SEO & PPC learnings from SMX Advanced

Wed 10 June 2009 09:06, Eduard Blacquière

SEO & PPC learnings from SMX Advanced

Last week SMX Advanced took place in Seattle, considered to be one of the most advanced search marketing conferences out there. Sander Kolderman (Natural search manager) and Luke Miller (Internet marketing manager) at eBay/ are sharing their SEO and SEA (PPC) learnings below, Thanks guys!

With Microsoft being the platinum sponsor at SMX advanced 2009 we saw the official launch of As intended this generated buzz, but the biggest buzz here at the conference has been all about pagerank sculpting.

PageRank sculpting?
In short, PageRank sculpting is the act of using the rel="nofollow" tag to flow your pagerank to the most important pages on your site. It wasn’t unusual for this to be discussed at an SMX, but things got really interesting when Matt Cutts dropped the bomb that it no longer works. “Or it doesn’t work as well as it used to”.

Lots of questions followed, twitter tweets exploded about it, blog posts popped up everywhere but what will happen exactly? So far that seems still unclear and I haven’t spoken to anyone who is yet to see any negative effects.

What should we do?
Personally I think we shouldn’t make dramatic changes until the whole story is clearer. What we know for sure is that there is a change on how Google is looking at the nofollow tag, but the question is will it effect your traffic?

To see how many people are actually using the nofollow tag and what the impact will be, Rand shared some linkscape figures (~ 474 billion links in there index)  which indicates that 9,3 billion links will be effected. This means that this is BIG! Questions are raised that when it does start to effect traffic will we see a lot of people returning to different methods of sculpting the pagerank by making the links invisible again?

But there was off course more to the conference. Here are some (fun) quotes heard:

“Should I go to this session…just search in Bing”
Danny Sullivan

“On a random search result..Wikipedia. Oh that’s there by law”
Danny Sullivan

“The best ranking factor you can have is a hot product”
Laura Lippay

“Use a variety of tools, and use them in combination – no keywordtool is perfect”
Christine Churchill

“I’m a SEO with many hats (and they are all white)”
Adam Audette

PPC Tactics
SMX advanced 2009 has been a lot of networking, a little re-enforcement of known practices, some nice confirmation of theories that were believed to be true and a few nuggets of gold. The PPC Tatics was great but some can nearly be described as black hat ppc. Here are the short highlights of the PPC stream.

Frederick Vallaeys, Google's own AdWords evangalist, played a big role in the PPC stream. Some of the snippets of advice from him: "Companies should have their own adwords account and not use an agencies account. The company owns that quality score, so you don't want to be giving that to an agency account."

The content network doesn't suck
People are only searching 5% of their time on the internet. That means they spend 95% of the time doing something different. You want to reach them the other 95% of the time.

Google's Search query report is now much improved and captures 99% of all terms driving clicks. When starting a new adwords account ad and keyword combinations should be moved to quickly start their QS rebound. It should take about 2 weeks to converge.

Broad Match does not lower quality score.
Quality score is only effected when search term matches bid term. Braod Match is not worthless (over 30,000 ways people spell Britney Spears). You couldn't know them all. CPA on content is only about 2% more than search CPA.

PPC Tactics, this session was one of the more open sessions with some edgy topics discussed. Picks of the bunch.

Dynamic Keyword Insertion
Using dynamic keyword insertion (DKI) on Yahoo will increase Quality Index because Yahoo gives extra credit for using DKI. Use DKI {KEYWORD:Default_text} to get a caps headline in Google. Splitting high CTR and low CTR keywords into separate adgroups in Yahoo usually results in higher Quality Index in both sets.

Having a high initial CTR positively effects quality score over the long run. Double serving (creatively) and surrounding competitors ads with their own ad can drown them out.

Yahoo Quality Index
You can remove Yahoo's min bid. Quality Index in Yahoo mainly lives on the ad/adgroup level. Ask Yahoo to create a new account unlinked to your current one. Unlike Google, Yahoo won’t port the data if they’re unlinked. Move the keywords over, watch the MinCPC disappear. If it reappears, repeat action but change creative. Using Google's ad creative and landing page link you can see competitors ad Quality Score and FirstPageMinCPC.

Another very interesting line of thought was: does tight themed adgroups effect Quality Score? Data from Addie Connor said yes, but saying no was Alex Schultz from Facebook (it's more about keyword clustering eg all high QS words together) and Frederick Vallaeys (it is the ad, keyword pair at the account level).

Good SEA (PPC) Quotes
"DKI will increase Quality Index because Yahoo gives extra credit for using DKI"
Dan Soha

"If you can’t make a profit when you know EXACT-ly what the searcher typed, good luck with broad match."
Dan Thies

"Most of you already know this"
Frederick Vallaeys speaking on how quality score is normalised to position

"There's no spoon in PPC"
Shane Snow refering to the spoon scene out of the matrix

"Step 1: Cut a hole in the box..... oops, wrong set of instructions"
Dan Soha's 1st slide, a joke, on explaining one of his PPC tactics

"you don't buy clicks, you buy profits"

"Geotargeting is not accurate for smaller areas as Google use unreliable ip data still - Country good, state ok, city bad"
paraphrasing Reid Spice

"Yahoo MinCPC ... Another revenue blocker put in by Yahoo to further reduce their market share"
Addie Conner

"Experts warn that day parting is really “advanced” but it’s just 5th grade math"
Dan Thies

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