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PubCon 2008 - Sessions From Day 1

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

After a long flight, acclimitising to being 8 hours behind the UK, watching the fountains outside the Bellagio and a few beverages for good measure, PubCon has kicked off.

Las-vegas

If you want to read the full transcript of the sessions, then the Seroundtable are doing a great job of covering every word of nearly every session. I have summarised the key take aways from each of the sessions I attended from my PubCon agenda for day 1.

Top-Shelf Organic SEO - (Bruce Clay, Bill Hunt, Ash Nallawalla, Jill Whalen)

At first I thought I had made an mistake attending this session as it started off very basic. Luckily my first impressions were a little misplaced and the session developed through each of the speakers and there were some great take aways particulary from Bruce Clay regarding the future of SEO -

  • Behaviour based search - Rather than 'personalised' as its often reffered as, search engines to further tailor results to your preferences.
  • Intent based search impact - Understanding the intent behind search queries (shopping or research) and delivering results matching that intent.
  • Local search - Keywords, address and IP of searcher.
  • Universal search - Already in play but individual factors still somewhat being tested in the overall algorithm of a domain and its ability to rank.
  • Ranking is dead (or will be) - Traffic & conversion ultimate measurement of success.

There was a subsequent discussion regarding how Google is already looking at sites based on intent and ranks them higher based on their common architectural characteristics. For example review type sites for research rather than buyer intent have more content on average on a page than shopping sites that have less content and (should) rank higher for more commercial queries. Does this mean retail/ecommerce sites can stop worrying about adding content to their product pages? Bruce Clay argued that from his research on shopping user intent queries less content was better and it's best to keep review pages separate from the 'buy' pages on a site. Interesting arguments, but not all points I agree with.

Bruce went on to say that he believes that there are actually only around 130 factors currently in play for a domains current ranking ability. The other 70+ factors (Google have said they have over 200+ ranking factors) are still very much in their infancy and not fully combined into the overall algo. He expects these factors to play a massive role come the first quarter of 2009 predicting that heavily engaged sites will rank far higher with these extra factors in play. These extra factors include video, audio, mp3, images, pdf etc. Bruce is adding 100 videos to his own corporate site.

Key Take Aways -

- Understand your audience and their intent
- Understand the intent of your site
- Understand how to include engagement objects (images, video, pdf etc)

Earning Big Bucks With Social Media Traffic (Vanessa Fox, Michael Gray, Alexandra Barbara)

Difficulty in monetising social media traffic -

  • Don't break the rules
  • Written & unwritten rules
  • Community tolerance for sales promotion
  • Direct product links do not work
  • Hard sell does not work
  • Mass products that are not unique do not work

Ways to add value -

  • Create a knowledge base (valuable content, helpful or solves a problems, offer free solutions and upsell to premium product / services)
  • Reviews (Compare products, be honest, works best with new products, be in depth but avoid to long)
  • Build memberships (Use blogs, twitter, email to create 'special' sub groups)
  • Twitter (Delivers a sense of urgency in offering deals/promotions)

Make sure you are prepared for potential high traffic (100 hits a second on the front page of Digg)

  • Can use a static redirect page
  • Google cache
  • Coral cache
  • Wordpress 'Super Cache plugin'

Leverage other sources -

  • Flickr
  • Youtube
  • Amazon S3

Strategerise ad use -

  • Digg users hate Adsense
  • Targeted offers can work
  • CPM ads work great
  • Indirect benefits, links, branding and awareness
  • Traffic quality varies (Digg, SU, niche, twitter etc)

Losing money with social media -

  • Offline tag lines not showing in search, wasted opportunity ("Just do it" used as an example for Nike)
  • Understanding what your metrics are
  • Goals and measurement

Key Take Aways -

- Understand your audience
- Choose wisely for monetisation
- Be prepared for the traffic
- Understanding your metrics, goals and measure

Universal & Personal Search - This Changes Everything (Gordon Hotchkiss, Brian Combs, Greg Boser, Amanda Watlington)

  • Vertical listings increasing & more prominent
  • More real estate opportunity
  • Change in the 'golden triangle' eye study, with more focus on universal results in lower positions

