A few days after SearchFest, I’ve finally gotten around to compiling my notes and wanted to share some of cool things I learned.
First off, though, a note about the event itself. The SEMpdx peeps are amazing. The community they’ve built in Portland is second to none, and SearchFest is absolutely a top-notch event, organized by volunteers from SEMpdx.
Two things struck me about the quality of the event:
#1, the communication and coordination of the event happenings were perfect: it was quite simple to know when and where things were happening, and how to get there. Everything stayed right on schedule and went off without a hitch.
#2, the quality and content of the speakers’ presentations was excellent.
So, here is a summary of some of the favorite things I learned at SearchFest (note: this is all info from the presenters, so all credit goes to them):
Overall state of search:
Searcher behavior is changing due to Google Instant. In case you needed more incentive, make sure you’re paying close attention to the copy in your page title and description/snippets.
Social and mobile are becoming increasingly important components of search. This does not mean that “SEO is dead”. Search is ever-evolving. It really just comes down to getting your message in front of your audience.
If you’re not paying attention to how your site is being crawled and indexed, you need to start. Sites with inefficient and ineffective crawling are suffering in their SEO. Start checking out your log files, know how to interpret them, and fix your issues.
Some top metrics to look at:
- Which pages are crawled the most?
- Time to discover news/new articles?
- Crawl efficiency
- New referring links
- Crawl errors
Create separate XML sitemaps for images, news, and videos in order to get that content indexed.
Good places to use canonical tags:
- URLs with tracking parameters
- Pages that deliver different URLs depending how data is sorted
- Internal site search results pages (or robots.txt them, depending on your structure)
With “brands” becoming more important in Google search, increase your site’s “brand” having social signals that indicate your site is legit.
- Have employees reference your company on LinkedIn, showing you have real people working at a real, physical address.
- Have real connections on Twitter.
- Have real conversations on blogs and comments.
- Register with government and civic organizations.
- Get traffic from diverse sources.
Since every SERP is unique, do a competitive analysis for the SERPs you’re targeting and prioritize your linkbuilding strategies accordingly.
Stop tracking and reporting on nonsense. Just stop it.
Take the time to analyze what you want users to do on your site, set up conversions and goals with assigned values, and track everything to those values.
Check out the Tatvic GA Excel plug-in.
Ranking reports suck. Why?
- 60% of search results are personalized.
- You’re only focusing on head terms, and not accounting for huge amounts of long-tail terms.
The “opportunities” tab in AdWords actually has useful info. Check it out.
In display, use the contextual targeting tool, display campaign optimizer, and the updated display ad builder and resources.
Retargeting: get into it.
PPC for BingHoo:
A good guideline is to allot 15%-25% of your PPC budget there.
CPA can be better on BingHoo because of:
- Less competition
- Demographic targeting
- Broad match not as broad
So, that’s my brief recap of the event. I’m already looking forward to SearchFest 2012. SEMpdx put up some live blog reports from the event as well, so check that out if you want more info about the SearchFest happenings.