WriterAccess Webinar Archive

Three Kings of SEO

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 – 6:00 PM ET

Let's face it, you need access to relevant data to get the ROI you demand from your content and SEO investment. Search Engine Listing Positions. Search Volume. Cost Per Click. And More. But getting the data you need can be challenging. Quality data may vary from source to source. Authority does not often align with accuracy.

That's why the three kings of SEO are assembling for a special fireside chat, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh—just in time for your New Year's planning!

Founders Rand Fishkin (SEOMOZ), Chase Granberry (AuthorityLabs), and Mike Roberts (Spyfu) will join host Byron White (ideaLaunch) for this special holiday webinar. You'll listen to these industry know-it-alls dive into the hot SEO topics of 2012 and surface with the wisdom you need for 2013.

In this fireside chat, you'll hear from Rand, Mike and Chase on the following topics:

  • The latest kerfuffle caused by the Google API Team
  • The state of rank tracking and where it is going
  • The importance of neutral, scraped data and why it's here for good
  • Alternatives for SEO and content performance measurement
  • Thoughts on the good, the bad and the ugly for SEO in 2012
  • Hints on what's next with SEO technology and methodology

Slidedeck Download

The slidedeck from this webinar is available for download.

Video Transcription

Byron: We'll be begiining this webinar in just a couple of minutes everyone, we're just watiting for Rand to chime in. My name is Byron White, thanks everyone for being here. Mike, Chase, say hello.

Chase: How's it going?

Mike: Hey, Ron.

Byron: So, we got some people pouring into the webinar right now. We'll just wait another couple minutes before we begin. Without further adue, I'm just going to click a couple of buttons here and go back to our screen. Let me see. Here we go. Thanks. We'll come back to you Mike. We'll entertain the crowd.

Mike: Sounds like a plan.

Byron: One second. How'd we do on our headshot?

Mike: Oh dude. I didn't see the sheep part. When you sent that to me earlier, I was like it was just the three of us.

Bryon: We added the sheep for a touch of humor.

Mike: That is pretty funny dude. The first part, I thought it was pretty funny and also sort of creepy, and now, the sheep, pretty awesome.

Bryon: There's more good humor where that came from. Let me just go check my email real quick and see what's up with him.

Mike: Yeah, I know that we were just messaging back and forth with his assistant and he's in an active webinar or some other broadcast right now and so they were a little bit concerned about the overlap, so we may end up starting in a couple minutes. They thought they may be a couple minutes late because of our awesome Google hangout insdie of a good webinar thing we got going.

Chase: I think this thing is actually streaming on in my screen in like five different windows.

Mike: This is high-tech man, I'm telling you. I came up with this idea, I was like, what are we going to have as a background because it's just going to be the four of us talking and how are we going to pull off you know. Iknow I don't want to have just a white background or a set of slides because it's really not about the presentation.

Chase: And if everyone can see this, we also have it on one of twelve screens in the background over here.

Mike: They can't see that right now Chase. We're not sharing my screen.

Bryon: We have 47 hardrives at work pumping out video all over the United States. We could just take Google down I think, we've got so much horsepower behind us.

Mike: We also have a producer and a video editor. We're like wired for production here.

Byron: Maybe while we're waiting for a couple more minutes we could chime in with a few questions that we had not scheduled to even talk about today. Do you guys want to talk a little bit about your companies while we're waiting for Rand to come in and what's going on, the latest and greatest?

Mike: Sure, go ahead. Chase, why don't you start.

Chase: So Authority Labs, basically, we are a web based rank checker. We go out and find out where people rank on Google, Yahoo and Bing for however many keywords. They are interest in Bing-On and we do it every day and give them some nice tools to chart and graph and group and segment. Then report on that to clients and or if their in-house to their bosses or CEOs or CMOs or whatever. We also have an API that lets people do this stuff at scale if they really want access to the data and really want to process a lot of it. That' the gist of what Authority Labs is right now and we have some cool stuff on the horizon, but I'll let Mike talk about Spyfu a little bit.

Mike: Sure, I mean I think a lot of the customers on the webinar here are Spyfu customers. We have a rank checking service. We are here to talk about the Raven's tool thing, and a lot of people have been coming to us lately saying "Hey, do you have any rank checking". I would like to just say that Chase, at Authority Labs, these guys specialize in rank checking. They do the daily rank checking and we have sort of a light version of actual rank checking. We do Google, Yahoo and Bing. On the PBC on the side, but it's not the focus of our SEO offering. We have recon files that are design to sort of get to the dollar value of the opportunity and a lot of customers that are probably Chase's customers and Raven Tool customers use recon files to help themself and their services. We try to capture the dollar value, especially at the point of the pre-sales and on the retention side. So I think that there's complimentary things going on.

Bryon: And Chase, chime me in a little bit. You're sort of a gentle giant as far as your marketing is concerned and an authority certainly in the industry, no pun intended on your name but, what kind of client base do you have Chase? Could you tell the audience a little bit about that?

Chase: It really varies. We serve small businesses. You know, you can sign up for Authority Labs for anywhere from $49 to $99 to $450 a month, straight through the site, but we have a number of Fortune 500 clients that use our data, use our interface to track anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 keywords. Our interface scales pretty well when you really want to pull insights out of data on 50 to 100,000 keywords and a lot of that comes from the tagging and grouping and segmenting ability. So it really varies, and we also, through an API have a lot of other software companies. We have kind of in-house people that have developed tools using our API that just use this data in-house for other clients or bosses, but then we also have other software companies that have wanted to integrate ranking data into their software that will use our API to do that at scale. Raven was one of those customers and it's one of the reasons we're lucky enough to have them send their customers to us for a web base kind of version of rank checking. That was a really great partnership and we are sad to see that end, but we kind of understand their decision on that for various reasons and I'm sure we'll get into that in this webinar, but yeah. I mean it's one of the examples of kind of the other software companies that use our data.

