Most Important Take-Aways from #Pubcon 2010
I’m currently on my plane ride home from Vegas. Unfortunately, this plane does not have Internet access like my last one did. So this is a good time to write out a bunch of my observations and thoughts from the conference I just attended.
WARNING: This post is going to be long. Feel free to just scan over the Bolded/capitalized headings and just read what you are interested in.
(You can also just read the very brief points at the end.)
1. PUBCON HAS A DIFFERENT FEEL
The style of Pubcon is different than any other conference in my opinion. Brett Tabke is a genuine nice guy that does this conference year after year. Many of the speakers and attendees know him personally and speak positively of him. The conference has an overall feeling of individuals helping individuals. Everyone is not just friendly, but genuinely helpful.
Guys like Jerry West, Greg Boser, Brad Geddes, Christine Churchill, and countless others all rally together to learn from each other and to help newbies at Pubcon. The whole event is very welcoming to newcomers. This is evident not only in the presentations, but in the constant conversations between sessions. Pubcon is mostly about search, but like most conferences, they delve into other areas such as social media, new media, etc.
2. SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING TOOLS
For keyword research, several marketers are complaining about the Google AdWords Keyword Tool. They are not showing all data as of just a few weeks ago. It looks like many are going back to using WordTracker and Keyword Discovery for inventory data. Another incredible tool to mine new keyword phrases is Scrapebox. It’s amazing.
For Link Building and other SEO tools, it seems as if SEOmoz and SEOBook are the clear leaders.
For SEO reporting, Raven Tools is quickly becoming the industry favorite.
3. PAY PER CLICK SEARCH MARKETING
I was surprised that more people were not excited about jumping head first into Microsoft AdCenter now that it is powering both Bing and Yahoo. Rather, most everyone still focuses their energy on Google AdWords and simply copy what works into Microsoft AdCenter.
The strongest tips that came out of PPC were to focus more intently on negative keywords. Several presenters encouraged using thousands of negative keywords. Use tools such as Scrapebox to find as many as possible.
Some other good tips were to focus on Quality Score. Improving your QS can have a dramatic effect on your spending.
4. FACEBOOK MARKETING
Between the sessions I attended and the conversations I had, it’s becoming more obvious that using Facebook for marketing is really in its infancy. Very few marketers are just STARTING to even try this, let alone see the potential.
The technique that many are using is to use targeted ads to drive traffic to custom built pages that engage and reward “liking” the page. Hopefully, the viral effect kicks in. If your audience engages, their friends see them and may join too.
The concept is that you then “own the audience” and can try to engage them on the page over and over. You may choose to push them toward an offer on your website or just keep engaging them to the benefit of the brand.
Interestingly, if it doesn’t work, it’s easy to start over, give up, and try something different on a Facebook page. So the general idea is to keep trying something until it starts clicking with your target audience. Very little harm is done if you fail at first. Just reiterate and move on.
It works. People make very good money at it. Search engine placement for the right keywords is money in the bank. In fact, it is reoccurring money that keeps on coming in.
This is so true that those that are involved in successful e-commerce can’t help but laugh at those that are trying to make money in social media. Both e-commerce and affiliate marketers look at social media and just smile, as if they know something the others don’t. (It’s kind of amusing to watch, actually.)
Several of the attendees of Pubcon are clearly making good money and are happy to just pick up a few tidbits here and there and get to know the others that are doing the same. There is much less effort into trying to “look cool” and “be in the forefront”, as is seen in the other conferences.
Search engine marketing combined with e-commerce and/or affiliate marketing is not a hobby. It’s an income stream. And it works. It really does. (But please don’t tell anyone. Smile.)
6. THE FUTURE OF SEARCH ENGINES
In many ways, the future of how search engines will work is already here. When you type something into Google or Bing, you don’t just get 10 links anymore. Those days are mostly over.
You get what is called “universal search”, which means the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) shows videos, news, realtime (twitter), images, local info, and other things. You need to take all this into consideration.
SERPS are also taking more “unstated signals” into account. They try to determine where you are, what else you are already interested in or like, who your friends are, and what device you are using (PC, mobile phone, tablet, or even television).
7. WHAT GOOGLE THINKS
Matt Cutts (the voice of Google) gave a presentation, but others spoke about Google as well. Overall, I get the impression that Google is scared of Facebook because of the data they own and won’t share. (What you like and who your friends are – often referred to as your social graph.)
Google also is very aggressively pursuing mobile and television. (Duh. It’s where the true growth and money is.)
Google is also admitting that spam is starting to increase within their SERPS. Therefore they are soon going to start taking an even stronger attack against spam, buying links, and other inappropriate activities that they feel promotes the wrong sites. They are already rewarding the larger brands over smaller ones. Several noted this.
Matt specifically encouraged all webmasters and site owners to claim their site in Google Webmaster Tools and turn on the flag that allows Google to email them when they note something of concern.
8. SOCIAL MEDIA vs SEARCH ENGINES
This is a topic that I brought up to some very interesting people in my conversations. It seems as if several in the “social media” camp believe that the two may eventually combine and/or social may start taking away from search engines.
In my conversations with several very smart people that know both industries well, there seemed to be agreement that this just plain is not true. It won’t happen.
Social is good for hearing from and learning from your friends. Ask your followers on Twitter what they recommend. Check Facebook to see what your “social graph” likes, etc. But when you want to do the research yourself and/or follow up to determine how you feel, you almost always end up back at Google.
I had this very conversation with Tim Mayer after his keynote on the future of search. I also had a roundtable discussion (at a literal roundtable at lunch) with Brett Tabke, Warren Whitlock, Brian Carter, and a few others on this.
After thinking a lot about this, I firmly believe that search engines are here to stay. Social media is here to stay, too. And although they may assist each other a little, they are never going to combine. Nor are they ever going to cannibalize the other. That’s my opinion and I’m sticking with it – for now.
9. VIDEO AND MOBILE ONLINE
These are by far the two biggest and hottest topics in all of the Internet right now. Period. Both of these are much greater opportunities, easier, and more powerful online than anything else, including social media.
How’s that for a bold statement?
If you are not starting to create videos and are not at least staying informed of what is happening with smart phones, you are totally missing the bus. The time is RIGHT NOW to get involved. The wave is coming and it’s time to get in front of it. No joke.
10. LOCAL MARKETING
For the past six years, local marketing online has always been the next big thing and right around the corner. I feel that it’s actually true this year. The growth of mobile phones, combined with the effort both Facebook and Google are putting into this makes the claim more believable this year than ever before.
Then again, we said that last year, and the year before that, and the year before that… You get the picture. We’ll just have to wait and see.
(Sorry for the long post.)
1. Pubcon is great.
2. Go buy Scrapebox for keyword research
3. Use more negative keywords in AdWords
4. Don’t be afraid of marketing in Facebook
5. Don’t let people know that e-commerce makes real money
6. Realize that search engines show more than just websites
7. Don’t bother trying to spam Google
8. Learn how to market in both search & social
9. Start jumping into Video and Mobile right now
10. Local marketing is about to take off (maybe)
PS: I have another post ready to come out of me about the true state of Search Engine Optimization and those that practice it. More about that later. Stay tuned.