Events

SMX West 2013 – A Few Takeaways

I love conference time. It’s a great way to get together with industry friends, acquaintances, and meet many new people. SMX West 2013 was not without some great information, however. Google continues to make changes to their algorithm. In fact, a big Panda update should have already hit. There are also plans to integrate Panda into the actual algorithm. In addition, a new Penguin update is on the way, set to be the largest update ever. Those weren’t the only takeaways. Many others abound. This post will cover two sessions: The Technical SEO Metrics You Should Care About, and Blow Me Away Blogging.

Matt Cutts: We Want to Integrate Authorship Into as Many Services as Possible

Matt Cutts stated in the session, Conversation: What’s Needed For SEO Success in 2013 and Beyond? that they are looking to integrate Google Authorship into as many Google services as possible, including YouTube. They have yet to figure out a way to accomplish this, however. It is something that may be coming in the future.

The Technical SEO Metrics You Should Care About

This session discussed a number of different SEO technical items that are important to maintaining a successful online presence. Vanessa Fox, using a code name Dr. McDreamy for her presentation character, discussed the essential SEO metrics for success. She made several great points: “A more efficient crawl increases the total number of pages crawled and indexed, which increases long tail traffic.” And “Consolidating variations of a page to a “canonical” version reduces duplication issues and merges all value signals (such as PageRank) which helps pages rank more highly.” Also, always check your server logs to find out, accurately, which pages are actually being crawled. Canonicalization is important to help minimize 404 errors.

Dave Lloyd, Senior Manager of Global Search at Adobe, discussed in his presentation how to get better traction which teams. He had some great points: You want to ask the stakeholders of your organization what metrics matter most to them. Being transparent and making analytics a part of most discussions is also an important undertaking. This helps you to be more accurate when discussing how changes to the website impact the marketing campaign. And of course, share your wins, and give credit where credit is due to those team members that got those results.

Eli Schwartz, Online Marketing Manager of Survey Monkey, discussed what to do when you have woken up to, or you inherited a website that had a major drop in traffic. It may or may not be due to Panda, Penguin, EMD, or other updates. There can be a significant impact from basic technical SEO changes like URL issues, robots.txt, JavaScript/CSS links, 404 pages, redirects, canonicals. The main takeaways from his presentation include: Remember to always focus on the user, but you want to look out for things like missing pages, redirects, and broken canonicals. Using tools like Screaming Frog, Tamper for Firefox, or any developer plugin that controls CSS and JavaScript will allow you to crawl the site and see these errors.

Blow Me Away Blogging, a great session featuring Mike Arnesen of SwellPath, Drew Conrad from Zagg, Jennifer Evans Cario of SugarSpun Marketing, and Hillary Read of PPC Associates discussed their tips and tricks that have made themselves better bloggers.

Mike talked about how he loves blogging, but not everyone does. This is because blogging is hard. What is the difficult thing about blogging? Passion, time, and creativity are required elements to make blogging GREAT. He stated that when you make it work, you can blow minds. His company’s traffic for years had been consistent, but consistently low. They had to step up their game, and as a result, they earned 800% blog growth. What did they do?

  1. They blogged frequently and on schedule. This helps to give all of your readers a reason to return to your blog again and again.
  2. Incentivize your team. Incentives help to increase production. This can come in the form of special recognition like awards, or bonuses.
  3. Are you having trouble coming up with blogging ideas? Look at sites like Quora to find out what questions people are asking about your topic area. Reddit can be another great community to check. You will want to check on related communities as well.
  4. This is a perfect opportunity to find and exploit opportunity gaps. First, find out what people are searching for. Examine the results to see what pops up. Are you able to do better? If you can write up a post about the result that Google wants, the spot could quite possibly be yours.
  5. Yes, Google Authorship is important. LEVERAGE IT. This helps increase visibility, CTR, traffic, branding, trust, and much more.
  6. This is also important. Optimize your meta tags. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Focus on title, description, and OG:image.
  7.  Mike also talked about what he calls FASS buttons – INCLUDE THEM. This acronym stands for: Fast Action Social Sharing. Make sure you have Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and buttons to other social networks to share your stuff. It JUST WORKS.
  8. Random acts of blogging just don’t WORK. Sustainable results are not possible with random bursts of effort. Use a content calendar in order to maximize your results. Planning is key and very important to achieving significant success.

