Absolutely worth every dime. What I found most surprising is the size of this industry is still very small. I’d say about 30 percent represented an organization that wanted to learn more about digital marketing and 70 percent were representing an agency. I can honestly say I didn’t attend a bad session. I kept my attention in the advanced sessions where the presenters often spoke about real world case studies and findings. I had 3 great takeaways from SMX West and I have broken them down below:
1. SEO is alive and well. I was beginning to change my perception of the term SEO. We are proponents of using the word ‘search,’ essentially combining SEO and SEM. While there is very much a strong relationship between SEO and SEM, these are still separate practices. While many people are doing very well in non-branded and branded SEO, there are two very large opportunities that many businesses are missing out on.
a. The power of SEM as it relates to real life events, like weather, celebrities, sporting events or games. An example would be purchasing keywords like ‘score of Lions and Packers game’ for a company interested in getting in front of male viewers aged 18-24.
b. Leveraging big advertisers huge TV campaign budgets to purchase keywords about the product or industry they are building. This is also important for the actual companies spending on TV already and where the 1+1=3 comes into play. What a huge opportunity and it requires your organization to be on the constant lookout for new opportunities. The power of listening is extremely valuable today.
2. Visual communication is the future of the web. We are continuing to skim more content and faster, giving ourselves less time to decide if we are going to engage or not. By 2018, 84 percent of the communication done on the web will be visual. This means content must be more creative than just a blog or landing page. Infographics, charts, maps and digital stories with video and audio are becoming more crucial in converting a visitor into a customer. The story your brand tells is continuing to grow in importance. I know, you say that has always mattered, and it has, but not as much as it does today. Now, we have more options. Bottom line, web content is getting better and will allow us to learn and absorb information much faster.
3. Your brand can lead your industry by relying entirely on Google, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. I’m repeating, you can and should build a multimillion dollar business and only market yourself online. I knew this before I went to SMX, but it was confirmed multiple times. For example: There was a mattress company that has established themselves as the top searched branded keyword in their industry and it only took them about one year. How did they do it? They told a great story and leveraged it through the power of social media.
SMX is an absolute grind. The sessions go from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for three days with only two, 15 minute breaks and half an hour for lunch each day. When you throw in networking and a couple cocktails, you don’t have much time to get your actual business work done. However, this is the cost of a really good expo. I would suggest bringing a couple people from your office and split up the events to cover more ground. The perfect combination would be someone from management and a beginner. Both will learn a great deal and at the same time learn a lot that can be shared amongst each other. Thanks to everyone who attended, all the speakers, the sponsors and #SMX.
It was a great first day at SMX West. There are probably only around 1,500 people here, which really surprises me. It also excites me because it puts SSDM in a small group of agencies that are not only attending these, but are able to come back and implement. I attended “Thinking Outside the SEM Box” which had a lot of great case studies about unorthodox campaigns. Like KitKat purchasing football team names in Adwords to attempt to give scoring updates to their every challenging 18-24 male market.
A repeating theme of the day was how social and search need to be connected in strategy and execution. Looking at SEO and Social and PPC separately is not the way to go, we know this, but it’s nice to get the affirmation. Maggie Malek (@MagsMac) was really good. Speaking about the relationship between search and social, Maggie said, “We know everything is changing but everyone is acting like nothing is happening. Brand development happens through social and search.” There is so much education that has to continue to happen in the marketplace.
Bruce Clay is basically the Father of SEO, I’d say Perry Marshall is the Father of PPC. Bruce had a lot of swagger actually. He was kind and humble but didn’t want to take anyones shit. A true sign of a man that’s been around awhile, maybe a little cynical but certainly a master of his craft. The biggest takeaway was Bruce was saying how his agency has to reinvent themselves every 6 months to remain relevant. The ‘not set’ organic change was a big hit, but uses an API from Search Council that allows him to see the actual keywords being used to generate SEO traffic.
Bruce Clay Key Takeaways:
- Pop ups should show up with the follow: average time on site divided by 3.
- Disavowfiles.com – Keep adding websites. Accumulated report over all-time.
- Outbound links are valuable. – Think like bibliography.
- “We’ve increased page ranking by removing bad/old content.”
- “If you’d been using the same website for 8 years, give it up.”
