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Mike Essex

Over 240 Tips From Day One of #SMX London 2013

15th May 2013 News, Events | 1 Comment


SMX LondonIf you couldn’t make it to SMX London today, missed a session or just want a recap for all of the talks we’ve compiled our top tips from everything below. Myself and Anna Lewis attended all of the sessions so we hope you enjoy our write-up. You can also find slides from both our SMX talks on Koozai.com tomorrow.

Keynote: A Key Role For The Search Professional: Company Insight Wizard

Jim Sterne, Chairman, Digital Analytics Association (@jimsterne)

There is too much data now from too many different tools in their own ecosystems for website analysis. It needs to be collected and cleaned. This is the job of the company insight wizard.

You have to know the question before you start collecting data. This is the only way to ensure you collect the right data to solve the problems you face.

Clear definitions need to be given with all reporting so people throughout the organisation can understand what is represented. Analytics are worthless without goals.

It’s important to understand why any spikes in traffic or sales occurred so they can be repeated and the same with drops so they can be avoided next time.

The last thing people look at is not the thing that turned them away from your website. Often it’s two clicks ago as the later pages are where they went when they were confused and trying to find the right path.

Look for users with low life time value and get rid of them if they are costing you money, then focus marketing spend on however people were gained with high life time value.

Your brain is the best tool (Mike: I couldn’t agree more!)

“All models are wrong, some models are useful” George Box – predictive models are quickly out of date as markets change. So make the simplest model you can based on the trends you have and update it often.

Asking good questions is the secret to success in this business.

Figure out how to tell stories instead of deliver reports as people will be more receptive.

Tie all stats in to the bottom line and how it affects individuals personal goals in the organisation.

Have an opinion. You have an insight in to the future and what others can’t see, they need you to tell them what to do so do it. Your opinion is the value you add to the team.

“We can solve this problem in this way by spending this much money and it will take this long.” this type of approach is how to get approval.

From Authorship To Authority: Why Claiming Your Identity Matters

Maile Ohye, Senior Developer Programs Engineer, Google Inc. (@maileohye)

We are moving away from a web of links to a web of people and relationships.

Google want to move away from the faceless web towards a web of structured data.

Google focus on Google+ instead of other sites for authorship because they can see all of the data in the platform, it isn’t blocked.

Authorship and identity makes it easier for Google to know which content was the original source.

Google prefer if you use email verification for rel author as this helps them find items with similar bios which they allocate to you.

You should not have authorship on your Home page

Rel=”me” is for profiles, rel=”author” is for articles

Grant Simmons, Director, SEO and Social Product, The Search Agency (@simmonet)

Quality content is unique, relevant, engaging and trusted. Authorship is how trust will be calculated in the near future.

Authority is a gained by being a known, credible, topic expert.

Being known comes from linking up your profiles including rel author.

Credibility comes from creating worthy content.

Being a topic expert is gained by a focus on consistent content on a topic. Links are still important for this, also citations and mentions on other platforms.

There are no shortcuts to building strong profiles, it takes consistent and strong content over time. However PR is a great way to build a footprint.

If someone doesn’t want to set up an authorship profile don’t force them or it won’t be a good account.

Chelsea Blacker, Head of UK Client Delivery, BlueGlass (@ChelseaBlacker)

Our digital footprints are here to stay forever so we really have to make sure we accurately represent ourselves online.

“My wonderful life” lets you send out your last wishes after you die via email.

Namecheckr lets you see which profiles you dont have so they can register them for you. This helps you protect your identity.

Make sure you have a consistent name across all of your profiles.

People are even starting to consider unique baby names so they can get profiles in the future.

Have an appropriate avatar image as it could follow you around in lots of places.

About.me is a really easy way to help people have a quick online identity.

Influencers who leave positive reviews seem to do better and have more authority than those who write bad reviews.

Make the business owner have a profile as that is likely to always be stable source that can grow. You can also have them as the author for company blog posts.

Jim Boykin, CEO, Internet Marketing Ninjas

PageRank is relatively dead and the focus seems to be more on authors now and the growing idea of author rank.

In webmaster tools under labs you can see author stats.

We are all authors even if you don’t write. You can still impact the success of content based on what you share and who you are connected to.

If you are not going to write great content then don’t write at all.

