OM Marketing Week Barcelona 2013

OM Marketing Week Barcelona 2013

5th December 2013

OM Marketing Week is the leading digital marketing conference in Spain, which takes place in both Madrid and Barcelona.  OMweek is known for rounding up some of the top international speakers, and today we’re going to round up the best English presentations from the search marketing day. Quick view of presentations:

  • Entity Search & Personalization  – Gianluca Fiorelli
  • Keynote – The Psychology of Search & Social – Bas Van de Beld
  • Penalty Recovery – Kaspar Szymanski & Fili Wiese
  • Understanding your target audience with Twitter Data – Richard Baxter
  • What’s next in Search & SEO? – Marcus Tandler

Entity Search & Personalization

Speaker: Gianluca Fiorelli

Most memorable quote:  “Words are not Entities by themselves, but yes they are the verbal expression of Entities “

In the past two years,  we’ve seen some of the biggest changes in Google’s algorithm which has dramatically changed SEO tactics / strategy. Penguin, Panda, and the Venice algorithm update improved the search results from a webspam and local point of view, whereas continued advancements such as the knowledge graph, innovate. One of the biggest issues for SEOs has been secure search, which essentially serves to eliminate free keyword data (not provided).

There’s no doubt that the overarching trend in search is the movement from desktop to mobile, and the changes that SEOs should be most aware of are the knowledge graph and Google Now.  Both of these new features encompass Google’s shift towards meaning, through entities and conversational search.

Although voice search has been available since 2009,  it was the acquisition of  of Metaweb/Freebase that allowed Google to perfect how it treated  named entities (which are essentially real physical things like Persons, Brands, Planets…, but also more intangible concepts like Hatred, Renaissance…).

But there is another element playing a major role in the evolution of Google, and directly related to KG and Google Now: the Knowledge Base, the giant database Google has and that store all the information we, the users, provide Google with when using Google itself.

Gianluca uses an analogy to explain Google’s current status:

“Right now Google is still a kid attending Year 1, and it is learning the key value of the triple:  subject > predicate > object.

And, as a kid but powered with a powerful machine learning infrastructure, Google is learning in creating relationships between words’ pair (and sometimes it still has problems).”

On Hummingbird:  it’s  an infrastructural update, not in the physical sense Caffeine had, but because it reinterprets the bases from where the SERPs are written in response to a query.

For example, if query A, query B and query C substantially mean the same thing and have the same search intention, Google won’t present anymore SERP A, SERP B and SERP C, but a SERP D that can answer correctly to the queries A, B and C.

If you’re curious about this topic, read more here:

(Keynote) The Psychology of Search & Social

Speaker: Bas Van Den Beld

Most memorable quote:  “There is no “average user”, people approach the buying process in different ways”

Bas starts off his keynote by explaining that his children are the biggest influence in his life,  and this sets the stage for the rest of his keynote speech – his children influence all of the decisions he makes online. The crux here is that we need to look at SEO in a different perspective (whereas previously it was about linkbuilding and ranking), and that to be successful today, we need to understand that people:

  1. Want to believe
  2. Want to trust

In search, we’ve seen a fundamental shift in tactics, from link building to keyword research, and now content marketing.  The current trend in content marketing is pushing out loads of content and seeing what sticks, but this is inefficient and not sustainable.  To properly execute content marketing efforts, brands need to understand the audience. Brands are in the business of copying what works on the web,  and not considering that an approach taken by a different brand might not be the best idea to copy, since it’s not likely designed to target your audience.  The way that I thought of this was copying a successful cat video, which we already know it going to be a sure fire hit – but as a SaaS email provider, would 1000 likes of my cat video do anything for my business? Probably not, and I think this is Bas’ point, which was presented excellently.

OM Week Bas

So how do you understand your audience?

This is a million dollar question from my perspective,  and one that can be so simple to answer if you know where to look.  Bas explains the concept by telling a story about his Grandmother, who had 19 grandchildren.  Connecting with 19 people is difficult, unless you really care about them (think brands caring about their customer’s interests) – he explains that he is an avid Ajax fan (Dutch Football team), and that his grandmother cared so much about connecting with him, that she took the time to get to know the team in order to relate. When I say, “get to know the team” , she went as far as memorizing player’s names, and watched the games with a young Bas.

Marketers should do this. Bas reiterates core marketing principles, such as the power of word of mouth / referral marketing, and describes primal human instinct to follow each other,  usually where there’s someone with a big mouth leading the pack – i.e. the influencer. The decision making process is largely influenced by Celebrities, Experts, and your Social network.

On Celebs (give trust, lack credibility): They feel like best friends, because you see them so often. A natural urge to say “hi” if you see one on the street isn’t unusual, because you’ve seen them TV shows, ads, billboards, etc.. and so you may feel the urge to automatically trust them.  However, celebrities don’t make us buy, because although they are a beacon of trust, they lack credibility. Imagine buying a toaster that Justin Bieber was promoting, for example.

