ProSEO Boston Recap

It's been a week now since our first Boston ProSEO conference kicked off.  Our video presales are turning out to be very popular, and we are proud to finally announce that our #linklove videos for London and NOLA are all available to watch now!  Pre-sales are on now for our Boston ProSEO Conference videos which will be released by June 20th.

Commemorating the one week anniversary of our conference, we'd like to give you all a glance at the knowledge that got dropped, the secrets unsecreted—everything, in short, that you will be able to watch in full with our Boston ProSEO Conference videos.  Thanks to everyone who went, and especially those who have already posted recaps of their own!



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The Sessions

Live Site Review

Led by Tom Critchlow, several audience members volunteered their sites for a quick audit live on the floor.  We'll refrain from posting the actual sites here, but among the more interesting tidbits given our by Rand Fishkin and Mat Clayton:
  • Don't link your Twitter and Facebook pages; each medium has its own subtleties and will benefit from a different approach.
  • For event-related content, consider employing Facebook comments.  This can help users find events to which their friends are going.
  • Carefully consider your content to ad ratio.  If you are pimping different aspects of your site through banner ads on, for instance, category pages, those images may not be seen as unique content any longer.

Blended and verticals

Rand kept the momentum strong.  "No SERP is safe!" he proclaimed, while guiding us through the seemingly constant stream of update Google has been making to the SERPs.  Some key takeaways:
  • CTR is "rank agnostic" in mixed search.  It's not all about having the number one organic search result on these mixed pages!
  • Google News is becoming more lenient.  Get your stories in there!
  • Ranking in Google Places is all about the citations.

Taming the panda

Filling in for Laura Lippay, who was unforunately unable to attend, Duncan Morris gave a great overview of Google's "Panda" update.  This update is, of course, on all of our minds, and Duncan was able to give some solid insights:
  • Instead of pure "uniqueness", there must be an increasing focus on "quality" of content.
  • Quality doesn't change very often on a site-wide basis, so Google may not run these algorithms very frequently.
  • To avoid being hit, remove (e.g. no-index) low quality pages or dynamic pages which generate no real content.

Effective link building

My good friend Justin Briggs really took it up a notch here, if I may say so.  Justin has always been able to really bring out the actionable aspects of SEO strategy.  Among his revelations in Boston:
  • Systematic linkbuilding is really systematic hustle.  You have to be willing to go the extra mile to build relationships and get under people's skin.  You have to be willing to take what you can get, even if that is a tweet or like instead of a link.
  • Find resources which are being linked to and start building your own, superior resources to attract those links.
  • If you are having trouble getting the word out about an infographic, consider presenting it as a guest blog post, with just a quick snippet of text introducing the infographic.

Live data analysis

Will Critchlow then stepped in and took it to a whole 'nother level.  I know a lot of people walked away from his presentation with a laundry list of data analysis methods to try out:
  • Don't go blindly looking for patterns; start with a hypothesis!
  • Use the power of VirtualBox to access a Linux environment quickly and painlessly.
  • Try out the statistical analysis program "r" at

Information Architechture 2.0

Marshall Simmonds wants your site to be crawled.  You want your site to be crawled.  So you listen to what Marshall says, you do it, and, with some luck, your site gets crawled.  That's what it's about.
  • When talking about SEO to the people who make decisions, keep it simple and relevant to that audience.
  • Living content that is updated consistently performs well—just make sure you have a plan to scale it.
  • In the new Google landscape, be careful about depending upon content pages for rankings.

Forecasting, presenting, and explaining SEO to management

Seth Besmertnick filled us in on issues of ROI and selling the idea of SEO.
  • Focus on second page rankings which you have a good chance of increasing.  This will probably prove more valuable than trying to get a 6-10th ranked term into the top 3.
  • Be sure to define your ROI—don't settle for a definition that leaves your team struggling under the crippling burden of an equation that doesn't give them credit for their work.
  • Reassess the metrics that you are regularly reporting; these can have a big impact on the shape of the project.