Amazing Paid Search Tactics & Tools

Ann Stanley, Co-Founder and MD, Anicca Digital (@annstanley)

Comparing search and PLA campaigns, depends on niche, hard to compare,

PLA ads had; Slower impression share when sector was more competitive

Ann Stanley outlined tests carried out with PLA campaigns, the findings were:

  • PLAs sometimes requires two or three times the bid for search ads,
  • Is more competitive Average of 6 slots available,
  • Did not always get a higher CTR than search
  • Conversion rate was higher in most accounts
  • Use tracking URLs to help you distinguish them more clearly

And her tips/information about enhanced campaigns included:

  • Makes it hard for those with mobile websites as you can’t target these individually
  • Geotargeting is much better, e.g. Can increase bids for an area like London in a campaign that targets a wider area
  • Tracking URLs that were previously at keyword level, this is now much harder to do
  • Offer extensions are performing well and helping in store conversions
  • Desktop and mobile targeting can now use call extensions for free
  • Social extensions will be automatic if you have over 100 followers, no need to link your google plus account July 22nd is the cut off/ change over date

Magnus Nilsson, Managing Director, RED Performance (@nilsson_magnus)

Automation is not just for the big guys any more. There are three options for automation: 3rd party software (expensive generally), develop your own API (resource heavy), Adwords functions (rules, enhanced cpc, scripting).

Can automate almost anything, including: account structure, bids, optimisation, reporting

It is found under bulk operations and scripting

Top tips for Adwords scripting:

Easier to use Adwords scripts than writing your own API JavaScript based Google docs integration, means you can use features from google spreadsheets and write things in a spreadsheet to be built, as well as exporting reports to google docs format

Can pull in external data, including PLA data

How to use scripting for Adwords ads + examples:

For a website with a countdown timer, you can use a script to pull in the countdown from the site and put it in to your ad text (copied and edited code to build this making it quite easy to do), this method resulted in a much higher ctr in the example shown

Another example pulled out the weather and showed an appropriate ad for the weather to entice people to a dating website (such as: the sun is shining, ready for a spring fling?) lots of scripts to use and modify

Scripts need to be scheduled to run, every hour generally works

Account level script access – anyone with access can see and copy the code

Can’t apply scripts at mcc level to speed up reporting, only account level

Each script can interact with up to 100,000 items, no more

Matt Van Wagner, President, Find Me Faster (@mvanwagner)

Top tips for the Google Display Network:

Keep looking for the perfect placement

Use keywords, topics or interest targeting

Use keywords to define the sites you’re looking for

Find a page you think is relevant, put the page in the google keyword tool and target those keywords – it’s best to use keywords on the pages not search keywords

Use keywords that are two or three words long, one word terms are too broad and risky, being specific helps

Use negative keywords sparingly as they work differently – having more than 50 means google just picks 50 of them at a time to use and ignores the rest that you have

Review automatic placement reports to identify sites to set as managed placements or exclusions

Using topics can be more effective than trying to work out the keywords yourself

Interest targeting is more unstructured and could be dangerous, use it for drilling in on top of another targeting method rather than as the only targeting method

Keep text and image ads in different ad groups

Use campaigns for individual managed placements that work well, to have more control over it

Ad gooroo and mixRank are recommended tools for competition analysis on display network

Do your competitive analysis, find placements to try out, run your ads on their placements for three days to gather data and see if they are valuable placements then pick and choose the ones that work.

Killer Content Remains King, Queen and Ace

Vincent Wehren, Lead Program Manager, Bing Webmaster Tools, Microsoft (@vincentwehren)

Content (and how people experience it) is the most important ranking signal that you can influence.

Bing use content signals, anchor signals, click signals, social signals and user signals for ranking,

Bing try to look at what is popular and rank it better.

People are better than machines at determining the value of a page.

Would you trust this website with your credit card? This is a good test for determining if a site has trust it needs to rank well.

Bing don’t see adverts as a negative ranking factor even if there are lots of them above the fold.

Bing love responsively designed websites created with HTML5 and CSS.

Dixon Jones, Director, MajesticSEO (@Dixon_Jones)

We should revise our definition of what we see as content. It is better to be unique than it is to be big.

Content has to be useful to a sector of society. If it’s only useful for a handful of people email them or call them instead,

You want to be the story you don’t want to announce the story.

You can’t be your own advocate, you need someone to want to share your content and advocate you.

