Posted by rebecca

Yesterday Sarah, Christine, and I went to Ignition (the VC company who gave us funding) to attend an SEO seminar taught by Vanessa Fox (who recently got scooped up by Ignition). The room was packed full of folks from various Seattle startups and tech companies, and after we all stuffed our faces with pizza and beverages, the learnin’ began.

Vanessa joked that I was going to be bored out of my mind during the seminar since a lot of what she discussed covered introductory SEO stuff, but I was pleasantly surprised. A lot of the stuff she went over validated what I already knew, but quite a bit of her topics touched upon things I had a good understanding of but wanted more details. A couple of noteworthy points were the following:

Sitelinks

Someone asked Vanessa how to get your site to display sitelinks in the SERPs. She said it depends on a few factors:

  1. You have to have a good linking structure/site architecture. Your home page should clearly link to other important pages on your site, and the anchor text of these links should be fairly concise.
  2. The display of sitelinks depends upon the search query, so it won’t show up all the time.
  3. You have to be ranking first for that particular query (your company’s name should be a good bet).

Keyword in Domain Name

I’ve seen this question appear a lot in our Q&A–a lot of people ask if it’s important to register a domain that has a relevant keyword in it (e.g., rockstarcomputerparts.com for "computer parts" vs. "rockstarindustry.com"). Vanessa said that it doesn’t matter much from a search engine perspective–plenty of companies’ domain names don’t include their top keywords in the URL, and they still rank fine for those particular queries)–but the thing to keep in mind is that people often link to your site using your domain name, so for a lot of links the anchor text would be for "Rockstar Industry" instead of "Rockstar Computer Parts."

The thing that really impresses me about Vanessa is how much she knows. Ages ago I read someone comment in a thread (it could have been here on SEOmoz, but I don’t exactly recall) that Vanessa doesn’t know much about actual SEO because she was just a Webmaster Central rep and Google public figure. Her presentation yesterday shatters any and all of those assumptions. While Vanessa gave a basic introduction to various SEO elements (how rankings work, on-page content, and ending on links), a lot of people threw more advanced questions at her and she answered each one of them without batting an eye.

At conferences I’d sometimes think that Vanessa was "too cool" or "important" to chat with me at length about anything (after all, if you were given the option to hang out with Rand Fishkin and Danny Sullivan or me, who’d you pick?), but yesterday I saw that she really extends herself to various site owners and folks who have questions about anything and everything SEO-related. Her patience and expertise really showed yesterday, and I hope that some day I’ll be at the knowledge level that she’s at.

I know this seems like a big Vanessa love fest, but with people like her and others (see the rabid Jeremy Schoemaker fanbase), you see someone so successful and so knowledgeable, yet so approachable, that it really motivates you to work hard and try to get to a similar level some day. Anyway, there will be regular workshops at Ignition about every other week, so I’ll be sure to post and share any other good tidbits I pick up along the way. And a big thanks to both Michelle at Ignition and to Vanessa for inviting me–I did learn some new stuff, and I met a lot of nice people as well. I’m looking forward to the next one!

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