Mike: Got it. Just an update. I just got an email from Rand and basically, just working to get him in on the hangout here. There's maybe some issue. I'm actually not sure why he's not able to join. Hopefully, he can join. I'm basically sending him multiple invites. I'll hop offline and you guys can keep talking. I'll see if I can get him in here.

Chase: Be sure that he got the inivitations from Centrics to go to the webinar.

Mike: You got it. I'll just hop off here and then I'll call and make sure that I get it going.

Byron: So Cahse, let's just go ahead and chime in hear on your opinions on the latest on your reaction with what has happened to Raven Tools. They were a big customer of yours I'm sure. A painful post that their CEO left. What was your feeling on that when that happened.

Chase: It was a little confusing at first. Ultimately, it's one more. When you deal with anything Google, just kind of another year of drama around certain things. They've been very confusing in terms of the messaging and actions from them around ranking data specifically. At first, it was you should just look at traffic and conversion and then a year or two or however many it was, they started giving people ranking data through the webmaster tools. How accurate that is, I don't know. But the fact that they took the time to develop that and offer that within Google webmaster tools, sends a very conflicting message to the industry and now it's in Google Analytics. And now, what's the whole AdWords API thing. I'm not sure that people are actually clear on what exactly happened with that. Socially, Raven and other people in the industry who are using the Google AdWords API. If you're using Google AdWords API, you get a yearly audit from them and if you're not complying in certain ways with their terms of service, then they have the right to revolk your API key. In their terms of service now, you are not allowed to offer straight bid or getting it from a third party. Basically, they do not want you to provide ranking data or any type of straight Google data along side the data you get from the AdWord API. So essentially, everyone that was using the Google AdWords API, Google went to them and said, "You're using scrape data, you're going to have to pick. Do you want to continue to offer ranking data or do you want to continue to offer the features that you are currently offering via the AdWords API and in this case, Raven chose the AdWords API.

Rand: Hey it's Rand.

Chase: Ah, there we go.

Rand: I'm so sorry you guys.

Bryon: No problem. I'm sure you haven't lost any fans Rand.

Rand: I feel terrible. My apologies. It just took some time getting the hardware set up here.

Byron: No problem. Glad you could join us. It's a pleasure. Chase you were doing a really good job of summarizing things here. Do you want to finish up that summary?

Chase: Yeah, basically, Google gave everybody that was offering whatever tools they were offering either the AdWords API and ranking data or scrape data from Google, basicually, they gave those people an ultimatum: you need to pick one. If you pick ranking data, we're going to pull your API key. That was essentially it and Raven chose to continue using the AdWords API. From an overall move for them to try and diversify some of their offerings for the long term, so I think that's where they were trying to go. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, just in the act of doing it or Google is not really trying to crack down, they are just saying. This is one way for them to just kind of leverage some of things that they're doing and control the industry and control relationships a little bit more, and it is what it is. It's data that people want and it's data that people need, so they're going to get it somehow.

Rand: It's going good. Chase, great job sort of giving a background introduction to that. I agree, I think that it's Raven's choice. The only thing I might add to that is I think that some of the messaging that you mentioned coming from Raven would be messaging that I don't know I would have taken the same take-aways that they did, and I obviously am not in their offices, didn't get on the phone with the people from AdWords or from Google that they might have spoken to, but it definitely seemed like they took away a much stronger message than what we did or what any of the others did.

Chase: In terms of their message to them from Google or in general?

Rand: Yeah, their message back to the rest of the industry is sort of saying, "Hey, we think that everyone is going to have to choose a side, and that Google is going to crack down in different ways with different sorts of things. So you know, obviously, I sort of look at the other big players in the space. Google adventures is an investor and they have tracking data, and their AdWords shut off, but they were sort of like, "Hey, that's not as important. Let's keep rankings data." Conductor, Covario, Bright Edge, all the big enterprise ones. Matt cuts himself as in investor in Ginsemetrix and they're still doing rank tracking. It doesn't seem quite as precipitous as what's being suggested.

Mike: Let me just throw in exactly what we're actually hearing. Specifically from John, Raven John, John Henshaw at Raven Tools. We haven't actually gone into that yet. Truck drivers are probably going to be out of business in 6 to 12 months because of that model and quote, and we really do believe that before the end of 2013 you're going to have to pick a side. You're either going to be in compliance and innovate your way out of this or you're going to be defiant and go your own way. That to me strikes me as dooms day stuff.

Rand: Like I said, John may have been on the phone with different folks from Google. He may have heard something different from what the rest of us heard, but I been in touch with CEOs from those other companies, not all of them, but some of those other companies. They feel pretty good that this is not something where Google is not going to be broad in the attack but rather that this was a targed thing just by the AdWords, TOS enforcement team. I have a suspicion. My personal guess is AdWords' API folks went to the Google hardware team and basically said, "Hey, we need a lot more hardware. We want to ramp up a lot of the things that we are doing, we want to provide a lot more data with API." and the Google hardware team basically said, "Hey, we've got a ton of people who needs lots and lots of hardware and lots of disk cycles and bandwith and all this stuff from us, you guys are going to have to take some of it from your existing bandwith." Because they were bandwith constrained, they went back to their team, sat down in a meeting. This is all speculation on my part okay? So, total opinion. Just a guess, based on what I know about Google. They sat down as a team and said, "Hey, why don't we go through and just be really picky about the TOS violations, cut off everyone who is not super TOS compliant so that we can get some more bandwith back to do some of the cool things we want to do in the next 6 months, 12 months. That way we won't have to ask hardware for as much of their stuff, and I think that's what happened. How the spot got cut off, we got cut off, Raven Tools obviously got cut off, WordStream, a bunch of people.

