7 Lessons from Experts in Online Marketing at SearchFest 2013

lessons from searchfest

I went to my very first search conference in 2006. I was living in Seattle at the time, but drove down to the Portland Zoo to attend SearchFest. It blew my mind. Fast forward to 2013, SearchFest has only gotten better, and remains one of the best value search conferences around. Here’s what I learned today from some of the top experts in online marketing…

1. Social media is not free

Besides the sheer amount of time that authentic social media interaction takes, it’s no longer free to reach your audience on facebook. You now have to pay up to reach the audience that you’ve built on social media.

Lesson: Be prepared to pay to reach your fans on social media platforms you don’t own.

Expert: Marty Weintrab from AimClear

2. Higher readability = higher revenue

Ian Laurie presented a killer finding for ecommerce clients. The only correlation to increased revenue that they found for content was 1. Page load speed and 2. Readability Score. Here’s a nice readability score tool.

Lesson: It’s not just words that matter, it’s the right words.

Expert: Ian Laurie from Portent Inc.

3. Only share what you’re proud of

If you wouldn’t share it with your friends, it’s not great content. This was one of my favorite takeaways from Mike King (check out this interview of him one of our (not provided) shirts!). The flight to quality content is real, and it is the future. Heck, it’s the now.

Lesson: Don’t share crap.

Expert: Mike King from iAcquire 

4. Document bad SEO cleanup methodically

Adam Audette from RKG sees a lot of large ecommerce sites that have often tens of thousands of bad links that need cleaning up. Google is doing more and more keyword focused penalties, which can help speed up the process of identifying which links to go after. We hear this all the time from some of our customers, where a specific keyword is hit by a penalty, the penalty isn’t site-wide.

Lesson: Document everything when cleaning up bad links. Google wants to see effort over time.

Expert: Adam Audette from RKG

5. Great customer service builds links

One of the of the most defensible links around are those generated naturally by customers who links or share your site because they had such a great customer service experience. Those types of links and mentions can’t be replicated and are hard to acquire. Hard you say? If it’s hard to do, there’s probably opportunity there!

Lesson: Build defensible links through amazing customer service

Expert: Ross Hudgens from Siege Media

6. Content is getting more expensive.

An solid infographic will cost you thousands of dollars. One brand Justin mentioned even spent up to $25,000 on an info-graphic recently. There has been such a flight to quality, prices for the best writers/designers has risen dramatically. So expect to pay up for the quality that audiences demand today.

Lesson: Great content costs money, expect to pay up.

Expert: Justin Briggs from Big Fish Games

7. SEO is easy, consulting is hard

John talked about best ways to get buy-in from upper level management for more SEO investment. Knowing what to do is often the easy part, getting a company to buy in and execute technical changes can be the big challenge. Especially larger, corporate clients.

Lesson: build charts and models to show exactly how much money SEO changes could generate. Estimate conservatively.

Expert: John Doherty from Distilled

I wasn’t able to attend every session at SearchFest, but learned some new things this year!  Thanks for anyone who stopped by our booth! See you at the after party!

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