SMX Sydney 2012 – Stephan Spencer – SEO in 2012

This is a summary of Stephan Spencer’s presentation at Search Marketing Expo / Online Marketer Conference held in Sydney 1-2 May 2012.

Stephan Spencer is the author of two books: Google Power Search and The Art of SEO. He is also the founder of search marketing firm Netconcepts.

Stephan starts by talking about Google’s Penguin algorithm update released on 24 April. A lot of people were hurt by the algo change which impacts 3.1% of searches. Stephan says, if you haven’t already done so, remove any dodgy SEO tactics NOW. Google is keeping a rap sheet on you – too many infractions and you could get hit.

The algorithm is basically about killing old dodgy SEO – nothing new. Lots of customers are receiving warnings in their Webmaster Tools console about spam signals such as link networks. Google Search + Your World is becoming more important now and they are trying to clean up the SERPs to display more of this social content and improve user experience.

Stephan says to give your content a better chance of being shown in SERPs, make sure your content is above the fold. Google is now distinguishing pages that have ads above the fold and filtering them out. Google is also giving more relevance weight to fresh content, so make sure you blog, post or update regularly.

A leaked copy of the Google’s Quality Raters Handbook 2011 edition shows that user intent, malware, oudated or shallow content can impact your site ranking. Sites with lots of ads can be impacted. Keyword stuffed URLs can signal spam. Google’s Panda update was about low quality pages, but Penguin is about spam. Keep in mind that Panda impacts whole sites rather than individual pages.

You should also look at the number of clicks it takes to reach each page on your site. Make quality content easier to find. Something not widely realized is that Google Instant can interfere with your URLs if you use URL parameters. One tip, says Stephan, is to use position tracking in the SERPs to determine your site’s *actual* position and then find vulnerable ranking pages above you that wouldn’t take much SEO in order to overtake them.

Keep in mind that you need to be logged in to Adwords to see historical keyword trending. You won’t see historical data if you use the Google Keywords tool without logging in, says Stephan. Also – very important – make sure you only ever research your search terms using [exact match] in the Google keywords tool, otherwise data will be skewed and inaccurate.

When it comes to SEO for videos, track your YouTube rankings using the Online Video Optimization Tracker It’s currently in BETA but you can request an invitation. Another tip for video optimization is to optimize your YouTube video thumbnail rather than SERP position.

You can follow Stephan on Twitter via @sspencer.

Spread the joy!

Presentations from SMX Sydney 2012

Hi folks

Sorry I haven’t been updating the blog daily lately, but I’ve been traveling, amongst other things. Last week I attended the Search Marketing Expo / Online Marketer Conference held in Sydney from 1-2 May 2012.

I’ve attended nearly every SMX event held in Australia and although I enjoy them immensely, I rarely learn anything new. It’s a credit to the organizers that this year, I came away with an enormous amount of exciting, cutting edge industry information, helpful new tools to play with and the inspiration to take Search Engine College in a new direction.

I have been positively itching to apply some of these new ideas into my own business, but first, I thought I’d share with you some of the inspiring presentations I witnessed at the conference. Over the next couple of weeks, I will post summaries of the best speakers and notes and ideas I jotted down during their sessions. Where allowed, I’ll post a link to their slide decks as well, so you can absorb a bit more detail that I may have missed (we had some fast talkers this year!).

Feel free to comment on any of the posts – I’d be interested to hear how the rest of you interpret the sessions as well.

Spread the joy!

Are you going to the Sydney Search Marketing Expo 2012?

SMX Sydney 2012Long term readers of this blog will know that I’m a regular attendee of the Search Marketing Expo conference series. The Sydney show always draws a big crowd and impressive speakers and I love having the opportunity to mingle with fellow SEO geeks who understand what I’m talking about when I mention things like URL canonicalization.

Due to the earthquake here in Christchurch last February and the following work/life upheaval, I missed out on attending last year’s Sydney conference. But it’s almost that time of year again and I’m very much looking forward to being part of this year’s event.

Whether you are new to search marketing or a veteran, if you live in Australia or New Zealand, the Search Marketing Expo 2012 is well worth the attendance fee. Now in its sixth year, the event covers all levels, from newbies right up to experienced search marketers, with several events running at the same time under the umbrella banner of the Online Marketer Expo & Conference Series. Here’s a run-down of the individual events:

SMX Sydney is the main event, designed for online marketer practitioners with mid to high level experience (no basics sessions!). This event is designed to help you learn how to measure and increase website value and online marketing results. SMX Sydney requires a skill level in SEO or PPC o at least 2-3 years on the job experience.

The SEO Marketer Workshop (SEO Elite) is designed for persons with at least 5 years experience in SEO. The content in these sessions is of a highly advanced and technical nature and is suitable for hard core SEO practitioners.

Online Marketer Bootcamp is designed for newbies and those with an entry level knowledge. At Online Marketer Boot Camp, you’ll learn the fundamentals of search engine optimisation, pay per click advertising, social media and email marketing.

eMetrics Marketing Summit is designed to help you learn about the techniques and tools to guide your Marketing departments efforts to streamline customer acquisition, conversion and retention to make more, spend less and increase customer satisfaction.about the optimisation of marketing, NOT how to do marketing. eMetrics is primarily for Marketing Managers, Web Analyst or Business Intelligence experts.

The Mobile Marketer Workshop is suited to persons with at least 1-2 years experience in online marketing looking to increase their skill levels in mobile and tablet based marketing. The content in this event is of an intermediate level and not suitable for beginners.

