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SMX London 2012 – Tips, Tricks & Takeaways

A write-up of the 2012 SMX Digital Marketing Conference

So, we’ve been fortunate enough to go to the excellent SMX London conference over the last couple of days, and have discussed ideas with some of the world’s finest search brains. Below are some of the main takeaways that we have taken across all of the sessions:


Day one:

Search Plus Your World is waiting to roll out in Europe but there isn’t a set date according to Google.

Research from Search Metrics shows that social metrics are having an increased correlation with high search rankings in Google.

Search Metrics research has also shown that authorship is on the increase with 17% of the SERPs (checked by themselves) including rel=author implementation.

Unsurprisingly links still hold a lot of sway within Google’s algorithm, however nowadays it is more about quality and relevance rather than quantity. As we’ve  discussed in previous posts, natural link profiles are becoming more and more vital with no-followed links having increased importance.

Search Metrics data has shown that websites that use Google Adsense have again been correlating with lower rankings. This was mentioned in the initial Panda update but hasn’t really been mentioned since

As discussed in hundreds of recent posts, exact anchor text is being penalised within some sectors. This appears to be dependant on your backlink profile and the % of links pointing to the page or site that includes that exact anchor text. Basically if the percentage is too high, you may be see ranking decreases in the future.

So what does this mean for future link building? If you are struggling with a high percentage of exact anchor text links to a certain page, look to create links based around branded links, URLs and long tail variations of relevant keywords for that page.

Negative SEO has gained a lot of coverage recently (despite being possible for quite a while!) Will Google address this? If so when and how?

Google have user data (including search query and user journey data) for 75% of all websites (I presume this is a percentage for all websites they have indexed?!)

Secure searches within Google have been on the rise and look to continue as Firefox incorporate ‘secure’ upgrades and Google+ signup increases. This will obviously increase the volume of ‘Not Provided’ keyword data in Google Analytics. Unfortunately as we see the amount of keyword data decrease it means we have to track as much as possible before it is all gone. It is expected that this data could be gone within the next 12 months but it could be 24 months if we are lucky!

Make sure that you also report on ‘Not Provided’ based conversions.

So how can we work around ‘Not Provided’ in the future? There are work arounds comparing data from Google Analytics to Google Webmaster Tools but we believe that reviewing data at page level will give you a good idea of what kinds of keyword pools are being successful (particularly whilst we have access to keyword level data) once the keyword data is gone we would recommend that you review Google Adwords data to see what kind of keywords convert.

Research has shown that ‘Not Provided’ based traffic ranges between 7-55%. However reviewing them by sector it is obvious that the more technical the sector the more likely that the user is logged in to a Google account and thus not providing keyword data.

After the recent updates it is important to create content that is “Panda proof” this includes creating local relevant pages that feature quality and relevant content.

Nowadays there are many ways to avoid duplicate content including: robots.txt, quality internal linking, canonical tags and redirection management.

Use country specific sitemaps if you want to make sure that you have all possible information indexed for each location for your global website.

Social media is a great way to research and understand how your users behave on both an international and local level.

Encouraging user generated content will help attract  users as well as giving each page unique and relevant content.

As part of your SEO campaign you should look to find out what engages, interests and motivates your customers/users.

The two main areas where users are still struggling with rich snippets is through poor implementation and attempted manipulation.

Do not attempt to ‘scam’ rich snippets as this can lead to rejected snippets and manual removal across a website.

Day two:

We’ve heard it for the last few years but apparently 2012 is the year of the mobile! Surprisingly mobile based traffic is only up 20% on last year, with 60% of all traffic coming via Apple devices. If this is the case then I’d say maybe we should wait until 2013…

Google ranks mobile based websites in a similar way to the normal Google index however it does show a larger preference to local based results.

Regardless of whether it is the year mobile usage online booms or not, you need to consider how your website looks on a mobile to ensure that you are making the most out of your website.

The Mcommerce Magento plugin is a great way to make your magento website more mobile friendly. Similarly the WPTouch plugin will work for WordPress.

However fashionable/cool iPhone apps are, they aren’t always right for every audience. Before taking the plunge and potentially spending a lot of money, it is vital that you research your market and user base.

As alluded to in the past, social signals are now officially a part of the Google algorithm. This will likely increase over time as search engines work out how to properly grade social metrics (or as they can define quality over quantity). Because of the nature of social it is likely that once a page starts to decrease in social shares, search rankings are likely to decrease over time.

Social media is not just about selling to the user there and then, it’s about influencing user behaviour now and in the future.

As the main social account from the major search engine, it is fairly obvious that Google+ is either important now or will be in the future. If you are not a user get on board to influence authorship and your personal/brand authority.

We have heard a lot about creating content that is beyond the norm. This can be done via research, how to’s, infographics, interviews, competitions, white papers, surveys and much more. Think about how you can create content that is not only really useful for your website and long tail visitors but natural link and social links.

As mentioned earlier creating a natural link profile is vital for a successful SEO campaign and this includes social shares. Remember this includes Facebook, Twitter, and not just Google+!

Research suggests that the best time to release content is Facebook sharing is Thursday and Friday (preferably late afternoon) however we have read other research saying that Tuesday midday is best. Lets say it depends on your market and measure accordingly!

This quote sounds creepy but it’s where we are in terms of social signals and Google – “identity & profile, friends & contacts, what you do and to which entities you are connected to” It looks like Google are trying to build  personal profiles for as many people as possible.

With this, Google are trying to sell the idea that the more data they have about you – the better the search results they can provide. Although I tend to believe this, I admit it does sound slightly dubious!

Research over the last 3 months has shown that websites using Google+ have had over 42% increase in organic traffic. This again depends on the number of websites checked but does sound like a positive step in regards to the platform.

There is a large number of SEO tools available. If you are looking for new tools for your campaign check out this slideshare.

Overall we have all had an excellent time, learned a lot from some superb sessions, and look forward to SMX 2013!

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