Cliff Notes Version of #PubCon 2010

by Dana Lookadoo on November 16, 2010

Outspoken Media - iPad at PubCon

Outspoken Media on iPad at PubCon

Highlights from PubCon 2010 Las Vegas turned into an expanded version of PubCon Cliff Notes. I’m not as fast as Lisa Barone in kicking out live coverage of PubCon on Outspoken Media. (I’m better at giving her candy to fuel her brain and fingers as she performs a much-appreciated service.) As you can see from the iPad shown right, PubCon attendees were staying abreast of the latest conference scoop by pointing their iPads and browser to Lisa’s coverage. Way to go, The Lisa!

I did take lots of pictures, however. View the PubCon 2010 photo collection on Flickr and slide shows embedded below.

BEWARE: These PubCon Cliff Notes are condensed from 45 pages of notes, so I highlighted only a few key takeaways from each session I attended.

PubCon Day 1

How does one condense all of November 9th, Day 1 of PubCon? You don’t…

Keynote by David Pogue

David Pogue discussed “Disruptive Online Tech – What’s going on in 2010″ in his keynote. Disruptive? Heck, yes! When you have an iPhone app like TwittARound that will “overlay” and show live tweets around you. Call it “virtual reality Twitter” – just point your phone toward a location and see a 3D scene marking locations from which tweets are “emitting” at that moment. <no comment other than a reminder to not turn on location services in Twitter>

TAT (The Astonishing Tribe) developed Recognizr – an Augmented Identification app that uses facial recognition technology and matches up a person’s face with your address book and shows you his or her social media details.

Guess it’s like Shazam (music recognition) but for faces.

Things splinterNothing is a killer or replaces anything in tech. TV didn’t kill radio. Smart phones were going to kill regular flip phone, yet 90% of population still buys flips. (Dare I add that Google Instant didn’t kill SEO.)

EVERY company should heed THE biggest takeaway from the Day 1 PubCon keynote:

“Free time online is being shifted faster than marketing dollars are being shifted to online.”

PubCon Day 1 Sessions

Choosing some choice morsels from the sessions:


Ben Arriola on HTML & CSS:

Q: Do you need to reorder your code now for SEO? Meaning, do you need to spend the time to put your code up on top?
A: Depends on how competitive is your market

Q: Will order of code matter for SEO with HTML5?
A: Less in the future.

Dawn Wentzel on Microformats:

  • In September, Google announced they are actively scraping hCard data for location information and possibly using it to associate hCard with your Google Places profile.

“Google is not talking about why it’s mostly big brand sites that are showing rich snippets.”

Ted Ulle on the history & future of HTML:

  • There is no default styling and no block level styling with HTML5. You’re starting with blank slate.

“HTML5 is backwards compatible – Doctypes are validators . All you have to do is change your doc type.”

Todd Keup showed how to make jQuery has made it easy to code. is a JavaScript library where one can learn tricks and grab free code.

Smart Keyword Research

Carolyn Shelby with tips on organic keyword research:

  • Survey C-levels for their ideal keywords. Make a page that ranks for those words, but target the primary pages for terms their audience uses.

Wil Reynolds let’s you pick his SEO brain at

  • Get a FREE downloadable spreadsheet to determine if Google Instant affects the long tail.
  • Go to Google Inisghts and click on every question mark to see how Google makes the calculations.
    • Preceding Search impacts similar searches.
  • Use Soovle to determine the words people search for on YouTube vs. Google.

Craig Paddock shared that Matt Cutts confessed that Google looks on a different set of results based on query.

Mark Jackson opened with “SEOs are afflicted with ADD!”

“You have to have a process! Keep people on track and follow a repeatable process.”

  • Early steps in the keyword list building stage include gathering historical data:

“Get enough impressions and data from PPC to get trends before you spend 3-6 months on SEO.”

Keyword research panel agreement during the Q&A:

Don’t rush a website redesign and estimate 30-40% of time on keyword research.

Ensure clients understand they will not see immediate results, and you need to lay the foundation of keyword research.

Universal SEO

Andrew Beckman on video and universal results:

  • Google social search is pulling in from Gmail & other public forums, i.e. FriendFeed.
  • If you want to rank for term with word “image” in it, include “image” in the file name.

Brian Combs was set to release an eye tracking study about local SEO, but Google Places changed everything 12 days earlier.

Eye tracking studies showed the map was not getting attention. It’s a useful visual clue that there are local results… They moved it over to the right.

  • View the “old” Google Places Heatmaps.
  • Results are now a blend of organic and local SEO.
  • You need to be in the top 2-3 spots.
  • Need to invest time in building your quality optimized website.
  • Sentiment analysis is now more prominent.

