SMX East 2012 New York – Day 1 #SMX
Search Engine Optimisation

SMX East 2012 New York – Day 1 #SMX

3rd October 2012

This was my first time to attend SMX East and I was really pleased to attend the SEO and link building sessions. The sessions were Keyword Research and Copywriting, Surviving Penguins, Pandas and Other SEO Beasts, SEO is an investment and SEO Beware: Black Hat Tactics To Avoid and Be Wary of.

Here is summary of each of the four from the first day of SMX East..

SMX Boot Camp Keyword Research and Copywriting

Christine Churchill, President of KeyRelevance @keyrelevance

Christine gave a fantastic presentation about keyword research and how important it is in search marketing. Due to trademarks, a summary of the presentation is provided below:

Reasons to Do Keyword Research

Keyword research is very important as people  use search engines to find your website.  By engaging in keyword research, you improve the performance of online marketing for your site as it is seen in the SERPs

Speak the Language of the Customer

It is important to know what your customers are looking for.  This will help your site to improve conversion and capture any missing traffic and missing sales.

Discover new KW opportunities

There may be keywords that you have overlooked or new ones that have appeared in the market.  As an online marketer, you should take advantage of longer tail phrases.

Keyword Research never stops

It is constantly evolving.  When you begin a project, find keywords in the analytics or the PPC.  If it is a brand new site, look at the competitors, what are they ranking for and why? At the beginning of a project, start Site log files for converting keywords.

Create Keyword Lists Using Diverse Source

It is important to use many different sources for the keywords.  Look at the internal site search data.  Also conduct a brainstorming session with your colleagues and client.  You need to create a broad list and then you can trim this down.

Christine also spoke about the many keyword research tools available, some are free such as Google Keyword Tool, Google Instant and Google Trends, where as others are paid SEM Rush, Wordtracker, Wordstream.

Remember to also include variations of your keywords such as comparison terms, price and product descriptions. You should then organize your keywords into “buckets”.christine-churchill


  • Keyword research never ends
  • It is important to think of the keyword phrase and not a single word
  • Test keywords and review those of your competitors.  What are they doing that you are not?
  • But remember to consider seasonality of the keywords.

Google Bought a Zoo: Surviving Penguins, Pandas and Other SEO Beasts 

This is a very hot topic in the SEO world and there was a lot covered in the session, here is a summary:

Panda related issues

Erin Everhart – Director of Web Marketing 352 Media Group  @erinever

Erin talked about the fact that a website needs really good content.  You need to focus on the content you have on your website.  Your job is to make it look like SEO does not exist. Here are some of the ways to do this:

Fix your title tags

  • This is what people tend to over optimise
  • Don’t stuff your keywords in there
  • You need to have your brand in there as well
  • Make a strong call to action in the title tag
  • Talk like a person

Fix your content

  • People do put good content on their site, guest blogging
  • Do a content audit – pull your data
  • Use the tools Google Webmaster tools, Screaming Frog, Analytics
  • No way around this – labor intensive
  • Look at page views through analytics – see what is the most viewed content

Find your faults

Really analyse your site and ask some of the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of the page?
  • Who am I trying to target?
  • Is the page telling me something I did not know?


  • Update the website
  • Promote your website,
  • You want people to be using your content

Common Duplicate Content Problems

1. URLs are not case sensitive  – Solution: canonical tag

2. Multiple version of home page – and  Solution – 301 redirect and canonicalisaton

3. Pagination Problems

4. URL Parameters – Solution – Ignore these in GWT and canonical tag

5. Internal Search

Many pages with similar content.

Google does not like internal site search so meta=noindex

Panda affects your link building as well

1. Focus on building good links in the future

2. Diversify your links

3. Diversify your anchor text – people should get brand name links – include non descriptive links like “click here”

What can you expect

You will see a change to your analytics

SEO is an investment– it has to incubate before you see any results

Google Bought a Zoo

Ross Hudgens – Founder Siege Media @RossHudgens

You have never built an organic link.  What do you do now?

