Produced by Search Engine Land, SMX West held from March 11-13 in San Jose discussed an enticing array of topics related to search, online and social media marketing.
The main attraction of the event was the chance to interrogate the major luminaries of the SEO world – Matt Cutts, head of the Webspam team at Google, and Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager at Bing.
Here are some of the highlights that are of interest.
Cutts reiterated that the focus of Hummingbird was to better parse and understand the weighting of various word that make up long queries. This move towards natural language processing in search results is one of the major concerns for SEOs nowadays.
Hummingbird had a particular impact on content creation by adding layers to what comprised ‘quality content’. Along with usefulness and being grammatically correct, you now to consider user intent and context of the words.
At the most basic level, you now have to consider why the user is making a particular search and position your content so that it answers his queries. Hummingbird also comprises a very strong social component so make sure you’re doing all you can to socially optimised your clients’ websites.
Prevention is Better than Cure
Many are now scrabbling to undo previous fooling actions via link disavowing and other cleaning up practises should heed the words of both Forrester and Cutts.
Both stressed that avoiding bad practises in the start could prevent a lot of misery down the road. It’s too late for many but don’t be tempted by the dark side to impress your clients with fast rankings. You’re sure to regret it sooner or later when you get hit with penalties.
Setting up sites properly from the start with clear navigation and unique, useful content was the path to success
Disavow Domains not just URLs
If you’re busy clearing up someone’s past mess, you should be aware that disavowing just the pages linking to you is inefficient; it’s better to disavow the entire domain. Cutts said this offered a far simpler and more comprehensive way to deal with dodgy links than dealing with them one at a time.
If you’re still dragging your feet about optimising your sites for mobile visitors, you’d better start now. Matt Cutts predicted that this year would witness the ‘switchover’ – the point when mobile search would overtake desktop search for the first time.
According to Nielsen, almost half of all mobile users begin their path to purchase via PPC or organic search listings. That’s an impressive figure and one that’s set to rise. So be sure your clients’ sites are ready to tap into these trends.
Of course far more issues were discussed in depth over the three days of SMX West. But getting started with the above should help with your SEO efforts and please your clients.