SMX West – Search Marketing Takeaways

Last week, I went to the Search Marketing Expo and Conference in San Jose. This is probably the most important SEO conference in the nation, and one attended by important leaders in search marketing from Google, Bing, and other companies.

A few key takeaways:

1. Link building is shifting to link earning
Google has publicly said that most link-building tactics will not help your search rankings. Gone are the days of blog comment linking, empty press release linking and guest blogging. These tactics can harm your search rankings rather than help. Your links now need to be earned. If you create and share valuable content, others will share it and link to it. You can guest blog – if you are blogging on a credible site that has relevancy to your blog topic.

GET THIS: Google tested their algorithm not including links and the results weren’t very good. So links will continue to matter for the foreseeable future but reputation needs to be earned.

2. Exact phrase matching for SEO is a thing of the past
Now that Google no longer provides search keyword data for non-paid search and Yahoo is starting not to provide this data, you don’t have enough info to see what searches are driving your traffic. Now you need to look at your landing page – a page that is optimized for a specific service, product, or keyword. You can see when traffic directly arrives on that page – where that visitor goes and what they do.

You can make some assumptions as to what they searched for in order to arrive on that page. If a landing page is getting the results you want, create and share more content about that product, service or keyword.

3. Invest in strategy, not tactics
Think about Google’s intent. Does your strategy match Google’s intent of providing relevant searches? Be the brand that people come to for information. Share relevant, shareable experiences. A content marketing strategy is key.

Rather than focusing on keywords, focus on your audience: who they are, and what they want.

4. Google+ is important
You and your brand must be on Google+ and all of your Google products need to be connected. Although Google says +1s don’t currently affect public Google search rankings, they do if it’s with someone you are connected with on Google+.

Google is committed to Google+ . You should get involved in strong social circles on Google+ and grow your bio there.

HINT: Add links in your bio on your blog and website to your Google+ profile.

The SEO landscape is evolving. Google and Bing want to provide results that help their searchers. If your brand and content provide value, then you will rank well. If you try to game the system, there are consequences. Need help? Have questions? Ask me.

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