premium prices. The techniques begin with carefully monitoring PPC activity throughout the day to discover low-competition time slots in the PPC bidding and striking while your competition snoozes.

Getting Started

The types of campaigns for which these techniques will work will be high bid environments with smaller but determined competitors. You want to look for competitors bidding for terms in the $20-and-up range, but whose campaigns are not fully budgeted to run at the maximum number of available clicks. Specifically, we want to look for competitors' ads that don't appear consistently or whose ads disappear later in the day. Smaller competitors tend to fit this model fairly often. An illustrative keyword example we see in our local market of Austin Texas is "Personal Injury Lawyer". We know the bids in that space are $24 to $30 depending on the time of the day--but we see some advertisers drop out at various times of the day. For illustration, we'll examine Google's Adwords system, but these principles will apply to any PPC program.

Identify Your Competitor's Ad Schedule

Google's Adwords system has a scheduling feature that allows advertisers to run ads during particular times of the day, and even enter positive or negative bid adjustments based on times of the day.

Here's the catch: the Adwords system only allows the scheduling to be made in increments of 15 minutes, as shown in the screenshot below.

So, if your PPC competition is employing the ad scheduler, it become fairly easy to identify when they stop running ads by running test searches throughout the day at 15-minute intervals. Once you've identified a competitor using the ad scheduler, you've just found a soft spot--your bid competition will be lower during the times of the day when that competitor isn't bidding on ads. If you can identify more than one competitor, then you've found and even more favorable environment.

Identifying Competitors' Under-Budgeted Campaigns

There is another way to determine soft spots in PPC bidding: look for under-budgeted campaigns. You can identify your competition's under-budgeted campaigns fairly easily. An under-budgeted campaign is one where the advertisers daily budget will not supply the maximum number of clicks available to that advertiser. So, say a competitor is paying an average of $20 per click for a particular keyword; assume further that their daily budget is only $60--yet there are ten clicks available to that advertiser.

That advertiser has only budgeted enough to purchase three clicks, so Google is forced to economize ad delivery--and it gives advertisers only two choices: standard delivery and accelerated delivery.

Standard delivery means that Google will spread the ads throughout the day. In practice, Google might show an ad every third time a keyword is searched. Accelerated delivery means that Google will simply show an advertiser's ads every time they are triggered by a search query until the advertiser's daily budget is exhausted.

There lies the opportunity: if your competitor is employing the accelerated delivery method with an under-budgeted campaign, that means their ads will eventually stop running at some point during the day. You'll know that your competitors are employing accelerated ad delivery if their ads show consistently in the morning (in 99% of cases, advertisers set their time zone correctly so a Google Adwords "day" begins in the morning) but their ads disappear at random times in the afternoon from day to day.

Outsmarting the Under-Budgeted Competitor

So, how can you capitalize on a competitor that employs accelerated ad delivery? Say your competitor is fighting hard for position one for a particular query and will not yield on their bid price in order to stay on top (that's a fool's approach, as we'll see). You can force your competitor to exhaust their budget more quickly by simply raising your bid as high as you can without dislodging the competitor from position one. Google's bid price calculation system takes care of the rest: Google adjusts the actual cost-per-click to be based on the dollar amount needed to exceed the "next ranked ad." If the next ranked ad (you) has a higher bid then the ad that got the click (your aggressive-bidding competitor) costs more. Thus, you can knock your competitor out earlier in the day while at the same time increasing their cost-per-click. Be warned though, you will, of course, be raising your bid, so you could potentially wind up paying more for clicks you do get.

Now to Enjoy the Lighter Competition

With your competitor's budget exhausted in the later hours of the day, the competitive bidding for a particular keyword/keywords thins significantly. If circumstances line up properly, you can lower your bids in the afternoon hours and enjoy far less expensive clicks, and better click-through rates (and, ultimately, higher quality scores). There are two ways to approach lowering your bids in the later part of the day.

