13 Nov 2009

Pubcon Las Vegas Day 3: Session Wrapup

What a great week it has been here in Las Vegas, but I have to admit I am ready to head home. Late nights, early mornings, too many vodka cranberries, and way too much money spent on those darn slot machines have me aching for Phoenix!

The sessions I attended on Day 3 focused a lot more on brand management than anything else really, and the kicker to the end of the day was the famous “Search Engine Smackdown”. Below is a summary of the sessions I attended, and don’t forget to check out Chris’s post “Pubcon 2009 Top 50 SEO Tips So Far” from yesterday.
Online Brand Management Strategies Sean Jackson, Kenny Hyder, Tony Wright, and Krista Neher.
As we all know, brand management becomes more complex by the day due to 1) faster indexing speeds by search engines, 2) real-time searches like Twitter, and 3) just the overwhelming power of social media. This session focused on strategies to help you combat these issues directly. First up: Sean Jackson, CEO of Ecordia. He stresses that aligning brand management and sales is key. You must determine how to use brand management to drive more sales to your brand. He discusses the sales funnel. You must work to move your clients from one stage to the next of the sales funnel in order to make a sale. The funnel is as follows:
  1. Category Awareness
  2. Brand Awareness
  3. Brand Consideration
  4. Brand Preference
  5. Purchase Intent
  6. Purchase
  7. Customer Retention
  8. Advocates
He then discusses the three elements of online brand management: monitoring, engaging and advocating.
Next up: Kenny Hyder with his presentation: “Online Brand Management Strategies: Brand Management & SERP Domination”. He gives us some examples of what to do when you get that bad review on yelp, a negative news article, or even a rant from a less than favorable reader. You want to push these items out of your SERPs for your brand name by doing the following:
  1. Starting a blog
  2. Social media profiles
  3. Niche sites and directories
Not only do these sites help with pushing down negative results for your brand, but they also provide useful and informative information for your brand, thereby increasing your clout.
Tony Wright with WrightMC is up next with his presentation: “Brand Reputation Management: SERPs and Beyond”. Something important to remember: “If I tell my friends about your brand its because I like my friends not because I like your brand”. Quite right! We all want to be reputable sources for our friends, and we share brand information not to give props, but usually so we are seen as an expert on a particular topic. Users want to become part of a community online (31%) and they want recognition from their peers (28%). Did you know that people utilize data they are given in decision making, and that it’s most prevalent in users between the ages of 18 and 24 (65%!).
Some might wonder, why is this important? Because user generated content in 2008 hit an astounding 116 million pieces, and that’s from 82.5 million different content creators! You need to have a plan to and all personnel should be involved: from IT to upper management and even unions if applicable. Monitor your brand all the time, act fast to negative press but not a knee jerk response.
Finishing up this session was Krista Neher with her presentation: “Online Brand Management Issues”. The logical and the emotion need to play together in order to build strong brand equity. Krista gives her six tips for dealing with negativity: 1) humanize your brand, 2) listen and try to understand the problem, 3) thank your haters for caring, sounds lame but there are instances where haters become active advocates! 4) be transparent and explain the issues outright, 5) build a community of brand defenders, they will come to your rescue with you having to pay them a dime! And 6) know when to walk away.
Social Media Measurement and Signals with John Marshall, Adam Proehl, Dan Zarrella, and Loren Baker.
Marshall starts off the session discussing the probability of conversions: SERPs 32% and with Social Media 3%….those are pretty low numbers! He even states that about 30% of the time when a sale is made its attributed to the “I don’t know where the heck this came from” category. There are a few solutions to try to solve/address these issues, including commercial tools like ClearSaleing, and Google Analytics. He also suggests Wasp, a Firefox plugin with a price tag of around $70.
Adam Proehl presents next, “Getting Beyond the Geeky Numbers”. He states that there are quite a few measuring tools out there, but tools mean little, the best tools in the world can build a really crappy house. First understand your corporate goals, and it’s not just “we want leads”. Next you must understand your customers objectives: why did they visit your site? What are they doing on your site? How did they get there? And what did they do when they got there?
