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Top 10 SEM Tips From SMX Advanced London 2010

Last week, SMX London graduated to SMX Advanced status. We in the UK eagerly anticipated the fresh new tips and tricks which are usually left until several beers later in the networking bars!

And we certainly weren’t disappointed. I thought it would be useful to share with Search Engine Land readers the top ten advanced search marketing tips which I gleaned from the show.

Link building: Offer a student discount. Among Kelvin Newman’s excellent 17 ways to build university and government links, the one I found most thought-provoking was for e-commerce sites to offer a student discount. This means that the generous offer instantly encourages university sites to link and may also generate further student blog and online coverage too.

Online reputation: Turn a negative into a positive. Mikkel deMib Svendsen talked about how if The New York Times has a negative article ranking in Google’s top 10 for your brand name, this can be very difficult to outrank. Instead of attempting to force this down with new listings, try looking for positive content on the same domain and building some links into this. The objective is to convince Google that the positive version is more valuable/relevant, so that this replaces the negative result with the positive article instead.

Keyword research: Use Mozenda to find new opportunities.
A superb presentation from Distilled’s Sam Crocker saw a host of new keyword research ideas and tools being discussed. Most notably, Sam suggested using Mozenda to scrape Google suggest results and download this into a spreadsheet of keywords. This tip was clearly a winner with the audience!

Paid search: Use capitalization to erase poor quality score history
Richard Fergie spotted that if you have a keyword with a poor PPC quality score, and still want to persevere with it, try creating the same keyword using different capitalization. Google currently allows you to insert multiple keywords in the AdWords interface for the same keyword (when using different cases), despite this not being case-sensitive when the query is made. So this could be a quick way of getting back on track, without that poor quality score keyword bringing down the whole account.

Google: Twitter links influence QDF and likely to impact organic search.
Rand Fishkin shared experiences of seeing noticeable increases in “query deserves freshness” rankings, spotted following a link being retweeted several times on Twitter. He also spoke about Google and Microsoft’s data deals, which means that they have link information available from Twitter and Facebook and are likely to apply this to their algorithms for organic search in the future.

Redirects: Canonical now preferred by Google over 301’s.
Rob Kerry could quite easily have had his own top 10 advanced tips just from day one. But what I found most interesting was that he’s noticed external domain 301 redirects appear to have been replaced by the cross-domain canonical tag, with external domain 301 redirects now having little or no impact since the tag was rolled out towards the end of last year.

SEO coding: Dot-net viewstate is probably hurting your site.
SEO rockstar Svendsen took a look at how .NET viewstate code is so search engine unfriendly that when printed out it takes up 7 sheets of A4 paper, demonstrated in a very entertaining way by standing on the desk to show an example of this all taped together!

Facebook: Be creative with demographic targeting.
Both Guy Levine and the very funny Aimclear double act (from Marty Weintraub and Merry Morud) gave some great presentations on Facebook advertising. The main message from this was that Facebook is currently a great avenue for demographic targeting and if you really think about age, sex, relationships status, location and personal interests, it’s normally not too difficult to find something you can sell to them.

Analytics: look for actionable data from reporting.
Alex Cohen from Click Equations gave an thoughtful presentation demonstrating how the majority of web reports are largely pointless. Ranking reports for your top 10 keywords, which rarely change, don’t give you anywhere near the full picture—especially if your site has a large amount of long-tail traffic. What you really need is to tailor those reports around your goals and make sure that the reports contain actionable data. This means instead of just showing the same old stats to your clients each month, you can actually review progress for the things which matter most and are areas you are in control over, ensuring that you can aim to push forward.

Social media: How much can you save in customer service costs?
Mel Carson raised an excellent point in the “Measuring the value of social media” session, asking “how much money does social media save you in customer service costs?.” If you can answer questions via a 140 character response in Twitter surely that is cheaper than paying someone to do customer support. Plus you can bulk-respond to customers much more easily using social media compared to answering multiple similar questions via phone or online support.

So those were my main takeaways. Overall I found this to be an excellent conference with lots of thought-provoking ideas from most speakers. If you have anything you’d like to add, please feel free to share your best tips in the comments.

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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