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SMX Advanced Seattle 2009 Highlights

SMX Advanced Seattle 2009 ended up being a great educational & networking experience. While I go to a lot of search engine marketing conferences and educational events, my primary goal isn’t usually to learn something entirely new. In my book it’s a success if I pick up a couple of useful takeaways, a new way of explaining or thinking about a particular search marketing tactic, or uncover a new tool. This year’s show didn’t disappoint.

Rather than try to give you a complete conference recap – I’m just going to give you my notes & links from what I thought were the best takeaways at this year’s show. Hope you find them useful.

Before I get started – I will point out. SMX was great – but MANY of the speakers I saw at SMX also participate in our SEMpdx events – including SearchFest – at a fraction of the cost…

Social Media & Search Engine Marketing Session

Moderator: Rae Hoffman, Owner, Sugarrae Internet Consulting

Speakers:

  • Brent Csutoras, Social Media Marketing Consultant, Brent Csutoras, Inc
  • Jen Miller, Manager, Delta.com Onsite Marketing & Content, iProspect
  • Dave Snyder, Co-Founder, Search & Social
  • Michael Gray, President, Atlas Web Service

IMPROVING SEARCH WITH SOCIAL

Social Media is having an impact on  SERPS – as represented by cases where content distributed via Social Media gets indexed & ranked faster than without. Google & the rest using engagement & influence (social media) signals to determine relevance, popularity & priority when it comes to what to index & rank.

GAINING INFLUENCE

  • Utilize appropriate Microformats in your page markup
  • Add “retweet” functionality to your content (easy WordPress plugin)
  • Influence tagging of your site (suggest tags in your del.icio.us widget etc)
  • Engage users with content like video, which encourages longer visits & more ‘bookmarking’ of your site

REVISITING STUMBLEUPON

Stumbleupon redesign = better usefulness & more influence. Instead of stumble & forget, better integration, fb, etc = more users, traffic, better sharing & LINKS!

  • StumbleUpon is now capable of driving a lot more traffic.
  • StumbleUpon is giving you links now
  • Stumbling is no longer so ‘random’

Success in StumbleUpon requires full, legit profile & real friends. Must build out & become a full “persona”…  Speaker recommends building a “Persona” not a Person. The distinction? Choose a niche that you’re trying to target and build your persona accordingly– don’t try to be all encompassing with your persona (ie – if you’re a tech gadget persona don’t try to push sports equipment)

StumbleUpon Content Submission Tips for Success

Obviously – the key is genuine participation… But here are some tips for better results.

  • Use “hot” tags (see stumbleupon.com/submit instead of toolbar) to get better visibility
  • ADD YOUR OWN CATEGORY to your submission (don’t use current quick submit – you don’t have category choice) otherwise others / algo will choose for you
  • Tags are a big deal
  • Sharing = use the toolbar “send to” functionality
  • Avoid patterns – don’t stumble only friend’s stuff, discovering too much from one or group of friends section = getting flagged/banned
  • Add friends in your categories (seek out top stumblers in the categories)
  • Post to your stumbleupon blog (not your pers blog)
  • Spend time going to the video & photo sections of StumbleUpon specifically – they aren’t automatically shown to you

USE FLICKR TO BUILD LINKS

Tips:

  • Write proper title, tags, filenames (don’t use camera file name because the picture’s name = anchor text)
  • Make pics creative commons so that others will use them
  • Interesting photos count – duh
  • Build links to your pics ON Flickr: (put photo gallery on & link to your sets & images – there’s a wordpress plugin)
  • Find relevant groups & submit
  • Post pics on a limited basis – stick with your best pics
  • Put links back to your site in the description – but sparingly (for example – if you posted a review of a restaurant on your blog. Put the picture on Flickr & link to your review)
  • Use Creative Commons pics on your site/temp & let those photographers know. They may link to you.

DELTA AIRLINES – SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING EXAMPLE

Primary takeaway is that focus helps

  • Delta uses their blog as the central launching point, then they use other channels (Facebook/YouTube/Flickr) to echo the content
    • Blog links to YT & Flickr
    • They don’t build posts around specific keywords, but they do review after the fact for anchor text linking opps based on their keyword list
    • They produce more content based on what gets the most comments (example – people really interested in wifi rollout, so they produce more details about it)

MY THOUGHTS

Social media is not about the link – it’s about the eyeballs that’ll give you links. While you must truly participate with your social Web, you can think of these various sites/tools/communities as distribution channels for your content. Reminds me of Tom Bennett’s quote from our WebVisions session earlier this year “It’s not about the container – it’s about the content”. It’s the old “fish where the fish are” mentality. While getting visitors to your site is obviously important – it’s highly likely that their first experience with your brand will probably not be on your site.

