Another successful SMX East is in the books. From all accounts, the event seemed to go through flawlessly and without a hitch. Kudos to Danny Sullivan, Claire Schoen, and crew as the caliber of speakers, sessions, and attendees was top notch, as always. Judging from the event, search marketing is alive and thriving more than ever before. There was a healthy mix of industry experts, consultants, large corporations, agencies, and small businesses. The sessions covered a broad range of topics from beginner link building fundamentals to more advanced technical SEO sessions covering site architecture, technical coding optimization and everything inbetween. A huge thank you goes out to the organizers for a job well done.
It seemed there were two themes that surfaced regularly - Panda and Google Plus/+1. Clearly, there are still many webmasters struggling with Panda and how to properly handle content in the new post-Panda world . The search engines are addressing this and giving webmasters and SEO’s more tools and information to organize their websites correctly. After some of the presentations, it seems Google is very dedicated to their Plus and +1 initiatives which will have a large affect on SEO should end user usage continue to increase.
Below are tidbits and takeaways from the conference, from an SEO perspective. Enjoy!
Microformats where the original snippet format, however, they have been replaced by the new and evolving standard, microdata (which is Schema.org/Google/Bing are developing for and placing resources towards). Some notes from the presentations:
General consensus is rich snippets can greatly help in getting your content noticed.
In one example given, Eatocracy added the hRecipe tag to their pages, and immediately saw a 47% increase in their recipes being picked up and indexed into Google (which does support this in their recipe search). Additionally, they saw a 22% increase in their recipe traffic.
CNN started using Yahoo SearchMonkey / RDFa, and saw a 35% increase in their video content on Google Video search, and saw a 22% increase in overall search traffic. However, they removed the additional code from their site as it increased their page load time. The take away on that is that you should think to integrate this into your down dev cycle, your cms, or your template.
Per Google, their studies show that sites w/ rich snippets have a better CTR as well. Rich Snippets Engineer at Google, RV Guha noted, “From our experiments, it seemed that giving the user a better idea of what to expect on the page increases the click-through rate on the search results. So if the webmasters do this, it’s really good for them. They get more traffic. It’s good for users because they have a better idea of what to expect on the page. And, overall, it’s good for the web.”
Rich snippets only work for one site (no cross site references).
Sites like LinkedIn and Google Profiles still use microformats. Google has also provided a tool in WMT, but it is a bit buggy and may throw false errors. If you don’t see your snippets show up in the SERP’s, it’s likely caused by longer than preferred latency load times, errors in your code, or a random Google bug - (per Google).
The current types of rich snippets: reviews, people, products, businesses & organizations, recipes*, events, music
One audience member asked how to handle ‘subcategory’ pages that are often created in ecommerce sites such as “Sort Prices $0-$5”, “Prices $5-$25” etc. The question was whether or not to use the “rel=canonical” tag and point the pages back to the main page. The panelists agreed that those pages should be blocked completely and should not use the canonical tag. The Google representative said not only do these pages not add value to the engine’s index, but they also eat up the sites crawl budget.
If you see the warning "we're seeing a high # of URL's" in Webmaster Tools, most times its a duplicate content issue.
One audience member asked: do you look at subdomain as part of the main domain?
Blekko - no inheritance from main domain
Google - "it depends". Sometimes it is inherited, sometimes not.
Bing - we look and try to determine if subdomain is a standalone business/website and will get treated differently based on that determination
One question touched on removing URL’s from Google’s index. Google advised that a removed URL may or may not stay in the index for a period of time, and that to expedite removal of a URL one should use Webmaster Tools remove-url tool
Duane from Bing was adamant about keeping your submitted sitemap clean. The threshold is 1%. If there are issues in your submitted sitemap >1%, Bing will “lose trust” for your website
Panelists advised to make your 404 pages useful to the user
It may not be breaking news, but Bing and Google both said unequivocally - duplicate content does hurts you
Google commented they are big fans of HTML 5 technology
At this point it seems Google will crawl a page if +1 is present, regardless of the robots.txt. This could possibly create issues with trying to not crawl certain pages to avoid dup content. More information found here: http://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4358033.htm
Panelists advised to spend a lot of energy “containing urls” on your website and to be thoughtful about which URLs you are getting out there
Bing and Google confirmed that “pagerank sculpting” is misunderstood and not effective. For example, if a page has 5 outgoing links and link juice is spread 20% to each of the 5 links, if you no follow one of the links, the link juice distribution will not become 25% to the remaining 4 links. It will remain 4 x 20%. In essence, you have just evaporated potential link juice
Google Plus and +1
These were hot topics at this year’s SMX East. Multiple session covered Google Plus and +1 in depth.
Speaker Benjamin Vigneron from Esearchvision covered the basics of Google Plus and +1 . He noted a +1 to a search result will +1 the ppc ad/landing page, too.