What this means to SEO's -

  • Videos, images, products, maps - Demands reach accross and outside boundaries of just the SEO job role to many other roles in the business.
  • New relationships with other staff in different areas
  • New SEO protocols & templates to be followed for staff in control of video, images etc

Greg Boser argues we should still focus on old fashioned SEO results as priority -

  • Can you convert the universal results anyway?
  • Let universal results existence shape your targeting of universal results rather than try and influence creation of new results against other terms
  • Youtube/Flickr - Host on your site. Get link equity on images by using script to serve up code on a right click which helps embed the image and links back to your site,
  • Universal results come and go, can be hit and miss
  • Don't freak out, concentrate on usual seo techniques first

Just focusing on old fashioned SEO goes against what Bruce Clay argued in the earlier session. Greg Boser then added that he believes some of these factors (images, videos, mp3s) might play a larger role in the future for an overall domain ranking, but currently purely for traffic, it's not worth it.

Engagement is related to bounce rates which Greg mentions he has heard is up for big debate within Google internally whether they should use this from Google analytics. Google say they do not use this data but he argues some usage data is already factored in, as he has seen improvements in rank with improved bounce rates which might be from tracking users immediately hitting the back button. Personally I believe this is a difficult one for the search engines as certain websites will have high bounce rates naturally which might mean a better user experience. If you are searching for an answer or a snip of information and you get it on the first click, is there any need to click on? Blogs will also have very high bounce rates for example for reading new posts. Usage data is already being used to formulate site links in my experience.

Improving local results position -

  • Greg suggests setting up a fake address more centrally to where Google are showing the results
  • Once your in local results, its not policed (grey area currently)

Indented pages in the SERPS -

  • These appear when you create an assosiciation between pages
  • Link between two similary themed pages
  • Same/similar anchor text to and from each helps argues Greg
  • 5th position with indented page in 6th holds higher CTR than 2nd (no data to back up the claim)
  • Indented pages occur when two urls make it to the first page. So if you are ranking 4th and your 2nd url is on page 2, it just needs to creep into position 10 to jump up to 5th as an indented page.

Key Take Aways -

  • Prioritise traditional SEO
  • Understand what opportunities you have to target universal search
  • Weigh up your ability to convert
  • Evaluate with same factors as other campaigns

Organic Keyword Research & Selection (Eric Papczun, Seth Wilde, Craig Paddock, Carolyn Shelby)

The panel argue that keyword research is the most important and fundamental part of SEO. Directly influences site architecture and structure of the site.

Methods of research -

  • Product/service lists
  • PPC campaign
  • Analytics
  • Google suggest
  • Internal search results
  • 3rd party tools (Adwords keyword estimator, Wordtracker, Trellian)
  • Competitive Intelligence (Hitwise, Compete etc)

Key Take Aways -

- Get your research right and do not rush it
- Prioritise for conversion as well as traffic volume

Large Scale Bid Management (Chris Zaharias, Jon Kelly, Kevin Lee)

Neither Chris Zaharias or Kevin Lee attended, both had replacements in Chris Knock of Omniture and Gerry Bavaro of Didit.

Honestly acknowledge your resources -

  • Internal team, agency and search engine team
  • Headcount, capabilities and time
  • Determine priorites & focus on them.

Don't follow every latest trend!

Classify / tag / categorise (add latest buzzword) keywords & manage by

  • Performance (ROI, CPA etc)
  • Volume
  • Bid automation method
  • Product family
  • Offers / promotions

Segmentation - Use traditional marketing techniques -

  • Geo location
  • Time of day / week
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Search vs content

Holy grail of segmentation is better targeting!

Key Take Aways -

- Be realistic about resource constraints
- Priorities are unique to your business
- Use classifications unique to you for automation of bid management, reporting and evaluating
- Ignore trends like 'buckets' which are can be to 'fuzzy'

More updates on the second day of sessions tomorrow.

Comments

Teddie

>> ranks them...based on their common architectural characteristics.

'Website Profiles' I think are increasingly important in understanding what information is presented and who it's aimed at, for instance an e-commerce site would have a completely different profile from a news site.

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