Press Releases: make it easy for them by giving journalists the information a week before launch, use an embargo date, tell them the final URL, give them pictures, give them an edge.

Create private groups for your ambassadors, help them go to conferences, give them access to news / new features, get their feedback early.

Send newsletters out 24 hours after the initial launch. This is long enough so they could find out via key influencers first but short enough that they won’t find out after everyone else knows.

After launch prepare more ways to follow up the story; webinars, videos, conferences, blog posts, interviews and other parts of your marketing mix.

Chris Bennett, CEO, 97th Floor (@chrisbennett)

You can’t just “try” content marketing. Its rare to do one video or one infographic and get success.

Content marketing has to tie back to your business KPIs.

No one is in a boring industry, there is always something interesting you can do.

Turn Infographics in to slideshare presentations

When content works repeat it with a similar concept or repurpose it into a new format.

With Infographics, split up the page in google Analytics to see how far people scrolled and which channels viewed the most.

Interactivity can make something that may have been a sales pitch in to something that can be more fun and still get shares.

Content can be used to convey internal problems in simpler easier to digest ways. It’s so much more effective than a long internal document.

Jonathan Stewart, SEO Strategy Director, VCCP Content

Interest in content marketing is now higher than interest in link building.

If you create content that gets shared socially then it is more likely to get more links.

Before you create content make sure your site is free of technical issues to make sure you don’t have duplicate content on site.

Don’t scale up too quickly with content or you could be penalised.

Conversion Science

George Popstefanov, Founder and Chief Idea Officer, Performance Media Group (PMG) (@GeorgePMG)

Users search differently on different devices and expect to be shown suitable content,

George outlined the following tips:

  • If a website is optimised for mobile users are more likely to buy.
  • Tailor content for a mobile site rather than removing it
  • Review and improve site speeds, the faster the better, if sites take time to load users are more likely to leave and not convert Images and video are often not compatible on mobiles so don’t use them!
  • You can host any you need on relevant apps instead
  • Stay consistent with your brand domain strategy

Set up a mobile device plan, consider:

  • How customers interact with your site
  • Adapt your site depending on what the users need
  • Measure correctly, mobile tracking is important and requires its own analysis
  • Continually improve as technology develops

Three great options for a mobile website:

  • Build a fully responsive website that can change to suit the device it’s viewed on (very good idea considering there are over 1300 different mobile devices that could be used, this is the future!)
  • Build a dynamically served alternate experience
  • Build a mobile subdomain experience

What tools can you use for conversion optimisation of your sites?

  • Usability: Click tale, crazy egg
  • Targeting: BTBuckets, Personyze
  • Testing: Google Website Optimiser, Optimizley, Adobe Test&Target User feedback: Usertesting.com

Things to consider when looking at attribution:

  • Use attribution platforms as a data warehouse, connecting all your marketing data and advertising interactions
  • Consider new metrics specific to your plans, such as average impressions per order or ROI of ad unit irrespective of place in funnel, identify what might have been the reason for conversion (offers etc)
  • Create strong assumptions through trends in large data sets
  • Possible attribution tools to get started with are: Google Universal Analytics, Drawbridge, Kenshoo Smart Path, Tag Man
  • Understand where users have come from to your site and target relevant ads at them based on that other activity, for example, if they have come from pinterest show your content in a pinterest style (remarketing ads for search is currently in beta, remarketing is mainly on the display network at present)

Manny Rivas, Online Marketing Account Manager, aimClear (@mannyrivas)

Not all targeting is created equal, Manny explained how we need to improve targeting in order to get conversions, his tips included:

  • Source testing is important as its the top of the funnel
  • Create systems to drop users in to the conversion funnel
  • Once users have finished a funnel, put them back in to a suitable funnel
  • First impressions are everything, meaning content is important
  • Consider driving traffic to resource pages to show users you know what you’re talking about and can be trusted on the subject, this can generate sales off the back of that
  • Build yourselves up as an authority and you may become impervious to algorithm updates
  • Facebook targeting can use psychographic qualities, including professional, travel, play and even quirks
  • People browse your site differently and on different devices, so segment them to see how it differs and how you can improve things for them
  • Score your leads and tie it back to source to see which sources give the best types of leads

Take inventory of existing conversions and amplify what works

Don’t forget the fundamental tenets of sales (including creating rapport, be likeable, listen, be an expert, etc)

Squeeze out more conversions where you are getting good leads

In conclusion from this session, mobile websites seems like a key place to be optimising for conversions right now as usage is significantly increasing.

