The Best SEO Posts & Articles from 2010

This year has been an incredibly active one across the blogosphere. With a huge number of marketers sharing tips, stories and so forth on Twitter it has become ever easier to keep up with the constant changes in the industry… though admittedly ever more difficult to keep up with the massive amounts of content being pumped out!

As such, I have assembled below some of my favourite (and in my view some of the most valuable) blog posts and articles from the industry this year. I’m sure I’ve missed some big ones out here so feel free to share your additions/comments below!

A drum-roll please…

Image via: eddie.welker

Keyword Research & Onsite SEO

The Highly Converting Competitor Keywords you are Probably NOT Targeting
by Wil Reynolds on the SEER Blog.

There is simply no question that Wil is one of the leaders in the community in terms of driving thought forward and in testing new ideas. Wil has shared a lot of information with us over the past year at various conferences, through his blog and on Twitter but this one was definitely one of my favourite contributions. The nice thing about Wil is that not only does he regularly produce top-quality analytical content but he also regularly puts out pieces like this that really make you think… DUH! And then he provides you a gameplan.

Kudos to Wil for a great year of sharing. This one was my favourite though.

5 Category Page Tips to Improve Your SEO
by Richard Baxter on the SEOgadget blog.

I was very fortunate to see Rich deliver the full information architecture at a4uexpo this year in London upon which this post is very much based. Rich delivered some top quality advice combining both keyphrase research and information architecture and walked us through the entire process for a fictional e-commerce site.

The post focusses particularly on category pages which from what I have seen over the past year is an area which many companies are still struggling desperately to get under control. I have seen loads of orphaned pages and terrible internal linking behaviours and feel that this particular post provides a lot of good advice all in one post.

Radical Keyword Research Part 1: ScrapeBox Suggestion Mining
by Marty Weintraub on the aimClear blog.

After this one and I, Marty had a nice exchange on Twitter. As with the scraping hack that I discussed both on the SEOmoz blog and at SMX London using Mozenda, Marty’s generosity and willingness to share his YouTube scraping hack using ScrapeBox rendered an otherwise amazing tip for keyphrase research much less useful.

Marty and I discussed the pros and cons of sharing and I know that at the end of the day both he and I agree that it is better to share and lose a tool most times – though it can mean back to the drawing board. Even though the trick is less useful now it is still a great post and a lot of work went into it. If nothing else, it is still very relevant insofar as it should provide ideas of other great uses of scrapers.

Duplicate content: causes and solutions
by Joost de Valk on the Yoast blog.

Duplicate content is another area with which clients, developers and SEOs alike have been struggling with quite a bit in 2010. As the rel=canonical tag has gained more mainstream recognition and as Google has pushed users away from redirects and towards using this tag the number of issues have increased greatly. Dr. Pete did a really nice experiment on this over on the SEOmoz blog but I personally think that Yoast covered the issue in the most depth and tackled a lot of the issues people have in his massive article.

Yoast’s piece is what I would call a must-read if you are dealing with duplicate content issues or potentially could be.


Youtube SEO Experiment and Useful Tips
by David Sottimano on the Distilled Blog.

In the few months I worked with David I was very impressed by his no-nonsense approach to things. As with his interactions with people his approach to work was quite similar and he wanted to chase down proof for things rather than take the word of others. With this he ran a fairly large scale and time consuming experiment about how to improve rankings in YouTube as well as how to improve the chances of videos appearing in Universal Search results.

As with any algorithim it seems as though YouTube have changed their tune a bit and some of these techniques are proving to be less effective at the moment. However, it was the first post I had read on SEO for YouTube that didn’t hold back and gave away what worked for Dave rather than just saying “video SEO is pretty much just the same as all other SEO”.

A very impressive piece of work from someone who has only been involved in SEO for about 6 months.

What Social Signals Do Google & Bing Really Count
by Danny Sullivan on the Search Engine Land blog

There has been a great deal of suggestion and proof by way of testing that social signals have played and are continuing to play an important role in the rankings. However, in what was truly a remarkable piece of journalism Danny finally confirmed what we have all suspected for some time: Google and Bing both use social signals and the importance of the influencer is also considered in assigning value to a tweet/share/interaction.

This for me is huge news as it goes well beyond QDF and Real-Time Search which were increasingly important this year as well from the looks of things. This is a roadmap for the importance in the future and for Google’s ability to replace the link graph as links become increasingly difficult to acquire.


Link Building with the Experts – 2010 Edition
by Rae Hoffman-Dolan (Sugarrae) on the Outspoken Media blog.

Wow. I had forgotten about this one but a big hat-tip to Wiep for reminding me of this post. The post lines up 12 of the best SEOs in the industry and asked them all to answer a number of questions on link building (or link development). The piece really speaks for itself and there are some GREAT suggestions in there. I am definitely hoping there will be a 2011 follow-up to this post.

Make sure you read this one when you have plenty of time to digest!

