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Conversational SEO: Listen. Respond. Engage.

Scary SEO made SEO not so Scary

Scary SEOScary SEO, a mini-conference recently held in south Florida, has a super tagline:

Two Days of Search Training that will make you so good it will be Scary

It worked! I spent two days in training, almost living and breathing search. I gained knowledge that will help elevate my clients’ rankings, and I am no longer scared! Why?

Scary? SEO?

SEO can be scary! Keeping up with Google algorithm changes and new Google tools and services is enough to scare the pants off anyone thinking about search engine optimization. THEN, throw in Yahoo! and MSN Live and figure out how to optimize your website for each search engine. EEEEEK! It’s like walking through a haunted search house. Beware!

Witches brew new concoctions in “Search cauldrons” creating a whole new recipe for Search Optimization by throwing in dashes of Social Media. Social Media and SEO have changed the landscape of marketing and how businesses operate. SEO gremlins and goblins now haunt business owners all year long.

It’s scary to think about it all!

Knowledge removes Scary from SEO.

Scary SEO, sponsored by Dave Snyder and Jordan Kasteler of Search & Social, took the scary out of SEO. Their hands-on training delivered valuable knowlege, making the conference scary good!

The “mini” approach to the conference made it less scary with only 50 attendees. We sat around tables of 8, an ideal setup for Q&A sessions and discussion workshops. We opening discussed SEO tactics, asked each other questions and shared tips, tools, secrets.

Scary SEO Mini Conference

SEO and Internet Marketing Rockstars shared openly (especially since we signed an NDA), and they mingled with “attendees from all levels of experience. There were no VIP tables. Dave and Jordan ensured we all felt like VIPs!

Speakers’ Tricks & Treats

Speakers handed out tricks and treats in each session. (Read more about Scary SEO Speakers.) Here are some treats that were live broadcast on the new IMBroadcast.com. (Sorry, can’t share the tricks learned during the Q&A. We signed an NDA.)