Greg Boser on the new local results.

“October 27 should be called Black Wednesday due to impact on algorithmic search.”

“Now, for the first time, organic & local are tied together dramatically.”

  • Now crawlers are assigned a city. You have to figure out which pages are showing up in which metro areas.
  • Top 3 spots are not as valuable anymore. Now the whole page is filled w eye candy crap.

Universal SEO panel agreement during the Q&A:

  • Google Places is influenced by other properties. Location to centroid matters less and less – too easy to game.
  • It used to be local vs SEO. You now need to have a really good killer local listing, solid SEO, and build deep backlink profiles.
  • Titles are an influencer.
  • CTR does have an impact on organic. Spend a lot of work on refining meta descriptions.

SEO for Multimedia & Rich Media

Wesley Winston on integrated search and video focused on the importance of strategy as an SEO driver, knowing audience, storyboarding.

Morgan Brown delivered 25 steps to video search domination. He shared Forrester stats that show:

Video is “50 times more likely to appear on the first page of Google.”

  • Create Thumbnails that get attention – pick a human face, a good looking one if possible.
  • Optimize your titles.
  • Add transcripts.
  • Google video sitemaps best practices

Brian MacDonald on SEO for rich media:

  • Video title in sitemap must match title on video page – Google validation
  • Put a non-Flash background behind Flash video – create backup content, better indexing.

Marty Weintraub gave away how to do data extraction for SEO & social media:

  • Scrapebox – Harvest lists of links that are highly relevant to your keywords, niche and competition.
  • Mozenda – Gather data from the web.
    • Go to YouTube suggestion box.
    • Open Mozenda agent.
    • Grab the first suggestion and extract organic videos that are there.
    • Download Mozenda XML, which is the extraction run.
    • Output is a YouTube Ranking report!
  • Download aimClear’s YouTube SEO Cheatsheet.

Top Shelf SEO

Mike Grehan on SEO trends:

  • Link anchor text has been the workhorse for information retrieval & is still important.
  • Most important signal to a search engine is data collected via Google toolbar.

“Think beyond the link. If people don’t click through when they can see a preview of your web page in SERPs, think how crappy your content must really be.”

Stephan Spencer on SEO process & knowing how to use the tools properly:

“Google AdWords is a useless tool for keyword research if you don’t turn off Broad match.”

  • Turn off personalization: Add &pws=0 in the address bar at the end of a Google search URL.

“PageRank toolbar is for entertainment purposes only.”

“SEO should drive your social media strategy. It isn’t a social media strategy if it isn’t driven by SEO needs.”

Greg Boser rattled off his thoughts:

“Branded straight links look natural and will help you rank for money term. It’s not all about anchor text.”

  • Authoritative links have better links long term. They would not do “Internet marketing company” as anchor text for BlueGlass.
  • Take the link for the value of the relationship of that site.

“SEO is not a little bubble. It’s integrated into your business process.”

SEO panel agreement during Q&A:

Q: Does social media drive SEO?
A: It’s a human signal. Search engines want to know that, too. It’s a form of search.

  • Search engines are looking for collaboration of signals via the Google toolbar, Twitter data, link graph data, trust and authority.

Photo memories of PubCon networking & sessions 11/8 & 11/9/10:

PubCon Day 2 Sessions

I didn’t go out the night before and worked on Flickr photos (shown above). Good thing, it was a packed day:

Keynote – Social Media Leading Edge

Melanie Mitchell kept the ball rolling fast with the star-studded panel.

Brian Clark, aka CopyBlogger:

“Social media is the most powerful marketing distribution system, yet.”

Scott Stratten, aka unmarketing:

“The implications of your presence in social media crosses every department in your company.”

“We market every single time we connect or do not connect with our audience.”

Chris Brogan on social media ROI:

It’s like going to the gym. Just going to the gym doesn’t make you lose weight.

“There’s no software that makes you care.”

Sarah Evans on time management:

“Be really good at one thing.”

There was panel agreement that:

  • People care more about how their social graph ranks than their ranking on Google.
  • Just because Twitter is free, people want to know the ROI. What’s up with that? It’s about talking and communicating.
  • Being on Twitter can mean that you rank above search results.
  • You need to shut social media off sometimes and be present with others.

Convergence of Social Media & Search

Rebecca Murtagh talked about the relevance of social media in search:

“Google licenses and archives profiles and tweets.”

  • Search engines are making predictive decisions based on social media & your friends activities.
  • Get a Google profile. They will put your Google profile on page 1 of your name if you cannot get on page 1 otherwise. Also create one for your business.

