Blog Events

SMX Advanced

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What a great week this has been! Why you may ask? Well this week I attended SMX Advanced over in Seattle, one of the most talked about and recommended search marketing conferences in the world.

The week started off with a trip to the Moz office for a look around, followed by the SMX Advanced conference and networking sessions, ending on Thursday with me and Stuart beating Matt Cutts and his team mate in a game of pool.

Beating Matt Cutts from Google in Pool at SMX Advanced 2014

But it was the conference that I was here for, and I wasn’t disappointed. The content that was available was great and came from some very experienced marketers. The calibre of the attendees was also extremely high, with some interesting questions being asked and some great conversations had during the networking sessions.

In this post I have provided my thoughts and some key points from a selected number of sessions that I thought you would be most interested in, and that would provide the most value.

The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors in 2014.

The very first session of the conference was extremely interesting with some great points coming out of it. In it, Marcus Tober, Marianne Sweeny and Matthew Brown provided some very valuable insights, both from their own experiences and survey data.

One of the biggest take-aways from the session was to make sure that whatever you do, whether it is from a marketing or UX point of view, make sure it is done for the user. All three of the speakers spoke about the importance of site speed, and ensuring that both the user and the search engine were happy with load times.

Here are some of the key points from this session:

  • SEO has to be concerned with UX and UX has to be concerned about SEO.
  • Understand what Google are going to use when there are not enough links to rank a page but the page is of value.
  • Mobile usage is continuing to increase at a rapid rate, but how do you link to a page on a mobile?
  • 77% of URLs are different in search when comparing Mobile vs Desktop usage.
  • Don’t make the image too overpowering, as users prefer the content.
  • Content is important, but it is more important to have quality content. To understand whether you have quality content you need to conduct a content audit/inventory.
  • Update your content on a regular basis where possible, without changing the URL. This is especially true for those evergreen pieces that can be updated and shared regularly.
  • Create content for where the user is, not for where you think the user is. You can understand this by looking at pageviews and page/folder level within your analytics.
  • You really need to be utilising structured data, but you need to have the right markup implemented as it could lead to you lose clicks.
  • Focus on entity optimisation! This a big focus for Google, so you need to get up to scratch and quickly.

Keyword research on Roids!

For me, this session was mainly about the second talk with Rae Hoffman (@sugarrae) talking about how she uses SEMrush alongside other tools to find opportunities for optimisation and content. Now I am not saying the other talks weren’t great, I just felt that they were more talks about what you could do rather than providing actionable data.

Here are some of the key points from this session:

  • Conduct keyword research to identify topics that relate to content opportunities.
  • Utilise Analytics to identify the top 50-100 landing pages. Once you have these, put them into SEMrush to identify the keywords that they are ranking for.
  • Segment your keyword research into categories. These categories could include topics such as content marketing, category pages, related terms, and opportunities.
  • Do you know your position value? Use SEMrush’s total traffic, and remove the top 10 traffic driving terms to understand what portion of traffic they are driving.
  • Utilise the domain analysis tool within SEMrush to identify any keywords that you may have missed but your competitors are targeting.
  • You need to have a realistic understanding of whether you are really going to rank for a target term or phrase. Within SEMrush, they provide a keyword relevance score that will help you make the right choices.

During the Q&A of the session, there were two questions that drew quite a bit of discussion. The first was “what is more important in keyword research, search volume or conversions?” This was a relatively straightforward question in my opinion, with the answer being conversion first, utilising conversion rates to understand the potential money that you are going to receive, but if that isn’t possible then revert back to potential traffic.

The second question was how to utilise keyword data within GWT. The panel agreed that utilising the data was important but that the data is lost on a regular occurrence because GWT only shows 90 days worth.

Set an alert for every 90 days to download ALL of your GWT data or you will just lose it. – Rae Hoffman

and here are the slides…

What SEMs should do for Mobile.

A theme in a lot of sessions at SMX Advanced was that mobile is coming quickly, and the majority are not ready. Go and have a look at the Apple website on a mobile. Did you know that they don’t have a mobile website? Do they actually need one? Well that is another question, but it goes to show that if one of the biggest companies in the world don’t have it nailed down, then what hope do others have?