Jennifer Evans Cario discussed Social Media and its essential interaction with blogging. She explained that your entire social media strategy should CENTER on your blog. Your blog can be shared on forums, social networks, video sites, review sites, local search, and micro medias. You want to use social media to create touch points that will draw people in. From there, you can leverage your blog for traffic and conversions. There is a big difference in conversion alone. If you have uploaded your video to YouTube, consider putting your video on your blog instead (or as well as on YouTube). A conversion process might take the steps of:

  1. Click to video
  2. Watch video
  3. Look for URL to website
  4. Click through to the website
  5. Search for an object like Boxwood
  6. Read Boxwood pricing
  7. Click to Order

Using your blog and a combination of social media, after you have successfully improved the conversion process, it can look like this:

  1. Click to video
  2. Watch video on blog
  3. View pricing info
  4. Click to order

Jennifer concluded that using the blog as your entire social media strategy, you can put your website on turbo charge. This will help boost link power and boost SERP exposure. This can increase integrated conversion points. The results of these increased conversion points include the following: increasing engagement, increasing exposure, and increasing conversions. This also helps spread the home base mentality of your blog. You get more exposure points, and you also get more targeted traffic as a result.

Hillary Read, of PPC Associates, talked about managing multi-person blogs, and how to deal with the insanity. So who should blog? Hillary believes everyone in the company should blog. You want to create a culture that values expression and participation. You can match a person’s expertise to the subject that you want write about. For example, production people can write about the Adwords UI. Executives can write about industry trends. Designers can write about design, and so on.

There is a challenge in getting people to commit. She feels that asking nicely is important. Of course, repeating this will help solidify commitment. You want to lower the barrier of entry. To lower the barrier of entry, work with the author on a number of topics, like in a content calendar. It’s scary to start with a blank slate. It’s important to ensure the authors that you (the editor) will polish the article and proofread before it’s posted. In fact, statisticians often hate to write and will probably need additional assurance. If everything you do to get people in your organization fails, you may want to consider asking for bullet points and screenshots. These can be good blogs depending on the topic. In fact, if you do this, you will almost always get something better!

To help create a positive culture, support your bloggers. People love to receive credit. In meetings, give your bloggers shout-outs for a job well done. Share your posts through as many social media channels as you can. And, recognize your bloggers when those posts are noticed around the industry.

It can be a challenge to keep people organized and keep them on deadlines. When you receive a commitment from them, lock in the original commitment with Google calendar. This can be done through a reminder/appointment. This act of acceptance is proactive and can engage the author completely from the beginning. Ideally, roughly three days before the deadline is a good reminder date. This gives you time to panic, recover, and write a post in place of the author that didn’t meet that deadline. Of course, you want to check in at least a week before the deadline as a reminder and to confirm. It’s important to leave yourself a cushion in case you get a “Oh my God I am extremely busy” reply. Also, you should offer to help if it is needed. This way, you can always revert to the bulleted list and screenshot option.

Managing the blog can be simple using Google calendar. Confirm EVERYTHING and keep an editorial calendar with Google Docs. This includes using dates & authors. Of course, and this is very important: always, always, ALWAYS have at least 2-3 posts on hand for emergencies. She offered these tips to help improve your blogging:

  1. Sign people up for more posts the very first day that their initial post goes live.
  2. Perform interview with industry regulars, colleagues, and clients. People truly enjoy doing them.
  3. It’s also important to establish relationships with others in the company. Plant those seeds and cultivate allies who will help you with blogging.
  4. Also, measure your metrics. Social media plug-ins are especially important. Even more so, use plug-ins that have counting numbers so that you can see how well your blog posts are doing.
  5. And of course, another way to spark blogging in your organization is to create a competition – have people compete with each other on how many blog posts they can write in a week. Or, create a competitive “I’m gonna beat your blog on social media” type environment.

Jennifer did, however, have a few warnings. She warns to always, always have a backlog of at least 2-3 posts in case that bad, never-thought-about emergency situation does arise. You don’t want to be caught with your pants down in such an emergency. Also, set your deadlines 1-2 business days before you plan to run the posts. Sending out reminders 3 days before the deadline is due is important and will let you know that your person is not going to live up to their promise. Of course, you want to make exceptions for breaking news. These posts need to be posted IMMEDIATELY, and ASAP. Also, make sure that you have a few minutes of your own free time set aside for retroactive corrections after you post the blogs. These should be taken care of ASAP so that you can protect your blogger’s reputation. You don’t want your bloggers angry at you for failing to take care of errors that they could have prevented themselves.

 SMX West 2013 – A Few Takeaways

Brian Harnish

Since 1998, Brian Harnish has been building websites. Brian is a professional SEO with web design and web development skills. His expertise in nearly all areas of web design, web development, and SEO serve as the foundation for his own blog at http://www.brianharnish.com/. Brian now works with James Publishing & Attorney Marketing in Costa Mesa, CA as an SEO Specialist.
 SMX West 2013 – A Few Takeaways
 SMX West 2013 – A Few Takeaways

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