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Top 3 Take-Aways from SMX East!

A few weeks back Scott and I had the pleasure of attending SMX East 2011. And now that the dust has settled we figured we’d share with you the most interesting things we learned. Drum roll…

Top 3 Take-Aways from SMX East 2011

3. Panda is here to stay

Not only were there several sessions dedicated entirely to Panda, but it felt like it was discussed in just about all of them. Panda was everywhere! With Panda affecting so many sites and shaking the foundation of so many online businesses, it’s no wonder it was such a hot topic (here is a good Panda Update Video that discusses how it changed SEO forever). There was a lot of interesting discussion and predictions focused around Panda, but what it came down to was that Panda is here to stay. In fact, almost everyone (to a certain degree) agreed that similar adjustments to the algorithm would continue to occur as Google tries to identify ways of filtering out “poor quality” websites. To help protect yourself from being affected by the next big quality update the experts recommended doing the following:

  • Write content for your users, not the search engines
  • Make sure your site is user friendly – include graphs, charts and images, while excluding excessive amounts of ads
  • Remove error pages from your site

2. Schema.org – Don’t get left behind!

Schema.org was launched in June of 2011 and is an effort supported by all three major search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) to establish a uniform set of schema, such as html title tags. The idea is to establish one “standard” set of schema for webmasters to use in order to markup their webpages. Although at this point in time, the search engines do not rely heavily on the schema, the experts on the panel all agreed that it is the “way of the future” and several indicated that you will be left behind if you don’t begin to think about using the markup on your pages. This doesn’t mean you should do it now, especially if there isn’t an obvious ROI for your business. It may not make sense to redesign your entire site or CMS to include schema, but when you do overhaul your site or think about updating your CMS, you should definitely consider building in the ability to markup your pages with the new schema.

1. Don’t Ignore Social – It’s part of SEO!

As would be expected, there was also a lot of talk around social and its impact on SEO. One of our favorite sessions was called “Facebook, Twitter, and SEO.” A huge amount of tips and fun facts came out of this session – below are some of our favorites:

  • Social media visibility = # of social media events (likes, shares, etc.) linking to a web page, accumulated over a defined time period
  • Most popular social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc.) depend heavily upon audience and the type of site. Searchengineland.com’s most popular channels are as follows (in order) -  tweets, stumbleupon, shares, and +1′s
  • Add Social Buttons to Your Site!
    • Twitter drove 7x more “engagement” and is on only 42.5% of sites
    • Facebook drove 3x more “engagement” and is only on 50.3% of sites
  • Social media CAN be a huge time suck. Use technology/tools such as HooteSuite to help you be efficient and get the most out of your social media in as little of time as possible.

Across the board the experts agreed that while specific social signals, such as Facebook likes/shares, may or may not have a direct impact on the algorithm right now, it will be used to some degree in the near future. In addition, social media has a lot of other great benefits, such has helping build brand awareness.

Recap

In total we attended over 20 sessions and had a blast in New York. We hope to see you all there next year!

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