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3 Key Takeaways from SMX Advanced

June 13, 2011

Last week I was lucky to attend my very first SMX Advanced. Not only did it give me a renewed sense of purpose, but it provided me with a good kick up the backside to get things moving forward in areas that “traditionally” may be considered outside of search marketing (at least within a client organization), yet are central to it.

Here are my three key takeaways from SMX Advanced:

1. Advanced is the way to go

Remember the first time you ever went to a search marketing conference? I remember that first feeling of amazement and hunger. Every word in every session helped you on what seemed to be a never-ending, mountainous learning curve. Everything is new and fresh, your eyes are wide, your brain a sponge, and you’re planning out how to best stalk those industry celebs… OMG, it’s Matt Cutts!

Then after a while it starts to lose its luster. You hear the same things, by the same people, and you start to think, “Hey, I could teach this stuff. Oh, and there’s that Matt guy, in that green polo shirt again”.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know everything about search marketing; not even close. But at the same time, I was beginning to wonder how much more search marketing conferences could teach me. How valuable is attending a conference when the majority of your learning is coming from attendees outside of the sessions you are paying to attend? And there are some ridiculously smart people attending these things.

Advanced changed all of that with its fast paced, straight to business, lose the basics, no messing around approach. If you haven’t done an Advanced before, then what are you waiting for?

2. Lead, don’t follow

The basics of SEO are no big secret. Title Tag, Headings, URL, Alt Tags, Links… you know the deal. It’s the basic standard that every website should have. It’s just that some companies are a little more ahead than others.

So what do you do once you’ve applied all the basics… and what about when every other website has applied the basics too? How does Google then decide which website should rank above another? The question you should be asking is, how do you differentiate yourself from the crowd now and stay ahead in the rankings war?

As more and more websites start to apply the basics, the weighting of those elements in the algorithm start to become less important, and other new factors will start to (and have) come into play. Social elements continue to be a big talking point in determining popularity. But even once these new factors become known and you start to optimize for them, is that still too late?

The key is to use your wits and don’t chase the search engine’s algorithm. Get ahead and figure out what things are or should be important in determining relevancy and popularity and optimize your pages for them ahead of time. Then sit back (maybe) and let the others play catch up, whilst you move on to the next big area. That is the approach we should be taking to stay ahead in the SERP.

3. It all starts with content

How many times have you heard the phrase “Content is King?”. I must’ve heard it a gazillion times, but until SMX Advanced, I never actually stopped to think about what that meant to me exactly. Then a light bulb went on.

Brilliant content equals relevance to your keywords, and most importantly popularity through links, sharing, talk and virality (not to be confused with virility, even though that’s what my spell checker keeps telling me). But that content doesn’t have to be a Nobel Prize-winning discovery; it just needs to be clever and appealing.

Think The Periodic Table of SEO approach, and don’t forget about other kinds of Infographics. Click2Rank’s recent Visual Guide to Matt Cutts really hit that sweet spot, and both were perfectly timed for SMX. Matt even claimed he wore that green colored polo shirt in his session because of the humorous infographic.

Similarly, you need to listen to what your customers want and provide them with that content. If your customers like “how-to” videos, then give them how-to videos. If that falls outside of your content team’s “traditional” focus then you need to find other means of getting it, and use it as an example to lead them towards change.

You can optimize until the cows come home. But unless you have good, interesting content that people want to share, then you’re never going to truly succeed in the SEO space.

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From → Search Marketing

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  1. Top 5 Takeaways from SMX Advanced | SEM Booty Blog

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