Pubcon 2014: Day one overview

Las Vegas Pubcon

I am spending the week in one of my favorite cities, Las Vegas, for Pubcon Vegas 2014.  This marks my third Pubcon event and, as I said last year, it will probably not be my last.  I have attended a number of other search marketing conferences and have found that Pubcon is always a step above the rest.  This year the event takes place from October 6-9, 2014 (a few weeks earlier than in the past) at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  I’ve been live  blogging various sessions via twitter so be sure to check out my twitter handle at:  @marketing_jive.  Here is a rundown of some of the sessions that I attended on Day One.

Kickoff keynote with Ted Murphy

Ted phoned in sick so the opening keynote was with Jeff Eisenberg who discussed “Buyer Legends”.  Jeff is known for his conversion optimization techniques.  He discussed the idea of simplifying everything and talked about combining the emotional power of storytelling with hard data.  He concluded with four reasons why we should become “buyer legends”:

  1. Improves communication
  2. Improves execution
  3. Improves testing
  4. Makes more money in that an improved experience for users translates into improved conversions.

After the opening keynote the first session that I attended was on mobile SEO.

Session: Understanding mobile SEO – From basic to advanced

The first session of the day that I attended was on Mobile SEO.  The panel was really great and featured:

Cindy Crum – was fantastic, she packed a lot of information into her 15 minutes of presentation time.  Some of the items that she touched on:

  • Mobile rankings are different (less above the fold).
    • Expandable sub links
    • Usually a max if 2-3 entries that show above the fold
    • The paid results can take up more space so PPC can have more impact on SERP
    • Universal style results tend to show up more in mobile results (also micro formatting) video, images and news results.
  • Approx. 1/3 of mobile results have some sort of location based intent
  • Knowledge graph results are pulling in things such as recent activity (i.e. recent posts)
  • Micro-formats are more important for mobile SEO
    • Adding images and markup can be beneficial for your mobile strategy
  • Tablets – there is no tablet crawler yet;
  • Focus on:
    • Page speed
    • Usability
    • Desktop linkage
    • SERP style
    • Micro-formatting
    • Social
    • Technically look at errors from faulty redirects, Flash content or content that is slow to load.
  • Common issues
    • Crawler confusion
    • Inefficient crawls
    • Additional domain errors
    • Problematic indexing

Pierre Far – Webmaster Trends Analyst – Google UK

Some of the items mentioned in Pierre’s presentation:

  • Smartphone penetration in 2012-13 Canada 56%, International has higher mobile penetration rates (73% in Saudi Arabia for example)
  • In Q4 2010 was the first time mobile outsold desktop
  • Mobile-only trends: as of April 2014, 5% in the USA, 40% of Hispanic millennials in USA – June 2014 based on ComScore data
  • You need a mobile site that:
    • Allows task completion equivalent to desktop
    • Is thumb and eye friendly
    • Loads fast
  • Mobile friendly sites may be used as a ranking signal
  • He emphasized the point that Google’s indexing renders pages like a modern browser
  • He touched on other indexing problems
    • Modern devices need HTML 5 websites
    • Faulty redirects
    • Smart phone only errors – only Googlebot sees these errors sometimes.  Use GWT to review

All in all a really informative session.

The next session that I attended was on:  Semantic Web, Knowledge Graph, and Other Changes to the  SERPS.

Carrie Hill –

  • Schema is a vocabulary
    • Carrie made the comment that schema is accepted where it counts à small businesses
  • She reiterated a point that she made at last year’s conference in that Schema is not a band aid for poor SEO.
  • Take actions that matter
    • What affects the Knowledge Graph
    • What makes your listing stand out
      • Upcoming events
      • videos
    • What attracts/assures your audience
  • Think like your customer when it comes to schema (mark up what you are (i.e. a dentist), where are you located, what is your phone number, what do you do.

Bill Slawski was up next and discussed previous patents from Google leading up how they are currently using structured snippets.

Next up was an Interactive session with a panel that reviewed sites submitted by the audience.  Another distinguished panel that featured Eric Enge, Mona Elesseily, Bill Slawski and Dixon Jones.  I always like to attend at least one of these types of sessions to see how others dissect websites from an SEO perspective.  It is always great to get a different view of what others look at when it comes to optimization.  The sites being reviewed were smaller in nature.  Surprisingly the audience for this session was sparse.  Considering the experience of the panel I expected a larger audience.

Next up was my favorite session of the day on Taming Algo Chaos and Not Provider.  A great panel that consisted of Bruce Clay, Prashant Puri from and Jake Bohall from Virante Inc.  For the record, Jake’s presentation was the best of Day One.

Up first was Brue Clay who discussed the whole issue of Not Provided.  Some of the key points Bruce commented on:

  • We never really had the right data… There has not been “provided” for a long time (as Google was not giving us accurate information)
  • Pay attention to semantics
  • Pay attention to mobile – mobile is going to change everything.  à location changes your web history.
  • Attribution matters
    • High traffic shows interest
    • High bounce rate shows interest
  • 20% of searches in a single day have not been used in the past 6 months
  • 70% of queries have no exact –match keywords you should be optimizing for long-tail
  • Bruce made an interesting comment at the end of his presentation: “We have a need for “old school” data but we need to apply new school techniques.”

Prashant Puri was up next and discussed the importance to use Google Webmaster Tools to acquire search query data to identify the terms that are driving traffic to your website.  He shared some great tips for using GWT and identified some other tools that can provide insight into the keywords that are generating traffic to your website.

Jake Bohall – Virante Inc – Taming Algo Chaos – As mentioned this was, for me, the best presentation of the day!  Jake is a very entertaining speaker and told a great story to get his thoughts across about Google and all of their recent updates that have had a negative impact on some innocent websites and online entrepreneurs.  Some of his key points included:

  • Jake started off with a Good Will Hunting movie reference to Google and the chaos activity happening lately
  • Google is “forcing” the Internet to get clean
  • A growing war between Google and spammers
    • Lots of small site owners who are collateral damage
  • There are so many inconsistencies with Google’s guidelines
  • We have to evolve and be smarter than the algorithm
    • Do what is best for your business
  • Quality content matters à quit producing spam (be unique, be relevant and build an authority)
    • Micro data, schema, rich snippets
    • User generated content
    • Writing your own product descriptions
    • FAQs
    • Focus on relevancy: topical relevancy, use LDA scoring and keyword concept themes to create content that is more semantically relevant to the keywords that you are trying to rank.  (Ben Hendrickson now at Google)
      • Identify keyword phrases that are related (Latent Dirichlet Allocation)
  • Quality links matters – stop spamming – have others promote/be advocates of your content for you.

Just a great presentation and you can sense some of the frustration people in the industry have with Google.  This frustration is continuing to grow.

Overall I have to say that Pubcon was very solid on day one.  I’m Looking forward to the rest of the conference over the next couple of days.  The focus for Day Two is all about content.  Follow my live tweets from Pubcon @marketing_jive.

I will continue to live blog via micro-blogging through twitter so be sure to check out@Marketing_Jive on twitter.

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Mediative helps businesses cut through the digital clutter so they can better perform in an otherwise complex digital landscape and, ultimately, reach, engage, and convert more potential customers.