77 Tools & Tips from SMX Sydney 2012
I had a fantastic time last week in Sydney at the 2012 Online Marketer Conference & Expo. I attended SMX Sydney, SEO Marketer Elite Workshop and some of the Social Marketer Workshop tracks. The conference played host to a number of renowned international speakers and some local experts. It was great fun meeting lots of like-minded industry experts where I was able to have some nice & engaging conversations as well as broaden my horizons. I’ve put together this little recount of events which is not meant to reflect the entire conference, just the elements I personally found useful.
Day 1 – SMX
The first session was with Stephan Spencer (co-author of ‘The Art of SEO‘) about ‘SEO in 2012’, Anne Kennedy from Beyond Ink (co-author of ‘Global Search Engine Marketing‘) entitled ‘Duplication, Syndication & all that other mess’ and Mike King (Director of Inbound Marketing at iAcquire) about ‘Web Design for SEO’. The scene was set regarding how the SEO landscape is looking at the moment in a post black & white animal world. Some tips I found useful from this session:
- In Google Analytics – keep track of ‘keyword yield’ which looks at the average keywords per page
- Data mining was discussed and a reference was made to this NYTimes article which demonstrates how companies know your secrets using Target as an example
- Measure the number of clicks it takes to get to internal pages that have inbound links from external sites as a metric to track over time
- Duplicate content is a filter and not a penalty
- The 410 header response code signifies that the URL absolutely no longer exists – useful if you have control over a URL that is permanently gone
- Expandable DIVs are perfect for that balance between good UI design, UX & SEO
After lunch I switched over to the Conversion Optimisation track and listened to Christian Bartens (Director & Founder of Datalicious), Brent D Payne (CEO of Bald SEO) & Mona Elesseily (Director of Merketing Strategy at Page Zero Media) talk about getting the most out of landing pages. Here are some of the tips I found most useful:
- Phone Number Targeting – create different priority phone numbers for customers at deeper points in the sales funnel to avoid drop outs from waiting
- For pages returning soft 404s (i.e. page not found page returning a 200 header) can still rank well if all text is removed from the page & replaced with an image without an alt tag
- Mona’s article on Search Engine Land covering 10 Form Optimsation Tips For Landing Pages
- 7 Landing page mistakes:
- Page is too cluttered (bullet points are good)
- No clear value propositions on the page
- Desired customer action unclear
- Click to get to desired action
- Images aren’t compelling (product images convert best)
- Too many words on the page (or too many images)
- Asking for too much info
- Formula for creating landing pages:
- Page headline
- Company or product description (no more than 2-3 sentences)
- Product/Service features & benefits in bullet points
- Compelling picture
- Call-to-action (blue or orange variations convert best)
Gillian Muessig from SEOmoz (now former Mozzer due to Moz’s $18 Million Venture Financing) delivered a brilliant presentation entitled ‘Inbound Marketing – New Tactics & Signals in Search’ – she was very fast and engaging and I managed to scribble a few things down such as:
- Building communities on Twitter & social media is paramount – it’s your house and you’re hosting the party
- Follower count is not important but conversation is
- Talk about processes within your organisation & anything interesting
- Google’s “Panda” update is about thin content
- Google’s “Penguin” update is about quality content
In the final Keynote Panel I found out about the term “plinking” – the practice of “embedding a product or service link in a video” – imagine YouTube’s where you can freeze frame & click-to-buy anything the actor is wearing.
It was onto the boat cruise next followed by drinks at the Opera Bar. I had been trying to organise an interview with Mike King but it was a bit hard to do given the “noise” so we teed it up for the next day at 11.
It had been a great day & I met many interesting people from Australia and abroad – I even met some random guy from American Express & his goons who I later found out were managers at the nearby McDonalds. To try and keep the post short, I’ve omitted a lot of detail but let’s just say I got home quite late.
Day 2 – Social Marketer & the Clinics
Ouch my head… my first stop today was an interview with Mike King and all I’ve got to say is stay tuned – it’s a fantastic interview with a top dude.
After grabbing some lunch & catching the end of Manny Rivas’ presentation ‘How to Easily Manage Social Media Marketing for Campaigns’ it was time to get to business. First up we had Mike King with ‘Leveraging Apps on Facebook to Get More’ followed by Merry Morud’s presentation on ‘Successful Targeting Strategies for Facebook Ad Campaigns’ and Ian Lyons’ on ‘Best Practices & Tools to Maximise Your Social Media Efforts’. Here are some of my key takeaways:
- The holy grail of digital marketing could be simply equated as: INTENT + INTERESTS + DEMOGRAPHICS + NETWORK
- After defining need states & personas it is important to define business goals for any given campaign. Mike used an example of the LG campaign he worked on where the goals were:
- Sell More 3D TVs
- Get More Shares on Social Media
- Occupy the Conversation
- Tools that would help with the third goal above include Facebook Ad Creator, Double Click’s Ad Planner, Topsy.com, Amplicate etc.
- It’s all about listening in on discussions in the social sphere.
- Use Quora for keyword research and use Scraper for Chrome with the Adwords API plugin.
- After that, define your audience using FollowerWonk, Zerply or About.Me and your need states.
- Don’t forget Googlebot as the 5th persona! (hence my tag line)
- Contact users who follow but don’t link to you with The SEER Method – use SimplyMeasured + your backlink profile
- If you can’t get through to Facebook because you don’t have a million dollar account and hence no dedicated account manager, you can use the email “gms-support [at] fb [dot] com” to get some assistance.
