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December 29, 2008

Best of Search Conferences 2008: Day 1

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Close your eyes. You’ve just entered a conference hall where voices are mingling and people are milling about. A bag of conference swag is perched over your left shoulder and a cup of coffee is clutched in your right hand. You’re navigating your way toward the music, following a hunch it will lead you to the main hall. There you know a keynote address will be kicking off what’s sure to be a rocking three-day conference. You spy a table of breakfast pastries on the way. Maybe a blueberry muffin would appease your grumbling belly. Or a croissant?

Okay, so we’re not really providing any breakfast, lunch or afternoon snacks, but we do hope you’re hungry. The Internet and search marketing conferences of 2008 offered a smorgasbord of information built on a foundation of months of preparation and hard work. We at Bruce Clay, Inc. want to thank all the conference organizers and speakers for providing these invaluable learning experiences and look forward to next year’s undoubtedly awesome growth.

In the meantime, there’s so much to be gleaned from the ghosts of sessions past, so prepare yourself for the first day of the Best of Search Conferences 2008. It starts right now.

Keynotes

Keynote Kickoff AddressPubCon Las Vegas, Nov. 11-14
Speaker: Shawn Rorick

  • There are more marketing channels than ever. Media fragmentation means users are picking where, how and when they consume media.
  • The “halo media” approach addresses the multi-faceted marketing environment. Create a “circle of presence” around your company by entering all the logical marketing channels. That way you will be where the consumer is when they’re looking for your services.
  • Online media spending is currently going to search, display ads, classifieds, videos, rich media and email. Social media, mobile, widgets, desktop applications and RSS are emerging. Remember that new media tactics are not always applicable.

Keynote Roundtable: Technical and Informational GiantsSES San Jose, Aug. 18-21
Speakers: Matt Cutts, Danny Sullivan, Tim Westergreen, Robert Scoble, Kirsten Mangers, and Rich LeFurgy

  • Google is going to be the dominant search engine for years to come. The best competition anyone can give to Google will be available in incremental stages. The term “Google killer” has been used too lightly in the past.
  • Danny Sullivan didn’t think 2008 was the year of mobile and it won’t be 2009 either. Mobile search will see gradual growth because smart phone technology is not yet cheap enough.
  • Internet marketers should continue to look on the horizon. What makes a great search marketer is someone that understands how people look for information. When people start turning toward new ways to search, understand those venues and how to get there but don’t get distracted from what you’re best at.

Basic/Intermediate Search Engine Optimization

Top Takeaways:

  • Representatives from Google, Yahoo and Live Search recommend adding unique content (images, reviews, etc.) to a page containing duplicate content (such as a manufacturer’s product description) in order to avoid duplicate filtering in SERPs.
  • If you’re working with a very tight budget, look for ways to virally spread your unique, quality content.
  • Images posted on Flickr can drive traffic as long as the image either captures excellent subject matter or is of excellent quality.
  • Get creative with link building. Some ideas include hiring a student intern and getting a link from their student account, participating on services like Yahoo Answers, and utilizing your partners and affiliates for links.
  • Personalized, behavioral, intent-based and blended search have changed the way search engine optimizers can measure success. Rather than focusing on rankings, look at traffic and conversions on the site.

Ask the Search EnginesSMX East, Oct. 6-8
Moderator: Danny Sullivan; Panelists: Nathan Buggia, Aaron D’Souza, and Sean Suchter

Mostly Viral Top Traffic Alternatives, or SEO on a Shoestring BudgetPubCon Las Vegas, Nov. 11-14
Moderator: Carolyn Shelby; Panelists: Brett Tabke, Marty Weintraub, Jessie Stricchiola, and Gary Kirk

Give It Up: White Hat EditionSMX East, Oct. 6-8
Moderator: Danny Sullivan; Panelists: Michael Gray, Kimberly Krause Berg, Kate Morris, Tyler Shears, Stephan Spencer, Rob Kerry, and Shari Thurow
Top Shelf Organic SEOPubCon Las Vegas, Nov. 11-14
Moderator: Mark Jackson; Panelists: Jill Whalen, Bill Hunt, Ash Nallawalla, and Bruce Clay

Basic/Intermediate Pay Per Click

Top Takeaways:

  • When it comes to finding the best keywords, look at your site, your competitors’ sites and trade literature, and remember that brands are often the best performing keywords. Don’t forget to filter out negative keywords to help maintain your Quality Score.
  • Many of the shopping search engines offer paid inclusion programs, and while the clicks may cost more than in the general search engines, the users are usually closer to the conversion stage of the buying cycle.
  • To protect your paid search advertising budget, define your goals and metrics for success so that you can then prove the return on investment.
  • Testing is of course important to optimizing your search ad campaign, but while testing, don’t manage the campaign as a test. You want to have data based on real-world performance.
  • Qualified traffic is the key to post-click conversions. Carry the message the visitor was looking for through the segmented path they entered with.

