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What I learned at SMX Advanced

Hey all. Here are some general thoughts, ideas, and resources that I wanted to share:

-Matt Cutts (Google engineer who blogs at www.mattcutts.com/blog) as well as an MSN engineer confirmed that the Google and Bing algorithms are fairly similar and that rather than focus on trying to optimize for one vs the other it’s a better idea to just focus on building good sites that people want to share and link to.

-Danny Sullivan (the conference organizer and founder of searchengineland.com, who blogs at www.daggle.com) mentioned an interesting tool for searching/tracking questions that are posed on twitter. The site is www.replyz.com and is currently in Beta, but you can apply for a login by simply visiting the site.

-Tony Verre (an experienced SEO who blogs at www.themilwaukeeseo.com) shared an interesting test that he ran on inbound link normalization: http://themilwaukeeseo.com/2010/05/19/link-building-normalization/

-Rae Hoffman (better known as “Sugarrae” in SEO circles, the CEO of www.outspokenmedia.com/blog and a very well-known SEO) made two interesting assertions:
a) automated content creation (automated blog posts for example) is getting better and better these days. In fact, she says she knows of one individual that has been able to create automated content that actually converts well (as if it was written by a real human)
b) in terms of link building, she’ll take any link that she can get, even if it is a no-follow, and particularly if it’s a Twitter link. Her reason for this is that she has noticed that often times, a link within a Twitter update will be syndicated within blog plugins and apps that turn the link into a do-follow

-John Andrews (a well-known SEO who blogs at www.johnon.com) cautioned against putting too much weight into assertions that are made by popular SEO sites, especially if they provide little or no data and/or their data is suspect. The best approach is to do your own testing.

-This sentiment was echoed by another well-respected blogger named Branko Rihtman aka “Neyne” (he writes at www.seo-scientist.com). He also shared a very simple to use testing methodology that he coined “multi-directional testing.” Here’s how it works in a nutshell:
-form your hypothesis (ex: adding keyword x to title tag will improve ranking/traffic/etc)
-apply your change
-document any fluctuation in rank/traffic, etc
-wait (and continue to monitor)
-return to initial settings (ex: remove the keyword that was added to the title tag)
-document any fluctuation in rank/traffic, etc
-wait (and continue to monitor)
*the idea is to isolate variables and ensure that it was your change in particular that was responsible for any fluctuation
-Alan Bleiweiss, another well-known SEO that writes over at http://searchmarketingwisdom.com, shared some great insights on how to leverage not only number of pages indexed but also number of indexed pages that drive traffic (an idea that I echo). He also drove home the point regarding the idea of focusing on keywords that drive conversion/revenue over just rankings or traffic. Make conversion/revenue your compass, and you’ll always steer into high-ROI SEO territory.

-A colleague of mine who heads up SEO for one of the largest sites in the world (hint: it sells stuff to people all over the world) shared his technique for using his site’s user behavior data to create fascinating info-graphics that he uses for viral link baiting. Sorry, don’t want to give out the name or the site.

-Marty Weintraub, a well-known marketer who heads up aimclearblog.com shared some interesting ideas on how to leverage Facebook display ads for branding and demand generation via intensive demographic targeting. His conclusion is that if a company isn’t using Facebook ads for branding they’re crazy and/or stupid.

A few myths that have once again been debunked (just in case anyone is still unsure about these):
-Keyword density (not a factor…focus on human readability…one instance of a particular word or phrase is enough)
-XML sitemaps for indexing content (XML sitemaps are good for finding crawling errors/inefficiency, but focus on internal linking architecture and external inbound links if you want pages to get indexed and ranking well)

Also, here are some links to all of the live blogs that covered the various sessions:
http://searchengineland.com/smx-advanced-2010-day-one-live-blog-coverage-43931
http://searchengineland.com/smx-advanced-2010-day-two-live-blog-coverage-43987

P.S. If we hung out in Seattle but I didn’t mention you in this post don’t take it as a sign of disrespect. It’s been a long week and though I tried to keep detailed notes, my shoddy memory sometimes gets the better of me. You know I love ya!

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