David Wallace summarized his PubCon social media and search presentation on his site. His insights:

Q: Is FB going to kill Google?
A: No, they have 2 different objectives.

Q: Does social media prevent the need for search & SEO?
A: NO!

  • Integrate your online and offline advertising. Put URL, Twitter handle & FB URL on business cards.

Tony Adam shared the new MySpace and…

  • Find social media sites related to your niche. Create content for trending topics. Reach your audience & get visibility so people know about you.

Q: How much influence do the search engines place on social media?
A: A lot!!!

Keyword Research

Amanda Watlington shared about heuristics and methodology of keyword research. (I wanted to absorb every word from her…)

  • About 60% of keyword research is guessing, overall. You must develop a process, consider heuristics.

“Your keyword selection is both science & art & will change over time.”

  • Aggregate data from various places (refers to Keyword Discovery tool).
  • Keyword lists should be giant.
  • She uses Spyfu heavily – gives everything: paid, top ad competitors

Ken Jurina focused more on PPC keyword research & negative keywords.

Stoney deGeyter on understanding visitors when choosing keywords:

Visitor Search Cycle: Interest > Gather > Research > Exclude > Purchase

  • Not all keywords are equal
    • Single word
    • Multi-word
    • Phrase variations
    • Localized
    • Convert-abiltiy – if you cannot convert them, don’t bring them to site.
    • Search volume – higher volume phrase tend to be most attractive, but if you can’t convert them, why spend time bringing them to site?
    • Info queries – about questions, great for blog fodder, “how to”
  • Ideally, ROI is in 3-4 word phrases.

Marty Weintraub of aimClear shared how keyword research always starts with one word:

KW Research = Root + ModifiersStem All Nodes (Lateral Synonyms) + Mine Known Traffic Drivers (Suggestions) + Sort By Weight

“Google changes mean we don’t see inventory any more. As marketers, we are working with Google Suggest more & more.”

SEO Redesign

Ted Ulle oultined his SEO development process (PubCon summary). Highlights:

  • Design your website to be sticky not slick. Do you want your website to be slick so that the visitor’s eye slides right off, or do you want it to be sticky?

“Too many choices means people will make no choice at all.”

“Code geeks should not write copy for your website.”

Taylor Pratt of Raven Tools shared about Microformats, HTML 5 & techniques for speeding up your website:

“It’s more than SEO. You need to focus on so many areas.”

  • Game Plan:
    1. Focus on getting the site to look the way you want it to BEFORE you launch.
    2. Build it to what you believe should be perfect.
    3. Test your design ideas.
    4. Optimize along the way, while you build it.
    5. Kick Ass!
    6. Optimize more.
  • Use CSS to replaces images with code – rounded corners, shadows, gradients and transparency

Michael Martin shared Web 3.0 is about semantic, speed and mobile.

  • Get your site ready for mobile NOW! 2000% increase in sites being mobile-ready from 2008 to 2010.
  • Mobile search has increased 500% in last 2 years.
  • Tool: Use mobiReady to check to make sure site is ready for mobile.

Mega Site SEO

Dan Perry of Turner Broadcasting:

  • Time allocation of an in-house SEO:
    • 30% of time spent teaching
    • 30% selling
    • 15% keeping up to date
    • 10% correspondence
    • 10% Doing SEO
    • 5% Farmville

Derrick Wheeler of Microsoft:

“Speed is a big theme when looking at all the things that have happened last year.”

“What you ultimately care about are conversions.”

  • Google SPAM: Go here if worried about link spam:
  • Google is making a point to communicate with webmasters through Webmaster Tools. Turn on your email notifications

Matt Cutts end-of-day Keynote had a focus on speed:

SPEED “If you are not paying attention to it, start paying more attention to it now.” (paraphrased)

“If you know how Google thinks, you can predict where Google will be. The best SEOs do this”

PubCon Day 3

The last day of PubCon…

Keynote – The Future of Search

Tim Mayer (formerly of Inktomi & Yahoo!) shared about trends and the melding of search and social:

Search is where people input a query and get back responses.”

“People need to embrace and optimize and engage with the consumer.”

“10 blue links will become less and less important as search moves forward.”

“If the past is search, the future is prediction and suggestion.” ~Roger Ehrenberg

Information Architecture

Ted Ulle delved deep into the IA process:

“If there is anything we do in world of Internet Marketing that is rocket science, it’s Information Architecture.”

“Information Architecture is a bitch. If it happens fast, you probably got it wrong.”

