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FEATURE FOCUS: What You Need To Know From Search Marketing Expo Advanced

by Lisa Barone, June 15, 2007

Attending search conferences is a great way to increase your search engine optimization and general search marketing know-how. It allows you the opportunity to network, learn the latest tricks of the trade and get a leg up on the new search marketing fads. However, it's not often possible to make it to every show, and even though Susan and I tried our best to provide you with complete conference coverage during this month's Search Marketing Expo, we understand you may not have time to read through all the recaps. Sometimes your business and taking care of it is understandably more important.

For those folks, we present you with the five key conference takeaways from both the organic search engine optimization and paid advertising tracks. It's the SMX recap for those with only a few minutes to spare. Enjoy!

Key Takeaways from SMX's Organic Track

  1. Google has 200 ranking signals in its algorithm: Time to update those wall plaques which enshrine the great truth that Google has 100 factors in their algorithm. As of SMX the official word is that there are now 200 ranking signals. That means the "small stuff" (that you're not supposed to sweat but you are supposed to do) is even smaller and there are that many more tie breakers. During the course of a search engine optimization campaign, we often compare certain factors 'all else being equal'. With Google's announcement there's a lot more to make equal. As far as we're concerned, there's never been a better reason to do things right. Slapdashing the small stuff is going to get you in big trouble. (You&A with Matt Cutts)

  2. Everything you ever needed to know about duplicate content you learned from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Former Googler Vanessa Fox began her SMX Duplicate Content presentation in a somewhat unconventional way. She explained the intricacies of duplicate content by alluding to the various versions of Willow Rosenberg and Xander Harris, two characters from the cult television show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She later explained the concept on her personal blog for attendees who were (rightfully) confused.

    The Duplicate Content Summit also advised not using nofollow to get rid of duplicate content as people can still link to the nofollow'd version. And we learned that Google does not have a site-wide duplicate content penalty. If your site slips into the supplemental index it's not because you're being penalized, it's actually an indirect effect of your links being diluted due to duplicate content. (Duplicate Content Summit)

  3. Spam is determined by extent and intent: During the Penalty Box Summit, Yahoo's Tim Mayer explained that spam is about the intent with which you use techniques and the extent in which you use them. He noted that there are honest uses for almost every "spam" technique -- IP cloaking for geographic targeting, for example. The important thing is to use it to help, not hurt, the user experience. (Penalty Box Summit)

  4. Personalization will happen around themes, not keywords: Panelist Gord Hotchkiss told attendees that personalized search was about understanding their search history, current tasks, Web history, social patterns, etc. With personalization, optimization will happen around themes not keywords. It will be about the long tail and forcing sites to develop based around users.

    Two forms of personalization were highlighted by panelists: Session-based personalization and Interest-based personalization. Session-based personalization is about understanding the intent of a user based on queries and clicks during a specific search session. The challenge is figuring out when a session ends. When are they done researching topic A and onto topic B?

    Interest-based personalization refers to identifying user interests based on their own declared preferences or user behavior inside or outside of the search context. The challenge users sometimes do searches outside their interest or normal behavior.

    Matt Cutts gave attendees a valuable tip: To turn quickly turn off personalization for a particular query, simply add the parameter "&pws=0" to the end of your query string. That tip alone was worth the price of admission. (Personalized Search: Fear or Not)

  5. "Link baiting and social media is about stuff for general support not for keyword relevance": Wise words from Better Ways panelist Greg Boser. Social media is only powerful if you can leverage it. The trouble for most marketers is that they hear the buzz around it but they don't realize how difficult of a medium it is to direct since you have no control over how people link to you. Even with the most successful link baiting campaigns, you have to go out and get focused targeted links to support your site goals. Site owners can influence linking by constructing keyword-rich titles and URLs, but they'll never have complete control. (Better Ways)

Bonus Organic Takeaway: Digg is an angry Mohawk-sporting baby: This one was too good to pass up. During the SEO, Meet SMM session, Neil Patel told conference goers that Digg was like an angry Mohawk-sporting baby who would spit food in your face if you poked it too hard. Avoid poking the baby by staying away from self promoting, adding biased information, or creating unnatural link rings by asking your friends for votes. (SEO, Meet SMM)

Key Takeaways from SMX's Advertising Track

  1. Familiarize yourself with GYM's trademark policies: Time is money. You don't want to waste it by crafting a clever PPC campaign only to have it sidelined because you're infringing on a competitor's trademark. Trademark concerns are one of the most difficult parts of search marketing and Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft all handle things differently. You must know the rules for each of the engines you're targeting.

    For example, Google will remove a trademarked term from ad copy but they won't disable keywords. Yahoo blocks all competitor URLs and company names regardless of trademarks, and Microsoft doesn't allow keywords or ad copy that constitutes trademark infringement. (Paid Search & Tricky Issues)

  2. Those who say it can't be done shouldn't stand in the way of those who do: A wise Michael Sack quoted a Chinese proverb and argued that pay per click isn't really that hard. Marketers just need to understand how it works and to do what's right for them. Learn the nuances behind Exact, Phrase, and Broad matching. Different engines have different labels. Google has Expanded Match, Yahoo has Advanced Match. You need to learn what each phrase means for yourself, don't count on your representative to understand it. You must also learn to expect different behaviors and different results. (Paid Search & Tricky Issues)

  3. Quality score inherently is about being obsessed with being user experience: Google created its quality score to reward sites that presented a good user experience. Speaker Dan Sundgren predicted that Google will try to put less and less ads on the page, trying to give people what they want, making things cleaner, simpler. It's counter-intuitive but so is Google.

    Josh Stylman didn't agree and argued that for Google quality score is about punishment, but in Yahoo and Microsoft, it's about rewarding advertisers. Google will raise cost for low quality and will deactivate ads that are too low. Yahoo and Microsoft won't. (Inside the Auction Black Box)

  4. Focusing too closely on bid management can hurt your search marketing campaign: Bid management tools can help search marketers manage a campaign with thousands of keywords but you can't turn it on and walk away. Doing so puts you at an enormous disadvantage to your competitions because bid management tools have a delayed reaction. They don't take into account consumer intent or other constantly changing factors. They're just one variable in a much larger equation. Use them as a tool to manage your campaign, but it's still up to run and direct it. (Is Bid Management Dead)

  5. Pump up your paid search campaign with dynamic keyword insertion: Using dynamic keyword insertion in your search marketing campaign can help improve its click through rate, quality score and relevance. It allows you to create custom keyword-rich ads in an automated way. When used effectively, it's a search marketer's best friend. (Pump Up Your Paid Search)

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