7 Things I Learned at SMX East 2013

Last week I attended my first search conference, SMX East, in New York City. The conference is composed of diverse sessions covering the latest search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media marketing tactics. Not only was it great to hear from some of the top players in the search industry, but it was also an opportunity to network and share tips with search marketers from across the country and around the world. Here are my top seven takeaways from the conference.

Acquiring natural links and staying penguin proof

In my first session, industry experts talked about leveraging niche audiences for natural links by becoming part of their tribe. If we take the time to understand our audience, we can evoke their interest through the creation of tailored content. By becoming part of their community and providing them with useful content, we can obtain natural links for free.

Diversify your digital marketing

Content can be used in many ways. For example, a whitepaper can also be used to create podcasts, presentations, press releases, webinars, blog posts, email newsletters, interviews, weekly roundups and more.

Infographics are a great source for gaining social signals, traffic and links from other blogs. To leverage another social platform, take Infographics and slice them up for SlideShare using either the same content repurposed or slightly altered companion content. SlideShare allows for direct connection to Twitter on every slide, enabling users to tweet content from the slide straight to their followers without ever leaving your content.

The most important search ranking factors 

Mathew Peters from MOZ shared a study that polled SEO's about what they thought would become the most important search ranking factors. According to the poll, SEO's believe several non-traditional search elements will heavily influence SEO rankings including quality, authorship, structured data and social signals.

'Twitter is the second screen to TV'

Richard Alfonsi, Vice President of Online Sales at Twitter, opened Day 2 at SMX East with a keynote conversation. Today, 95% of public conversations about television are happening on Twitter. Twitter as a second screen to TV viewers allows for a shared experience; it makes watching TV richer and energizes people. Twitter has seen that conversation around TV shows can impact and drive viewership, ultimately increasing rankings.

Semantic Data & Semantic SEO 

Semantic SEO provides open, structured data to increase search visibility by connecting users with information they search for. This enables search engines to more effectively organize the web. Beyond just keywords, unique identifiers help search engines determine the meaning behind a particular query, and rank for more relevant information and more qualified traffic.

Using authorship in SEO can prevent spam, highlight quality authors and help rank quality content. It is speculated that higher visibility using the authorship tag will lead to a higher click through rate. But, it is not enough to just claim authorship; we need to be active on Google+, spend time building circles, generate more engagement and notifying fans on other social networks.

Some panelists cautioned conference-goers that by using semantic SEO you are providing information for Google and Bing to use in the knowledge graph and snap shot, potentially preventing traffic to your site. Currently, there is no real way to measure how to link clicks back to enhanced search results.

Content: The good, the bad, and the ugly

Not sure what to write about? Consider doing competitor research. By checking out what type of content is on your competitor's top pages that have inbound links, search marketers can gain valuable information on what kind of content a particular audience is looking for. Also, look at what is trending on social media platforms like Reddit. Google News can also be a good source to find out what is hot right now.

Hummingbird

It wasn't until Day 3 during a session on the future of SEO that a panel including Danny Sullivan, Brian White (Google) and Duane Forrester (Bing) that the mysterious Hummingbird algorithm was discussed. So far we know that Hummingbird is a full rewrite of the Google search algorithm, the first time Google has done so in years. White explained that there is a stronger focus on keywords having meaning behind them and these meanings connect with each other. Through a greater balance of signals, Hummingbird will allow Google to better understand what users want from their queries. White left a lot of questions unanswered. We will have to keep an eye out on the impact of Hummingbird!

Did you attend SMX East? I would love to hear your main takeaways! Comment below and follow me on Twitter @RachelRacoosin.