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111 takeaways and top tips from SMX Advanced London 2010

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SMX London 2010 was SMX Advanced so we thought we'd push ourselves too and offer you 111 takeaways and top tips from the conference. Wordtracker's top tweeter, Mal Darwen attended and was supported by Mark Nunney reporting the coverage.

SMX has a history of inviting speakers who share good information. There were a few mutterings about the validity of the 'Advanced' tag but I didn't speak to a single person who said they didn't learn anything. I hope you can use some of it in your own work. Here goes...

SEO ranking factors

The power and quality of a link may be affected by the following:

1) Font size and anchor text.
Rand Fishkin with credit to SEO by the Sea

2) Position on the page, eg, within 'editorial' content rather than a menu.
Rand Fishkin

3) Position within a list (top being better).
Rand Fishkin

4) Number of words in the anchor text (less being more).
Rand Fishkin

5) Some measure of how commercial it might be (less being more).
Rand Fishkin

6) Text or image.
Rand Fishkin

7) The words around a link (are they unique, 'natural', related?).
Rand Fishkin

QDF stands for Query Deserves Freshness and Google's QDF algo determines to what degree a search query (or keyword) requires new (fresh) content. If QDF decides a query deserves fresh pages, eg, a topic is in the news or has a rush of searches, then newer pages and news results will rise up the ranks. Mark Nunney

8) Tweets appear to influence QDF.
Rand Fishkin

Correlation is not cause. Eg, higher levels of smoking might correlate with higher levels of poor diet but one doesn't necessarily cause the other. Mark Nunney

The following on-page factors correlate well with higher SERPs ranks:

9) Keyword at the start of page title tag.
Rand Fishkin

10) Keyword in image alt attributes.
Rand Fishkin

11) Keyword before brand name in page title tag.
Rand Fishkin

The following on-page factors do not correlate well (or at least ok) with higher SERPs ranks:

12) Keyword in H1 tag.
Rand Fishkin

13) Increased keyword density.
Rand Fishkin

14) If you put your brand name in your title tag then put it after your keyword.
Rand Fishkin

15) It's easier to rank home pages for competitive keywords, so use homepage for your most important target keywords where possible. If you're using internal pages, build links to them first.
Rob Kerry via Attacat

Keyword Research Book"

Link building

16) Export your anchor text from MajesticSEO and then import it into TagCrowd to get a visual impression of themes and words used. Dixon Jones

17) Good Google ranking might be determined by just a handful of links.
Kelvin Newman

18) Links from university and government sites aren't inherently better but they are often more likely to have a profile that means the site is trusted and the link higher quality.
Kelvin Newman

Eight of Kelvin Newman's 17 tips for getting links from .ac.uk and .gov links are:

19) Reach out to academic and university site blogs.
Kelvin Newman

20) Offer students and staff discount.
Kelvin Newman

21) Write a positive story and let the press department know.
Kelvin Newman

22) Sponsor a student event.
Kelvin Newman

23) Give a careers talk.
Kelvin Newman

24) Advertise a job.
Kelvin Newman

25) Become a case study eg, for a business department.
Kelvin Newman

26) Submit to government site's business directories
Kelvin Newman with some help from Jaamit's SEO Insight post

27) 301 redirects are less useful across domains than they once were - Google is removing relevancy, so you're better off using the canonical tag rather than 301 for external redirects
Rob Kerry

Rob obviously has examples of 301s not working well but I've recently done lots of 301s with no problems, ie, no noticeable loss in rankings and traffic. This suggests that what Rob is seeing is selective. Mark Nunney

28) It's far more effective to get websites to change a link than to try to use 301 or rel=canonical. This method involves using email and the telephone, and talking to real people.
Rob Kerry

Maybe. But if you're confident 301s work for your site then you might be better off spending that 'telephone and email time' getting new links. Mark Nunney

Local

29) 20 to 40% of the search queries on Google are local.
Search Cowboys

I think that will change a lot from country to country. For example in a big country like the US, many services have to be local. Mark Nunney

30) Most true local conversions happen offline or on the phone. Track offline conversions by using phone call tracking, discount codes, add 'in-store pickup' option, etc.
_Search Cowboys_

Analytics

31) Don't focus on the numbers on a specific moment, but on the changes in a specific period.
Search Cowboys

32) Reports without actions suck.
Alex Cohen

33) If you can’t figure out an action after looking at a report, don’t use it, it’s crap.
Pere Rovira

34) Top 10 keyword reports are lazy. A lot of people use top 10 keywords as a report for clients, but they don’t tell you much. 6 of the 10 may be exactly the same month to month.
Alex Cohen via Jaamit SEO Insight

