• Link building outside the box
  • Keyword research beyond the ordinary
  • Conversion science

LINK BUILDING OUTSIDE THE BOX

Andrew Girdwood, Bigmouthmedia

The session was kicked off byAndrew Girdwood, who is head of Strategy at Bigmouth media and a reputed follower of white hat SEO and ethical marketing. So I kind of expected his session to be a lesson/reminder of good practice link building.

His presentation began with : link building is all wrong.

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His presentation mainly covers what link building should not be like. He states that if the link is not natural or coming from an editorially looking source, then there is no much point spending time on that, probably referring to directories, paid links It is rather about influencing people to link to you through different techniques.

He adds that any link obtained out of a click of a button is not a good link. I think this is a topic where a lot of people I know may have discrepancies on and where a conversation around it could go on for ages arguing different viewpoints.

Andrew then goes over a list of tools that can help with link building, such as

Takeaway 1: Zemanta, which can be run as add-on from firefox or on your blog platform and recommends you link sources, images, videos and related articles within your blog. I have just installed it and seen that it also helps you work out ideal tags for your article that you can consider. Its very handy!

Takeaway 2: Outbrain, a $10/month service that helps you get your articles promoted and recommended to potentially interested parties (both site owners & readers)

Andrew recommends the audience

to read a post in SEOmoz called: Determining whether a page/site passes link juice

to use facebook buttons and other widgets to let users vote for your site/content.

To use Google Readers recommendations, again as a natural source of genuinely voted content by users, and so being useful to find good stuff.

Other good places to find good content are: Yahoo Pipes, PUSH BOT, PR news

Dixon Jones, from Receptional (showcasing MajesticSEO)

Dixon Jones focused his presentation on showcasing MajesticSEO, the tool his company has gone into partnership with about a year ago: Majestic SEO.

If it wasnt because I had already seen a showcase of MajesticSEO during the International Search Summit last November 2009 and recently attended a webinar on how to harness Majestics full potential, I could have been more enthusiastic.

I think that what saves Dixons presentation from being tagged as 'sales pitch' is the fact that MajesticSEO is indeed a very useful tool to analyse competitors link portfolios and find opportunities for link building or for maximising the wasted linking power in your own site. MajesticSEO also boasts the largest number of urls ever indexed to date by a third party vendor.

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Dixon covers how to recover lost links with MajesticSEO by looking at the link graph, and see which links do not longer exists. He also mentions the useful keyword TagCrowd feature useful to ascertain the most targeted keywords/keyphrases in the anchor text of links being analysed. One other feature is called free link juice page, which identifies those potential links to go for that hold lots of link juice, also found in deeper level pages of competitors sites.

As a final point, Dixon gives us all, as a takeaway, the roadmap to getting the golden links, but instead of listing the steps, I let you get them out of the following image:

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Kelvin Newman, from SiteVisibility

Simply put, one of the most useful presentations of the two-day conference. No frills, no sell talk, no personal rambling about a subject, just pure actionable advice: 17 ways to get university links and government links.

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All 17 takeways from Kelvin:

1. reach out to bloggers: not all bloggers work home from their pyjamas. There are many educational and informational blogs out there. Follow and read those blogger till they get to know you, then act.

2. Offer a student discount, then ask to be mentioned on their website

3. Give the university some good press (their press office always highlight positive coverage)

4. Participate in a scheme, eg: staff placement/work experience

5. Sponsor a student event, (it'll cost peanuts) and you will get a link in exchange

6. Deliver a careers talk. It's really hard to get a job as a graduate, so they love guest speakers from every sector.

7. Advertise a job through their career service

8. Become a case study for their business department

9. A little bit of bad publicity does not hurt much, so 'get boycotted' by a student union and they will link to you.

This was not all Kelvin also gave us 8 more ideas, this time to get links from government sites:

11. Consider launching a community website (government sites usually link to them)

12. Set up a charitable website, it's much easier to get links without commercial content.

13. Business directories: it's hard to believe but that some government sites still have business directories.

14. Put on an event. The more local, the better

15. Start a campaign. It helps if the council agree with the cause.

16. Job websites: one of the few types of commercial sites that government sites link to.

17. Run for parliament. This one triggered some giggles from the audiences, but Kelvin seemed to mean it, as it could potentially set your site up with lots inbound high-authority links from government websites.

John Straw, Linkdex (Influence Finder)

John spoke about a new tool called Influence Finder, and demonstrated its functionality with a case study: analysing the link portfolio on the eConsultancy website with three different backlink analysis tools to find the most influential inbound links. They put together link listings produced out of running a Google Webmaster tools report (GWMT) report, a Linkscape report and MajesticSEO report and ( see pic) on the eConsultancy site.

