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SEO tricks from Patio11 (melmiranda.com)
409 points by dikbrouwer on Nov 9, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 118 comments



At Techcrunch when we removed the share buttons average traffic to each post dropped 20-25%. We saw no jump in number of blog links, or tumblr's, or anything else.

The buttons suck - we knew that a lot of users hated them (it adds 4 * 20 additional HTTP requests to the main page), but they were worth too much traffic to do away with. Social network referrals likely surpass search engine referrals for a lot of blogs and web sites. They have steadily become an important web traffic navigator.

If somebody can figure out how to make those share buttons prettier and more efficient there is probably a product in that. I would guess that most blogs would love to drop the grid of share buttons that can be found on every post.

Otherwise I totally agree with not going for subdomains. We setup each property on a separate domain and initially had some on subdomains. The subdomains didn't rank at all and didn't help our PR or SEO. As soon as we switched each property to a separate domain our search referrals rocketed. For eg. you can now find a crunchbase link within the first 5 results for the name of a startup, while similar records for posts that lived on subdomains wouldn't rank at all. We had around a dozen different domains and frequently linked between them (for eg. each post would have multiple crunchbase links), and it worked really well for search ranking (search engines are ~40% of crunchbase traffic, IIRC) It shouldn't be like that, but it is.


Its nice how the 4*20 requests problem has been solved during the redesign. Now the individual Buttons are only loaded if someone really wants to use them and is hovering over the dummy buttons.

I found that quite nifty and unobtrusive. A smart solution to the problem.


It is much better than having two clicks (which I had prototyped), but the prob is that a lot of portable devices don't have 'hover' - so I don't know if it falls back on anything in that case.

There is a product here - package the buttons together so they only load once, hide them in some way by default, and provide a bunch of analytics. Lots of blogs and websites would pay for that - the current solutions for social button analytics are really bad, or non-existant (you need to know things like click-through rates, which share options are most popular, autohiding some for users who never use them, detect if the user is logged in for each service, how many followers/likes/retweets etc. each user gets from a share so you can identify 'power sharers' etc.) - I don't think that exists.

You can't just keep adding more and more buttons for each social service, and there are some people who will only use, for eg. delicious or pinboard and there are no buttons for them.


I guess http://www.addthis.com/ kind of does this and has a "fallback" option to integrate many services.

Mobile is definitely a problem but the mobile version of the website makes that solveable for the most popular devices.


I guess it's a matter of taste but i find the addthis button bar rather horrible to look at. Plus it does not have nearly the feature set that Nic is looking for. I agree there's a product there.


Share function belongs in the browser or in Web Intents. It would be less work for all the sites, consistent UX for users, and much better page load speed.


At Techcrunch when we removed the share buttons average traffic to each post dropped 20-25%. We saw no jump in number of blog links, or tumblr's, or anything else.

One thing I'm learning about SEO, is that you have to know your audience. This means you should know what they are searching for, and optimise for that. Likewise if your audience is a big user of twitter (which TechCrunch's audience would be), then use that to your advantage.


I completely agree that /blog was better than blog subdomain in the past, but this article has me convinced that google now treats them the same.

http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/08/reorganiz...

Am I wrong?


Wow this is an excellent find and it sounds right. They had something as arbitrary as "pets.example.com" counting for "www.example.com" so then "blog.example.com" should surely be the same as "www.example.com" and "example.com"

Can anyone clarify?


After reading some of the comments, it looks like this only counts for tracking inside of google webmaster tools. It doesn't necessarily mean that this is true for page rank and the "google juice".


If you could, how much would you charge someone to "subscribe" to "buy off" the share buttons for their pageview? Same question goes for ads.

If the price isn't too high, someone should just start selling crapblockers that make everyone happy. I guess the challenge is that you can't price a crablocker until after you've inundated someone with crap for measurement purposes.


Before the big redesign a while back, Mozilla's "memshrink" effort used Techcrunch as a metric because of how much memory it used. Between the buttons, the ads, and the other embeds, techcrunch was a massive massive memory hog on Firefox.


