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SMX West took place last week in San Jose and was another engaging and powerful search marketing industry event. It is always full of great news, tactics to learn, and tools to try and that’s how I’ve divided up this recap post series. I had the opportunity to attend the event and privilege of speaking in one of the sessions (“Conquering Today’s Technical SEO Challenges”). This year’s edition definitely didn’t disappoint and I’m happy to share my experience and what I’ve learned with you through a series of posts.

This post shares top takeaways from SMX West

Other posts include:

Top Takeaways from SMX West 2015

Note that I have not included info directly from the search engines in this post including technical SEO and the big news surrounding “mobile-friendly” as those can be found in the 2015 SMX West Recap: Newsworthy Details from the Search Engines post.

Penalization Updates

I found it fascinating to hear Rae Hoffman-who is always engaging and helpful-give us a good breakdown of the types of penalties/filters and how they work in terms of getting out from under them. When auditing backlinks she recommends that for manual penalties that it is a “fire sale” and you’ve got to go deep when nuking links. For algorithmic penalties, think percentages and the total ratio of types of links and link quality.

Another tip (from Sha Menz) for those with a “disavow” file full of links that you submit via Google Webmaster Tools-make sure you remember that when you resubmit that file, it isn’t adding the links to those you submitted in the past, it is a full overwrite.

Local SEO & Pigeon

Andrew Shotland shared how carousels and 7-packs of local results in the SERPs are giving way to what has been affectionately nicknamed “fanny packs” of 3 local results.

Adam Dorfman shared interesting information about the ideal number of zip codes on location/landing pages and the number of neighborhoods, surrounding suburbs, and/or landmarks to list on a local landing page (four).  His data was very interesting and shows some trends that seem a bit counterintuitive in terms of how many details to have on a page before performance tails off.

All Local SEOs agree on the fact that traditional organic SEO factors are now more important than ever to local SEO success with the Pigeon algorithm in place.

Google AdWords

Something that I’m excited to dig into in the near future is Google AdWords affinity audiences.  Marty Weintraub did an awesome job of detailing how to create a new “custom affinity” and how we can leverage the psychographic data for both PPC and SEO campaigns.

When it comes to “The Great PPC Account Structure Debate,” there were some good takeaways as well from Colleen Simpson, Jeremy Hull, Maria Corcoran, and Patrick Bennett.  These included the recommendations to break campaigns out into themes, organized by match type, and to make sure that all keywords in phrase match ad groups exist in modified broad as phrase match negatives to ensure proper keyword routing.  The consensus of this panel was to have no more than two relevant ads in each ad group with the exception of a third occasionally if you’re testing (and testing is something you’re always doing).  There was also a suggestion to segment campaigns by competition and quality score and I think this is a solid plan when you’re deep into a campaign and have the data at your disposal.  One great point and insight that I’m implementing right now is to drop the remarketing tracking pixel on sites before getting to the point of being ready to turn on remarketing ads so that I have data at my disposal when the time comes.

Do you have questions about any of the details in my recap? Want to learn more about Voltage? We love to hear from our clients, colleagues, and friends-drop us a line!

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