Mike: That's an interesting perspective. From my perspective, and sort of on the Edwards site, ee have a lot of Edwards clients and I know personally a lot of the guys that are in management, and for me, this has always, sort of been the case. I've never been under the illusion that I could start a good management company. It seems to me that there's two cultures inside of Google. There's pretty much the one that we know and love, which is pretty much research and development driven company, lots of engineering, lots of gumpy evil stuff and then on the other side, it's the money people. There's like this whole AdWords team and they're just kind of the business guys. And the guy that houses the whole unit is like, "Well, we're going to force contracts." That's what business do and I think that they actually always done this with the average API. They've always been fairly like, you're going to use it the way we want you to use it and that's when we get that impression. I mean I'm talking to guys that are matching hundreds of millions of dollars in AdWords and they get that in exchange for a random contact. At Google, it is oh you are in violation, we're going to shut off your entire account. This is just how they operate on that side. When Raven started doing good management and all these companies doing good management, pretty much, Google's not going to let you do good management, in particular, specifically the management, but probably, they're going to apply their AdWords very strickly and in my opinion, they always have. But because Raven is like an SEO tool, everyone thinks that they're shutting down scraping, but I don't see that. This is an API thing.

Rand: You guys have probably seen the same thing that we saw. Which was that about between 18 and 24 months ago the ability to get rankings data directly from Google became somewhat easier. It was like they blocked less IPs, they banned less of them, they weren't as aggressive.

Chase: My feeling on that. Honestly, I really don't think they're trying that hard. For whatever reason, I think they like the fact that people scrape them, I think it improves their numbers in certain ways, it keeps their data in front of more people easier. Google's a really smart company.

Rand: As long as we're all focusing on their rankings. We're not focused on how we're doing on Facebook or Bing or whatever other competitor X.

Chase: I think deep down, I think they want people to be able to get this info and this data. I think that they can't just make it as easy, just super easy to get. I think really for hardware purposes, they need their rate limit obviously. But they also at the same time, can't officially offer anything without a conflict of interest being there in terms of organics vs the organic side vs the paid side.

Rand: The referral strain is how they are doing it in a more official fashion. The problem is the keyword is not provided into all of that.

Chase: Then there's that. So again, more conflicting behavior and information from them really.

Rand: It's very complex. Absolutely. My broad prospective on the subject is: I feel for Raven Tools. I'm very empathetic to them. I think if I were in their business, maybe I would have made the same decision, sort of having all of the variables that they have. In the business that we're in today and giving what our customers want and those sort of things, we're not planning on making changes and we're looking for substitues for the AdWords data, not looking for substitues for the rankings data right now.

Mike: I agree with you. I'm actually extremely sympathetic. I had a bad feeling in my gut the entire day for them. It seems like that would be an easy decision to make and quite honestly I think that for them, it's probably a pretty smart decision. Certainly calculated, I do think that they may have been basing it on something. They should be talking about what John was saying again. I mean, you're saying, the writings on the wall say, "It was strange that AdWords was being used to remove something that was unrelated, and so we took that as a pretty good hint. All it takes is a copy and paste of the terms and service to enforce that across the board, and that's what's going to happen very soon, so it's an educated guess. Which sucks because you're making a decision about your business that you built over years that you're kind of using hints and guesses, and the thing is that actually happens to even bigger companies." I sort of have a first hand account of the people making these calls. You guys had to make that choice?

Rand: Yes, absolutely.

Mike: What did that letter look like? Wasn't it pretty much like, it wasn't a personal letter. If you get like an ad shut down on AdWords?

Rand: No, it's just an automated message. I think it's the same that everybody got. I compared ours. It was just an automated message. In the past, we had a specific outreach where some individual person at Google on the search quality team has asked, "Hey, can you stop doing this?" "Hey, we don't like this." And we're like, "Yeah we can do that, sure." I think that's a very different type of conversation, that's not how this one went down.

Chase: There's a startup I know, they're fairly new. I'm completely blanking on their name right now, but they were doing some stuff with the AdWord API that was completly legit and they got shut off from it, and it turned out, I got an email from them asking kind of if I had seen anything or heard anything or whatever and I was like yeah, I heard some people were getting some of these same deals and theirs was literally completely on accident, and he was like, "Yeah it was a mistake from the AdWords team and they completly shut off their API access." And they didn't have it for three weeks before it got turned back on. I thought that was kind of shocking you know, their business is based on the AdWords API and it was shut off for three weeks before it got shut back on again.

Mike: We had our AdWords turned off probably three or four times and then it was always sorry about that, and sorry about that,and then they turn it back on. I don't think they are going to turn it back on this time, but that's not uncommon.

Rand: Yeah, I was reading on the Raven blog about the new AdWords API that just came out. It's sort of actually an up-beat email because or up-beat blog post because they had their AdWords APi shut off or something or they didn't have this functionality and they brought it back up. But the thing is, is that the AdWords API is sort of a side note.. By the way, the new AdWords API provides data for exact keywords only, not phrase. It's a new API change across the board and applies to any developer.

