5 Action Items from #SMX Advanced 2013

The best thing about leaving a conference is feeling like you’re leaving with a list of things to do. It makes the time (and money) you spent worthwhile. The great news is that’s exactly what happened when I left SMX Advanced last week. The conference, held in amazingly sunny Seattle, offered a slew of great speakers who provided actionable items for the audience. From authorship to technical SEO to paid social tactics, the conference covered all aspects of search.

Along with attending many of the sessions, I also spoke on a panel, “Top Social Tactics for Search Marketers.” Each speaker offered some good tactics around community building, social targeting, content creation, and even some local strategies. My presentation primarily focused on using social for link building, utilizing tools like Citation Labs and Rapportive, along with social networks including Twitter and Google+. Bonus: The theme is Top Gun.

If you have any questions about the presentation, don’t hesitate to send a message or connect via Twitter or Google+. Now onto the action items!

While there were a lot of takeaways from the conference, there were really 5 that stood out to me. In no particular order of awesomeness…

1. Clean Up Site Architecture

The first session of Day 1 was the “Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors” and Jenny Halasz gave a very good presentation about the importance of sound site structure. While many search marketers focus on content, link building, social, etc., a truly good SEO strategy cannot be without a technical piece.

For example, Jenny noted that, just by cleaning up the technical issues, one client in particular saw an 800% revenue increase in just 3 months. That’s pretty powerful stuff. A few things to look out for:

  • Big crawl changes can indicate a problem. Keep an eye on your Webmaster Tools (WMT) account.
  • You only have a limited crawl budget (or the amount of times a search engine spends crawling your site). Don’t waste it on duplicate content.
  • Make sure your site is fast. Three seconds is the optimal load time but most retail sites are taking almost 7 seconds to load. While WMT can give you some information on load time, tools like Pingdom can also offer some insight.

2. Social Signals Matter

One of the most interesting discussions came from Eric Enge of StoneTemple, who shared the results of a study his team has been working on around social signals and search engine indexing/ranking.

His team ran tests on five different websites to see whether social signals would influence search engine indexing and rankings. The results were pretty cool:

  • Google+ drives indexing and ranking within 4-5 days
  • Facebook drives indexing and ranking within 7-8 days
  • Links often take longer to influence indexing and ranking
  • Bing did not show indexing and ranking behavior
  • Chrome and Google Analytics had no impact on indexing

At KoMarketing, we recommend an integrated search and social strategy to our clients but we are beginning to see just how important that really is.

As a bonus, Dustin Woodward noted during the “Legit Link Building” session that a floating share bar resulted in 20% increase in social shares for one of his sites. Might be worth a shot!

3. Use “By” on All Content

You’ve probably heard a lot of search marketers talk about authorship recently and, as a business owner, you should be thinking about how it impacts your site. The reputation you’ve spent years building can really begin to influence how your site performs in search and, for most people, that’s a great thing.

In “Authorship: The Deep Dive,” Janet Driscoll Miller discussed the idea of “inferred authorship” and the results she was seeing were kind of crazy. Inferred authorship refers to the idea that even when no specific authorship code is included on a piece of content or page, the search engines are inferring a particular person wrote it. How? Using phrases like “by” or “about the author.”

Janet mentioned that she’s seeing authorship show up on PDFs, Word docs, PPTs, and even videos, and it’s all coming from the use of those “inferred author” phrases.

The takeaway: Be thoughtful of how you’re using authorship and how you are/are not marking up your content. The benefit is, in some cases, even if you aren’t using authorship code, Google may still be able to figure out you’re the author. For whitepapers or datasheets, don’t hesitate to add an author, particularly a CEO or CMO with high visibility.

4. Audit Your SERPs

This was one of my favorite action items and something we do often at KoMarketing. Just because you’re ranking, it doesn’t mean your job is done. The real job is to ensure you are giving users what they are looking for when they search a particular phrase. This was echoed in a couple different sessions.

During “Ask the SEOs,” Alex Bennert suggested that when you start to rank, do a search to see what the SERP (search engine results page) looks like. Click on your result to see if the page matches the search. If it doesn’t, you need to figure out what’s missing and give the users that information. After all, a high ranking means nothing if the user is immediately going to leave your site.

Angie Schottmuller also echoed this by saying “Ranking isn’t good enough on it’s own. You need to have the right page and information.”

Along with a SERP audit, be sure to audit the bounce rates of organic traffic on your top landing pages. If there’s a high bounce rate, take some time to evaluate the search result and the keyword phrase being used, and don’t be afraid to test some new content out. Tools like Optimizely allow you to do so without impacting search.

5. Utilize Employees for Links

This was one of my favorite suggestions around link building because it’s something that’s so right in front of your face you almost forget to look.

Employees are one of your biggest assets in many ways but one thing that’s important to note is the company’s reputation also impacts the employee’s reputation. Because of that, employees likely want the company to be successful and will do what they can to help. This includes perhaps even link building.

Kaila Strong suggested checking out employee LinkedIn profiles to identify blogs they write on, hobbies or associations they are a part of, or even to see if they are linking to your own site through status updates, profiles, etc.

If an employee has a bio on another site, ask them to include a link to the company website. It’s, of course, up to each company and employee to determine how comfortable they doing this but it’s an easy win and even a simple email with suggestions on how employees can include links in various profiles can work.

I hope these takeaways are as useful to you as they were to me and again, if you have any questions/comments, don’t hesitate to reach out in the comments on on social. Thanks to the SMX team for another great event!

“The KoMarketing team took our PPC and SEM marketing efforts to the next level. They are a team of thoughtful, creative, and smart people, and they get downright scientific when it comes to measurement and attribution. A true pleasure to work with.”

Will Bernholz — Will Bernholz, Vice President, Marketing, Dropsource

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