  • Jeff Quipp - Jeff looked into his crystal ball to share about the future of Search, including how search engines personalize Search:
    • Search engines will know who your friends are and will reorganize the search results in response to their preferences and reviews.
    • Quality of content will matter more in the future.
    • SEOs must become content and usability experts. Links and on-page factor will be important, but user behavior will be more important.
    • Google is unlikely to be displaced as king.
  • Carolyn Shelby - CShel shared key insights about design and coding to improve SEO efforts:
    • Automation - Build as much on-page optimization into your templates as possible.
    • Legislation - Create a Policies & Enforcement Book that is your Constitution or Business Plan for your website.
    • Information beautification & overwhelmation of the user nation - Design!
      • Use clear calls to action.
      • Don’t overwhelm users with too many options.
      • Remember different types of users.
  • Jordan Kasteler - SEO geek stuff doesn’t have to be geeky, so Jordan broke it down into understandable morsels.
    • Use a strict document type for clean markup, and aim for a low code-to-text ratio. You’ve heard of the KISS principle. Well, decrease your file sizes! My takeaway - Keep It Clean!
    • Work off only one domain, aka canonicalization. Use 301 redirects, always!
    • URLs with keywords have a higher ranking.
    • Use SEOBrowser.com to view a site and see how bots are accessing content of that site.
    • I’m Looking forward to his presentation with links to tips for FLASH SEO optimization, use of AJAX, and other SEO resources.
  • Loren Baker - Link building alone can be scary, and Loren turned fears into actionable steps.
    • Place links where you will get an action. Link with the intention to convert.
    • Build links to attract relevant traffic, not for Google. Buy a link if it fits.
    • Get authority site links, yet don’t discount a PR 1 link. A PR 1 today might be PR 8 in a few years!
    • Become an authority. Get blogging now, and participate in industry blogs.
  • Brian Chappell - From widgets to linkbait to link buying, Brian enhanced our understanding and confidence.
    • Wrong tactics in link building can crush a company. Weigh the risk vs. reward.
    • If you get kicked out of Google, file for a reinclusion request.
    • Linking is about psychology and relationship building.
    • Never Digg your own stuff. Always use multiple social networks, e.g. StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit. Make it easy for people to share with sociable widgets for blog posts.
  • Brian Carter - Comedy was interlaced with tips for getting online results faster! Brian applied his keynote speech about business optimization to PPC campaigns.
    • Identify your goal.
    • Establish a measurement.
    • Know where you are.
    • Plan strategy and resources.
    • Let results guide progress.
    • Takeaways:
      • Be creative.
      • Kill what doesn’t work!
  • Brandy Eddings - No chaos! Brandy shared how to build AdWords accounts in an organized manner for a higher quality score and lower cost per click.
    • Choose keywords for one ad group at a time.
    • Write ad copy one at a time. Don’t mix them together.
    • Write copy to focus on that group of keywords.
    • Make landing pages designed for specific keywords.
  • Brian Chappell - His reputation management focus was on “monitoring your brand.”
    • Don’t rely solely on Google Alerts. Google is not all that matters, and the alerts only come as soon as Google crawls it.
    • Monitor your reputation with various RSS feeds: images from Flickr (see RSS icon at top of Address Bar for “blackberry storm,” Google Blogsearch, Bloglines, Technorati Search (see Subscribe RSS icon). Monitor comments from blogs with Backtype.
    • Takeaway – There are many ways (free and paid) to monitoring reputation. Whatever your budget, you need to be listening!
  • Rhea Drysdale - Oh, boy! Rhea showed us the hoops one can jump through to ruin a company’s reputation.
    • Mitigate, take proactive action, to soften the blow if someone tries to actively attack you online.
    • Start creating your social profiles now; squat on your brand name, derivatives of your domain name. Buy your own “hate” sites, and negatively rank them. Do it NOW!
    • Give people a resource to express their experience. Setup a blog and/or a SuggestionBox.com site.
    • Reputation Management, overall, is nothing more than customer service. Satisfied customers will go to bat for you & help protect your brand.
  • John Carcutt - Social Media Sucks!
    • John answered the question, “What does Social Media have to do with my site’s organic rankings?”
      • There’s a direct correlation – Unique quality content. Quality target inbound links.
    • Social Media Optimization (SMO) is what you do on your site to add features of Social Media, (on-site activity). Adding social features to your site should be geared to helping your users add unique content to your site, User-Generated Content (UGC).
    • Social Media Marketing (SMM) is generating quality inbound links to your site using the same standards you would for a traditional linking campaign (off-page factors).
  • Jeff Quipp - Jeff delved further into Social Media and Search to explain various types of content and how they work together.
  • Brian Chappell - SMO tactics included a real-world example of viral seeding.
    • Content goes viral via various platforms. Twitter retweets, Tumbler reblogs, StumbleUpon thumbs, emails get forwarded, etc.
    • Know the psychology of the market. Find verticals for your target audience.
    • Use good content. Drop a “Top 10″ list article to attract people.
    • People don’t link to ecommerce sites. Build a micro-site strategy, and host on a blog or micro-marketing site.
    • You have to keep creating stuff.
  • Dave Snyder - Dave opened horizons by stressing the need for analytics.
    • For every dollar you spent on an analytics tool, you should be spending $5 in people to analyze those tools. The most valuable tool is the person doing your data mining.
    • Spend at least an hour a day inside analytics to see what is going on for your site.
    • Don’t put all your analytics eggs in one basket. Use multiple platforms.
    • Approach the data away from numbers. Listen to your users. Conduct a focus group.
  • Rhea Drysdale - More analytics training focused on ranking models and the future of search metrics.
    • Future search and ranking factors will include:
      • Links
      • User behavior probability
      • TrustRank – separate good pages from spam, links pass trust of the originating site
      • BrowseRank – user behavior data (only MSN Live)
    • Google Website Optimizer is a powerful tool to improve content and site. Doubling conversion can be less costly than doubling traffic.
    • Reached limit of improvements on a page, then bring in focus groups for new and fresh ideas.
  • Chris Hart - Project management and educating clients is Chris’ role at Bruce Clay, and he let us in on the strategies.
    • SEO is about properly doing business online. It needs to be part of integral business plan.
    • It’s about constantly monitoring what you are doing online.
    • It costs 3-4 times more money to redo a website rather than do it right the first time.
    • Your website is a full-time job. You need to fully commit time to SEO, your content, and your online business.
  • Pamela Lund - Her talk on project management focused on client relations, including how to deal with unhappy clients.
    • Be realistic with deadlines.
    • Educate your client on what you’re doing. Over-communicate.
    • Approach concerns and issues with actionable steps: “These are the things I’m going to do and what you’re going to do…”
    • Don’t get in a bad cycle of giving away things for free.
  • John Carcutt - More discussion focused on business relationships:
    • Focus on the people involved. Projects will succeed or fail based on relationships between people.
    • Primary key: Figure out the goals of the project!
    • Prioritize project needs based on goals.
    • Discuss issues and make decisions based on a framework of those goals.
    • Set, track and adjust goals.
  • Carolyn Shelby - CShel covered how to outline for information architecture and content creation plans.
    • Determine the best architecture for your users.
    • Create an outline with specific definitions for site topics. Repeat – be specific!
    • Keyword research is key for your architecture.
    • Create content based off internal site logs and competitive analysis.
    • If you can’t be the first, make sure you’re the best.
    • If your site is not useful to the user, it will fail.
  • Dave Snyder - Information Architecture is about “Search Friendly Information.”
    • Key components to address for every site:
      • Domain – correct canonicalization, link equity, correct use of redirects
      • Sections – SEO siloing tactics, no deep site linking, keeping conversions close to the home page
      • Categories – slicing
      • Pages – Title tags, robots crawl directives, semantic markeup, clean code, quality written content, page architecture (heading tags)
      • Media – microformats to label files, semantic tagging, keyword-rich file naming, linking to media and PDFs, ALT attributes for images
    • Read more about the making your site search-friendly with Information Environment Design.
    • Global information design includes your link neighborhoods. Remember who you are linking to and who is linking to you.