With PPC, +1 could have a significant affect on Adrank by affecting each of the Quality Score factors including quality of the landing page, CTR, and the ad’s past performance.
Interesting that Adwords could conceivably add segmenting on all information in Google Plus (similar to FB) ie males, ages, etc.
Christian Oestlien, the Google Product Manager for Google Plus, spoke about Google Plus features and fielded questions. He mentioned Google is testing and experimenting with celebrity endorsements +1'ing and showed an example SERP with a +1 annotation under the search result (for example “Kim Kardashian has +1’ed” Brand X or search result X). He noted Google is seeing much higher CTR with the +1 annotation and that usage for the “Circles” feature is relatively high.
Google software engineer Tiffany Oberoi was also present on the panel. She noted +1 is NOT a ranking factor, but social search is still of course implemented in search results. She confirmend Facebook likes have no impact on rankings but also noted regarding social signals, “explicit user feedback is like gold for us". She also touched on spam with +1 and said she is currently working with spam team. Regarding +1’s and spamming, she said to think of +1’s similarly to links. The same guidelines could apply. Google wants to use them as a real signal. Using in an unnatural way will not good for you.
Hardcore Local Search Tactics
Matt McGee - Search Engine Land
Mike Ramsey, - Nifty Marketing
Will Scott - Search Influence
Panelists here gave an encore presentation of the session these folks put on at SMX Advanced in Seattle. The content was excellent and definitely deserved another run through. Here are the notes:
July 21st, Google removed citations from their Places listings. While they have been removed for public viewing, they are still used. Sources like Whitespark (link: http://www.whitespark.ca/) can be very helpful in uncovering citation building opportunities.
Citation accuracy is among the most important factors in getting your business to rank in the O or 7-Pack. Doing a custom Google search of “business name”+”address”+”phone number” will help determine what other sources Google sees as citation sources.
Average number of IYP reviews of ranked listings vs non ranked listings showed to be a large gap, indicating that IYP reviews do in fact provide quite a bit of listing weight.
Offsite Citation’s / Data appear to be the no. 1 ranking factor in Places listings
Linking Root Domains appear to be the no. 2 ranking factor in Places listings
Exact match anchor links appear to be the no. 3 ranking factor in Places listings
Links are the new citations for local in 2011-12
Building a custom landing page to link your Places Listing to appears to be a huge success factor. Include your Name, Address, Phone (NAP) in the title tag
Design that landing page to mirror a Places listing on their site w/ a map, business hours, contact data, etc.
If needed, submit your contact/location page as your Places URL/Landing Page which will create a stronger geo scent
When trying to understand how users are searching for your client, Insights for Search is a great tool as you can find Geo targeted data w/ KW differentiation (ie Lawyer vs Attorney, which is used more in that area)
Local requires a different mindset from traditional SEO
Optimize location (local SEO) vs Optimize websites (traditional SEO)
Blended search is about matching them up
PageRank of Places URL does NOT seem to affect Local ranking -(source: David Mihm)
Flat site architecture beginning w/ a “Store Locator” page
Great Example, lakeland.co.uk/StoreLocator.action
Give each location its own page
Great Example, lakeland.co.uk/stores/aberdeen
Cross link nearby locations w/ geo anchor text
Ensure the use of KML Sitemap in Google WMT
Encourage Community Edits - Make Use of Google’s Map Maker
Include Geo data in Facebook pages and article engines
Panda Recovery Case Study - High Gear Media
Speaker Matt Heist from High Gear Media covered their experiences over the past 8 months with recovering from Panda. High Gear Media is an online publisher of auto news and reviews.
Heist walked through the company’s strategy pre-panda and explained their contrasting new post-panda strategy. The original strategy was many auto review niche sites across a broad range of auto makes, models and manufacturers. The company originally had 107 sites and 20+ writers and dispersed content amongst all the sites. The content was "splashing" everywhere, unfocused. The “large network of microsites” strategy was working and traffic was climbing each month. Then Panda hit - hard. Traffic plummeted beginning this past Spring. Leaders at High Gear was forced to reevaluate their strategy and concluded that a more focused approach was better for users and consequently would help search traffic recover.
High Gear took the following actions:
Eliminated most of their properties completely (301'ed) and pared them down to 7 total sites with 4 being ‘core’: FamilyCarGuide, Motorauthority, GreenCarReports, TheCarConnection.
Properly canonicalized duplicate content
Aggregated content with strong user engagement was KEPT, but not indexed
The made the hard decision to eliminate content that could be making money but not good for the long term
Dedicated significant resources to redesigning each of the 7 sites remaining sites
Their strategy seems to be working. Heist noted traffic has ‘flipped, plus some”. According to Heist, here are the learning's:
High Gear Media believes that premium content will prevail and that Panda will help that
Advertisers like bigger brands - it is now easier to sell ads and for more $ with fewer, more powerful sites
With evolution of Social (joining Search from a distribution perspective), premium content that is authoritative AND fresh with flourish
We were able to meet up with the friendly staff over at Raven Tools, sit down with them, and learn a bit more about their product. We personally have been using Raven for about a year now, and highly recommend it. There are several features in the works that will make this even more of an incredible product. If you haven't used them, we would HIGHLY suggest giving the tools a run. They are partnering with new companies constantly, and as such, are building out a best in class seo management product.