For this session, the main focus was on strategy and advertising, but one point that stuck with me is that people are having issues with tracking. We use many different mobile devices before we make a purchase, which makes attributing a purchase extremely difficult. This problem is something that will continue, but we would hope to be solved in the very near future.

Here are some of the key points from this session:

  • The question is not whether mobile is an important part of the process. Its about understanding how each device influences the consumer differently.
  • A critical step for mobile planning is to ensure your entire strategy, not just across mobile or other. It needs to be about business goals.
  • Mobile search drives multiple types of conversions – set kpis realistic to your campaign objectives.
    • enable click to call / call tracking.
    • mobile coupon codes.
    • enable location extensions.
    • in-store mobile offers.
  • Mobile search drives multiple conversions and can’t be measured in isolation.
  • Utilise mobile ad extensions within advertising to take up more real-estate.
  • Track calls using different numbers across devices & desktop.
  • There are still people who have flip phones and use WAP. This means that you need to advertise to using WAP text ads.
  • Use localised numbers rather than 0800 numbers. People like to see real phone numbers.
  • There are 3 major problems with mobile – low conversions / the SEM auction is broken / there are tracking issues.
  • It is very difficult to understand cross-device attribution as there are so many touch points across them all before a purchase/action is made.

One bit of information that shocked me the most was how quickly the click through rate changes from position one to two when comparing it to the current desktop studies.

Click through rate dropped by 45% from position 1 to 2 on mobile devices – Jaclyn Jordan

Creating blockbuster content

As you would expect with the changes over recent times, content has been a big part of all the sessions that I attended. There was a constant message throughout that content that goes viral will not happen each and every time. It takes time to understand what works for each audience, what piece of content is relevant to the consumer at the right time, and what it is that makes it different or better than anything else that is available.

Here are some of the key points from this session:

  • Quality of content is far more important than quantity.
  • Content going forward needs to be mobile-friendly, load quickly, have authorship markup, include social signals, and allow engagement.
  • Long form content tends to get more interaction, better engagement, and is shared and linked to more.
  • Having great social signals gives a much better indication of the quality of content, alongside authorship.
  • Use keyword research to help inform content, but don’t let it be the main focus of your content.
  • Determine what works using social signals, engagement, and links.
  • Ensure that you break up paragraphs for easy reading and use images to summarise concepts.
  • Images are meant to serve a purpose not just fill a space.
  • Use internal search for content ideas.
  • Ask your staff one question to gather as much information as possible. “What is the one question you get asked all the time?”.
  • Use research tools such as Google Instant, Uber Suggest and Yahoo Answers to see what people are looking for, and then create it better.

Content takes time. It can’t be done on a trial basis. It needs to be created, tested and updated to make it work.

and here are the slides…

Executing a Flawless Content Marketing Strategy

Here are some of the key points from this session:

  • Mobile apps are the future of content marketing, but you need HTML 5 responsive versions.
  • You need to have a strong call to action, otherwise what is the point?
  • Make your content interactive and engaging and it will help you achieve your goals!
  • Smaller newspapers generally have a more engaged audience, so look to these for coverage of your content.
  • Use Facebook Graph search to find journalists and gather as much information as possible. Use LinkedIn and send InMail for pitching.
  • Pitch as early as possible to have a better chance of getting interest and coverage.
  • Once you have a relationship, nurture it. It’s not a one night stand! Say thank you, use social and email to stay in touch, and be available.

and here are the slides…

You&A with Matt Cutts & Danny Sullivan

As you would expect this was by far the most popular session of the conference with so many attendees wanting to quiz Matt about what is going on at Google, and what is coming next. Once this session got going it was extremely fast-paced, so I am afraid I haven’t got many notes to share, however Rae Hoffman did an amazing job of tweeting and then fleshing out the content, so I would recommend going to have a read here.