“Web design for ROI” book was also recommended although sadly we didn’t catch who it was by, but apparently has a good method for planning websites.

Hardcore SEO Power Tools

Steve Lock, Product Manager, Linkdex (@stevejlock)

Manually reviewing sites is far better than automation so tools aren’t always right, sometimes outsourcing is better.

Trello is great for project management.

Set up different chrome logins if you have many different tools you want to run on different clients.

Udacity can teach you how to build your own crawler.

Run social competitors through Rafflecopter and build relationships with bloggers.

Blogdash / GroupHigh and PitchBox are great for blogger outreach.

Pete Wailes, Operations Director, SEOgadget (@petewailes)

You could have someone working all year on data collection and not get everything. So automate the collection of data.

Prototype in Excel. If it works then find a developer who can scale it up for you in PHP, Python or Ruby.

Build the back end first then the front end only when the back end is stable.

A working demo is better than a specification. It will be so much better if you can create a demo in Excel so designers can understand the concept.

Stacey Cavanagh, Head of Search, Tecmark Ltd (@staceycav)

A good toolset can never replace great design.

Ease.ly is great for testing infographic designs in simple form.

OnePoll is a great market resource company.

Toluene Quick Surveys is even cheaper for Market research

Whatdotheyknow.com helps you get publicly available information from companies.

Journalisted.com lets you find contact deals for journalists.

Ask your sales team for advice on cold calling if you need help with outreach.

Release Infographics under creative commons licences so you can later go back and ask people for credits.

Image raider does regular searches when people use your images. You can then chase for links.

Cyfe good tool for reporting.

Venngage turns social Analytics data in to good visual illustrations.

SEO Serp chrome extension lets you check a ranking within your browser.

Dixon Jones, Director, MajesticSEO (@Dixon_Jones)

Tools that scrape Google are in trouble and Google are clamping town.

Power Mapper lets you see how your website is made up and where the problem areas are.

Meta tools can not exist unless the other technology exists so they rely on the solidity of the data sets who supply them e.g tools that used Yahoo Site Explorer had to change when it stopped.

Creating, Testing and Optimizing Ads

Sean Malseed, Director of Strategic Development, SEMrush

To make sure your ads are as good as they can be:

Trial and error is not a good strategy

Do some reconnaissance

Identify the competition

Competitor tool analysis : Similar Sites shows you which sites users go to in addition to yours, or whichever site you’re analysing, Identify the REAL competition, I.e. transactional sites are likely to be your competition, not a blog, amazon and eBay are also unlikely to be your competition!

Now that you know your direct competitors…

If one guy is bidding on a keyword it might be a mistake, if two bid it could be a coincidence but if three competitors are bidding on it then it must be working, in theory!

Review overlapping keywords, filter those that contain your core product/service to remove unrelated

Expand the list using Google trends

Always do your PPC research with exact match keywords in order to compare them accurately (I.e. plural data will be different and you’ll be looking at variations on their own, Google keyword tool is a salesman so they want to show you broad data first as it looks better)

Now you have your list, use mergewords.com to build combinations of keywords, such as adding locations or other terms to a batch of keywords

Keywordeye.co.uk is also good for expanding lists Keywordtooldominator.com uses data from keywords searched in amazon for keyword ideas and data for the,

Don’t always trust Google

Rebecca Hansson, Senior Search Strategist, CEO SESNordic, SESNordic

Understand your audience

Think about who is searching and who is the ad for?

Think about why they are searching?

How are they searching?

Are they ready to buy or are they researching?