The Email Marketer Workshop is a new addition to the conference line up for 2012. This workshop is suited to persons with at least 1-2 years experience in online marketing looking to increase their skill levels in email marketing. The content in this event is of an intermediate level and not suitable for beginners.

The Social Marketer Workshop is another new addition to the conference line up for 2012. This workshop is suited to persons with at least 1-2 years experience in online marketing looking to increase their skill levels in social media marketing. The content in these sessions is of an intermediate level and not suitable for beginners.

As well as all these amazing sessions, there’s a harbour cruise on the Tuesday night. So if you haven’t already got your pass, better get in quick and choose your pass option.

See you there!

Spread the joy!

Is Social Media bringing back our sense of community?

voucher presented to winner of SEC training coursesI’m writing this post from an aeroplane, winging my way home from Sydney after a speaking gig and general geek catchup at Online Marketer Bootcamp today.

I’m a regular speaker at these Bootcamps and SMX shows across Australia and New Zealand, but despite being a 10 year conference veteran, I always learn something new. (By the way, the photo is me handing over a voucher for Search Engine College training to the value of $1,495 to a lucky Bootcamp attendee).

Today’s event was fairly small compared to the larger SMX-branded events, but I actually found the smaller crowd both switched-on and highly engaging. I’m not sure if it was because many of them were small to medium businesses rather than staff of large ad agencies or marketing departments, but these guys were truly interested in what we had to say and how they could use the information immediately.

Many audience members made the effort to track me down during the breaks or after the show to ask questions or simply let me know how much they took away from my session.  Quite a few of the attendees run their own companies and (like me) are responsible for all marketing, advertising and management aspects of their business. They desperately needed SEO, PPC and Social Media explained to them in 30 minutes grabs, minus the industry jargon and in real actionable terms that they could implement NOW. As impossible as that sounds, I think we actually delivered that today.

I spoke about one of my favorite subjects, How to use Twitter for Business (watch this space for a summary) and it was rewarding to see a few light bulbs go off in the crowd as they worked out how they could apply some of the case studies I presented to their own businesses, whether they were a one person company or part of a multi-national corporation.

But what really struck me about today was that the attendees were really keen to share what they knew about the subject matter (whether learned today or in the past) with other attendees. There was genuine excitement in the break out sessions where people were just completely open and honest about their own experiences in the marketing space, the successess and failures, and a willingness to share and learn that I haven’t witnessed at a conference for a couple of years.

At larger shows I’ve been to in the past, attendees tend to be quite secretive about what they do, who they work for, what agencies they use and what methodologies they employ. Not today. Today was all about connecting, engaging and sharing as much as possible. I’m convinced this is a by-product of our increasing involvement with social media. I sense that sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on are encouraging us to talk to each other again.

I overheard lots of conversations that began with “I follow you on Twitter” or “I saw your Facebook post the other day” or “I heard you ask for information about X – here’s a link that might help”. Despite the generational hype that we have lost our ability to communicate without a modem, I actually think our sense of community is returning.

Bring it on I say.

Spread the joy!

SMX Melbourne : Google Places – Not Your Father’s SERPs

monte-h-cropThis is a summary of the presentation given by Monte Huebsch, CEO of Aussieweb at SMX Melbourne last month, about the way Google Places and local search are changing Google search results.

Monte starts by saying that 96 percent of Google revenue is AdWords and AdSense, while the other 4 percent is stuff they do to piss off Microsoft. This gets a big laugh from the audience.

The Google Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) of today, Monte says, are almost unrecognizable from the Google SERPs of 10 years ago. The majority of search results are now dominated by local matches, social search and/or universal search. So SEO just won’t cut it anymore. You absolutely need to be in Google Places and social search.

He mentions Page Preview – which is a new search feature launched this month, where Google adds thumbnails of a page, directly into the search results. These previews are accessible via the search navigation menu on the left of the SERPs, under the heading Page Previews.

Monte moves on to talk about the impact Local Search is currently having. Monte showed an example of a SERP for “florist Brisbane” and how it has changed in the past two weeks due to the introduction of Place Search. The traditional “7 pack” of Google Maps search results is gone and in it’s place is a kind of universal local search, with images, videos and map pins all pulled from Google Places listings. Results are algorithmic and predictive, based on the search terms used. You can even drill down to isolate only Google Places results for your search terms. This provides a significant opportunity to businesses targeting local searchers via their Google Places listings.

Google Boost is a brand new beta service offered to to select Google Places users in San Francisco, Houston and Chicago, allowing them to pay a monthly fee to Google for AdWords ad creation. Boost enables business owners to create search ads from within their Google Places account, without the need for an AdWords account. Monte suggests that this is the way local search is headed – with localized ads right there in your maps.

Links on the SERPs now often lead to a Google Places page rather than web site, says Monte. If you claim your spot in Google Places, you’ll get into Universal Search, Google Maps, Google Earth and mobile search, whereas if you don’t, you won’t!

Something to be aware of when you claim your Google Places listing, says Monte, is that you CANT change the email address associated with your listing. Monte suggests creating a new Gmail account JUST for your Places account so you have more control over it and future flexibility. Monte suggests looking at as a great resource for Google Places info.

If you have a mobile business, you can mask your physical address in Google Places. So for example, if you have a mobile pet grooming service, where a physical address is not relevant – you can still use Google Places to your advantage.

Also, try to get reviews on Google Places and add YouTube videos and photos about your business as these are all included in your data allowance and you should be making the most of them.

Google Places is another platform for your business! Make the best use of it you possibly can.

Spread the joy!