Best of SMX East 2011

SMX East was awesome. Here’s the best of the best:Best of SMX East

Best Lines

  • Jeff Jarvis: Google is portrayed as Godzilla but sees itself as Snufflupagus (hat tip: Lisa Barone)
  • Marty Weintraub: Make your Facebook ads fun! “Lost your head”? “Goodbye stupid tools”, or “Don’t be a dumb__clockhead” ..”Facebook won’t let you say ass (hat tip: Akvile Harlow)
  • Danny Sullivan:
    • It’s Google’s world. We just rank in it. Or not.
    • Originally Google Plus was called The Google Plus until Justin Timberlake advised them to drop the “The.”
  • Michael Gray:
    • In Social Media you’re either the con or the mark. If you don’t know which one you are … (hat tip: Will Scott)
    • Be a valuable member of the community. Don’t only submit your own stuff. If you’re a con, look like a mark (hat tip: Akvile Harlow)
  • Matt Heist: We did our Green Cars site in blue. People ridiculed us for it. Shows what you don’t notice when you’re thinking in metaphors.
  • Jack Menzel (Google Product Manager talking about personalization): We’ve made your jobs easier. You don’t have to figure out how to rank globally if you’re not globally relevant.
  • Duane Forrester: Check out the Bing Webmaster Blog. I publish there every week. Last week we published our algorithm so check it out.
  • Kevin Lee: Retargeted ads can be creepy. If I go to my wife’s computer and see ads for a divorce lawyer, I’d be creeped out.
  • Rae Hoffman-Dolan: I do a little bit of consulting. Not too much because I don’t like clients.

Best Tips

  • Erika Mamber: Don’t hire SEO copywriters. Hire really good writers & train them in SEO.
  • Ulli Muenker: When seeking allies in an organization, tell people that knowing SEO can help them land their next job.
  • Duane Forrester: Just posted great timely content that needs to rank now? Bing Webmaster Central now has a Submit URL feature that will get it indexed immediately.
  • Marty Weintraub’s social media advice: The best way to make friends is to be friendly. The best way to get likes is to do things that make people like you. (hat tip: @Lerna & @AmyVernon)
  • Shari Thurow’s GUI tip: Do not put prompt text in search boxes. Usability tests show eyes go right to empty boxes. (hat tip: Rich Kelley)

Best (worst?) Mistakes

  • Simon Heseltine: Told Client X to implement canonical URLs like Site Y did. So they copied the canonical tag exactly, including Site Y’s URL. Oops.
  • Bruce Clay: A site implemented a 404 page by copying the homepage, and then putting a canonical URL on the 404 to the homepage.

Best Exchanges

  • Question: What if different departments in a company are both competing for ranking on the same search term?
  • Barbara Coll: Let them duke it out.
  • Chris Sherman: What if they start spamming each other?
  • Question: Is Google making us dumber?
  • Steven Levy: They make it easier to get by if you are dumb. They’re not making us dumber.
  • Jeff Jarvis: We’re smarter.  Now if you want a fact you’re going to see it in .3 seconds. That changes how we are.
  • Question: So when does Europe get these cool features?
  • Stefan Weitz: When we port things to other markets we don’t just change the er’s into re’s and add u’s …
  • Danny Sullivan: You have to convert all the z’s to zed’s. That takes time.
  • Danny Sullivan: Erika Mamber from Demand Media is our Q&A moderator. Can I make a Demand Media joke?
  • Erika: If it’s funny
  • Vanessa Fox: Barry, you’re here! Are you live blogging?
  • Barry Schwartz: Why else would I be here? [ouch]
  • Question: How does Google know …
  • Vanessa Fox: I always tell people not to ask how does Google know. They just know.
  • Danny: Why doesn’t the rel=author tag make my picture show up?
  • Duane (from Bing): We have automated filtering on an esthetic level.
  • Danny: That’s probably why you guys are winning.
  • Danny Sullivan (brings up Google’s home page): There’s no special logo for Google today.
  • Tiffany Oberoi: Unless it’s your birthday. We show a nice logo for people on their birthdays if they filled that out in their Google Profile. I did that on my 20% project.
  • Danny: Nice, thanks. Duane, what did you do for me?
  • Danny: People at the last conference said they needed something for pagination. You guys delivered. So people here are having problems with ranking. Can you give us a rel=top10 tag?
  • Duane: Sure. But you in this room have decide among yourselves who is going to own which keyword. One keyword each. Then just give us that list and we’ll take care of it.

