I’ve recently returned from the 3-day SMX (Search Marketing Expo) East conference in New York City after having had a front-row seat to the latest search marketing strategies. Some of these strategies were new to me, others are old but time-tested, and I’ve composed a list of the top ten takeaways from the conference, so here goes:
1. Slow load times can kill a website. With longer load times, the user tends to leave a page before it loads and return to Google to go to another site. This return to a Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is called a G-Bounce and it leads us to the next SMX takeaway.
2. Google does not track site analytics as some suspect, because it is not possible to track sites without analytics; however, Google can determine G-Bounces, which say to the search engine that the user did not find what they were looking for on your site. Keep in mind a G-Bounce is not necessarily bad if a searcher goes to your site, finds what they want, and returns to Google to make a new, unrelated search. However, when they return to the SERP and go to another listing, that doesn’t look good for you.
3. Although I don’t have the exact statistics, a natural-looking anchor text campaign includes a wide variety of phrases, most often including the site’s name and, even more common, the site’s URL. A site with all keyword-rich anchor text links may look phony and be penalized for obvious link building practices.
4. 15-20% of all search engine searches now come from mobile devices. If your site is not optimized for iPhones, Blackberries, etc, you will have slow load times and miss out on the opportunity to snag these visitors/customers.
5. Subdomains are not necessarily considered separate sites. On large sites such as Yahoo the subdomain autos (i.e. autos.yahoo.com) is treated as a separate site, whereas a small site with a separate subdomain may have that subdomain treated as a different page or folder. It’s up to the search engine to decide whether to treat your subdomain as a different site or part of the site.
6. An often overlooked strategy for finding local keyword phrases is Google Insights, which can tell you how frequently specific searches are made in your area. Different areas search phrases in different ways, so this tool is invaluable.
7. Everyone interested in SEO should become familiar with Schema.org, a multiple search engine collaboration that provides information on microdata (such as rel=”author”) that can be included in <head> sections and greatly help search engines figure out how to index pages. According to one lecturer, those who do not look into schema.org will be left behind.
8. Rel=”canonical” is a great way to avoid duplicate content issues, but Google has announced a new way to handle multiple page postings with the rel=”next” and the rel=”prev” function. More information can be found at Google Webmaster Central.
9. When asked what is most important for SEO, nearly every expert gave the age-old response of “links and content,” oftentimes adding a social media presence to this list. One of the major takeaways from SMX East is that Social Media is not a fad and is here to stay, and search marketers who do not take advantage of it will be left in the dust.
10. Search engines are concerned primarily with user experience, and by catering to the user an SEO theoretically caters to a search engine. That being said, I should probably add that the point of SEO is to cater to the user while following techniques that make life easier for search engines. If the whole point of SEO was to create a user experience then every site would be in Flash, which, as we know, is a very, very bad idea.
Geoffrey Hoesch is the owner of Dragonfly SEO, a Baltimore search marketing company.