"Github, Slideshare, Tumblr are fantastic, but don’t give them your link juice. Put your content on your own domain. "

Love this. There's no reason you can't host the write-up for your github projects / gems on your own domain, and make a much prettier and more intuitive documentation for your code than what you can do with markdown and no pictures. As an example, look how nice VowsJS (http://vowsjs.org/) does this. It makes me excited to clone their module and use it in my project. More people should be doing this!


But you can get one-way dofollow links by placing some of your code on Github. It can make sense, just needs some carful planning.


Ooh, look, an on-topic location to ask Patrick questions. ;)

So, about that whole "subdomain" thing, as mentioned in this article. The problem in SEO is that separate subdomains accrue separate Google scores, correct? So if I was to serve my whole site from a third-tier domain, like "www.example.com", that would be okay? Provided I were not foolish enough to also put stuff on "example.com" and "other.example.com" and expect links to that content to contribute to the reputation of "www.example.com"?

Basically I'm looking for confirmation that the classic old "www" prefix is okay, if used carefully. (Lots of people hate it for aesthetic reasons, and I used to agree with them, and then I had to dig into the rules for DNS CNAMEs, and the terrifying results have made me fall in love with "www" again. Unless you tell me it's bad, in which case I guess I'll just have to take to drink.)


Yes, you're totally cool to use either site.tld or www.site.tld. I'd recommend using a 301 redirect of one to the other (Google and Bing are pretty good at automatically canonicalizing these, but not perfect).

The trouble comes when you segment content to subdomain.site.com. The domain authority engines assign to a root domain may not always pass to all the subdomains, so you end up with subpar rankings to what you could earn.

As an example, we launched the Beginner's Guide to SEO on guides.seomoz.org and moved it after a few months to www.seomoz.org/beginners-guide-to-seo (where it currently lives). It had earned tons of links prior to that move, but the day after the 301 back to the main domain (away from the guides subdomain), it jumped to #1 rankings for all sorts of terms, including "seo guide" (recently got beat out by Google's SEO guide and is now #2). This was a good illustration of the power of keeping content in a single sub/root domain location for us.


> Google and Bing are pretty good at automatically canonicalizing these, but not perfect

I have been meaning to blog this - this leads to cloaking exploits. For eg. Google will figure out the shorter canonical link for a domain. So if you have www.lakers.com redirect to lakers.nba.com Google will treat 'lakers.com' as the canonical link and rewrite all the search results.

This can be exploited by registering a shorter domain and then pointing it to the real site, then waiting for Google to redirect it. For eg. Fred Wilson noticed that the guy who owns avc.com was redirecting to his blog. He thought the guy was being a good samaritan, until I pointed out that it was a cloak attack and he was trying to jack all of avc.blogs.com's Google juice.

You can avoid this by not letting Google or Bing setting the canonical and by specifying it with a rel='canonical' link or using Webmaster Tools. Do you know anything else about this Rand or have you seen it in the wild?


I talked to Fred about this after you pointed out, but there's basically no way that shorter url could have hijacked Fred's site. Way back in the mists of time we had things called "302 hijacks" but I haven't seen any attempts like that succeed in years.


Sorry, missed your reply. I was going to email you about Fred's blog but you were on holidays at the time, so I just asked him to setup the canonical in Webmaster Tools

Good that this doesn't work


one other thing why www is good for SEO. shitty URL parsers. lets say you make a press release. there is a high chance that www.example.org gets automatically parsed into a clickable link (sometimes it's nofollow, sometime it isn't) - on the other side, there is a high chance that example.org does not get parsed into a clickable link, so you would have to write http://example.org to make sure that it get parsed into a link, which is just ugly - and - most of the PR stuff are reluctant to do.

some URL parsers have caught up to non-www domains if you have a .com domain, but try it with an .io domain. it fails most of the time.

that means there are some interesting hipness tradeoffs

  * if you have a cool .io domain
  * you should have an uncool www
on other thing about non www domains. journalists always get it wrong: whatever you do, whoever you pitch, as soon as you end up in a big and might print newspaper (that also has a website) you will see your domain with www again.


Does anyone who is not a startup founders think kitschy foreign ccTLD domain names are cool? They just confuse users. I am waiting for the day the new Libyan government desides they don't want American companies exploiting .ly. That will be interesting to watch.


