ClickZ Dies – On the death of SES – ClickZ

Sad but not unexpected news in the industry today as the granddaddy of major search marketing conferences, Search Engine Strategies died quietly with no public announcement. Founded in 1999, SES brought search engines and webmasters or site-owners together. For many older members of the SEO community, myself included, SES was the space where they caught their first breaks. The conference built itself into a major three ring circus touring the globe to crowded conference centers and vibrant tradeshow floors. When the roadshow rolled into NYC, four floors of conference center floorspace was needed to hold the hundreds of vendors and booths.

The conference was started by Danny Sullivan who was also founding editor of Search Engine Watch. Sullivan left SEW and SES in a contract dispute after the online magazine and conference series was sold to Incisive Media by MecklerMedia for 43million in 2005. Danny left to form ThirdDoor Media, Search Engine Land (and ancillary publications), and the extraordinary Search Marketing Expo series. For seven years, there was a healthy rivalry between the two operations with Incisive Media and ThirdDoor complimenting each other and providing two competing platforms in the online magazine and digital conference business.

The day I knew it was over was the day Mike Grehan resigned on the spot at the start of the New York show in 2014, about ten minutes before his opening speech. SES announced their pay-to-play strategy at that show aimed at enticing brands to take the stage without pesky practitioners speaking beside them. This was done in order to increase the perceived value of the conference series in advance of a sale to French conglomerate Blenheim Chalcot.

Things sort of went to hell from that point on. Search Engine Watch has been rudderless and the ClickZ shows reduced to fulfilling contractual obligations. The granddaddy of search conferences is dead and its media publication is likely not far behind.

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Webcology #402 – The Four Daily Habits of Successful SEOs

The Four Daily Habits of Successful SEOs

Air Date: August 11, 2016


Dave Davies and I discuss our own SEO work habits following an article in Search Engine Land by John E. Lincoln titled The 4 daily habits of the most successful SEOs. Here are John’s four essential habits, with some of our ideas added on.

  1. Study (the news like crazy). I generally spend the first hour or so every morning reading industry news over coffee. There are several publications in the SEO/SEM space. John mentions a number in his piece. He didn’t mention a few I’d recommend like The SEMPost, Search Engine Journal, WebProNews and TechCrunch.
  2. Review what’s working with analytics and ranking tools. That’s generally good advice. Before working on anything, get a sense of where things stand now or if you suddenly need to reprioritize your day.
  3. Act, don’t just talk. That basically says it I guess. SEOs solve problems.
  4. Improve your skills and sites. Real SEOs get their hands dirty deep in code, css, and script. Knowing how to strip down and rebuild a site is critical to knowing how to make that site work better.

We also talked over a whollop of Google stuff but lead the second segment with the news that AOL and Arianna are parting ways:

  • Arianna Huffington stepped down from HuffPost. Huffington said the new health and wellness company she is launching, Thrive Global, demands her full-time attention. Thrive will start sometime in November.
  • Links still Crucial, as explained by Jason deMers in Search Engine Land
  • Google Brain team taking questions in a massive AMA at Reddit (during our live air-time, Thursdays 2pmET)
  • Google Ranking Factors 2016 edition
    – Content & Links Are the Two Most Important Ranking Signals. RankBrain – Third Most Important Factor.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR) is Not a Ranking Factor
  • Google Confirms 301, 302, 3xx redirects Do Not Lose PageRank Value
  • Google Updates Search Quality Guidelines

Webcology #401 – Google Giveth and Google Taketh Away?

Google Giveth and Google Taketh Away?

Air date: August 4, 2016


It was a busy week in search, at least as related to Google. We had, in no particular order:

In other news, Instagram introduced a new killer feature that copies Snapchat and might be extremely detrimental to Snapchat’s health.

Catch this Webcology episode on Soundcloud

Webcology #400 – Machine Learning and Trying to Predict Google Rankings

Machine Learning and Trying to Predict Google Rankings

Air date: July 21, 2016



Jim Hedger and Dave Davies speak with JR Oakes, Director of Strategy for Consultwebs, an agency that specializes in online marketing for law firms throughout the United States and internationally. JR wrote a piece in Search Engine Land on machine learning, “An experiment in trying to predict Google Rankings“.


Listen to Webcology on Soundcloud

Webcology #399 – WME Training founder David Ogletree

WME Training founder David Ogletree on AdWords, Pay per Click, and SEO

Air date: July 14, 2016

News round-up:


David Ogletree

David Ogletree, founder of Web Marketing Experts Training

David Ogletree is a Google and Bing-certified Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising analyst, consultant, and trainer. With over 13 years of experience in the search engine marketing (SEM) industry, Dave brings an extensive knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO), PPC, and computer training to his unique online course offerings. In addition to teaching and developing course work and other programs, Dave continues to work as a high-level consultant for various businesses and organizations, small to large, throughout the United States and beyond. You can find out more about Dave’s consulting work and the various projects he takes on by going to our consulting page. (bio from

Dave Davies and I spoke with David Ogletree about WME Training, the state of AdWords and PPC marketing, and his opinions on SEO in 2016. David has a long and respected history in the search marketing industry. His insights on paid search marketing are invaluable to PPC practitioners and advertisers.



