Pubcon 2013: Day One Overview

I am spending the week in one of my favorite cities, Las Vegas for Pubcon Vegas 2013. This is my second Pubcon event and probably will not be my last. I have attended a number of other search marketing conferences and have found that Pubcon is always a step above the rest. The event takes place from October 21 – 24, 2013 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. I’ve been live blogging various sessions via twitter so be sure to check out my twitter handle at: @marketing_jive. Here is a rundown of some of the sessions that I attended on Day One.

Pubcon 2013

Pubcon 2013 via Brett Tabke (@btabke)

Kickoff Keynote with Jason Calacanis

This was a pretty inspiring speech. When I grow up, I think that I want to be Jason Calacanis. The man is quite the visionary. After his talk, I overheard one guy in the audience say that I’ve learned more in the past 45 minutes than the past 5 years of conferences that I have been to. Calacanis’ discussion was all about media and where he thinks media is going. He showed a number of interesting stats pertaining to various Media trends. He spent the last few minutes of his talk somewhat bashing Google and Matt Cutts suggesting that Google has not been a very good partner as of late.

Session: Schema – Semantic Markup and Search

This was a tremendous session that had really good engagement with the audience. The panel was really great and featured:

Jonathan Goodman – who described the fundamentals of schema and mentioned that with Google Hummingbird, schema is going to become even more important and that Google is trying to provide answers on the results page – you need to adjust to become an authority so that your content can be viewed on the results page (elevated authorship).

Daniel Schulman – spoke about authorship and how authorship is unique to your own website – adds to the quality of your site. He spoke about some cool tools such as the Chrome extension Microdata Reveal that I was not aware of.

Carrie Hill spoke about all of the various schema combinations that can be used and how it can get a little confusing. She discussed all of the elements that a business can markup from products to locations to service offering and hours.

Matthew Bay was up next and spoke about how you can incorporate schema via WordPress as he went over a number of cool plugins and tips for adding schema to your WordPress based web properties.

All in all a really informative session.

The next session that I attended was on Local Search and Mobile Optimization. This session was the weakest one of day one for me. A couple of tips shared by the panel included:

  • Work on creating a better contact page
  • Identify who your customer is and where they are located
  • Driving directions can be important for mobile – is there construction? If so provide the user with instructions for alternate routes.
  • Not every search is suited for mobile

Next up was: Google’s Author Tag: The Biggest Signal Since Links. Another distinguished panel that featured Eric Enge, Casey Markee from SearchEngineNews.com and Ann Smarty. Some great insights shared included:

  • Authorship may provide ranking benefits in the future as Google’s Eric Schmidt was previously quoted as saying “in the future, verified online profiles will be ranked higher…”
  • Ann Smarty made a good point when she mentioned that “Your Google+ picture becomes your competitive advantage” – your picture should be reflective of how you want to present yourself
  • Ann also quoted Eric Schmidt: “The true cost of remaining anonymous then, might be irrelevance” – Google’s Eric Schmidt
  • She also mentioned that it takes about 3 weeks for your authorship markup to show up in the SERPs
  • Casey made a strong point when he stated, “Follow the rules (of authorship) so that you do not damage your author trust. In the future your authorship may stop working.”
The influence of authorship on search results

An example of the author tag's impact on search results

  • Casey mentioned 5 mistakes to avoid when using Authorship:
  1. Your picture needs to really work – make sure your picture is accurate (take a quality picture, no selfies)
  2. Avatars are tricky – be careful. Make sure they convey what you want them to convey
  3. Don’t spam your profile – ‘nuff said
  4. Your profile does not project trust – avoid excessive cross linking
  5. All Content, No Engagement – Avoid excessive re-shares

The panel also made the very important comment that you should not put authorship on all of your pages – just on your real content pages.

The next session that I attended was all around algorithm chaos and the panel discussed everything from recent algorithm updates to myths about algorithm updates. The one takeaway that is worth sharing is something that we have always stated, and that is do not be an algorithm chaser. Learn to understand the “what” and “why” algorithms change. Do not focus on the “how”. More relevance and authority is what Google is trying to identify (better content + better links).

The final session that I attended on day one of Pubcon was a jam-packed session entitled: No Virginia, Link Building is Not Illegal. The panelists included Eric Enge, Bing’s Duane Forrester and Michael King from Iacquire. This was a very passionate session with a lot of digs back and forth between the panelists. Here are but a few tips mentioned by each of the speakers:

Eric Enge

  • Links must be valid citations – have some editorial judgment behind them
  • Use press releases properly – don’t put them on every week, don’t keyword spam
  • Widgets – don’t use them for link building purposes
  • Only use infographics if they are accurate, relevant and convey high quality info. Send out some content with the infographic – give context to provide more value.
  • Manage the relevance chain – think about the site giving the link, the page giving the link, the anchor text and the page receiving the link

Michael King

  • Marketing is Better than Link Building
  • If you are going to use a vendor be sure that they communicate the following:
    • Outreach transparency – your link partner needs to tell you what they have done
    • Placement transparancy
    • Results transparency
    • Your link vendor should be able to provide case studies
    • Paid links are not easier to get than organic links
    • Diversify your tactics
      • Guest posts should be selective
      • Environmental linking – link to relevant resources throughout that article
      • Stop creating patterns
      • Use reverse image search to ensure that if people have stolen your images, they are at least linking to you
      • Use Zemanta – contextual way to get links
      • Find the most shared content on the site and have a conversation with the producer of that content
      • Use builtwith.com
      • Blog contests – whoever gets the most shares wins the contest

Duane Forrester

  • The value of links
    • Often only one or two links will get you ranked
    • If you focus on link building for SEO, it shows
    • Avoid buying links
    • Do usability testing
    • Links will always be a valuable signal to Bing – they see all of the patterns
    • Encourage more sharing
      • Create lists
      • Linkbait
      • Participate in communities
      • Share others’ information
      • Ask questions

Overall I have to say that Pubcon was very solid on day one. Looking forward to the rest of the conference, including the keynote from Google’s Matt Cutts.

I will continue to live blog via micro-blogging through twitter so be sure to check out @marketing_jive on Twitter.

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