Top 5 SEO Takeaways from SMX Conference 2014

5 seo takeaways from smx conferenceHave you been living in a cave? No? Well then, you'll have definitely heard of the SMX conference which took place on the 13th-14th May 2014. And while you probably didn't get a chance to attend one of the hottest marketing conferences of the year, luckily we at Anicca did – so here are the top SEO takeaways from the 2014 SMX conference. Enjoy.

Psst! I've started with the best!

1.) The Entity Search Revolution

While most of us realise that the launch of Hummingbird focused more on semantic search to find the most relevant answer to a search query – Justin Briggs, Senior Manager at Getty Images blew my mind with his presentation on entity search.

First off, let me explain what entity search is. An entity is a thing, a thing which has an independent existence. So, for example, a café is an entity, a person is an entity. Now, here comes the clever bit. Google, by identifying entities, can now distinguish and identify the relationship between related entities.

A great example that Justin Briggs used was this;

Pulp Fiction is a film and therefore an entity in its own right. Quentin Tarantino is a person and therefore an entity in his own right – but Google has distinguished the relationship between these two. So, if I searched for “who directed pulp fiction” Google, instead of providing me with content with this exact heading, kindly provides me with the answer.

who directed pulp fiction

It is this which opens up a whole new world of opportunities – a world where entities are implicit. Don't take my word for it, check out his presentation below;

2.) Search Un-Optimisation

That's right – you've read correctly. Search un-optimisation. It's got to the stage where lots of companies employed spammy SEO tactics to improve their ranking positions – however after numerous algorithm updates it's now become essential for you to un-optimise a website. Get the foundations right and the rest will follow. Grant Simmons, VP of Search Strategies, Dominion Homes Media, said to focus on un-optimising the following to begin with.

This includes;

  • Cleaning your back link profile
  • Un-optimising content
  • Analysing the value and quality of the content on the website (the trick is to place the visitors happiness above Google's)

For further information on search un-optimisation check out his presentation below;

3.) Microdata & Schema = Rich Snippets!

If you're always delving into the world of online marketing (in terms of reading a LOT of online information), then I'm guessing you've heard about this latest study from Searchmetrics which revealed that less than 1% of websites have implemented Schema.org markup. However, the study revealed that pages with Schema markup generally rank better by an average of 4 positions compared with those which did not have Schema markup. Intrigued? I'm not surprised.

This presentation from Bastian Grimm, Managing Partner at Grimm Digital explained the benefits of using it, and while improved ranking positions have been alluded to, that's not the only reason. In fact, rich snippets are said to improve the Click Through Rate (CTR) of your listing – a benefit if ever there was one.

While Bastian's presentation looked at the benefits of Schema markup and rich snippets (if you're not sure what these are, click here to read our guide which explains what Schema is) the following presentation from Samuel Edwards, Online Media Strategist at Tenthwave Digital included a case study which shows some interesting results.

So, the big question is – are you using Schema markup? If not, maybe it's time you did.

4.) Trending Ranking Factors

A big factor for many (but hopefully you're not making this the sole focus of your campaign), Leonhard Hennig, Chief Data Scientist at Searchmetrics highlighted the factors which had a strong correlation to those in the top positions. Obviously this isn't a definitive list of ‘things to do' but more of a guide.

The key ranking factors are listed in this presentation which you can download here.

5.) Link Building is Dead…Maybe

Let's clear one thing up – link building is not dead. But the way we think about link building needs to change. Far too long SEO experts have gone for quick wins – links which are easy to get, don't take a lot of effort and are now having a negative impact on SEO campaigns. So, what exactly are you supposed to do when the search engines are telling you not to build links but they still have an impact on your rankings? It's a toughie but some of the experts at SMX decided to face this question head on.

Now, more than ever, link earning strategies need to be in place to build ‘natural links', but while you think that a natural link is a link which you had no part in building, search engines look at the landscape of the industry in its entirety to identify what is natural.

This means, that if you work in an industry which has lots of spammy links, then really you shouldn't be going through your back link profile with a fine tooth comb removing anything ‘unnatural'. That said, you need to think of a link in a different way. Rather than seeing a link as a way to improve your rankings, you need to look at the website you want a link from and ask yourself – if SEO didn't exist, would I still want a link from this site to mine? Do your target audience visit this type of website? Do you think it would help build brand awareness? No? Then maybe you shouldn't build that particular link.

Here are the slides on link building;

Hopefully this has given you some much needed food for thought on how to improve your SEO campaign – but remember, you can always get in touch with us.

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