After Q&A was interrupted by a wall needing to be removed, it was onto SEO Site Clinic & Social Media Clinic where the speakers dressed up in lab-suits and critiqued 3 websites and 3 social media profiles. The SEO Site Clinic was a bit 101 for me but did reiterate a lot of things that I’m trying to get my clients to do – so it was good. I did pick up some useful tips from the Social Media Clinic:
- If your company has a presence on Facebook that dates back past the date the presence was added on Facebook then populate the timeline with events trailing back to the establishment of the company – that’s some gold right there.
- Engage with your audience, e.g. ask them fill-in-the-blank type questions
- If you don’t have many apps on your business page then add an app that links to your website
- Don’t enable the auto-tweet functionality from Facebook
It was a great day (particularly after having done the interview with Mike) and I wasn’t ready to finish up yet. So next I scooted off to ShopTalk – an ecommerce meetup.com group. I caught up with an old friend, ate some Edamame, Ramen + Katsudon and retired home.
Day 3 – SEO Marketer Elite Workshop
This was a great day in a more intimate set up & featured presentations & some pro tips from Stephan Spencer, Brent D Payne, Mike King, Christine Churchill, Todd Friesen, Manny Rivas, Bruce Clay, Anne Kennedy, Cindy Krum & Gillian Muessig. Here are some of my favourite parts:
- Don’t forget to use Blekko’s slash tags for insights
- /compare – will allow you to compare metrics from 2 sets of domains
- /dupe-text – will find duplicate content
- /inbound – will provide inbound link data
- UNIX commands
- “warwick” – scrape sites
- “lwprequets” – grabs pages, server headers etc
- If you have massive sitemaps then consider breaking them up into smaller ones based on product categories, best sellers etc
- Improve User Generated Content and fix spelling, style & grammar – you can use “After The Deadline” which does this for you (see “Tools” section at the end below)
- Rearrange internal links to boost seasonal best sellers
- Types of searches generally fall into 3 categories: Navigational, Informational & Transactional.
- Categorise keywords during keyword research
- Google rewards content that delivers intent of search
- Don’t forget to use your keywords in all digital assets
- Instead of “nofollow”, use JQuery or IFRAMES
- “Link Management” is the new “Link Building” given Google’s recent Penguin update
- Regarding (not provided) increases in Analytics – compare GA data to Google Web Master Tools data
- Regarding the over-optimisation penalty – check the number of inbound links to a given page as this signifies importance
- When segmenting brand in Google Analytics – check for partial instances of the brand to cater for Google Suggest (e.g. say your company is named “ABCXYZ” – include “A”, “AB”, “ABC”, “ABCX” etc in the branded segment)
The Gillian Meussig came on and delivered an inspirational story about SEOmoz during her talk entitled “Entrepreneurs in Search”. She explained the TAGFEE (Transparency, Authentic, Generosity, Fun, Empathy & Exceptional Work) ethos that SEOmoz was built around and I found it really compelling. She proceeded to drop further insights such as:
- Brand community is the key to growth
- Tell customers the things you’d cut your left arm to know
- Great graphics matter
- Be the centre of the conversation
- Fire your bottom 4 clients every December
- Attend / speak at conferences & events
- Participate on Q&A sites & forums
- Use ‘Game Mechanics’ on your community site
An ex-Googler joined us and of all the things he said the one that stood out was that Google rewards “quality over quantity” when it comes to external inbound links.
All-in-all it was a great conference, very useful & full of great insights & refresher tips. If you get a chance then make sure you get to SMX Sydney 2013 & hopefully I’ll see you there! Now onto some tools & some recommended reading…
- Keyword Spy – keyword research tool
- Soovle – uses suggest on Google, Bing, Amazon, YouTube and others.
- Yahoo Clues – top source for current keyword trending data
- Google’s Contextual Targeting Tool – available via AdWords & automagically builds keyword lists for individual web pages
Link Building / Link Management
- Link Research Tools – Tools for link research (see what I did there)
- Radian 6 – social listening, monitoring & engagement
- IFTTT (If This Then That) – set up automatic tweets based on certain conditions
- Raven Toolbar – allows you to switch between social media accounts
- StumbleUpon’s Paid Discovery – helps find audiences & to create really targeted ads.
- Facebook’s “Recommendations Box” plugin – will show people customised recommendations based on their friends “likes”
- Facebook’s “Registration” plugin – will save users needing to enter basic contact information a hundred times.
- Search Metrics Essentials – comprehensive search analytics (domain, keyword, backlink, market, traffic & social analytics)
Ranking / SERPs
- Thumbshots.com – view rankings visually across Google, Bing & Yahoo
- Voot – YouTube SERPs Tracking Tool
On-page & Technical SEO
- After The Deadline – fix style, grammar & spelling on your website (made by Automattic, creators of WordPress)
- Live HTTP Headers Firefox plugin allows you to see headers while browsing
- User Agent Switcher allows you to view a page as a different bot or device – don’t forget to revert back to default after your session is done!
- MetaTags sidebar for Firefox shows the pages meta data
- Netcraft Toolbar provides useful site metrics at a glance – such as age, country & hosting data.
- HTTPFox – checks HTTP response headers on any given page
- Storybird – create interactive books from your data
- POPURLS – content aggregator featuring headlines from the biggest sites on the web including Reddit, Chime.In, Digg, Flickr, Youtube and more.
- “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” by Robert Cialdini
- “The Singularity is Near” by Ray Kurzweil