SearchExchange 2013

I'm always interested in fields parallel to my own. When Experience Farm offered me their tickets to a digital marketing conference I hopped right on it.

SearchExchange 2013 had three tracks: Pay Per Click (PPC), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and Social Media Marketing (SMM). As a freelance developer in Charlotte these are areas that I have to pay attention to for clients. But it's fun to get deep into a speciality from the general of my day to day. I appreciated the focus this conference kept by having the individual tracks as separate days.

Day One, Pay-Per-Click

My first day of the conference I had to miss the morning sessions. The great thing about conferences is often that someone else is also taking notes. Here's a summary of Search Exchange Day 1 Pay Per Click Advertising.

The slides from the presenters I could find were Justin Vanning from SEOmoz speaking on PPC is not Enough. How I Learned to Embrace Holistic Growth Marketing at Moz and Tips to Help You Do the Same and Kayla Kurtz of Hanapin whose keynote was 2015: A PPC Odyssey.

Day Two, Search Engine Optimization

Rockfish Interactive's Steve Plunkett started the morning with The 4 C's Classification, Customers, Clarity, Content. Afterward Joe Hall from Internet Marketing Ninjas spoke on Identifying Patterns. Virante's Phil Buckley closed with SEO without Keywords, The Future is Now. The two sessions that stood out for me were

Local Search Works

Thomas Ballantyne Explains How Local Search Works

A bland title but the content made up for it. Local search propagates from 5 key sources thru

As search engines are machines they like to see consistency. They reward finding the same information wherever they find you. Thomas coined a phrase Consistant NAPS Rock. By NAPS he doesn't mean sleeping for an hour in the afternoon. NAPS are Names, Address, Phone number, and Site. Name should be the business name. Address is the physical address of the business not a post office box. Consistency in this information is key he said. Phone numbers should include the area code and be a local number. They are trust signal. Thomas warned not to use a tracking phone number such as a service from the Yellow Pages. When the business stops paying for that tracking number all the SEO value earned goes with it. Reviews are valuable.

Thomas also touched on how encrypted search isn't passing on search terms. The useless "not provided" in Google Analytics reports. For "Bars in Charlotte", that means carousel results are rewritten. When a user clicks a choice, again a results page displays. Those links then lead to the landing page.

As a marketer when you can't make a decision, throw the data out. Google Web Trends is muddy data. The best advice was from How To Turn (Not Provided) Into Useful, Actionable Data. Year after year data is quite different, explain that as early as possible in a client relationship.

How to Moneyball Your SEO

Jeff Ferguson presented this fun titled talk where more depth is available in this ebook. His recommendation was to use the people on your staff to create the sum role of SEO specialists. Here are the parts that were relevant to me as freelance developer in Charlotte. For instance the SEO function of site architecture. Typical responsibilities are HTML best practices, tag authorship, and navigation. Page load speed and W3C compliance fall into that role too. Of course those are tasks for software engineers or developers.

A tool he recommended for analysis was Screaming Frog's SEO Spider.

Day Three, Social Media Marketing

This topic was one that interested me as many friends work in various aspects of social media marketing. Some as content producers, strategists or educating clients to manage their own message. Kevin Briody presented Creating Your Social Content Engine Then Brian Chappell talked about Designing Big Content. Again two sessions grabbed me for different reasons.

Social Media Advertising Platforms

Marty Weintraub from aimClear presented about his efforts from Forbes on click per action. He also covered the resulting SEO benefits from Why SEO Link Builders are Dead without Paid Organic Social Content Distribution

  • Social Media exists to drive Conversions
  • If your social media is not driving share you're either creating content for your existing market or no one
  • Search PPC extends organic, social should be using paid content extension
  • Possible to spend money on content strategy & community and achieve nothing
  • LinkedIn did the W thing i.e.: 'whore', sells more ad space now

    • Bid Twitter & LinkedIn ads 20-30% lower than budget
    • Until you get the impressions wanted
    • Nickel up from there
  • For tight psychographics, send visitor to an informational page & an opt in form

    • The phrase Learn More had a high conversion
  • Targeting Journalists in Facebook
  • Effective use of paid social booster, can create the organic social effect
  • First party interest blogger can set retargeting cookies that they could resell to the 3rd party that wants to know
  • Personal page promotion can only aim ads at your own fans, but you can reach friends of friends

How I Made Over Half a Million Dollars Wasting Time on Social Media

Neal Rodriguez was an excellent speaker to close out a conference. The hint that it would was at lunch when I overheard an unusual conversation amongst the presenters. When they asked me "Am I in?" they explained how his presentation would be interactive. Neal as a speaker is charisimatic, energetic and informative. He also swears, a lot. So the speakers had a cooler, a couple cases of beer and passed them out before Neal started. The rules were simple drink every time he said fuck. In the fifty minute presentation, I drank almost three Natty Light's.

The gist of what he presented sans the explicit language can be found in the piece he wrote last year Why I Waste Time on Social Media. Neal identifies cultural trends, creates content utilizing them. Then using key relationships he develops to target specific audiences seeds that content. The key points were:


It was a worthwhile conference. I had a chance to catch up with friends from the Charlotte social media community. Most important I learned more how my role as a developer goes hand in hand with theirs as marketers.

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