SEO Roundtable Q and A Session – Brisbane SEO Meetup (January 2012)

The Brisbane SEO Meetup group kicked off 2012 with “roundtable” Question and Answer Session – which gave attendees the opportunity to raise any SEO related questions they wished, and have them discussed amongst the group.

Because we had nearly 30 Attendees, we split into three separate groups and discussed questions which had been pre-submitted by members (as a part of the RSVP process).  SEO, being what it is, there is rarely a definitive “correct” answer to many of these questions, so a round of lively (and sometimes heated) debate and discussion ensued.

I have outlined below my own responses to a selection of the questions discussed.  Whether you agree or disagree with my views, I’d love your feedback, so please feel free to add a comment.  (note: we only publish some of the Q and As here – if you’d like more, then maybe you had better come along to our next meetup).

Q. Because a key part of great SEO is great content – what is the best way to find the perfect balance between inbuilt SEO and great content (i.e. time spent on each).

Balance is the key to this question, because the optimisation strategies used will vary depending on the niche, the competition, and the keywords being targeted.  The strategies used should also change depending on the market, the
“stage” the business is at and what competitors are doing.  Here is a quick outline for what I believe helps get a good balance :

  1. Set in place Analytics (so you can start to monitor and measure)
  2. Undertake a Keyword Analysis (to determine which keywords are likely to be the best ones to optimise for)
  3. Ensure that SEO Fundamentals are in place (i.e. the site is search engine friendly and is structurally sound – from an SEO perspective)
  4. Generate Quality, Unique, Keyword Rich, USEFUL content
  5. Undertake Link Building
  6. Review Analytics
  7. Determine optimisation priorities and strategies and implement
  8. Repeat steps 4-7

Q. I am new to SEO techniques and am struggling to create an efficient list of meta keywords for my online business and for my small business in eBay.  How can I promote SEO for my online business?

Understanding Keywords is critical to good SEO – after all it is these keywords that people use in search to (hopefully) find your products and services. Any SEO campaign should start with a Keyword Analysis (see the Keyword Analysis Tools section of  Our 30 Favourite SEO Tools post).  A Keyword Analysis needs to try and identify the keyword phrases that are most likely to generate sales/enquiries, and typically you would start with high volume keywords, then once you have some data (about which keywords result in conversions) this should be fine tuned for high converting keyword phrases.

I’m glad that you brought up your eBay store. Many people might consider that there is no point SEOing an eBay store – I disagree.  Although eBay imposes lots of constraints over the structure/layout of your eBay store, and you are limited as to what On page SEO tweaks you can do – understanding which keywords to use in your product titles and descriptions, and Off Page strategies such as link building, can both give you an edge over your eBay competitors.

Q. What tools can we use to find out if our SEO efforts are working

One of the fabulous things about SEO is that because of all the stats and metrics available, it is usually possible to monitor and measure the effectiveness of SEO activities.  Initially you may consider Rank Monitoring Tools, or Analytics to look for traffic volumes, however, you need to consider what you are actually trying to achieve.

Although increased rankings and traffic are often on of the outcomes of effective SEO, the ultimate aim in most cases is higher conversion rates – i.e. increased sales or more enquiries.  So the most important measurement is likely to be conversion rates.  Google Analytics, properly configured to track goals and conversions is probably the most useful tool there is for tracking the effectiveness of SEO.

Q. How to setup Google Places properly?

Google Places is relatively easy to setup – but it is also very easy to setup badly.  Also (like many things Google and most things SEO for that matter) the options, features and guidelines seem to change fairly regularly, so what may have been effective several months ago may now no longer apply.  I’d suggest talking to an SEO Pro who specialises in Local SEO.

Q. What impact do you think Social will have on SEO moving forward into 2012?

Google’s (and every other search engines) “job” is  to provide the best possible results for any given search query so they use whatever factors they can to help optimise their search results.  They would be mad to ignore social signals, and Social media is undoubtedly already having some impact on rankings and search results.

Social should not be ignored as an SEO strategy, but can take a lot of time and effort to do properly, so unless your niche has strong links to Social Media (i.e. that’s where your target market hang out), I think that SEO effort is better spent on more traditional strategies.

Q. Is backlinking the ultimate technique for maximum SEO?

Whilst backlinking is very important – for me, the “ultimate” SEO technique has to be based around content.  If you have thousands of links pointing to crap – what is the point?  Whereas if you have some amazing content (that is interesting, entertaining, educational, controversial, funny or just plain useful) you are likely to get the thousands of links anyway.

Q. As a newbie, what is the most user friendly SEO software compared to what is the most used in the industry?

From a development perspective I think that WordPress wins hands down for Search Engine Friendliness (which is one of the reasons why 24% of new US sites use it).  If you have not heard of WordPress – go do some research, or get yourself some WordPress training or Consulting.

If you are looking for SEO Tools – I suggest that you review Our 30 Favourite SEO Tools post).


Below are some of the other questions raised and discussed at the January Brisbane SEO Meetup, so if you’d like these (or any other SEO question) answered – maybe you should come along to the next Brisbane SEO meetup.