Mike: You know you almost expect that those things would be consistent. It's like, you sign up for the API and you're like, well, now I'm going to be able to base my business on this, but it's really not good. It hasn't been the case that the API data is really consistent or better than anything else really ever as far as I can tell.

Byron: I just wanted to chime in. I almost want to get out of your way, but I just want to introduce the attendees actually who are pouring in with some questions, and we're going to get to that later. But in the interest of just going through, first of all, maybe just a quick, fast introduction to who I am and why everyone's here and more importantly, just a little bit of research that I want everyone to understand that went in to the gathering of this group. It was really pretty remarkable. Mike came to me a little while ago and said hey, this is a hot topic. We should jump on this and I've done joint webinars with Mike for many years now actually, and it's been great to chime in and talk about the hot topics, but I also reached out to some of the companies that you can see here and most every CEO that I reached out to of all of these companies that are focused on surf tracking reached back out to me and you can actually take a look at the IdeaLaunch blog where I've tried to throw out some questions to all of them that I thought would be interesting that we've looked at together as a group here internally and got some really good answers and what I think everyone should understand is the comradery around this particular topic and almost protecting what's happening with the right to scrape Google for positions is really overwhelming and really don't think this community will stand for that data to not be available, nor do I think Google will ever shut that down. It's impossible to imagine that. As we frame this, I think that everybody by now understands the situation, but they're are a couple people from content marketing people from my group, a couple hundred on this webinar and you should certainly hear the situation is. You know surf tracking is a critical element basically to search engine optimization. The complexity of course is scraping the search engines. Does is violate any terms and conditions? That's question number one. Question number two: does it tarnish any data? When we're scraping Google for rental car in Boston, does that go into any search volume and are we tarnishing the very data that we are trying to get by feeding in that scrape. So that's the complexity that we all have to think about. And of course there is a divide: compliance vs scraping. Hence the fireside chat. So we talked about John Henshaw's thoughts last week. Mike read most of these quotes. As Mike liked to frame all of this, is the sky falling? You guys want to chime in their? Is the sky falling? Are we going to see ramifications? Are we going to see other sir providers, trackers get out of this business now? What's your take on that?

Rand: This is Rand. I wouldn't be totally shocked to see a few other people potentially leave the field. At the same time, I think we have a list that we maintain internally at MOZ that our product team looks at people offering rank tracking, data, and there's over 200 companies on that list right now. There's a good 100 Fortune 1000 companies who do it in-house themselves, built their own trackers. Most of them are pretty quiet about that but you can imagine some of them are obvious ones would be some of the consumer basing ones that are into travel, in the ecommerace industry. Like the Giants, they have their own software to track this stuff, I don't think they are turning it off.

Chase: Man, you're breaking up. Can you hear us? He's breaking up for you right Byron?

Byron: Yes, I think he's not only breaking up, he's broke.

Chase: Well, I'll just kind of continue with that. Honestly, the software companies that do this, I think if you look at whatever ones are on Rand's spreadsheet. If you look at everything worldwide, we're actually a small percentage of all of that happens. They get automated quiries from everywhere all the time.

Mike: I mean the state of the indsutry, there's a lot of companies that are incorporated like off-shore in third-world countries, and contries that are sort of outside of Google's legal reach. Honestly, it's straight up rare for a company like Spyfu, we're the only company that is based in the U.S. Keyword Spy is based in Singapore/an off-shore shell, SEMS is Russia. Legally, it's kind of tough to shut that down. You're not going to probably get rid of surf tracking really ever because people need to know this information, and they'll get whatever way they have to, even if they go back to back in the day. You know, you just download something off of download.com, run it on your own machine, and you get the data that you wanted, which is not as powerful as the tools that we have available now, but it certainly accomplishes the basic tasks that people need to report to their clients on surf ranking. There's kind of no way that it's going to go away. I just don't see it in Google's legal best interest to start basically pursing. Google does a lot of access. It accesses a lot of websites. If they build a legal presidence around building out, I don't think that's in their best interest strategically for search engines in generally. I actually think they come down on the opposite side of that in pretty much every legal case that they get into. Which is good. I think Google is a good company. I actually like them and admire them and I don't think that they're doing evil things here. I actually think that they're just being in business quite honestly and trying to protect the core business. All of their money comes from Google AdWords so you kind of expect them to be a little bit more litigious or contract-y around this certain set of data.

Chase: They don't want scraping to stop in general because that's all they do all day long.

Mike: No, Spyfu and AuthorityLabs and everybody who does this stuff ultimately drives revenue. If you can figure out which keywords your competitors are profitable on, ultimately, you spend more money on AdWords. If you make more money in your SEO, you're more likely to start testing that stuff in AdWords. I think that ultimately, we all feed into the value chain. That is the $30 billion enterprise Google AdWords.

Chase. I thought they were $40 billion now. I don't even know.

Mike: Yeah, saying it for a long time.

Bryon: Let's slide to another question. Why don't you think Google or Bing has provided surf tracking services. The image you're seeing on the screen is kind of interesting with WriterAccess as a API into Getty Images 9 million Getty Images that we're watching in January for two bucks a pop too, it's pretty interesting. If you do search in Getty Images for Google, check out the results from like the first couple pages you get. SEO, SEO, look at all the keyword phrases, SEO. Why isn't Google providing surf tracking service and having SEO providers pay for that?

