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What You Need To Know From SMX Advanced

by Virginia Nussey, June 13, 2008

Anyone following the industry may have noticed the overwhelming coverage of SMX Advanced earlier this month. A relative newcomer to the conference circuit, SMX has quickly become a sweetheart of show goers. Advanced was billed as an expert-level search engine marketing education and exhibition event, featuring sessions for fluent and experienced SEOs, SEMs and Web developers.

The discussions following previous expert-level events have included criticisms that the info shared was not advanced enough, or perhaps, not advanced at all. Most marketers who attended this year's event strayed from such criticisms, recognizing the new and innovative techniques presented by speakers - regardless of whether or not they would ever use those techniques on their own or their clients' sites.

On the Bruce Clay blog, writers Lisa Barone and I liveblogged 15 of those sessions across the four tracks: Organic Search, Paid Search, SEM Business and Developer Day. If you weren't able to attend the conference, you may want to head over to the blog to see if anything catches your eye.

However, there were several sessions that were considered highly-valuable. There were also sessions/topics that, since the publication of speakers' PowerPoint presentations, can be expanded upon. I know that I frequently couldn't record all of the info presented on longer slides or by fast talkers, so some of the topics deserve some additional coverage. For that reason, this recap of SMX Advanced is also a roundup and addendum.

Analytics Every SEO Needs to Know
One of the most commended sessions of the event, attendees seemed to agree that the offerings of this organic track session fell safely within the advanced category. Unfortunately, some points were left out of the blog coverage due to this writer's late arrival and speedy presenters.

Brian Klais's presentation on the ten essential organic search KPIs began by listing those indicators: brand-to-non-brand ratio; unique pages; indexation rate; phrases per page; visitors per phrase; page placement; yielding pages; engine yield rate; ROI and brand reach; and missed opportunity cost. These indicators, which go beyond hits and rankings, will help business owners answer the questions:

  • How do we evaluate our channel performance?
  • What is our missed opportunity cost?
  • How do we identify pages and markets to focus on?
  • How do we prioritize further investment?

For further reading, take a look at Brian's blog and white paper.

Jonah Stein's presentation focused on "five forgotten metrics." The final metric was to query all stats in Webmaster Central. The problem for most, however, is that the stats are presented in an unreadable format. For this problem, Jonah recommended a converter.

Search Engine Roundtable also provided coverage of this analytics session.

Amazing New PPC Tactics
On the blog we received a comment from a reader who would like to see more content like Addie Conner's presentation. Along those lines, there were points in Addie's presentation that did not make it to the blog.

She started her presentation by defining some terms she uses. Account structure is the organization of accounts within a multi-account strategy. Inter-campaign structure is the organization across multiple campaigns of an account, and intra-campaign structure is the organization of ad groups within a campaign. She presented a graphic of keyword types to consider when developing an account structure. Relevant, behavioral and irrelevant keyword types align with immediate seekers, contextual finders and new interest, respectively. High traffic and low traffic align with head and long tail keywords, respectively. In terms of the search engine, along with the inter-campaign considerations to keep in mind, Addie also outlined intra-campaign considerations:

  • Creative serving needs
  • Static headline vs. headline using keyword insertion
  • Keyword insertion in the headline and ad text
  • Insertion types: KEYWORD vs. KEYword vs. KeyWord vs. Keyword vs. keyword
  • Landing page if the URL is on creative level and for relevancy
  • Display URLs
  • Match type

There doesn't appear to be any alternate coverage of this session. Most likely, the other bloggers were at the Give It Up session that was going on at the same time.

What You Should Be Measuring - But Aren't
There were several useful topics discussed during this paid search session. Notably, Christine Churchill's talked about measuring offline conversions. Simple, intermediate and advanced methods were all explained and can be reviewed at the Bruce Clay blog. Also of value to readers may be Rich Devine's presentation on monetization modeling. Our little blogger fingers couldn't catch the info as fast as Rich was throwing it, so the following are his tips for building a monetization model that weren't relayed on the blog:

  • Confirm your business goals. Ask yourself, what are the goods of first and second intent, and what is the core business objective you're trying to achieve?
  • Align your site goals according to your answers to the above questions.
  • Establish your key metrics that align with your core business goals.
  • Update and refine your model at least monthly. Add data sources (Web analytics, financial data, CRM data, etc.) as needed, and allow for flexibility.
  • Some sample monetization-based metrics for SEM are MROAS (monetized return on ad spend), MRPC (monetized revenue per click), and MVPR (monetized value per referral).

Additional coverage of the session can be found on Search Engine Roundtable.

You&A With Matt Cutts
Everyone always loves a little Q&A time with search's moral compass, Matt Cutts. Danny Sullivan said he will be making the full video of the interview with the head of Google's Webspam Team available soon. In the meantime, you can find the essence of Matt, Danny and the audience's discussion on the Bruce Clay blog coverage as well as at Search Engine Roundtable, The Cubicle Punk, and Matt's SMX Advanced 2008 Wrap-up post. During the Q&A, Matt explains why Google penalized the Lyndoman linkbait - a fake news story about a 13-year-old who had used his father's credit card to buy hookers. The story was quickly picked up by major news outlets and wasn't disclosed as fake until weeks later. Matt said that the penalty was the result of the fact that the story was meant to deceive users, and that not taking action would have been irresponsible on Google's part. Other topics discussed included paid links, widgetbait, form crawling, different penalties, Google's new first click free feature, and a bit about PageRank sculpting.

Black Hat Tactics Represented at SMX Advanced
One of the hot discussion points following the conference was whether or not the content presented at SMX Advanced fell too far on the dark side of the SEO fence and whether or not that is the direction the industry is leaning in general. Check out this newsletter's Hot Topic for links to posts about Danny's intentions and the wider industry's opinions. The comments following the aforementioned posts are also worth giving a look.

For an additional collection of SMX Advanced 2008 coverage, check out Search Engine Land's SMX Advanced '08 - Day One Recap and SMX Advanced '08 - Day Two Recap.


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