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November 17, 2009

Got That? 6 Compelling PubCon Takeaways

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After attending PubCon Las Vegas last week, Marty Weintraub kindly offered to share his major takeaways with PubCon-deprived BCI blog readers, and we are thrilled to have Marty’s unique wit and sharp analysis on the BCI blog. You can also find more of Marty’s PubCon insights, along with search and social media marketing news and recommendations, on the aimClear search marketing blog and on Twitter, @aimclear.

Marty Weintraub is owner and principal of aimClear, an Internet marketing firm in Minnesota. Marty has been providing organic search engine optimization, traditional and social pay-per-click management, and social media/feed marketing services to national clients since 2001. He is a popular conference speaker and regularly contributes to such respected search industry publications as Search Engine Land, Search Engine Watch, and of course, the aimClear blog.

PubCon attendees

I’m back from from PubCon ’09 in Las Vegas. There was cool new information mined and lots of reinforcement for what we already know and do. Usually at these conferences a few tidbits stick in my mind to keep the brain thinking. These factoids are top-of-mind reflections from PubCon:

1-Measuring Social Media is the Wild Freakin’ West

A lot of SEOs believe that URL shortening tools don’t send referral data, the global guts of web analytics. This is wrong. URL shorteners are just redirects. The truth is that analytics don’t get referrer information if customers’ interactions happen on installed software like TweetDeck. Got that? If the user’s action happens on a Web page, you get referrer data. If it happens in installed software like Facebook BlackBerry, dude, there is NO referrer.

Paraphrasing analytics savant (and inventor of ClickTracks) John Marshall: “Where this leads you to, is that the referrer report is an unknown component in your data which is bad. Social media campaigns are not going to meaningfully show up in your ROI reports. SEOs are NOT going to get accurate ROI figures, not even close the way this-gen’ analytics tools are wired. It may NEVER work properly. It’s clear that Google Analytics is not sufficient in itself for tracking social media efforts. Don’t wait around for ROI reports to show social success. Find other ways to measure.

2-Link Building is Dead, Long Live Public Relations

Dude, fancy link-builders are starting to sound more and more like my father’s PR firm in ’74. The only difference is that now the loot-booty includes links in the form of web citations as opposed to “mentions” in paper publications, radio and TV. In those days the way to garner audience-influencing buzz was by sponsoring events, writing guest articles, personal relationships and actually doing things that were newsworthy! Influence was purchased then at parties on yachts and in smoke-filled Mad Men bedrooms and bars. It’s totally the same as now (except for some of the smoke).

The bad news is that Google’s BS detectors are ever more advanced and affiliates that used to rake in cash are crashing and burning in droves. The good news is that you can still purchase authority the same as it ever was.

Let’s just say it out loud folks: the differentiation between a PRWeb online press release and a paid link is the quality of the editorial PRWeb proffers. Chambers of Commerce one-off personal relationships that Google can’t ever track or catch still work great for citations. In these cases Google clearly respects paid links or just plain can’t see them. Umm, what do you think we pay those Chamber dues for? Thanks to Todd Malicoat, Roger Montti, Aaron Wall and Rand Fishkin for the outstanding PubCon Session.

3-The Vast Majority of Web Sites Need Help Badly

For the entire three days, PubCon runs a series of site clinics where audience members bring up their work for critique. I had the pleasure of sitting on a panel with Derrick Wheeler, Amanda Watlington, and Brian Combs. While several of the sites we reviewed showed tons of promise, I was surprised that they were not more buttoned down on average.

I believe that any PubCon attendee willing to put their work on the line is likely more motivated that the average Web site owner. Take into consideration the common flaws of sites reviewed at PubCon and extrapolate things, and I.M.H.O. there have to be SO many sites that totally suck! No wonder it’s so hard for Google to index things. Just have a look at Google SERPs for many queries… dude, so many of them suck because so many sites suck. </rant> (Got that? :) )

4-New SEO Ranking Factors Could Get Ugly

It was clear from PubCon conversations that load time as a ranking factor is just the tip of the iceberg folks. Hold on to your shorts, especially if Google socializes even a small percentage of its users with Google Wave. While it’s obvious that the link graph will survive as a statistically relevant clue for search engines, we’re on the edge of the behavioral-ranking-factors’ razor blade.

Metrics like PostRank and emerging real-time search channels may well influence ranking in the future. It was clear at PubCon, in between the publicly spoken words, that users’ engagement will influence ranking factors in the future. They do already in the form of personalized search and other methods search engines do not disclose. SEO is dead, long live SEO.

5-Matt Cutts Copied My Haircut

Got that?

6-We Are Not Alone

Hey, in our lives as search marketers, it sometimes seems like family, friends and the “traditional” marketing communities don’t understand a word we say. It’s like blah, blah, blah and they think we’re geeks. They make fun of the fact that somehow we’re always plugged into iPhone apps or BlackBerry texts. No so at PubCon.

If you want to really feel part of something, these types of conferences (PubCon, SMX, SES) will set you free. These people get it. I love PubCon because there are SO many search marketers there who understand what it means to live our lives, professional and personal, on the grid. I find refuge in these Post BBS pioneers who took over the known marketing world.

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8 responses to “Got That? 6 Compelling PubCon Takeaways”

  1. Greg writes:

    Rock on Marty! Those are some great takeaways! Thanks for the recap!

  2. Greg B writes:

    Thanks Marty!
    In behalf of those of us that did not make it to PubCon we appreciate it. Love your analysis. And if so many sites totally suck then you can bet that their venturing into Social Media Marketing will suck worse and sadly fragment resources needed for higher-value activity. Fix your Site first dudes. And your LPO, SEO, and PPC must also suck.

  3. brian bluff writes:

    Thanks for your recap. With so many sessions it is great to see what others think ere the most important points.

  4. Sam writes:

    Great post, it was nice to through some arguable points like LINK BUILDING IS DEAD, I remember watching Bruce video where he said RANKING IS DEAD, the link building recommended by Mart might seem a bit expensive for a starter small business.

  5. Louis Lyons writes:

    I can’t believe you didn’t take the load speed of a site into consideration. That’s the focus of G in the future and was mentioned in PubCon. Slow loading blogs, feeds, etc. will go the way of aol. The faster the better. That’s what users want. You say link building is dead. Yah right. Stop getting them and see what happens. Maybe for ranking in the future of the engines but never for a nice, free way of getting your site out there. I certainly can’t see that disappearing any time soon. That being said, I got a huge laugh on the chamber of commerce. So true;)

  6. Oliver Feakins writes:

    Hey Marty.. Great sum up. One of these days i’ll make my way over there. Matt does have the same hair cut LOL.

  7. Garrett Peterson writes:

    Interesting stuff. My company put me in charge of doing SEO a few months ago. I’ve been trying to read and learn anything I can get my hands on. Didn’t even realize (though I should have) that there were conferences. Interesting stuff

  8. Ivan writes:

    Matt Cutts Copied My Haircut hahahahhaha



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