SMX Conference Recap: Seattle, 2007

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What Google's I am happy to report that I was fortunate enough to attend the 2-day SMX Advanced conference this past week – a conference dedicated to search marketing professionals. The conference was held in Seattle, and I had an absolute blast taking in the sights, and catching up with a few of my colleagues. All in all, it was a great conference.

What Google's

I am happy to report that I was fortunate enough to attend the 2-day SMX Advanced conference this past week – a conference dedicated to search marketing professionals. The conference was held in Seattle, and I had an absolute blast taking in the sights, and catching up with a few of my colleagues. All in all, it was a great conference.

The following are a few notes and recap points that I'd like to share:

Day 1 Notes

You&A (Q&A) with Matt Cutts

My first session of the day was "You&A (Q&A) with Matt Cutts" in which the audience fired many algorithmic search-related questions spanning multiple areas at Matt, and he would address each specifically. I was actually impressed by this session. Going in, I thought Matt would be pleading the 5th on almost half of everything that was asked, but he didn't. He did a tremendous job of addressing near every question.

A couple of take-away from this session include:

1. Matt would not confirm nor deny the use of click-throughs (from the SERPS) as being apart of the metrics used in their ranking formula. I, for the longest time, have always thought that Google not only takes in consideration the user's click-through when deciding relevance, but also whether or not that user returns to the SERPS immediately following that click-through... essentially meaning that the user did not deem the website as being helpful and has moved on to find a better one.

2. Another interesting piece of info that was shared (but again was neither confirmed nor denied by Matt) is that Google's SPAM technology checks to see what other websites a specific webmaster owns (and ultimately whether or not those sites have been flagged for SPAM) when reviewing over a site. The example used at the session was if a site was questionable and a quick check-up showed that the same owner owned 200 flagged websites that probably this 201st website should be flagged as well. Which in my mind makes a lot of sense.

SMX Conference Recap: Seattle, 2007

Duplicate Content Summit

My second session of the day was the "Duplicate Content Summit". This session was paneled by representatives from each of the major search engines... Ask, Microsoft, Yahoo!, and of course Google. Personally speaking... I thought that this session could have been a little more advanced than it was, but overall it wasn't a bad session.

1. One take-away was the mention of using a "Robots No Content" tag to mark low value content such as copyright information and other repeated (non-value) pieces of content. This tag is currently supported only by Yahoo! and is a great way to help the search engine determine what your primary content is for each page.

2. Another blurb worth sharing is that Ask, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Google all support the sitemap attribute in the robots.txt file. I originally thought it was just Google that supported this feature, but that isn't the case. Simply list the URL of your Google Sitemap in the robot.txt file (using proper protocol of course) and all engines will crawl and take note of it.

SMX Conference Recap: Seattle, 2007

Paid Search & Tricky Issues / Inside the Auction Black Box

My next two sessions were those in the Advertising track (paid search) and included the "Paid Search & Tricky Issues" and "Inside the Auction Black Box" session. Honestly, I didn't get too much out of either session with the exception of a re-rundown on many of the same old theories as to what Google's (and other search engines respectively) black box algorithm includes. Actually, at one time the topic was side-tracked a little when the panel and audience began discussing their own conspiracy theories as to the amount of data Google collects from multiple locations on a daily basis. That was a pretty interesting and humorous conversation.

Expo Hall

The exhibit hall is very small compared to that of several of the past SES exhibits I've attended. I guess that's about right though, a small conference equals a small exhibit sesstion. I took a quick tour through it, and will no doubt make a second trip later on today.

SMX Conference Recap: Seattle, 2007 SMX Conference Recap: Seattle, 2007

Lunch

Lunch was absolutely fabulous. I was so expecting the traditional boxed sandwich lunch that SES provides, and was very much happy to see a hot-plate buffet.

SMX Conference Recap: Seattle, 2007

Keynote: Danny Sullivan & Satya Nadella

The last part of the day featured a Keynote conversation between Danny and Satya Nadella, the Corporate Vice President of Microsoft's newly-created Search & Advertising Platform Group. I thought this went over really well. In the past Microsoft has been pretty much non-existant at search conferences, and so I, for one, am glad to see that they made an effort to be well represented at this conference (and why shouldn't they... Seattle is their backyard). The keynote conversation addressed many of the Microsoft's past and more importantly future goals as a major player in the search industry.

Day 2 Notes

Is Bid Management Dead

The first session out of the gate was the "Is Bid Management Dead" debate which was held in a very interesting format. Basically there were 2 sides, one for bid management and one not, and each had to pitch their case to the audience. Each side also had chance to make a rebuttal argument on what the other side had mentioned. For me personally, I went into the session with the opinion that bid management was dead. I ended up leaving with that same idea. Pay Per Click is much, much, MUCH, more than adjusting bids and so forth. With quality score and the mystic black box taken into consideration, managing paid campaigns is no longer a process any more... it's an art form. And therefore the days of bid management are over.

Pump Up Your Paid Search

My thinking was later validated in the next session, "Pump Up Your Paid Search". This was a pretty decent run-down on "advanced" PPC management, and included talks of day-parting, bidding on trademark terms, and a break-down on each of the engine's Keyword Insertion tools (KWI). I have a few take-a-ways from it, but instead of just throwing them down in this post I will address them in a couple of future posts... they do merit their own posts.

SMX Conference Recap: Seattle, 2007

Better Ways

"Better Ways" was a non-slideshow session that featured 75 minutes of Q&A. A couple of take-a-ways included:

1. Use Microsoft's adLabs as a much-better keyword research alternative.

2. Ideal linking partners are those that can offer links on pages with a bunch of quality links pointing to them. For instance, its best to have a link coming from a page that has 1,000 or so links pointing to it as opposed to a link from that person's link page... which ultimately would have no-one pointing to it.

SMX Conference Recap: Seattle, 2007

Give It Up

The "Give It Up" session, as described in the conference guide, is a session where a panel of noted SEOs would all share some of their favorite and largely overlooked SEO tips. That's exactly what it was. Even Google's Quality Control Engineer Matt Cutts stood up and shared an interesting story that highlighted one spammy way to get a large amount of inbound links. It was freakin' awesome! Unfortunately, I and the others in the audience took a vow of silence and promised that we would not publish any of these goodies... and I for one plan to stick to that promise. Sorry.

SMX Conference Recap: Seattle, 2007 SMX Conference Recap: Seattle, 2007

If interested, I've published more 2007 SMX Advanced Conference Photos on Flickr.

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