What’s Working for SEO in 2011: A Review from London SMX

Gareth Davies of GSINC Ltd covered SMX London last week and filed this report.

With the latest Google Panda update, and the issues some webmasters have faced as a result of the update, attendees at this year’s SMX LONDON were looking for answers to what’s working for SEO in 2011.

The panel consisted of Mikkel deMib Svendsen, Christine Churchill and Max Thomas.

SMX London panel

SEO Has Evolved:

First up was Mikkel deMib Svendsen. Mikkel began by reminding attendees that when it comes to SEO, things are very different in 2011 to what has gone before.

In the 1990’s SEO was relatively easy…simple algorithms meant that SEO was mainly about on-page factors and search engines had very few (if any) people dedicated to fighting Spam. Today the search engine algorithms are very complex, and there are huge teams dedicated to fighting Spam.

SMX London – Converting Paid Traffic & Search Engine Stats

Analysing and Converting Paid Traffic

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Andy Atkins-Krüger – WebCertain

In his session Andy looked at the range of ways both a PPC and organic SEO a campaign could be broken down to measure how effective each stage was performing. Aspects such as number of visits, pages views, dwell time and bounce rate were all seen as important elements to measure.

Andy also suggested that rather than take the traditional approach of looking to only improve the final stage of the shopping funnel (i.e. optimising the buy page) improving who gets onto the website in the first instance was equally important.

So to recap, whilst people typically look to the shopping cart for initial conversion improvement—Andy advocated starting at the other end of the chain and at keywords.

New Marketing Fundamentals by Brian Fetherstonhaugh at SMX London 09

Brian Fetherstonhaugh, Chairman and CEO—OgilvyOne Worldwide

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Once again SMX London was held at the rather grand New Connaught Rooms in Covent Garden. Unlike the typical chilly days of last November Spring was in the air and to begin the conference Brian Fetherstonhaugh of OgilvyOne took to the stage in front of a packed conference hall to deliver his keynote.

Brian began with addressing the concept that search was the holy grail of marketing. And even more so in a time of recession—the industry itself was still growing at a rate of 10-20% a year! He then told attendees that whilst OgilvyOne had worked with some top brands including American Express, Sears, Ford, Shell, Barbie, Pond’s, Dove and more. But as Brian pointed out, David Ogilvy was kind of crazy! “He was an “interesting and nutty guy”.

SEO, Usability & 15 Stupid Things You Can Do to Your Website – SMX West

Michael Stebbins—Market Motive

Whilst not technically a session I was fortunate enough to hear Michael Stebbins of Market Motive present a little mini-presentation in the Expo hall, which grabbed a lot of people’s attention. I was away from my laptop but managed to type up notes on my iPhone.

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His presentation was titled: 15 stupid things you can do to your website:

1. Using lots of JavaScript menus so search engines can’t crawl your website properly.

2. Using stupid keywords—ones that are too competitive or no one is searching for. Michael suggested picking mid-range keywords and work your way up.

Optimising Images for Search Engines – SMX West

The following is a special report from SMX West 2009.

Peter Linsley—Google

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First up Peter Linsley of Google ran through some of the concepts behind Google images and also factors that may influence ranking of images on Google which included some of the following:

  • Number of referring sites—so whether the image is used on more than one website is a key metric in Google’s ranking Algorithm.
  • The text around the image and the kind of words contained is also a factor taken into account by Google.
  • Also placement of image—and whether it is above the fold

Peter also suggested that other dynamic features were in play. For example can a user comment on the image via a comments box? Or whether the image could be rated somehow.

Legally Speaking – Legal Stuff for SEMs – SMX West

A session on the legal aspects of search and domains was an interesting addition to this years’ agenda. Moderated by Sarah Bird and featuring a selection of legal experts, a range of topics relating to search and affiliate marketing were placed under scrutiny.

Travis Crabtree – Looper Reed & McGraw, P.C

First up was Travis Crabtree. Travis outlined the 2 key criteria that must exist for a case to exist in respect to ‘misuse of Trademarks’. Those two things were either a use in commerce must occur, or that there must be consumer confusion. However differences did exist between California courts and those of New York.

ECommerce Search Marketing Tactics

The session on search marketing tactics served up a strong panel of speakers. As a result a range of interesting ideas were addressed from common sense optimization tips, to leveraging shopping feeds . . . and even Twitter.

Ethan Griffin – Groove Commerce

First up Ethan’s shared some ECommerce optimization tips with the audience, which included some of the following:

  • Use the H1 tag
  • Use unique product descriptions (don’t just copy and paste supplier info into the web pages)
  • Pay attention to internal linking issues
  • Don’t bury folders/directories so that pages appear too deep in the site
  • Have the most important content at the top

In respect to SEO activities and links Ethan recommended that webmasters still submit to directories, consider creating separate blogs to drive traffic, use social media and leverage online PR.