SEO Basics for UCLA x425

Last Tuesday, I had the opportunity to guest speak with Richard Knafelc to the UCLA x425 extension course on SEO and Social Media for communications professionals thanks to Erik Deutsch. I love teaching and it was a great opportunity to do so, on my favorite topic of course.

We covered a lot of the basic principles of SEO from keyword research, to on-page SEO tactics and link building. The class also had some really good questions for Richard and I around things like Reputation Management, how Social Media helps SEO, etc. For

Tony Adam

Tony Adam is Founder and CEO of Visible Factors (a Prime Rank Media, Inc. company), has been in technology since 2000 and online marketing since 2003. Tony is an entrepreneur, startup advisor, and regular speaker at many technology and marketing conferences, including SMX, PubCon and SXSWI.

Social Media ROI Presentation from SMASH at USC

On Thursday of last week, I had the opportunity to present at SMASH (Social Media Advanced Skills Huddle) at USC. What I was really excited most about was the fact that we had many of the Master in Human Behavior students in attendance at the conference and was great hearing their thoughts and insights around Social Media. I presented on Social Media ROI and while my presentation is below I thought I’d share a few highlights:

1. Create Goals and a Plan: I really do believe that before starting any campaigns and worrying about the tools to track ROI, you need to define what those goals are, what you’ll be measuring against, and have a plan to achieve those goals.

2. Value: When you set those goals, it’s also critical to understand what types of value Social Media Marketing is going to add to the overall campaign or your organization daily, monthly, or weekly. Some of those values can be increased engagement (e.g. mentions, blog comments, etc.), increased traffic, or increased brand recognition.

3. Platforms: While there are many Social Networks, Bookmarking, and news sites, it’s important to understand where your site should be represented on the Social Web. While the general Social Media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are really important to have a presence in, if you participate in photography Flickr has a large community.

4. Use existing tools on Social Media Platforms: Facebook has their insights product for Facebook Page owners, StumbleUpon has domain stats (e.g., and Myspace has Artist Dashboards. These tools can take you a long way without having to pay for anything right off the bat, so, make sure to take full advantage of all the free tools you can.

5. Free and Paid Tools: Along that same note of taking advantage of all the free tools out there, has good click tracking for URLs you tweet and I highly recommend to at least start there with tools. After that, it would be a good idea to start looking at tools like Alterian SM2, Radian6, Social Flow, CoTweet Enterprise, etc. that make the most sense for your organization.

Would love to get your thoughts around Social Media ROI and hear any tips you have for others out there that are learning and/or working on programs to track these metrics. Leave a comment and lets get the conversation rolling!

Facebook Like Button: Now with Meta Data and Thumbnails

Well, it turns out that Facebook has included all of the meta data and thumbnail info for the like button around the web. This is great news for publishers as it gives the content that we and/or our users “like” more visibility in the Facebook stream. Along with that, it will likely greatly reduce the clutter that we see from around the web with share implementations, many publishers still have the facebook share and like button on their site. Time to clean up your UI!

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Stop Complaining About Search and Content Based Business Models

There is so much buzzing in the search industry from @arrington writing about why he thinks search still sucks and JCPenney being busted for paid linking. And, just weeks ago Google busted Bing for copying search results…or did they? Whew, I felt like that was one big run on sentence without no end in sight. And, to be honest, the story of search does not have an end in sight. This is a positive for innovation.

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Internal Linking: The Benefits Of Great Information Architecture For SEO

IA and SEO

Every time I write a requirements document for SEO, I make sure to address Usability and Information Architecture. I like to think that Google will reward sites that do have good Information Architecture because it is mostly always search engine friendly designs that support crawlability and indexing. This is usually the reason I spend a lot of time with the User Experience team or UX designers, because working closely with them will only help influence a search engine friendly design built into the product requirements. I’m not going to sit here and say that I win every time, but, I’ll take a win where I can get it. Aside from all the awesome acronyms, I thought I would share some of the things that I have seen influence IA, UX, and SEO.

Sub-Pages and Navigation

Deep Content websites have a ton of content that requires you to split pages up and helps from both a standpoint of clean Information Architecture of main page to sub-page. Similar to category and sub-category indexes, entertainment content like Movies, TV, Celebrities and Music all have deep content types and indexes, putting it all on one page would be one incredibly long, unusable page with a horrible user experience. Oh, and that page would probably take 20 seconds to load even on today’s speedy internet connections. I think it’s fairly obvious that pages and sub-page types exist, so, taking a few minutes to think it through is probably a good idea.

