PubCon Vegas Day 2: International and Mega Site SEO, and Tools for SEO
By Steph Skardal
November 12, 2009
On the second day of PubCon Vegas, I attended several SEO track sessions including “SEO for Ecommerce”, “International and European Site Optimization”, “Mega Site SEO”, and “SEO/SEM Tools”. A mini-summary of several of the sessions is presented below.
Derrick Wheeler from Microsoft.com spoke on Mega Site SEO about “taming the beast”. Microsoft has 1.2 billion URLs that are comprised of thousands of web properties. For mega site SEO, Derrick highlighted:
- Content is NOT king. Structure is! Content is like the princess-in-waiting after structure has been mastered.
- Developing an overall SEO approach and organization to getting structure, content, and authority SEO completed is more valuable or relevant to the actual SEO work. This was a common theme among many of the presentations at PubCon.
- Getting metrics set up at the beginning of SEO work is a very important step to measure and justify progress.
- Don’t be afraid to say no to low priority items.
Most developers deal with a large amount of legacy code. Derrick discussed primary issues when working with legacy problems:
- Duplicate and undesirable pages. For Microsoft.com, managing and dealing with 1.2 billion pages results in a lot of duplicate and undesirable pages from the past.
- Multiple redirects.
- Improper error handling (error handling on 404s or 500s).
- International URL structure can be a problem for international sites. Having an appropriate TLD (top level domain) is the best solution, but if that’s not possible, a process should be implemented to regulate the international urls.
- Low Quality Page Titles and Meta Tags. For large sites with hundreds of thousands of pages, it’s really important to have unique page titles and meta descriptions or to have a template that forces uniqueness.
In summary, structure and internal processes are areas to focus on for Mega Site SEO. Legacy problems are something to be aware of when you have a site so large where changes won’t be implemented as quickly as small site changes.
In International and European Search Management, Michael Bonfils, Nelson James, and Andy Atkins-Krueger discussed international SEO and SEM tactics. Takeaways include:
- In terms of international search marketing, it’s important to incorporate culture into search optimization and marketing. If it works in one country, it may not work in another country and so don’t offend a culture by not understanding it. Some examples of content differences for targeting different cultures include emphasizing price points, focusing on product quality, and asserting authority or trust on a site.
- It’s also important to understand how linguistics affects your keyword marketing. Automatic translation should not be used (all the speakers mentioned this). A good example of linguistics and search targeting is the use of the search term “soccer cleats”, or “football boots”. In England, the term “football boot” has a very small portion of the traffic share, but singular terms in other languages (“scarpe de calcio”, “botas de futbal”) have a much larger percentage of the search market share. Andy shared many other examples of how direct translation would not be the best keywords to target (“car insurance”, “healthcare”, “30% off”, “cheap flights”).
- Local hosting is important for metrics, linking, and to develop trust. Nelson James shared research that shows that 80% of the top 10 results of the top 30 keywords in china had a ‘.cn’ top level domain, but the other top sites that were ‘.com’ sites are all hosted in china.
- Other technical areas for international search that were mentioned are using the meta language tag, pinyin, charset, and language set. Duplicate content also will become a problem across sites of the same language.
- It’s important to understand the search market share. In Russia, Google shares 35% of the search market and Yandexx has 54%. In China, Baidu has 76% and Google has 22%. There are some reasons that explain these market share differences. Yandexx was written to manage the large Russian vocabulary that Google does not handle as well. Baidu handles search for media better than Google and search traffic in China is much more entertainment driven rather than business driven in the US.
In the last session of the day, about 100 tools were discussed in SEO/SEM Tools. I’m planning on writing another blog post with a summary of these tools, but here’s a short list of the tools mentioned by multiple speakers:
- Google: Keyword Ad Tool, Webmaster Tools, Adplanner, SocialGraph API, Google Trends, Analytics, Google Insights
- SpyFu: Kombat, Domain Ad History, Smart Search, Keyword Ad History
- SEOmoz: Linkscape, Mozbar, Top Pages, etc.
- Raven SEO Tools: Website Analytics, Campaign Reports
Stay tuned for a day 3 and wrap up article!