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August 25, 2015

Danny Sullivan & Ginny Marvin Video Speed Interview: What’s Trending at SMX

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If you’re in digital marketing, chances are you’ve attended (or read reports from) Search Marketing Expo (SMX) conference. Yesterday morning, Danny Sullivan — a key SMX organizer and founding editor of Search Engine Land — shared his thoughts on SEO, the digital marketing industry, how he keeps SMX at the top of its game, and his own journey into SEO in a live interview with his fellow Search Engine Land editor Ginny Marvin. This rare opportunity to hear why SMX matters and what the year’s SEO trends are from Danny himself is not to be missed!

This was the first in a series of interviews, many planned as live video hangouts, that Bruce Clay, Inc. presents all month long. In advance of SMX East and Pubcon, we’ll be chatting with Google’s Gary Illyes, Moz’s Rand Fishkin, iPullRank’s Michael King and Stone Temple Consulting’s Eric Enge. Check out the video interview or read the transcript below!

Kristi Kellogg: What are the top things that SEOs should be focusing on for the rest of the year?

Danny Sullivan:

  • Mobilegeddon has come and gone, and it wasn’t as strong as some people thought, but it’s going to continue to ramp up.
  • Continue to look at structured data and find ways to make use of it.
  • Consider a mobile app. The search engines seem to be so into apps these days it’s almost makes me wonder if people need to have apps because that’s an important area that they need to be part of.
  • Focus on your content. Figure out ways you can make great content. Repurpose and refresh good stuff that you’ve done before. As always, I think content is a great success factor.

KK: What are the top things that paid search marketers should be focusing on for the rest of the year?

Ginny Marvin: I’m going to echo Danny’s comments on mobile. Mobile is a big source of traffic now that more clicks are coming through mobile than desktop. We’re also seeing Google adding three text ads to mobile search results rather than the typical two. I would suggest you’re really watching what your click-through rates and costs are doing.

Then I would segue into mobile and say the reason why Yahoo Gemini is on the scene is because of that loophole with the deal with Microsoft and Bing search. Yahoo Gemini is still a very small part of the overall search landscape but that’s something that people are going to need to be paying attention to, especially now that Yahoo is adding desktop inventory to Gemini. We’re back to a three-platform search marketing landscape so there’s more work to do.

I would add automation. We’ve seen Bing Ads come out with more automated alerts and bidding rules. We’ve also got AdWords Reports Editor. That’s something people need to be looking at. We’ve also got revamped dynamic search ads and automated extensions. Obviously, we’re heading into the holidays, so also make sure feed data is looking good and you’ve got your product numbers set. Look at what you can do with remarketing lists for search ads, as well.

KK: I’m lucky enough to go to at least one SMX conference every year as a reporter for the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog. I know I’m not the only repeat attendee. Is there anything people who have been to SMX before will find different or new at SMX East next month?

Danny: Mobile, of course, has gotten even bigger than it was last year. We’ll talk about mobile more. And we have new tools that have come up and of course Google is making much more use of it in a big way than they had before. The direct answers aspect we’re exploring in more depth than we have before. We’ve had changes that have happened on the technical SEO side with the Ajax depreciation so we’ll be covering that sort of stuff as part of the session that we do on technical SEO. And then there’s just always lots of little changes that are going on.

GM: We have a whole session on AdWords reporting tools. We’ll have John Gagnon from Bing Ads, and then we also have a whole session on how to do a deep dive into the new Reports editor.

We have a session called Battle of the Match Types – we’ll have the boxing gloves on and be ready to hash out different approaches to whether or not you’re going to break out match types in your ad groups campaigns and how you’re going to do that. I’m really excited about that!

KK: Danny, I know that you were a reporter and then in 1996 you founded Search Engine Watch, and you’ve been reporting on it ever since! Can you tell us how you originally got into SEO?

DS: I used to be a newspaper reporter and then I went into web development with a friend of mine. We were building websites for people and somebody questioned why they weren’t ranking at the top of search engines at the time for particular terms, and there weren’t any really good answers. No one had a lot of information so I started doing some research and developed what I called a “Webmasters Guide to Search Engines” that I published which had a lot of tips and advice and also talked about the search engines that I thought people should be paying attention to because there were so many and it could be so time consuming figuring out how to submit to different places. That grew into what I’m doing today, and doing all the reporting with a huge team now out of Search Engine Land.

