21 Liveblog Reads that Will Make You a Better SEO: Virtual Internet Marketing Conference

I’ve got a mixed record with resolutions at the start of a new year, but when that calendar flips I feel a sense of renewed vigor and an urgency to add a few new good habits. Do you ever make New Year’s resolutions?

You may have some SEO goals in your 2015 queue, whether it’s getting your site’s mobile experience tight and right or finding the time to bring a local presence to life on Google My Business. If you’re a driven, self-led learner and are hungry for some SEO insights to power up your 2015 digital marketing agenda, we’ve got a buffet for you.

Virtual Internet Marketing ConferenceBest of Search Conferences 2014

Last year, BCI bloggers covered 69 keynotes, sessions and mini-sessions from digital marketing conferences SMX West and SMX East, Pubcon New Orleans and Pubcon Las Vegas. Attending a conference can be pricey but the takeaways gleaned can be priceless as far as improving your ability to do your job better. Consider this post the shortcut track of the best sessions and speakers from these events. It’s your CliffsNotes of the best of Search Conferences 2014.


Google Search Chief Amit Singhal’s Keynote Conversation

Amit Singhal is a Senior Vice President and Google Fellow at Google, Inc. Singhal is described by Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land editor-in-chief, as “the one who knows how Google ranks things.” Here’s what this Google executive and influencer had to say about advancements in serving natural language queries, ranking signals from social and links, and the role of the Knowledge Graph as a tool for users.

Amit Singhal and Danny Sullivan

  • Hummingbird (Google search infrastructure update of August 2013) was a complete rewrite of the system. It enabled Google to better understand “natural language, longer queries, how close various words are in order to signal a concept.”
  • Links are an important ranking signal that shows the importance of popular content.
  • Social signals are not used for ranking because they are currently unreliable; however, Singhal says that social signals could be tested and added if they do become reliable.
  • Signals from Google+ are considered reliable data. Logged in searchers see an impact on their SERPs based on Google+ signals. Google believes that they’re able to better serve users based on their needs and psychology by incorporating Google+ signals into ranking.
  • Google sees Knowledge Graph as their “understanding of the world.” Singhal describes the web as a Swiss army knife. You’re comfortable with the knives and scissors, but sometimes you need a corkscrew. Knowledge Graph is a tool that you can use on the go, especially in the mobile world. And the more you use one of the tools, the more you use all the tools at your disposal.

Robert Cialdini On the 6 Universal Principles of Persuasion

Robert Cialdini, author of Influence, is the most cited social psychologist in the sphere of business. The principles of Influence have come to be the measuring stick on which business decisions are made. At Pubcon New Orleans, Cialdini talked about persuasion, which can move people in a desired direction, and uncertainty, which is a hinderance to persuasion.

Robert Cialdini at Pubcon New Orleans

There are six universal principles of persuasion:

  1. Reciprocation: In every human culture there is a rule that we are trained in from childhood that says: “If you do me a favor I owe you a favor.” Meaningful, unexpected and personalized — those are the three keys to the principle of reciprocity.
  1. Liking: If you’re dealing with someone, find out about that individual’s background and interests and hobbies. Bring up commonalities when you realize them. You’re much less likely to find yourself in a deadlock if you believe you are similar.
  1. Commitment/consistency: People want to be consistent with what they’ve done previously, especially publicly. The best way to get people to commit is by getting them write it down. Get them to click multiple times, type in something, and they will stay more stable as a consequence.
  1. Scarcity: If people are unsure and don’t know what to do in a situation, they act to prevent losing. Framing a message in terms of what you’re losing if you don’t try it draws more interest than framing some product or offering as new.
  1. Authority: Credibility is made of two things: knowledge and trustworthiness. Before you try to influence people, inform them of your background, experience and credentials. This is harder than it sounds because talking up your own credentials makes you come off as a braggart. It’s better if someone else introduces you as the expert. Another takeaway on this point is that revealing drawbacks or weaknesses can make you more trustworthy. If you, share your strongest argument after a moment where you have admitted a weakness, that weakness will be received in an open way, affording you credibility and trust.
  1. Consensus: People reduce uncertainty by looking at the advice of peers. 98% of online shoppers say they check product reviews online before buying. We follow the lead of many others and of similar others. The consensus principle is at the core of the social media revolution.


Deconstructing Pigeon, Google’s New Local Search Algorithm

  • Discover what’s new when it comes to searches with generic and geo-locally modified terms.
  • See firsthand some broken results that will make you scratch your head.
  • Take a look at how Pigeon effects real estate clients specifically.

What SEOs Should Be Doing with Mobile

  • Catch up on the state of mobile with insights from straight from Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes.
  • BrightEdge’s CEO Jim Yu shares exclusive data on error rates associated with different mobile site structure.
  • Learn why there’s no “one-size-fits-all” design choice when it comes to mobile sites.