Was it worth it? Yes! Most definitely. I have learnt and picked up a lot of useful information whilst also meeting new people within the industry on the other side of the pond. Now that I have experienced it, I am hoping that I can go back in the future, possibly as a speaker…

Blog Presentations

Operational SEO – Insights into running an SEO Department

Operational SEO – Insights into running an SEO Department from Daniel Bianchini
Blog Presentations

Evolution of search – White Exchange 2013

Evolution of search – White Exchange 2013 from Daniel Bianchini
Blog Events

BrightonSEO – All the Presentations in One Place!

Another BrightonSEO has come and gone, and as ever it was a great event with some great talks. This year Kelvin went a step further and opened a normally single track event to three tracks, with 2,000 online marketers attending. By running three tracks, meant that we were unable to see every talk, so I have collated all of the slidedecks in a single post. I will be continuing to update this post as more people put their decks online. Feel free to add the links to those decks in the comments below.

Track 1

Ask the Ex-Googlers Anything Panel

Hannah Smith

Lexi Mills

Paul Madden





Track 1 | Track 2 | Track 3 | Lightning Rounds | BrightonSEO Rap

Track 2

Aleyda Solis

Alex Moss

Alan Cairns

Dara Fitzgerald

Ali White

Nikki Rae

Anna Lewis

Nick Rinylo

Berian Reed



Track 1 | Track 2 | Track 3 | Lightning Rounds | BrightonSEO Rap

Track 3

Tim Grice

Ade Lewis

Peter Wailes

Lauren Pope


Ralf Schwoebel

Stefan Hull


Neil Walker


Kevin Gibbons

Track 1 | Track 2 | Track 3 | Lightning Rounds | BrightonSEO Rap

Lightning Round

Marcus Taylor

Alan Ferguson

Julia Logan


Sean Walsh

Pak Hou Cheung

Jennifer Begg

Track 1 | Track 2 | Track 3 | Lightning Rounds | BrightonSEO Rap

BrightonSEO Rap!

Blog Events

ionSearch – A Rising Force in Search Conferences

On the 19th April, I will be joining Aleyda Solis, Andrew Girdwood and Chelsea Blacker at ionSearch (Leeds) to talk about Local SEO. It was great to be asked back to ionSearch, after sitting on the eCommerce panel last year, at the very first ionSearch conference.

Following on from the success of last year, I wanted to ask Fergus Clawson (below) a few questions about the up coming conference, and what he hopes it will achieve.

Fergus Clawson – MD of Blueclaw & Founder of ionSearch

What was the inspiration behind ionSearch?
I ran Techno rave parties in the early 1990s and I found bringing together like-minded people to share a passion had a profound effect on me and was one of the inspirations behind ionSearch. Techno music pushes the boundaries of sound and there are an infinite number of ways in which you can sculpt electronic music. Something similar can be said for SEO: Google’s search engine is an ever-expanding digital universe and that’s what makes it exciting.

So the inspiration for ionSearch is the quest to see how far we can collectively explore and then act on the various search engine algorithms that impact on our daily lives.

What were your expectations when you started out with ionSearch?
I think I had fears rather than expectations. Will the delegates turn up? Will the speakers turn up? Am I mad doing this? The first ionSearch was hours of hard work, promotion, blogging, tweeting and finally the conference itself. I feel we have conquered these fears now, which is a huge positive, however one must not become complacent, that’s the death knell of any activity. For ionSearch 2013 we’ve set the benchmark even higher, so there is no room for sitting back. I just hope those who attend ionSearch will get a great deal out of it, and will go back to their offices thinking: “Wow, I was glad I was there to experience it.”

In the build-up to ionSearch last year, there seemed to be some disputes with ThinkVisibility. Were they real issues or just blown up out of proportion?
There is no animosity towards Thinkvis, I think it’s fantastic that Leeds can support so many great events.

After the first ionSearch, what type of feedback did you receive?
Mostly extremely positive, especially the various blogger reviews post-conference. There is feedback you take action on and we will tweak a few aspects. Dave Snyder’s talk was the big hit of the 2012 conference, Dave’s ‘link apocalypse’ predictions are hitting hard in 2013, just look what has happened to Interflora!

ionSearch this year has arguably the best released speaker line-up to date. How did you manage to get so many great speakers in your second year?
The answer to this question is perseverance, determination and being nice to people. It is also a word of mouth thing, last year went well so this year most of the speakers we approached had heard of ionSearch so there was no need for the hard sell. Conversely, well-known speakers are approaching us directly this year to get a gig at ionSearch, which is a good sign that we’re approaching the conference in the right way.