What Rand said. #include <ndaed_client_anecdote.h>


If anyone else is wondering how to do this on Heroku, http://stackoverflow.com/questions/6179398/how-can-i-use-a-s... seems to be the canonical Stack Overflow question. I'm going to try the Rack::ReverseProxy suggestion myself sometime soon.


So you think it's worth the move to example.com/blog even if you already have an established blog.example.com?


That's been my experience. Not only will the blog's pages rank better by being on the main domain, they'll also help the rest of the site's content rank better by bolstering that location's authority.

That said, I don't want to suggest this is always true all the time or that Google/Bing never group subdomain authorities together, just that we've seen inconsistency and thus I'd recommend keeping them together.


But if your blog is hosted by a third party (say Posterous), having blog.domain.com is very easy to set up, but domain.com/blog isn't? (Is it actually even possible at all?)


This is a total pain in Tumblr. I don't even think it's possible, or at least, haven't figured it out in 3 days of trying. So now I'm weighing whether the community/distribution of Tumblr is worth trading for a little bit of SEO. In our case, a social iPhone app, I think we're keeping Tumblr.


The solution is to not have your blog hosted by a third party. Just use an off the shelft blogging platform


I'm not Patrick, and hopefully he'll chime in to answer as well, but one thing to note is that you CAN specify the preferred URL (e.g., www.example.com or just example.com) in Google's Webmaster Tools[1] to let Google know which one you prefer.

Obviously, if you set it to be just example.com, don't have all your promotional materials link to the other, and somewhat less obviously, please be aware that what you set as preferred for Google doesn't necessarily mean squat to Yahoo, Bing, AltaVista or whomever.

I'm not as qualified to touch on the rest, but thought this might be at least a little useful.

[1] - http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/


Thanks to everyone for the excellent replies.


I think Google is smart enough to identify the www and without. Because it is now smart enough to identify bad grammar and spelling.

On the other hand, I think I disagree with the buying a new domain to target an exact match. That will just give signal to Google that it's a new domain and it was unnaturally optimized.


The exact match domain 'trick' died in early 2011 updates. Prior to that I had done exactly what the article suggested - Exact Match Domain, 3-5 page site with optimized keywords, and boom the site would be on page 1 with no backlinks in 2-5 weeks.

Today this does not work if there is any competition at all for a word. (I've still seen it work for long tail terms with no competition).

Long story short - you need good content to rank well :-)


On your last point: If true, that would mean a temporary hit but over time it would provide a permanent benefit. Great tradeoff.

A user searching for exactly what your website is offering, using the words that make up your website url, should at the very least have a strong opportunity to arrive at your website. If Google did anything else it would offer an opportunity for Bing et al.


> Design Matters. A lot.

This is a common sense, but I have hard time reconciling patio11 saying that with an actual appearance of his projects. Preaching without practicing takes away a lot credibility from a preacher even if the advice is reasonable.


Look at his main site: http://www.kalzumeus.com/. It's quite good looking and well designed.


What about this one http://www.bingocardcreator.com/

That doesn't look that good looking to me.


I think that page has been A/B tested up the whazoo. It's probably optimised as much as possible to sell that software. I'll bet patio11 can put dollar figures on the placements of certain buttons, or the value of certain words.


What does it mean that your comment is half gray? You're more than likely totally correct so i hope it doesn't signify 'downvotes' or something...


Yes, it means downvotes. When you start going below 0 it starts greying out. I dunno why people were downvoting that comment, but it's been upvoted now and is non-grey.


Thanks, how do you downvote though?


You have to have a minimum karma score to be able to downvote. I'm not sure what that score is though.


Thanks. To be honest, one of the things i liked most about HN was the lack of downvoting (I never realised it was possible...i thought the grey posts were caused by mods or something). I know in effect there's no real difference...but the whole place felt more 'community' like. Ah well.


The min threshhold I think is now 500 karma. It's a way to ensure that only people who have been around for a while and understand the community have the ability to downvote, and the rule is only downvote contentless posts (like memes, "+1"'s, etc).


Jasus, i'll never get to 500. Those rules make sense, but the parent comment in this thread had been downvoted despite being correct. Fairly Redditish (the one thing that puts me off Reddit). Thanks anyway.


It's pretty easy to accidentally click the downvote button, and there is no way to fix it. Usually someone will vote it back up in short order.