HTTPS & the Future of Secure Search: Google’s Gary Illyes and SEO VIPs

  • This session is offers more straight-from-Google insights, including musings on the possible return of keyword data.
  • Stone Temple Consulting’s President Eric Enge reveals he’s seen “no material change” since moving to secure search.
  • Discover the panel’s thoughts on RSS and WordPress in relation to secure search.

Google Gary Illyes HTTPS

New Mobile Behavior and Click-to-Call Strategies

  • Learn why click-to-call extensions are vital to the health of your PPC campaign.
  • Why what worked “then” still works “now” when it comes to ads.
  • Fast facts about leads generated via phone calls.

25 Smart Examples of Structured Data You Can Use Now

  • Discover insights on how to track the ROI of rich snippets.
  • Get seven examples of structured data you can implement today.
  • Learn the importance of connecting Google Analytics to your structured markup.

Structured Data

Q&A with the SEO “Old School”

  • Called “the most interesting conversation” of Pubcon NOLA, this no-rules open forum showcases knowledge from the industry’s seasoned experts.
  • Find out where the industry’s leaders (including Bruce Clay, Greg Boser, Joe Laratro, Tony Wright, Rob Garner and more) think the future of SEO is headed.
  • Check out a candid conversations regarding the penalization of Ann Smarty’s guest blog network.

Matt Cutts and Duane Forrester Talk Online Marketing — Meet the Search Engines

  • Matt Cutts (Google’s Distinguished Engineer) shares the top seven SEO themes of 2014.
  • Find out how Cutts and Bing’s Senior Product Manager Duane Forrester recommend handling parameter bloat due to tracking referral strings.
  • See a power SEO selfie if ever there was one — plus “listen” in to all the other insights these search dynamos share in this Q&A session with Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan.

Long-Term SEO: How to Win for Years, Not Days

  • Discover the hallmarks of a great website.
  • Learn why strategy is more important than tactics.
  • How to guard against the SEO disaster that is waiting around the corner.


Creating, Testing & Optimizing Paid Search Ads

  • Get PPC pros top tips for testing ads.
  • How the shifting mobile landscape effects paid search.
  • Find out what matters most when creating, testing and measuring ROI on ads.

Power Boosting Sales with PLAs

  • Product Ads give consumers rich info in an engaging format. It will show custom images from an advertiser’s own product catalog plus promo text and pricing. The foundation of this approach is the retailers most powerful asset: the product.
  • Best practices for setting up your PLA campaigns: the more specific your product targets are, the more control you have over which product serves. Create at least one Product Target that targets all products. Group similar product IDs. Then create additional Product Targets that include specific brands or product types. Product Target attributes are critical for success. As a rule of thumb, think of reporting. You’re looking at what can be manipulated to increase ROI. (Brand, Condition, Product Type, ad group, etc.)
  • 89% of all sales from PLAs were not from keywords that contained the product title. Let search queries drive your product titles. Put that high volume search term at the beginning of your product titles. Create search campaigns off your search query reports. Let your PLA campaigns dictate other search network campaigns.

Content Marketing

Keyword Research for Better Content & Audience Engagement

  • Keyword research is in disarray – the things you find in keyword research are crazy. People are searching for keywords, but that that’s data without wisdom. Good keyword research accounts for intent.
  • As you research, map keywords to personas. This ultimately helps you understand what people are trying to do with their search. Understand your users’ vocabulary and work to get a sense of what people are talking about when they’re searching.
  • If you’ve mapped keywords to persona needs, the fact that keyword data has gone (Not Provided) in Google doesn’t matter. All that matters is who is searching and what matters to them. Google provides more than enough data to determine what types of users are coming to your site. Use that in the context of landing pages, internal search and channels.

Keyword Research for Better Content

Shifting From Content Marketing to Media Company

  • In this session, Copyblogger Media Founder and CEO Brian Clark told the audience all the ingredients of engaging content, what it means to adopt a media-first business strategy, and the changes organizations must make to survive in the era of content-first marketing. Brands doing the best today have transformed themselves into functioning media outlets.
  • Business owners should think of their marketing more as informational content than traditional marketing. Think of the marketing and creative you produce like cable TV shows — educational but also engaging.
  • If you want to win hearts and minds, create entertainment, media, and stories that resonate with people. Examples of brands that are doing this today are Coca-Cola, Netflix and Google.

How Small Companies Can Achieve Big Results

  • This session coverage is being included in this Content Marketing category, but it’s more like an uncategorized selection of productivity tips. Apply the recommendations in this session and you can work smarter so that your small business can compete against big brands with content and a rich online presence.
  • A small business can compete with a big brand if they are lean and agile and quick. Get your internal communication tight. Identify your best assets from throughout the organization. Identify the best content you have and understand how all your content is performing. Repurpose content, squeezing every last drop of goodness from the content you have that is already winning.
  • If you want to be the best, you should know the market the best, and that includes learning everything about your competition. Sign up for their newlsetters. Read their content. Learn from what they are doing well.

