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Monday, April 22, 2024

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Golden Nuggets From SMX Toronto

So, another SMX is in the books! After uncovering so many great nuggets from last year’s SMX Analytics here in Toronto, I was looking forward to this year’s content. The good news is that there were two tracks, PPC and SEO, so the chance to catch good content was very high.

The keynote was delivered by Google’s Avinash Kaushik, the well-known analytics evangalist, blogger, author, and speaker. He spoke for over an hour on the merge of social and search using a good mix of hard-core data insight whimsical humor. It was a great way to kick off the conference and many presenters referred to some of Avinash’s points during their sessions.

Overall, one of the key takeaways from the conference was to let the business determine the search strategy and not let just the search data determine the search strategy. It’s been my own personal observation that search marketers are the most silo’d folks in the marketing world, and tend to sometimes have their blinders on when it comes to the overall marketing plan.

Instead of just looking into your search reports for optimization direction, many presenters urged the audience to push for more inclusion from other segments of their companies to be involved in directing what’s truly important to achieve from the search marketing budget.

Here are some of the other interesting nuggets, including tips, tools, tricks, stats, quotes, etc., that I thought were worth sharing.

  • 20% of all Google results have a personalization effect on them. Rob Garner from iCrossing recommended a need to develop both high-level and long tail themes in order to reach both ends of your audience.  He also urged the audience to look to social networks for linguistic cues as the language around topics is always changing.
  • “The internet is filled with weird people; and they’re all on your website” – Avinash Kaushik.
  • A good point someone made was that it’s not that we have too much data, it’s just that without context, we don’t know if it’s good or bad.  It’s important to use 3rd party research and tools to try to uncover the true value of the metrics we’re analyzing.
  • Fireclick – a tool that publishes conversion rates by vertical.  CoreMetrics (the analytics platform) also publishes benchmark reports.
  • Good SEO quote: “Since we stopped buying links, link building has gotten more expensive.”
  • Wordle – a tool where you can paste in keyword lists and get a tag cloud output. This is a really great way to add visualization to your analysis. For example, here’s the US Consitituion output from the tool.
  • Several panelists urged the audience to “go beyond the top 10” and look at the long tail performing keywords to get the most insight into how to improve performance. In Avinash’s keynote, for example, he showed how the bottom ten thousand terms that drove traffic to his blog generated around five times the traffic than the head terms.
  • Generate a report of Revenue by Match Type. This can really help you understand at a high level which of the three tactics (phrase, broad, exact) are working best for you.
  • Klout is a free twitter analytics tool that has the interesting metric of Follow / Retweet%. The idea here is that a higher score means you’re reaching more people who pass along your messages rather than the same folks retweeting you. Another cool metric along this same idea path is Retweets per Thousand Followers.
  • “The more idiot proof you make your website, the more people will use it stupider” – good usability quote.
  • A good strategy for link building is to stop trying force links on bloggers or publishers, but rather build relationships with them and provide good content to them that has your links in them.  Relationship building will be key in the future of SEO.
  • As universal search gains more ground, it’s now become doubly important to get optimized videos, local links, Twitter tweets, etc. out on the web so you don’t lose ground to competitors who have these strategies built in.
  • Soovle is a free tool that provides the search suggestions from various engines around the net including Google, Yahoo, Bing, Wikipedia, Amazon, etc.  Here’s the output from the term hockey:
  • For good negative keyword lists, go to negative-keywords.com offered by Epiar.com. By adding these negatives into your account, you may be able to save up to 40% of waste to irrelevant terms. I love good negative keyword lists and they seem to have a pretty good offering.
  • Once again, the best practice was hammered home that for multi-lingual search marketing, you need a native speaker, not a translation machine, to ensure proper translation. Some funny examples were shared when translations go wrong.
  • Twitter followers have a 60% higher propensity to buy from you than other consumers. With your Facebook fans, there’s an 80% lift vs. non fans.
  • Another good statistic: 50% of online buzz over a piece of content will happen within the first hour of it being published. So you really don’t have to wait long to see if your content strategies are working or not.
  • The Twitter analytics tool, Backtweets, can give you a list of tweets that contain a link to a specified domain. It will even recognize shortened URLs such as bit.ly if they resolve to the specific site.
  • Input a Twitter profile into Analyze Words and you will get a personality profile based on the tweets from that account. Here’s an example from the tool using MC Hammer’s profile:
  • One speaker made the point that if you don’t send users to relevant landing pages, that’s like going into a store and asking for the shoes and the employee sends you to the tire section.
  • It would seem there was a general consensus that having your own data warehouse on site is almost a “must have” at this point. With most search marketers using multiple engines and multiple tools, to have one spot where all of the data is locked down seems like a best practice scenario.
  • In the mobile search session, even just a quick survey of the crowd hammered home that the future of search on the mobile device may necessarily live within the typical search engine browser. Specific apps might be able to be king (such as a restaurant app to find local places to eat or a movie app to find theaters for showtimes/tickets) and could challenge the engines at a personal level.
  • Juice Analytics has a tool that you can connect to your analytics platform and will extract the keywords that bring users to your site and then builds visual keyword tree. Here’s a screenshot of the tool:
  • In a discussion on attribution, a tactic that one search marketer shared was to throw out any marketing efforts that you would be “doing anyway” in order to cut through the clutter. For example, if your organization will probably always buy their brand terms, then you can pull those out of your conversion pathways and just look at the other keywords and ads that drove users to convert.
  • Be wary of making too many changes to your accounts, as it may drastically affect your quality scores. Many agency folks agreed that they too often will not challenge the changes demanded by clients even if quality scores may be affected negatively.
  • The rep from Bing showed how all of their clients in a specific vertical benefit from the increased search and conversion volume from Bing’s own marketing campaigns to that vertical. This makes me wonder if Google or Yahoo could setup their own advertising initiatives where their clients could benefit similarly. Maybe if Google spent X on a huge travel push, that all of their travel clients would see a spike and would, in turn, make more money for Google?
  • In a session on social and search, one panelist urged the audience to setup Google alerts on all of their competitors as a free, easy way to start social monitoring their industry.
  • Fun quote from an SEO presenter:  “Yes, I’m a link ninja. Don’t try to use that at a bar, it doesn’t work with girls.”
  • Trying to get a better understanding of the intent of keyword searchers? In the search analytics session, the Omniture rep showed how an implementation of a survey on the landing page helped figure that out. For example, the survey asked the keyword-driven user if they were looking for product information, general info, contacts, etc.  That intelligence drove massive insights for the entire campaign.

Finally, my favorite quote of the conference regarding the rise of features in free tools such as Google Analytics or Yahoo’s tool, Avinash said:

“…spending money on click stream data with an Omniture or a Webtrends is like flushing money down a toilet—but you should still flush money down a toilet because it makes such an interesting sound.”

See you all at the next SMX!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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