Proehl provides great advice on what you can report to the different members of your company, or a clients. 1) Executives: they have short attention spans, make reports simple and one paged for maximum impact. 2) Finance: their language is ROI, which is often hard to prove in social media. Tell your story and your efforts should translate into numbers. 3) Sales Manager: One page (maybe 2) as they too have short attention spans, look at transactions and conversions, scored and categorized leads, sentiment, influencers, tell your story, and solicit campaign feedback. Below are a list of some free tools Proehl suggests using:
  1. Addict-o-Matic: this is a great starting point
  2. WhosTalkin.com: gives you some good measurements, mostly social media and blog posts.
  3. ShareThis.com: a free tool showing metrics for reporting, and integrates well with GA.
  4. Snip-N-Tag: this Firefox addon does URL shortening, and Google campaign Ids as well.
  5. GA?: this Firefox addon goes onto a specific page and determines if the code is correct or not.
  6. Better Google Analytics: this Firefox addon allows you to have full screen toggle, a content search box, also has the ability to view content page and how many times that page has been added to digg, reddit, etc.
  7. Enhanced Google Analytics: another Firefox addon, this one can tell if there are any unusual spikes in referral traffic with a click of a button.
  8. Twitalyzer.com: is a scoring algorithum, most useful in the fact that you can log into GA directly from it.
  9. Hoosuite.com: a Twitter platform which has click stats, geo stats on tweets, etc.
  10. Bit.ly: this url shortner allows you to see the click through rates on any URL in the bit.ly system.
  11. ExcellentAnalytics.com: this is an excel plugin best used if you already have excel reports requiring mashing up.
  12. SiteScanGA.com: scans your site if you use GA and gives you a report.
  13. TweetingToHard.com: pokes fun at narcissistic Twitter posts.
Next up, my favorite speaker at this conference, Dan Zarrella from Hubspot. He’s quite the expert in the Twittosphere, giving great statistics on RTs due to his vast Twitter database of over 5 million. He states that Google and others are supposedly in talks with making changes to slow content caching to look at social networks, and Twitter re-tweets as well. If you think about it, re-tweets are sort of like a ‘vote’ or referral for a subject or topic. He predicts that it is going to be the new ‘signal’ instead of links. He provides an interesting algorithm that just could make RT’s a great quality signal:
Take the #of tweets divided by the number of followers of those who tweeted it. RT/followers=R0. The higher the percentage, the higher your quality. Citation style authority: mentions-per-day=Twitter Authority. R0*Sum (Twitter Authority of users who tweeted). Its very likely that something similar to this will be added to search engines algorithms including relevancy indicators: keywords around the link: words that co-occur with the link and RT.
Search Engine Smackdown with Matt Cutts and Sean Suchter
Wrapping up Pubcon Las Vegas 2009 with Matt Cutts from Google and Sean Suchter from Bing seems only fitting. Sean starts off discussing Bing’s goal: to address unmet problems in search. 25% of clicks come back to search engine result pages, and almost 50% of search sessions need improvement. Bing has had: 80 million visitors and now have over 9% of the market share. They’ve added visual search and hover preview, which they see as successful.
Next Suchter talks about spam. What is it? Anything done to manipulate rankings without adding actual value. He then tries an experiment with real-time search. He’s asked audience members to tweet with a hashtag: #mattshair to see just how quickly the topic can be pulled through Bing’s new Twitter search application. Not quite as fast as you might think, but it did work.
Matt Cutts presents next starting off his presentation with new things from Google this year: Chrome, Android (happy 2nd birthday Android 11/12), and Wave. He also discussed Google Squared, Google social search, Wonder Wheel, and code.google.com/speed. Worth noting: Cutts emphasized the fact that speed is extremely important. Get your pages to load faster, and it might just translate into better rankings….hint, hint. He discusses a bit more about other things Google has done such as rel=canonical, Fetch as Googlebot, malware warnings, keyword details, and more.
Now on to some questions:
Why is Google better than Bing? Google is fresher, relevant, and faster!
Is nofollow info really accurate? Cutts states they’ve been honest about that: nofollow should be dropped from the link graph.
Is search.twitter.com a competitor? Suchter states at Bing their Twitter aggregator is extremely useful. Cutts thinks twitter is great at giving everyone the ability to create content.
Last question: If on link on a page is nofollowed are the other links on the page nofollow as well? Matt states he has to get back to us about this one, as he isn’t aware. In a previous session one of the presenters claimed this premise, so it will be interesting to see what is said: If one link is nofollowed on a page the other links on that page are nofollowed as well.

Hope you enjoyed our coverage of Pubcon Las Vegas 2009. What did you find most interesting?