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SMX West Summary of Take-Aways March 2018


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This is my summary of top 10 take-away, action items from Search Marketing Expo (SMX) in San Jose, California in March 2018. The conference was excellent and gave me many things to improve organic and paid search marketing.

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SMX West Summary of Take-Aways March 2018

  1. 1. TOP 10 TAKE- AWAYS FROM SMX WEST In no particular order By Jimmy Smith Based on notes from Search Marketing Expo March 2018 1
  2. 2. 1. USE ADWORDS AT ALL STAGES OF THE CONVERSION FUNNEL From Advanced AdWords Training by Brad Geddes • He shows how you can essentially run drip campaigns via AdWords – Reaching people through Google search and Google’s display network, YouTube, etc. • Using AdWords at all stages of the conversion funnel it becomes like a Marketing Automation platform – E.g. An abandoned shopping cart campaign could largely be built in AdWords • We need to serve different ads for different stages of the buying funnel – Especially true for long buying cycles like B2B software • Also, due to long buying cycle, we should consider changing attribution model for Hilti – Currently we use the default, Last Click – Position based seems to make sense for most • Use audience lists effectively – Visitors to a product page, the shopping cart, etc. – Create an audience list of employees to exclude 2
  3. 3. 2. SILO-ING CONTENT CAN TRIPLE YOUR ORGANIC TRAFFIC From Bruce Clay, Founder & President, Bruce Clay, Inc. • Siloes include: content, hierarchy/organization, navigation, and internal linking • Both Google and actual users want a well-organized structure that is obvious, that shows expertise, and is easily understood and followed. • If you’re a car site, and your main categories are cars, trucks, SUVs, sports cars. Where is Ford? All of them. – Thus Google will not perceive you to be an expert on Ford. – If you have a Ford content silo, however, then Google sees you as a Ford expert • When you link everything to everything then it is not a hierarchy. – In a company org chart, every employee doesn’t report to every other employee. – You need a clear parent child relationship in organizations and in website content • The primary search path used by your audience should always be reflected in your content hierarchy • If you don’t know how people search, then you can’t do siloes – So find out how they search. What keywords they use. In what order they use them. • A common main menu will have Product, Services, Tools, Blog. But that’s not how people search – Should be flipped with common searched items on top and Product, Services, Tools, Blog is under that – See main menu at • Many of Bruce Clay’s clients have tripled organic traffic within six weeks of implementing siloes • Tool to map your site to see links graphically and presence or not of siloes: 3
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  5. 5. 3. USE STRUCTURED MARK UP DATA TO IMPROVE SEO RANKINGS AND CLICK THRU From Alexis Sanders, Technical SEO Account Manager, Merkle • Google offers improved snippets thru SD for 26 item types • For eCommerce sites, rich results will outperform regular listing • Structured data is information with a high degree of organization • Rich results (with data in snippet from structured data) get much better click thru rates From Marcus Tober, Searchmetrics Inc. • SD can help populate the Google Knowledge Panel • Structured data increases rankings and click thru rates Consider using structured data: • On product pages, employee bios, and About Us 5 “Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content; for example, on a recipe page, what are the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on.” – Google
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  7. 7. 4. IMPROVE CONTENT TO BE FEATURED IN A GOOGLE ANSWER BOX From Chanelle Harbin, SEO Manger, Disney ABC Television Group • Featured snippets (aka answer boxes) are search results that appear at the top of Google’s results aiming to answer a user’s question • 10 blue links are becoming extinct so it’s important to adapt • To get into an answer box: – Answers to specific questions – Answers in copy at beginning of paragraph – Provide steps (lists) for the user to follow – Provide a direct answer to the question • Identify question search queries (what, when, where, why and how) related to your products and industry • Are you set up to win when people ask what your product costs? 7
  8. 8. 5. WATCH OUT FOR THE USUAL SUSPECTS THAT EFFECT QUALITY SCORE From Glenn Gabe, President, G-Squared Interactive • “User happiness” is extremely important to Google and sites/pages that make users happy usually win in SEO • The combination of strong user experience (UX) and high-quality content makes users, and Google, happy • Wouldn’t it be great if Google provided a thorough guide that explained what they deem high-quality versus low-quality? – They have. It’s called Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines • What’s “Low-Quality”? Among other things, the usual suspects are: – Thin content – Aggressive or deceptive advertising – UX barriers (difficult to navigate menus, pop-ups, usability issues) • Large ads above the fold, and sometimes large images and other elements, that push down main content will negatively affect quality • When quality scores go down, rankings go down as well 8