A new feature they are working on is a Chrome Toolbar to compliment the current Firefox toolbar
Another feature coming is “templated messaging” for link requests and manual link building which will include BCC’s back to records. Templated Messaging will be built into our Contact Manager, but they are working on making that functionality available in the toolbar.
Another upcoming features is file management. RavenTools engineers are looking at integrating Dropbox into the system to allow files to be associated with other data and records.
The Co-Founder Jon Henshaw alluded many times to the idea that link building and consequently their toolset will continue to become more and more based on relationships in the future. He also alluded to the idea that traffic can or in some cases should be associated with PEOPLE as the referrer, rather than a website (ie x amount of traffic came from person A, whether it be their facebook, twitter, blog, or website). In other words, a relationship management system looks to be a integral part of the future of Raventools.
For future updates, Raventools takes explicit user feedback greatly into account. If you have a feature request or a software integration request, please contact: http://raventools.com/feature-requests/
Regarding MajesticSEO and OSE/Linkscape, they will be more fully integrating it into the Research section of Raven. That means they’ll be adding as much functionality into Raven as their APIs will allow. In addition to getting more full access to that data, users will be able to easily add that data to other tools, like the Keyword and Competitor Managers, Rank Tracker, etc...
Speed is the number one priority right now. They have full-time staff that are solely dedicated to speeding up the system. The goal is to make it run as fast as a desktop app.
Long term - 3rd party integration will be a constant (and should accelerate) for the platform for the foreseeable future.
Regarding Panda, one panelist referenced what he called a website’s “Content Performance Ratio” referring to the % of content on a site that is good versus bad or ‘performing vs non performing’ and using that as a gauge as to the health of a website.
Panelists also noted in his experience it takes 3-4 requests on a 404 before search engine believes you and removes it from the index.
Panelists in the “Ask the SEO” session said to pay close attention to anchor text diversity and human engagement signals
Jake Puhl is the Co-Founder/Co-Owner of Firegang Digital Marketing, a Local search marketing company, specializing in all aspects "Local", including custom web design, SEO, Google Places, and local PPC advertising. Jake has personally consulted businesses from Hawaii to New York and everywhere in-between. Jake can be contacted at jacobpuhl at firegang.com.
When I graduated high school one of my teachers gave me a card stating how they appreciated my humility. My mom read that and was proud, and I felt a bit embarrassed because I didn't know what the word meant and had to ask. It turns out it is easy to confuse ignorance for humility! :D
Marketing is chuck full of humbling teachable moments. One of the most important concepts is the importance of humility. When Lady Gaga spoke at Google she came off as being totally humble. I don't care for her music, but have a lot more respect for that sort of marketing than the "rapper who has more money than Bernake" sort of approach.
A lot of well known online marketers are the exact opposite of Lady Gaga's approach: anything to be heard & and I am the best, etc. Some people are into that approach, while others find it distasteful. Of course in any market there will be competition with winners and losers as SEO is a zero sum game. But some folks work to build value & monetize, while others aim to exploit & scam.
Because there are eploiter dirtbags working the market, you have to pay attention to what the market is saying about your stuff in real time. Even if you pour 20 hours into creating something that is useful, relevant, engaging, interesting, etc. some people will think it is spam just because it uses a format that spammers have exploited. Notice how in spite of our collateral damage piece being fairly well received across the web some spots that referenced it immediately raised the "spam" concern simply because it is an infographic!
Every Profitable Company is in the Gray Area
Part of the reason you need to track viral stuff in real-time is because people are tuned to think that anything in online marketing that is successful has some layer of deception to it.
In spite of how many marketers love to wear the white hat label, the truth is that almost anyone who is profitable operates somewhere in the gray area. Google has something like $40 billion in the bank, and yet they still have an AdSense category for "get rich quick." They proudly claim how they took down the get rich quick scammers that were trading on the Google brand, but they still have an AdSense category for "get rich quick."
White Hat? Probably a Liar
The problem I have with those who love the white hat label is that many people who claim to adhere to algorithmic best practices are often willing to crap on real people to get ahead. Jason Calacanis claimed to be white hat precisely because he was aware of how dirty and exploitative his Mahalo junk was. You can't really get away with flagrant spamming if you call it what it actually is, so you have to preach righteous virtues while doing it.
That "scammer exploiting a loophole" approach can work for your thin affiliate site that isn't tied to your name & brand, but if you are using that sort of stuff on your client projects or on your own main brand site you build contempt in the marketplace. Which is precisely why so many SEOs were happy to see Mahalo get torched in the content farm update.
