By: Karthik Vijay on 27-05-2014 in Content Strategy, CRO, Google, Link Building, Liveblog, Marketing News, Online Marketing, Search, SEO, Social Media

After more than a years wait, SMX Sydney, Australia’s leading Search Marketing expo, is finally underway.

Coming live from the spectacular Crystal Palace Ballroom in Sydney’s Luna Park precinct this two day expo features a wealth of great speakers all of whom are ready to sink their teeth into the succulent flesh of search marketing. So get ready to be overwhelmed with a deluge of invaluable information about all things Google,  SEO and SEM. We’ll be live blogging throughout the two days, as we gather search marketing advice from some of the world leaders in the field.

9:00am – Jeff Preston: Keynote: Mega Brand SEO – In House @ Disney

Jeff Preston gets SMX Sydney 2014 started with his keynote address. However, for a man employed by Disney Interactive this giant of big brand SEO opened in a rather macabre fashion, sharing the tragic tale of a doomed Air New Zealand flight that crashed due to a communication failure between pilot and ground crew.

Jeff Preston at SMX Sydney

In the eyes of Jeff Preston, this horrific story of fatal communication breakdown is analogous to the world of big brand SEO, a department that’s sure to encounter disaster without proper communication between team members.

The Senior Manager for SEO at Disney Interactive believes SEO departments must work from a foundation of solid communication. And from this foundation the aim of the game then becomes content production, and for a global leader like Disney this mean up to 50 blog posts per week. For Disney, producing unique content is the key to its link building strategy. Then once this huge amount of content is produced Disney ensures every published piece is crawled by Google using this formula: Internal Crawl = Google Index =  List of published URLs in the CMS

10:30am – Marty Weintraub: Life After Not Provided

Founder of aimClear an integrated social, search, display and PR online marketing agency Marty Weintraub is a regular fixture on the international conference circuit, and he displayed his experience by kicking things off with a tongue in cheek montage of travel snaps. Isn’t this a search marketing expo? We were a little confused, isn’t this guy presenting on ‘not provided keywords?’ Oh, Marty! Anyway once Marty got down to business he provided us with a host of tactics on how search marketers can still make the most of keyword optimisation in a post encrypted search data landscape. Marty assured us that all is not lost, but rather there is much to be gained as SEOs move away from focusing on key words and move their attention to targeting key “concepts”.

Marty Weintraub at SMX Sydney

With Google encrypting its search data, search marketers should be turning to other keyword data resources, ones other than Google Analytics, for all their key word data needs. For example, Webmaster Tools is a great resource, and one that should be utilised by search marketers as a way to access vital SEO information which details the success or failure of targeted keywords.

Marty also recommended the Adwords tool in your Google Analytics account as another valuable source of keyword data. He suggested checking this tool in order to see which keywords were getting the most clicks and from there, we simply optimise the content based on the Adwords data. If you haven’t already linked your Adwords account to Analytics, now would be a good time to do it.

Here are some other ranking analysis tools Marty cited:

The key take aways from Marty’s talk:

  • Archive WMT CSV reports
  • Parse Organic Data in Adwords
  • Parse Adwords Data in GA
  • Use Adwords to Test Funnels
  • Impute competitive trended traffic share
  • Focus on concepts, rather than key words

11:30am – Simon Dunwoody: Understanding the Full Value of SEM

Next up to the podium is Simon Dunwoody, Head of Search at Ikon Communications where his clients include the likes of Commonwealth Bank, Vodafone and Coca Cola.

The theme of Simon’s presentation – understanding the full value of SEM – was largely presented from a paid search perspective and focused on the rise of mobile adoption/usage in Australia, and how search marketers need to stay ahead of the curve when it comes mobile advertising.

Simon Dunwoody at SMX Sydney

Simon noted that it is predicted that by 2018 smartphone penetration in Australia will be as high as 93 per cent, the third highest in world after the US and Singapore; and with 50 per cent of all Google searches now being conducted via mobile devices, Simon keenly stressed the importance of optimising SEO + PPC Campaigns to target mobile devices.

As search marketers we’ve long understood how to measure online conversions. But as Simon pointed out, only measuring online conversions doesn’t provide the full picture, something which is especially true when measuring the ROI of your SEM campaign. Due to the evolving nature of customer behaviour and the fact that we move online to offline so seamlessly, the way we have traditionally measured the ROI of PPC campaigns is now obsolete.

Instead of calcualting ROI merely based on the amount of clicks the ad receives we should track ROI using a host of other metrics:

  • Phone calls generated by the ad – including both in-store calls and direct calls to stores
  • App download value
  • Measuring phone calls through session based call tracking (Google Adwords call extensions)
  • Cross device conversions – this refers to people who clicked through on their desktop, but converted via mobile or App

Lastly Simon urged us to keep in mind the SEM basics:

  • Create the right mix
  • Deliver the right Ad
  • Measure in-store traffic
  • Measure online sales

1:15pm – Cyrus Shepard: What Is Hummingbird & The Entity Search Revolution

Enter Cyrus Shepard: a key member of Moz’s content team. Late in 2013 Google retooled its search engine and introduced a new update called “Hummingbird”  – an update which moved the search engine beyond keyword search and into the realm of “entity search.” Rather than viewing this a setback for SEO, Cyrus believes there are ways we can take advantage of this change.

