An Interview with Jim Hedger - Editor SiteProNews

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Jim Hedger is the Executive Editor of SiteProNews, as well as the host of the WebmasterRadio.FM show, The Alternative. Sponsored by the, The Alternatives tries to look at life beyond the major search engines.

I’ve known Jim for about 7 years now. I first met him when he was working at Stepforth, and over the years had the opportunity to read his writings, listen to his opinions, and discuss ideas with him. I’ve enjoyed (almost) all our encounters. Last year, as I transitioned out of a daily role at Metamend, I approached Jim about becoming a regular contributor to the Metamend blog. I’ve enjoyed his writings there ever since!

When I first decided to run these interviews, I thought that Jim, being a frequent interviewer, might enjoy being an interviewee. I hope you enjoy his contribution to this series;

Q. Jim, How long have you been working with SEO / SEM ?

Started doing SEO in 1999 or 2000. SEM. We started working with Overture back when it was so, 2001 or 2002.

Q. What’s been your favorite technique that you can no longer use due to algorithmic changes at Google?

Leader pages and networks of reciprocal links. In the late 1990s and even into 2001, it was easy to fashion a link network among the six to eight leader pages designed to meet the needs of the six to eight different search engines. The technique involved artificially inflating link counts based on links from other clients’ leader pages. The more leader pages per client, the larger the link networks became.

Somewhere around 2001, Google started lowering the boom on both techniques. Leader pages were eliminated with duplicate content filters and link analysis was starting to affect the usefulness of link networks.

Google’s link-analysis pushed the development of those networks in to a phase we called, relevancy based link networks. That was where the real fun was found. I remember spending hours in a semi-trance with a laptop on one side and a whiteboard or flip chart on the other, mapping out link networks among clients and contacts.

This technique happened to arrive at the same time as the early-summer move of the company I worked for from a one room space to an office with a large deck that wrapped around the front of the building. I would take a laptop (with a long cable) and a flip chart out to the patio table and work in what I figured was the best of all possible conditions.

Q. Has Google (or any other engine) ever made an algorithm change which made you very happy?

Eventually, every Google update has made me happy. I don’t see algorithm changes as one-time events. They are built upon each other. I was particularly pleased with what I think are the overall effects of the shift has come from the Jagger Update but I am positive we have not seen the end of changes in relation to the scalability of the index.

Q. If you could get Google, Yahoo!, MSN, and Ask to each answer just one question about their algorithms, what would it be?

Google: How much a factor does document history play in one document’s relationship with other documents? How important is this to overall rankings?

Yahoo: Do ideas or technology developed by AlltheWeb play any factor in Yahoo’s ranking algorithm?

MSN: Is MSN in any way interested in personalization?

Q. Why analytics are important to you?
a. how often do you look at them
b. how do you suggest your clients use them,

I think analytics are extremely important though, in my current line of work I have less need to examine them. For clients, knowing where your traffic comes from and what visitors do when they hit a site are critical. While clients or SEOs should not have to obsess on analytics, they should review them regularly and should (on average) always have a sense of how their web documents are performing.

I am most interested in measuring conversions. As the definition of conversion is different for every document, it is hard to suggest exactly what should be looked for. I think it is important to cut the number of steps site-users need to take to get from point A to point B on a site. If point B is a sale, the faster and easier it is for the consumer the happier that consumer is. The best analysis is the one that tells me how to make moving through a site simpler for site-users.

Q. What do none of the analytics tools do that you would want them to for you? (yes, this question is self-serving)

Show me how similar visitors (not specific site visitors) use competing websites.

Q. A question from Andrew Goodman Why does Victoria produce so many fantastic Search Marketers?

Though there are less than 400,000 people living on Southern Vancouver Island, the tech community has produced an extraordinary number of well known search marketers and Internet marketing companies.

Victoria has long been a center of innovation in Canada. The region has a civil, intellectual culture, three very strong post-secondary institutions, and is uniquely situated between powerhouse cities Vancouver and Seattle. With the mildest climate in Canada, abundant recreational activities, a supportive business community and amazingly strong telecommunications infrastructure, Victoria is a natural choice for tech firms and independent entrepreneurs. It almost never snows here and I was only unable to golf two weekends this year.

Organizationally, we should note the Chamber of Commerce and Viatec for their support. Successful cities support high-tech industry and Victoria has punched far above its weight building the local tech sector.

Thanks Jim!

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