New job. New conference adventures. More search education. More Avios BA points.
This was the first time I had gone to a non UK / US search conference and overall my three days in Stockholm was highly enjoyable.
A good mixture of European based search practioneers attended the fifth edition of SMX Stockholm with around 100 folks in all at the Munchen Brewery.
In terms of my main highlights from the two days of talks, I particularly enjoyed the insight from Jon Quinton from SEO Gadget. His talk focused on Linkbuilding Do’s and Don’ts.
As ever the questions about Penguin update quickly rose as Jon asked the audience “Has anyone had a site hit by Penguin? ….(silence)…ok I’ll rephrase that – anyone know a friend who has had a site hit by Penguin?
Some of Jon’s top tips
Jon was followed by the colourful character of Mikkel deMib Svendsen – Creative Director, deMib.com. Mikkel is for sure a one off character and talked about some diverse tactics within his approach to link building. I can’t write up everything he said as taken out of context you may get a certain view of Mikkel that paints him in the wrong light but let’s just say there were a few examples of link building content ideas that you may want to adopt.
The subject was more on how to use more controversial content to drive link activity – not something any many British brands will be rushing to do soon…well maybe RyanAir
On the future of link building, he gave his views on how Google will look at click through rates on links and time on site as a performance indicator in future algorithm updates.
Later in the day we saw a very slick presentation from Gary Taylor, The Media Works, whose talk on Web Design for SEO provide rich insights throughout.
His emphasis of the importance of planning in this process could not be under played with a series of recommended sources on key challenges he faces:
For Site Speed: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/15-tips-to-speed-up-your-website
For Optimising Video content: http://www.searchenginejournal.com/a-guide-to-making-your-business-video-seo-friendly/48934/
His case study focused on investing in better video content that increased conversion rates 300% and CTR doubled by investment in good planning for Video. He also commented upon that he feels video length optimal performance should be around 45-60 seconds in length.
Supported by Timo Aden, CTO of 121 Watt, he gave an equally entertaining presentation on Web Design best practice SEO tips.
Full of tips one of most noted tips from his talk was his emphasis on the careful usage of Robots.txt and the dangers of poor implementation of this.
Good tools recommendations notably Tools.pingdom.com to check your site speed - http://tools.pingdom.com/fpt/
A good Bonus tip – check you site speed on Google Analytics, segment by country for global sites as you will see a big difference by market.
The Keynote talk was the high energy hour of MediaDonis Marcus Tandler.
431 slides in 60 mins and countless one liner sharp jokes. This was highly unique and very engaging to see as he power presented his way through the his talk on the Future of Search.
It’s impossible not to like and be entertained by Marcus especially when you hear about the incredible amounts of money he has recently raised for Charity via his infamous Octoberfest SEO conference. (Something he talks about more privately than openly – unlike me who will mention to any stranger the work I do for Shelter).
A very impressive presenter and person.
In terms of key takeways:
Rinse and Repeat. It’s important when you have good content / link building activity you maximize it’s potential so rinse and repeat good content can still generate continued success.
Social Media has changed search engines forever and will change the way search results are at – there’s no going back to 10 Google links. The important of Google + can not be underestimated but it needs to be fully spam proof before the true social signal value can come from it.
Ultimately, the rise of Rel=Author will play a hugely significant roll on future content. We will see influence of sharing be more of social signal with the search engine algorithms.
‘Not about your total shares but more about who is sharing your content’
Similar to Mikkel earlier, Marcus talked about the reasonable surfer model and how links that don’t get clicked on your site will be of less value. Traffic will be a key performance indicator within the Google algorithm as Google continues to collate more data on audience behaviours. Your bounce rate, time on site, repeat visitors and site data will play a part in your organic search rankings.
Various other talks from the likes of Bernt Johannson from Klikki who used his practices and performances approach to SEO as way of how his business helps manage large scale SEO campaigns.
We even had a Google employee talk present and watch a series of talks as she noted down some names in the black book.
Anu Ilomaki spoke about Google policies and tips on Rich Snippets whilst also referencing some of the ways Google is engaging with webmasters more. The weekly office hours session for webmasters via Google hangouts is an example of this. www.sites.google.com/site/webmasterhelpforum/office-hours/
I unfortunately missed Richard Baxter who flew in to present on Keyword Research for Professionals to a packed room. I was presenting at the same time on Google+ to a less packed room – never good to be double booked against a headline act. As ever I heard good things about his talk and Mr SEO Gadget has as ever more tools than you can count. A quick warning to any agencies, he sees and knows everything so be careful with that guest blogging.