The first approach employs the advanced "bid adjustment" feature in the Adwords ad scheduler described above. To use the bid adjustment feature, log in to your Adwords account, click on a campaign, and then click the "Settings" tab. From there, scroll down to the Advanced Settings section and select "Schedule: Start date, end date, ad scheduling" and then click on "Edit" in the "Ad scheduling" subsection. This will reveal the ad schedule pop-up window (shown below). At the top of the pop-up window, you want to click "Bid adjustment" mode. You can then set specific time periods on specific days and apply a percentage multiplier to lower your bid. In the screenshot below, we've adjusted our campaign from 4pm to 7:30pm to adjust our bids to 72% of the standard bid. At all other times, our bid prices stay at the standard bid prices we've selected. There it is, we've just adjusted our bids downward to enjoy the lighter competitive market we've identified that takes place during later hours of the day.

There's a second approach to lowering bids later in the day that is a bit less elegant, but still effective. The second approach involves simply creating two ad campaigns: a first campaign scheduled to run during the earlier, more competitive hours of the day, and a second campaign with lower bid prices that is scheduled to run from say, 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The advantage to this approach is that you'll have separate analytic data for the separate campaigns. We prefer this second technique for specifically this reason.

We hope you've learned a bit from this article. While a bit Machiavellian, the techniques we've outline can help in competitive markets, and certainly the lessons here can be transposed into your daily PPC activities.

Google News Plays The Badge Achievement Game

Google News announced you can now earn badges for reading news on Google News. The badges are awarded by topic, such as stock market, Apple, Harry Potter, U.S. Politics and so on. The more you read about a specific topic through Google News, the higher the badge reaches. It starts at Bronze and goes to Silver, Gold, Platinum and then Ultimate.

Here is a video demoing the feature:


I personally was granted the achievement of the Apple badge:

Your badges are private by default, you however share your badges with your friends. You can also add custom sections by hovering on a badge and clicking �add section�. To get started with badges, visit Google News from a signed-in account with web history enabled and then visit this page the instructions page for more details.

Related Stories:Google News Gets A Bit More PersonalGoogle News Adds Expandable Clusters, Story Labels, & More To Home PageLook Out Blogs: Google News Gains Options To Drop Blogs & Press ReleasesGoogle News Testing Twitter Integration With �Friends�Google News Adds �Follow News� Button, Easy Way To Customize Home Page

Crafting An Evil Empire: Looting The Competition with Negative SEO – A Story

We have all been awakened to the hype. Negative SEO is real and it seems that the Panda and Penguin updates have potentially made it easier than ever to accomplish. Below, you will read a tale of greed, a tale that is all too possible in today�s digital world and a tale that should awaken your focus to your SEO surroundings. It is the tale of a man named Johan Bumbersnickle who felt enough pressure to make the first unethical decision of his professional life, and he was rewarded because of it.

Now the reason that this story is being told is because there is no doubt going to be some of this going on in whichever niche it may be that you reside. Marketers are always feeling the pressure to succeed, and some will make risky decisions in order to achieve their goals. It is my estimation that over the next couple of years we are going to be hearing a few stories of deception involving major brands attempting sneaky methods to bring each other down in the search rankings. Let the tale of Mr. Johan Bumbersnickle be a lesson to us all.


It was a typical night in Johan�s small apartment building. The raindrops had become silent due to familiarity of the sound, and the lights flashing ten stories below carried on their role of being his trusty night light. Johan Bumbersnickle always stayed up late, and tonight was no exception. As a digital marketer working for a major software brand, he was constantly driven by his ability to brainstorm and craft creative tactics to gain his employer visibility online. In his budding career he had already increased traffic to the brands primary domain by 70% �and managed three annual social media promotions that had increased his brands social reach by over 300%.

He had only been working in digital for three years and already he had been promoted four times and given four pay raises. Slowly he was becoming a thought leader and a recognizable face in the industry he had worked so hard to please. Recently though, he had begun to feel a slight amount of pressure from his boss, who had been expressing concern over the rise of a major competitor in the software space.

Due Diligence

Johan had been doing his due diligence. His research revealed a number of red flags that his competition was using black hat tactics to gain search engine rankings, and they were doing a good job of it. There were blog networks that seemed impossible to track, forum signature links in irrelevant spaces, and what seemed to be a well managed campaign producing five star reviews on various software products every three to four days.