IA Map of Rihanna’s content:

Rihanna Videos on Yahoo! Music:
Rihanna Videos

Rihanna Photos on Yahoo! Music:
Rihanna Photos


Breadcrumbs are navigational elements that are designed to help the user experience of a website by leaving a trail of where are user is browsing on the site. From an SEO standpoint, breadcrumbs are extremely useful because of all the internal links that are created as you get deeper into the content. For sites with a lot of deep content or a large index of pages, this can be especially helpful because the number of internal links grows exponentially.

Example of a Breadcrumb:
So, let’s say I was designing a breadcrumb for Myspace and I was on the Kim Kardashian topic page. It would look something like this:
Home > Celebrities > Kim Kardashian

Real Breadcrumb Implementation on
Breadcrumb Example

And, by the way, the term “Breadcrumb” is probably one of the coolest web terms used…how could you not use them on your site?!

In-Page Navigation

In-Page Navigational links can be referenced in a few different ways, from jump-links to on-page anchors, etc. It’s actually one of the oldest forms of navigation from the web 1.0 days when websites didn’t have fancy menu’s, navigation elements, etc. Today, you’ll still see many sites use in-page navigation to guide users through FAQs or even through large pages. Wikipedia and IMDB are great examples of this as they have fairly long pages and help users move through page content fairly easily.

Now, from an SEO standpoint, this is awesome for internal linking because, URL fragments (#) (and, everything the follows) that are used in on-page anchors are ignored by search engines and therefore creates links internal to that page. While It is debatable from an SEO standpoint, you can leverage URL fragments for SEO benefits in AJAX as well.

In-Page Navigation on IMDB
IMDB In-Page Navigation Example

Example of how IMDB ranks for the actor name + anchor (“Johnny Depp Producer”)
Example of how IMDB ranks

Related Links

Related links are a gold-mine and one of my favorite types of ways to leverage User Experience for SEO purposes. From a page to page browsing standpoint, they are great at increase page views while users stay engaged, clicking through your website content. There are all types of implementations from modules in sidebar’s, sub-page sections, and link lists to navigate users through a website. Many of these examples range from “Songs similar to…”, “You might also like…”, or “Top Lists.” Here are some examples from Kanye West’s HAM song page on Myspace:

Similar Songs Example:
Similar Songs Example

Related Kanye West Songs Example:
Similar Kanye West Songs

Top Hip Hop Songs Example:
Top Hip Hop Songs

User Experience and SEO

I tried to show some of the key examples of how user experience and SEO teams can work together. But, there are so many more examples out there and every website and product have different use cases. The key is to work together to create richer and smarter user experiences on the web. And, you can pretty much guarantee that by creating that solid UI, with a well thought out content architecture, you’re site will be search engine friendly. This helps overall SEO strategies through strong internal linking that increases crawl paths and rich anchor text links on your website. An overall win-win for UX and SEO in my opinion.

I make it a point to talk to user experience professionals daily to understand how they think and talk through various scenarios. There are countless times where they have helped me think outside the box on projects and through a simple brainstorm, come up with better SEO solutions for a page, product, or website.

Decision Making: How to be Better and Faster

Decision Making

Being a good decision maker is one of the toughest things to be. It isn’t just about being smart, but, also has a huge dependency on being able to make quick decisions and think on your feet. Some of the best decisions that I’ve seen people make were on the spot and a decision had to be made right there. It is extremely important to startups to think this way, which is why I thought it was important to start a conversation about the topic.

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Social Design & Optimization: The Power of Network Effects

One of the most interesting things I’ve been studying over the last year has been the power social design and network effects. Even though many of us have used Social Media for quite sometime, it has typically been what I would call a disconnected and fragmented system of communication. Now, of course, I have to make a statement like that to catch your attention, but, really, is it that far off?

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Professionalism: Let's have a toast for the douchebags

One of my favorite quotes I try to remember every day is by Nas. In the song “Favor for a Favor” he recites “Favor, for a favor, that’s how we do business.” This is pretty much how people should operate. Now, I am not saying we should be literally counting the favors, but, at the end of the day, if someone helps you out, you shouldn’t let it go unnoticed. Most people might see this post as tangential at best, if so, feel free to move on. But, I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, so I figured, why not make it a 2011 resolution.

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