6 SEO Lessons from PubCon Las Vegas 2012

6 SEO Lessons from PubCon Las Vegas 2012

It’s been nearly a week since PubCon, and it’s time to review all the cool stuff we learned. This is definitely not a comprehensive list of everything that happened at PubCon, as I can only be in one place at a time while exciting things might be happening in the next room. Nonetheless, here’s the 6 biggest SEO-related takeaways I got from attending this excellent online marketing event.

 #1 Being too popular in Google+ Local may cause your neighbours’ listings to disappear

It might be an issue if you are too popular on your social media channels: Your neighbours will hate you. Michael Dourausch, a Los Angeles based Chiropractor accidentally discovered this when he invited 85 people from the SEO industry to his house. Of course, being online marketers, the 85 guests “checked in” to all their social accounts. Later on, Michael found that his Google Places listings trumped every neighbouring business – even those businesses that were in different niches disappeared altogether.

The lesson here is that if you’re a local business, engage with your customers so they will check in to your place of business. Do some research first to segment them into social network categories: are they more likely to use Foursquare, Google or Facebook? Are they iPhone or Samsung fans? Do they use Gmail, Yahoo or Hotmail? Once you identified the segments, you can start engaging your audience through their favourite channels with the aim of increasing your social media activity. Especially check ins, which as the story above illustrates, is a very important local search ranking factor.

#2 Seer Interactive’s ‘How do they make money’ interactive graph cost $10K to build

The popular interactive app ‘How do our favourite tech companies make money?’ that Seer Interactive created set them back $10k! That’s a lot of money to throw into one link baiting campaign.

It turns out that Seer Interactive didn’t just throw some money and hope for the best – the app came about after thorough keyword research. Wil Reynolds from Seer Interactive explained that the purpose of keyword research is to understand a customer’s journey, time the market, and influence merchandising departments to start selling products that matter to searchers. In his research, Wil identified that searchers had a particular interest in how others make money, and no one had anything interesting to say about it!

With this information, Seer Interactive invested in unique and innovative content to answer this question. As a link baiting campaign, the performance was exceptional: 8.3K Facebook Likes, 5,805 Tweets, 512 Google Plusses, 407 referring domains and 6,759 backlinks from high authority places like wired.com and thenextweb.com.

The takeaway here is to find out what people want to know that nobody else is telling them – and tell them in an interesting and engaging way. If executed well, this strategy is almost guaranteed to earn social interactions and high quality links.

#3 More content does not necessarily mean better

In his presentation on Link Building in the Age of Penguin, Jim Boykins, Founder and CEO of Internet Marketing Ninjas, gave a list of indicators that might categorize a website being at high risk for Penguin-related rankings setbacks:

User experience related indicators

  • More than 80% of your traffic comes from Google
  • You have very few returning visitors
  • Your user experience is not great i.e. high bounce rates
  • No one searches your brand name

Link related indicators

  • Bought links
  • Bought low quality blog reviews
  • Lots of article syndication
  • Too much exact match anchor text

Content related indicators

  • You have thousands of pages, but not thousands of links pointing back to you.
  • You have thousands of pages, but only a few pages that have links from other sites

His findings on content makes a lot of sense since we know Google still has difficulty identifying quality content via semantic recognition. The hint of very few links pointing back to a mega website seems to be a very good indicator for Google that something is wrong with the content.

So the lesson? Jim recommends only making the website as big as you can support. Big is not always better.

#4 Followerwonk + Tagcrowd = Win

One of the surprises was Adam Melson’s presentation where he gave us a little trick in link building by using what you’ve already have. The prerequisite would be to have an active Twitter profile. By using Followerwonk, a tool which conveniently scrapes all the bios of your Twitter list, and then throwing the list into Tagcrowd, you will have a clear picture of what your followers are interested in. Gives you a good idea of what you can write for your next blog post, or maybe offer them a discount on the things they like.

 #5 Authorship is BIG

Everyone seemed to be talking about Google Authorship at PubCon. There was even a whole session dedicated to Authorship and author tags. As Jim Boykins mentioned during his presentation, Google already knows a lot about you. Where you’ve written and what you’ve written, as well as your social media accounts. Google author tags is just another way for Google to organize all these pieces of information together.

The takeaway is to know who your content writers are. Hire an expert writer to help you if you aren’t a great writer yourself. Also be mindful of what authors are linking back to your content, as these will all be possible ranking factors in the future when the AuthorRank algorithm is fully operational. And of course, a big NO for mass produced content and sending the same content across a large network to get links – that doesn’t work anymore.

For more about Google Authorship and AuthorRank, click here.

#6 Everyone is Screaming Frog

The website crawling tool Screaming Frog probably got more advertising space than any of the software vendors at the event – and the people who work for the company didn’t pay for any of it. A lot of speakers had a strong preference for this tool, to the extent that they were willing to spend their precious time praising it. Nothing speaks better than having some of the best SEOs in the world talking up your product for FREE. The SEOs at E-Web Marketing love Screaming Frog too, and never conduct a website audit without it.

Shahid Awan from Cheapflights.com listed a few uses for Screaming Frog that go beyond the basics:

  • Product releases
  • Internal linking audits
  • Checking status error codes
  • Conducting Google Webmaster audits
  • Competitor audits
  • Creating link building opportunities

This lesson here is to make a product so outstanding that industry leaders use it and tell their followers about it. You’ll definitely get links and popularity that way!


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We’ve been in the digital marketing field for over 18 years and worked with hundreds of Australian (and international) businesses to grow their web presence. Specialising in SEO, search ads (PPC), social media, content marketing, email marketing and conversion rate optimisation.

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