SMX Sydney 2010 in Pics

invisible-friends-smlSorry for the blog silence lately, but I’m still recovering from the  SMX Sydney Conference last week and also spent the better part of a week in Melbourne having some down time.

The conference had a completely different feel this year. With registrations topping 1,000 for Day 1, a new venue in the Sydney Hilton and some seriously impressive speakers, it was almost as if the industry had grown up.

When I had a client ask me a few days later what my biggest take away from the Cofnerence was, I was surprised to find myself answering “Facebook is the most powerful business tool on the web”. What? A social media epiphany at a search conference? I guess that means that social media is no longer a value-add, but a key component of any search marketing campaign. The number of sessions dedicated to social media this year underscored this.

I’ll write a longer post about the Conference soon, but if you don’t mind poor grammar and typos, you can view my live blog posts of some of the main SMX sessions.

If you’re more interested in a visual snapshot of the conference, check out:

If you can’t be bothered waiting for my conference recap, Matt Burgess (@therealburgo) has done a fine job with his already.

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SMX Sydney 2010: Site Clinic

And now for the most enjoyable session of SMX, at least to date. The legend-ary Site Clinic.siteclinic1

Team Motherwell is up first, consisting of @motherwell and @lucasng who are reviewing

Issues found:

– graphical text – all keywords embedded in image

– no H1 tags

– links lead to another site entirely

– there’s no custom 404 error page

– canonicalization issue – need to fix in GG Webmaster Tools. This will consolidate your links.

– need more links – try getting links from Aussie directories

– the online store needs some work done – price should be next to the image of the product. No call to action.

– use breadcrumb navigation to help searchers find the categories / pages they are actually looking for. Also helps people to know where they are in your site.siteclinic2

– weird title tags that need tidying up

Next up is Team Google with @gregable and Jim Sterne. They’ll be reviewing

– I want to buy a stroller, but can’t find them. Bye!

– On the product detail page, no price and no obvious way to purchase

– Maybe “Where to Buy” link will help. Ah…. no. HELP! (Jim hands over to @gregable)

– Greg will be viewing the site as googlebot.

– Greg is trying to find a specific type of child car seat but can’t.

– Very little information about the product. Really wants a detail page, not lots of the same data on similar pages.

– Home link is on the right hand side of the navigation. Why?

– Uses a grey-on-grey link nav at the bottom of the page which isn’t helping.siteclinic3

– Some non sequitir link titles e.g. *4 Reasons*

– Greg says the site has some nice GG friendly URLs

Team Boser is next, featuring @gregboser and @oilman. They’ll be reviewing

– Sell box sets of DVDs and similar products

– Todd and Greg spend some time trying to get the display right and during the tense silence, the site owner takes the opportunity to promote his DVD box sets “Avatar, available now for $44.95″. Gets a big laugh from the audience.

– There are too many links on many of the pages.

– There’s no need to keyword stuff every single internal link on your site. Google already knows you sell DVDs, you don’t need to hit them over the head with it, says @gregboser

– Trim down your categories and stop loading up your footer with irrelevant links about DVDs, especially in nearly black font on black background, says @oilman.siteclinic4

– Use your movie reviews for content. If you have to, produce clever mashups of pages that are algorithmically unique, but still made up of content elsewhere on your site, says @gregboser.

– Rotate through your content and create mashups that will give you better links in Google.

Next up is Team SEOmoz with @seomom and @dannydover to review

– Gillian starts by asking who in the room are SEOmoz PRO members and proceeds to give some of us a beer! Cute.

– Danny says the site looks good – clean and sharp.  Nice to see categories and images on the home page. Also the brands are front and center on the HP.

– The text nav at the bottom is a bit dodgy, but the payment options/logos at bottom are fantastic.

– No custom 404 error page – Why not? Boring. Gillian says she wants to see some options and some fun on the custom 404 page.

– Enormous home page – 1.6MB in size but should be 150-200 kb. A faster loading site is a better performing site in both engines and sales. Flash file is the major problem.

– Looking at the page as googlebot shows LOTS of links, but no text content. Give people who don’t have Flash an option, preferably text.

– Used to look at the site (SEOmoz plug)

– 301 issues galore due to switching domains.

– ridiculous number of links from small number of domains = BIG spam signal to Google. Clean it up says @seomom

– keyword analysis shows very good keyword density, esp long tail.

– Danny points out that if you do a search in and you can’t find any results, the 404 page will eventually redirect to a search in Bing for same query.