The recent "advanced" link building conference brought about 2 teachable moments on that front.
How to Breed Hate & Animosity in Your Marketplace!
Before the conference Will (from Distilled) asked me if I would be ok with him writing a post here. We have tried to be fairly neutral in the marketplace (reviewing tons of competing sites and products and whatnot), so I said sure. He handed me something that I found to be pretty offensive. To which, when he asked for a follow up, I replied:
Generally I felt that suggesting that post was sorta a smack in the face. It was like an ad inside an ad inside an ad. Ad for seminar + ad for your seo services + laundry list of links to client sites.
That you would suggest that made me feel like you think I am stupid or that you were trying to disrespect me. I didn't reply right away because I was a bit angry at the time & didn't want to respond that way. And then all that tech crap happened. Anyhow I think you are savvy and are a great SEO, but a post like that (ad in ad in ad) is better fit for say like John Chow's blog than ours ;)
He responded with how much of a fan he was of mine & that if he knew of anything cool on the news front down the road he would try to help us break it & such.
At the conference he highlighted his "appear authentic, but be driven by a script" type of approach.
But what he *failed* to disclose (until his brother disclosed it during the conference as part of the conference) was...
that they had been hired by a competing SEO site to try to outrank us for SEO tools
that they suggested the site they were working on to use 301 redirects to game Google
that the site they were working for outed our site for using 301 redirects & got it toasted in Google
In other words, where a person who is truly ahead of the market, and does something to create a competitive advantage it must be black hat spam and you should complained to Google to get it torched. Then years later when the people who claimed the technique was spam do the same damn thing it suddenly becomes clean and innovative (cutting edge advanced stuff even).
Then they want the person who was ahead of the curve to be a free conduit for spreading this trash! It is so bad that you couldn't even make this stuff up.
Consider the brand damage they did to themselves & the bad karma they earned in the marketplace with the above stupidity. If they are willing to do that sort of stuff to their own brand, would you want them working on your brand? I wouldn't.
Those who claim to be algorithmically white hat, but are fine with lying, being deceptive, failing to disclose conflicts, etc. are saying that they put the algorithm ahead of how they treat real human beings in their marketplace. It is fine to be exploitative if that is your approach, but be honest about it ... because it is dumb to do it in a way that causes damage to your brand.
Spam vs Junk Trash Garbage That People Hate
Some people also complain about domain names (a clear signal of relevancy) shouldn't count, and yet some of the same folks create software to automate spamming up public communities. Any competitive disadvantage they have is spam, any competitive advantage they have is not spam. ;)
Enter Russ Jones!
On the Virante about page it highlights that "Russ has assisted in the creation of new search marketing technologies. This includes the venerable LinkSleeve Spam Link Verification system, which currently blocks thousands of links spam messages across the web." Yet at the "advanced" link building conference he gave away software to help people spam the crap out of Reddit.
Once the people on Reddit highlighted it he was quick to backpedal, stating: "I don't openly promote spamming. If you think creating highly viral content and submitting it to a social network to let them decide if it is good is spamming, then you have been seriously misled."
Here is the deal though, if the goal of that sofware was to do ANYTHING other than spamming, then it would be promoted to the core audience (so it could reach more people) rather than hunting out old subreddits & spamming them up with links.
Yet again, advanced!
There is nothing new or advanced about that link building "technique." It is just an extension of guestbook or comment spam. The above image links to a Vimeo video which highlights what Matthew Haughey thinks of the SEO industry after he found out someone was selling an info-product on how to spam up Metafilter by dropping links in old posts. Slapping the label "advanced" on old spam techniques makes them neither new nor advanced. The clock moves in one direction. Unfortunately it is not 2003 anymore.
There are a bunch of exploitative douchebags that paint themselves as white hats while destroying the ecosystems we all must work in by undermining basic human decency principals & trust in the marketplace. I don't care if someone wants to be a spammer, but to do so and claim that you are white hat and ethical (and thus that others are somehow inferior) is garbage.
Even Ghetto Rappers Stand for Something
The most important lesson in marketing is consistency. Make promises that you can consistently deliver on.
Rappers are successful. So are folks like Thom Yorke. But they pick their markets & their approach and stick to it. Bouncing back and forth just makes a person look like a dishonest douchebag who stands for nothing.
It's not standing for much, but least the rappers have their drugs, booze and hoes.
What do these internet marketers stand for?
It seems the folks teaching "advanced" internet marketing still need a bit of work on "basic" social interactions & common sense. But I guess those are harder to sell. ;)
It's on July 19/20 in LA. The speaker line up is pretty awesome and takes a business / start up approach on top of the killer search & social media tactics he will be reviewing. Tickets are only $495, and he has put together a 15% discount for SEObook readers/members. It's seobook
After about 11 weeks or so of being closed to new members, I have caught up on a number of projects and we have decided to re-open again. We increased the price again to try to help manage demand, as it is far easier for me to keep adding more value to x members than to have 2x customers. There are so many ways to profit from search, but it is too easy to get bogged down doing administrative work if we were to have thousands and thousands of customers. Plus increasing price tends to increase customer quality (keeping any pikers out while encouraging more successful people to join) and make doing the work that much more enjoyable. Current members are locked in at their current rates, but new members have to pay the current rate.
