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#pubcon Liveblog: Correcting the Biggest SEO Mistake & Retargeting

Welcome back to day 2 of #pubcon liveblog coverage. There’s a lot of rocking sessions going on right now and it was extremely tough to choose between this one with Kate Morris and Joanna Lord, Chris Winfield’s session or the algorithm proofing session going on. To be honest, I couldn’t really pick so I chose the one with the open electrical outlet and it just happened to be Salon B – also, there’s still an opening here so if you need power come hang out.

Right now we’re just waiting for everybody to get back from snack time and Kate is telling me how jealous she is of my Mustang. I’m also second guessing my decision to try and blog Joanna because I’m not sure there’s many people who can type fast enough to do that.

So what is the most common SEO mistake? It’s Duplicate content! – and we all know how much that goes hand in hand with retargeting so this session makes perfect sense (at least to whoever scheduled this)

It looks like all of the session rooms are a bit light. I’m not sure what snack is being provided but it must be good. Bonus points if somebody brings me some. I’m sitting in the front.

Kate’s up first to talk about duplicate content. She wants to make one thing clear. Duplicate content is not a penalty. You don’t need to submit a re-inclusion request. They’re not penalizing you, you’re just confusing them.

Kate hasn’t seen a client at distilled yet (big ones included) who don’t have some sort of duplicate content issue.

Ok, so what are the most common causes of duplicate content?

  • Print versions. If it’s just &view=print that’s another URL and a duplicate content issue. Adding a self referential canonical can fix most of these issues. Bing doesn’t advise it, but you can’t hurt yourself by throwing it up there anyway.
  • Similar product names. Do you have multiple user uploaded pictures that all have the same name? Do they all have the same title because you’re auto generating it? Find a way to distinguish them (hint: look at descriptive file names / titles)
  • Geography. You can’t just use city names. Look at paris france and paris texas. Use whatever you can to distinguish
  • Tag/Category blog pages. Most people (including myself – whoops!) don’t nonidex their tag and category pages. there’s a ton of wordpress tools (look at yoast) that can help you with this.
  • Subdomain issues. When you’re testing, did you catch all the relative/absolute URL issues and accidentally index some other version of your content? This is a known problem for several large sites I’ve seen. The solution here is to use absolute linking as much as possible. It’s a pain, but it will save you bigger pains. A good way to find this is to search for
  • Homepages. This is a simple one. www or no www – pick one and stick to it. Server side 301 all the others.
  • Session IDs! – especially in eCommerce. Best way to fix? A canonical that cuts off the non-page changing parameters. We do this on Ford automatically with some code, and it works out really well.

Tangent time: Webmaster tools has a new interface launched today. Go check it out 🙂 If you use parameters in your site, go in there and tell Google (and Bing in their tool) which parameters they can ignore. Use it. But use it WITH the canonical tag.

Ok come back from WMT – you can do those parameters later. It’s time for more causes of duplicate content.

  • Search Pages! Not everybody can de-index their search pages (like Yelp) but if you can, you should.

Duplicate content is NOT a penalty. BUT, crawl time is limited. The more duplicate content Google and Bing waste time crawling the less of your long tail pages/traffic they can be crawling. Remove that duplicate content and let the bots index the stuff that can help your traffic grow.

Poll time: How many people actually track their indexation? Do you ever compare it to pages that send traffic?

Now, let’s talk about retargeting

Joanna is up now and I’m going to try my best to keep up. Anybody have a water in case my fingers catch fire?

If you’re in the session, Joanna IS actually here with us, you just can’t see her over the podium. Crap she’s already done 2 slides while I typed that. This is going to be tough.

Times have changed. Now we consume a ton of information from a ton of places in a short period of time. We no longer go to one place to buy a product. We might visit several sites in 5 minutes and then purchase. The problem is, people aren’t frantically consuming advertising.

The expectations for display advertising have changed. Back in the day it was all about brand awareness. Not much was expected. Here’s yourbudget, go spend it.

Now, display advertisers are expected to drive people to stay longer, dive deeper, do something, and sculpt the brand. It’s less about brand awareness and more about conversion. And if that’s not hard enough, now you have to establish customer retention, establish trust between the consumer and the brand, and enable the consumer to evolve.

95% of visitors to a site don’t convert. As a display marketer your life is spent getting that 5% to give you more money. Retargetting hits that 95% – and it makes them 70% more likely to convert. Quick, what’s 70% of 5% of 95%?

Did you launch a promo? tell them with retargeting. new feature? retarget. Want feedback after a purchase? Throw up a “hey, review me” retargeting banner. Retargeting is all about “hey don’t forget about me.” (side note, I think I dated retargeting once.)

If you want your retargeting to work, you’ve got to get creative with the creatives. Start off with introducers. Then go to your influencers – then 30 days later you can hit them with the converter banners. The original subtle message moves them further through the conversion cycle. (I love how Joanna is making up words here too!)

Want to get really creative? You CAN! you don’t need to cram everything into one banner because you know they’ll see the next one on the next page they visit.

You can also use retargeting as qualified (and cheap) testing. Test your colors, messages, adjectives, etc.

Ok so how often should you retarget? 15-20 impressions per person per month is optimal. It’s also OK to expect click through rates. With B2B shoot for .15%-.30% For B2C expect .30% to 1%

There’s 2 types of conversions for display and you should break them out. You have view through (saw an ad and converted later) and click through (see ad, click, convert)

Now, let’s talk about Off-site retargeting and how Google broke all of that with their SSL changes. Want to know the real reason they made the change? Off site retargeting is why. Capturing keyword data from users and selling it for purposes of retargeting was/is still highly profitable.

So what is it? It’s about targeting users that searched for oranically related terms, targeting visitors who visited sites similar to yours, target visitors who visited your partner sites, and target users that you correspond to in emails. Talk about some super powerful (possibly invasive/scary) stuff! Without going into detail, just drop in a pixel and now you can re-target all these people! You can even look for partner sites to trade pixels with.

So what are the challenges?

Tracking is a “hot mess” You need to place a pixel (footer or header) but you also need “burn code” which takes the visitor out of audience (and likely into another group) after they complete a purchase. Think: once they buy, move them over to see the loyalty ads. Plus, you also need the conversion code. It can be a pain to implement this all, but it’s worth it!

Joanna is now talking about how hard it was for her to get it implemented properly at first – which is why we’ve all probably been annoyed retargeted to death by SEOmoz ads. – and is giving an example where an ad with Rand Fishkin showed up on an SEOmoz employee’s okcupid profile. Talk about creepy – logging in to look for a date and seeing your boss’s face!

Choose your vendor wisely. She mentions retargeter, adroll, and fetchback. And that’s it. It’s time for Q&A

First question (for Joanna): is this too fragile of an industry. Is there a possibility for consumer backlash? Good question, and it’s still a small industry. Joanna things there’s lots of time left before there will have to be drastic changes. Just be open about it. Put in a privacy policy and let users opt out (which most networks do!)

There’s still time left but everybody is piling in now for the Black Hat session up next, so I’m going to wrap this up. Thanks for reading!

Category SEO
VIP CONTRIBUTOR Ryan Jones VP, SEO at Razorfish

Ryan is the SEO lead at Razorfish where he works from early in the morning until late in the evening. ...

#pubcon Liveblog: Correcting the Biggest SEO Mistake & Retargeting

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