5 SearchFest 2013 Takeaways That Hit Home

By Monique Pouget

Last week Georgia and I attended SearchFest, and as predicted, we had a blast! There were so many valuable tools, strategies and drool-worthy decks that we decided it’d be a good idea to recap our top 5 takeaways, accompanying tools and tweets from the event.

1. Strive to make content valuable, trustworthy and memorable.

The term “content marketing” was a big buzzword in 2012, and judging by the SearchFest speakers’ emphasis on quality content, it’s only going to get more important this year. But will just any content do? Of course not!

Instead of producing tons of crappy lists and syndicating other people’s content, Mike King encouraged us to create an informed content strategy thats drives our collective efforts, and tell a story with our marketing. Ian Lurie stressed the importance of having relevant content on our product pages, and declared that content should be valuable, meet your user’s needs, and make it easier for customers to convert.

Tools – Content title idea generator – Identify competitor’s most shared content



2. Clients don’t understand technical details. Show them the money!

As SEOs, it’s easy to get carried away with all of the technical aspects that go into optimizing a website, but guess what? Spreadsheets, crazy internal linking maps and 302s don’t resonate with your client. However, making money does!

John Doherty discussed a few client case studies that proved technical debt was holding their sites back from performing well, but more importantly, he walked us through getting the client buy-in. Instead of showing them ugly data, he recommended creating an equation that estimated potential revenue in comparison to an agency’s hourly rate. At Thunder, we’re constantly looking at ways to educate our client about what’s happening, so this idea really hit home. Now comes the hard part: Estimating potential revenue! It’s a challenge we’re up for.

Tools – Report on the right metrics – Find technical issues with site quickly.



3. Let’s work together, yeah yeah yeah!

Agile marketing and breaking down barriers between departments has been an up-and-coming topic in our industry, and some say it might even be the new buzzword of 2013! Without getting too caught up on that, there is a lot of value in collaboration within an organization.

Rhea Drysdale gave a fun presentation about Social Media and ROI (the Holy Grail of social), and proclaimed that tying your social media efforts to business objectives and metrics is key. As if the content wasn’t amazing enough, Rhea even passed out Reese’s Peanut Butter cups during her presentation, which got us through that pre-lunch antsy-pants-dance.

Tools – A Wiki of Social Media Monitoring Solutions



4. You’re only as strong as the team you’re surrounded by.

I’ve attended my fair share of conferences, and one thing that really stood out about this year’s SearchFest was the focus on hiring and building up a versatile team. I’m not sure exactly when it clicked, but I was probably in the middle of Justin Briggs’ beautiful presentation about “low effort” hacks for content…and boy did it click. Given the saturated landscape, it’s more important than ever to have a technical SEO that is also familiar with creative and marketing on your team. I’m not saying you have to have a dedicated devloper or someone that knows 10 different programming languages, but do invest in a person that is curious, and can “hack away at shit until it works.” Rand also gave an outstanding presentation about hiring and keeping your employees heart’s beating, and I really enjoyed his point that a cultural fit is more important than a skills fit. It’s got me thinking all kinds of things about the direction of Thunder’s growth, and that is the best part about attending conferences. We also got to catch up with old friends and make some new ones, and were reminded why we’re in this field and love our jobs! Tools – Hire for cultural fit over skills – Reconsider the structure of your team. Is management the only way to grow? – Streamline your hiring – 5 minute surveys to measure company values – Captures annoymous feedback from your team to reveal insights, trends and opportunities to improve Tweets


5. Stop thinking in silos.

Multi-Channel Attribution and retargeting were also repeatedly mentioned last week, and it was a good reminder to start thinking more holistically about your user. How can we target a prospective customer beyond their search behavior, and more importantly, what’s the best way to give credit where credit is due? This was an overarching theme in many presentations, but especially emphasized in keynotes from both Marty and Duane, as well as Mike Pantoliano’s social media analytics presentation. I really valued this integrated perspective, and am looking forward to diving deeper into analytics. Tools – Custom social media report for Google Analytics – GA code to adjust bounce rate Tweets



Bonus Tools – Test responsive design of any website – Raven Tools Site Auditor – Analyze site performance and speed – Get additional info about a contact once you know their email

Other Presentations We Wish We Didn’t Miss

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  • My first SearchFest experience was amazing! From all the great takeaways to meeting and mingling with the “SEO Celebrities” to eating and drinking at Portland’s finest establishments, this weekend was a great success! I CANNOT wait for next year’s conference!

  • Monique! Somehow we didn’t see each other… um… at all. Fortunately, with the release of today I just discovered this post! Packed with so many great takeaways, presentations, tweets, and love your Voodoo Doughnut Vine! Awesome stuff and such a great conference. Hope to see you at the next one. Heading to SMX West?

    • Thanks Rhea! I’m doing some exploring with FWE too, pretty cool it helped you find this post.

      Bummed we didn’t get a chance to mingle after the conference, but happy we caught your presentation (and the Reese’s!).

      Missing West this year, but definitely catch you at Advanced and MozCon this summer!