What do you look for in a speaker for your event?
Actionable insight is the key driver in speaker selection. You also look for passion and expert knowledge. An inflated ego is definitely not welcome! Any slide deck that has ‘get shit done’ content is always a winner with me. A speaker should tell a story to the audience and be able to present it well with not too much fluff – for me that’s the art of public speaking.

What can we expect to see at ionSearch this time around?
Where do I start? Apologies for the slight sell here. There are now two days of action, three tracks each day featuring keynote talks, panels, workshops and plenty of networking!

The one SEO I really wanted to see present at ionSearch 2012 was Ross Hudgens and unfortunately he couldn’t make it. But Ross is flying in from Los Angeles to Leeds this year, that’s a big journey and his first speaking gig in the UK. His appearance alone is worth the price of a ticket, if you’ve read his blog then you’ll know what I mean.

Andrew Dumont (SEOmoz) will also be travelling from the US to speak at ionSearch, which is another major highlight. Richard Baxter, Marcus Tandler, Dave Naylor, Martin Macdonald, Kelvin Newman and Aleyda Solis will all deliver exclusive keynote talks. There will be also cutting edge keynotes from the BBC, Adobe, Hootsuite and Sponsors and media partners include Linkdex, SearchMetrics, RMoov, AnalyticsSEO ineedlinks, Media Skunk Works, The Drum and The State of Search. There are too many awesome sessions to mention here, but suffice to say if you love Search and Social then don’t miss ionSearch, it will be a cracker.

Thanks Fergus. So who is going to ionSearch? What are you most looking for? Let me know in the comments below.

Blog Events

LinkLove 2013 – The Final Showdown!

Today was LinkLove 2013, and it was today that Will Critchlow announced that it would be the last one. Unfortunately, I was unable to make the conference, but I am hoping that it will be back in a new format, probably content. Since I was unable to get to LinkLove, I was like most others following the hashtag on twitter, and I will be reading all of the round-ups come Monday morning. But before then I have managed to get all the slides to go through below.

If you were unable to get to LinkLove, check out all the slides below.

LinkLove Round-ups
GPMD – #LinkLive London 2013: Key Takeaways
Koozai – Over 100 Amazing Tips From Linklove 2013 (#linklove)
State of Search – LinkLove 2013
Stephen O’neil – Link Love 2013 – Dinosesaurs, Zombies & Actionable Insights

If you know of any more round-ups that I should add, let me know in the comments below.

Wil Reynolds – “Head Smackingly Simple: Post Conversion Link Building Tips”

Lyndon Antcliff – “How do I Get Them to Link?”

Hannah Smith – “23,787 Ways to Build Links in 30 Minutes”

Ian Lurie – “Enterprise Link Spam Analysis”

Rand Fishkin – “How to Transform Your CEO into a Link Building, Social Sharing Machine”

Ade Lewis – “Small Business SEO for £350 per month”

Claire Stokoe – “Out of 5 million infographics only 1.3% will give you an orgasm in 0.3 of a millisecond”

Will Critchlow – “The Future of Link Building”

Blog Events

BrightonSEO – From Back Street Pub to the Brighton Dome!

It has fast become the biggest search conference in Europe (in 2012), BrightonSEO has come a long way since it’s first meeting in a local pub. BrightonSEO, organised by Kelvin Newman and his team have done an amazing job to continue to improve and better the last conference.

In the past few weeks Kelvin has moved to predominantly event organising including both BrightonSEO and The Content Marketing Show, alongside his recruitment job-board.

In between organising BrightonSEO, The Content Marketing Show, running the Job-board and continuing his work at SiteVisibility, I managed to ask him a few questions.

Daniel: How did BrightonSEO start?