Social Media

Twitter Cards & Facebook’s Open Graph

  • Social markup makes it easier for users to share your content, and therefore more likely. When you share a link and it looks really poor, the user is going to rethink even posting it. Investing in social markup improves the health of your content in the long term.
  • Approach social markup like ad creative. No one else is (probably) going to edit the post — you need to treat the post like an ad and make it awesome and accurate. This is essential for increased content sharing. And note that OG tags are also read by LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.
  • There are nine types of Twitter Cards, including cards that provide a summary of content, include photos, provide product details, let you play videos, songs and view slides, and even lead generation cards.

Twitter For Business

  • Twitter is about human communication. Any brand that has an audience that they want to connect with can excel on Twitter. It’s all about finding the community; using the tools they’re using; engaging your community with content that adds value.
  • Should I have two Twitter profiles? One for me, and one for me as X-brand advocate? Social media is all about being human. People want to know that Jon the Dell worker is also into Fishing. They want to see Jon as a human. Only positivity can come from showing your personality next to your professional tweets.
  • Twitter for business best practices: Write more @ tweets! Don’t automate tweets. Add value in what you tweet! Leave room for retweets. Use Twitter lists to connect with influencers. Consider the story that your list of lists is telling. Subscribe to lists that include you.

Paid Social Media Opportunities Including Facebook for Business

  • Paid social works because of microtargeting, personalization, variety of specialized networks, good distribution and exposure, its real-time nature, the speed with which someone can start, its mobile reach and the potential viral aspect.
  • Start with goals of brand building (vs. direct response). Balance your expectations and figure out what you’re trying to achieve.
  • It’s become harder and harder to reach your fans organically in the Facebook News Feed. Organic reach is down and it’s becoming a necessity to use ad options. Facebook offers marketers the biggest network with the most opportunity.
  • Try to avoid the tempting shortcuts that Facebook presents to you (like “Boost Post”). They’re very pricey and you can do better with the power editor.
  • Custom Audiences let you build relationships. Advertisers find their existing audiences among people who are on Facebook. 6x return on ad spend when you create a custom audience from email addresses or phone numbers.


Closing Remarks and Big Picture Thoughts

Revolutionizing Decision Making: How The Analyst Will Take Over Business

Data lets us to better connect with our consumers during specific/targeted phases in their lives.

3 Ways to Nurture Successful Ongoing Analytics

  1. Make sure your data collection meets a strategic business need.
  2. Explain the analytics in a way that the stakeholders can understand.
  3. Demonstrate ROI to stakeholders.

4 Tips for Communicating Analysis to Stakeholders

  1. What does it the person you’re communicating to need?
  2. Run your presentation past a nontechnical supporter.
  3. Create proof points for your techniques.
  4. Watch your assumptions!

Pro Tips

  • Only take two-minutes to explain your methodology.
  • Use analogies!

Evening Forum with Danny Sullivan

Search Engine Land Founding Editor Danny Sullivan takes questions from the SMX audience. Find out how Sullivan respond to thought-provoking questions about SEO education as a part of college curriculum and the future of Right to Be Forgotten. Sullivan also tackles technical queries such as “Structured data seems like a good opportunity but it seems 1% of sites use it – and now dynamic links render automatically, is it worth it to implement schema?”

Jason Calacanis on Startups that Save the World

Angel investor Jason Calacanis’s keynote is unique – it’s not tactical or strategy-driven. It’s steeped in reality and meant to simply inspire and inform the audience of the amazing progress that startups and forward-thinking companies are bring to the world in the areas of six global problems. Startups, he asserts, will solve our world’s problems rather than governments. His keynote, that is meant to inspire us, will cover major advances by tech and startup companies.

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

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3 Replies to “21 Liveblog Reads that Will Make You a Better SEO: Virtual Internet Marketing Conference”

Thanks for sharing this Virginia! (& Chelsea – of course!)

What’s your thoughts on the upcoming Mobile Apocalypse update due on 21st Apr?

Do you reckon it’s going to affect a huge % of the search results? Or is it just another over-hype update?

Robin Ooi

oh’ this wonderful article and Thank you for the guidelines. it’s very useful for me.Thanks for sharing this helpful information.

Chelsea Adams

Love this list, Virginia! I love that you kick off this conference about conferences with my favorite person: Amit Sighal!! Since I am a giant Amit Singhal fanboy, I thought I’d take this opportunity to bring an article I wrote about the man with a plan back in January 2014: “6 Lessons You Can (and Should) Learn from Matt Cutts’s Boss, Amit Singhal” >> http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/6-lessons-from-amit-singhal/

(Yes, it is a Bruce Clay, Inc. article. Yes I am sitting right next to Virginia right now. No, this is not some weird ploy to self-promote; I just really like Amit Singhal and I want our blog readers to know it!)

A preview:

His first lesson: Follow your heart, and do what you love because happiness is worth much more than any amount of money.

His second lesson (dispersed throughout five mini-lessons): SEO is not bull****.

(Now do you see why I adore this man so much?? He is wise, balanced and, well…. kind of a big deal.)


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