#SMX Advanced Key Takeaways & Conference Coverage Roundup

Posted in SMX Advanced


#SMX Advanced,
accelerated arm of Search Marketing Expo, is always a welcome addition to aimClear’s June calendar. This past week in Seattle marked one heck of an installment, drawing together tech luminaries like Bruce Clay, Addie Conner, Christine Churchill, Rand Fishkin, Vanessa Fox, David Mihm, and many more. For two jam-packed days we attended top-shelf sessions, panels, and keynotes, not to mention rad networking events spanning the online marketing spectrum.

The aimClear team enjoyed attending a variety of sessions this go-round.  Read on for a synopsis of  the conference,  key session takeaways & additional links to comprehensive coverage.

Day 1

The New Periodic Table Of SEO
This kickoff session featuring Matthew Brown, Founder, AudienceWise, Duane Forrester, Senior Program Manager SEO, Microsoft, Jeff MacGurn, Director of SEO, Covario, and Rand Fishkin, CEO & Co-Founder, SEOmoz, looked at– what else?–The New Periodic Table Of SEO. Moderated by Search Engine Land’s Editor-in-Chief, Danny Sullivan, and Jeff Ferguson, CEO, Fang Digital Marketing, panelists took turns sharing compelling findings from various ranking factors studies. aimClear blogged this session, and you can find the full recap here –> #SMX Advanced Organic Ranking Chemistry Set: The New SEO Periodic Table.

Advanced PPC Analytics
Alex Cohen, Senior Marketing Manager, ClickEquations, Adam Goldberg, Chief Innovation Officer, ClearSaleing, Frank Kochenash, VP Client Services, Mercent, Wister Walcott, co-founder and EVP of products, Marin Software brought some seriously deep insight on Advanced PPC Analytics to the table during this morning session on day 1. Moderated by Matt Van Wagner, President, Find Me Faster and Joseph Kerschbaum, Client Services Director, Clix Marketing on Q&A, tasty nuggets included…

  • Some Useful Analyses – Questions to Ask (hat-tip Wister)
    • Are there any broad match terms getting more traffic than their exact and phrase siblings?
    • Are there any groups with just one active ad?
    • Can we identify losing ads based on CTR? Or conversion?
    • Are there any budget constrained campaigns?
    • Are we adjusting bids for day of week / time of day? (Requires time of click)
    • Are we deleting keywords with no impressions for 13 months?
  • Why Campaign Optimization is Like Dieting (hat-tip Alex Cohen)
    • Excess of data = shortage of optimization. If you’re running a massive campaign with a ton of data, it’s hard to figure out where you should start in terms of optimization.
    • Complexity of data = slow / inaccurate decisions. Slim down your CPCs with compound metrics (aka: the Weight Watchers Points for paid search accounts :) ).
      • Profit per impression
      • Impression share run rate
      • Weighted query relevance
  • Some Words On Attribution Models (hat-tip Adam Goldberg)
    • What is attribution? Attribution is giving proper credit to all the advertising driven consumer activity that results in a desired outcome.
    • Attribution allows for continuous increase of sales and media profitability.
    • If all we do is measure the last touch, we miss out on the introducer, influencers, and other crucial factors that contribute to conversions.
    • Mantra to remember: “If I can do what I did yesterday, better, I’m better off.”
  • Attribution of ROI (hat-tip Frank Kochenash)
    • Advanced ROI attribution is about predictiong probability of conversions
    • What it is – a prediction of probability of conversion
    • How it’s used – producing weights used in calculation of ROI
    • View the customer journey as an evolution of conversion
      • Probability display view, display  view, keyword click, display view, brand click, etc.

The SoLoMo Revolution: Social Media, Local Search & Mobile Search Collide
Arguably one of the most fun industry acronyms to say, the SoLoMo session brought together Kelly Gillease, VP Marketing, Viator, Jennifer Grappone, Partner, Gravity Search Marketing, Daniel Lemin, Founder & Principal, Social Studio, Mac Ling, Director, Mobile, iCrossing, and Nicola Smith, VP, Business Development, Performics, as well as moderators Greg Sterling, Founding Principal, Sterling Market Intelligence and Michael Martin, Senior SEO Strategist, Covario, Inc. aimClear blogged this session end-to-end. Full coverage lives here –> SoLoMo OMG! Social, Local & Mobile Hook Up @ #SMX Advanced.

Use Searcher Personas To Connect SEO To Conversion
Tamara Adlin, President, Adlin, Inc., Vanessa Fox, Contributing Editor, Search Engine Land and Dennis Goedegebuure, Director SEO, eBay, Inc. teamed up for this final session on day 1 of SMX Advanced, and delivered some unique insight on a topic that tends to fly under the radar. Some key takeaways:

  • The Importance of Personas & Search Personas vs. User Personas (hat-tip Tamara Adlin)
    • Personas are fake people for which you are designing a product (or a search strategy)
    • You don’t need a ton of data to create them – you just need to feed their wants/needs/desires
    • The perk of personas is they allow you to say Persona A is more important than Persona B;  they allow you to stop thinking ABOUT your customers and start thinking LIKE your customers.
    • Searcher personas are about getting eyeballs TO the site. User personas are about moving eyeballs around on yoru site once you have them there.
  • User Personas + Keyword Data = Keyword Personas (hat-tip Dennis Goedegebuure)
    • Developing a Keyword Persona is a process of transferring user persona and keyword data to create a keyword persona – featuring age, gender, race, languages, interests, etc.
    • Remember that different user segments will react differently to your creatives (SEO / title tags, description, etc.) so never underestimate the power of customization.
    • Segmenting keyword personas gives opportunity to optimize site experience tailored to target audience.
  • Preliminary Qs to Ask & Post-It Note User Personas (hat-tip Vanessa Fox)
    • What is the project goal? What is the brand objective? What’s your value proposition? Know these before you begin.
    • Use Post-it notes when creating personas. One user per sticky note; include Person + Goal (or activity / action / problem)
    • Once you have your Post-It personas, categorize them. Are they n00bz, dabblers, experienced users?
    • Doing this will allow you to, again, STOP thinking ABOUT users, and START thinking LIKE them.
    • Additionally, having all of your brainstormed, categorized personas laid out lets you to clearly identify someone who IS NOT your target persona.
    • Work process: Start with Post-Its, devise your target personas, supplement with literal KW inventory.

You & A with Matt Cutts
Humming the theme song from Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, Danny Sullivan and Google Search Quality specialist Matt Cutts changed into comfy shoes and sat down (with a giant stuffed panda bear) for the much-anticipated “You & A” to round out the first day of SMX Advanced. Noteworthy takeaways…

  • Regarding Google’s Panda Algo’ Update:
    • If you’re hit by Panda & you’re getting annoyed by scrapers, don’t worry, they’ll be eliminated soon.
    • Panda isn’t finished. Iterations will continue to roll out, namely on the international front.
    • Panda 2.2 has been approved, but not launched yet.
    • With the release of various panda iterations, site visibility is being touted as a top factor for ranking. True/false?
      • Panda is trying to encode whether users will find the site useful or not.
      • If you make site more usable/useful, that’s good!
      • Usability is a good thing to optimize for, regardless of whether or not it pleases Panda.
      • Pay attention to it because it’s good practice, not because Google says to.
      • AKA: Don’t chase after what Google wants; chase after what users love – because that’s what Google wants, too.
  • Regarding rel=author:
    • Newly rolled out authorship markup will tell people and engines, effectively, “I am the creator of this particular article!”
    • This will help Google learn who is a high-quality author.
    • Benefit: when you publish a post, even if you have low site authority, if Google knows you’re the author (with high authority), you can get props.
    • If you trust the author, why does it matter where they’re posting? You want to see every article he/she publishes, regardless of site.
    • In the future, this may result in a blended SERP featuring the author’s headshot and a collection of articles, etc.

There was a ton more awesome info from this  You & A… stick around aimClear blog this week for a full recap of the event, complete with glamour shots of Danny, Matt & Mr. Panda.


Chris Sherman, Marty Weintraub, Will Scott, Greg Sterling, & Photo Ninja | SMX Advanced 2011 Meet & Greet

Day 2

Keynote: Confluence of Social Data & Search
This hybrid keynote, half  demo / half fire-site chat, was an enriching way to kick off day 2 of SMX Advanced. From Schema.org to Honey Badger to the “So” [What?] of Social Media, Stefan Weitz, Director at Bing delivered some seriously cool goods, nearly all of which were captured in aimClear’s coverage found here: Social, Schema & Honey Badger: #SMX Advanced Bing Keynote. Also in that post is a look at the candid Q&A shared between Stefan and SEL’s Danny Sullivan.

Facebook Ads, Meet Search Ads or Advanced Keyword Research Tools
Moderated by SEL’s Elisabeth Osmeloski, panelists Addie Conner, Director of Advertising, SocialCode, Sara Devine, Manager, Digital Media Integration, VW Marketing, Volkswagen of America, and aimClear’s own Marty Weintraub gathered to share their two cents on the relationship between Facebook ads and traditional search ads, as well as best practices for both platforms. Tad Miller over with Search Mojo captured actionable tactics shared during this session, which you can find at SMX ADVANCED 2011: FACEBOOK ADS, MEET SEARCH ADS.

Yes, Virginia, Facebook Is SEO
Panelists Tony Adam, Director of Online Marketing, Myspace, Jeff Windam, Facebook Analytics Expert, PageLever, and Jim Yu, CEO, BrightEdge shared techniques and tactics for harnessing the awesome power of Facebook to fuel organic SEO, under the lead of  moderator Danny Sullivan. Lisa Buyer live-blogged this session via Bruce Clay Blog, and her coverage is definitely worth checking out: Yes Virginia, Facebook Is SEO – SMX Advanced

Hardcore Local SEO Tactics
True to its name, this end-of-day session on local SEO tactics was totally hardcore. Matt McGee, Executive News Editor, Search Engine Land, moderated this all-star panel of speakers featuring David Mihm, President, GetListed.org, Mike Ramsey, President, Nifty Marketing, and Will Scott, President, Search Influence. It was an honest pleasure (not to mention Olympic speed-typing event) to capture this session in its entirety. You can check out the full recap here: So, Where Are You? Actionable Local SEO Tactics From #SMX Advanced.

The exclusive buffet of brain-chow served up this past week at SMX Advanced left marketers gut-bustingly satisfied yet somehow, hungry for more. Thanks to the SMX crew & crowd for a fabulous event – we’re already looking forward to next year.

For more coverage, check out these fine publications:

aimclear Pre-Conference Coverage:

  • Adam C

    Pretty good summery of the event. I wish I could have been there all 3 days as apposed to just one.

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