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Within the three lists, they wanted to find the most influential blogs linking to econsultancy. MajesticSEO was the backlink analysis tool returning the most data returned, so they resorted to focusing on Majestic for this exercise.

John Straw makes the point that blogs are good places to get value from links, hence their focus on blog links. At this point I remembered that during his link building session at the SES London last February Jim Boykin declared that blogs were not good places to go for links as your rankings would then experience spikes and drops as the posts were your links are gradually move down the page and into pagination. This then tells me once again, and I mentioned this on my five takeaways post about the SES London this year that you should never follow 100% what all top SEOs tell you to when establishing a theory.

J. Straw continued with this presentation saying that they narrowed down the list of incoming links found in blogs that had the most publishing frequency. In turn, those the blogs that typically publish less frequently were weeded out from the experiment.

Takeaway: In a nutshell, the influence finder tool helps you identify the best, most influential link sources for your site in order so that you can go about exploring partnership opportunities with those sites/blogs.

If you would like to read a more comprehensive review on this product, this post from SEO chicks provides good commentary.

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KEYWORD RESEARCH: BEYOND THE ORDINARY

Christine Churchill, Keyrelevance.com

Christine Churchill spoke about a successful technique she uses : the keyword calendar, which is a concept taken from the editorial calendar from the publishing world.

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Takeaway: The keyword calendar allows you to think strategically, to pre-publish content in advance, and to coordinate across media outlets.

Christine looks at a set to Keyword research/trending tools: Twitter trending topics, Yahoo buzz, Google Adwords and Insights and MS excel and start planning your content around the results from your keyword research with those tools in order to prepare for your key date events within your keywords calendar.

Barry Lloyd, Unica Corporation

Barry Lloyd covered some good, albeit basic, strategies when doing keyword research: looking at your analytics data, finding keywords that convert, set up PPC campaigns as a way to conduct keyword research effectively, and refine your campaign using negative keywords.

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Takeaway: turn converting keyword that are in broad or phrase into exact as the CPC goes down, so presumably you save some good bucks if the campaign is big enough

An interesting presentation with some useful insights and although the slides were a a bit heavy on data, Barry made interesting points, particularly areas that cannot be neglected in all search marketing campaigns.

Sam Croker, Distilled

Sam Crockers presentation was probably, and I think everyone will agree with this statement: one of the most actionable presentations of SMX Advanced. The title of his presentation was: So you want to be a keyphrase Ninja? and the first content slide he produced carried with sentence:

We dont want you to work harder, we want you to work smarter

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Sams presentation looked interesting and useful from the very beginning as you could tell from the slide above showing a set of SEO tools that he was going to be speaking about tools and tactics: right to the point with the actions!

Takeways: These are the Ninja tools proposed by Sam to increase efficiency :

1. Google Suggest: Google has the first place to go Keyphrase generation ideas as they have the best search terms intelligence. But it would be tedious to go through so much cut and paste out of Google Suggest. This is why we need the:

2. GoogleSuggest API: I didnt know that one existed, but it does, in an unofficial way, and you can get clean XML feeds using the facility provided by Blogoscoped . You can even use this with local versions of Google just by changing the google extension upon getting your xml feed (eg: replace .com for .fr) . What should you do with those XML feeds? Apparently you run them through the next Ninja KW tool:

3. Mozenda : is a data extraction and web scraping tool. You can use Mozenda in combination with the GoogleSuggest API and get your lists of the most popular GoogleSuggest keywords in a user-friendly format and ready to use. Mozenda can of course be used with any API. One other useful thing you can do with Mozenda is to extract Delicious tags related to a specific keyword you may be targeting. I must sit down and give a try to Mozenda following Sams slides.
Mozenda + API = WIN

Other Ninja tools to increase efficiency :

-Xenu: which is a tool that I have used in the past to crawl my site and discover bloken links I need to make better use of its functionality. Apparently Xenu can extract KWs from websites during the crawling sessions.

-Microsoft IIS, incl mention SEO toolkit

-Mechanical Turks

-80 legs: which apparently contains some pretty good pre-loaded crawls that can be used for your projects.

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Check out Sams presentation:

Crocker, Samuel, Keyphrase Research Beyond the Ordinary [Final]

Sams presentation was entirely a takeaway. Many the tools he showcased were either new to me or boasted functionality I didnt know about. 9.5 out 10 for Sam.

Just a few hours before I posted this story, Sam tweeted the link to his first post on SEO Moz titled: keyword research tool.