Chase: I was thinking of it earlier. It's the same thing you get when you talk about newspapers, it's editorial content vs ads.

Mike: Totally agree.

Chase: On the web, paid content is a line that is much more grey, much more broad and it's much more difficult to distinguish on the web. The paid stuff vs the organic stuff anywhere you look., whether it's an ad somewhere, and that becomes even more difficult when you talk about Google, and I just think sometimes you see Google making moves or testing things and their doing some stuff to push the organic stuff down. I think it's a very fine line for them and officially offering really detailed data about how brands are exposed on the organic side of their search engine is just crossing the line for them, especially on the organic side and especially when you look at competitive data. If you look in webmaster tools, they're giving you data in where you rank, how many impressions you're getting for a certain query and you're average rank for those impressions, but they won't give you data on your competitors and it's a good reason for that. If they start giving people data more and more about stuff, it will be a slippery slope for them on the organic side. On the paid side, they can justify it all day long. They need people to spend money with them, they need advitiser to spend money with them. Making that as easy as possibe to do is in their best interest. On the organic side, they do everything they can to get webmaster to do stuff for them to make easy for them in terms of the crawling stuff, RDF data, you know, things like that. They're getting webmasters to help structure data so it's easier for webmasters to help structure data so it's easier for Google to interpret. They just don't want to give people those types of tools. They don't want people to have access to those kinds of tools to manipulate the organic side, so there's always going to be the Google organic vs, people are trying to optimize for that. If you're doing what you should be doing, you're trying to be the best on the web for whatever niche you're targeting. If you can do that and do it right, Google should want you to rank and they should rank you if that's legitimately who you are and what you're doing. But at the same time, you should be able to track those efforts right?

Byron: We know Google's hungry for dollars and they've got a lot of plans in their portfolio and vision but they know they're gettting the data from both of you and Rand if he's back on the call. Rand, are you back?

Rand: Yep. I think I'm here.

Byron: So they know that people are getting the data, why not just sell it? I still don't understand.

Rand: I will give my brief two cents, which is I think that Google evaluates lots of business units, and they look at ones that can please Wallstreet and their investors. They look at ones that can please their bottom line. Right now, they're probably most interested in the ones that can make the street happy because they have such a cash for it, dollar for dollar sake is just not of huge interest to them So I would guess that if I was sitting in Larry's office and I'm sort of analyzing this, I'd be like well, in terms of strategic, I see a lot of potential critisicm that could come to us from this because it's a little bit like the New York Times saying, hey we'll provide data on what all of our reporters are researching and which stories we think we might publish and won't and which ones we're putting on the front page and not, which is a little pushing it in the line in terms of editorial vs PR focus stuff. So I can understand not wanting to do it because of that criticism and I can also understand not wantng to do it because they might look and say "Alright, you know what? Maybe this maxes out at around $1 billion in revenue a year, maybe a tiny bit more, but it could give our competitors an advantage because it could give them a way into Googl'e services in an automated way. You know what, this just doesn't make strategic sense, compared to all the other places that we could be investing." If you're Google, there's a million places, there's probably 40 proposals on Larry's desk at any given quarter that are $10 billion plus businesses in 10 years. I don't know if selling surf tracking data is one of them. That's my two cents.

Byron: Mike, you wanna chime in on that?

Mike: I also don't think that it's in their interest. I've always taken the approach that I'd rather them not give API access to that data just because I think that it's in the advertiser's best interest to have a third party actually tracking that stuff. You kind of want to validate and not just trust that Google is telling you the truth and I actually think that's economically in their best interest. That third party validation, plus that Google doesn't know how we're getting it and doesn't give us specific access and doesn't seed us.

Rand: These slides are killing me.

Mike: What's that?

Rand: The slides are killing me.

Byron: Here's the question: What's going to happen wirh surf tracking in the next 12 months? What are your thoughts on that guys?

Rand: This is Rand. I would love to see Google get much more detailed about it's passing the referral string information so much higher percentage of quiries being sent out and they give lots of detail. I don't know if we're going to see that.

Chase: Well, they're pulling that away.

Rand: I know, I know. iOS 6 provides no referred data, doesn't even say it's from Google and makes the traffic looks like it's direct. You're just loosing it left and right, however, I would love to see that, I'd love to see Google get around that. I think they might try and fight Apple to get the referred data into the iOS 6 over the next 6 months. If it were just me answering this, I'd say probably not very different at all. Probably very similar to what it does today.

Chase: In the next 12 months no, absolutely not. There's a lot. Marketers are jumping onto the term "big data" now. But it's true. There is a lot more data to people to analize and look at what's going on. If you look at what some of the analytics companies have been doing, including Google Analytics, a lot of these analytics companies, they're extending the funnel so, your site doesn't begin and end at the conversion. And your relationship with the customer doesn't begin and end at the visit and then the conversion. It really does start even before the search. And so I think you're going to see a lot of people looking at much more of the funnel instead of just paid views, uniques and conversions. They're going into, who are these people after connecting the dots from the initial visit to the conversion to they are now a customer of ours. When do they come back, how often do they come back, how much do they purchase, how much did they purchase over two years, are they receiving our email newsletters, are they clicking on that email newsletter? These companies are focusing on what people are doing after these conversions and I think you see surf data where that puts them at is above that. It's right when they first search, when they first hear about you or at the very very top of the funnel. It's kind of in the middle and if you can really get understanding of really how your brand is being presented within that search vertical, you can understand why that traffic is actually behaving the way it is. Terms of the pages, terms of unique, terms of the of the search terms, terms of the actual conversions because that matters. How you're represented in that channel before they get to your site absolutely effects their likelyhood to buy something from you.