- API from Search Council to see your organic search terms.
Dynamic ads and visual content are the future. 85% of communication will be visual by 2018. I’ll have more on this for my Day 2 recap, stay tuned!
Watch the recap here:
Join SS Digital Media as we meet to discuss the senior healthcare industry and how digital is impacting marketing. The event will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017 at Google Ann Arbor headquarters. Cost is $25 and will include, refreshments and lunch.
Alongside representatives from Google NYC, Founder of SS Digital Media, Nick Skislak will discuss numerous aspects of digital marketing including:
- The continuous evolution of digital marketing
- How to track online success and failures
- Current and upcoming industry trends
- The best practices for increasing web traffic and conversion rates, and more!
You will even have the chance to tour Google Ann Arbor after the event concludes!
Join SS Digital Media and Google for a Lunch & Learn!
Interested in joining us for our senior healthcare industry event? We’d love to see you at Google! Fill out this form to register. If you have any questions, contact our Project Manager, Tessa Feeley at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 248-629-9594. Space is limited.
Lunch today was filled with great conversations about international SEO and what a world without Google looks like. We are making friends in NYC and seeing lots of familiar faces now in day two.
The next set of sessions were broken into mini-sessions. Here is the recap:
Session #3 – Everything You Need To Know About Redirects
- Only 302 is fast and helpful for site migration and ranking
- Not all redirects are the same
- Don’t use 301 or 307 redirects (not recommended)
- PageRank officially shut off by Google in April 2016
- You need to analyze your incoming redirects for SEO purposes
- 303 is for mobile
Click the link below to see Christoph C. Cemper’s presentation:
Everything You Need To Know About Redirects By Christoph C. Cemper
Session #3.1 The Power of Google Featured Snippets in 2016 – Analysis, Case Studies, and Recommendations
If you can get a featured snippet, it can drive a ton of traffic. 73% of Google traffic came in through this during a test conducted. Knowledge graph can also provide a big impact.
- You don’t have to rank to get the snippet in SERPs
- No! Structured data is not a factor – They surface organically
- Provide a concise and clear introduction for each page on their site (located at the top of the each page)
- Snippets can be personalized – location, personal data, etc.
- Bulleted list – can turn into featured snippet
- Favorite tools – SEMrush SERP features module
- What’s better than featured snippets? Featured videos!
- Know your site. Surface your own featured snippets (you can also check Google Search Counsel)
- Analyze pages and content
- Find more in your industry/niche
- Track the traffic changes
- Use images, bullets, and numbering
- HTML Tables
Click the link below to see Glenn Gabe’s presentation:
The Power of Google Featured Snippets in 2016: Analysis, Case Studies and Recommendations by Glenn Gabe
Session 3.2 Better Safe Than Sorry With HTTPS
The good, the bad and the terrifying. HTTPS Everywhere. Google has been promoting this. It is a ranking signal (maybe not a strong one) but one of. They started showing https by default (unless you have conical setup). There’s a lot of guides and checklists for this if you are interested (see the slides for details).
Click the link below to se Patrick Stox’s presentation:
Better Safe Than Sorry With HTTPS By Patrick Stox
- Don’t recommend against HTTPs as an SEO
- People are not adopting to HTTPs (.1% have made the switch)
- The goods:
- Data integrity
- It’s scary because it’s a site migration and a lot of things can go wrong
- Everyone is talking about AMP because it loads content for HTTP/2 and caching (of course)
- Many sites do not have HTTPs set up properly
Session #4 – Automate Your PPC With AdWords Scripts
This session involved helping make scripts seem simpler. Upload to Google AdWords to make Bulk Operations that you can still manage.
Click the links below to see their presentations:
Step Into The Future: Automate Your PPC With AdWords Scripts By Marcela De Vivo
The Secret Codes of AdWords Scripts By Steven Hammer
Advanced Tips for Working with AdWords Scripts By Frederick Vallaeys
- Scripts can – schedule and execute task, fetch urls and send emails, talk to external data sources like Google drive and spreadsheets. Some examples are:
- Modify bids by weather – Increase or decrease by weather.
- Link checker – Bad URLS – *some are free by the AdWords script team.