Later in the day, I enjoyed the joint talk on impacts of Penguin from Distilled Tom Anthony and MediaAnalys Per Eriksson.
In his first search conference talk, Per gave a ton of great advice on tools and tips for link building analysis. Here’s just 5 that are worth a view:
Overall, great talk from Per who whilst he’s never going to make it as tour guide of Stockholm with the sense of direction of a blind man without a stick, he certainly knows his SEO.
Tom gave more a “fluffy” presentation on the impact of Penguin and will be posting results of a recent survey he ran across 80 SEOers on the impact of Penguin.
“Guest blogging is the new article marketing – abused and over done by the industry. We killed it. We got lazy.”
The impact of penguin has helped improve the good links you had before. The good links built last year are now worth more since the Penguin update. “Like a fine wine, links get better with age”
Really challenge yourself and your content strategy. Why you deserve to rank? What are you doing different? How can you use your marketing insight to do something different with your content that provide the user a better experience?
What’s even more impressive is when he’s not doing lots of cool work for his SEO clients he’s doing a PHD in Artificial Intelligence – that’s just showing off!!
Summary of the Event
Overall, a really good experience. In my new job at Brightedge, it’s important I understand the challenges and demands of the marketplace. We want to improve all the time and whilst we have a market leading global product we will make it better by listening to our customer and the market needs.
I feel the market needs professional enterprise technology companies within SEO industry and we can help with the challenges faced by SEO teams in scaling their work in this area. Technology plays a key part in any business to scale up and the demands are not lowering in SEO so good technology partners in this space are more important that ever.
In terms of SMX Stockholm; a well run event, good engagement and great people. The Scandavian market are more advanced in terms of the quality of their people / knowledge than they realise but fundamentally they have to look at how they increase their attendance in conferences like this, share more, collaborate more and collectively as a market their overall SEO industry will all benefit from this.
In terms of my presentations. They went well enough. I’m not one for long talks as much as I do love the sound of my voice so both where short, sharp, punchy views on Local Search and Google + below.
Mark Mitchell - Local Search – Making it work for you
The main bulk of this topic was covered from Ben Gibson of The Search Agency.
I focused on more the operational and strategic side of local rather tactical tips. The local search ecosystem is complex and diverse. It’s more than Google places so you need to really think about the role of local for your business.
The challenge with local is ownership. Is this e-commerce? Is this marketing? Is it really purely SEO? Ownership is key and dedicated resource at both agency or direct client level may be need. Marketers often have regional marketing teams focused on local marketing so having a local digital manager would be a good idea for a multi channel high street retailer for example.
With local measurement is key. In fact BrightEdge just announced support for 87 local cities at the Share12 industry event and this is one are our customers are very excited about.
Think about your local content – how are you gong to engage with your local audience? Can you go deeper than just providing a navigational experience. Local stores can play a key part of the community and be the voice of a community so ensure you have a content strategy that reflects that.
My Presentation Slides
Mark Mitchell – Google + – What it matters and what you need to do
I really enjoyed doing this talk and clearly putting down my thoughts on paper for this subject matter. I for one need to spend more time on my Google + general activity but this is essential for every search marketers.
Google + is the social layer that touches every Google product and will play more significant role of every aspect of search engine marketing and search engine optimization.
Google+ is the network where brands can connect closer with their audience. Hangouts are a great example of that and can be used in multiple aspects.
In the future, the data captured from Google + will be able to benefit advertisers from PPC perspective as they will be able to buy traffic at a keyword+audience – ie. I sell Mens Jeans 18-34 in London – increase bid for x for users who search on Jeans in this criteria. The targeting of Google AdWords will be heavily driven by Google + opt in data.
Rel Authorship and the rise of this is massive and one of the most talked about subjects in show. However, you need to go deeper than that – think about your author strategy – if you are a travel site by having one voice in the market – is that enough ? should you think about creating authorship around keyword / product areas – ie. Authorship by Destination and experts in that destination?
My Presentation Slides
All in all a great trip finished with visiting the local cuisine of TGI Fridays courtesy of our travel guide Per Eriksson and a dull 4-4 draw between Sweden and Germany.
About the Author, Mark Mitchell
Mark Mitchell is the Director of Client Services for EMEA at Brightedge. Previous to joining SEO technology company Brightedge, Mark managed over 150 people and £70m search billings in his role as Head of Search Omnicom Media Group UK in London . He has worked for over 10 years in the search industry and was active member on the IPA search council. During his career, he has worked on some of the biggest accounts in the UK search marketplace notably being Shop Direct Group, easyJet and Thomas Cook. Before his time at Omnicom, he spent 5 years at the digital marketing specialist The Search Works where he held various operational and strategy positions.