Twitter Tactics & Search Marketing Session

Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land

Speakers:

  • Michael Gray, President, Atlas Web Service
  • Craig Greenfield, VP of Search and Performance Media, Performics
  • Joanna Lord, Co-Founder & CMO, TheOnlineBeat

GROW YOUR FOLLOWERS

  • Tweet interesting things & links – don’t be self-serving
  • Have some interaction – most can’t get away with just robotic style content (except cnn)
  • Be helpful, friendly & aggressive
  • Set up pre-programed searches for questions that you can answer quickly & easily
  • Talk with peeps in your vertical who are leaders or have more followers – talk with who they talk with
  • RT your vertical’s leader’s self-serving content and get noticed

PRACTICAL MANAGEMENT TIPS

  • Answer @ replies when you can, no need to be real time.
  • Use scheduled tweets
  • Ask questionss, use surveys & polls
  • Hold contents give away related to market (don’t giveaway  something just anyone would want)
  • RT’s are gold
  • Leave extra characters for people to RT
  • Ask followers to RT (“please RT”)
  • It’s OK to Tweet the same thing multiple times per day (same content – people are in different time zones)
  • Shorten URLs on your own so you can track… which shortener to use? (see this post at searchengineland)

TWITTER TOOLS LIST

Automating Twitter:

Find & follow:

Auto-follow/unfollow/dm:

Researching the conversation:

Track & Quantify:

For Marketers:

SEO Ranking Factors 2009 Session

Moderator: Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, Search Engine Land

Speakers:

  • Rand Fishkin, CEO, SEOmoz
  • Laura Lippay, Dir. Technical Marketing, Yahoo
  • Marty Weintraub, President, aimClear

SEOMOZ RANKING FACTORS SURVEY – PRESENTATION

We’ll probably examine the SEOmoz survey more in-depth in a later blog post. This was one of the more interesting sessions from a straight ahead SEO standpoint.

* Note – correlation just means that people who do X tend to have better rankings… Correlation DOES NOT = causation

Factors, Correlation & Comments

  • Low: Markup – h1,2,3 = pretty low correlation with ranking
  • High: Keyword in the URL has very high correlation
  • High: Alt text w/ images = high correlcation with ranking
  • High: Title Tag has high correlation between ranking & keyword POSITION (1st word is better than 10th word)
  • High: Unique content is very high (duh)
  • Low: Validation doesn’t matter that much
  • High: Number of domains linking to a URL is important in ranking (not the number of links – the number of linking domains – domain diversity)

Other Notes:

  • Toolbar Page Rank is a poor predictor of rankings
  • Sub-domains are treated partially as part of the primary domain – so they don’t inherit all of the ranking benefits of the root domain – but they aren’t completely separate
  • “NEW SIGNALS” = some impact: Traffic & CTR data, social graph, registration & hosting
  • Be careful with that optimized anchor text on every page footer

International Factors

  • TLD of root domain
  • Location of the host IP
  • Links from other sites w/ same root domains
  • Manual review
  • Google Webmaster Tools – Geographic Target Settings

OTHER TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS SESSION

  • Your product / service has to be  worthy of a better ranking… SEO is not a band aid for a crappy product (you can’t polish a turd)
  • You need a user friendly site w/ compelling offers
  • Site Architecture paper: http://www.netconcepts.com/learn/site-architecture.ppt

Conducting An SEO Audit Session

Moderator: Vanessa Fox, Contributing Editor, Search Engine Land

Speakers:

  • Adam Audette, Founder, AudetteMedia, Inc.
  • Vanessa Fox, Contributing Editor, Search Engine Land
  • Derrick Wheeler, Senior SEO Architect, Microsoft

TAKEAWAYS & TOOLS

Off Page Factors to Consider When Auditing SEO for a Site:

  • Backlinks
  • Social Media Signals
  • Cache Date(s), Indexed Pages
  • Toolbar PageRank (it’s the best we have)

Interesting On-Site Factors

  • URLs – maybe the biggest/best/most valuable?
  • Site Architecture & Navigation
  • Product-level Pages
  • Duplication? Orphaned pages?
  • Site Latency – Slow loading pages?

Tools:

Sitemap xmls for large sites

You can actually create multiple sitemaps (products or categories) then a sitemap file that links to all of them. Then – you’ll be able to better determine which areas of the site are not being indexed and why

Ben Lloyd

About Ben Lloyd

Ben Lloyd serves as Principal at Add3 and manages the agency’s Portland office.  Ben got his start in SEM way back in 1999 – when there was like, 15 search engines and Google was barely a thing. Prior to Add3, Ben had founded Amplify Interactive in 2003 (which was acquired by Add3 in 2013), and hasn’t looked back since. Ben likes lots of stuff like golf, pinball, food(ie), booze/beer/wine – in that order, etc. Mostly – he likes doing that stuff with his friends. Ben is also co-founder of SEMpdx. Connect with Ben on LinkedIn