How can yesterday morning feel so long ago?! Day Two at SMX London was a lot more rewarding than Day One, despite a muggy head from London SEO. This was my first conference but I'm pretty sure this is what usually happens? The highlights for me were the Q&A in Blow Your Mind Linkbuilding, Massimo Burgio's evangelism for TubeMogul and getting to watch Ciaran's second Do The Test video all the way to the end.
Blow Your Mind LinkbuildingA great session with some very interesting tips and a healthy debate about the ins and outs of paid links. Lyndon Antcliff kicked off with a recap of his 13 year old credit card thief story and then spoke about the need for psychological hooks when producing linkbait. These should ideally appeal to our desires and prejudices and make us almost unable not to link. Sound stuff.
Tom. No wait, Will. No, it was Tom... was up next with a few jewels that I saw a lot of folk scribbling down:
- a text-based, objective link from a charity to acknowledge a donation is fine (but do consult your own tax lawyer); - search for expired pages using creative terms like 'page no longer exists' or 'content no longer updated' to find strong pages with lots of links that need your help on where to redirect; - manual linkbuilding is as unpleasant as sucking lemons, but it does need to be done; - browse niche forums for untapped linkbait ideas and content. (Tom wrote a post on User Generated Linkbait a while back).
Wiep Knol from Tribal was up next and spoke about linkbuilding opportunities in a time of recession (the slides are now up on his site). I particularly liked this tip: many bloggers will be cutting back on their posts because they need to do some real work, therefore presenting lots of opportunities for guest bloggers. Anyone looking?
Jay of LinkFishMedia was next on the podium with an interesting and compact presentation on some of the shadier linkbuilding techniques. The first half of the talk contained these tips:
- start a surrogate company with a believable website but no telephone number, privatise the whois, get some attractive pictures on the profile page of the person requesting the links, target the opposite sex and start shopping around! - always use the phone if you can, lowball on the price you're willing to pay and don't be afraid to walk away. Also, don't forget to ask for introductions and incentivise this if necessary; - offer to sponsor a university club or night out- go straight to the impoverished student; - determine market fluctuations in search volume and build any dodgy links you may be acquiring in times of high traffic; - get four links for the price of one by requesting a seasonal change of anchor text.
The second half of the talk had the very clear disclaimer 'Act on this advice at your own risk':
- advise those that link to your competitors that, if appropriate, what they're doing is against Google guidelines and could have negative repercussions; - poach competitor links when they're coming up for renewal (use Internet Archive to find links that are coming to 12 months old); - offer to 'fix' any broken links, but help yourself along the way; - use Google Insights to find the best place for your business to rank in blended search (competition vs. volume) and then go about setting up a fake local business (which can be as simple as getting a local Skype number and a buying a local mailing address).
The Q&A focused (predictably?) on whether paid links should even be discussed.
My Secret Weapon
An interesting idea and generally well approached by all of the panel, who tried to focus on what you could actually do with the data gained through the use of these tools. There were some pretty competitive comparisons going on between Will and Steve Johnston's Secret Weapon.
Will Critchlow of Distilled talked about SEOmoz's Linkscape. He was there in place of Rand Fishkin who was busy with an update of Linkscape's data back in Seattle.
Steve Johnston revealed that Search:Johnston's secret weapon is Majestic SEO (it's not pretty but is apparently worth the cost!) and spoke inspirationally about 2009 being the year that will "democratize link reputation".
Massimo Burgio (who made a heroic, last-minute entrance despite hold-ups in Italy) talked about the effectiveness of TubeMogul for launching and monitoring video content. Although, with a wave of his luscious locks, he revealed his *real* secret weapon is actually Frizz-Ease.
Search 3.0: Video Search and Blended Search
A great session from some of the top players in the field. I reckon we got as close as currently possible to an answer for the question 'how do I make my video appear without fail in blended search results?'
Tom Wilde of Everyzing spoke first and covered video best practice. He also included a great graph from Hitwise that charted separately the amount of traffic to video sites coming from social media sites and search engines. The lines dovetailed, with traffic from social media dropping and traffic from search engines increasing. Tom drew the sensible conclusion that this has occurred through a combination of blended search results and users that have learned to search more effectively.
Brian Marin from Performics was up next and spoke about GAUDI and the various implications of speech to text indexing. He then focused on image search (with over 1 trillion images online, it needs some attention) and covered topics like Google's leaps forward in facial and scene recognition technologies.
Ciaran Norris of Altogether Digital spoke last and had a few nuggets of video wisdom to share:
- aim for a category page on YouTube- they tend to perform better - YouTube only counts a view if the video is viewed all the way to the end so keep it interesting! - have a look at hi5.com, metacafe.com and break.com - post follow up videos as a response- they'll then be featured at the end of the original video. - watch Epic 2015 if you want to hear some speculations about the future of social media online.
Local Search and Blended Results
Another useful session but, perhaps because of the quality of other presentations I attended on Day 2, felt a bit basic. I concentrate better when doodling (ahem) and thought you might enjoy my 'maps of the world' illustration that accompanied this session. Heini of Tribal, Susan of Hallam Communications and Jon of MediaVest covered local search best practice and reiterated the importance of:
- local links - independent reviews on 3rd party sites - local directory listings
Thanks to everyone who contributed- I learned a lot and it was really great to put some faces to the names. So, to end in true conference presentation style, that's it.