Use the Minimum Viable Product Philosophy – To develop success content strategies

  • MVP is that you should quickly get knowledge from what doing now
  • It is used for Fast and quanititative market testing of a product
  • MVP uses Content/Market Fit to get scale
  • Try and find content market fit that will work and get scale

1) How do you do MVP?

  • How do you test content that is good enough to test the market? Find some guess and check type methodology.
  • Throw up a blog to ship content out quickly

Find top tier freelancers through Twitter lists to other freelancers –

How to get good content writers?

  • Go to crowd source sites – locate high quality underpaid writers on crowd sourced HQ author sites and hire them
  • Also create slow build, labor intensive profiles to begin building momentum while establishing fit

2) How do you build links?

  • Leverage as many website anonymous strategies as possible
  • Guest posts, sponsorships, business relationships, scholarships, personal brand, vertical directories
  • Hire agencies short term and have these people help build links for you
  • Transition quickly away from previous strategies without completely abandoning them
  • Taking Risk

3) Generating qualified traffic quickly

  • Do superior guest posting
  • Write a post on a high quality guest post.  Pitch blogs on a no follow, link /banner

Check out for more information

Todd Friesen – Director of SEO @oilman

Penguins at the Zoo 

Google has been talking about links for some time.

Penguin Reaction

1. Keep calm and Carry on

2. Keep calm and get to work

If you did not get hit by Penguin, it may be that you have not been hit yet.

Google wants to get rid of all these spammy links for now.  If you have been hint, need to get down to the detail and get rid of the bad links.

If you have been hit

  • Do not include a reconsideration request
  • This will make you on Google’s radar
  • Go and find your links use some of the tools and consolidate them in one file.
  • Organize your links – Page Authority, Domain Authority, Page Rank, Anchor Text, Placement,
  • Scrub your links – dump networks, reach out to people, track all efforts/results

It will take time to go through all this, but you will see the results.

Only when you have tried to get rid of all those links and nothing has happened, then you can submit a reconsideration request. You need to follow the rules.

Full Disclosure, Full Documentation – tell Google all the links, methods of contact, dates of outreach, successful removals.

Eric Enge – CEO Stone Temple Consulting @stonetemple

Eric spoke about The Future of Panda and Penguin

The first Panda hit  Feb 2011

Then Penguin – April 24 – 2012

Eric interviewed Matt Cutts about link building and asked him about what the future may hold.

  • All sites that had bad anchor text mix, comment spam, paid guest posts, article marketing sites were affected by the Panda and Penguin.
  • It is important to have a natural page rank
  • Sites need trusted links
  • If your competitors  are getting trusted links in your industry then they will be ahead of you


  • Matt Cutts said that infographic links might not be as worthy as now these have become popular for  links.

Guest posting

  • Avoid low relevance blog posts, instead focus on sites where there is relevant content and anchor text in the blog posts.
  • Look at the top sites in your field and then see if you can do a blog post for these sites, with a link back to yours

If you have a really solid profile and are engaging in all white hat SEO, then you should not be affected.  Penguin was the result of bad links, but people were still affected before Panda and Penguin if they did not adhere to the Google guidelines.

Link Building Bootcamp –  Debra Mastaler, President Alliance-Line – @debramastaler

Debra’s presentation on link building contained an impressive amount of  information.  Due to trademark rights, a summary of the deck has been written on State of Search. deborah-mastaler

Nuts and Bolts

Debra spoke about the search engines and the fact that no surprise really, Google is the market leader.  Bing should not be underestimated though, but Yahoo will probably not be seen as competition in this space as they may be going towards a mobile platform. As we are aware, there are over 200+ signals to determine where a site ranks, but link building is the  main nut to drive search results.

Link popularity is comprised of 4 main components

  • Quantity
  • Quality
  • Relevance
  • Anchor text

Quality is determined by the authority of the host sites and the sites linking to them. The quality flows from one page/site to the next through links.  All 3 engines use a formula in organic rankings to measure and compute quality.

