Online Marketing Summit: My Journey to the SEOuterspace!

By Monique Pouget

Hello! I’m Monique, the latest addition to Thunder Internet Marketing. The last few months at Thunder have been FLYING by at rapid speeds. We have been very busy, SEO-ing up a storm, and the results have been great. We’ve been experimenting with new strategies and learning something new every day. It has definitely been rewarding to see our clients succeed and we are continuing to research, sift through, and discover what works best for each individual business.

I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Online Marketing Summit (OMS) held February 4-7, 2009 in beautiful downtown San Diego, and to say I learned a lot would be an understatement. This wasn’t a traditional business conference, with thousands of booths and sales people trying to lure you in. In fact, it was quite the opposite. It was a series of educational presentations from amazing industry professionals from companies like SEOmoz, BusinessOnLine, Cisco Systems, and iPerceptions just to name a few.

The short speeches from each speaker preceded the most valuable part of each workshop: the question and answer period. There were people attending from all different walks of life. Some were business owners trying to figure out where Facebook or Yelp fit into their online strategy.  There were employees sent by their marketing managers to find out exactly what “social media” meant. I even met some SEO’s looking to optimize their site for the long tail. It was incredible to hear the questions and comments from the audience. I heard many of the standard hesitations to dive into new media tactics from the audience members, as well as the undeniable certainty that social media must be included in their online strategy. The value of the community was indeed a direct result of the people participating.

Due to our hectic schedule, I only attended one of three days, but I was inspired by the amount of information I learned in that short time. Major shout outs to Aaron Kahlow and the rest of the OMS crew for organizing such a fantastic event! I’m going to discuss some of my favorite talks and my takeaways for the remainder of this post.

Thad Kahlow, CEO, BusinessOnLine

After brother Aaron’s great opening keynote, I wasn’t sure if Thad could compete, but he was more than up for the challenge. As the BusinessOnline co-founder, Thad was a wealth of knowledge about marketing your business online in a recession. While many business professionals are pessimistic about the economy, Kahlow had a positive spin on the current situation: A recession is good because it forces us to pursue programs that are working. I reveled in this groundbreaking thought as he explained the different strategies we can implement in tough times.

Although cutting marketing budgets and investing in “brand building” were mentioned, they were quickly triumphed by our favorite friend: ONLINE MARKETING! As our customers are continuing to consume media in new ways, it’s impossible to ignore the web as an integral part of a business’ marketing strategy these days.

Thad mentioned valuable online marketing information and effective tactics. Most importantly, organic search is the most untapped resource even though it drives almost 75% of all traffic (according to Thad & SEMPO, the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization). Another key fact, “Organic search gets 3X the amount of traffic, but 9X LESS ad dollars.” This represents a huge opportunity to the online marketing industry. Tactics included social media, blogging and internal linking, PPC & SEM, Email, Analytics, and of course making your website user-friendly.

Michael Whitehouse, Senior Marketing Analyst, iPerceptions

Next, I was taken back to my college Market Research days as Michael Whitehouse discussed his company, iPerceptions, and their services. They develop and implement website surveys for clients on their websites to give businesses actual metrics from valuable data. They emphasize transparency and continually listening to your customers and clients.

Whitehouse then talked about 4Q, a free survey solution that lets you ask important questions to your website visitors:

  • Who is coming to your website?
  • Why are they there?
  • How are you doing?
  • What do you need to fix?

Although these questions are very simple, they inquire about the fundamental aspects of your site. It brought me back to the elementary school days of the “who, what, how, and why” questions, and although they aren’t complicated questions, knowing the answers could mean the difference between a well thought out website and one that fails. I’m sure many people with a website have never asked these basic questions, and that explains why there is a lot of garbage out there.

In addition, the iPerceptions team talked about User Experience (UX) and how there is no precise formula for making your site user-friendly. Instead, you must know your audience and build the UX around their needs. iPerceptions encouraged us to think about the human standpoint, to mix in a little visitor intent, and to use powerful metrics that measure outcomes. Being customer-centric was a point Whitehouse emphasized numerous times, and we here at Thunder can never argue with that!

Rand Fishkin, Todd Malicoat & Lauren Vaccarello, SEOmoz

Finally, my favorite presentation was from the SEOmoz gang. At Thunder, we’re huge fans of SEOmoz. We love their pro tools, their daily blog posts, and their consistently helpful SEO advice. (We are anxiously awaiting the Advanced SEO Training Series DVD in the mail, and are twiddling our thumbs impatiently!) So it was no surprise that their presentation was nothing short of sensational. Here are a few lists SEO’s shouldn’t live without:

Top Mistakes SEO’s Make

  • Don’t create a new domain for every product you have
  • Don’t move domains if you don’t have to
  • 302 redirects: don’t redirect homepage or root URL
  • Hosting company problems
  • Implementing Flash sites
  • Poor keyword research: talk to the PPC guys to get the best data
  • Terrible anchor text
  • Repeating title tags
  • Not using keywords in title
  • Not using title tags at all
  • Duplicating content
  • Poor usability: users must find what they are looking for
  • No/outdated analytics
  • No conversion goals
  • Getting links from the wrong sites
  • Not being involved in local search (*** We <3 Local Search!)
  • Domaining after midnight: DON’T DO IT!!

9 Rules for Every SEO to Live By

  • It’s much easier to plan a website then to retrofit it: Plan before
  • Don’t move anything on your site unless you have to (Should be a calculated strategy)
  • Internal linking and organization defines a site
  • Know keywords and converting phrases
  • Write and re-write title and description tags
  • It’s all about the links! *** (Fundamental foundation to SEO and the hardest part to implement)
  • Know the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) competition
  • Relevance sells and scales: content and links should be general and relevant
  • Own your branded search

So there you have it, pretty useful information, right?! And this is just a FRACTION of the knowledge I gained at the Online Marketing Summit. I felt privileged to attend such a well-thought-out and illuminating event. I’m confident my new found knowledge will help Thunder grow even more in the next few months. I already cannot wait to attend my next online marketing conference!

Please share your thoughts via comments or e-mail me HERE. Looking forward to your valuable feedback, and thanks for reading!

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  • Melanie Douglas

    Great Blog! I found it intriguing and informative!

  • Thanks for this information.

  • Matt

    My comments may seem a little negative, but when you write statements like, “[You’ve] been experimenting with new strategies and learning something new every day”, as well as, “[saying you] learned a lot would be an understatement”, makes me think that you are not an expert who knows what they are doing. Do you have any proven experience or success in SEO. Are there any competitive keyword phrases that you rank #1 for?

    I know that you would not want this comment to post to your site for others to see, but I would love to receive an email in response to my concerns about your credibility and ability to help any become #1 in Google.

  • Matt,

    Thank you so much for your feedback. It is my personal belief that in our field, learning daily, whether it be from conferences, blogs or peers, is not only fun, but necessary. I did not claim to be an “expert” at any time in this post, but I believe that even experts don’t have all the answers. Therefore, it is my opinion that success is not only measured by how much we know today, but rather the strength of our desire to learn more in the future.

    Please feel free to ask questions or comment further if necessary. Hopefully, you came here to learn as well.

  • I agree that effective Interactive Marketing, Social Media Strategies, etc. are changing daily, and it is very important for us to keep up to date with conferences like OMS, the best so far.

    The new OMS Online Marketing Certification program is great. I just passed the test a few weeks ago. It is helping me to increase interest in my online marketing credentials as I look for a job & potential clients.

    I look forward to attending OMS in Chicago this month. Enjoyed your summary of the OMS annual meeting.