  • Q. How can you improve your domain authority?
  • Q. For better Ranking, Traffic & Conversions – out of 100 how what % do you think is On Page, how much is Off Page and how much is Social Media?
  • Q. How can we get on (or as close as possible to page 1) on Google/Bing for specific keywords
  • Q. Do you have a general online marketing strategy that you can use for any project?
  • Q. What influence does Socvial media signals have on SEO?
  • Q.What pricing structure do SEOs commonly use?

SEO Roundtable Question and Answer Session – Brisbane SEO Meetup (October)

Last nights SEO Q and A session was the first one we have tried at the new venue and seemed to be very well received.  We split into three groups to discuss the questions that had been submitted by members as a part of the RSVP Process.
It was much easier (and more productive) to deal with questions in a small group, and by carefully interspersing SEO Pros, with Newbies and Intermediate SEOs we seemed to get a very good mix of skills, experience,  and perspectives.  In 40 minutes we managed to cover many (but probably not all) of the questions – before combining into the full group to review and discuss the “highlights”.

Below is a Guest Post – provided by Jon (from Metricks – a Brisbane web analytics and conversion consultancy)  with his summary of some of the questions answered in one of the groups (along with a few additional comments of my own).  I also hope to create another post soon with some answers to some of the other questions raised.

I attended my first SEO meetup since February last night – much has changed. A new venue, our own room, great food and the ability to actually hear each other J met some great people and Andy ran it like clockwork.

 Jon’s SEO Q and A Summary :

Tonights session was a Q and A on anything related to SEO. We were in 3 groups, our group managed to get through 6 of the 17 questions submitted before the session.

Q1 After creating a site how much admin overhead should be dedicated to on page SEO? Should this be an afterthought or built as part of the site development process?

The short answer is definitely not an afterthought. SEO is an intrinsic part of the build process, and not only that, it needs to be addresses in the planning stage in terms of:

  • The niche being targeted (what language do people use in the niche? How do they refer to your product?)
  • The business name – decision between a ‘cool’ name and one related to the topic/location/type of industry. The latter is much better for use as a domain name and on a site as well as for keywords

As part of the build SEO is one factor that should be taken into account; it can influence how you categorise and build out the IA and informs the content on the site. Also make sure all onsite factors that help SEO are taken care of – title tags, description, internal linking, etc.

Once a site is launched SEO remains important – optimizing content, getting backlinks.

Basically any holistic approach to online has to include SEO for success.

Q2a best sources of paid or free SEO information?

Andy recommended Searchengineland and SEOMozSEObook, High rankings and SEO by the Sea were also mentioned, then we had a long discussion on the pros and cons of Warrior forum which boiled down to use the forums but be careful in WSO territory; only buy what you have an immediate need for as there is a lot of recycled and downright out of date information on there.

2b a related question – Is SEOMoz pro membership worth it?

Andy had been a member for a couple of years, but found he was no longer using it enough to justify the ongoing membership. Also the tools US focused and aren’t always so helpful for Australian market. Then we got onto a tools discussion, always check what you have first and make processes around standard tasks so you don’t get halfway into manually doing a job when you have an excellent tool that can do it automatically. Also a $300 product isn’t necessarily better than a $30 product, use due diligence, research to ensure it will work for what you are trying to do.

(Andy says – with any online tool, make sure that research and understand where the data comes from and how it is used.  Try the tools agains7t a site that you know/control and see if the stats that they come up with are accurate before putting too much trust in them)

2c SEO & Social – what are the implications and what to do?

Given Googles changes this year, Social is definitely some kind of factor and must be influential. If the market you are targeting is using Social Media, definitely get on there to, if not, maybe you don’t need to.

2d Related to previous question, should we be using author rank?

Basically, yes,
(Andy says… this is another “factor” that Google (and other search engines) may use to influence rankings. It has regained popularity recently because Google made some announcements about it in July this year, and Google+ has highlighted support)
See Matt Cutts videos on the subject :


Q3 How much should I pay for an SEO consultant?

How long is a piece of string? Depends on requirements, most of us like to educate clients also and demonstrate results so client gets value on top of better rankings.

(Andy Says – when hiring am SEO consultant, make sure you know how much they charge and whether it is an hourly rate or a monthly retainer.  Make sure you know what you are getting, and how “success” is to be measured)

Q4 What should you or your clients be doing to improve mobile traffic?

If your market is based on service/location/immediacy should definitely consider mobile, also focus on what content is of most importance to a mobile user. Use analytics to see your overall mobile traffic and drill down to identify particular pages getting mobile traffic eg services offering emergency utilities plumber, electrician etc should have a number right in your face.


Once we’d discussed our answers each group discussed their answers with the whole group. A great session with lots of good information shared, I’ll definitely be back for the next one.

Oh and goodbye PageRank

(Andy says…It was highlighted that PageRank had apparently disappeared on 6/10/2011.  However it appears that Google has simply changed the Lookup URL – causing many third party tools to fail – it is still available via the Toolbar – see: for more info)