Less Than Obvious Tips From SES Chicago

SES Chicago was, as usual, a good event with lots of great presentations, sessions, and actionable tips for the attendees. Here are some of the interesting takeaways from the conference.

News Optimization

During the news optimization session, Brent Payne, an in-house SEO for Tribune, said that if someone has clicked on a search query result that has previously brought them to your site, that is worth 3 to 8 positions in the result. So the question is how does this impact web search? Interesting to ponder.

Payne also said that Google News doesn’t look at the canonical tag. This means you need to manage duplicate content in your news feeds without the benefit of this tool. Take heart though, the Google News team is working on a feature that will offer the same benefits.

“News Rank” likes mentions. A mention is a reference to a site or article which is not implemented as a link. Local search had been looking at this as a signal for some time, so it’s interesting to see that it has also been adopted by Google News. I wonder how many other Google properties look at mentions.

Tips for Discovering Synonyms That Google Knows About

Payne also reported that you can type a synonym into Google (e.g., “NIU”) and see if it recognizes that as a synonym for “Northern Illinois University.” If it does, then Northern Illinois University will help trigger results, and will be bolded in search result titles and descriptions.


Have an advertising budget? Consider retargeting. This can come in two major flavors:

  • Serving ads to people on third party websites if those people have previously clicked on one of your PPC ads (or perhaps even an organic listing).
  • Serving ads to people on third party websites if those people have recently searched on a keyword highly relevant to your business.

The automotive vertical gets 9 million searches per month on Yahoo, said Chip Jessup of Yahoo. A large advertiser might get exposure to 23 percent of that audience. Retargeting can give you exposure to the remaining 77 percent.

In addition, of the 23 percent, only a small portion will click on your ad. Get additional exposure to those who didn’t click.

Predictive Analysis

Tim Ash shared a great website, AttentionWizard.com. This site allows you to feed it a web page and then it will perform a predictive analysis of how people will initially see the page (i.e., what parts of the page will their eyes hit in the first second or two).

Trust and Authority

In Maile Ohye’s keynote, she told us that Google doesn’t use the concept of “trust” (as in TrustRank), but they focus on the concept of authority. Note though, that Google has its own patent on evaluating trust. However, that patent may not actually be in active use, and the notion of trust is likely baked into the Google authority calculations.

Page Speed

Ohye mentioned that the Page Speed calculations you see in Webmaster Tools are based on data from the Google Toolbar.

Ohye noted that Google supports rel=alternate as a way to help with determine the language of choice on a page what uses more than one language.

She also provided visibility into one way that your page speed can affect Google: crawl depth. Slow sites will get crawled less deeply because Google assumes that your server can’t handle us much of a load.

Use Your Time Wisely!

This one is from Jeffrey Hayzlett’s keynote. He says the average attention span of a person is 8 seconds. This was in the context of giving someone an elevator pitch (as opposed to the web where attention spans are even shorter). Get their attention in 8 seconds so they will listen to the rest of the story, be it on an elevator or on your website.

Hayzlett also said to “define the difference.” In other words, people who come to your site, or learn about your business, will want to know what is so special about you.

If you’re in the business of selling golf clubs, lots of other people also do that, so why should they buy them from you? This is a great marketing tip. Do yourself a favor and take a moment to answer that question for yourself today.

Deeper, More Meaningful Content

Once again SES Chicago was a great event. I was able to pick up a number of interesting data points at the sessions I attended.

I also like the fact that a number of panels had only one or two speakers. Mike Grehan told me that the idea was to allow one speaker to go into more depth, rather than having four or five speakers barely scratch the surface of the major issues. The result was deeper and more meaningful content.

For more about SES Chicago, check out Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 coverage.

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