Dustin Interviewed About SEO

The Search Engine Journal was kind enough to interview me about various SEO topics, including: evolution of SEO, using UGC to drive SEO, Domainers vs. SEOs, and making the transition from in-house SEO to out-house SEO (working out of my house as an SEO consultant).
Dustin Woodard
I didn’t realize it until now, but this is my 2nd interview with the Search Engine Journal–the first was over 3 years ago. If you dig reading about me 1/10th as much as I do, then I suggest you check out both interviews:

Dustin Woodard 2010 SEJ Interview
by Todd Mintz
Dustin Woodard 2007 SEJ Interview
by Jessica Bowman

Besides learning more about me, I think you’ll find some helpful SEO tips inside both interviews.

Making LinkedIn Links Count

SEOs have long been preaching the importance of anchor text in links and have long pointed out LinkedIn as a great place to gain keyword-rich links. Hundreds of thousands of LinkedIn users have followed this great advice, but something changed late last year that no one else seemed to notice.

dustin woodard searchfest 2010Note from Dustin: This SEO tip is a reward for those following my blog. I’ve kept this one secret since late last year so I could share it at Searchfest during my talk on Reputation Management earlier this month. I’m sharing it here as a reward for people who have been following me, but will not be actively promoting this tip as I don’t want it to be discovered by too many people, causing LinkedIn or Google to make changes.

Again, SEOs, including myself, have long been preaching that the links you share in your LinkedIn profile should use custom anchor text so instead of the link saying “My Website” or one of the other generic terms, it could pass along a keyword-rich link. For example, my link to this site said something like “Dustin’s SEO Blog” so I was at least giving Google or other engines a better indication to what the site is about–something that is deemed very important in their algorithms.

Well, my advice has changed. Why? Turns out LinkedIn went the way of Twitter & other popular UGC sites and no-followed all the links. Let me say that again, in case you missed it: LinkedIn links no longer count in the eyes of search engines!

This is unfortunate as I believe those links should count. There’s no need for LinkedIn to hoard their link juice and the links are limited, transparent, and attached to real people with real business networks. It also gives spiders a chance to discover small sites it may not discover otherwise. I’m not familiar with search spammers using LinkedIn to game the search engines, but I suppose it may have happened enough for Google to pressure LinkedIn. For those who link to their LinkedIn profiles a lot, the fact that LinkedIn is not linking back to your site (even though you specifically tell it to do so) might be enough reason for you to reconsider.

After some tinkering, I discovered there is a way to get followed links from LinkedIn. Here’s what you need to do:

Go into your LinkedIn profile and edit the links section. Your choices in the drop down should look like this:

LinkedIn Links SEO

You’ll notice that I highlighted “My Website” and “My Blog.” If you choose one of those two, you will get a followed link from LinkedIn. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to customize the text as you can with the “Other” choice, but at least the links will count.

If you are a person who has a lot of different sites, I’d recommend using both My Website and My Blog & using one of the other choices as you prefer (knowing you won’t get link love). Take a look at my profile for an example: Dustin Woodard on LinkedIn. And if you haven’t already done so, you should be using a custom URL (see settings – I used “woodard” so my link is http://www.linkedin.com/in/woodard instead of some random number).

There you go, a free SEO tip of great value to pretty much anyone on the web.

Searchfest Photo credit: seandreilinger

GoDaddy Twitter Relationship

Just over a month ago, I was shocked when I was force-fed a twitter screen takeover while looking at my domain names registered at GoDaddy. Immediately, I did some news searches to see if GoDaddy had purchased Twitter because it seemed very out of place. There were no such announcements. In fact, there was very little news about this development.

GoDaddy Twitter IntegrationEvery time I’m in my account tweaking my domains, I can’t help but notice the twitter promotion overload. I can’t help but wonder why GoDaddy would take such a keen interest in helping to fuel more twitter accounts. From a service perspective, it is pretty lame because it is already incredibly easy to check name availability and sign up for twitter. I could think of a hundred other features GoDaddy should build and promote instead. If it were a two-way arrangement, where Twitter promotes domain registration for Twitter user names, then I could see the benefit.

So why do you suppose GoDaddy is pimping Twitter so much? Is GoDaddy going to buy Twitter? Is Twitter paying GoDaddy for this treatment? Is GoDaddy’s product development team overly caught up with Twitter & group-think led them to believe this add on would separate them from other registrars? I have no idea, but it will be interesting to watch this over time.

Here are more screenshots showing how much GoDaddy is pimping out Twitter within their domain dashboards:

GoDaddy Twitter promo

Why is GoDaddy Pimping Twitter

GoDaddy Twitter name check feature

LinkedIn Benefits from Unemployment

If you think about it, LinkedIn is a natural beneficiary from massive layoffs. Upon being laid off, here are some user activities LinkedIn might not see otherwise:

  • Status updates to let others know about layoff
  • Recommendation requests to co-workers
  • Recommendations for co-workers
  • Profile updates and employment history updates
  • Status updates about job seeking
  • LinkedIn personal network job searches
  • Contact info lookups to find names & phone numbers to fill out unemployment benefits job search logs
  • Network inbox emails to ask for help with employment

Outside the unemployment-related activities I list above, there are, of course, many other activities that you might see even in healthy job markets like looking up potential bosses, researching organizations, growing network, Q&A activity, etc.

LINKEDIN UNEMPLOYMENT CORRELATIONS
The numbers don’t lie: LinkedIn certainly benefits from this increase in activity and the activity is well-documented. In terms of pageviews, LinkedIn went from 272 million pageviews in March ’08 to 872 million pageviews in March ’09 (252% growth according to Compete.com data).

Not only does an increase of unemployment catapult activity (as measured by pageviews), it also greatly benefits reach (as measured by uniques). Check the graph below that I created that shows LinkedIn uniques visitor growth and the unemployment rate for the past two years:

LinkedIn Unemployment

NYT Sets Low Bar for Social Media Expert

Read this piece on Valleywag today about the New York Times hiring their first-ever Social Media Editor.

Here’s the NYT description of their social media editor:

One of the bracing things about this topsy-turvy media landscape is that you can wake up one morning and find yourself actually doing something you never thought you’d even think about. Take Jennifer Preston. In 25 years in the news biz, she’s been plenty of things: Reporter (cop shop, City Hall, Albany, etc.), editor (political editor, section editor, administrative editor, etc.) and even circulation marketing manager (at New York Newsday). But still, did she ever think she’d wake up one morning as “social media editor”?

No, she didn’t but yes, she did. That morning was this one.

Jennifer is our first social media editor. What’s that? It’s someone who concentrates full-time on expanding the use of social media networks and publishing platforms to improve New York Times journalism and deliver it to readers.

…She will help us get comfortable with the techniques, share best practices and guide us on how to more effectively engage a larger share of the audience on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Digg, and beyond.

Knowing the NYT has the 2nd most popular Twitter following and a great number of journalists with accounts on Twitter, I thought it would be interesting to check out who Jennifer Preston is and if I knew her from past social media events I have attended.

Turns out her Twitter account was locked, according to Valleywag. Looks like she opened it up to the public in response to the article, but she had yet to post her first tweet. I looked around for a non-NYT account for her, but didn’t find any. One place I looked was Linked in. I was shocked to see she only had 13 connections (especially for someone who works for a large publisher).

NYT social media editor

I tweeted my findings, which may have spurred her to post her first tweets (she now has 3). From my perspective, she’s got less experience with twitter, digg, youtube, blogging, etc. than any college intern I’ve ever worked with.

Either the New York Times is trying this as an experiment, or they have effectively set a very low bar for what is considered a social media expert.