Rudeness gets downvoted pretty aggressively.


Fortunately, you are not Patrick's target audience. He didn't say it had to make the design community swoon; just that it has to convey professionalism and draw your intended users in. I would bet the Bingo Card Creator website accomplishes these goals just fine for his core audience of middle-aged schoolteachers.

Also, that site has not gotten a lot of attention for a while. His focus nowadays is on the much more attractive Appointment Reminder.


> He didn't say it had to make the design community swoon; just that it has to convey professionalism and draw your intended users in.

That is a "no true scottsman" fallacy.

When someone says design matters, it means having a pleasant design. BCC's design is not something that can be considered good. It still does business - that's great, but "it does business -> hence it has good design" doesn't hold.


"""When someone says design matters, it means having a pleasant design"""

'Pleasant' to who? Myspace's design is/was pleasant to teenagers, for example. So surely design is tied closely to the audience. If the goal is, let's say, making money, and the site has been A/B tested extensively and this 'design' makes the most money from its audience, then it's presumably the best design. There are so many anomalously successful website designs that ye can't just say it's about 'pleasantness', unless your audience are graphic designers.


You're morphing the meaning of design that was conveyed in the article:

A good looking, well designed website will convey credibility and professionalism. Even if you’re just two guys coding at a Starbucks, you can look like a big, well-known brand. Invest in design.

BCC does not convey credibility and professionalism and is not good looking. It doesn't look like a Starbucks brand, it looks like some guy in his bedroom put it together.

appointmentreminder.org, on the other hand, does follow that advice.

So either Patio11's ignoring his own advice, the author misinterpreted it or Patio11forgot to add 'tailor to your market', which BCC might be.


Sorry you're right, i did change the meaning (even though i read the article :S).

In that sense you're totally right, BCC doesn't convey credibility, it looks like a landing page, and personally, i'd immediately go off the site if it was a product i was looking for because it looks scammy to me. It works though, apparently, is all i meant.


It's not a "no true Scotsman" fallacy — I'm saying that you're using entirely too high a bar. BCC's design is excellent compared to most sites for small businesses run by non-designers. It is not a work of art, but it is professionally designed, reasonably attractive and does not look obviously hacky. (By contrast, the old design actually was pretty crap.) Patrick's audience is not known to have discriminating design taste, so IMO it is fine. Take a look at, say, the website for a local bike shop to see what what bad design looks like.


In that page "student names great for first day jitters)" accidentally a (.

(Unless it's a trap for compulsive proofreaders and/or code checkers.)


Right, but he made that years ago. He clearly invested a lot in design for kalzumeus.com, which he made much later. If anything, this is a case for figuring out that design does matter.


He clearly invested a lot in design for kalzumeus.com

I love that it gives that impression. $99 logo, $70 wordpress template.

Anyhow, as folks have noted, I'm not historically known for high-quality Web 2.0 design. I have vanishingly little design skill and poor taste, so I tend to do the minimum necessary to not scare away credit cards. I hope that the refresh on AR makes a positive impression on people, but making a positive impression on people who are not my customers is not super-high on my todo list.


> I love that it gives that impression

It doesn't, that's just your fan club talking. It looks like a run-of-the-mill WordPress theme.

> Anyhow...

What you just said translates into "Design doesn't really matter." There is a difference between doing minimum needed not to scare away customers, and refining the design to appeal to both existing and future audiences. Latter is the case of why design matters, former is not. Former is just the same common business sense that dictates to not be rude to your customers or not use green on red text.


> It doesn't, that's just your fan club talking.

I think hostility(fan club) will only derail the conversation. Irrespective of whether the posters are fan boys or not, they are going to take offence, and then everything goes south.


It's not hostility, it's stating the obvious. patio11 as well as few other HN high-karmers get their most trivial comments routinely up voted to the top of every thread. It is reasonable to assume that this happens because a large number of people take triviality as revelations or insight because it comes from a person they really like. That's fanboyism. May not be the most neutral term, but it captures the essence of the problem - the lack of critical thinking. The comment about the website design (the one I took an issue with) had the exact same problem - if one removes the positive bias, the website looks bland at best.

