2008 SEOmoz Expert Seminar Recap

MIHMORANDUM NO. 116 | August 24th, 2008Reader Comments (8)

I recently returned from the SEOmoz Expert Seminar. For the money (only $499 for PRO Members), it was one of the best search conferences I’ve ever been to, right up there with SEMpdx’s Searchfest.

The quality of speakers was exceptionally high, and the networking that the intimate conference size offered was fantastic. It was great to see so many folks I follow on Twitter, including Martin Bowling, Derek Edmond, Tony Wright, Brian Carter, Casey Yandle, Will Critchlow and Duncan Morris, and of course Dr. Pete.

This Matthew J. Brown guy has terrible taste in drinking establishments but other than that he’s OK too.

At any rate, I recently learned from Brian Carter’s Recap that SEOmoz would like to keep the bulk of the sessions confidential since they’ll be selling the content on an upcoming DVD, but I got the go-ahead from Rand to post just a few teasers:

SEO Contracts

The star of the show for me was SEOmoz COO Sarah Bird. Sarah is quite obviously brilliant, gave a very lively presentation, and informed me just how risky my current SEO and design contracts are! She gave actionable advice on clauses to include in every contract. Much of this she has published before: here here here and here. But she presented it in such a concise and easy-to-understand fashion that it really hit home for me at the conference. Needless to say I will be updating my contracts forthwith!

Thinking Like a Search Engine: Fighting Spam

Nick Gerner, who amounts to something like SEOmoz’s Technical Muse, gave a fascinating presentation on how the search engines may be considering spam, including using forward-flowing TrustRank, starting with a population of +/- 100 trusted websites and de-emphasizing sites which aren’t within three clicks away. But I thought the neater point to Nick’s presentation was a hypothetical inversion of this process — starting with a set of KNOWN spam websites and seeing whom THEY link to (since spammy sites tend to link predominantly to other spammy sites)–a sort of Reverse TrustRank.

International Search & Its Connection to Local Search

Will Critchlow and Duncan Morris of Distilled presented a ton of information on international search which I thought applied well to Local Search and also hinted at a couple of factors that might be similar between Google’s Local and International algorithms.

  • Will noted that putting the address on EVERY PAGE of one client’s website helped Google key in on the clients international geo-location (as being in the UK) and improved their search results DRAMATICALLY in Google.co.uk. While it’s true there aren’t similar breakdownsfor Google.portland.or or Google.chicago.il, for example, it did signal to me that address information hard-coded onto a website is a major factor Google is looking for to determine geography.
  • Foreign language keyword research tools are poor and it’s difficult to gauge accurate search volume…hmm, that sounds familiar…
  • Will and Duncan’s preference is to host different language content within subfolders, and then uniquely register each of those subfolders within Google Webmaster Central. With Local content, I don’t think it’s necessary to register each subfolder separately. But I agree with Will and Duncan 100% that for business with multiple locations, siloing Localized content on one domain, rather than splitting into several domains (i.e. portlandbusinessname.com, salembusinessname.com, etc.) seems to have the best effect for Geo-targeted Organic Search as well as Local Search.
  • If you’ve already got unique domains for each of your locations, Will and Duncan recommend interlinking them extensively.
  • Will and Duncan noted that setting your domain’s WMC flag to a particular region (like North America) has a tremendous impact on which search engine you rank in. Google doesn’t allow this YET for Local searches, but given the incredible targeting strides they’re making with Adwords, I have a feeling we may see this shortly in Local!

More Random Tidbits

  • Rebecca Kelley presented a great blog content research tactic which I’d heard her promote before, but had forgotten about it. If you’re stuck for content ideas (or even if you’re not!), search Delicious results to find blog content that your customers and potential linkerati are interested in.
  • Jane Copland mentioned in her excellent Social Media presentation that Bit.ly is a better version of TinyURL for shortening URL’s on Twitter. The reason? Bit.ly allows you to track particular clicks far better than your Analytics will show and gives incredibly detailed information about the clickers, including their geography!
  • Oftentimes, small businesses can rank exceptionally well for reasonably competitive searches just by creating +/- 40 Social Media profiles which offer followed links (SEOmoz PRO members have access to this list!).
  • Stephan Spencer noted that seller ratings play a large role in who ranks in Google Product Search…hmm…does this continue to add fodder to the debate in Local over whether ratings can increase one’s ranking?
  • Stephan also noted that certain cameras automatically geo-code images, which could have a tremendous impact for Local when you upload them to a service like Flickr or Picasa. The UGC tab within Google Local is almost brand new, but I speculate that a keyword-rich image title and filename, combined with this geo-tagging information, can create a UGC reference that’ll help your business rank better in the 10-pack…

8 Responses to “2008 SEOmoz Expert Seminar Recap”

  1. Rebecca Kelley says at

    Always great to see you, David. Next time Jas and I will come down and get our Quantum of Solace on. :D

  2. MiriamEllis says at

    David -
    I absolutely love that you were hearing ‘international’ and thinking ‘local’. Great parallels and very interesting concept regarding the respective algorithms.

    It sounds like you had a very good experience at the conference. Thanks for offering this recap.
    Miriam

  3. Dr. Pete says at

    Great to see you again, David, or should I say “hero of local search” ;) Interesting tie-ins between internationalization and local search – in many ways, I suppose geo-location is geo-location, no matter what the scale.

    A lot of people had good things to say about Sarah and Nick’s presentations. Of course, that’s no insult to any of the other presenters, but I think they stood out because they both brought an outside perspective that we don’t usually hear at search conferences. Of course, I’d still love to have an hour with Stephan Spencer just to ask him questions – that’s one smart dude.

  4. David Mihm says at

    Dr Pete – I TOTALLY agree with you about Stephan. In re-reading my recap it looks like I am giving him short shrift, but he is one of the true rockstars in SEO, without the rockstar persona.

    Miriam – I’ve just got Local on the brain these days!! I am always listening and looking for tie-ins :)

  5. Marty Martin says at

    Great roundup. Being there was truly great and although it’s the first conference I’ve been too, far exceeded my expectations. I totally agree on the intimate numbers for networking. I was able to meet a lot of extremely intelligent folks and connect personally with folks I had only before exchanged emails with.

    Cheers to Rand, Rebecca, Jane, Sarah and everyone else at the Moz for a great conference and a special thanks to the speakers who presented all that great knowledge in entertaining and informative ways.

  6. Matthew Brown says at

    Hey waitaminute, that’s a terrible link! A tremendous amount of my self-esteem is based on drinking establishments.

    I was surprised at how many notes I ended up taking, particularly during Will and Duncan’s international sessions. I’ve got a few tips for some very interested multinational publishers….

    A pretty damned good seminar/conference/what-have-you…one of the few that’s small and focused enough to perhaps push the envelope of search ‘experimentation’. You probably wouldn’t see anything like Nick Gerner’s presentation at the other shows.

  7. Moda says at

    I have the seomoz list and really works!

  8. GoodTherapy says at

    The spam sorting was really interesting. I’ve always wondered how they make the smarter spam sorter!!

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