Search Intensive at Internet Summit Provided Crucial Information for SEO and SEM Specialists

I was lucky enough to attend the Internet Summit in Raleigh this year. I returned inspired with new ideas, ready to incorporate techniques into my website promotion campaigns.  The conference was attended by 1400 people, many from the Raleigh/Durham area.  Of course there were also attendees from everywhere across the U.S. including New York City, California, Arizona, Arkansas, and other states.

On November 17, I attended most of the sessions in the Search Intensive. I was impressed with the list of specialists. Michael Marshall, SEO Guru, lived up to his title quite well.  He gave participants some great hands on tips for keyword optimizing pages.  Marshall recommends that keyphrase density be only 2-4% per page. Placement of keywords was the most important. Keyphrase occurrence on the page should be evenly placed. Marshall all emphasized proximity of keywords to links was critical.

According to Marshall, keyword stuffing (which occurred several years ago) was no longer a good idea (perhaps it never was).  In my opinion, keyword stuffing makes for some really awful writing.  Marshall stressed that internal linking and outbound links were being scanned by search engines. The importance of incorporating outbound links came as a surprise to me but it makes sense.  Search engines are crawling outbound links to be certain these links relate to content. Bots are smarter these days.

Dan London, the Director of Online Marketing for  ShareFile.com, gave a great overview of the state of search marketing. Google’s newly incorporated global positioning into search engine software impacts geo targeting campaigns, making them somewhat irrelevant. Basically, Google now knows where your laptop, mobile device, or desktop is situated.  When you type in a general term, such as pizza place, Google automatically adds the town to the term, and brings up local pizza places.  It’s sort of frightening to think that Google’s search bots know where you are at any given time. But if you’re only searching for a pizza – who cares — right?

London suggested that everyone list their business address on Google Local (for free) to make certain they are in search results for their area.  He also noted that Google’s social network is evolving, with tools like Google Knol, it was easy to get into search engine rankings quickly.  London said that Google Instant is making the long tail keywords less relevant and short tail terms more effective.  He said shorter title tags and good keyword rich descriptions are extremely important.  For businesses wanting more Google exposure, he suggested having clients write Google reviews, and scanning Google Trends each day to see if content on a website would sync with what’s hot on Google. Dan London had some wonderful tips for the Google aficionado, and his information is obviously hot off the digital press.

Finally, Donna Bedford, The Global SEO Lead for Lenovo, will live in my memory as one of the all time great Internet superstars.  Bedford’s seminar was entitled “Critical Metrics for Search Success.”  She is the queen of website analytics – a tool that for some SEO and SEM marketers- — needs some serious sharpening.  Bedford’s use of website analysis software transcended traffic numbers and conversion ratios.  She analyzes user behavior with a focus on click thru ratios and abandonment rates. If Bedford sees high traffic and low click thrus – she knows something is wrong with the page and she sets out to improve the usability, content, and linking strategies on the page in order to get better results.  For high abandonment rates, Bedford applies a similar technique that includes testing functionality and identifying page layout weaknesses to improve visitor engagement. Clearly Bedford knows how to work in a team environment and maximize the knowledge of all of the tekkies involved  in cleaning up a page – no small feat in any type of organization.

Because I was burned out on hearing about social media, I visited the Analytics Intensive and listened to Jim Hazen, Metrics and Analytics Director for Capstrat. Hazen spoke about User Behavioral Targeting. Coming from a background in behavioral psychology, he has a great deal to say that hit the mark for SEO.  Hazen stressed the importance of identifying business objectives and focusing on them in analytics interpretation. He cautioned that without clearly defined goals, a person could easily get lost in all of the information that website metrics provide. Not every website has the same objectives.  Some sites are service based and search marketing campaigns are geared towards filling out forms for leads; some sites are ecommerce based and product and cash register driven; some websites offer education, cultural enrichment and information and seek to expand their membership base. Hazen believes that sometimes website metrics need to focus on visitor loyalty and engagement, while at other times, metrics need to look at growing subscribers and the effectiveness of organic search strategies and social media messaging. Measurement of traffic and analysis of user behavior should clarify the  business objectives of a website and test the results of campaigns and usability improvements.

For me, the Search Intensive offered useful information for my day-to-day business, with some refreshing new ideas. The portion of the Analytics Intensive I attended was well worth it, too. Now it’s up to me to apply these newfound ways of seeing SEO, SEM and analysis of website traffic.

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