Link Building with Content: Link Baiting vs. Guest Publishing
by Wiep Knol on his blog

What Wiep was too shy to mention in suggesting someone else’s content is that he is respected worldwide for his linkbuilding skills and blog himself. He recently wrote this article on using content for linkbuilding (which happens to be the most time consuming, but most natural way of building links) on his own blog.

The top-line alone is a great point (a quote from Jeff Jarvis) but the breakdown of the best way to do it is what makes it most valuable. As Jeff and Wiep have already pointed out “If you can’t imagine anyone linking to what you’re about to write, don’t write it.”


Google phasing out the organic search results for local queries
by Patrick Altoft on the blogstorm blog

One of the areas of search that saw the most change and activity (which is saying something considering all the changes Google has made this year!) has been Google Local/Places/HotPot/Whatever-the-hell-they’re-calling-it-these-days

In a topic of conversation that has been particularly contentious for many people and has seen some big names in the industry loudly voicing their disapproval, Patrick has really encapsulated the overall issue (from an SEO’s perspective) with the massive amounts of search volume which now seem to be triggering Universal results with a great deal of local search. The main point Patrick raises (using the query “Pizza in Leeds”) is the distinct lack of organic results (only two spots on the first page).

This is not necessarily a bad thing for the user as Google looks more at intent of search. It seems like since Patrick wrote the article these results are being triggered for a larger number of queries that do not even specify location, but ultimately my contention with these changes are the fact that Google Local has not been fighting spam for the same amount of time as Google Search has and the number of exploits seems incontrovertible.


Using the Wrong Tracking Code Can Cost You $500k a Year
by Tom Critchlow on the Google Analytics blog.

It takes a lot for one of we SEOs to get featured on the Google blog, but this little gem of a post fully deserved it and no one would argue that Tom’s one hell of a clever SEO. Given that I was working with Tom at the time I can fully attest to the fact that this little find truly did solve a problem that was saving them £100,000 in reported earnings and at least half of that in real life earnings.

Tom found a somewhat common issue dealing with secure webpages and using proper analytics tagging when sending a user from the unsecure (browsing) portion of the site to the secure (buying) portion of the site. Not only was the tagging an issue, but because of the “nonsecure” elements on a secure page that these users were getting because the old version of the Javascript was being used. This means that anyone who was using Internet Explorer was seeing a scary warning that will undoubtedly cut down conversions.

Great work and congrats to Tom on the mention/link from Google.


SEO and Rich Snippets – Crucial to your 2010 Armoury
by Peter Young on the Holistic Search Marketing blog.

So, rich snippets have been a massive discussion point this year not only in terms of SEO/rankings but to a much higher degree in terms of their value to Click-through-rates (CTR). Whilst I think it’s fairly safe to say that Rich Baxter has been one of people with whom I’ve discussed this topic most this year, Mr. Young made quite a prolific prediction back in January of 2010 with this one.

Pete talks a lot about the opportunity to include results for concerts (hCalendar) but this has been immensely valuable for local sites (including testimonials as a review) and immensely important as a way to get product reviews in the SERPs and really stand-out to up those CTRs. This, in my view, has to be the most valuable for e-commerce sites… but as Pete predicted the impact has reached much farther than just the e-commerce community.

Other News (Honourable Mention)

The LDA Conversation over at SEOmoz created some seriously heated debate and will no doubt be a growing part of some SEO’s arsenal heading in to next year.

Mayday was undoubtedly another big topic this year and impacted a lot of sites in different ways. Some people saw a large increase in long-tail traffic and others saw their long-tail traffic hit hard. But thankfully a number of SEOs wrote great posts about surviving the update and a view from the other side.

Google Instant was probably the biggest change from a visual standpoint to the SERPs this year. There was complete pandamonium and another cry of “SEO is Dead” when Rob Ousbey broke the news about Instant. There have been differing opinions ranging from fear that Instant would kill the long tail to evidence that it has in fact led to a massive rise in the number of long queries. One thing is for sure – this was a big concern for a lot of marketers.

Jaamit – although I would like to put Rishi’s post about Jaamit as one of my favourite posts of the year it is obviously a tricky one. It is not explicitly about SEO and I felt it would be a bit like hitting the “like” button when someone shares terrible news on Facebook.

Jaamit was a wonderful person, shared in the community and got the trend-off he deserved on Twitter. There were a number of kind tributes to him and it is certainly fair to say that his passing has impacted the UK search community more than any change to Google’s algorithms this year.

Thank You!

To all of the bloggers that provided me with so much wonderful reading material and who helped me learn so much… a great big thank you for all of your time and effort. I am looking forward to an equally exciting 2011. In the mean time, I love to share stories with people on Twitter, so please  follow me if you do too!


  1. Fantastic rundown Sam. some awesome articles in there, some that have really helped a lot of online marketers. Have to say though, Richard Baxter’s really stood out for me this year. Some real gold there.

    Many thanks for the mention too.


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