It was frustrating to Mr. Bumbersnickle that he had done everything in such an ethical manner and was being threatened by tactics widely regarded to be manipulative and deceitful. It was also frustrating to Mr. Bumbersnickle that he was about to partake in these methods for the first time in his career, with the goal of knocking his competitor backwards and away from the spot that he had worked so hard to make his. The spot was the number one ranking in Google, and the tactic was negative SEO.

In crafting the plan Johan had compared the situation to a riot in the streets. Having a view from above the city he had been imagining what role he would play in a full scale riot and how he could apply that to his first-time negative SEO campaign.

The first thing that came to mind was fear, a fear that would lead him to inform the authorities of what was going on. By comparing these visions to search engine optimization he had created his firs tactic. He was going to troll the Google Webmaster forums and let the world know just what his competition was doing. He was going to contact Google in every way possible and make sure that the powers that be were aware of what was going on.

After a moment of thinking, Johan realized that eventually the riot may become too powerful, and his building would be overtaken by the time the authorities were able to take any action. Now he had to devise ways to survive among the turmoil. In order to survive he decided, he was going to need some resources. In order to get said resources, he was going to have to break in to a place that had resources available. His next tactic had been decided.

Johan needed to learn how to break a lock, and when if the lock was on his competitor�s door he knew exactly how he would do it. In order to compromise the site, he would hire a hacker to install a small bug on his competitor�s site which would infect visitors with spyware and create deep pages on the web server as quietly as possible. Johan had used his riot theory to plan the next step of his negative SEO campaign and he knew that he was making progress. But what would happen he thought, if the lock was impenetrable and he had to come up with another method to infiltrate his competition? If he planted a bug, there is a good chance the competition would pick up on the tactic very quickly and any lasting affect would be quite temporary. He had to figure out a way to break a window.


This was the thought that had him start to think about scale. He knew that he had to metaphorically get in to the building, so the only question was, �How can I make a backup plan that is more effective than the last?� Although his mind began to really crack down and tell him he was beginning to make unethical decisions, he knew the next place he had to hit was links. There had been a lot going on in the industry as of late and finding a way to attack his competitor�s links would surely be a strong way bring the sites rankings down. So links it was, he ordered up hundreds of profane and inappropriate articles, added a spam heavy piece of anchor text (think pay day loans and prescriptions here), submitted them to a blog network he knew was unaffected by the recent Penguin update, and let the link storm begin.

He knew that at this point he had easily crossed the line, but he had become infatuated with creating one final tactic to being down his rival. In the scope of things, he wanted one last tactic to blow up the building if he had to, something that would make a lasting impact and take some time to repair. He had long been aware of the power afforded by online tools like Fiverr and Mechanical Turk, and had done a bit of worrying himself about just how they might be used to perform negative acts. This time, what was being put in place was an act of revenge. Mr. Bumbersnickle had been made aware of his rivals foray in to posting fake online reviews, and he knew the only thing that made them successful was the well thought out timing.

The final tactic would be a massive product review bomb in to Google reviews. By ordering hundred of five star reviews at once for his competitor, Johan would be sending a strong signal of system manipulation directly to Google itself. In reaction to this kind of corruption, Google nearly always removes the capability for a product to be reviewed, which was the backbone of his competition�s online strength. While the demon inside of Johan chucked with glee, his conscious wept and pleaded for him to not follow through. It was too late; the negative SEO campaign was in place and was approved by upper management.

A month later, Johan was called in to his superior�s office for an impromptu meeting. Johan�s mind was racing, there was no doubt that the website they had targeted was now aware of the negative SEO campaign, and there was no doubt they were upset by it. His boss however, was ecstatic. For over two weeks there had been no sight of the competition on SERP�s for any of their top keywords. Johan was once again being given a raise. He had worked the system in a negative way, and was being lauded as a successful professional who just launched an innovative marketing campaign aimed at erasing a competitor from existence.


So now that the story has been told, it is kind of freaky is it not?

The world of negative SEO is something that is gaining awareness, and therefore is gaining in probability as well.

