Wil Reynolds was the first speaker. Wil is the founder of SEER Interactive, a Philadelphia-based SEO consultancy. Though he was tired from his flight across the pond the previous day, he gave an impassioned talk entitled “Pitfalls, mistakes, and traps for the unwary”.
One of the things I respect about Wil is his immense openness and honesty about his successes and his failures. He cited some case studies where what he thought would work actually led to drops in rankings, and he was also good enough to admit that he did not know conclusively why this happened.
The case study that stuck in my mind was where his client gained links from some major websites, such as the New York Times and Cosmo, yet their rankings actually went down. He expected them to rise (as any sane SEO would), yet the opposite happened. Wil cautioned us against thinking that a link from an authoritative site will always benefit your link profile, though as Tom Critchlow later suggested, you should still have your optimal link target “wishlist” of authoritative sites in your space to gain links from.
Wil also cited some interesting data regarding link profiles and some interesting ways to get the links you need, both those your competitors have and others. (ask Twitter for help on these notes). His recommendation to look at the top 100 sites, analyze their tactics, and then update them for your clients did not fall upon deaf ears. Often SEOs feel like they have to recreate the wheel. Why not update it and make it better?