If you are at Pubcon I am flying out in about a half hour to speak a couple times today. First up is links at 1015, and then immediately following that at 1130 I am speaking on contextual ads. Many people probably know that I am a bit of a link hound, but what is lesser known is that I probably know way more about AdSense than most the people who have wrote books or ebooks about it. Like many other AdSense publishers I even have my own favorite layout + strategy which maximizes earnings without sacrificing linkability.
Budweiser says drinkability is the difference. Nonsense. It is all about linkability. ;)
Both sessions should be fun and I look forward to seeing you if you are there. If you aren't there I look forward to seeing you in our community. :D
I am going to be speaking at SES San Jose Tuesday of next week on SEO Tools stuff. My wife and I should be there for most of the conference roaming around. If you see us please say hi. :)
I am also hoping to be up in time to catch the Clay Shirky keynote on Tuesday. He has been right about the direction of the web on so many fronts including newspapers, micropayments, and communities. While his new book Here Comes Everybody book might be a bit idealistic, it is also one of the most compelling looks at the ever-changing nature of how the social aspects of the web intersect with our lives, and a nice counter view of the web to Nick Carr's The Big Switch.
Conferences are especially interesting especially in a tough economy. Truth be told, I had low expectations for SES NY when all I was reading was companies scaling back and downsizing.
But the first tweets about SES painted a brighter picture. And with close to 5,000 marketers registered for the conference it was shaping up to be an excellent conference. As I walked through the exhibit hall vendors had a very good show and were very pleased with the large numbers of crowds that showed up. Of all the different SES shows I have attended over the last few years, this particular SES NY had to top the list in both the quality of the lectures, the speaker list and even the small details such as quality of the food J.
Here is a quick wrap up of some of the highlights
I thought that Guy Kawasaki’s choice of topic on using “Twitter As A Tool For Social Media” was an interesting one. And although I am a fan of Guy, my assumption was that most everyone in attendance must have used twitter for some time. I was really wondering if I am going to learn many new things from session. The room was over flowing with people and the few who showed up late had to spend the hour or so standing.
Guy made 9 main points:
Forget the A list (sort of funny coming from A lister ;) )
Increase your followers
Monitor the conversation
Copy best practices
Use the right tools
Squeeze the triggers
Make it easy to share
Guy’s favorite tools to use in conjunction with Twitter
Retweetist which measures how many times a person is retweeted.
Social Too allows you auto follow those who follow you.
Twibs shows you how some of the big brands are using twitter.
My favorite portion in the presentation was the section on search and utilizing advance search parameters to look for terms people are using. That can be a valuable tool to increase business. Let say you are a web designer who is looking for work. You can setup a search for a term such as web design referrals. That is an excellent time to jump in and introduce yourself.
Twitter hawk is a tool that can be used to send automatic “paid” messages when people search for a term. I am not familiar with the tool but I see the potential to use it for business development. I am sure there are many who will debate the tactics Guy suggested in the session. If you are a believer in pure social media, I think there are many things that will turn your stomach.
The session on Meaningful SEO Metrics focused on measurements that help generate better ROI. Traditional metrics focus on number of visitors, pages per visit, time on site, etc. Ray "Catfish" Comstock discussed how bounce rates for keywords is critical in the process of conversion optimization. Ray suggested examining:
High Bounce Rate keyword phrases: which indicate keyword phrases that are generating traffic but users are not finding what they want.
High Conversion Rate keyword phrases: which indicate keywords that are working and therefore which phrases you should focus more resources on.
I did not really appreciate the importance of mobile SEO until I chatted with an SEO for a large auto site. He mentioned that their site traffic usually peaks on Mondays and Tuesdays. That is the time where people are searching for cars. The traffic usually dies off on weekends when people are out shopping. If you think about it, people actually shopping in real life is perfect time for Mobile SEO. That discussion was enough to convince me to attend Mobile seo best practices. Cindy Krum who specializes in mobile marketing consulting did a great job covering Mobile Marketing Strategies. While visitors of traditional marketing can arrive at a site at different stages of the buying process, mobile search usually indicate immediate intent. Cindy pointed out that real mobile web browsing, flat-rate data pricing, and faster download speed are all factors help that make mobile web more relevant. Cindy’s advice for basic mobile seo includes:
Follow all Traditional & Local SEO Best Practices
Submit your Site to Mobile Search Engines & Directories
Avoid using flash, scripts, popup windows.
