Takeaways From Pubcon New Orleans Day Two

April 4th, 2014 by Mary Silva

Last week I had the amazing opportunity to attend Pubcon New Orleans for the first time. It was one of the most fruitful learning and networking experiences I’ve had the chance to be a part of. I felt like I could spend forever just absorbing everything I could from everyone I met. One of the major themes that I got from all the speakers I saw at PubCon was the importance of good content. So, now I’m here to tell you about some of the main takeaways I got from the particular sessions I attended.

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Peter Shankman: Keynote

The keynote by Peter Shankman focused primarily on the power of good customer service. His four main points were Transparency, Relevancy, Brevity, and Top of Mind. He said you don’t have to go crazy with customer service, just be “one level above crap.” On this note he mentioned the Morton’s Steakhouse story where he jokingly tweeted at them about wanting a porterhouse steak upon landing in New Orleans from a flight. They then sent someone to meet him with a steak when he got off the plane. This simple gesture(although not scalable for every brand) led to a lot of great publicity for Morton’s. It’s all about making your customer feel special.

An audience you are more transparent and honest with that feels invested in is 78% more likely to buy. Peter also said that when(not if) you screw up, own it. People are 44% more likely to stick with you if you own it. He mentioned the stark difference between how Eliot Spitzer handled his prostitution scandal by admitting the fault and resigning versus how Anthony Weiner handled his sexting scandal by saying he got hacked and not owning up to it.

Peter mentioned the importance of being relevant and listening to your audience as well. He mentioned a non-profit that saw a 37% increase in donations just by being engaging and active with their audience online.

The third important facet Peter Shankman mentioned was brevity. He particularly said that brevity is the future of social media and not just in the way we think of it through Twitter now. He said jokingly that we’ve all become the dog from the movie Up, because recent studies show that we have a 2.7 second attention span. Shankman said that mobile messaging is the future and Twitter is just the pipe, so we must learn to write well and concisely.

Finally, Peter talked about the importance of being top of mind. You want to be the first person someone thinks to go to for whatever they need. He also mentioned the idea of having “zombie loyalists,” or people who have you at the top of their mind for recommendations.

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Will Scott: Barnacle SEO

Next I had the opportunity to sit in on Will Scott’s talk about Barnacle SEO(a term he coined in a Local Search News post back in 2008). Barnacle SEO is all about leveraging authority for local search. Specifically, the idea is to attach oneself to a “large fixed object” and wait for customers to “float by in the current.” It’s not as simple as using someone else’s authority, because Will says the most important thing in business is sincerity. “If you can fake that, you’ve got it made,” he says.

He also mentioned that Google’s weakness is sites they consider super authoritative like YouTube, Yelp, Pinterest, Facebook, YP.com, and such. This is making Barnacle SEO have a huge comeback. YouTube for example dominates universal search and according to a MarketingLand infographic, 8 out of 10 video results are from YouTube.

Although using backlinks from these authoritative sites and directories like YP.com for local SEO efforts is important, it’s also super important to “keep it clean-ish” by using tools like Whitespark.

Greg Gifford: Local SEO- It’s No Laughing Matter

After Will Scott, Greg Gifford, Director of Search and Social at AutoRevo, took to the stage with his presentation about the complications of local search. His awesome presentation featuring punny references to 142 movies and also contained precise, actionable tips. He mentioned the changes in local search like the maps pack finally stabilizing at seven listings and how optimized vertical and local directories now rank very well. A huge opportunity for small businesses to rank well lies in simply adding city and state to title tags.

Greg also mentioned how the goal of Google Plus Local(aka Google Places) seems to be like a drive through, a place for people to get what they need by getting in and out quickly. He also brought up the Google email about “duplicate listings” that rolled out with Google finally merging the old dashboard to the new. If you want to know more about this email, check out my blog post here.

His optimization tips for G+ included writing long, “awesome” descriptions using formatting and links, uploading lots of photos, using as close to the max 10 categories as possible while keeping them relevant, engaging in the fairly few number of users on G+, and circling users as a business. As far as reviews on G+ go, he mentioned that you have to earn them and ask for them, you need at least five reviews to see the star average, you should shoot for 10 then diversify, one to two reviews a month is normal, and having them come in consistently rather than in bursts is important.

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Casey Markee: The “Big Easy” Guide to Google-Friendly Link Earning

Casey Markee started his presentation with a quote from Matt Cutts saying, “The objective is not to make your links appear natural, the objective is that your links are natural.” He mentioned that the “four tenants of Google-friendly links” are those that provide clear value for the user, are niche-relevant, get clicked to send some measurable form of trackable analytics traffic, and are “earned” freely versus being given.

He listed nine link “earning” classes that Google still loves which included:

  1. Link Bait Type Content- Sharable and Buzz-Worthy
  2. Evergreen Content- No Expiration Date
  3. Local Link Earning- Publish Local Resources
  4. Scholarship Link “Earning”- Ex: SilverCross.com Ability Achievement Scholarship
  5. Beneficial Link “Earning”- Participate in Online Forums
  6. Sponsorship/ Partner Building- Support Causes
  7. Profile Links- Social Profile Building
  8. Selective Guest Blogging- Quality not Quantity
  9. Brand Mentions- Get Regular Mentions Turned Into Live Links

He ended with saying that link earning is a marathon not a sprint, and that quality content is key!

Mike Stewart: Building a Future Proof Plan for Organic Local Search Rankings

The biggest takeaway I got from Mike Stewart’s presentation was to think beyond Google search and about other places where people often search like Siri, Amazon, Facebook, and Bing. He also explained the difference between some white hat and black hat SEO tactics, and the importance of doing it right. Mike took us back to basics explaining that “SEO is about creating, editing, organizing, and delivering content and metadata to increase relevance to specific keywords on the web.”

Finally he gave us “Seven Simple Content Ideas That Drive Shareability” which are as follows:

  1. GIVE: Offers, discounts, deals, and contests that everyone can benefit from
  2. ADVISE: Tips, especially about problems that everyone encounters; how to do something
  3. WARN: Warnings about dangers that could affect anyone
  4. AMUSE: Funny pictures and quotes, as long as they’re not offensive to any group
  5. INSPIRE: Inspirational quotes
  6. AMAZE: Amazing pictures or facts
  7. UNITE: A post that acts as a flag to carry and a way to brag to others about your membership in a group

This is just a very small portion of the many helpful tips and tools I learned at PubCon this year! Let me know what you think about all the tactics you’ve learned here today.