15 top takeaways from SMX London 2013

Last week’s SMX search marketing expo in London had a great range of speakers that covered a variety of topics over the two days.

In this post I thought I’d share some insightful takeaways from three key themes that were explored at the conference:

From authorship to authority

As search continues to evolve, a number conditions outside of links and on-page SEO factors will begin to affect a website’s authority within the SERPs.

‘Authority’ will become an increasingly important factor and it’s vital that writers, webmasters and SEOs claim their online identities and build trusted and respected profiles.

1. Best practices for building authority:

  • Keep an author consistent on an article URL
  • Verify mark-up with Google’s structured data testing tool
  • Include authorship only on ‘authored’ articles – keep this legitimate (i.e. don’t attempt to include authorship on a website’s homepage)
  • Beware of setting up profiles with a company – always set up form a personal account so you can take a profile away to another company or website

2. Content needs to have a quality about it and be from trusted sources. Whilst the old way was about building links (which can be manipulated) the new way is much more about building authority behind the content, i.e. via the content creators themselves

3. Authority is about becoming a known credible topic expert:

  • Known – claim and connect all good profiles
  • Credible – create credible, worthy content
  • Topic expert – focus expertise and be consistent

4. Authorship helps searchers in the following ways:

  • Visible reputation for content creators, i.e. less anonymous results
  • Informs social search so that social signals become a ranking factor
  • Helps disambiguate and refine people searching (logging into Google helps search to be more accurate for individual searchers )

Learn to create killer content

The old mantra of ‘content is king’ is still as true today as it ever has been, maybe even more so due to the importance major search engines now place on original, unique, quality content.

Creating killer content content easy but if you put in the hard work and effort the rewards can pay off big time!

5. As content grows in importance, it needs to adapt and work across multiple platforms. Responsive design is therefore going to become a powerful way to build content as it allows signals to be aggregated on one URL and is easier for search engines to index
6. It’s much better to be unique than to be BIG. Focus on creating content that works for a section of society rather than the mass market
7. Grow your reach by encouraging authorities to connect to you by:
  • Writing great press releases
  • Making content easy for people to use
  • Embargo stories and provide exclusivity to selected contacts
  • Provide pictures and visuals (this is where infographics can really add value)

8. Infographics are not successful in their own right. Just as there are good and bad articles, there are also good and bad infographics, too. The key is to choose the right medium for the right audience and to create something engaging

9. Aim to create ‘hero’ content amongst your more regular content. Hero content is powerful content that is much more likely to get people talking, sharing and linking to

10. Build an organic link profile by creating content that Google’s Panda would be proud of – can you successfully answer these 23 questions?

Build links the right way

Despite the growing importance of social signals, links are still the leading ranking factor. But the way in which we acquire links today has changed and therefore SEOs need to learn how to consistently build links in the right way for their websites.

11. ‘Dodgy’ link-building (e.g. buying links, link exchanges or blog commenting) is becoming harder to do and search engines like Google are tackling these practices using two approaches:

12. You MUST have a balanced, natural link profile. This involves having backlinks with branded anchor text pointing to sub-pages throughout your website and not an over-reliance on non-branded/generic anchor text in backlinks to just a few main pages on your site

13. What doesn’t work with modern link-building?:

  • Low-quality directory sites
  • Blog rolls
  • Unnatural backlinks with generic/ non-branded anchor text

14. What does work with modern link-building?:

  • Helping bloggers fix broken links
  • Reach out to webmasters to build relationships. Don’t just email – call!
  • Good anchor text distribution

15. Removing links is another step in the link-building process and an important tactic in avoiding a hit from an algorithm update or penalty. Consider using Google’s disavow tool to remove bad links before making a reconsideration request – and remember that sometimes more than one reconsideration may be required before Google takes notice.

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The insights in this post have been curated from all the excellent speakers who presented at SMX. However, the following thought-leaders were the primary contributors to the content in this post:

A version of this post was originally published on Smart Insights on 24th May 2013. I cross-post it here with all the links and tags for your reading pleasure!