I often use an analogy of prospecting for gold when asked why I go to certain events or participate in some seminars. In the rough early days of prospecting, people stood in streams, panning for little nuggets of gold, to pay their way. Much of this was mundane, fruitless work, but work none the less.
Throughout the process there was a chance of finding those gold nuggets, or if that stream ended up being empty of gold, they would move to another. Attending conferences can be a little like this if they are industry specific. Often you will discover you already have heard, or know some or a fair bit of the content, because the conferences are aiming to fill a middle road or a broad area of attendees. Let’s face it they need to make money so if they are too niche they may not get enough people engaged to make profits.
The trick in all of these events, in my opinion, is to pan the stream for the little nuggets. Often the combination of a few little nuggets adds up to something far more valuable than finding one big nugget.
There are many good reasons to attend events, and I greatly enjoyed my time at SMX Sydney 2009 for the very obvious reasons of meeting new people, re-meeting people I have met before and for the social engagement.
Here are 13 little (or not so) nuggets that were worth panning the stream for:
- Duplicate Content – Canonical Tag:
More first hand information about the canonical tag and duplicate content. This is a fiddly wee tag to use correctly. Several warnings were given about implementing it. Overall though is seen to fix many issues in using duplicate content.
- Duplicate content – ranking for multiple regional sites:
Clarification on the regional treatment of duplicate content by the engines. Hosting and TLDs matter more than anything else. Subdomains can be hosted offshore too for similar effect.
- Search Engine Optimisation basics:
Subdomains still matter – A LOT. And are very useful in regional variances as well, because subdomains can be hosted separately to the main TLD. Editorial Links are the best type of internal link i.e. a link within the content, although many use these far too much within single pages.
- Mobile search:
Mobile search is becoming big business in the USA and other countries. The pure immediacy of it for users, because it is likely they want what they are searching for now, versus more traditional search which is more like research. Importance of where in the results you show is more relevant because of limited screen sizes.
- Focus really matters.
Niche operators know their stuff. Big countries allow for that.
- Maybe conferences might not need to exist in the future if tweeters interview a speaker in real time. The twit stream provided great updates all through the conference. Not quite the same but coupled with presentations and audio could be seen to replace some of a conference’s participation.
- Viral marketing:
Viral is still very hit and miss. My favourite quote about viral is my own, it is like a bunch of marketing execs in a room saying “let’s catch the flu”, when everyone in the room is healthy. 3 out of 4 viral campaigns fail so best to tread carefully.
- Site Conversion:
Yes conversion always matters, but the reminder was worth it. Paying attention to how you improve conversions as well. Not just rough guess hit and miss strategies but quantified analytical research to improve the site.
- Organisational Buy in.
Sometimes the blatantly obvious only stands out when someone else says it. When conversion rates increase then the organisation has more money to spend on increasing traffic. Why we still need buy in, in 2009, I am unsure maybe because there is still too much smoke and mirrors pitching going on. But create small wins that will enable upper management to champion the bigger needs.
- 301 redirects
301’s for misspellings of urls can be very effective even though 301 rules are changing in their treatment by engines. 301’s are just important pure and simple.
- User experience versus engines:
Soft 404 pages are bad. Oops. Yes making nice soft 404 pages can be a real issue with engines, which is a challenge given that they are intended for users.
- Best quote laugh:
What Spam means. This by Greg Boser: “You know what people mean when they call you a search engine spammer don’t you? SPAM = Search Position Above Mine”! I still love that.
- Where video is heading in search:
Google Voice will transcribe key parts of videos and pluck out keywords. Of course no one would try and game that, would they. Yes video is going to be very important. In Australia with NBN coming I can see video and their role in search will be even more relevant to us.
Well that is what ireckon anyway.