Signals vs Links

  • Signals are important but links popularity is still main factor
  • When building links it is important to use the correct anchor text – variations of brand and generics
  • Post content on quality sites with established social media profiles
  • Do not post on sites where there is no about us or contact us page  or where there is excessive Adsense
  • Do not place links in the navigation and sponsored areas of the site

Before Placing the Link

Debra spoke about questions you should ask yourself before placing a link on a third party site.  You really want to get more traffic from link building as well as increasing your visibility so find out if the website participates in social media. If it does not, it may not be the right site for you.  You need to target sites that have relevant content to yours and where the web page ranks for relevant keywords.  Online marketers will be penalized if they post their content on spam sites and they will receive a message from Google which cannot be ignored.

You are not alone

There are many link building tools to help you with this task.  Some are free, some are paid such as Searchmetrics, Raven Tools, Majestic SEO and SEOmoz.  For those who are interested in a paid version, there are many “free trials” for a limited time. Before you start your link building activities, use one of these tools to help create a benchmark report for the number of links. Set up all your social media profiles especially G+ and make sure you have a great copywriter to produce the engaging content.


A very useful presentation by Debra who stressed the importance of being active on social sites and diversifying your link sources (not just sticking with guest blogging).  All of this will help increase the authority of your site which in turn will mean more links will come to you naturally, instead of you always asking for a link.

SEO Beware: Black Hat Tactics To Avoid and Be Wary of

SEO Beware: Black Hat Tactics To Avoid and Be Wary OfThe last session of the day  (before the evening forum with Danny Sullivan) featured 3 great speakers Kerry Dean @KerryDean, Rob Kerry @robkerry and Michael Streko @streko with moderator Danny Sullivan @dannysullivan.

It is important to know about black hat, why those who engage in it have success now, but this will be short lived and

Kerry Dean, BlackHat SEO @kerrydean

What is BlackHat SEO?

  • SEO that works for a little time at least
  • It used to be that could get it to work but now it is more tactical and more quicker
  • People that engage in blackhat, launch the site, make money and then move on
  • Black hat is about making money and fast
  • Blackhat is not about buying links
  • It is creating millions of links.  Creating millions of pages, building websites that are millions of pages long.
  • Balck hat SEOs do not want to pay for links, content, leads, traffic, anything.

Kerry went into detail about one Blackhat Method: SEO Sabotag

The goal is to get your competitors removed from the SERPs

1. Link removal tactics (drop their rankings)

2. Link creation tacticts (get them penalized)

3. Get really shady with cross site scripting

4. Hjiack their sites

Kerry then proceeded to show us how a site ranked for “pay day loans” in Google by hacking their site.  Is Google watching?

Rob Kerry Co-founder of Ayima

Rob  addressed the issues of blackHat which are against the Google guidelines:

Black Hat involves

–       hacking websites and embedding links/cloaking

–       Using deception/fraud to acquire/remove links

Are White hat sites popular on Google?

  • Rob gave a case study about a popular financial website which had never done SEO
  • They partnered with a major newspaper conglomerate
  • Every partner newspaper linked into the financial site
  • Traffic plummeted, no rankings in Google above Top 100
  • Google Reconsideration requests didn’t work
  • But Google made a manual change

Rob explained the the audience an example of a company that was carrying out white hat techniques was penalized by Google. example:

  • The online gaming website implemented an in house A/CB testing solution but it was running server side rather than client side.
  • Google noticed the variations being served and flagged it as cloaking
  • SEO agencies claiming to be 100% white hat are often the most dangerous
  • Just because a link wasn’t paid for, doesn’t make it acceptable to Google

These white hat tactics can get your into trouble

  • Web directory submissions
  • Widgets
  • Info graphics
  • Press releases
  • Article distribution
  • Guest blogging/posting
  • Viral campaigns
  • Sponsorship/partnerships


  • Black Hat SEO in terms of web spam and cloaking does still work but to a limited degree
  • As well as Google creating more filters, there are fewer niches
  • Best money in Blackhat come from niches
  • It is harder to make good money from it than previously
  • Authority building is key to building a good site – stop obsessing about link volumes, say no to commercial anchor links
  • Always ask questions about your campaign and demand visibility.  What are you SEOs really up to?


Written By
Jo Juliana Turnbull is the organiser of Search London and the founder of SEO Jo Blogs, which provides practical advice and tips for those in SEO.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.