Kelvin: It’s really a happy accident, a few search people had met up in a pub for a drink and we thought ‘if we arrange a couple of presentations we could go down the pub earlier. ‘ when we had to turn people away at the door of that event we thought we might be on to something but the growth of the event has just blown us away. For the upcoming event in April we’re expecting 2000 people along.

Daniel: What were your expectations when you started out with BrightonSEO?

Kelvin: I didn’t really have any huge expectations with the first event, my main aim was to make sure a few people came along so I wasn’t sat in the pub on my own. As times moved on I have started to set myself goals for the event; one of the big landmarks was becoming the biggest event dedicated to search in the UK, which by our reckoning, we achieved with the last event. Now our big aim is how can we consistently provide great talks you just wouldn’t get at any other event, and ideally do that with a greater variety of speakers than other SEO conferences.

Daniel: Tickets for BrightonSEO, always sell out very quickly. How quickly did they go this year?

Kelvin: They were all gone in under six hours which really impressed me, last time we had 1300 registrations from the general ticket release, this time we had 2000. I do wonder if we’ll ever hit the limit or people interested in Search in the UK!

Daniel: Last years BrightonSEO was heavily focused on content. What can we expect to see at BrightonSEO this time around?

Kelvin: We’ve spun out the Content Marketing Show as an event in it’s own right now which inevitably mean some of the talks we might have programmed for BrightonSEO we’ll hold back for that event. If there’s a theme to the upcoming event it’s either the increased micro-specialisms of search like Video/Mobile/Local etc. or about the business of SEO, covering challenges like scale, managing clients that sort of thing.

Daniel: You always get some great speakers at BrightonSEO. What do you look for in a speaker for your event?

Kelvin: A real passion for topic is a great start, I pick people who’ve demonstrated expertise in the past in talks at previous events, written great blogposts or put together podcasts or similar. We also ask after every event who people want us to programme, and once we’ve filtered out all the suggestions for Matt Cutts and Seth Godin we normally have a good hit list of people to approach.

We don’t really have a ‘call for speakers’ as I think that tends to attract the ‘usual suspects’ who speak at every event. That doesn’t mean they aren’t excellent but it does mean they’re not as original or compelling as some of the other speakers out there.

Daniel: BrightonSEO has become one of the leading SEO conferences in the UK in a very short period of time. Where do you see the conference in 5 years time?

Kelvin: In five years time we better have hover boards! Joking aside we want to take BrightonSEO from strength to strength and really make the training course element of it the best in the industry. I’ll be spending quite a bit of time on our job board, I’d like the Content Marketing Show to be as big as BrightonSEO and look at launching some new events.

They might be based on specific verticals, other disciplines or maybe even different geographies. We’ve got lots of ideas just need a few sponsors interested on going on the journey with us!

Thanks Kelvin

Have you been to BrightonSEO? What are your thoughts on the conference and how it has evolved? What are your thoughts on the current speaker list, and who would you like to see speak? What would you like to see at future events? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Blog Events Presentations

Technical, Content and Local SEO – ionSearch

On Wednesday 18th April I spoke on an SEO panel at the very first ionSearch conference along with Stu Owens (Bloom Agency), Jonathan Alderson (TwentySix) & John Hickling (BlueClaw). The panel discussed eCommerce SEO, with the audience asking questions specific to the issues that they are facing.

During the session, Stu, John and I each gave a quick presentation on different areas of eCommerce SEO including Link Building, Technical and Local.

I have included my presentation below for those of you that were unable to attend the conference. The event was enjoyable, and I am hoping that I will be asked back to speak in the main auditorium at the next event in April 2013.

Blog Events

The Rap Off: BrightonSEO vs SASCon

Last night at BrightonSEO Matt White from Fresh Egg got on stage and performed “Pass Out” by Tinnie Tempah to the 10’s of SEOs in the karaoke room.


It bought back memories of Neil Walkers Rap at SASCon, where he rapped his entire presentation.

So I have put the two together and I’m taking a pole to see which one was your favourite. Obviously these are two completely different types of Rap, one completely unique whilst the other sang well. I thought it would be a bit of fun to put these together and take a poll.

Watch the videos below and choose your favourite.

Matt White

Neil Walker


Remember this is just for fun 🙂