KK: What about you Ginny?

GM: I started in marketing on the magazine side of publishing and went through several iterations; it was an interesting but challenging industry at that time so I was ready to switch gears and wanted to get into digital marketing and came across search. I started in SEO and admittedly reluctantly discovered and fell into PPC and found that I loved it. I have been on the PPC side of things for about ten years now.

KK: You guys interact with a lot of digital marketers running SMX and Search Engine Land – how do you think young people today get into SEO?

DS: That’s certainly a mystery to me! There’s lots of ways people come into the space. Some people have been doing it kind of on their own and then they join up with an agency. Some people are at a company and that becomes an opportunity that they can join up into. You have some people who come over from the technical side because they’ve been doing development and they get interested in it. But these days you have a growing number people who just want to be an SEO. That’s their career choice from the beginning, which is interesting for me because when I was growing up we didn’t have SEO.


Another example of the “Book an Appointment” feature in the wild, this time powered by

KK: Last week, Ginny, you wrote an article on Google’s new “Book an Appointment” feature. As the name suggests, it allows you to book an appointment straight from the search results. Is Book an Appointment and other types of direct answer features good for businesses or bad in your opinion?

GM: I think it’s mostly a good thing. Unlike direct answers, the objective here is to still help a business meet their direct business objectives, so in the Book an Appointment case, the function is to appear in the knowledge panel so if someone searches for your local service, say a dentist, the searcher can see the information about your business on the knowledge panel and then there’s a call to action on the bottom called “book an appointment” and you can see the service is basically backending that capability … Intuit Local is powering it.

This is not an ad product like we’ve seen with Buy on Google or Google Compare or even the Home Service ads that are all in variations of beta. So for the Book an Appointment feature, you enter in what kind of appointment you want to make and then you click over to the website. You enter in all the normal information you would enter into that feed gen and that gets directly inputted into that database on the site. I think it’s a positive.

DS: On the SEO side, it’s kind of mixed. If you have a website that’s all based around facts and common information – what’s a celebrity’s birthday, etc. – direct answers are going to be kind of crippling to you, especially if they decide to pull direct answers and not cite anyone.

We’ve done this session at SMX West and Ehren Reilly at GlassDoor was talking about how they love it. (Editor’s note: read liveblog coverage of this session). They love it so much they’ve done all this work to show up there. They get traffic from it and they want to show up in that spot. I’ve had a couple other brand owners saying the same thing. That session is coming back at our New York show at SMX East. We’ll look at some of the latest changes, and Ehren will be back.

KK: Danny, you’re going to be doing a keynote with Gary Illyes and you’re going to ask him all kinds of questions. That’s one of my favorite sessions. Can you give us a preview of what you’re going to ask him?

gary illyes

Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes.

DS: We’ll probably start off with some of the simple things like what are the secret ways of ranking well on Google? Can you tell us the insights to all of the Google algorithm. Just teasing. That session is largely driven by the questions the audience has. It’s an opportunity for people to put their questions straight to Google that have turned up and, in some ways, put Google on the spot. A lot of it comes down to what the audience wants to hear.

I imagine we’ll certainly want to talk about the changes going on with Panda where we’re in this ever-flux mode where it’s still perhaps rolling out even though it already rolled. It was a big shift. I’m always curious if they can do more to show site owners more about the algorithmic penalties or actions that have hit their sites. They’ve been a great job of showing you if you’ve hit by something manual but I think understanding algorithmic things is important, as well. Maybe we can get some hints if they’ve got new ranking factors that they’re planning to bring in.

Ready to buy your ticket to SMX East 2015? Save 10 percent with this discount code good on all passes and workshops: SMX15BRUCECLAY.

EDITOR’S UPDATE: Here’s where you can read our liveblog of the Evening Forum with Danny Sullivan at SMX East.

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2 responses to “Danny Sullivan & Ginny Marvin Video Speed Interview: What’s Trending at SMX”

  1. Sarah Maegan writes:

    Great Video. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. Angie - FrommyKitchen writes:

    Hey Kristi

    Another great Google hangout from some industry experts. One big takeaway for me was Danny’s mention of the ever evolving and upward trend of mobile. Its not something that I have focused on other than ensuring my own websites are mobile responsive. I definitely need to up my game in that area.

    Ginny mentioned Yahoo Gemini…I never really heard of that. So its something new that I need look up.


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