Rand: Couldn't agree more. It's essential data.

Chase: Yeah, and so, I think what you're going to see overall, as far as what marketers are looking at and what kind of data their looking at, I think Googles actually been feeding everybody, in terms of ranking data, they've been feeding everybody this bullshit around you need to look at traffic conversions, you need to look at conversions, rankings don't matter and I don't think anybody that was serious bought that. Now that you are starting to see a lot more data points come out around the site, not on the site, but around the site, Twitter and mentions on Twitter. How does that affect your traffic conversions and the likelyhood of somebody to actually convert from Twitter as a channel. It absolutely affects it and people are looking at that data and people are saying that, that data is valid and it's the exact same thing as looking at where you rank on Google for a certain search term. I think you're just going to get a lot more people looking at a lot more of the funnel that begins way before they even search for you and it ends way after they first convert with you, if it even necessarily ends at all. I think that that's really where things are going. Using all this data that we have now and all of these tools that we have now to get an understanding of the full life cycle of your potential customer to when your customer actually leaves you, if they ever do.

Rand: I think that's super smart. That's the future of marketing analytics and marketing big data.

Byron: Yeah, we got a lot of questions coming in. but I just want to have one quick follow-up to this question: What's going to happen with SERP. What's everyone's take on local vs universal? Sagayu, by the way, who I spent about three hours on the phone with yesterday from Keyword Search Ranking is betting the farm on local, so I just wanted your take on that and whether you see that as a major play movie forward.

Rand: I don't think it matters at all. It's not like I would go out and buy a local search company and try to integrate it with our stuff, that would be crazy. We're huge believers in local and the importance of local. The only interesting thing that I might add is that I think it will continue to be a different market than what's web focused and broad searched focused companies. The who and the what is different for local than it is for classic web search.

Mike: I agree with that. I think it's a different customer that's only focused on that local market and for those particular customers, it's actually a pretty easy desicion. It's like oh, I want to rank in Scotsdale dentist and that makes a lot of sense from that perspective. From the perspective in trying to rank across the board terms and knowing that you rank in number 9 in let's say Sacramento vs number 15 in Phoenix is basically focused on back to what we do to give you action and I'm not 100% sure what the action is because there could be a lot of different actions in that data.

Byron: I want to get to just a couple more questions and a lot of them are really important. Any quick dear Santa lists you would like to see more changes in the SEO industry in the next year or two?

Rand: More of us! Seriously, I think there needs to more dissemination of the knowledge that the expert level folks have in the SEO field and I would love to see that disseminated further and wider because I think it means that when that knowledge gets disseminated, there's less fear, there's no crap that you see like in the smashing magazine article about what an SEO is or isn't and how terrible they are. There's more of an understanding of more what the field's about and what experts do and what you should expect. There's less ability for some of the salesmen who make the rest of us look bad to hold something over on unsuspecting clients. I would love to see those things.

Byron: Nata had a good comment from Rank Ranger. A true competitor to Google. Do you think we will see that in the next few years?

Rand: Nope

Chase: No

Rand: I mean Bing's a pretty true competitor. I don't know what more you want than that. They're at least a 20% or something. They're at number two but that's it.

Chase: It's really hard to innovate within the search these days. There's very few things to improve search results as good as Google. There's nothing that nobody can do to get it to come out like "oh, this is the way we should do it now." and all of a sudden you get these amazing results with US band and it's difficult.

Byron: So Raven customers need surf tracking and performance reports and probably a lot of other things. Can you one by one sort of go through what on-boarding plan you folks have? Chase, can we start with you?

Chase: We have a thing going with Spyfu.

Mike: Yeah, that's pretty amazing. It's 25% off the first year. The web spyfu is the promo code.

Chase: Let me explain that.

Bryon: Yeah, we'll send that out via email. Could you explain it a little bit? How are you handling the on-boarding effort with back data for example? Can you guys talk about that cause we actually have quite a few questions about that as well?

Chase: You give us your API keys from Raven and there's instructions to do that on the blog. AuthorityLabs.com/blog. And we'll handle the process of handling your domain name and keywords. First and foremost, if you're a Raven customer, you need to make sure that you actually use their CXV exports. I've asked and I haven't gotten an answer. I'm not sure if their API for pulling out historical data will be up after January 2nd. Not even sure if you're going to get to use their CSX exports for that after January 2nd. Their messaging seems as though you won't. So get in there as soon as you can and make sure you get everything out into the CXV and theres instructions on their blog on how to do that. Once you have that, you can import stuff,the doman, the keywords, basically an automatic account set up for us with the API key as long as that's available and then we'll import your historical data via their CXV data bundle. You get a big zip file and you just dump that to us and we'll unzip it and basically take all of the different files that are in there and build up data for you. If the API does go away for that January 2nd, you'll be able to do all of the automated domain keywords too.

Mike: I noticed an update that wasn't in the blog and it is in the site if you go to Raven and look in the index for it. Originally, in the blog it said that you had to for each domain, you had to export that domain and that's the only way that you can export your history and now it looks like now they've actually allowed you to export your entire account and that's new. The original post was you had to export many accounts. You can now do it with just one.

Chase: We'll help you work through that and make sure you get in touch with us. There's also a form on our site to get us API keys and all that. If anyone has any questions for us,you can always email support at AuthorityLabs and we're always here to help.