Now, in the interest of having some constructive discussion I need to ask you all a couple of questions:

If you were told by your employer to conduct a malicious SEO campaign would you do it and why?What do you think the legal implications would be for Johan and the company that he worked for?Do you foresee the competitor reacting by conducting a similar attack, and how do we prevent these kinds of situations from turning in to a fully fledged war?

I am looking forward to hearing all of your answers, and talking about this on a little bit deeper level. Remember to follow me on Twitter and don�t be afraid to hit me up with any comments, questions, or whatever else you may have on your mind!

Where to Land the Best Paying PPC Jobs [Infographic]

Looking for a career in the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising field? New York City and Chicago have the most open PPC positions, but it seems third place San Jose is home to some of the highest paying PPC jobs, according to Onward Search.

Beyond looking at the top 20 locations to land a PPC job in the U.S., Onward Search’s PPC Jobs Salary Guide looked at the top job titles and salary ranges by city and job title, based on data from the past year from job boards on Indeed.com, Simply Hired, and Onward Search’s own platform, Recrutiics.

At 39 percent, Online Marketing Manager (which also includes variations such as Paid Search Manager, SEM Manager, Search Marketing Manager and Digital Marketing Manager) was the most sought after position, followed by PPC Specialist (24 percent) and Account Manager (16 percent).

Finally, the infographic shows average salaries for PPC jobs in the top 20 cities listed above, with a range from the 25th to 75th percentile.

Onward Search released a SEO salary guide in December.

What do you think of the PPC Salary Guide? Let us know in the comments!

Facebook IPO Rumor: Instagram Source Says Social Networking Giant Worth $104 Billion!

With Facebook allegedly targeting May 17th for the highly anticipated initial public offering (IPO), there has been widespread speculation regarding the social networking company’s valuation and initial stock price. Although it is difficult to predict the opening price or what the valuation will be, a careful investigation of past valuations, secondary markets, and the recent Instagram acquisition point to the possibility of a $104 billion valuation.

In order to raise $1.5 billion in December of 2010, Facebook agreed to a $50 billion valuation. This number, which was the last time Facebook valued itself, is less than half of the pre-IPO valuation that the secondary markets assigned Facebook — $102.8 billion. Although nearly everyone agrees that the social network will go public with a minimum of a $75 billion market valuation, sources familiar with the Instagram acquisition have said the number could be much higher.

When Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion of cash and stock, it was the largest�acquisition�in the company’s history. The terms of the deal, which require Facebook to pay 30% of the purchase price in cash ($300 million) and the remaining 70% in Facebook stock, were based on a per share price of $30, which equates to a $75 billion valuation. However, a recent New York Times article based on inside information indicated that both parties agreed that Facebook would soon be trading at a much higher figure:

�During the negotiations with Instagram, the parties framed the deal around a logical assumption: Facebook could soon trade publicly at a much higher market value. As part of the talks, the companies discussed a potential value of about $104 billion for Facebook, these people said.�

The $104 billion valuation, which falls closely in line with the secondary market valuations, is set to be the largest IPO in tech history!

Sources Include: NY Times, ZDNet, & TechCrunchImage Sources: Shutterstock

Almost 1 Of Every 5 Google Searches Shows Rel=Author In Top 100 Results, Study Shows

What began as an experiment 10 months ago is now showing up in nearly one of every five Google search results.

I’m talking about authorship — Google’s use of the rel=author markup to identify content creators next to their content.

A new SearchMetrics study published this week says that about 17 percent of queries included at least one instance of rel=author within the first 100 search results. The company analyzed a million keywords — including a mix of navigational, information and transactional — and found that more than 170,000 included a rel=author display somewhere in the first 10 pages of results for each keyword.

What about on the first page, you ask? We asked that question, too, and SearchMetrics says its study found at least one rel=author integration showing up on page one for 3.07 percent of its one million keywords.

To be clear, SearchMetrics counted only the actual rel=author appearances in the main organic results; the study didn’t count author appearances in the “People and Pages on Google+” content box that occasionally shows on generic queries.

SearchMetrics also put together a list of the authors who appeared the most in those one million keywords studied, and the author with both the most overall appearances (4,274) and the most appearances on page one (1,658) is Diana Rattray, a food author and contributor to About.com. SearchMetrics includes an Excel spreadsheet that lists the top 200 authors at the end of its blog post.

