Best of Search Conferences 2009: Day 3

Happy New Year! You’ve come to just the right place to ring in 2010. Looking back at the best practices, expert recommendations and search engine shifts over the last year puts marketers in a prepared state of mind entering the new year. Below you’ll find knowledge nuggets from the year’s most popular conference posts on analytics and conversions, search info for execs, advanced SEO and advanced PPC. So before you toast to a prosperous year to come, get a little introspective with these top takeaways of 2009.


Keynote by Ben Huh, CEO Cheezburger Network – SMX East, Oct. 5-7
Speaker: Ben Huh

Top Takeaways:

  • There are many lessons to take from a network that was formed out of a viral concept. Just two years old, the Cheezburger Network has garnered one billion page views. “True virality” is the kind of virality that can be turned into a successful business.
  • In the two years since Cheezburger Network launched, Ben Huh has realized that the best ideas are simple and fulfill the dreams of others. What is “true” is found in the other person’s dream, thought it’s not about “truth” or “honesty.” “True” makes people nod in agreement. “True” is an unrealized dream of millions of people.
  • Entrepreneurship focuses too much on the wrong dreams. To succeed, you must turn the dreams of others into reality. Ego, pride, assumptions, cover-ups, reputation, and even some users are obstacles you’ll have to get past. Start by examining your habits and assumptions.
  • Human nature has a tendency to admire complexity but reward simplicity. This gets to the heart of why people want to create complex products. You don’t have to prove that you’re smart. You have to prove that you know how to handle less is more — one feature that is so solid that everyone will use it.

Analytics and Conversions

Top Takeaways:

  • There was a time when the biggest metric was hits. Then it was click-through rates. It finally got to a point where you could determine revenue. Those metrics couldn’t be gathered from other channels. As programs became more complex, the realization occurred that credit might be attributed to other channels.
  • The last click online shouldn’t get all the credit for the conversion. Try to understand cross-channel effects. The brand works better when generic terms are used earlier. Define a value for all clicks that lead to a conversion. The longer the sales cycle, the more important attribution management is. When in doubt, credit the last click the most, but not as everything.
  • It may be beneficial to consider multiple conversion events. Multiple conversion events are when more than one conversion occurs along the visitor’s path, such as visitor actions that indicate engagement and signs of interest or future revenue. Examples include newsletter signups or different stages of a sales funnel.
  • Improving Web site usability can improve conversion rates. When doing usability optimization, start by establishing coals. Then diagnose problems through testing. Use analytics to find your unique problems, and through understanding, optimize toward your end goals.
  • People are inundated with information. We have a hard time filtering information. One of the ways you can increase conversion rates is to decrease the choices. Don’t let your customers overwhelm — reduce choices, test and consider reducing again. There is power in simple. Too many choices can confuse users.

Best of Conference Posts on Analytics and Conversions:

The New Search ROI: Measuring More than Conversion – SES San Jose, Aug. 11-13
Moderator: Jeff Ferguson; Panelists: Thomas Bindl, James Colborn, Leigh McMillan, Niraj Shah and Aiko Yoshikawa

Increasing Conversions through Better Usability – SMX East, Oct. 5-7
Moderator: Gordon Hotchkiss; Panelists: Scott Brinker, James Fenelon, Kimberly Krause Berg and Alissa Ruehl

Turn Brain Science into Bucks: Incorporating Persuasive Messaging into Your Content Strategy – SES San Jose, Aug. 11-13
Moderator: Greg Jarboe; Panelists: Heather Lloyd-Martin and Graeme McLaughlin

Search for the C-Suite

Top Takeaways:

  • For search marketing initiatives to be successful, they require collaboration. An SEO manager must interface with the PR team, videographers, and product/content specialists (all who may not know SEO). Search must create new checklists and procedures to ensure that other collaborators’ efforts work in sync. And search must have sponsorship at the highest level to accomplish results.
  • The apples to oranges pricing comparisons of Internet marketing has so far been an unsolved mystery, though there are pros and cons to performance based pricing models. Pros: aligns goals; incent partner; and maximize performance. Cons: requires constant monitoring of goals and accurate tracking data; goals change; and SEO pits against paid.
  • Companies require a constant input of small accomplishments in order to achieve large-scale success. At an organization, a number of employees within many departments each play a part in an online business initiative.
  • A business must develop its internal communications so that the whole can function most effectively. The ability to easily and clearly communicate in terms that everyone understands is crucial to the success of each initiative and to the company’s survival as a whole.
  • A company must adapt to today’s marketplace in order to survive. Fast reaction times, creative problem solving and flexibility are required to stay on top in the online marketplace.

Best of Conference Posts on Search for the C-Suite:

Entrepreneurs and C-Suite Executives: A Fast-Track to Search Marketing Fluency – SES New York, Mar. 24-26
Moderator: Bryan Eisenberg; Speaker: Amanda Watlington

Performance Pricing Models: What Every CMO Must Know! – SES San Jose, Aug. 11-13
Moderator: Andy Atkins-Krüger; Panelists: Andrew Beckman, Vivek Bhargava and Paul Wilson

Online Business Evolution: An IM Spring Break Presentation – IM Spring Break, Apr. 2-5
Christopher Hart‘s presentation at IM Spring Break

Advanced SEO

Top Takeaways:

  • According to a link building expert, link buying is the worst thing you can do in an SEO campaign. Whether or not you believe Google can detect bought links, humans can, and they’ll report you. There’s a way to fly under the algorithm radar, but if someone reports you, you’re going to get burned. Right or wrong, detected or not, be prepared to get banned.
  • Words are the building blocks of communication, and it’s never more true than on your Web site. They are necessary to persuade people to take action. On a site, create a reaction in the user’s mind that says, “This site helps me find what I’m looking for.” Get rid of the corporate speak, the jargon, the branded tendencies.
  • People surveyed said privacy policy, SSL, address and phone number is what makes a site credible. But when put in front of a computer, layout, typography, font size and color schemes were what they saw as factors of credibility. Most importantly, it’s about readability.
  • Nofollow-based PageRank sculpting was never standardized across engines and it was mostly all about Google. When Google said it didn’t work anymore, the reason to use nofollow sculpting was even more uncertain. Instead, work the site architecture, internal linking, and global and sub-navigations. Use your content, landing pages and internal linking to your PageRank advantage.
  • A mental model is an explanation of someone’s thought process. SEOs and searchers have different mental models of what the user wants and how they interact with a Web site. The closer the represented model comes to a searcher’s mental model, your brand and credibility will as well.

Best of Conference Posts on Advanced SEO:

Ask the Link Builders – SMX East, Oct. 5-7
Moderator: Danny Sullivan; Panelists: Rae Hoffman, Debra Mastaler and Eric Ward

Advanced SEO Strategies: Integrating Analytics, Usability, Persuasion and Journalism – SES New York, Mar. 24-26
Moderator: Stewart Quealy; Speaker: Matthew Bailey

Revisiting PageRank Sculpting & Siloing – SMX East, Oct. 5-7
Moderator: Danny Sullivan; Panelists: Adam Audette, Eric Enge, Rand Fishkin, Brent Payne, Leslie Rohde and Shari Thurow

Advanced PPC

Top Takeaways:

  • Google used to have a strong policy against double serving pay per click ads. Violators would be blocked from AdWords. Beginning last January, an exception was made for double serving is if the pricing difference offered by each site is significant and based on the same criteria (e.g., if one site includes pricing with tax, the other site must include pricing with tax), opening the door for affiliate/lead generation programs.
  • To write compelling ads, take a look at organic rankings as those have been proven as click-worthy. Remember that click-through-rate is not the only measurement. Take into account the data sample. If it’s insignificant (less than 100) it could lead you to wrong conclusions. And make sure there’s continuity between the ad and the landing page.
  • When a client moves from last click to even attribution, they see a lift in performance. Influencers, introducers, etc., are assigned value in attribution modeling. When you first start with attribution, you may think you don’t have introducers or influencers in your data. But that’s often because you’ve killed everything but the closers due to the last-click model. You may have to reintroduce them so you can measure their effect.
  • Segmentation can happen through keywords and ad creatives; landing page behavioral choices; IP address profiling; forms on the landing page or the site; site-wide behavioral analysis. The first two are self-selected and incentivized. The others might be transparent, but are not likely incentivized.
  • Landing pages can have more than one page. They can have a conversion path type structure with segmentation choices on the page they land on. Sharing the same message to more than one audiences waters the message down or turns off one of the audience groups. When given the choice to segment which group they were in, 65 percent of users chose their group and they saw a 14 percent conversion rate. This way you can figure out which segments convert best.

Best of Conference Posts on Advanced PPC:

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: Black Hat PPC Tactics – SES New York, Mar. 24-26
Moderator: Richard Zwicky; Panelists: Bill Leake, Kevin Lee, Jamie Smith and David Szetela

The Death of Last Click Attribution & Its Impact – SES San Jose, Aug. 11-13
Moderator: Craig Macdonald; Panelists: Adam Goldberg, Mark Grote, Gary Milner and Robin Smith

Advanced B2B – SES New York, Mar. 24-26
Moderator: Rebecca Lieb; Panelists: Scott Brinker, Adam Goldberg, Ian Harris and Kevin Lee

Live Conference Episode of SEM Synergy

SEM Synergy – Live from SMX East – SMX East, Oct. 5-7
Hosts: Bruce Clay and Virginia Nussey; Guests: Craig Danuloff and Mike McDonald

Top Takeaways:

  • Yahoo! announced this year that they are no longer using the Meta Keywords tag for ranking. Bruce recommends the use of the Meta Keywords tag as a best practice. Yahoo! is not the only engine on the Web, and there remains a use of the Meta Keywords tag as a helpful tool for campaign management and organization.
  • One search engine marketing conference tested a new way of attracting attendees through added value. Attendees who registered for a free expo hall pass were allowed to attend any one session they wanted to. There was a good chance that those who liked what they saw and heard would convert to paying attendees for the rest of the show.
  • Keywords and bids are often seen as the cornerstones of PPC. However, keywords are just a magnet to the user’s query, with broad match as a strong magnet attracting queries of all kinds. Analytics and reporting data hide the story by relying on keywords, but the truth of the story is found at the query.
  • Looking at the queries for specific keywords, you’ll find words that don’t convert and be able to wipe them out as negatives. You’ll also find queries that convert well, so promote those to exact match. Since you know they’re good, you can bid higher and your exact match ad group will be very precise.
  • WebProNews has been using video on its site since 2006. They see video as a value add on the site that’s different and interesting. In order to put together a professional video interview, production quality should be high.
  • To interview a subject expert, one way to gather a lot of information is to know the person’s most comfortable subjects and let them carry the discussion. It helps to know where an interview subject’s passions lie.

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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One Reply to “Best of Search Conferences 2009: Day 3”

Awesome compilation. I can relate to most of the points (more or less) but many are easy said than done :). For ex:

“Human nature has a tendency to admire complexity but reward simplicity. This gets to the heart of why people want to create complex products. You don’t have to prove that you’re smart. You have to prove that you know how to handle less is more — one feature that is so solid that everyone will use it”


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