Byron: Rand.

Rand: We offer this functionality, but we don't have any sort of an import function. from Raven right now. You can upload keywords and that sort of stuff, but we don't take back data so I'd probably urge anyone who is moving over from Raven specifically for rank data to go with Chase and Mike and use their solution. I think that's a good one.

Bryon: Great.

Mike: We allow people to import all of the back data, so you can send us whatever you have, we'll figure out a way to get it in. Basically, we're also offering, we put together this package, three months free of Spyfu plus recon, we've never even offered a free trial of Spyfu, but we're like it's Christmas and all these people are getting shanked by the whole situation, so we wanted to put together something that was pretty cool. You can actually get Spyfu and Spyfu Recon and all this data tracking stuff, through us for free for three months. If you sign up, we end up contacting you by email and asking you if you need any important data imported. Which seems like the right thing to do.

Byron: Let's get to some important questions. Is Rand using an IBM model and keyboard. That thing is loud!

Rand: It's a Dell. This is the computer that sits in our webinar quiet room, so it's kind of old.

Mike: Hey Byron, you wanna switch to my screen so we can see each other's faces?

Mike: So what are the questions?

Byron: We're going to have to make these quick. Like one or two word answers because I have to run in just a few minutes.

Rand: Mike and Chase can continue on and answer some questions.

Chase: There's a question about challenging everybody on the whole AdWords issue just so you know. How would their cash cow AdWords not be able to get more hardware bandwith on demand?

Rand: You would be shocked. My understanding, from talking to lots of people at Google and lots of departments including friends of mine who work sort of with and inside the AdWords team or the advertising teams is that hardware constraints are a massive problem at Google and the only team that really gets unlimited hardware right now is Search and Google Plus, and everybody else is still constrained and they have to fight for budget and for bandwith. It's one of their big advantages, but it's still a fight despite all that they've got.

Byron: Someone noted that the problem is building on rented land. Not sure what the reference is there.

Chase: Are you talking about API keys or scraping?

Byron: Not sure what Peter had in mind. Maybe he can repost it. Can you see a time where there would be a scraper certification where companies would be given a specific access that allows them to grab the data without tarnishing skewing the keyword traffic data.

Mike: I wanna answer this. That would be great. I will say that there are people that claim that they have this access, but I don't think that this is the case. I've heard people say that they have a custom API for serve data, like I'm talking big SEO firms and tool companies and everyone is really skeptic and I don't want to call anybody out.

Rand: I can do that. There's a few companies. There is a good company on the east coast, it's like a start up that does name tracking, they do ranking stuff. They use a Google custom search API which you can use, any of us can use, we looked into it. We would love to use it. Unfortunately, rank tracking is against that product's terms of service, specifically. For example, Bruce Clay Tools uses the Google custom search API. They have documentation around using it. As far as I know, unless they have some special deal with Google that's not part of the public terms, they're violating that product's terms of service and so it could be turned off at any time. When we looked into it, what we were told is no keep rank tracking.

Chase: The point of that product is to build your own search engine with a limited result set. With that product, you identify what type of sites you want to be included with results, so with a personal data tracker, you only want to include Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, whatever, and that's probably why it's against their terms of service because it's not the purpose of the product.

Rand: I have seen exactly what you're talking about where companies in the SEO space claim that they have a relationship with Google and they're doing this through them with API. I've never seen anyone that's not doing it that way, but it is a violation of TOS and when we looked into it, that was not something that they would provide. It's possible. Bruce Clay may have a long ago agreement with Google to be able to use this sort of ranking data and maybe they've kept that up, but certainly new companies can't get on to that.

Mike: I've heard that with ad tracking companies also and I'm very certain that, that actually is not the case.

Rand: It's definitely TOS violating according to what they say and they can shut you off for it, and I know that they do shut you off for it.

Byron: Someone asked, what about the shrinking percentage of the screen space above the fold to SEO vs paid?

Mike: I think that's a war that we have to fight against, but this is why I urge anyone who's doing SEO to makes sure you don't just have a head of the demand curve strategy. If you are in SEO, you have to have a long tail, chunky middle strategy too because theirs just too much of the clicks in the head of demand curve for being lost. I think Google wants a lot of that. Not just real estate but they want a lot of those clicks for themselves. If you look at what their doing with autos, with air fares, with travel, they're taking up a lot of that with themselves with movie times, with instant answers to sports scores, new stories, all that stuff. They are kind of eating up that real estate, so I'd urge you to go into the chunky middle and the long tail if you're in SEO.

Byron: Peter got back to us with his rented land comment. He's referring to both API keys and scraping depend on a service that can be taken away from you: rented land.

Rand: I would argue that rank tracking data would be extremely hard to take away. It's as least as secure a data source as most anything that most technology companies opperate with today.

Chase: There's arguments where it's more secure than an API key. I mean, if you look at Twitter, they're full fire on their API. I think there's only 5 people that have access to that now.

Rand: Just two.

Chase: There's only two now?

Rand: Ganip and Dataseft.

Chase: Who?

Rand: Ganip and Dataseft.

Chase: Nip and Dataseft.

Rand: You have to buy from one of those two.

Chase: From one of those two? So, Twitter alotted it to lapse at least 25 to 50 people and in the last 6 months, they've pulled all those API keys. People browser actually submitted an injunction to Twitter because they tried to take their API key away and they're now suing Twitter over the fact that Twitter took their API key away. It's a pretty dramatic deal over there and they're screwing a lot of people. I would argue that scraping is actually more reliable.