How Social Media Really Works for Small Business

One of the most common questions small business marketers are seeking to answer is, �How can I really benefit from social media?� Social media has certainly changed and�improved how small to mid-size businesses can�carve out space and connect in an extremely crowded marketplace. When companies participate on the social web in a meaningful way, it helps create a personal connection between customers and the brand.

One of the greatest benefits specifically for small businesses is that access to potential customers has increased tremendously. Rather than strictly focusing on paid advertising, word-of-mouth referrals, and in-store promotions (or a wacky mascot standing outside) businesses can now directly find customers� that may be interested in their products based on profiles, active discussions, keywords or expressed interests. This is especially key in the early stages of a business life-cycle when cash is at a premium.

If you think of the analogy of a party where you don’t know anyone, social media is the equivalent of a one page bio stapled to everyone’s coat. Instead of being stuck talking with the reclusive butterfly hunter who only leaves the house� in search of the rare Palos Verdes Blue, (yes I did have to look that up) you can quickly find the person that likes to shop, travel, and enjoy great conversation. Can you imagine all the time and awkwardness saved if you could have done this your whole life?

How is successful social media marketing done and which small businesses out there are doing a good job? How is it theyavoid the pitfalls of social media? There are a lot of great examples out there and I’ve outlined just a few success stories available online below.

AJ Bombersis a burger joint in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that ramped up in a very tough economy in large part by a high level of creativity around the social media space. They have invested the time to build a personality across a number of platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, and YouTube. However, they haven’t fallen in love with the tools for their own sake. The business understands it needs to drive people to the actual location and have done so with social media. The quote from owner Joe Sorge in the Forrester post highlights his smart approach,�� “Customers are becoming the business,” he says.

Baby Sitters Directory is an Australian company that helps parents find the right care for their child. It’s a huge market and one that also requires a tremendous amount of faith in the service as child care is a very personal decision for each family. Creator Ann Nolan recognized the overall business need but also identified the importance of online engagement via social media, particularly with women, after reading a study highlighting the high use in that demographic. Through its use of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging the company has created a base of useful shared content for parents as they work through a significant choice.

Enhance Me is a specialized portrait company that creates custom photos placing kids in magical settings and has done very well in using social media to spread the word of their unique creations. Victoria Dixon has embraced Facebook, Twitter, and a blog (though not as heavily as the other channels) to promote the business and build relationships with bloggers and customers with measurable results like getting the company endorsed by customers on verygoodservice.com.� Dixon notes that her three top tips to consider when jumping into social media include: focus on your goals, platform selection, and time commitments.

There are many small businesses out there doing great social media work to stand out from the millions of options that consumers have. The connection in these cases is be the foresight to identify and commit to using social media marketing in a creative manner with specific goals in mind. One of the great benefits of social media is that small businesses can be unique in executing a successful plan once they establish goals and metrics. Are you aware of other small businesses using social media to succeed? What’s their secret for success?

Earth Day Google Doodle: Flowers Bloom in Animated Logo

Flowers are blooming on Google’s home page today. The Google Doodle celebrates Earth Day, which began in 1970 and continues to be observed yearly on April 22 to continue raising awareness about environmental issues in more than 190 countries.

When you first arrive on Google’s home page, rather than seeing the typical logo made up of blue, red, yellow and green letters, you’ll find the Google letters arranged in an earthy shade of green. But within moments, through time-lapse animation, the shrubs bloom into colorful flowers and become something more than a garden-variety Google logo.

"The coming of spring inspired us to grow our annual Earth Day doodle right in our backyard," Google explained in a blog post. "We planted seeds on a balcony at our Mountain View headquarters and watched them grow into what you see today."

It’s not surprising Google annually tries to raise awareness about Earth Day, climate change, and the environment – though Google’s green initiatives are hardly limited to one logo a year. Google has invested more than $915 million in renewable energy, touts its energy-efficient data centers, and has launched several company-wide green initiatives through the years.

Since Google made a series of clean energy investments in the lead up to Earth Day last year, Google has invested $157 million in the Alta Wind Energy Center in the Mojave Desert in California.