  • Information Architecture is territorial and political. If you have a CEO with his “pet” silos and way of thinking, you have a problem.
    • Avoid anyone’s pet idea in your IA.
  • It’s so important to stay under 7 menu items so your entire website becomes a “conversion channel.”

If you have an in-site Search function, make sure it’s damn good or don’t provide it!

Aaron Kronis discussed how and when to add SEO to your site:

“You must do SEO at the beginning.”

  • IA: Omit words like “the, and, of, in, with” in URLs
  • Planning for image search? Consider trust Issues – When people see wordpress uploads folder, they may not get it. Put in /images folder.

Link Building

Dixon Jones of Majestic SEO needs a whole blog post. I was fortunate to share lunch and gain some additional tips. But for here, just the link building highlights:

  • Organize blogger Meetups. Use EventBrite and get a link.
  • Reclaim lost links
    • Look at log files for 404 errors – where they are linking to pages that no longer exist.
  • Reclaim competitor’s lost links.
    • Ping competitor backlinks to see what generates a 404.
    • Contact person to say there is no content at the end of this link.

Greg Hartnett of Best of the Web asked Brett Tabke why he kept inviting BOTW back to PubCon. Brett’s answer:

“You’re like ball bearings, not sexy, but a key component of link building.”

Q: Are there concerns about having multiple listings for one website in directories?
A: As long as your site has multiple types of unique content, there is no problem listing your site multiple times for each category.

  • Most trustworthy directories: Yahoo, DMOZ, BOTW, Yelp,, Librarians Internet Index
    • He then announced that was shutting its doors!
  • Read TopRank’s RSS & Blog Directories article.

Aaron Shear on building links for ecommerce:

  • It’s hard to build links for ecommerce without buying them.
    • For example, how do you get people to link to camera write-up? It’s nothing snazzy.
  • Build an affiliate program to get links.
  • Don’t forget about social. You have to be in the “in” crowd.
  • Facebook “Like” button: It’s slow and can take an ecommerce site down to its knees. Make sure you target the right product for “Like.”

Rae Hoffman without a PowerPoint sheds linkbuilding knowledge:

  • Facebook “Like” button puts your site in front of others so they can see your site and link to it.
  • Get attention of media on Twitter. Tools:

“Ego is one of the best ways to get people to mention you.”

Competitive Analysis

Mat Siltala on tools:

Michael Streko on the shady side of competitive intelligence:

  • Search their code – get all up in their robots.txt!
  • Stalk your competitors and find out who they follow.
  • Call them on the phone, act like you’re interested in purchasing a product

Michael Gray on more ways to snoop on competitors:

  • Use Blekko to find information about the competition.
    Example: type in /seo
  • Find out where all places where their picture is used, what they are doing across social networks.
  • Put their domain in search results: [] “submitted on”

Andy Beal explained how to take an “insider’s” view of the competition:

  • Find out who their employees are and keep an eye on their blogs, Twitter handles. They get a false sense of security and may share what’s happening in the company.
  • Keep an eye on employee blogs & personal Twitter accounts to get insights.
  • Set up Twitter lists to spy on competitor employees; mark as private.
  • Privacy Policies are a good place to find company information. TIP: noindex your privacy policies.

Rogue Black Hat SEO

Steve Plunkett of RockFish Interactive on due diligence and transparency:

It’s time for SEOs to come out of the closet!

  • He shared, for the first time, Bing’s Black Hat SPAM rules.
    • Using tools like Xrumer will get your site banned from Bing and Google.
  • Pay attention to Bing. You could get 15% more traffic.

SEOs, don’t ignore @Bing – What if Google used Bing for ranking signals?

Giovanni Galluci shared shay tactics for driving traffic:

  • Spend your time on YouTube and forget about anybody else.

Think like a press agent, and be the first to get your image on Flickr or YouTube.

  • Bookmarking sites – Most efficient way to get lots of links
    • 98% of links will be gone in a week (which leaves 2%).
  • Buy social votes, diggs, stumbles: Subvert and Profit

Carolyn Shelby explained we need to be aware of what people may do – things illegal:

  • Be paranoid! It’s healthy.
  • Have detailed up-to-date back-up plans. People who can just shut off your server.
  • Theft? Remember, the last 4 digits are not blacked out on receipts. Shred!
  • BEWARE of public Internet access. Firesheep enables rogue people to sniff network activity and “become” other users.

Photo memories of PubCon & after parties on 11/10 & 11/11/10:

PubCon Days Later

The final and most valued takeaway from PubCon Las Vegas:

  • Connections!
  • Days later, I’m remembering the people and sharing search and social with them.

</end expanded Cliff Notes version of PubCon 2010>

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