Follow XHTML standards
Use external CSS
The panel discussion on the most common search marketing mistakes CMOs make promised to deliver an interesting topic. My favorite of the mistakes was failing to assign $ value to every conversion on a website. There are too many times when we focus on a generating sales or leads via a website and forget about the other conversions that can take place. These other conversions might not have the same dollar value as a sale but they are the still conversions. A visitor might subscribe to a newsletter, download a white paper or subscribe to a blog. Assign a dollar value for each of these activities.
The extreme makeover session with a focus on conversion made for an entertaining afternoon. Jeffry Eisenberg of Future Now, Tim Ash of SiteTuners and Ethan Griffin of Groove Commerce took on a discussion of one of the sites Groove Commerce worked on. You can tell right away the different approach to optimization each of these guys takes. Jeffry is evaluating different customers, looking at what might work for them. Tim is focused on the testing aspect. Ethan is considering optimization as well as implementation details. Jeffry and Tim seemed to disagree even when they were making the same point. As a listed to the panelist go back and forth on what to test and what to remove, some sitting next to me asked, so who should we listen to here? I smiled and said, listen to your visitors!
Night time at conferences is as valuable as day time and SES New York was no exception. So, on the first night of SES NY I stayed up until 4 AM with Frank Watson (AussieWebmaster AKA crocodile man in some Hollywood circles) and Patrick Sexton (who you know from SEOish or his latest venture GetListed.org), every muscle in my body was aching. I am just not sure how Frank was planning to stay up for few more hours.
B2B complex sales involve longer cycles, many stages and different people in each stage. The session on B2B marketing focused on search marketing tactics that can help deal with some of these complexities. Segmenting data becomes more critical in complex sales. This can be done through allowing customers to identify what segment they belong to (enterprise, small business, etc). Another important factor when it comes to complex sales is going beyond the cost per lead to cost per action which is a good indicator of the quality of leads.
Another panel discussion I attended at SES was Slash Your Search Budget. As you can imagine the title hit home with what many companies have to deal with nowadays. Unfortunately, this session was perhaps the most disappointing discussion in the conference. The speakers did not offer real ways to slash marketing budgets. The talk of mobile SEO as an alternative to traditional SEO threw me off completely. How would that relate to slashing a marketing budget? Talk of utilizing social media as a way to generate hits did not resonate with me either. Social media takes a lot of nurturing and a lot of budget. So, at that point, I could not help but raise my hand and ask how is using social media help in cutting SEM budgets? There was a bit of silence there.
The only exception was Aaron Kahlow of the online marketing summit. He offered candid suggestions: It is better to take charge of the budget discussion. Approach your manager/boss and tell him you want to slash the budget. Evaluate which parts SEM activities are not producing results. By doing so, you will be guaranteed a seat at the table.
The 2 nd night at SES included attending live web master radio show hosted by David Szetela, learning more about the SEO community from Jim Hedger and enjoying a lengthy discussion on online marketing with @webanalytic J .
On the third day of SES, I attended News search and SEO. Most notable on that panel was John Shehata of who specializes in news search seo . John provided many valuable tips that ranged from the basic to more advance level. Some of the tips included:
Use trends/buzz keyword tools when writing news for online audience (Google hot trends, Yahoo Buzz, Google Zeitgeist, seomoz popular)
Print headlines sell the story, optimized web headlines tell the story
Well, before I sign off, I have to congratulate Matt McGowan and his team for an excellent show and raised the bar for upcoming search events. I think Matt is on his way to Australia at this point. If you enjoyed this post and would like to connect, then follow me on twitter.
There are a lot of SEO conferences in the next month. One of the easiest ways to grow in a down market is to network. Why? The web is a social network, and sometimes just a few links separates the top player from a #3 ranking, and the people who can afford to invest in education and marketing in a down market are clearly successful (and, thus, worth networking with and learning from).
Search Engine Strategies is in New York, NY from March 23-27. Here is a coupon for 15% off SES NY15BK. If you use the coupon please make sure to attend the IM Charity party to give back some of the money you saved, as a lot of charities are hurting this year as budgets get cut back. SES also has an Amsterdam conference and training in Denver & Atlanta coming up soon.
SMX Advanced is not too far off either...it is in Seattle, WA from June 2-3. In our member's area we have a coupon for $100 off of SMX. Between now and that conference SMX also has conferences in Toronto, Sydney, Munich, London, and Madrid!
If you have never attended a conference, it is worth attending at least 1 or 2 to see what they are like, do a bit of networking, and learn more about the space. With the conferences occurring all over the country (and world) it is quite easy to find one that suits your calendar and budget.
Falko Luedtke has been a member of our online training program and community forums since the day we opened up nearly a year ago. He has done in house SEO for some fortune 500 clients and recently branched out to start his own consultancy. As a Search Engine Strategies media partner I figured it would be more beneficial to many readers of the blog to see what Falko thought of going to his first SEO related conference, rather than hearing my take on it. Without further ado, here is his review...