In addition to investing $75 million to bring solar panels to homeowners, Google also invested $94 million in solar farms. Google also put together an Earth Day page, which links to green living resources on other Google properties such as Maps, Offers, and Google+.

Animated logos are hardly new for Google on Earth Day. Last year's Earth Day Google Doodle was interactive, featuring nine different animated animals – including a panda, penguin, and bear. Here’s a look back at all of Google’s Earth Day Doodles dating back to 2001:












This year’s Earth Day theme is “A Billion Acts of Green!” Organizers are attempting to mobilize the Earth by asking individuals, businesses, and organizations to pledge some sort of environmental service today, such as planting trees, biking to work, eating locally-grown food, or taking part in a community clean up.

Will you be participating in any Earth Day activities this year? Let us know in the comments.

 More Recent Google DoodlesRobert Doisneau Photos Featured in Google DoodleEadweard J. Muybridge Animated Horse in Motion Google Doodle Honors Motion Picture PioneerGoogle Designs S.R. Crown Hall Doodle for Ludwig Mies van der RoheGoogle Doodle Marks Spring Equinox with Logo by Finnish Fashion HouseHappy St. Patrick's Day 2012 Google Logo

Convincing Upper Management aka Justifying your Existence - Whiteboard Friday

Today we have special guest Marshall Simmonds joining us in the Moz studio to present this week's Whiteboard Friday. Marshall is the Founder and CEO of Define Media Group. He is also a pioneer in the field of SEO, and we are all too pleased to have him present a topic he knows all to well. Having worked for some of the largest online brands, Marshall knows a thing or two about convincing upper management in the value of search.

We look forward to reading your comments below. Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy!

Video TranscriptionHello, SEOMoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Marshall Simmonds. I'm the founder of Define Media Group. I was formally the Chief Search Strategist of the New York Times and About.com.

What I want to talk about today is enterprise search engine optimization, what I've learned from enterprise SEO, and how that corresponds to either startup, small to midsize companies, and how to basically convince upper management that what you do is important and how to justify your existence, which is also what I'm subtitling this little presentation about today too.

There are a lot of different schools of thought. Do you need top-down input? Do you need bottom-up input? How are you going about earning your keep? How are you going about justifying and convincing upper management that what you do is a valuable component of search?

A lot of times because of the size of the organization or because of just the overall acceptance of what search is and how companies get accustomed to your traffic and to the expectations of the traffic that will technically, they think, always be there. So a lot of times, search unfortunately kind of blends into the background, and what we do blends into the background. Sometimes we don't necessarily have the buy-in that we're looking for.

How do you justify that buy-in? Is it a top-down or bottom-up approach? Unfortunately, there isn't really a good answer to that. Ultimately, it does help to have upper management buy-in, but ultimately what we're doing is we're working in the trenches. A lot of what we're doing is having to convince product managers, having to convince certain executives or department heads that what you're doing or what you want to do will help the company from a search perspective.

So we have to find certain motivators to find that pain point or that pressure point. What makes a company act? Is it ego? Is it money? Is it traffic? Is it data? What are those factors that get the attention of upper management or a department head?

For example, ego is a great way to get attention of an editorial team, because editorial teams are driven by having a lot of exposure, making sure that their articles are prominent, making sure that their name is prominent, making sure that their social profile is prominent. The best way to get somebody's attention is to show examples of failure. Failure is a fantastic motivator when it comes to showing that a competitor may be outpacing you in content creation for a topic or for a piece of content that you should maybe have more exposure for than a competitor does.

Money. Money is, of course, an excellent motivator too, because the value of link equity cannot be underestimated. Link equity is the value of your backlink profile. It's imperative that a company understands that backlink profile, that it understands that backlinks are essentially the foundation of a company from a search engine optimization perspective. Every company needs to understand this.

It takes a long time to convince a company, to convince upper management that link equity is as valuable as it is. The best way to do that is just to go to the Open Site Explorer. Take a picture, a snapshot, of that backlink profile and put a dollar amount to it to show that if we move content, which is okay, if we redesign or migrate the site, which is okay to do too, it has to be done protecting the empire, protecting the kingdom. That is through link equity, understanding that the monetary value of links cannot be underestimated.

