Day One Recap – SMX Sydney SEO SEM Conference 2008


I just returned to my office from Day 1 of the SMX Sydney 2008 SEO/SEM Conference. Learnt lots and met plenty of interesting people including chatting for a while with Adam Lasnik from Google and Rand Fishkin from Seomoz during lunch

google marissa mayer danny sullivan barry smyth keynote conversation smx sydney
Google’s Marisa Mayer – Keynote Conversation with’s Danny Sullivan & Barry Smyth – SMX Sydney

jane copland seomoz smx sydney
Jane Copland – Seomoz – SMX Sydney

ciaran norris altogether smx-sydney
Ciaran NorrisAltogether – SMX Sydney

rand fishkin seomoz smx sydney
Rand Fishkin – Seomoz – SMX Sydney

danny sullivan search engine land smx sydney
Danny Sullivan – Search Engine Land – SMX Sydney

I’ve just spent 3 hours summarised 18 pages of notes here for people who couldn’t attend and also because I don’t think anyone else has blogged about it in any detail. Will do the same tomorrow for Day 2 of SMX Sydney. Enjoy 🙂

Marissa Mayer – Google’s Vice President, Search Products & User Experience

  • She kicked off proceedings with a brief spruiking of Google Maps, Universal search and iGoogle which isn’t used much in Australia but has a userbase worldwide as large as Gmail.
  • Aim of personalisation search is to know more about you – learn from context eg: previous clicks and web history to offer better search results
  • Otherwise she didn’t say anything that interesting. I learnt more from her interview in today’s SMH newspaper than from her talk!

This was followed by a Keynote Conversation with Editor-In-Chief Danny Sullivan and Barry Smyth.

They talked about:

  • How personalisation of search results is effected by your web search history and location (geoip) but the best signal to boost relevance is your previous search query
  • Orkut – Google’s social networking site is really popular in South America and India.
  • Aside: it’s hard to take notes because Marissa Mayer talks so fast!
  • People is search an up and coming space – Aside: I’ve already had a look at the people search engine Spock after reading this very good quality article about link relationships and social API’s by Shoemoney
  • Universal search – Products, Scholar, Patents etc are next on the line to be included
  • Rate of blending searches will increase as users seem to like it
  • Google Maps Streetview will be launched in Australia late in 2008. Aside: My house has better resolution in Google Maps Australia compared to Yahoo or Live maps. However in the USA the competition is fiercer eg: for my article about the Worlds Largest Aircraft Graveyard in Tucson Arizona I used Microsoft Maps because their maps zoomed in the most
  • The inline site search boxes in search results are not permanent yet. Could still be rolled back if not successful.

Keyword Research by Jane Copland – Search Engine Consultant – SEOmoz

Verdict: good overview of KW research basics

Jane talked about how you need intelligent keywords research to build a successful search campaign for SEO & PPC and went through the available tools, how to conduct keyword research, including selection, targeting and competition

Some interesting points:

  • Keyword context is important eg: thongs = sandals = flip flops depending on which part of the world you live in
  • Your idea of what ppl think is interesting is usually different from reality, preconceptions often wrong
  • Don’t do keyword stuffing
  • There are lots of tools to see what people are looking for of various quality levels and prices eg: Wordtracker for term comparison, Trellian, Hitwise etc. Aside: I personally think that KW from incoming SERPS traffic referrals and site search KW are the best quality
  • Ask where these tools source KW from and how old is the data
  • Misspellings and typos are important keywords, lots of people who search can’t spell properly
  • Checkout site search and delicious tags for more KW ideas
  • What KW are your biggest online competitors using (these companies may be different from your off-line competitors)
  • Last slide looked like it was for an Seomoz KW research e-book but didn’t get time to write down the URL

Copywriting for Search by Ciaran Norris – SEO & Social Media Director – Altogether Digital

Verdict: Gold quality advice. Ciaran is a great speaker. Clear ideas well articulated.

Ciaran talked about how getting your “on page” copy correct is essential for any site looking at how KW research and copy writing go hand with specific references to projects he’s worked and UK newspaper websites.

  • Ciaran said Google = 21st century newstand
  • Journalists need to think of promoting content, not just write and publish it
  • KW tip: Use full words in headings and content, not just acronyms eg: sfp vs single farm payment
  • The Sun newspaper headline “Gotcha” (see photo at right) works brilliantly on a newstand but online would be better to say “British sub sinks Argentine cruiser Belgrano”
  • Recommended reading NYT article This Boring Headline Is Written for Google Aside: I read a newer similar article a few weeks ago: SEO and the death of quality journalism.
  • Body Copy: avoid blah words, describe simple and use people’s full names not nicknames.
  • Journalists should always link, be a hub not a cul de sac
  • Deeplink out is better than homepage link
  • Build a web of contacts eg: using linkedin and link to them. What goes around comes around
  • Landing pages: Create timeline / sneeze pages to highlight related content


Link Building by Rand Fishkin – Owner – SEOmoz

Verdict: Succinct advice from the link building expert. Rand has a polished delivery, is a funny guy and engages the audience. Presentation should eventually turn up at

  • Link building is sometimes overlooked
  • Why we link build: brand, reputation, traffic, rankings
  • All incoming links lift domain search rank to some extent – “A rising tide lifts all boats”
  • Opinion: 25% of links are honest editorial endorsement.
  • Always consider: What makes me worth linking to?
  • Directories: YES for subject specific, NO for general
  • Link exchanges: NO
  • Direct buys: Useful for small/medium businesses
  • Sponsor events: get a link from website = bonus 🙂
  • Social media links like from Linkedin profile can’t hurt
  • Article sites: unwise, avoid them.
  • Automated comment spam: booo hissss. Very bad.
  • Press releases to major news sites: Can be worth it
  • Links to business partners: Good of course
  • Promoting badges/widgets eg: seomoz quiz results: Good but time consuming

