Distilled’s Boston Pro SEO Conference happened on May 16-17, 2011 at the Harvard Medical School Conference Centre. Throughout the two days, incredible speakers gave actionable and insightful tips into topics that varied from linkbuilding to coding to men’s fashion.
Some good conference recaps have been published already (check them out here and here and here), but I want to do something different. Because I was the conference photographer, I have some great photos of all of the speakers, but especially Rand Fishkin.
Here are my top 10 takeaways from Boston’s Pro SEO Conference, in funny pictures of Rand Fishkin:
1. You know “this much” about the technological future of SEO
Rob Ousbey presented on “New Technologies”, which showed the awesome ways that technology will be progressing in the future to make our lives better and more fun. He showed a couple of cool tools:
- Linkstant.com, which shows you when new links to your site are clicked. It uses “Push” technology to do this, and it’s mega-cool.
- HTML5 is daunting at first, but once it has been utilized, it creates some very cool looking websites that are CRAWL-FRIENDLY! Check out Reevoo’s online magazine.
- JQuery can be used to create smooth websites that essentially use the “Every page is a homepage” ethos. Check out the new Blogger layout that uses this: My old blog
Will Critchlow presented on “Live Data Analysis”, in which he showed a cool way to use Ubuntu to create, as some presenters called them, “client-friendly reports”. He showed how you can use Ubuntu to take a very messy and jagged chart and turn it into a smooth chart showing changes over time. Very cool. This uses “GREP” and “SED” to clean the data.
Get started with some code of Will’s here.
2. Linkbuilding is difficult, but move those barriers and get the links
Justin Briggs presented on “Effective Linkbuilding”. While Justin did a great job of providing actionable tips, the main takeaway I had from his presentation was “hustle.” He gave an example where a piece of linkbait, an infographic, fell flat. Did he cry about it? No. He started pimping the infographic as a guest post. He was able to place it in a few places, even dividing it up into multiple pieces for a very good website to post. He turned a piece of “failed” linkbait into one that got one of the best links possible for his client.
3. Facebook is VERY powerful. If we’re broader marketers than SERPs, we need to pay attention. *awkward look*
Mat Clayton presented on Social Design. He showed some very cool FB social meta tags that have been in existence for about a year, and may soon catch on and be useful for websites. You can find them here.
Mat also talked a lot about customizing layovers that people see when sharing information. By doing some testing (and accidentally pushing some changes live “too early” which drastically increased conversion rates) he was about to cut the bounce rate by about 50% and increase time on site to about 15 minutes. WOW.
4. You need to be THERE! (Many opportunities exist for places to rank and drive traffic)
Rand presented on “Blended and Verticals: How to win in a multi-vertical search world”. In his presentation, he pointed out many areas where it is possible to get listed and earn traffic. They include:
- Google News
- Video (use a Video Sitemap!)
- Shopping (for eCommerce sites)
- Rich snippets (great for restaurants and review sites)
5. Before you launch, STOP! Create a plan!
Joanna Lord of SEOmoz presented a talk called “Moving the Needle”, in which she showed what SEOmoz is doing in order to streamline their processes as they move ahead with more and more complicated marketing tactics. The main two takeaways from her talk were:
- Have a plan. As she put it, “Brainstorm -> Prioritize -> Action -> Track”. If you can’t track it, what’s the purpose of doing it, and how do you know what is working and what is not working? How will you improve?
- Always have a “Plan B”. Sometimes our best-laid plans are not possible because of other demands on people’s time, or budgets, or many other reasons. If Plan A can’t work, you need a Plan B in place to move to.
6. Just ship it. You can always fix and improve things.
Dharmesh Shah of Hubspot is a businessman and entrepreneur, but a programmer at heart. He has personally built many of the Hubspot tools. His ethos is to ship projects as soon as possible. If they go viral or get popular, then you can work out the bugs.
7. Email is not dead (don’t believe the nay-sayers)
Kate Morris of Distilled Seattle gave an insightful talk into keyword research. She stole the show, really. One of the most interesting bits of her talk was some statistics showing the 19% of consumers chose their holiday gift retailer because of EMAIL. Only 5% chose it because of social media!
Kate also provided a great tool that you can use to enter your keywords, find the articles on eHow that are ranking well, and then you can write them better and get that traffic. Make a copy of the tool that is here.
8. InfoCRAPics are dead. Infographics need the following to be good
Chris Bennett of 97th Floor in Utah has a lot of experience using infographics to build links and dominate the SERPs (I found out he is the SEO for a competitor of the site I used to work on. He’s a tough competitor!). He pointed out that infographics are well and alive, but you need to do the following to make them good:
- Good data/info
- Aesthetically Pleasing
- Present complex ideas in understandable ways
- On-topic with your niche
- No false/confusing data
- If it’s cool info, but boring as text, make it an infographic!
He provided a wonderful process that he has developed for marketing infographics as well. It is available on his slidedeck here.
9. SEOs Can’t Dance
A few more key takeaways (I ran out of pictures of Rand)
- Track internal search on your site. This can give you article/product ideas!
- Use titles on other sites to get ideas for blog post title ideas.
- Fill out EVERYTHING for directories and local places listings.
- You can set a Facebook “Like” button across your whole site to like your site as a whole. You don’t have to limit it to individual pages.