Andy Atkins krueger? Webcertain

Andy is a linguist that specialises in international keyword research. He is founder of Webcertain, an International Search firm, and runs an international search news blog called Multilingual Search.

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Andy suggests GoogleSuggest too as a good source to spot keywords but he also points at how easy it is to make a mistake with your choice of keywords if your only source for keyword research is one specific source, like GoogleSuggest. Often the same keyword may mean something different in each language. He makes an example with the word: casseroles, which in English means a stew, but in French it is actually the pan where something is cooked pretty much the same as in Spanish, I thought.

Takeaway: Andy also makes the point that 'Google translates' often localizes the actual keyword , so if you enter casserole Google Translates thinks the word is 'French' when it can also be and English word.

Andy ended his presentation by covering the specificities of long tail keywords in relation to the languages: German and Dutch have the longest tails and Spain has the one of the shortest.

Q&A

Someone in the audience asks how Google computes the appearance of certain keywords in Google Suggests.

Andy replied to this question: nobody knows for sure how the Google's algorithm work, but it is likely triggered by volume.

Mary Morud mentioned that there are tools out there to help you influence the 'Google suggests' algorithm for online reputation management purposes.

In terms of Keyword research tools Kristjian Mar Hauksson recommends Trellian as a tool, particularly because of the competitor analysis capabilities, and Andy recommends 'web CEO'.

Takeaway: Andy makes a really good point of looking at your analytics data to see which keywords are already bringing you traffic from the 2nd or 3rd page of SERPs, and then try and position those keywords nearer to the top of the 1st page, which brings me to this excellent post on the Distilled blog on exactly how to do that.

CONVERSION SCIENCE

Wayne Morris, Maxymiser

clip_image001[6]Wayne Morris fom Maxymiser kicks off the session speaking about his company, products and services. Their USP is to lead people far ahead of multivariate testing. His services allow their clients to sit back and wait till results come forward.

Some of the hipothesis they like to present to their customers is: why we are testing and how are testing. Wayne showed a couple of examples on how they improve ROI for two of their clients, one of them being Cancer Research, from where I managed to gather the following:

Takeaway1: dont test too many things at once but less and better and with more data.

Takeaway2: there is a need to reinforce the USP Unique selling proposition) throughout the site. Eg: "Thank you, your donation will make a difference". By reinforcing this message throughout all customer journeys

They also reinforced the reassurance messages about safe Internet online payments on their website.

Results for Cancer research : 4% more donations by Direct Debit and a significant ROI

Karl Blanks, Conversion rate experts

I have seen Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson presenting their conversion rate excellence in other conferences but I feel like I always get something more that I can take away with me when I am there.

Karl recommends to implement a process for testing landing pages where split testing is used, then you abandon the loser, reinvent the winner and test again, and carry on the process until you have landing pages that convert.

He moves onto multivariate testing. At Conversion Rate experts they do not use any custom-built sotware but existing tools from other vendors of search engines. They focus on the campaigns and on the testing processes .

Takeaway: Karl makes the point that if you put rubbish into the MVT process, you will not get good results. In turn, bold targetting changes will bring you more profits earlier

Before initiating any testing, it is wise to invest time in understanding the objections your visitors find on our website. That is going to lead your business is : 'objection/counter objection'.

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The message is key in coming up with models for testing. You dont get the messages by simply testing, you need to understand your customer objections and reassure them with messages.

Karl adds that if you want to know the reasons why your visitors are not buying on your site, web analytics is not the answer, but an army knife CRO toolset like this:

Rob Jackson, Elisa Digital Business Intelligence

Rob invites the audiences to initiate all customer and webtraffic analysis on the web analytics. Conversion rate optimisation tools are great but sometimes analysing simple metrics can be a good first step in.

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He added that before you even go into testing pages and understanding visitors behaviours, their needs, pursues and obstacles, you need to work out what it is that is wrong with your current website by looking at things like 'bounce rate'. Rob was unfortunate to have problems with his slides so he could not use them. In spite of that problem, he managed to give us an interesting insight into web analytics.

Takeaway: Try and avoid the risk of the HIPPO (Highest Most important persons opinion) from the project processes.

Rob is also the organiser of the London version of an evening-styled conference called Conversion Thursday which was born in Barcelona and after a period of success has been exported to London.

The Q&A took us to a discussion on conversions and analytics where Wayne Morris made the point that in most of the situations the only thing you need in order to make things better is an A&B split testing process.

David Carralon

David Carralon works as an in-house Search Marketing Manager for the UK's cultural relations organisation: British Council, and writes about SEO and web marketing in his own blog.

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