Best Concepts

  • G-Bounce: For most Analytics programs a Bounce is simply a visit where the user views just a single page. The correlation between bounces and user satisfaction can be murky. Mark Munroe used the term G-Bounce to refer to people who do a Google search, click on your site, come back quickly, and click on other results. Danny Sullivan later referred to this as PogoSticking. Especially with Panda, sites need to focus on lowering their G-Bounce rates. Figure out which pages and search terms have high G-Bounce rates. They may be sabotaging your whole site. And if you can’t satisfy your user, direct him to another site that can. Just don’t let him G-Bounce.
  • In-House SEO is mostly about culture. Most of the in-house people painted a picture of a sole in-house SEO working in a large company. Be nice, make friends, and gather SEO evangelists.
  • Google is getting a lot fuzzier. Not in the warm and cuddly way. Their attitude in the past was far more binary. A page either had a big penalty or it didn’t. When asked if they used particular signals Matt Cutts would often say “no, that’s too spammable.” Now they just take everything and use it as either a primary or corroborating signal, incorporate it into a ranking factor. OT1H, this means they’ll make a lot more mistakes, and they can be more easily gamed. OTOH, the mistakes should be much smaller and it may be much harder to game them in an economically viable manner.
  • Google & Bing see themselves as the user’s friend in a conversation: Eli Pariser gave an entertaining keynote about the dangers of how much Google knows about you and how they use that to determine what results to show you. Google Product Manager Jack Menzel countered with “I’m so excited that our personalization works so well that people are creating dystopian fantasies about it.” He asked things like “How stupid would your friend think you are if he asked for the bus schedule and you gave him schedules for far-away cities? How annoyed would you be at your friend if he wasn’t paying attention to you so he answered your question without considering the previous parts of your conversation?” Google Plus Product Manager Christian Oestlein said that Google Plus isn’t Google’s attempt to build a third or fourth social network. It’s the centerpiece of their attempt to understand their users better so they can better serve throughout the product line. Jeff Jarvis’ line from the first session of SMX East really nailed it. There’s no disagreement on the facts of what Google is doing. But Google’s critics see an evil monster; Google sees itself as a lovable friend.
  • Is Black Hat SEO Dying?:  I think this is the first “Ask the SEOs” session with a majority of White Hats. A far greater percentage of tips at this conference have been snow white, about understanding and satisfying your market, improving your analytics, etc. Search has grown a lot in the past few years. Or the black hats have gone further underground and are making millions out of the spotlight.

Best Tweets

  • @Hyph_en: Is your demographic seniors? How to get them to +1? Make the buttons bigger! lol…or just offer free Snickers bars
  • @simonheseltine: When the red light is flashing you’re not almost out of time. You’re out of time.
  • @dannysullivan: Irony. Wifi always works enough for people to tweet it’s not working, but never good enough to prevent “wifi’s not working” tweets 🙂
  • @byrneseyeview: “Maybe. I’m symathetic. It’s complicated. Can’t tell you.” I will never play poker with a Google rep.
  • @rpmkel (during a session about creepy retargeted ads): What’s ironic is that the most seen retargeted ad everyone attending #SMX has seen was one for SMX East

Best Launch

  • Following a cool pagination smackdown at SMX West, Maile Ohye showed up at SMX East to announce the launch of Google’s solution for the paginated article problem. Audience consensus was that the feature is a winner. See Pagination with rel=“next” and rel=“prev”

Best Tweeting

  • @beebow. AimClear’s Laura Litwinka’s Tweets always made me wish I had chosen the same session she did. And when we were in the same session I often wished I had her perspective.

Best LiveBlogging

Danny challenged Lisa to a Blog-Off as the conference started. But he got a little distracted with the moderating and a running a conference and all. So the best SMX East coverage came from Lisa Barone, Barry Schwartz and Laura Litwinka.


What did I miss? Let me know in the comments or by Tweeting to @GilR.

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