My First SEO Conference
My first SES, way to cold and bad coffee but the greatest working week I ever had.
6 days in Chicago, the first time for me being in the windy city, the first time that I went to a big SEO conference, the first time that I freeze my butt off anywhere I go.
I love to go to conversions and conferences, when I was younger I spend almost every second weekend on the road to attended eSport events. So even so it was my first time to go to a SES it was nothing new for me.
Overall I need to say that I enjoyed the week in Chicago a lot and I can’t wait to go to the next conference. Everybody interested in SEO should at least attend to one in his life. It is the second best way to meet other SEO experts and exchange knowledge with them, best way is signing up for the SEO Book Community. I don’t know who came up with the idea to put the December SES to Chicago but I guess it is the same person who decided to put it into the Chicago Hilton Hotel. I talked to so many people on this conference and everybody was saying the same 5 things:
I’m freezing my B’s off.
Godverdomme my phone is not working.
Does anybody have a steady internet connection? I don’t.
Where is the coffee? No I’m not talking about that weird black water over there.
The music is so loud I can’t hear what you say. What did you say?
When I arrived on Sunday evening from Vancouver I already had meet one other SEO and as soon we said down in the shuttle bus we realized we are not alone. 7 out 10 people in the shuttle where on their way to the conference. I thought, good start as more people around as more possibilities to talk. After settling down in my room and get myself organized I went to Kitty O'Sheas in the Hilton. I didn’t stay in the Hilton by the way, I said right next door in the Essex Inn, paid a third of the price and had less to complain about my room than anybody else I meet on the conference. Kitty is an Irish bar not a bad one but they really need to learn to turn down the music. I meet more people in the first night then I could have expected. And at 5 am I went happily to bed thinking about what to attend to on Monday.
Monday morning the black water that the Hilton called Coffee didn’t really help, the breakfast was average low and way to overpriced so I could really enjoy me being hang over on this morning :) That didn’t stop me to go to the panels. I could spend a 100 blog posts talking about the panels and all the great things that I learned but I don’t want to make this post to long. I think there are some panels I would like to urge you to try to get your hands on the presentations, if you can.
Orion Panel: The State of Integration – Yes we are SEO’s, yes we are great but yes there are others. Use traditional marketing to funnel your branding efforts into high converting search. Instead of fighting your traditional marketing colleges work with them.
Search & Packaged Goods Moderated by Mark Jackson – One of the best panels I attended on the conference. You could have really learnt something about were large consumer-packaged-goods companies work and think. More and more Shopper Moms are going online to research their products online or looking for coupons. Also how a crisis in a industry can a good way to created brand trust. I just say large number of searches, big marketing budgets but old companies with no sense for new technology. Huge opportunities for every marketer who stops and thinks for a moment about it.
Why Does Search get all the Credit? – Pretty simple, search converts better and is much easier to click then to walk somewhere. But how do you get people to search for your brand terms? There is a life beyond the internet and we all living in it.
Take away from the first day was clearly, look outside the search box, with the prices for traditional marketing down there are huge opportunities to drive more searches. Don’t forget to optimize your site for conversions first :) A very good book to read about this topic is “Landing Page Optimization” from Tim Ash.
Tuesday morning the breakfast was not much better in the Hilton and coffee in the press area was the same as the day before. I spend quite a bit of time at the Expo and talk to a lot of Marketers and Product Managers. Some of the products are just amazing. Everybody who works with content should take a look at the new version of WordVision, very cool.
The panel for Tuesday that I thought was most interesting, since most people don’t get it right, was Duplicate Content & Multiple Site Issues moderated by Eric Enge. Even so I didn’t agree with all the presentation the insides that Sharad Verma from Y! Search provided were gold worth. Hint different language can’t be duplicated content. Use Aarons Duplicated Content Checker to make sure you don’t have any problems with it on your site.
The evening was even better then the day before. A little tip for you, just stick around till the Gurus are drunk and then ask all your questions you will get the best answers.
This time I left the Breakfast out in Hilton, just not worth it. For this day I would like you to look at Social Media Optimization as a panel. Even so Web 2.0 was yesterday and we are not quite at Web 3.0 yet Social Media is a constant in the internet that you can’t forget about anymore if you want to run a successful online business. A lot of old school companies are still hesitant to invest in such a market but they could find solutions for their biggest problems here. Interacting with a community can created not only brand awareness but it can also help you to created new content for your company. If you have a great product and created value for your clients it will help your online efforts even more. Pauline Ores at IBM mention that if they get a bad feedback in the community it takes sometimes too long for them to react on it but the community on its own does it instantly. And often more human then IBM could.
At this point I need to thank Mike Grehan and all the great people for the great dinner this evening. And after talking to Mike about his new book I can’t wait to get my hands on it. I hope after reading the book people stop riding the “Rank matters most” trip.