ADDED 10.29.08: How could I forget Great Scott of SEOmoz? Was I so captivated that I didn’t take notes?

  • Scott Willoughby – Scott demonstrated the “revolutionary” new linking tool, Linkscape.
    • Linkscape gives you anchor text for incoming links to your domain, and it even lets you know each incoming link’s popularity and link juice.
    • Two new terms to learn: mozRank and mozTrust.
    • Think “competitive intellilgence.”
    • SEOMoz’ indexing of the Web is over 30B pages (mostly English, so far). Yes, there is a Moz crawler, but I couldn’t get Scott to divulge the name.

Scary SEO offered even more…. We also spent a lot of time clapping, laughing and networking!

Scary SEO Applause

The conference closed with a well-deserved long applause and standing ovation! Want images? View my Scary SEO photos. You’ll see that everyone had a great time!

In summary, Scary SEO training removed the “spook factor” from SEO!

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Category: SEO

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12 Responses

  1. Ryan says:

    Dana,

    I love your write up, it was a great summary of all the amazing things we learned (well the ones we can share). It was great meeting you, and I am every excited for the next event :)

    -Ryan

    How Blogging can Improve your Sales:

  2. Thanks Paisley & Ryan! One of the best parts of this conference was meeting people like you. Hope to see both of you at the next one.

    Now I am really scared, however! From Paisley’s comment, I see we both used the same title to post our recap. Was that ESP? Wooooeeeeeee….

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  4. Thanks for the recap! I got some new ideas for SEO and particularly Social Media!

    3 Reasons Your SEO Isn’t Working:

  5. @Justin, A humble “thanks!”

    @SEO White Hat Training, Scary SEO did the same for many of us. It opened our eyes. My head is now spinning with tons of various approaches to expand SEO strategies with solid Social Media integration.

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