On Experts (give credibility, but aren’t friends): These are the people who give us credibility. In search results, this is reflected by using author images (rel=author), and can be very powerful. There are also non-experts, like hotel reviewers that can help us make decisions.

On Social network (family & friends that truly make us buy): Bas explains that brands are far from the social network, and should not try to go directly to the buyer.  He quickly demonstrated a graph that explained how authorship, ads, etc.. were leading steps towards approaching the buyer. Overall, this was an inspiring keynote,  fuelled by carefully crafted opinion and research.

Penalty Recovery

Speaker: Kaspar Szymanski & Fili Wiese

Most memorable quote:  “Will you actually get traffic from that link? If not, it’s not a good link”

I had the pleasure of listening to two former Google employees talk about penalties, the algorithm, and recoveries. In the first few minutes of the talk,  I was surprised to hear that Google employee terminology was severely battered in a game of “telephone” gone wrong. Many SEOs (including myself), have referred to Penguin as a penalty or a filter – this is not the case, in fact, they are just algorithm updates that re-evaluate sites based on new criteria. By general category, this is the secret information that these pros divulged in their presentation:General:

  • Do not underestimate Google’s computing power or storage capacity
  • PageRank is not the most important ranking factor
  • Don’t ride out manual actions, tackle them as soon as possible.
  • Follow the webmaster guidelines page carefully as there are many important silent updates to the content. Also best to follow wmt on Twitter and subscribe to the blog.
  • “There’s no such thing as algorithmic penalties. Your site has been “re-evaluated” by penguin”OM Week Barcelona

Reconsideration Requests best practices

  • Don’t threaten with legal action, Google’s lawyers are too good (this was a highlight / humorous point as they talked about specific people threatening legal action against Google for lost traffic)
  • Denial and anger don’t help in recon requests
  • Adwords reps have no influence on search results
  • Keep all documentation, including link buying reports

GWT messages

  • Messages are tailored to your problem, i.e. if you got hacked, Webmaster tools will tell you
  • Diagnose, take your time. Rushing into action won’t help, when you fix it, fix it properly
  • Links are the biggest reason for manual actions these days


  • Remove bad links before you disavow – you made the mess, clean it up
  • Look at every site manually – You can use patterns /metrics on aggregate to investigate like: include anchor text distribution , social, whois data, etc.. but you still need to manually review each page your links appear on.
  • Use the domain operator rather than the page – because that link can appear on different hidden pages that Google will find anyway (think of parameter duplication here)

Full presentation here:

Understanding your target audience with Twitter Data

Speaker: Richard Baxter

Most memorable quote:  “Crap marketing doesn’t work”

Rich is best known for his analytical, data driven mindset to digital marketing – and his presentation at OMWeek definitely exceeded expectations.  He explains how SEOs have been brought up to source link building opportunities through advanced Google search operators, but those queries usually turn up low quality article sites. The point was to move away from Google search as a method of finding your target audience, and move towards Twitter audience analysis.  It’s all about finding where your target market is,  what ideas they are sharing, and from which domains.

OM Week - Richard Baxter

I’ve used Richard’s system in the past, and I personally recommend it – the entire process is documented here on Moz. An interesting data point: from a 100 domain sample, Google search for guests posts versus domains shared by his target Twitter audience (CMOs in London), the diference between average domain authority was 47 and 79 respectively. The full presentation is here:

The Future of Search

Speaker: Marcus Tandler

Most memorable quote:  On the massive growth of Mobile:  “9% of mobile phone users even use their phones during sex…talk about boredom!”

I was really excited to see Marcus’ presentation,  because I had heard so many excellent comments. He did not disappoint, and gave a stellar performance filled with enough information to fill one of Roman Abramovich’s yachts. Writing this presentation up just won’t do it justice, I strongly recommend that you take the next 18 minutes of your life to watch this incredible presentation.

If you’re interested in other great opinions on the future of search, see Tom Anthony & Will Critchlow’s presentation at Searchlove 2013.

Need more info on the speakers? Visit their websites below:

Sponsors from the event

Teliad – SEO services in Spain MP Lip Stick – Mobile external batteries when you’re on the go


I can’t tell you how much I love Barcelona, it’s an amazing city with lots of undiscovered digital talent, and some of the best scenery in Europe.  I’d recommend this conference, because of the great lineup of speakers,  delicious Spanish / Catalan tapas, and the friendly staff at OMWeek who were absolutely fantastic the entire way through.  I’d personally like to say thank you to the organizers at OMWeek for their hospitality and being fantastic hosts. Hope to see you again next year!

Author bio:

Dave Sottimano

Dave Sottimano is a senior consultant with Distilled specializing in search. Dave *almost always* shares his insider secrets, and is probably (maybe) worth following on Twitter, or you can catch him on his personal blog.

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