Since I went to bed at 6.30 am on Thursday morning it took me a bit longer to come back on track. At least I can say I enjoyed the most awesome Jazz club in Chicago and I now know what company I would invest money in if I would have any :) You want to know? Send me a mail.
There are two panels I want to mention for this day, first is “How to speak Geek: Working Collaboratively with your IT department to get stuff done” Chris Boggs is a great guy and he is so right, we are living in the 21th century, nerds rule the world and they will do that more and more, Management language does not help you anymore. The world changed people want to cut the BS and come to the point. So start speaking Geek it will help you at work, with your friends and maybe even you can finally connect to your kids again.
The highlight of the conference was “Black Hat, Whit Hat & the Best kept secrets to Search” With Todd Friesen, Eric Enge, Doug Heil and David Naylor in the panel. Some people expected that somebody would start a bar fight but David Naylor just stole the show. If somebody did a video of the D..k head parody please send me the link over. We didn’t have the changes to see a bar fight but it was almost an hour long discussion about all the nice things what you can do to make yourself disappear in the search results.
Not only was this the funniest panel of the conference, but it also had a ton of information in it like how Google will not allow tons of results in there SERP that are leading all to the same upstream end point. You can mask a lot of things but you can’t mask the upstream end point. If all the search results send their traffic to the same end point Google will eliminate the ranking of your affiliates to created more diversity in their results. With creating multiple end points for your affiliates you are able to create this diversity.
But I need to repeat the warning from Todd and Doug from last night, be aware of the risks and only do things that are relevant. To quote David Naylor on this "If a user clicks on a link that says 'Buy Viagra', they're going to land on a page that's selling Viagra." If the user clicks on ‘Buy Viagra’ and lands on the page of Al Gore the user is properly not very happy. With staying relevant you can’t do much wrong. I really hope somebody did a video of this panel. If not too bad you were not here.
Before I bore you guys to death, I guess I already did here are some recommendations if you ever plan to attend a SEO conference.
If you come for just one day, save the money for the conference get a Expo only ticked, take the money that you saved and go to the bar.
Look for the Geek with the most people around him and by him drinks till he can’t stand anymore. You learn more in the bar and with being social then you could ever learn from the panels.
To summarise the conference, it was a great week, thank you so much for the opportunity Aaron. I had so much fun and even so that I would say SES should move this event ether to a different city for December or to a different hotel all the complains are gone as soon you get in the Bar and be social. I can’t wait to attend the next conference even if it is in the cold again, the information and knowledge you gain in one night is worth a lot more than the cost of coming to the conference. I almost wish that the conference would have not ended but my lever hurts, I’m tiered and I had the most fun week working ever. I hope to see you around on the next events maybe the SEO Community conference?
Webmaster World's Pubcon in Las Vegas from November 11th through 14th is the only mainstream SEO conference I will be speaking at this year. I have a session on link buying and a session on making money from contextual ads on November 13th. Brett Tabke gave me a 20% off coupon code to share with readers. Registration is currently $899, but if you use the discount code wa-67720 in the next 2 weeks you can save $180 off your conference admission price.
And I worked out a special deal such that SEO Book community members get 30% off. If you are a paying member you can get that special code here.
Let me know if you are going. Hope to say hi to many blog readers. :)
There's always "take home" value that you can immediately apply after attending Elite Retreat. I, Giovanna have signed an NDA so I can't go into deep details. Last year, I learned the various monetization models from Jeremy Shoemaker's presentation and Lee Dodd introduced the idea of buying and selling website "real estate." This year, Andy Liu's presentation was very interesting because it had a different approach and it focused on team building, applying business formulas, metrics and attracting investors. A memorable quote by Andy about his way of investing was "Buy Based on Current Revenue and Sell for Strategic Value." Although I have no intention to sell any of my sites, I now know what investors look for and the path to take for increased profitability. Had a short yet highly productive chat with Brian Clark about copywriting and conversion. There will be more posts on conversion because it's my new homework and there really is no secret forumula ---> Just hard work.
I was bummed out for missing Shoemoney's presentation this year because you always learn something new and cool from that guy...especially in exclusive and highly private groups like Elite Retreat. It was my loss. Aaron sat next to Matt Mullenweg of Wordpress during the lunch and I guess they had fun exchanging SEO stories. I actually use his platform on at least three of my sites. Aaron is so addicted to the web that his knowledge goes beyond SEO. He's now tying SEO and marketing to the social networking theory. That's not white hat, it's more like clear hat.
The Elite Retreat attendees are all pretty darn razor SHARP. Just being around incredibly smart people was worth the investment but being able to "pick" the brains of the industry's top thought leaders is priceless. Ugh, that last sentence sounded too Mastercard-ish but it's true. People who have attended in the past come for the 2nd or 3rd time.
BOTTOM LINE: Knowledge is can be expensive but truly life changing once it's IMPLEMENTED. If you really want to make it, you need to go out there and take immediate action. If the results are not what you expected, LEARN. If they are positive, RE-APPLY! :)