Mike: Speaking of due process, you in essence have the legal system to help you decide if you want to do that. These API agreements are one sided. you either pass Google's subjective audit or you fail it and you build your entire company on it and one day they decide that you failed, then, they immediately shut you off and shut down your entire business. Scraping, you have time.

Chase: That way you can leave the county, right Mike?

Mike: You can at least sell your company to somebody else.

Byron: I was going to say, if you're talking about the legal side. I'm sure many of you have seen lots of terms of service on other webistes that say "If you display this website anywhere else, it must be at the top of the page." And that's specifically saying, Google, if you want to crawl my site and honor my terms of service, you have to show me at the top of the results for every search query. So Google is violating hundreds of websites' terms of service all the time. Violating a company's terms of service on the web is not a legal action. That's one of reasons why we have a lawyer as our COO, we have attorneys to review things, we have investors who put a lot of money into the company. There was a lot of due process to say hey, what if Google changes their TOS to say that this is violating. TOS violation is not a legal issue. Therefore, it is not a litigation concern, it's merely a data access concern.

Mike: Google like I said is sort of into arguments. It's definitely not in their best interest.

Byron: Oh no. If this case ever went to court. They would want it to be thrown out and say anyone can go scrape anything on the web because that's how Google's business operates.

Byron: Any truth to the rumor that Google Places is going to go with paid positioning for up to three spots?

Chase: I never heard that rumor but I believe Google shopping is paid inclusion period. The local stuff is the long tail for Google. Local business, there's hundreds of thousands of those and they all spend a few hundred bucks a month. That's a lot of money. Millions even.

Mike: Sounds possible to me, but I've never heard of it. Did anybody have any additional theories to the AA Tress thing? We know that AA Tress, Majestic put on their blog, they called them out a lot because it's a direct competor. Then the next day, AA Tress said, "We won't have any keyword data or scrape data on our site, we're out of that business."

Chase: Does anyone else have any other theories?

Mike: That could very well be possible. I've never met or known anyone who knows anyone that's at AA Tress.

Rand: I apologize you guys. I actually have to run. I have a one on one with one of my big data engineers. This was great. I'm sorry I was gone for those 10 minutes in the biginning and those 5 minutes in the middle there. Thank you so much for having me and hosting this. Thanks ot all the people who came too. Happy holiday to you.

Byron: Have a great holiday. If I need bad photo-shopping on top of images, I will also call you.

Mike: Chase, do you want to throw in your two cents?

Chase: I think their products are very similar and I think they could be the same company. I highly doubt that AA Tress had any BIT. I think they were just trying to capitalize on the trend of the time and most of the people use AA Tress for link data. I think they're like, we're completely focused on link data, we don't even want to be involved in this. So we're going to make it less confusing for people and maybe get a little traffic at the same time and call it a day. I think that's what it was.

Byron: Chase, does AuthorityLabs replace the rank checker that Raven is losing?

Chase: Yes.

Byron: Perfect.

Chase: We do more than what theirs did also.

Mike: Is there anything else other than the fact that you guys run daily in the essence that theirs runs weekly?

Chase: We do weekly, we do daily. All of the same engines are supported. We have some more robust features around grouping and tagging. I think our interface is a little bit better. The graphing capabilities I think are a little bit better, comparing data from today vs a week ago, a month ago, three months ago, beginning of time sort of thing is pretty important for people and comparing where they are today vs where they started. It's more robust, there's more data in there, but it's still straight forward enough I think that if you are using Raven's rank tracker, the transition should be fairly easy.

Byron: Is there any plan to integrate PPC and SEO data in these tools? Kent asked that question. I'm not sure which tools he's referring to.

Mike: Spyfu, if you're talking about surf tracking, we do surf tracking for SEO and PPC. Everything that we have is cost per click data, cost per day, search volume, I even think we have click through rate. Anything that you can get through the AdWare interface, we pretty much include. Chase, you guys have search volume and PPC?

Chase: No, we have a volume metric that we get from word stream. We'll have AdWords search volume stuff soon, thanks to you guys. I like to ask that guy, ultimately what the end goal is. Is it just for his own analysis? I think a lot of people use various tools for various reasons. Whether it's for analysis, whether it's for generating a report for others to see, whether it's a client, a boss, co-worker or whatever. In terms of integrating other data into these tools, what is the end goal I guess? That kind of effects all of that.

Byron: Any comments or insights to share about advancedwebranking.com? I don't know anything about them. Does anyone?

Chase: They're a desktop tool and we're both web based. Some people prefer desktop tools, some people prefer web based tools. I think at this point. That's really the major difference.

Mike: I've seen some people making recommendations that you use AWR for smaller clients and something staff based for larger clients. Just trolling around and stuff like that. That's sort of my take on how to differenciate them. Obviously, again web ranking is a deesktop tool.

Byron: Cool. I think we have gone through the questions quite a bit here and feel like we're at a good ending point. So I want to thank you guys for being on and thank all the guests for being on today's presentation.

Chase: Thank you guys.

Byron: This was fun. We should do it two or three times a week, but we probably don't have time to. But you can tell it's a real thrist out there to understand what's happening in the industry and this was really an eye-opener for a lot of people to understand the complexities. Thanks for tuning in, until next month. The next webinar Mike and I pull off together. We'll look forward to tuning in with everyone again. Thanks for listening everybody. We'll see you another time I'm sure. Thanks.

Chase: Night.

Mike: Later.

Byron: Thanks again guys.