Include your benefits/features in your ads

Meet your visitors expectations

Create relevant landing pages for specific ads

Always keep testing

When split testing ads, consider:

  • Conversion rate of words that don’t match expectations but deliver good CTR
  • Include benefits include keywords in URL as sub folder or subdomain
  • Use pricing
  • Use Call to Actions
  • Use time limits
  • Don’t look just as CTR
  • Rotate ads
  • Don’t test too many things in one ad
  • Try to get enough data to make decisions
  • Test for conversions

Rebecca Momberg, Marion Software

The search marketers guide to creative testing and optimisation

Think about the ad as words with different purposes in them

Seasonality, discounts, display URLs, price, USPs, etc are all functional or promotional words and have different uses in ads

Avoid lost opportunities – Once you’ve got enough data to make a decision, be happy with that decision rather than leaving the lower performer running just to see if it improves In a key phrase, break each word out and analyse words individually to see which work well across the campaigns, use these words in ads If using dynamic keyword insertion ads, test out the static elements

Make sure your tracking is working so that you can review your data enough

Use a tool to find out whether you have enough data to make a decision

Anders Hjorth who moderated the session added this tip:

Use tools like spyfu to review your competitors ads

Is Link Building Still Crucial, Or A Waste Of Time & Money?

Marcus Tober, CTO, Searchmetrics Inc. (@marcustober)

Natural looks sites have a high percentage of nofollow links so you do need some to appear natural.

The more natural looking your link profile, the higher you will rank.

Trend your links over time to see if you have been a victim of negative SEO.

The more competitive the market you operate in the higher the risk of negative SEO.

Dilute your anchor text

Check24 recovered from a ranking penalty not by removing links but by building new good links to balance things out. Now their anchor text keyword is always entirely focused on their brand name.

It can take years to recover from an algorithm update.

Prashant Puri, CEO & Co-Founder, AdLift

Links are not dead but the mix between quality and quantity had changed.

Debehams is 5x ahead of their competitors for SEO visibility and have 5x the number of external links. There is still a correlation between high quality links and visibility.

Blogrolls massively increase the number of sitewide links you have which can be a real problem.

Help bloggers find their broken links as a way of getting in touch with them initially.

Tim Grice, Head of Search, Branded3

You can’t dig your way out of a penalty by building more bad links.

Matt Cutts had confirmed Google have took down another link network even today.

Since Penguin we are seeing more manual human penalties, which is why gaps between updates probably take so long.

Google can spot problems and penalise you within an hour.

Tim has not had any experience of a site being penalised for putting in a reconsideration request.

Trying to avoid a manual review is not an SEO strategy.

David Naylor, MD & Director of SEO, Bronco Ltd (@DaveNaylor)

Link building was mainly used for SEO because it was easy.

Repositioning, readjusting, rebalancing, removing links is now the strategy.

With social signals it is very hard to see whether the social signals let to the links or vice versa.

Forget What You Know About AdWords & Paid Search

George Popstefanov, President & Founder , Performance Media Group (PMG) (@GeorgePMG)

This session was all about enhanced campaigns, George had had a lot of experience already and shared the following tips and information:

Search marketers are ninjas and would make good miners as we’re great at digging through data, we’re resilient and hard working!

Booking.com had great brand result SERP, it includes many Adwords extensions, knowledge graph (which stops competitors ads having space on the page) etc and then Google introduced enhanced campaigns which may affect this.

Keep calm and enhance on

Why enhanced campaigns? People search for everything, from anywhere, at any time, across device.

Enhanced ads should help us target based on context more easily i.e. target pizza ads locally at lunchtime on a mobile phone,in the evenings promote delivery and a takeaway offer for the same pizzas

Campaigns with local and time modifiers you can have one campaign instead of many Bid adjustments for location are very beneficial

Bid adjustments by device are handy for mobile devices but limiting due to not being able to adjust bids for tablets/desktops

Better ad customisation with mobile ads and improved sidelines

Sitelinks and offer extensions can be scheduled which is very beneficial for promotions that need to start and end when you’re not in the office

Can use app pages as landing pages for some ads which can help mobile user experience

Detailed performance on sitelinks is great data to have and the increased control is also beneficial

Running mobile only campaigns will not be possible Mobile bids can only be adjusted at ad group level at the moment, based on percentage of desktop and table cpc

Tablet bidding strategies are now aligned with desktops, research shows behaviour is similar, but you may find these users behave differently so separate bidding would be beneficial!

That’s a wrap!

Congratulations you’ve made it to the bottom and have digested lots of great insights. if anything didn’t make sense or you want to discuss the tips leave a comment below.

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About the author

Mike Essex

Mike Essex specialises in digital marketing and everything search. A recent project of Mike’s was featured on BBC News, Radio 5Live and the Times here in the UK, whilst also featuring on USA Today and ABC News in the US. He will be writing throughout the month about digital marketing and much more...

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