SMX East Day III: “Advanced” Link Building, Maximizing SEM & Future of PPC

Today’s sessions where filled with less tactical/strategic sessions and more big picture, theory-based sessions. There were some very interesting, thought-driving conversations at these sessions but the takeaways were limited. Without any further ado, my final SMX summary:


Conversation: Is There Really “Advanced” Link Building?


One panelist answered the session title question by asking if there is advanced common sense. Many of the panel members agreed saying that even though good link building can be hard, if you adhere to Google’s policies and build links that will withstand time, you will have a well-linked site.


The most interesting topic that spun off this conversation was how to use your followers, fans and other social media audiences as a medium for linking. One tip from Wil Reynolds of SEER Interactive was to use to find people who are interested in what you do. Then download a report of these people and filter their bios to find people who are editors, journalists, bloggers, etc. and connect with them to help you distribute your content and essentially links.


Some other tools that panel members shared for finding sources to help you promote your content were:

  • Screaming Frog
  • Muck Rat
  • Top Seat
  • Journalism Tweets

This session definitely got me thinking of new ways that we, at Nina Hale, could distribute our clients’ content.

Maximizing Enterprise SEM

I was interested in attending this session to get an idea of the client’s perspective of SEM. Much of the presentations during this session when centered on how to choose between outsourcing your SEM or if you should take it in-house. Anthony Piwarun, from the agency Zeon Solutions, provided an agency perspective on how communication between the silos of digital marketing is crucial to a successful strategy.

When speaking of whether or not SEM should be taken in-house or outsourced, the panel agreed that this was not a cost-based decision for most companies. Craig Macdonald, Sr. Director at Microsoft Advertising, shared interesting numbers that the costs between hiring an agency or taking your SEM in-house did not vary extremely. He made the argument that the reason for choosing an agency is because they hold the expertise on SEM and are able to better recruit the search professionals required to run your accounts.

Another thought on the panel, from David Roth at, was that you should outsource what you can and keep in-house what you have to. He also said that the same was true for SEM tools – buy what you can and build what you can’t. He said that the three ingredients for a good SEM agency were: (1) decent technology, (2) smart people and (3) hard working people. He stressed the importance of communication between agencies and clients and said that reporting on the KPIs of programs should occur every week.

Conversation: Where’s Paid Search Going in 2013?

According to the panelists at this session, there has been a 15-20% growth in paid search spend year-over-year. In previous years where spend has grown, higher CPCs has been a contributing factor. This year is different. With the growth of paid mobile search advertising in 2012, not only are spend and clicks going up, but CPCs are going down. This leads the panel to believe that more paid mobile search is in our future.

One prediction for mobile search from Siddharth Shah at Adobe is that 20% of PPC clicks will be from mobile devices in the year 2013. This is not to say that mobile will be taking searches from desktop. Mobile searches will be complementary to desktop searches.

One drawback of mobile is that because over 50% of the searches are localized, many users who click on your paid ad will not convert directly on their device. Instead, they will most likely convert in store. One interesting statistic shared was that 70% of people searching on mobile devices are ready to make a purchase in the next hour whereas 70% of people searching on desktops are planning to make a purchase in the next month.

Another issue with mobile tracking is that 90% of users use multiple screens before completing an action. This makes attribution across devices more difficult. One idea to combat this was a browser cookie. Google might already have a leg up on this since when you are signed on Chrome through your different devices, they are able to display your browsing history to you across platforms.

The other big prediction for 2013 was more demographic targeting. Craig Macdonald from Microsoft Advertising shared that both Google and Bing are developing better targeting options using demographics, social information and previous search history. This will allow you to create profiles of what your target customer looks like and will hopefully allow for real time bidding based on audiences in the future.

Also, Google and Bing should both be working on making their geo-targeting better in 2013. Just sayin’.

And that’s it! Thanks to all the wonderful speakers at SMX. You all gave inspiring presentations and tips that I will certainly be using in my near future. See you soon Minneapolis! 




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