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Key Takeaways From SMX East

With all that’s been going on in Search Marketing in the past year, the coordinators of SMX East came to the table with their work cut out for them. But if you ask us, they pulled it off in spades – this year’s SMX East was one of the best to date! Everyone came out energized with ideas, inspiration, fantastic insider tips, and a very long “To Do” list.

If you’re in SEO or SEM and weren’t able to make it this year, here’s a few nuggets we took away from our experiences:

Some Expert Job Search Tips For SEMs

SMX East provides a fantastic opportunity to network with peers, thought leaders, and professionals from parallel industries – as well as a great place to get hired!  If you’re “on the hunt”, it’s also a great place to pick up some great job-seeking tips.

  1. SEO is evolving and growing rapdily, and the SEO job title is not as fashionable as it once was. If you’re an SEO who’s looking for the next step in your career, it may be time to start branding yourself differently
  2. Many of the speakers at SMX said that they’re turned off my the title “SEO Copywriter”.  The say they’d rather have someone with either PR experience or a background in journalism. It boils down to this: they’d rather have someone with journalistic connections and/or is accustomed to writing “naturally” rather than “untrain” spammy SEO practices.
  3. Chris Taylor, director of staffing at Onward Search, presented some great insight on the state of the job market for those working in SEM in a session titled “Is Your Search Marketing Career Optimized?”.  Notably, he showed that mid-market ($60,000-$100,000/year) is where the SEM jobs are, with 34%-41% of the job market share, varying on industry.

A chart showing that mid-market SEMS have the highest demand in the hiring market.

A Few Google Tidbits…

As the Google “Zoo” begins to diversify and Pandas, Penguins, and others change the nature of search forever, social signals and quality content are leading the charge.  Even with all the recent updates, Google’s core technology is still rudimentary, and dependent on SEO and SEM pros to help guide its results.

  1. A large part of our role as SEOs is to help Google figure out things, where it still can’t do it on its own.  This is where things such as canonical links, anchor text, social signals, and other indicators (see picture below) become invaluable when establishing yourself in search rankings.
  2. Increasingly, social media is driving how Google ranks websites, but it’s taking time to integrate it.  One obstacle is Google’s bad relationship with Facebook and other social media, which is making it hard for Google to differentiate between spammy social links and the valuable ones.
  3. The conversation focused around Google+ was largely grim. Even with users whose accounts were connected to more than a million users, they found it difficult to engage their users or bring quality traffic over to their site. However, Google is firm on their goal to integrate their products with +,  and they have enormous plans rolling out in the near future. In the meantime, check out what’s happening with Google Hangouts!

A google search, showing canonical links and social signals in search.

Getting The Most From Facebook

Are you in charge of running a Facebook fan page for your company? Less than 16% of your users see your posts – and that number may be dropping steadily! It’s not enough to simply update the page: your users need to be engaged with your posts directly (likes, clicks, votes, shares, etc), or you will slowly be removed from their feed entirely.  Here’s three things that @JShehata of ABC News does to maximize user participation, based on data they’ve researched:

  1. Include a thumbnail photo with each story you post, and watch the comments rise by 50%, with 65% more likes.
  2. Facebook users like questions!  Ask a few, and see 64% more feedback on the post.  Experiment as you go – does your audience prefer open-ended questions, or do they want simple yes/no or multiple choice questions?
  3. Keep those posts short and sweet!  Posts that range between 100 and 250 characters see about 60% more user engagement.  Use this nifty character counting tool to keep track of your count!


The Future Of SEO & SEM

The industry is evolving quickly, and those in search marketing who do not adapt will fall quickly to the wayside.  Danny Sullivan says that a good SEO knows how NOT to be an SEO – by bringing value to the space and becoming an authority.

The nature of this evolution may have been best summed up by Eric Enge:  “SEO is going to be less about “tricks” to get rankings and more towards an old-fashioned way of marketing that involves high value to the users, great contextual relevance, and promoting this to help build and/or create your brand.”

  1. Build a relationship with the small local media and news outlets, and provide them with content to fill their “dry spells”.  While it may be difficult or impossible to connect with national/major media, smaller media are likely to bite. Pinpoint the name of the best local experts with websites like Topix.
  2. Many SEOs improve on existing pages as a means of link building.  Some of the easiest tactics are to find a page that links to a broken website and to offer their link (with necessary content) to replace it.  Alternatively, the SEO will find a site that lacks a graphic or image, and offer your own in exchange for a link.
  3. Keep a watch out for “cloaking”, where a black hat SEO hijacks your site and repurposes it (see examples in the image below).  This can ruin your website’s reputation and trust.  Read more about how they’re doing it, and what to watch out for in this article.

An example of the black hat technique "cloaking", where a website like is hijacked to sell viagara.

Recommended Resources From SMX Experts

Looking to give your SEM toolbox a boost?  The speakers at SMX were full of expert suggestions:

Social Media Topsy, JournalistTweets, Followerwonk
SEO Solo SEO, Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO, Link Diagnosis, Screaming Frog, WhiteSpark
Link Building
Ontolo, Link Prospector, Link Research Tools
Trending/Alert Utilities Social Mention, GigaAlert, TweetBeep, Google Alerts
Review Sites TestFreaks, ConsumerSearch, Epinions

More Great Reading:

We couldn’t be everywhere at once!  So let us know: What sessions did you attend, and what key points did you take away from the experience?

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