Landing Page Basics – Monte Heubsch – Director of Aussieweb

Verdict: Direct and effective speaker. Monte has a strong personality – could easily get a spot on crankygeeks 🙂

  • People hate it when you tell them their $40,000 flash site sucks. That’s why we have to use landing pages to get sales/conversions.
  • Success factors to attract qualified prospects: get their email and/or phone number. That’s all you need. Then you follow-up and contact directly
  • Most people don’t scroll pages, don’t use flash, you have 8 seconds to convince them, don’t offer more than 5 Nav menu links
  • Have obvious and persuasive call to action: eg: use Neuro-linguistic programming NLP
  • Swiss army knife with 200 choices = Bad. Showcase best content
  • Offer exchange of value: Discount, bonus product/service, white paper
  • Short forms are best. Phone or Email thats all you need. Long forms = Fewer enquiries
  • Example of ultra successful PPC landing page for Biolytix


Chatted with lots of interesting people including Adam Lasnik from Google and Rand Fishkin from Seomoz. Adam told me about the “chinese walls” between different parts of Google so that eg: adwords people don’t effect pure search people.

I’m confused because he seemed quite honest but other people say that they have proof that Google’s Chinese walls have been broken. Who’s right?

Afternoon Keynote by Editor-In-Chief Danny Sullivan

Danny’s topic was “Search 3.0, Search 4.0 and Beyond.” He discussed the implications of blended search (Search 3.0), personalised and social search (Search 4.0), and what’s next for search and search marketing technologies.

Verdict: Great speaker, for some reason he reminded me of Bill Gates evangelising for Microsoft (that’s meant to be a compliment)

  • Signals used by search engines to determine quality change over time:
  • 1.0 = Keyword stuffing and blatant spam
  • 2.0 = offpage factors, click through and links
  • 3.0 (Now) = Blended. Universal not verticals.
  • 4.0 = personalised and social network influences. More search results pages reordered based on your web search history. Signals like: igoogle, google bookmark google personalised search etc
  • Social sites:
  • Do you have to filter “true friends” to say who really influences you?
  • Which friends should influence results? work, school, clubs, relatives ….
  • 5.0: Human refinement eg: Jason Calacanis site can have great results sometimes, not so good other times
  • Search $$ spend = mostly recession proof

Then Danny answered questions from the floor. I txted in the first 2 and he answered both:

  1. What is your opinion of Answer: Can be good, can generate consistent traffic with some surges over time.
  2. Are RSS subscribers via Feedburner used by Google as a signal of quality website content? Answer: Not yet but definitely will be, along with Google Reader statistics

Vendors with Interesting Products

ed hoffman sli systems site search
Ed Hoffman – SLI Systems SMX Sydney

I spoke to most of the vendors who had stalls at SMX Sydney. The following 3 had interesting products that I thought offered something a bit different and interesting:

Ed Hoffman from SLI Systems – Offers Intelligent Site Search Technology for websites, on-line stores and search engines which uses visitor behaviour to continuously improve search results.

Ed showed me an example of it in action at his customer’s website Green Mountain Coffee. I’ll try and get a 30 day trial or demo account from Ed so I can have a look at it myself.

Katy Woodrow Hill from DGM – Offers Social Media Marketing strategy services and a Site Analytics package that says it can give you in-depth info about how customers interact with your business across multiple channels – right down to individual journeys through your site.

The guy at the E-Channel stand – said their “Dynamic Creative” product can automatically manage Google Adwords PPC campaigns for large database-driven websites to create compelling ad text while maintaining the highest possible Google Quality Score.

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6 responses to “Day One Recap – SMX Sydney SEO SEM Conference 2008”

  1. From the page: “Misspellings and typos are important keywords, lots of people who search can’t spell properly”
    Interests me that we continually sink to the level of the lowest-in this case those who cannot spell.
    So now I should include fatfinger versions of words and deliberate misspelling on my site and that is ok? Or are they saying that the search tool itself will adjust for typos and spelling mistakes?

    Ah well, guess it is to be expected-changes are what makes language alive and not dead, right?

    EDITOR: You don’t have to actually use Misspellings and typos in your site content, there are better ways:

    * Create a page with funny misspellings and typos of your brand name

    * Bid for misspellings and typos in paid search listings

    * Allow people to make comments on your content, I guarantee there will be plenty of typos generated there

  2. Thanks for your copious notes and a wonderful summary Neerav – exactly what I was looking for, since I couldn’t attend in person.

    I’ll be looking forward to any further summaries if you have the time and/or energy – *very* much appreciated!

    AB out

    EDITOR: thanks Andrew 🙂

  3. Absolutely excellent summary.

    I could not make the show

    Can’t wait for your day 2 summary!

    Well done mate keep it coming.

  4. Great summary Neerav – can’t remember if you stopped by our booth, but if not, maybe next year?

    EDITOR: Hi Kalena

    I had a chat with one of your staff at your booth

    I don’t need the training myself but I definitely agree that you’re filling a gap in the market because lots of people with old school marketing knowledge are now trying to do SEO and they badly need upskilling

  5. Only managed to catch the first half of the first day – glad to have found your excellent writeup letting me know all the other good stuff that I missed 🙂

    EDITOR: thanks Malini. Will you be at the CEBIT Search Marketing conference? I might be attending it.

  6. Picked up some good tips on SEO do’s & dont’s.
    Will keep these tips in mind when doing SEO and promotion for my site
    Thank you very much

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