Webcology #398 – Is SEO as Dirty as Ever?

Is SEO as Dirty as it’s Ever Been?

Air date: July 7, 2016


As a technical practice and marketing channel, Search Engine Optimization has built credibility over the years but spammers, poorly trained SEOs, and black-hat practitioners continue give it a bad name.

Jim Hedger and Dave Davies discuss a recent Search Engine Land article by  who wrote, “As much as the SEO industry wants to grow up and shed the shady reputation it had in the past, it seems many don’t want to change and still cast a shadow over the industry. For every company doing things right, it seems there are many more who have not updated their practices or still want to take shortcuts.”

It’s a good article and, for a week where little happened in search, a fun topic for the show.

Stox, who is an SEO Specialist for IBM and an organizer for the Raleigh SEO Meetup, notes mistakes and outdated practices but he also writes about

  • Shady sales tactics that misrepresent SEO or abilities
  • Absurd contracts that lock clients into bad services
  • Proprietary CMS systems that trap clients to a platform
  • Withholding log-ins and passwords
  • Building bad links
    • private blog networks, paid links and spam
    • link networks
  • Removing links
  • Noindex tags
  • Multiple websites on different domains
  • Bad canonicals
  • Reusing or recycling content creates duplicate content
  • Reviews
  • Rollbacks
  • Lawsuits
  • No conversion tracking
  • 301’ing a penalized site


Webcology #397 – Google Keyword Planner Restricted

Google Keyword Planner Restricted

Air date: June 30, 2016

Google Keyword Planner Restricted to AdWords usersThe big news this week was big changes to Google’s Keyword Planner this week as Google restricts access to those with AdWords accounts as reports say  Google has turned off access to those that use the tool without being an active advertiser with a currently active campaign.





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Webcology #396 – Larry Kim on Demographic Data

Gaining Demographic Data In Relation to Your Facebook and Email Lists, an Interview with WordStream founder Larry Kim

Air date: June 23, 2016

larrykim-300xLarry Kim founded WordStream in 2007. He bootstrapped the company by providing internet consulting services while funding/managing a team of engineers and marketers to develop and sell software for search engine marketing automation. (bio snippet from

WordStream founder and current CTO, Larry Kim, dropped by Webcology for a wide ranging interview on statistics, demographics, analytics and web marketing. Kim is a long term web marketer with incredible insights on how to extract consumer data from social media applications like Facebook and LinkedIn, and how to use that information to radically increase conversions in any given campaign. Dave Davies ran into Larry after his Conversion Conference 2016 presentation,  “4 Ridiculously Awesome Ways That Search & Social Ads Magnify CRO by 3-5x”. Larry began his presentation with noting, “… small changes usually result in small changes.  Sometimes you need to make bold decisions to get significant results”.

He further notes the importance of knowing what a conversion is.  A lead that doesn’t convert actually costs money so if a change drives unqualified leads it’s not a good change. The interview lasts about thirty five minutes and was a truly interesting and fun conversation.


Webcology #395 – Why Would Microsoft Buy LinkedIn?

Why Would Microsoft Buy LinkedIn?

Air date: June 16, 2016

Microsoft buys LinkedInA slow tech week made interesting by a big buy. Earlier this week, Microsoft dropped a cool $26.6Billion on the business focused social network so Webcology opened with the simple question,

  • Why Would Microsoft Buy LinkedIn?

We followed with stories on:

  • Google search analytics report adds the ability to compare queries.
  • Google  just made a key AI investment in Europe, tax investigations be damned.
  • Super polite grandma’s Google search gets results — and then some. Her courteous search request has gone viral — it even made Google smile.
  • Increased Increased Crawl Rate Not Sign of Google Panda or Algorithmic Issue Being Lifted.
  • Vanity Keyword TLD Domain Names Do Not Get Ranking Boost


Webcology #381 – Google like its 2011 – WordPress Instant Articles

Google Removes PageRank from Toolbar, Facebook Instant Articles Plug-in, AMP, and more

Air Date: March 10, 2016

New WordPress Plugin to create Facebook Instant Articles as Facebook announced that Instant Articles will be available to all publishers on April 12, 2016. To increase the number of publishers getting on board with Instant Articles, they have announced their own WordPress plugin to make articles Instant Articles friendly.

fb-instant-articlesInstant Articles is similar to AMP in that it creates an extremely mobile friendly version of a page or article that loads up to 10 times faster. Like the AMP plugin, the Instant Articles plugin will make articles that load faster, right within Facebook, rather than the publisher site.

This plugin makes it incredibly easy for publishers to come on board with Instant Articles, if they wish to use it. While there is full documentation, for those without a coding background, the plugin is an easy solution.

Plus Jim Hedger and Dave Davies discuss a query posed to fellow SEO Alan Bleiweiss that asks,

“Is there a way to allow Google to index our entire site, and have it show in organic results, EXCEPT for a specific geographic location? The exclusion is not content specific. I’d like the option to block a site from showing up in a certain metro area (say Phoenix) or even state (say Arizona).”


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