With regards to being an anonymous jerk - I like my privacy, but should it have been an in-person conversation I would've said the same thing and probably then some.


patio11 as well as few other HN high-karmers get their most trivial comments routinely up voted to the top of every thread.

That gives me an idea: What if HN hide usernames until you'd voted on a comment (or hide it for X minutes). That'd be an interesting technological change.


What did your original comment contribute, other than expressing your displeasure that people pay attention to Patrick?

You've managed, in the most irritating possible way, to tell us that you find Patrick's blog template bland. Does anyone find this helpful?

I can say with almost total certainty, just based on the few words in your comments on these threads, that you care a thousand times more about Patrick's "HN karma" than he does.


Comment sorting on HN is at least partly based on average karma values, so it's not necessarily a case of comments getting 'voted up to the top'.


This is correct. I have a relatively high karma score on HN. When I post, I usually go to the top of the thread in either the #1 or #2 spot. This is an example of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer, not some secret plan to up vote the Patrick.


There's two kinds of design: 1) visual design that's about aesthetics. 2) UX design which is how well something works.

A usable site that is a bit ugly will win over a great looking one that confuses the user. Craigslist is the best example of this, it doesn't look great, but millions of people use it. Foursquare wasn't as pretty as Gowalla, but it won because it was a better game - becoming mayor was more engaging than dropping teddy bears.

BCC was well designed in that it delivered exactly what people were looking for. Sure, it may convert better if it looked better, but it was successful nonetheless. But the whole point is that Patrick has learned that visual design also matters, which is why appointment reminder looks better.


Thank you for clearing that up, anonymous jerk.


It's still a good looking site, and his copy is spot on. No one said design has to be very expensive or custom made, it just has to work. Ask anyone on the street if kalzumeus.com looks professional, and they'll say yes. That's what matters.


> He clearly invested a lot in design for kalzumeus.com,

The site looks neat, and there is an attribution for wordpress and "woo themes" in the footer.

Also, Patrick has posted below saying he didn't invest much in the ui(in terms of money or effort), which doesn't contradict anything. He said design matters; he didn't say one has to invest a lot of time and money.


Are you a female elementary school teacher?


>> Twitter links has no SEO juice

Besides using Twitter to:

- build your network and following,

- Twitter can aid in brand/product mentions

- Some reason to believe Twitter links are followed by the search engines, so help with indexation and discovery.[1]

- Some reason to believe Author/Agent/Identity rank of social profiles will start playing a role.[2]

- Finally, there are sites who add Twitterfeeds to the author profiles. Not all these feeds have the "nofollow" property.

The last one is also relevant to the statement: "Wikipedia doesn't matter for link juice". There are many copies of Wikipedia on university domains, where they don't employ nofollow (For study about web crawling or natural language processing). Or people rewriting Wikipedia articles and adding the references without nofollow. A nofollow link can transform into a dofollow link.

>> Don’t use the keyword meta tag.

Exactly, but do use its fine on-page alternative: Microdata keywords: http://schema.org/WebPage

If only for internal usage: Writing down the keywords for a page, keeps you focussed. If you don't mind giving this information to your competitors (there are tools to find out these keywords anyway, if not already obvious), do experiment with microdata keywords.

[1] http://www.seomoz.org/blog/using-twitter-for-increased-index...

[2] http://www.seobythesea.com/2011/11/agent-rank-or-google-plus...


They never said it doesn't have marketing juice, they're just talking about link building i presume. So surely it'd be better to focus on more solid SEO strategies than link building on no-follow sites and hoping that somebody mirrors it somewhere. Do .edu links even have any ranking weight anymore? It's probably one of the most abused link building schemes there is.


They are talking about Twitter having no link juice.

With my post I tried to show that Twitter has both SEO (indexation, ranking, discovery) and marketing value (visitors, network, following).

Using Twitter is so-so SEO strategy. But it is an invaluable online marketing strategy.

Just dumping your links on Twitter and calling that link building is silly, and he is right to shoot that down. But using Twitter a little more intelligently, would have you connecting with other webmasters and linkerati: People who can add (Twitter) links to their sites, for example when they blog about the topic of your tweet, or submit it to Hacker News.

There are valid reasons to ditch Twitter: if your produce content just for ranking, instead of your users, and you lack a brand, because you have a keyword-in-domain.net, then Twitter will be very ineffective. No one wants to follow or engage with a non-brand, with highly optimized content.

