Best of Search Conferences 2009: Day 1

It’s the first day of Bruce Clay, Inc.’s annual Best of Search Conferences 2009, where we rally the most popular liveblog posts of the year from shows including SMX West, SES New York, SES San Jose, SMX East and SES Chicago.

Over the next three days, you’ll also find a guest post from an industry friend who offered to share PubCon knowledge on the blog, as well as an IM Spring Break presentation packaged into a blog-friendly form. And to top it all off, every day you’ll be served an episode of the SEM Synergy podcast, broadcast live from a convention hall.

So grab a mug of your favorite caffeinated beverage, throw on the Snuggie and get comfy in your cozy chair. You’ll require no travel, no hassle and no going anywhere for this bevy of search smarts. You’re about to enjoy a search engine marketing conference beamed straight to your glowing computer screen.


Opening Keynote: Twitter as a Tool for Social Media – SES New York, Mar. 24-26
Speaker: Guy Kawasaki

Top Takeaways:

  • On the Web, 1.0 was Web sites. Web 2.0 is blogging — anyone can do it. Version 3.0 of online marketing is a tweet. Currently it’s the most powerful tool in online marketing. Reach hundreds of thousands of people for free. However, there are new rules to keep in mind when participating in Twitter marketing.
  • Forget the A-list. With blogs, you needed the famous to promote your stuff. Their wisdom would trickle down to the masses and get you in front of eyeballs. The new mental model is not trickling down but bubbling up from people in the community that love what you do and bubble up for you and become your evangelist.
  • Get lots of followers because Twitter can be a numbers game. Here are some tips for getting big numbers: Step 1: Follow everyone back that follows you. Step 2: The best measure of how valuable your tweets are is the number of retweets. Step 3: Followers are not the best measure of how successful your tweeting is. Step 4: Find interesting stuff to tweet.
  • Guy Kawasaki’s other recommendations include: monitor what people are saying about you; copy other people/companies; use search as research; use the right tools (TweetDeck, Twhirl, CoTweet and Tynt); make it easy to share; and don’t be afraid to take the heat.

Basic/Intermediate Search Engine Optimization

Top Takeaways:

  • As Google’s ability to detect paid links advances, straight link building is becoming a less and less effective SEO strategy. Instead, consider press releases because the main difference between an online press release and a paid link is that the online press release offers quality editorial context.
  • Reading in between the lines of search engine speakers at PubCon Las Vegas, it was clear that user engagement will influence ranking factors in the future. There’s an upcoming tidal wave of attention that will be paid to behavioral ranking factors and other search personalizations.
  • 301 redirects permanently redirect users and bots from an old location of a Web page to the new location. Before implementing 301 redirects across a site: have a list or spreadsheet of all of your current site’s indexed pages; have a list of all of your current site’s indexed pages with backlinks; and know the relationships/translations from the old page to the new page.
  • There are legitimate uses for a 302 redirect, including: geo-detection, rapidly changing offers (the base page will accumulate link equity while the offers change), bringing a microsite back into the fold, and in some instances, the use of vanity URLs.
  • To create a news search optimization strategy, a strategy will follow if you start with research (e.g., What are the misconceptions of the company or service? If there is a shift of public perception by X%, how many sales does that represent?). Sample strategies include: product/category awareness (“did you know?”); corporate social responsibility (“watch a video of our green initiatives”); crisis management (“our product is safe”); community building; and “I just want links” (not a recommended long-term strategy).

Best of Conference Posts on Basic/Intermediate Search Engine Optimization:

Got That? 6 Compelling PubCon Takeaways – PubCon Las Vegas, Nov. 10-13
Guest post of overall conference takeaways by Marty Weintraub, founder and president, aimClear Search Marketing

301 Redirect, How Do I Love You? Let Me Count the Ways – SMX West, Feb. 10-12
Moderator: Alex Bennert; Panelists: Jordan Kasteler, Carolyn Shelby, Stephan Spencer and Jonah Stein

News Search SEO – SES New York, Mar. 24-26
Moderator: Mark Jackson; Panelists: Greg Jarboe, Lisa Buyer, Dana Todd and John Shehata

Basic/Intermediate Pay Per Click Marketing

Top Takeaways:

  • A user’s traditional reaction to pay per click ads is as follows: Stimulus -> Exposure -> Response. In reality there are multiple stimulus, exposure, and response steps, and online each of these steps can be measured — from the advertising, to the landing page, to the conversion funnel. A visitor makes many mini-decisions on a landing page, and each tiny decision drives the action. Use multivariate testing to test many different elements all at the same time.
  • Competitive research can take your PPC campaign from success to smashing success. Research competitors, take their ideas, and incorporate them into your landing pages, then test them against your own ads. Even if there is no lift in response, you’ll learn what doesn’t work. Keep in mind that the rules change every six to twelve months so test continually.
  • When crafting a local PPC campaign, Google Analytics Map Overlay can help you drill down into goals by location. Look to Google Trends for info on local targeting — an area that searches most for a product often has a higher conversion rate for that product. If you have a limited ad budget, target just the areas where you have high response rates and create campaigns based on those geographies. Also, if you have a limited budget and want to reach a broad audience, increase your budgets in the areas where you have high ROI.
  • Along with search, pay per click marketing occurs on ad content networks. Google’s content network has not traditionally performed that well, though that may be because PPC search marketers are trying to copy search strategies in content networks. Primarily, content advertisers lose money: when ads appear on irrelevant pages and get bad clicks (low conversion rates); when ads don’t distract attention from site content; and when search and content exist in the same campaign.
  • “Tools can never replace human ingenuity but they can make the job a human does a whole lot easier.” There are many tools which assist a pay per click marketer in their daily tasks, with costs starting at free and going up from there.

Best of Conference Posts on Basic/Intermediate Pay Per Click Marketing:

Landing Pages & Multivariate Testing – SMX West, Feb. 10-12
Moderator: Gord Hotchkiss; Panelists: Jeremy Crane, Dan Darnell and Sandra Niehaus

Amazing PPC Tactics – SMX East, Oct. 5-7
Moderator: Matt Van Wagner; Panelists: Addie Conner, Brad Geddes, Dan Soha, and David Szetela

Tools, Glorious Tools – SMX West, Feb. 10-12
Moderator: Chris Sherman; Panelists: Ken Jurina, Stephan Spencer, Lauren Vaccarello and David Wallace

Basic/Intermediate Social Media Marketing

Top Takeaways:

  • The goal of commercial Twitter accounts should be to connect with your customers, advocates, industry leaders, new customers and detractors; to make sales and generate leads; to promote content; and to solve customer problems. There are ways to automate an account without putting off followers, for instance by auto-tweeting blog posts when they publish; by scheduling tweets in the future with tools; by using virtual assistants; and by repeating tweets for multiple time zones.
  • Each social media platform is different and you can’t leverage it unless you know it (the terms of service, the community’s preferences, etc.). Keep in mind that social media isn’t only about communication — it’s also about information sharing.
  • Thanks to the Internet, there’s a new marketing cycle that’s based on the ideas that what a consumer says about a product has a greater effect than it did in the past. In social media, the intention of being black hat is to get better results faster, but the consequence is having to manage risk. When a company submits low quality content to social media sites, there’s no way around the fact that the community will reject it.
  • Social media users can be categorized as creators, critics, collectors, joiners, spectators and inactives. Find out where your consumers play. Find out the kind of content that plays best on those platforms. Don’t be afraid of the niche. Set measurable goals before your campaign. And use an analytical approach to measurement.
  • Great marketing starts with your team members. Use an inside-out strategy and identify insiders who are already active. Expand the inner circle and give them a reason to care. People want actual engaged ambassadors, not fake LinkedIn or Facebook “people”. Be authentic and holistic, whether using your actual name or not.

Best of Conference Posts on Basic/Intermediate Social Media Marketing:

Twitter Marketing Tactics – SMX East, Oct. 5-7
Moderator/Panelist: Chris Winfield; Panelists: Michael Gray and Tamar Weinberg

An Update on Social Media Optimization – SES New York, Mar. 24-26
Moderator: Kevin Newcomb; Panelists: Liana Evans, Dave Snyder, Benu Aggarwal, Marty Weintraub and Chris Winfield

Social Media: White Hat vs. Black Hat – SES San Jose, Aug. 11-13
Moderator: Dave Evans; Panelists: Beth Harte, Lee Odden, Dave Snyder and Chris Bennett