Cyrus Shepard talking at SMX Sydney

There were many noticeable changes following the introduction of Google’s Humming Bird Updates such as:

  • Decrease in Domain Diversity (The number of websites displayed in search results). A trend which has led the big players to dominate the search results.
  • Longtail keywords are disappearing in search results
  • The future of search is now intrinsically linked to Google’s Knowledge Graph – so its become increasingly vital for search marketers to implement schema-ups.

Key Stats

  • Out of 2.2 billion URLs analysed by Search Metrics, 585 million have structured data – this is 50 per cent more than pre-Hummingbird
  • Almost 75 per cent of the top 100 sites in Alexa contain structured data markup
  • The total adoption rate across the WWW is much lower
  • 59.90% of keywords have at least one structured data snippet (data from SearchMetrics)
  • 40.10% of keywords are without any structured data snippet (data from SearchMetrics)

The key take aways from Cyrus’ talk:

2:00pm – Greg Boser: Post Hummingbird – Best Practices For Mobile SEO

With the introduction of Google’s Hummingbird update, mobile SEO is becoming increasingly critical. So rather than simply transferring old desktop SEO tactics to the mobile sphere, Greg Boser, President Foundation Digital, recommends taking a slightly different approach when it comes to mobile

The key take aways from Greg’s talk:

  • With Google focusing on providing a quality mobile experience for mobile users its increasingly important for all businesses to build mobile friendly sites and increase their mobile exposure
  • We need to understand the behaviour of mobile users and how it differs from desktop. Use Web Master Tools and Google Analytics to collect mobile device data
  • Determine the best approach for your company and follow Google’s Guidelines

Greg Boser at SMX Sydney

Give Google what Google Likes:

  • Sites that use responsive web design, i.e. sites that serve all devices on the same set of URLs, with each URL serving the same HTML to all devices and using just CSS to change how the page is rendered on the device. This is Google’s recommended configuration
  • Sites that dynamically serve all devices on the same set of URLs, but each URL serves different HTML (and CSS) depending on whether the user agent is a desktop or a mobile device
  • Sites that have separate mobile and desktop URLs

As consumers increasingly turn to their mobile phones, its critical for businesses to understand the broad range of “mobile conversions” that can occur. Conversions come in many forms from phone calls to store visits, and everything in between. In partnership with Nielsen, Google analysed over 6000 mobile searches and the actions that resulted, drawing precise and measurable connections between mobile searches and the online and offline conversions that they drive.

Download the PDF file .

3:30pm – Jon Cooper: Smarter Link Prospecting & Qualification

Now for the man everyone at Kwasi has been waiting for, Point Blank SEO’s link builder extraordinaire, Jon Cooper.

Jon, Woj and Karthik at SMX Sydney

Off the bat, Jon started by assuring all of us in the audience that backlinks still have plenty of value, but for those search marketers looking for something more, Jon handed out plenty of tips on how to implement a long-term and sophisticated link building strategy. Its time to think outside of the box and get systematic with your link building.

Here are Jon’s steps to smarter link building:

  • Link Prospecting: Backlink Research
  • Look horizontally – Categories (top level categories)
  • Look Vertically
  • Look Cross-Geographically (look for sites on US, UK with same link prospects but son’t stress too much on this type)
    • Quantifying Your Content Opportunities: Research links to previous content on similar topics and check URL rankings, backlinks, and referring domains using link qualification tools like Ahrefs & Majestic SEO
    • Qualification by Link Qualification Model: Qualify prospective links using a Link Qualification Model and ask yourself some key questions like: do we even want the link? (Based on Domain Authority); Is the link in the right context; Can we realistically get the link?

By having a LQM search marketers can save themselves time and money during the outreach process and substantially reduce their outreach footprint. To reduce your outreach footprint even further Jon recommends implementing a further qualification model based on obtainability.

The key take aways from Jon’s’ talk:

  • Do your research and carefully choose the links you want to target
  • Look at the context of the links you are targeting
  • Think about why you are targeting certain links
  • Be sure to consider the type of links you are targeting – quality over quantity

Jon’s Favourite Tools for Link Prospecting & Qualifying

If you missed his presentation here today, you can bring yourself up to speed with the slides below:

End of Day 1

Day 1 of SMX Sydney 2014 concluded with a gripping keynote panel discussion featuring some of today’s finest presenters. The panel was charged with the challenging task of making predictions about the unpredictable, as they attempted to answer the question: what does the future hold for search marketing?

After mulling over the prospects of an artificially intelligent future – a future where Google begins to mirror the villainous Skynet from the Terminator franchise – the panel turned its attention to the Knowledge Graph.

The panel believes Google’s long term aims will largely focus on trying to organise the world of information, in a bid to provide users with the best possible user experience (search experience). Yet right now, its philanthropic aims are being superseded by the company’s own selfish goals, which are largely concerned with promoting their own brand

The fact Google has established monopoly ownership over how we consume online information has given the company unprecedented power. And while today’s speakers have enlightened us and provided us with a wealth of marvelous tactics aimed at empowering us with the knowledge we need to pander to Google’s ever changing whims, the truth is we are all its slaves.

As Cindy Krum pointed out, there is but one hope, one potential saviour – a powerhouse with the big data weaponry to challenge the Google Monopoly… Good citizens of the virtual world, the time has come. It’s time we all called upon mankind’s only hope, send in Facebook.

With day 1 over, we turn our attention to day 2. Check out what SMX Day 2 had to offer, and learn from some of the brightest minds in search marketing.