#SMX Advanced 2012 – A snapshot

SMX Advanced 2012 – A Snapshot

Photo: You&A with Matt Cutts & Danny Sullivan

SMX Advanced is that conference where you get a pulse on the digital marketing industry. With hundreds of experts under one roof, the conference gives you a still frame of what topics are trending, the challenges that digital marketers are experiencing and little nuggets of gold from testing results, insider knowledge and best practices coming to the fore.

I’m going to share with you a snapshot of the digital marketing landscape and some of today’s top digital mediums where businesses are spending their time and money to connect with their target audience.

Social media is the new ‘Linking’

Content is King again, on Pinterest:

  • When done correctly, referring traffic from Pinterest can be larger than all other sites
  • People on Pinterest don’t really like data so infographics do not work very well
  • The demographic on Pinterest is predominantly female
  • Create content that provides some kind of benefit – it needs to be helpful & relevant. Not just advertising.
  • ‘How to’ lists & ‘Do it yourself’ – are very successful.
  • Size of image is important – you want the image to be big enough so that people can get a sense of what you are trying to say, but small enough so that they click through to your website.
  • Pinterest is a good back link generator and quoted as ‘probably the best viral traffic your site will see’.
  • Use Pinterest to create personas for your business and develop content focused on those personas.
  • Start thinking ‘resource bait’, not ‘link bait’. If you create genuinely useful content, people will use it and share it.
  • Bottom line, you cannot fake quality in social media. If you create solid content it will be shared.

On social:

  • Content marketing still works – today it’s harder and it takes more effort, but it really works.
  • Social signals are being used by most search engines in their ranking algorithms.
  • Companies still do not really have a social media strategy. They use it as a band aid solution to get links. Companies need to have dedicated social teams who understand both the company product and the targeted social communities.

Mobile search – Doing it right

  • It is a known best practice to segment out mobile campaigns into their own campaigns. Another consideration is the potential benefit of segmenting out campaigns by mobile carrier to target different demographics by carrier.
  • Marketers need to redefine direct response in mobile – it is not necessarily a download / conversion / purchase.
  • We cannot fit the old model of evaluating marketing success to the new mobile technology. We need to define a new model of success for mobile.
  • Phone leads are a lot hotter than form leads for locally relevant content.
  • There is still a competitive early mover advantage in mobile, as it typically has a higher avg. position / higher CTR / typically lower CPC.

Matt Cutts highlights – Head of Google’s web spam team

  • Snippets from the You&A Conversation with Matt Cutts:
  • Panda was designed to tackle the low quality gap – the underbrush so to speak.
  • Penguin was an algorithmic change to tackle the remaining low quality web spam that Panda did not clean up.
  • For clarity on the difference between a penalty and an algorithmic change:
    • A penalty is a manual action taken by the web spam team
    • Penguin was not a penalty, it was an algorithmic change
  • Both Panda & Penguin are algorithmic changes, so if you change the signals on your website, your site can recover and regain its rankings.
  • In the last year Google has become a lot more transparent when manual actions are taken on your site. 99.9% of the time, when Google is doing manual action to your site, this will be visible in Google Webmaster Tools.
  • A lot of people waste their money buying links even though they do not anything for you.
  • When you buy links / or sell links, you might think you have no footprints, but you are getting into a business transaction where someone else may not be as cautious. Buying and selling links is becoming a higher risk endeavour.
  • ‘Links are a bit of a ‘bubble’ in the SEO industry. There is a perception that everything will go social and links are obsolete. I wouldn’t write the epitaph for links quite yet.
  • It’s still early days on Google +1 – it is not necessarily a strong quality signal. A +1 will by itself will not be a strong enough signal to impact rankings.
  • Google’s take on paid inclusion is that it is about disclosure. Paid inclusion is okay if you disclose it.

Final thoughts

  • Social media is evolving. The consumer is embracing quality and sharing it. Leverage social tools to better understand the audience that is already engaging with your business or your competitors. Develop personas and understand the people who may use your product and then engage with them by creating useful and meaningful content.
  • Mobile marketing is still young. Best practices are only now being developed and the industry is learning together. It is those businesses and marketers who get their foot in the door now who will leverage cost savings and learning on the mobile platform.
  • Google is accelerating its clean up of ‘black hat practices’. Buying and selling links will continue to become a more risky tactic and line of business.
  • Links themselves are not obsolete and have not been completely replaced by social, however, the key, more than ever is relevance and quality.
  • Derrick Connell (Vice President of Bing Program Management) talked in his keynote about how excited he is about people being ranked in the Bing search engine. Leaders & influencers are now ranked in a separate panel view in Bing on relevant searches. According to Connell, this is revolutionary for people to appear in the search results. It is also a clear distinction between Google’s strategy in which social & search are mixed on the SERP, whereas on Bing, a clear decision has been made to keep search clean and give social its own view.

To be advanced in the digital marketing space involves staying on the pulse of everything that Google is doing, where Google is going next, understanding your audience and engaging with them, leveraging mobile for hyper local businesses, write great content, attracting leaders & influencers, being creative and doing great marketing without simply broadcasting your advertising message at your audience.