If you have a brand and produce interesting content, you'll shoot yourself in the foot, if you ignore Twitter.

>> Do .edu links have any ranking weight anymore?

I don't know, I am unable to measure their value (lack control groups with the exact same linking profiles)

There is good reason to believe there is something like "proximity to authority". Taking a seed set of quality websites (Stack overflow, Wikipedia, a lot of .edu domains) you can calculate the distance/similarity of your site to this seed set and measure your own quality and authority.

If this is a solid measure, then the .edu TLD alone might not give a free pass. It matters if the .edu is deemed authoritative or not and to what degree. A link from cnn.com can be more authoritative, relevant, contextual and so provide more ranking weight, than a link from a random university student page that happens to end in ".edu".

A nofollow link always caries mention-value. For a smart search engine just a relevant mention of, for example "SEOmoz", could attribute a vote to http://seomoz.org . Also an added benefit of mentions is the increased "search results estimate" for your brand or product. Some people give more trust to companies that have more results in the index, especially when comparing companies.


I wasn't disagreeing with you, but so far as i can see, nearly all of the benefits you listed are marketing ones, which twitter is practically essential for these days.

In terms of marketing a product, indexation and discovery aren't critical issues, even if it's nice SEO to be able to control it in such a fashion, but i can't see evidence of ranking being affected by tweets.

Thanks for the info re .edu and mention-values, makes total sense.


Right. Twitter is great for distributing a link, but having your link on twitter.com is not going to help you rank for Google search results.

What does work is people seeing your link on Twitter and posting it around the internet.


Yeah, that's what i'm wondering (i asked in another comment though), how much of the benefit of retweets was actually the public link building for you, on sites like reddit, rather than Google giving credence to links it tweets.


I think the reasoning is that a link in a blog is better because it's one link with lots of text. Links on Twitter are links next to lots of links. Google doesn't value pages full of links as much as content with a few links. (It feels so backward)

By the same reasoning, Hacker News front page doesn't help you with page rank, but it's great for exposure.


I agree with Schema.org. Use that extensively in your website. You get more pixel space in Google SERP's by microformatting your content.


On the subdomains topic, on one of my sites I went the subdomain way for languages. Example: www is for english, de is for german, fr is for french and so on. The reason I did this is because I wanted Google to index the sites properly, in the right language. So if you go to google.fr and search for some of its keywords you would see the french version and not the english one. I'm just not sure how Google behaves but my feeling is that if all your languages are on the same domain (without any difference on the URL) then it will always display the english one by default (assuming it's the default one, obviously). Can anyone enlighten me?

It's been working for me but I notice the english version (which is the default one, www, but not the one with most visits) is not working as good as the other languages so I'd say juice is not shared between subdomains, like Patrick said. Still trying to figure out what's the best solution...


    Use Google Adword’s keyword tool to come up with keywords and write pages that 
    speak to those topics. 
    If you’re a productivity app, write a page for 
    “increases productivity in Healthcare”, another for “increases productivity in 
    Education”, “lowers cost in Healthcare”, and so on.  Rather than automating it or having the CEO 
    or head marketing guy write everything, 
    you want to define a process such that a freelancer 
    or team member can create content 
    responsive to those keywords with a consistent level of quality. 
This is really cutting it close to violating the Google Webmaster Guidelines for quality and originality on each page.


The content should be high quality. This is why I mentioned the story of eHow and what a terrible thing it is, and why Patrick said "Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to create content in a fashion that scales while simultaneously ensuring that the user experience of consuming your content remains good"

He specifically told us not to create crap content.


The amazingly high quality of your content will be irrelevant if the keyword density on your page is one that Google deems to be low quality.

"""If you’re a productivity app, write a page for “increases productivity in Healthcare”, another for “increases productivity in Education”, “lowers cost in Healthcare”, and so on."""

^ That type of thing is pretty risky if it's one of your big strategies..


I agree with all these points, except with respect to Twitter. There is one case where I have seen Twitter impact SEO and that's in getting a new URL indexed fast, and in local SEO... Lots of tweets about a local-related page from people whose (legit) accounts are located in the same region seem to help for local keywords.