We also have to look at traffic. Traffic is a key differentiator too, because it's not ranking anymore in search. Ranking is important, but traffic obviously drives the end result. Social has come on so strong in this round too that it's actually stolen budget. A lot of times in these enterprise organizations, that department is growing at an incredible rate, much faster than maybe the SEO department is.

This is where the SEO and the aikido of SEO is really important, because social is so intertwined. I'm sure everybody knows and understands how important it is in the ecosystem of search. Social drives search, drives traffic, drives social. It's this symbiotic relationship that we have to work with social.

It's making sure that we are customizing and yet creating a consistent message with social, with PR, with product, with editorial to ensure that best practices are enacted, and that we're using the data that comes from social, because it's really valuable data. The data that we can glean from that user experience and from how our social networks work is incredibly important because it feeds into this data. This data is the last building block as far as the four motivators that I've laid out here.

Who gets the reports? We've got an incredible amount of data. Now, as an SEO expert, I can't take that data and put it in front of an editorial team or even upper management. I can of course attach that spreadsheet that I have, but it's pretty deep down the rabbit hole, and that's not worthwhile data. On a weekly or a monthly basis, what's important though is that the editorial team gets a consistent message, a customized message that shows the fruits of their labor, because we want to close that circle. We want to draw the editorial team in and close the loop. What I mean by that is, after they push the publish button, what happens? A lot of editorial teams check out at that moment. But what we need to do is give them data that quantifies and rewards them for their efforts. Sometimes it's going to be the big green arrow going up, and sometimes it's going to be a red arrow, but that's very, very important, simple data that we need to give editorial teams.

Upper management though, however, gets the nuts and bolts. Right? They get to see that over a year-over-year basis, what happened to the traffic. Are there certain outliers? Are there prominent sections of the site that have done well, and why, and giving some explanation about that.

So, who gets the reports and the data? It needs to be highly segmented. Because of who we are, as far as an SEO is concerned, a lot of times there's not a big barrier. There are not a lot of levels between the head of SEO and the head of marketing, or a CEO, or a CTO. So you may be called to the floor at any point in time to justify why you are doing what you're doing or why something has gone wrong, which it does.

You always have to know. You always have to know these four things. You have to know how much what you are doing will cost if you're asking for more budget or if you're asking for an initiative that you're trying to push through. You have to know how much it's going to make, what the traffic potential is, and what's involved.

If you can't answer those four questions at any point in time, you're probably not going to get the traction that you're looking for. Upper management has to be able to have some quantifiable number or percentage around these four questions. So you have to have this available at any point in time, because if you don't, you're going to be held accountable for what we've seen in the last year or so. That is something going wrong.

Something is going to go wrong in your SEO plan, in your SEO agenda and grand scheme. It's imperative that you have that contingency plan. How do you react to what Panda has thrown at us in the last 14 months? A lot of things have happened, but it's been a huge opportunity for search engine optimization and for the search engine optimization experts.

Panda has been an incredible opportunity to push an agenda, because there are always things that we have been barking about for years and years and years that maybe now are basically getting the exposure and the attention that it needs. That's what Panda has been good for. Panda has put a light on a section of our network, of our world that may have needed some attention really bad.

The final point is never give up. It may feel like at times you have absolutely no traction, you have no exposure at a company, and the company has no insight into what you are pushing or respect for what you are doing internally. You see mistakes made. You see mistakes repeated. You're giving the same training over and over and there's not a lot of attention or there's not a lot of action as a result of what you're trying to educate on.

That's okay. That's going to happen. You have to find quick wins. You have to find the one person, one department that will buy into just a small part of what you're trying to push. Is it just changing a title tag? Is it actually uploading or working with ALT text and images. Is it getting a sitemap, just a basic sitemap. Some of these small little wins can create huge results.

That's the point. It's to just not give up on your agenda and understand where your floor is and making sure that you don't go beyond that, but at the same time, looking for whatever win will help drive these motivators, and then essentially justify your existence.

I hope this was helpful. I thank you, and I look forward to the comments.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com