Basic/Intermediate Branding

Top Takeaways:

  • SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, conducted their annual State of the Search Marketing Industry Survey. The top-level findings are as follows: in North America search spending will grow to 26.1 billion by 2013; in the near term there will be limited growth in search spend; Google has solidified its reign as market leader, however seven of ten advertisers are still running Yahoo! campaigns; SEM is poaching budget from other marketing channels, especially offline marketing channels; and advertisers are very interested in behavioral targeting opportunities.
  • Nearly 75 percent of advertisers would bid more for behaviorally targeted ads. Advertisers are evenly split on their willingness to bid more to reach specific demographics. About 54 percent of advertisers are interested in video advertising. Meanwhile, 41 percent of advertisers have in-house staff promoting their brand on social media sites, and 5 percent pay an agency to manage social media marketing.
  • There are traits that brands facing reputation crises seem to have in common. The big problem is often that search results are empty, so when something bad happens, it rises to the top. Also, when a brand won’t speak up, all the negative stuff will dominate the conversation. A client that isn’t willing to right the wrong is practically impossible to help. Or a company will sometimes follow up negative comments with a comment trying to speak up for themselves, but adding their brand name as fresh content on the page can actually reinforce the authority of that negative review.
  • During a reputation crisis, social media is a useful tool for fighting back. Social media categories include professional social networking, social networking, social aggregation and informational sites. These various platforms can be used to push negative content off page one of SERPs, to generate strong neutral or positive content, and to push up good content through link building.
  • The recession has affected the way consumers interact with brands. Brand esteem and regard is down 12 percent. Brand awareness has declined by 20 percent. The perception of brand quality has eroded 24 percent. And trust in brands has declined by 50 percent. Every recession ends eventually so how you act now will affect your future performance. Through empathy, respect, value, and community cooperation, establish positive associations with your brand.

Best of Conference Posts on Basic/Intermediate Branding:

Morning Keynote: The Brand Bubble – SES New York, Mar. 24-26
Keynote Speaker: John Gerzema

Social Media, Search & Reputation Management – SMX East, Oct. 5-7
Moderator: Chris Sherman; Panelists: Brent Csutoras, Rhea Drysdale, Jordan Kasteler, Chris Silver Smith and Marty Weintraub

The State of the Search Marketing Industry – SMX West, Feb. 10-12
Panelist: Gordon Hotchkiss

Live Conference Episode of SEM Synergy

SEM Synergy – Live from SES New York – SES New York, Mar. 24-26
Hosts: Bruce Clay and Virginia Nussey; Guests: Bas van den Beld and Mark Knowles

Top Takeaways:

  • At search marketing conferences you can see more sessions geared toward the executive level. Likewise, more executives are making inquiries with SEM agencies. Two years ago, at the board level of most companies there was little understanding of SEO. Today, all the company boards know about it, they just need to figure out how to do it.
  • Search marketing training is on the rise through conferences as well as individual training courses. The understanding that a search presence is crucial to doing business today has finally caught on in the mainstream business environment.
  • Search conferences in Europe typically have a smaller attendance and fewer exhibitors than conferences in the U.S. There is also a greater focus on multi-lingual site optimization as many companies operate out of more than one European country.
  • SEOs outside of the U.S. pay attention to what happens at conferences in the U.S. in order to identify upcoming trends. Interest in Europe around search marketing is growing quickly. The interest doesn’t come from an interest in entering the U.S. market, as the European market is a largely untapped market when it comes to search marketing.
  • SEO and content management have been at odds over the years. By meeting with and gathering requirements from respected SEOs across the country, Pixelsilk was able to create an SEO friendly content management system.
  • Most search marketers boast a previous life, from organizing missile operations in the military to roller skating in the circus. Discover the past lives of respected search marketers by visiting

Virginia Nussey is the director of content marketing at MobileMonkey. Prior to joining this startup in 2018, Virginia was the operations and content manager at Bruce Clay Inc., having joined the company in 2008 as a writer and blogger.

See Virginia's author page for links to connect on social media.

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2 Replies to “Best of Search Conferences 2009: Day 1”

Hm. This is interesting. Where next day?=)

Virginia Nussey

Glad you liked it, Lomaster! Here’s the Best of Cons 2009, Day 2. Day 3 will be posted to the blog tomorrow. :)


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