– Gillian points out that the Call to Action buttons are too passive. Use “Email Me If…” option with drop downs like “if my product is in stock”, “if refrigerators go on sale” etc.

– Use Buy Now rather than Add to Cart

– Use A/B Split testing to confirm findings.

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We have a tee design winner!

Thanks to all of you who entered our Design the 2010 Search Engine College Tshirt Competition and especially those of you who took the time to vote for your favorite finalist out of the ten in our poll.

From the very beginning of the poll, a clear leader emerged.

This morning, voting closed and here are the results:

My hearty congratulations to our winner Cindy N (whose design is pictured) and the two runners up Matt and Michael.

Seems that Cindy’s tag cloud design appealed to a lot of people and the way she had highlighted Search Engine College in green within the cloud – well, we thought that was inspired!

Cindy, as winner of our tee design competition, you get the following cool stuff:

– a 2 day conference pass to SMX Sydney 2010.

– a t-shirt sporting your design

– the kudos of seeing your design printed on t-shirts and distributed to all attendees at SMX Sydney 2010.

I’ll be in touch shortly with details on your prize pack. Thanks again to all who entered and voted and see you at SMX!

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Choose our Search Engine College 2010 Tee Design Winner

What will Search Engine Colleges 2009 t-shirt look like?

So this week we threw down a challenge. To have you guys design us a new Search Engine College tshirt for 2010.

Now we didn’t get a great deal of entries – I blame myself for blogging about it so late – but hats off to those of you who managed to come up with something with only 48 hours notice.

To make up the deficit, I’ve thrown in a couple of last year’s entries that I felt were worthy contenders.

Here are the finalists in random order:

* Not eligible to win prize

You can vote for the design you’d like to see win by taking THIS POLL. The design with the most number of votes will be used on our t-shirts and win the 2 day pass to SMX Sydney, UNLESS the winning design is one of those submitted by SEC staff, in which case the runner up will win the conference pass.

You’ve got until next Monday April 12 to cast your vote and you can only vote once (your votes are logged by cookie and IP so no cheating). The winner will be announced on April 13.

Get voting now!

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Design our 2010 Search Engine College T-Shirt – Quick!

What will Search Engine Colleges 2009 t-shirt look like?Last year we held a competition to design our 2009 T-shirt to help promote Search Engine College at SMX Sydney.

Well it’s that time of year again! We’re looking for some inspirational designs for our 2010 Search Engine College t-shirt. You can suggest a design within the comments of this blog and I’ll set up a poll for readers to vote for the winner.

The person behind the winning design will be announced on this blog and receive  a 2 day pass to SMX Sydney. [This is a single conference pass only and does NOT include travel, accommodation or a ticket to Under the Bridge.]

The winning design will be will be issued to all students who graduate from our Certification Pathways in 2010. If I get my act together in time, it may also be printed on our t-shirts scheduled for distribution to all attendees at SMX Sydney being held on 22-23 April.

Grab the blank tshirt front / back and the SEC logo and go play. Need some inspiration? Check out last year’s tee design finalists.

Competition rules are as follows:

1) Your design or slogan should be suggested within the comments of this post. You can link to a design on your own site or simply suggest a slogan in your comment.

2) Designs need to work on a white tshirt and should be no more than 2 colors.

3) The SEC logo and/or URL should appear somewhere in the design (on the back is fine)

4) Keep it clean. Unfortunately, some conference attendees and some of our students, may be offended by the use of curse words. If you need to curse, use an asterisk to censor your design somewhat. (Grrrr, I know I know).

5) Apart from the restriction of 4) your design can be as witty and creative as you like.

6) Due to my extreme procrastination and resulting print deadline, entries MUST close this Thursday 8 April 2010 at 5pm NZ time (GMT +12).

7) 5 finalists will be chosen by staff of Search Engine College and blog readers and Twitter followers will be given the opportunity to vote for their favorite finalists via a poll to be announced Thursday evening.

8 ) The final design winner will be announced on Monday 12 April 2010.

9) You MUST comment here to enter.

Good luck all!

Post Script:  Some of you have asked which tee won last year’s comp? It was the clever LOL Cat by Pete Newsome. I should also mention that we liked last year’s tee submission from the very talented Andrew Ballard so much, that we adopted his concept (with permission) as our new SEC logo. A revised web site featuring the new logo is in progress now. Thanks Andrew!

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