35) Lazy data makes the long tail cry. Alex quotes his hero, Avinash Kaushik, saying "instead of looking at this lazy data, look at what’s changed".
Alex Cohen via Jaamit

36) "While we obsess about our brand terms and our top 10 keyphrases the reality is that the long tail of search means that our organic and search campaigns focus on tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of keywords. One effective strategy to deal with this purely data problem is to focus on what's changed"
Avinash Kaushik, via Alex Cohen

37) Depending on your budget, it's better to use free tools and hire an analyst than it is to spend huge amounts of money on tools and just use them to count page views.
Tami Dalley

Video

38) 24 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
Martijn Bertisen

39) Video will often get higher clickthrough rates than a standard result.
Shmulik Weller

40) 68% of top retailers are now using video.
Shmulik Weller

41) Embed video on product pages. Page needs to have titles, descriptions, etc, to help search engines understand what the video is about. Make the embed part of the initial load of page.
Shmulik Weller via Attacat

42) Submit a video sitemap with compelling thumbnails – don’t leave it up to Google to choose your thumbnails.
Shmulik Weller via Jaamit SEO Insight

43) Video takes up to 1/3 of web traffic and will increase to 90% in 2013 (Cisco)
Search Cowboys

44) Upload your videos to a wide range of video sites.
Rob Sheppard

News

45) News is for everyone - not just news sites.
Rob Kerry via Attacat

46) News can be a quick and short term way of getting on to page one of Google SERPs for competitive keywords.
Rob Kerry

47) Images are important for getting into news (use standard sizes 300×250 or 180×150). Make alt tag same as headline.
Rob Kerry via Attacat

48) Separate company news (put it on the blog) from industry news (put into news content).
Rob Kerry via Attacat

49) If you get rejected from Google News then be Billy Big Balls and go back to the editors. 'How dare they?'
Rob Kerry via Attacat

PPC

50) Isolate your brand keywords into separate Campaigns as they get lower CPCs, higher Quality Scores and so distort ad group and campaign metrics.
Craig Danuloff

51) Impression Share data is problematic. Try 'opportunity cost' instead - how much exact match traffic could you get and how much would it cost?
Alex Cohen

52) Don't obsess on Quality Score, focus on each keyword's ROI.
Alex Cohen

53) One problem with looking at Quality Score at keyword level is it's like using a microscope vs a map - think about the map - it gives a lot more data and shows you where to prioritize, so look at the distribution of Quality Score across the campaign rather than keyword by keyword.
Alex Cohen

54) Group keywords based on modifiers, eg, 'download' is different to 'guide'.
Pere Rovira

55) Use Google Webmaster Tools' new clickthrough rate (CTR) feature to judge the effectiveness of your copy.
Pere Rovira

56) Many people focus only on the search result - not the user, or the landing page - and are therefore only looking at one third of the picture.
Pere Rovira

57) Google Ad Planner can help with segmenting your target group and offering insight into where those users can be engaged.
Martijn Bertisen

Reputation management

58) Google and Twitter search results pages are your brand's new home page.
Kevin Gibbons

59) 90% of consumers trust recommendations from people they know.
Kevin Gibbons

60) 70% of people trust online consumer opinions from people they don't know.
Kevin Gibbons

61) 41% of people trust search engine results.
Kevin Gibbons

62) Build brands around reputation not products.
Kevin Gibbons

63) It's not always true online that all publicity is bad publicity.
Kevin Gibbons

64) Claim your social media brand profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed etc.
Kevin Gibbons

65) Real-time search is increasingly important.
Kevin Gibbons

66) Look at Google's 'suggested' search for your brand.
Kevin Gibbons

67) Even for misspellings. See image below:

Google Suggest results

68) Negative comment on a page about you? Find a less negative page on the same site and link build around it to push more negative one down.
Source anyone? Claim your link

69) Flood out negative mentions of your brand on Twitter using a network of fake twitter accounts.
Rob Kerry via Jaamit

Social media

70) Infographics with lots of data that are pleasing to the eye and informative can be great viral fodder and linkbait.
Chris Bennett

71) Test. And if it doesn't work, move on and try something else.
Chris Bennett

72) Spend good quality time with your customers.
Parks Blackwell

73) Find someone in your organization who can speak the same language as your customers for your social media campaigns.
Parks Blackwell

74) My avatar is bright red because most social media sites use muted colors. Red stands out, provokes reaction.
Lyndon Antcliff