Yeah. Have to agree with you here. I just tested this recently , getting a few hundred retweets of an obscure URL ranking on page 4 for an obscure term and it moved to page 2 within a few days. I suspect Google may not be getting Twitter data directly (or getting it as fast as when they had the direct relationship), but, at the very least, there's a strong second-order impact between pages earning lots of tweets and getting ranked.

Our latest public post on this is here: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/do-tweets-still-effect-rankings but we'll continue to test and try to get more definitive answers.


Is that 'second order impact' not tied to the public doing the link building for you, outside of twitter? E.g. blogs, reddit, etc, rather than Google actually putting ranking weight onto info in tweets?


Yeah Twitter absolutely rocks. I recently had a post tweeted by both @AndrewWarner and @smashingmag [1] and it's now on page one for the search term "testing website" (when done on google.com.au). While the Twitter links were fresh it was page 1 on google.com, too an showing up as "news". This is a relatively new post with virtually no other inbound link juice on a site with not much other link juice and only PR of 3.

[1] http://www.decalcms.com/page/Testing_your_website_before_lau...


I think Patrick was referring to traditional page rank and general search results as opposed to local or news.


Am I alone in finding the following quote profoundly depressing: "It cost Patrick $8.95 to buy [halloweengiftcards], $100 for a writer to make 5 pages of content, and he made thousands in sales."

Ditto "If you’re a productivity app, write a page for “increases productivity in Healthcare”, another for “increases productivity in Education”, “lowers cost in Healthcare”, and so on."

This kind of seo-engineering just seems so desparate, as if SEO is the be-all and end-all of running an online business.

Whatever happened to having a site that obeys all the normal 'rules', and provides valuable information / services / products to your target audience. They'll find it.


I find that pretty annoying when I'm looking for tools, but I do think it works, with varying degrees of shadiness. Some companies completely rebrand a product as if it were custom-designed for an area, taking their Foo Software and making it Foo Software for Healthcare, when in fact that's a lie and it wasn't customized for healthcare at all (and certainly not based on any knowledge of the area or research into its practices). Maybe users don't notice, and even if they do, sometimes you can mitigate it by just giving refunds freely to the users who complain, and keeping the money of those who don't.

An even scammier version of that is to rebrand software you didn't even make, like take VLC and rebrand it as customized video software for $whatever, when indeed you've done no customization for anything.


This seems incredibly idealistic. Patrick is providing relevant and valuable products to people. If this $110 investment in a halloween-themed variant to his site brought thousands in sales, then clearly not everyone was "finding it" where it was seasonal bingo content.


People were looking for Halloween bingo cards, Patrick provided them in the most obvious place. In what way is that not providing valuable information/services/products?


Seriously Patrick, it was awesome to have you here. You were voted as the most helpful speaker at 500 we've had so far in the batch. Thanks!


and thanks to you too for writing this so that those of us who don't have the benefit of being there can learn as well :)


As someone who has been in the SEO industry a long time I can tell you that some of this is terrible/spammy advice...

Buy KW rich domains and pay some copywriter to crank out 4-5 pages?! Are you serious?

Twitter has no SEO Value?...just so you know...the SE's came out and said that authoritative tweets absolutely have value....While they don't pass "juice", they can help you in the SERPs

I'd hold off on that hug if I were you...


There is nothing about SEO (and SEO only) that isn't spammy.


This is pretty sound and basic SEO if you want to spend your time making dozens of very basic wordpress blogs about particular topics to grab some easy money.

Nothing wrong with this if you have time on the weekends, heck this could even be a fulltime job as the income will slowly climb.

However, this 'trick' is quite old, but probably new to some people...


The motivation for the audience at 500 Startups is less "In your spare time, start blogging about [red men's shoes] and try to sell $0.50 a day of AdWords clicks about it" and more "As one thing in your marketing arsenal, create systems and processes to mass-produce quality content about the market addressed by your SaaS application, scaling your userbase from the few hundred people you had at launch to something closer to the 200,000 your friendly neighborhood bingo sideproject has, show your user adoption graph to investors, create lots of value, and ideally end up rich."


Doing the basics extraordinarily well is usually what makes all the difference.