Search Advertising 101SES San Jose, Aug. 18-21
Moderator: Rebecca Lieb; Panelists: Dana Todd and Matt Van Wagner

Defending Your Paid Search Budget Against New Ad FadsSMX West, Feb. 26-28
Moderators: Jeffrey K. Rohrs and Rob Kerry; Panelists: Brian Combs, Adam Jewell, and Kchitiz Regmi

Ad Testing: Research and FindingsSES New York, Mar. 17-20
Panelists: Andrew Goodman, Bill Barnes, and Anton Konikoff

Post-Click Marketing: Converting Search Engine TrafficSES San Jose, Aug. 18-21
Moderator: Anna Maria Virzi; Panelists: Carrie Hill, Laura Wilson, Scott Brinker, and Tom Leung

Basic/Intermediate Social Media Marketing

Top Takeaways:

  • The point of social media marketing is not conversions. Social media is about gaining reach, increasing branding opportunities, generating links and driving traffic.
  • Top 10 lists, how-to articles, current events, offbeat or extreme stories and images and videos are major categories of linkbait.
  • Getting a community power user to submit your site’s content is an advantage that should not be underestimated.
  • Micro communities, or niche portals where communities gather, offer high relevance, increased branding opportunities, and the potential to have a loud voice in a small community.
  • Social search, or search that relies at least somewhat on human involvement (i.e., collaborative harvesters like Digg and collaborative directories like DMOZ), disrupted search as we know it. However, with social search comes new potential and possibilities to increase influence and gain traffic.

Linkbait – Chumming for Traffic on Social Media SitesSMX Social, Apr. 22-23
Moderator: Danny Sullivan; Panelists: Brent Csutoras, Jane Copland, and Cameron Olthuis

Social Media Marketing: What Is It and What Is It Good For?SES San Jose, Aug. 18-21
Moderator: Pauline Ores; Panelists: Erik Qualman, Brent Csutoras, and Vanina Delobelle

Micro CommunitiesSMX Social, Apr. 22-23
Moderator: Danny Sullivan; Panelist: Rand Fishkin

Search 4.0: Will the Social Graph Change Search?SMX West, Feb. 26-28
Moderator: Chris Sherman and Danny Sullivan; Panelists: Aditya Agarwal and Sean Lyndersay

Basic/Intermediate Branding

Top Takeaways:

  • Traditional marketing channels make up less than half of the marketing channels available today. Create a consistent customer experience by providing great customer service through new and old media channels alike.
  • Proactively protect your brand online; Buy MyBrandSucks.com, buy CEOName.com, register your brand name on social media platforms and quickly respond to negative publicity.
  • Match your online and offline marketing message. For example, tests have shown that search volume rises after the start of a print campaign and remains high after the conclusion of a TV campaign.
  • Before joining a digital ad network, make sure the network meets your needs. What is the level of quality control? How focused can you get? What is the reach? What is the business relationship like?
  • You can measure the success of branding efforts with an engagement index. Involvement is reflected in the number of visits, the time spent and the number of page views. Interaction is measured through comments and reviews. Intimacy is seen in the sentiment and positioning of such comments. Influence is gauged by the user’s likelihood to recommend, share or link.

Brand ManagementPubCon Las Vegas, Nov. 11-14
Moderator: Joe Laratro; Panelists: Brian Combs, Lauren Vaccarello, Tony Wright, and Jessica L. Bowman

Old Timers – The Impact of Search on Brand Health MetricsSES New York, Mar. 17-20
Moderator: Kevin Ryan; Panelists: Rob Graham, Kevin Lee, Doron Wesly, and Stephen DiMarco

Digital Ad Networks: Are They Safe for Brands?ad:Tech San Francisco, Apr. 15-17
Moderator: Brad Berens; Panelists: Jocelyn Griffing, Dave Zinman, Tim Vanderhook, and Sean Cheyney

Reputation Management in a Social Media World and on Your SiteeMetrics Summit San Francisco, May 4-7
Panelists: Katie Delahaye Paine and Steve Bernstein

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