75) Time your social media involvement to tailor to your market. The US may be in bed when you tweet to the UK.
Lyndon Antcliff

76) If the product or content sucks, social media will not fix it.
Lyndon Antcliff

77) Websites do not link to websites, people do. Appeal to the webmaster.
Lyndon Antcliff

78) Return on Investment = old thinking. Return on Involvement is the new thinking
Lyndon Antcliff via @hakandahlstrom

79) The battle for the link occurs in the mind of the linker.
Lyndon Antcliff

80) Linkbait: We like ... we link.
Lyndon Antcliff

81) Linkbait: Find what people want: create it, show it.
Lyndon Antcliff

82) Linkbait doesn't have to be wacky, just informative or interesting.
Lyndon Antcliff

83) Headlines are crucial in linkbait - not necessarily about things people agree with (or like). Tap into the dark side.
Lyndon Antcliff via @maxormark

84) Make headlines sparse.
Lyndon Antcliff

85) The best headline writers are poets, not copywriters.
Lyndon Antcliff

86) If a blogger doesn't take up your story the first time, be persistent. They're probably playing World of Warcraft.
Lyndon Antcliff

87) Social media is like a dinner party - have outside interests, and don't be boring.
Melissa Campbell

88) No-one wants to be a part of a community that isn't genuine.
Parks Blackwell

Make it genuine by:

89) Allowing feedback. Parks Blackwell

90) Don't delete the feedback. Parks Blackwell

91) Post real updates to feedback.
Parks Blackwell

Facebook advertising

92) People spend 3x more time on Facebook than on Google.
Guy Levine

93) Facebook advertising lets you target users' location, demographics, likes and interests, education and work.
Guy Levine

94) The real difference between Facebook and Google ads is that on Google users are searching for information but on Facebook they are arranging dates or playing Farmville.
Guy Levine

95) Don't write off Facebook advertising. Learn how to use it. Use special offers, link bait, make ads local, personality and be event driven.
Guy Levine

96) The look and feel of the landing page should match the ad.
Guy Levine

97) Include Google tracking code in URLs.
Guy Levine

98) Works well for products and subjects that people 'love'. May be harder for b2b and technical subjects.
Guy Levine

99) Facebook is social so start a conversation.
Guy Levine

100) Long-running ads suffer. New ads do better.
Guy Levine

101) Deliberately put the wrong people off clicking.
Guy Levine

102) Use 2-stage marketing: generate leads to build your list.
Guy Levine

General top tips

These first three should be in the local section (sorry Christine :).

103) Don't forget to write phone numbers in common formats for easy machine interpretation.
Christine Churchill (of Key Relevance) via Search Cowboys

104) Contact pages shouldn't just be a contact form. Add address info, phone info, Google maps and driving directions.
Christine Churchill via Search Cowboys

105) Optimize employee names as people search for people.
Christine Churchill via Search Cowboys

106) Microformats can give smaller sites an advantage as few sites use them.
Rob Kerry

'Universal search' is search results pages that include videos, images, news, products, maps and more along with regular search results. [Mark Nunney

107) Universal search is an opportunity to get ranked for less effort eg, by targeting products results.
Ian Strain-Seymour

Page download speed is now a ranking factor for Google. Here are six tips from Mikkel DeMib Svendsen for improving page speed:

108) Get rid of view_state if you use .net. Try cookies instead. Mikkel DeMib Svendsen with some help from Richard Baxter

109) Compress objects with gzip. Mikkel DeMib Svendsen

110) Keep your text to code ratio above 10%. Mikkel DeMib Svendsen

111) Remove meta tags that do nothing. Mikkel DeMib Svendsen

112) Put your CSS into one file. Mikkel DeMib Svendsen

113) Put your Javascript into one file. Mikkel DeMib Svendsen

114) Visit Yahoo Developer Network for good advice on how to speed up your site.
Mikkel DeMib Svendsen

Add any missed points to the comments below.

Next SMX shows are:

SMX Advanced Seattle on 8-9 June 2010

Search Marketing Expo – SMX Paris - 15-16 Jun 2010

About Mal Darwen

Mal Darwen joined Wordtracker in 2008 as part of the Customer Service team, and now as well as running webinars in SEO and how to use the toolset is Product Manager. In the five years since starting with Wordtracker, Mal has also spoken about SEO and keywords at conferences, and has a healthy hand in Wordtracker's tweeting.

When not Wordtracking Mal plays with a band called Praying for the Rain. He also plays guitars and basses with a number of other UK and International artists. He lives in London with his family and two slightly insecure cats.