Cost of going to Barry Smyth’s Search Engine Bootcamp: a few hundred dollars
Knowledge gained from the great speakers: Priceless!
A few days ago I was lucky enough to attend the Sydney Search Engine Bootcamp Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) workshop run by Barry Smyth’s Search Strategies company and was very impressed by the quality of speakers and the knowledge that was shared.
Jargon – There was a specific session dedicated to explaining SEO/SEM jargon – SEO, PPC, ROI, SERP etc which was a great idea.
However some of the attendees who were pretty new to the industry still ended up approaching more experienced people like me during drinks sessions with questions like “What’s that RSS thing he was talking about?”
Not sure what else could be done to remedy this considering it’s a 1 day workshop with lots of content to cram in.
Bargain Price – The advertised price was $595+GST but significant discounts are available by pre-paying well in advance or if you’re a member of an industry association like the Web Standards Group (WSG) eg: With a WSG Discount code the price was $495+GST
Anyway even if you pay full price it’s ridiculously cheap for the knowledge you get. An SEO agency would charge a client $1000′s to give them similar advice.
Quality Speakers – I’ve been to plenty of conferences, workshops and seminars and to be brutally honest around 1/4 or 1/3rd of speakers are usually no good either because their knowledge is old and out of date or their delivery is terrible and they send everyone to sleep.
Surprisingly the speakers at this workshop bucked the trend by being at worst solid and at best very good indeed:
- Michael Motherwell and Guy Wayland – Owners of WMS Consulting
- Tom Petryshen – CEO of Amplify
- Simon Dunwoody – The Found Agency
- Frank Grasso – E-Channel Online
- Chris Dimmock – Co-owner of Cogentis
- Nathan Stewart – Alkemi International
- Kylie O’Brien from Yahoo! Search Marketing & Michael Fox from Google Adwords
- Amye Saunders – 24/7 Real Media
- Jason West – Founder of Websalad
- Jeremy Bolt – Executive Director of Bruce Clay Australasia
- Russell Banks – dgmAustralia
- Michael Walmsley – General Manager of Hitwise
Audience Voting – In between sessions Barry kept the audience interested by asking multiple choice questions which we could answer using a Ezicomm wireless voting keypad. No doubt the answers will provide useful market research info which can be used to fine tune the workshop for next time.
Schedule & Food – Check-in to pickup a notepad and small Search Engine Bootcamp backpack closed at 8:45 giving people to time to drink some tea/coffee to help them wake up. Each of the 4 sessions contained 3 x 30min talks and a Q&A session afterwards and at the end there was an hour of Networking drinks 1730-1830.
Conference food is usually average but this workshop was held at the Sheraton 4 Point Darling Harbour where we had full choice of of the buffet menu at their Corn Exchange Restaurant with plenty of choice for everyone including vegetarians like me.
- Free Search Engine Category Report worth $750 – Courtesy of Hitwise.
- One Month FREE subscription to the Keyword Discovery service valued at $80.00 – Courtesy of Trellian.
- One Month FREE access to Bruce Clay SEOTools, a collection of indispensable Search Engine Optimisation tools – Courtesy of Bruce Clay
- $75 Credit Voucher for search marketing on Yahoo!7, 9MSN + more – Courtesy of Yahoo! Search Marketing Australia
- Audio Podcast of each speakers session
- Electronic PDF copy of the speakers presentations
The following is a summary of the notes I took across the whole day. Obviously being in the SEO field for several years I already knew almost all of the tips but I’m repeating them here so that others can learn.
Wherever possible each recommendation “What to do” or “What not to do” is linked to an explanatory article that I have found:
SEO & Usability
SEO – What to do
- Write your content for the web: Short paragraphs, no marketing language, use bullet points and pictures etc
- Include breadcrumb navigation if possible
- Write unique <title> tags for each page
- Write a unique <h1> tag for each page
- Use search engine friendly URL’s
- Add a correctly formatted Robots.txt file
SEO – What not to do
- Don’t create an all Flash website
- Don’t use Frames to design your website
Pay Per Click (PPC) Essentials
PPC – What to do
- Talk to your SEM client! Get to know their business in depth and read any brochures or marketing material they use offline to get keyword ideas.
- Understand the Google and Yahoo quality score systems because they can have a huge effect on what price you pay / click
- Use Thesaurus and Dictionaries when creating Keyword lists
- Gather keyword data collected by your site search tool eg: Google Custom Search Engine and your Traffic monitor system eg: Google Analytics
- See who’s ranking for your “Brands” and common misspellings eg: Qantas VS Quantas
- Investigate new PPC opportunities like Google Gadget Ads, Local business listings
- Make sure you include keywords in the long tail as well as the obvious ones
PPC – What not to do
- Don’t waste time manually managing large SEM campaigns via the Adwords website, use Adwords Editor instead
- Don’t rely on being lucky and creating a good landing page design on your first attempt, use Multi-variate testing to improve the design with tools like
Google’s Website Optimizer
- Don’t waste money on PPC campaigns because you didn’t use proper geo-targetting
Other Useful Info
- Google’s Universal Search and similar projects by Yahoo, Ask.com etc are really shaking up the SEO industry so make sure you keep up to date about their effects
- Online Reputation Management is an emerging field well worth investigating which involves monitoring, analyzing, and pro actively managing the conversation about your brand, organisation, and reputation, online.
- The key to success is good quality, naturally written, relevant content that offers in depth information which people are looking for