This part sounds like cargo cult black magic: "This works for .com (.edu, .org) domains, but not for non-US TLDs like .co or .ly." Does Google really discriminate based on TLDs?


Ask a simple question, get a simple answer: yes, Google certainly treats the Big Three differently than it does .co or .ly. I don't have specific evidence of them discriminating against .co/.ly, but the evidence that they discriminate for EMDs in the Big Three is overwhelming and undeniable.


Is this not a bias? As in: It only looks like Google discriminates for the Big Three, because they are so abundant?

I've heard from official sources like below that Google doesn't discriminate on TLD. There are my sites and Googlers who use ".info" TLD in a legit and well-ranking manner.

Where this "evidence" does play a role, is in spam/made for Adwords-sites. It is reasonable to assume that a .co or .ly will get more attention, to combat spam/made for Adwords sites that try to use Keyword-In-Domain tricks to outrank legit companies.

But if you are not making Keyword-In-Domain Made-For-Adwords sites, you have nothing to worry about (at least as for Google discrimination).

It is mostly _users_ who discriminate for a .com. If Google ranks website.ly in the top 5, but its users don't click on the result, in fear of spam or low-quality, then your rankings might suffer.

Matt Cutts interview on DomainRoundtable.

  "For example, do .com domains carry more weight than a 
  .net, .us, .info, etc. 

  He said that TLD doesn’t matter -- that’s the way Larry 
  and Sergey originally designed the Google algorithm. The 
  algorithm doesn’t care where the page is located, it’s 
  all about pagerank (LINKS) of the particular page. At the 
  end of answering this question he did admit that they 
  might have started to look at particularly cheap (and 
  spammy) TLDs differently than other TLDs or they might 
  start considering TLD in their algorithm if they’re not 
  already doing so."
So it is still good to advice against .io and witty domain names (portfol.io), but not for the reason of Google discrimination.

I am reminded by statements like: "For better ranking, claim your domain for 5+ years". Just because Google gives extra attention to domains with a low expiration date, because they correlate with spammy/get-rich-quick sites, doesn't mean that spam on a 5+ years registered domain is ok, or that simply claiming a domain for 10 years, somehow signals quality to Google.

You only have to worry about registration dates, when you know that you deliver low-quality content and you don't want to be found out soon.


Does Google still give weight to the .edu domain? It'd surely be unhelpful to proper meritorious rankings seeing as it's one of the first strategies SEOers will use?


What percentage of Mexican men perform oral sex on their wives


oh yes. they do. just check in google webmaster tools the respective setting and help files. there're just dozens of TLDs which rank internationally incl. the blockbuster .com .org and .net. first we had the fancy .io domain but switched quickly to a .com -- traffic has been exploding since then


yes - some TLD's are known spam havens. see co.cc, for example.


Unfortunately, I have to agree on much of the advice.

Especially, I just hate how much google gives credit to the terms which are in the domain name. Why is having been able to register a "good" domain first such an important signal about site relevance? On many searches the first page is full of "keyword.com" "keyword.net" "keyword.it" websites that were only made for SEO and Adwords and have no usefulness.


This is something Google are surely working on, or, i hope they are. As much as the topic of SEO fascinates me, when it's successful it can be so deleterious to the quality of results. Google search is practically useless, for many searches that i'd do which i'd imagine are common enough.


@dikbrouwer: Was the talk recorded, if so is there a youtube link?

@patio11: could you make your presentation / slide deck available for those of us who were not fortunate enough to attend in person.


No recording that I'm aware of.


Thanks. Any idea if the deck is available anywhere?


People should realize he is just telling you how to build a good website, remove any mention of SEO from this article and you will see my point.


Build a good website, as in adding lots of "content" with [your product] for [Healthcare|Pets|Education|Halloween]? That doesn't sound like building a good website -- to me, it sounds more like spam.


Where is a good place to hire someone to write 5 pages of content for $100?


Email me and I'll get back to you. Or elance.com, vworker.com or odesk.com


Whoa, patio11 is in Mountain View? Want to get lunch?


He's back in Japan now. He was here about a week ago.


Thanks for the summary and write up - incredibly useful. Thank you!


Nice article


Great talk Patrick! I love the pic from dinner in you blog Melissa!


Awesome! Thanks :)


Patio11, thanks for coming!!!




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