This past week I headed out to SMX West for three full days of search marketing sessions and industry networking. As I’ve said before, SMX is a great conference for any search marketer, whether you’re B2B, B2C, in-house, new to the industry, or a search veteran. There are sessions for everyone and the information is invaluable.
I attended somewhere around 12 sessions and wrote down enough information to write blog posts for days. However, instead of writing all those posts (you can check out full coverage at Search Engine Land), I’m simply going to give the top tips, takeaways & tools I walked away with.
Top SMX West Tips
Fetch as Googlebot
One way to better understand your site and more importantly, understand how search engines see your site is to use “Fetch as Googlebot” within your Webmaster tools account.
Matt Cutts mentioned this a few times when discussing site penalties and followed it with examples of sites that looked perfectly fine to the naked eye but had been hacked or were blocking search engines in their robots.
** Tip Alert **
If you’re noticing site issues, think you’re being penalized, or are just curious about a URL, check out Fetch as Googlebot.
Fill in Keyword Data with Webmaster Tools
A hot topic in the search industry over the past year or so has been the continued growth of [not provided] keyword data. Rhea Drysdale (@rhea) of Outspoken Media noted that what was supposed to be 2%, has turned into 68% for their company site. That means 68% of their organic traffic cannot be attributed to a specific keyword. Yikes!
Here at KoMarketing, many of our clients are hovering around the 50% range. That’s a lot of keyword data we no longer have access to. While we can’t get this data “back” per say, we can fill in some of the blanks using Webmaster Tools (WMT).
WMT will give you search queries, impressions, clicks, and average ranking position. It’ll also show you which pages are getting traffic from which keywords.
** Tip Alert **
Take a top page from your analytics and export it into excel. Take that same page from WMT and export the data. Place the keyword queries next to each other. Match up the keyword volumes and fill in some of that not provided data.
Assign Page Values
When creating a search strategy, it’s important to know where to focus your time and money to get the best results and drive conversions. To do that, we need to know which pages are most important to the overall business goals.
Duane Forrester (@duaneforrester) of Bing suggested you assign a value to each of your URLs. For companies with huge sites, this will tell you which part of your site should be the highest priority.
** Tip Alert **
In an excel sheet, assign a value from 1-5 to each of your URLs based on their performance in driving leads and conversions. Sort. This will give you a good idea of where you should focus.
Don’t Forget On-Site SEO
Jon Henshaw (@ravenjon) of RavenTools said something in passing that I thought was really important: “Don’t forget about the most important part of SEO, on-site SEO. Your site has to be visible”.
In the “Blow Me Away Blogging” session, Mike Arnesen (@mike_arnesen) told everyone to make sure every single blog post has a title tag and meta description.
** Tip Alert **
Don’t forget about the basic on-site stuff. There’s a lot that goes into an online marketing strategy but make sure you have the fundamentals covered.
Set Up Google Authorship
“Use Google authorship. Use Google authorship. Use Google authorship. Please” This was a one of my favorite quotes and it came from the aforementioned Mike Arnesan. It was also a pretty big theme at the conference (check out this write-up on the authorship session) with Matt Cutt’s going so far as to say that social and identity will begin to play a pretty big role in search over the next few years.
** Tip Alert **
Do it now. Set up authorship on your blog. Check out this post from Search Engine Jounral on how to do it.
Top SMX West Tools
As always, there were tons of tools mentioned at the show. Here are the ones that I think are most valuable:
- Screaming Frog: This tool was mentioned so many times I couldn’t keep count. Screaming Frog is an essential tool for any SEO and can basically be used for everything from tech audits to keyword research to competitive analysis to social targeting. Get it.
- Tamper for FF: Great for evaluating any redirects or technical issues, Tamper will show you what’s happening in-between page loading. I’m also a fan of the Live Headers extension.
- GAConfig: This tool comes from RavenTools and if you aren’t familiar with it, you should be. It allows you to easily create the correct Google analytics code to track goals and events.
- ScrapeBox: Marty Weintraub (@aimclear) gave what can only be described…well I don’t know how to describe it. He gave a live demo of how to use ScrapeBox for keyword research, content strategy creation, retargeting campaigns, and more. The bottom line is this tool has some power.
- NinjaPinner: NinjaPinner was a tool I’d never heard of but really impressed the audience. Brent Csutoras (@brentcsutoras) showed some great ways to use this tool to find Pinterest users.
- Rapportive: Another tool mentioned a couple times, Rapportive is a Gmail plugin that will give you social data based on a person’s email. I use this regularly here at KoMarketing.
- Google Live Spam: Google Live Spam isn’t really a tool but it’s fun to look at. See live spam that Google is taking out of the index.
Top SMX West Takeaways
Google+ Offers Real Opportunities
At the end of the day, if you aren’t on Google+, you should be. Google+ is already heavily influencing search results, it enables marketers to reach new audiences, and it offers cool tools like hangouts, which can drive great on-site video content.
Engagement is Not a Strategy
Annalise Kaylor (@annabelleblue) gave one of my favorite presentations around Facebook and social and really tried to drive home the point that engagement is not a strategy. You need to understand what drives engagement, makes the engagement valuable, and then craft a strategy to encourage that.
Personalization is Key
This is no secret but personalization is becoming more and more important and companies need to understand how to reach their market on an individual level. More so, companies need to better understand who that person is and figure out how to give that particular person what they need.
Create Actionable Metrics
I sat in two great sessions about metrics and while the metrics they recommended measuring were good, the real message was you shouldn’t create metrics you aren’t going to do anything with. Create real metrics that will drive you to take actions that help your business.
Be Excellent to the Search Engines
Don’t be a spammer. Don’t try to game the algorithm. Create good sites that your audience wants and then make it as easy as possible for the search engines to crawl, index, and understand.
B2B Specific Takeaways
Being a B2B-focused company, I’d be remiss to not include some B2B specific takeaways from the conference so here are a few that stood out:
Give Company Info Freely
If you are a company that relies on phone calls for leads, make sure your phone number is easily available. Put company information like phone number, hours, service offerings, etc., not only on your main site, but also on social channels like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.
Grady Burnett of Facebook made the point that Facebook wants to help people find businesses, restaurants, and places they might be interested in. Make sure your company information is there for them to find.
Learn How to Reach Your Mobile Audience
While this applies to all companies, for many B2B companies, it applies a little bit differently. If you aren’t an ecommerce site and you rely on phone calls or forms, you have to make it easy for the user to be able to take that desired action.
You also have to understand how a mobile audience is using your site. What pages are they visiting? What are they searching? Do you need to go so far as creating a mobile site or can you simply make sure your contact or pricing info is highly visible?
Drive Leads Through Retargeting
Retargeting is an amazing asset for any company with a longer buying cycle. It gives your company a larger appearance, it targets only people who have shown an interest in your business, and it offers some serious segmentation capabilities.
That was a long post and I hope these takeaways from SMX are helpful. If you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks. Be sure to go check out my SMX West 2013 coverage page featuring live blogs, session presentations and tools.
Did you attend SMX? Go ahead and leave your top takeaways in the comments!