Give it up

All of our presenters gathered front and center at the end of the first day to rap about the best tips they had on their minds—the best tools, techniques, and insights.  This was a really exciting sessions, and from my vantage I saw a lot of notes churned out during this section.  Highlights:
  • Make your presentation slide decks into blog posts.  Leverage the audience and their friends to promote it and get a huge upsurge in social activity.
  • Braintree payment solutions for online stores—very powerful and well documented API.
  • and

Getting Things Done

Tom Critchlow woke us up on day two with a great rundown on how we at Distilled get things done and how these methods are quite valuable for any SEO—consultant or in-house.
  • Focus on processes, decisions, and assets—the things you actually have a hope of changing.
  • Everything is your fault.  You need to find out what you can personally do to communicate the changes that have to happen.
  • Know whether you are dealing with an analytical or emotional individual.  Your communication style will have to adapt to effect change with different people.

Social media: an engineer's perspective

In an exceptionally insightful presentation on social media, Mat Clayton focused on Facebook integration, what it could do for sites and how best to implement it.
  • Social interaction is about finding recommendations, not facts.
  • Users have a circle of trust—this is the group that recommendations will come from.
  • On a technical level, use asynchronous "like" code on your pages to avoid lengthening page load times.

Moving the needle

Beside "Panda", the other Googular innovation on everyone's tongues has been multi-touch attribution in Google Analytics.  Joanna Lord stepped into the ring to deliver an analytics throwdown the likes of which had yet to be unleashed upon the world.  Some of my favorite points include:
  • Last touch attribution is a really mediocre metric for what is influencing your customers.
  • When different aspects of your marketing plan are having positive impacts on each other, this is called the "Halo effect".  This is what multi-touch attribution is trying to quantify.
  • Always have plan B ready—deliver on your promises no matter what.

Keyword culture

In one of the bold tag-team moves they are known for, Joanna tapped Kate Morris for the floor.  Kate proceed to deliver a stellar talk on keyword research, which is something that we all struggle with, whether we focus on SEO or PPC.  Key takeaways:
  • Check out Google Trends to discover what people are searching for and how interest peaks and trails for your keywords.
  • Don't copy your competitors, who may not be executing a strong strategy, and certainly won't be executing the perfect strategy for your own site.
  • Kate released an awesome eHow scraper which will find some great topics for your blogs or articles.

New technologies

Speaking on one of his favorite topics, Rob Ousbey let us know the future is now and we need to get our asses in gear to take advantage of it.
  • APIs are increasingly common and easy to integrate.  Check out twilio and qwerly.
  • The history.pushState() and history.pullState() with your AJAXy pages to change the URL that a user sees without refreshing a page.
  • If you're a recreational site optimizer, you may want to check out SPDY, Google's alternative to HTTP.

How not to fail at linkbait

Chris Bennet took the stage to give us a step-by-step look into the process of making a successful infographic.
  • Infographics aren't dead—infoCrapics are.  Take the time to do it right.
  • Don't push ads or forms; don't overpromote.
  • Take advantage of social to research ideas.

Engineering links

Then there was the long-awaited presentation from Dharmesh concerning how to build link-worthiness into your core product.  His advice:
  • Everyone should be a bit more like Rob Ousbey.
  • "Code is content, great software attracts (just like great content)"
  • "Leaderboards work.  People like to see their name in lights."

Head to Head!

Finally, Will Critchlow and Rand Fishkin prepared to duel once more in one of their infamous head-to-head battles.  This time, the two put together their own complete SEO plans for sites and pitted them against each other.  You'll definitely want to catch the video for this one, but here are some of my favorites:
  • Job sites are selling job seekers—if you aren't buying something, you are being sold.  This applies to many different business models.
  • If you are making awesome content, make it awesomely pretty.  Don't sell yourself short!
  • "Men don't search for generic queries.  All the searches are branded.  The brands have won..."
Well, that about rounds up our round up.  If you couldn't make it, we really hope to see you next time around.  And, in the meantime, don't forget that all of this content is available on our videos page.  Cheers!

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About the author
Benjamin Estes

Benjamin Estes

Ben is a Principal Consultant who joined Distilled in 2010. Now he focuses on leveling up our team. Through group training and internal consultation, he guides team members as they effect change for our clients.   read more