- You can use them to track Quality scores and help to generate reports, manage keywords by increasing and decreasing bids, etc.
- Code makes us sound like secret agents.
- Think about script in the sense of what we do everyday. We manage ads by rules. It can be simple or more complicated.
- There are variables to consider when developing scripts.
- PRO TIP: STAY ORGANIZED AND THERE’S NO UNDO BUTTON – RUN IN EDITOR FIRST!
- You get better results when you combine computers and humans.
- You have to update scripts as adwords updates.
- Execution time limits
- Find trends between different accounts.
- Upload scripts into your MCC to avoid your clients from stealing them.
- So much techy goodness today! We are definitely geeking out here at #SMX. Excited for another day of search fun tomorrow!
After a great night with the Janes of Digital and Bing, the morning started off with lots of new great things from Google.
Session #1 – Keynote Conversation: What’s New and Cool At Google
- Jerry Dischler – VP, Product Management, Adwords, Google – @jdischler
- Babak Pahlavan – Senior Director of Measurement & Analytics, Google – @babakph
- Moderator – Ginny Marvin – Contributing Editor, Marketing La
nd – @ginnymarvin
- Co-Moderator – Greg Sterling – Founding Principal, Sterling Market Intelligence – @gsterling
This session talked about a new free product that Google announced.
Google’s Jerry Dischler discusses all that is new with expanded texts, audiences, RLSA and more. Here’s the quick recap:
- Reintroducing device bidding for better ROI tracking – Finally!
- Jump in with both feet on new expanded text ads! Apply all of the normal best practices. for maximum impact: testing, optimizing, dynamic elements, all of it!
- The day of mobile avoidance is over, people are now embracing the mobile first environment.
- Google announces testing for in-store visit tracking for retailers.
- Google is now finding that offline impact is much larger than online impact. It’s working on putting that data in the advertisers hands.
- Audience targeting is expanding.
- New demographic targeting – beta rolling out starting today!
- RLSA (remarketing lists for search ads) is expanding.
- New customer match options coming using email addresses
- You can now manage remarketing for search ads at the campaign level.
- Free version of Optimize rolling out on Google Analytics 360. g.co/optimize.
- Similar audiences for search now in open beta.
Google’s Babak Pahlavan discusses what new with analytics and tracking. Here’s what you need to know:
- 20 new tags coming to Google Tag Manager.
- Session quality scores in beta.
- Templates will rollout in October for Google Analytics Data Studio.
- Google is actively working on getting rid of referrer spam in Analytics.
- Anything you can do in Google’s auto tracking can be done in tag manager & GTM is recommended.
- Smart goals: help if you don’t have a lot of data or don’t have conversion goals. It will figure out performance goals.
Session #2 – Attribution in AdWords – Learn with Google
This session discussed moving past the last-click model in Google AdWords. If you haven’t decided what model is right for you, you are already choosing the last click model.
Move beyond last click attribution in AdWords
It is important to determine what is important to you and review current data to choose the right model for you. The model options are:
- Last Click
- First Click
- Position Based
- Time Decay
- Data-Driven (in beta need 20k click/mo to qualify)
Some of the reports you should review before deciding:
- Top paths
- Time lag
- Path length
- Cross-device activity
If you are focused on branding and need to be more towards position, use first click or linear. If you need to be more conservative, last click might be best.
Test and measure impact of attribution. Ways to test:
- Establish a control period – Recommend at least a few weeks to establish baseline and performance. Look at this account wide basis.
- Update both your model and your bids
- Monitor your test
- Evaluate performance
Things to consider while testing:
- You can update your bids and review current by using new model columns available.
- During monitoring – Don’t make any major changes.
- Evaluation – Look for increase in conversion at the same CPA, or in the revenue at same CPA.
Align ads & landing pages with the click path:
- Some pockets might be more upper funnel traffic and may want to review creative or keywords.
Why Automated Bidding is Important:
- Advanced machine learning
- Unparalleled optimization frequency and precision
- Rich set of auction-time signals
For more: Google Best Practices
Check back later for my overview on Day 2 afternoon sessions with SMX!
Although a bit chaotic, lunch was good and full of great conversations with other search professionals. After recapping this morning’s sessions and beginning to explore the expo hall, the afternoon sessions were very busy. (more…)