MozCon 2011: How Big Brands Can Compete in Tough SERPs without Risk

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How Big Brands Can Compete in Tough SERPs without Risk

Session description: The temptation is always there – just spend $50K/month and you, too, could have pages of middling quality and low interest levels ranking atop the results. The reality is that real risk and unsustainability accompanies link buying and other gray/black hat practices. Adam shows how big brands achieve remarkable results while staying entirely within the search guidelines.

Speaker: Adam Audette, Audette Media

Speaking of Adam Audette, his last post on the Raven blog on link building is a great read. We’ll release a collaborative project with him in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

The skinny

Adam dropped some great tips about site structure, and how that can help you for SEO.

What he said

  • SEO is simple. Until you hit all of the possibilities. How do you prioritize what to work on? What was simple becomes amazingly complex. It’s a hard, long road.
  • SEO is situational. We go into a situation and may think we have the right idea, but then are presented with a completely different scenario. Best practices only get you so far, you need competitive advantages. Take risks, innovate.
  • Nav links ≠ contextual links ≠ footer links.
  • Create canonical crawl paths.
  • Clean, canonical links. Amazon and Target are examples. Everything about a page is encapsulated in that URL.
  • Exact match anchors: very important internally. Externally, it is unnatural.
  • HTML 5 structural elements. Be thinking about this for the future.
  • Rank categories for your head terms. Focus external links on categories. Preserve category URLs, they can age over time.
  • Related links are massively powerful. Just a few “related product” links can really drive revenue. Less is more, 5-10 related product links.
  • Shortest URL possible. Studies have proven than shorter URLs are clicked more.


  1. SEO is easy to say, and hard to do.
  2. Make the best possible user experience, and maximize it for SEO.
  3. Better ranking ≠ better traffic.

Audience participation

  • How do you link product pages to categories? Breadcrumbs, and consistency is everything.
  • What e-commerce platforms work better for SEO? Drupal, WordPress is surprisingly powerful, and Pixelsilk.