  9. 9. 6. KEYWORD INSIGHTS CAN HELP DEVELOP MESSAGING, PERSONAS, CUSTOMER JOURNEYS, AND ENGAGEMENT From Ken Shults, VP of Strategic Innovation, BrightEdge • B2B researchers do an average of 12 searches before engaging with a brand site • Gathering insights from search behavior can help develop messaging, define personas, map customer journeys and drive deeper engagements with your audience • SEO is not something you do. It is what happens when you do everything else right. • Data and Insights, NOT your org chart, should drive content strategy • The website should reflect who the customers are, not who the company is. • “If you're trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language.” David Ogilvy (as true today as 50 years ago) • It Use keyword research data to explain what your persona does • Develop a “Context Matrix” (portfolio or suite of content) aligned to target personas/keywords at targeted times in the customer journey • Recommended framework to help SEO not be an after thought – Develop an information architecture (IA) based on customer data and insights – When request for new content comes in, where does it fit in the IA? – It can also be a good part of a content audit to find gaps in your content 9
  10. 10. • Example IA, Customer Journey, and Content Audit / Gap Analysis 10
  11. 11. 7. KNOW SOCIAL MEDIA’S STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES Nate Elliott, Principal, Nineteen Insights • Social traffic volume to eCommerce sites and spend levels are relatively low • Sequencing ads, first a brand awareness ad (priming), then CTA ad improves effectiveness • Optimize social media for business metrics, not for engagement metrics • Facebook has research showing no correlation between engagement and business outcomes • Trek bikes had more social media engagement than ever in 2016, “but sales were soft” • Social team should focus on same metrics as product teams • Only 16% of CMOs have data to prove the value of social media • Engagement is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself Caitlin Jeansonne, Social Media Director, MMI Agency, @QCait • Launch every social media campaign with a test/learning plan: Fail fast + fail forward • Build in flexibility and room to experiment. Chart your course with data • Make integration a priority. Social team should sit together with SEO and digital marketing team 11 “We have proven the impact of social media quantitatively.” Source: The CMO Survey, August 2017
  12. 12. 8. SOMETIMES THE BEST PRACTICES AREN’T THE BEST – TEST EVERYTHING From Laura Lippay, Organic Search & Technical Optimization Lead, Netflix • While united in many areas, SEO experts still disagree on a lot of topics • SEO isn’t one size fits all, so avoid blanket statements. • Many SEO practices depend on the situation at hand. Always consider the situation at hand! • Netflix did many of the SEO best practices and saw no detectable ranking or traffic changes • Vendors kept giving Netflix best practice advice, but the advice didn’t make sense for Netflix – and those consultants eventually got fired • Any time someone says “I think x” what they’re really meaning is “We should test x” • If you don’t follow best practices, you can’t arbitrarily do other things, non-best-practices should be a result of testing and data 12
  13. 13. 9. IMPROVE EXPERIENCE, AUTHORITATIVENESS, & TRUST (E-A-T) WITH LINKS AND MENTIONS ON OTHER SITES From Marie Haynes, Owner, HIS Web Marketing • Google algorithm updates – Have closed SEO loopholes like “SEO Content” – Are designed to improve quality and experience for users • E-A-T is largely based on links and mentions on authoritative websites • How to Improve E-A-T? – Get press from news outlets (the bigger the better, i.e. NYPost, WaPo, etc.) – Wikipedia mentions – Forum discussion links can be a good source of EAT – Get the world talking about how awesome your business is 13
  14. 14. 10. DON’T MAKE ME THINK AND OTHER BEST PRACTICES FOR ECOMMERCE OFFERS From Elizabeth Marsten • People like free shipping to save money, but also so they don’t have to do math • Bundles may be a better deal, but they get lower in the results, and it requires people to do math • The better deals don’t necessarily perform better, it’s the lower barrier entry to deals that do From Aaron Levy • Paid media favors stability – Better ads are better than promotional prices – Hard $ off in ad got better conversion than percentage off ad • The simpler the offer, the better the result. • People don’t want to think and they stink at math • Understand what your best customers buy first – E.g. diapers/formula indicates lifespan of baby and kid products – Find where those purchases come from and target them 14