Continuing our series of behind-the-scenes insights from our SMX Advanced programming team, today we have a Q&A with Alex Bennert, the In House SEO for the Wall Street Journal. Alex has been a self-professed “search geek” for more than a decade, and has worked with clients such as Zillow, Philips, SFGate, JibJab and other large-scale sites with millions of pages.
What’s it like to be the in-house SEO at what by some measures is the most popular paid-subscription news site, the Wall Street Journal?
Alex Bennert: The various teams I work with at WSJ (editorial, tech, business) are all among the smartest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with. I have to bring my A-game every day and that’s a challenge I truly enjoy. Second, between keeping up with news search, web search and juggling a steady stream of new projects, I never get bored.
You are coordinating a session at SMX Advanced on duplicate content solutions and the canonical tag – can you give us a sneak preview?
This is going to be such an informative session. Now that there’s been time to implement, use and see the results of this tag, we’ll be exploring it from every angle: when to use it, when not to use it, its limitations, using it for internal site search, syndication, pagination, etc. We have presenters from Zappos and 1-800-Flowers so we’ll learn about the use of this tag in an enterprise environment. And Google, Yahoo and Microsoft representatives will be there for Q & A.
How does the canonical tag change things in SEO?
At WSJ, duplicate content has been a frustrating and ongoing challenge. I am thrilled to finally have a reasonably simple solution to this problem. This solution has the potential to free up a significant amount of my time and energy that I can now dedicate to other issues and projects.
How do you stay up to date with all the changes happening in SEO?
I imagine every SEO has the same answers to this question: Reading quality blog, newsletter and site sources, attending conferences, and monitoring and evaluating data.
What’s your biggest challenge in managing in-house SEO for a large media company?
Patience! Things don’t happen very fast. Any requested change has to go into the work queue, get prioritized, have resources allocated, go through production testing and then wait for the next release to be deployed.
Why do you attend live search marketing conferences like SMX Advanced?
To meet and chat with engine reps and engineers and to connect with other SEOs to talk about their experiences and current challenges.
As a coordinator and moderator, what do you learn from your sessions at SMX Advanced?
Good sessions explore as many facets of the topic as time permits, from multiple angles (i.e. enterprise vs. SMBs), by qualified presenters who aren’t trying to pitch a product.
Thanks Alex—see you at SMX Advanced!
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