This past week, I had the pleasure of attending the Pubcon conference in Las Vegas for the second time in three years. Once again, the conference did not disappoint. This year, I made a point to attend all but the last session on Tuesday. This year’s speakers were top notch folks. Each session was very informative and at times entertaining. Below are just a few highlights from the conference sessions I attended on the first day.
Google Penalty Recovery
Lead by a panel that included Gareth Hoyle, Shahid Awan, Marie Haynes, and Arnie Kuenn, this session gave an update on the changes happening at Google to fight web spam. Most of the session focused on ways to recover your website from Google Penguin. Link research tools like Majestic SEO, and Moz Open Site Explorer were mentioned.
If you have received a message in Google Webmaster Tools about unnatural links, reconsideration is your only way to recover. If you have not received a message, its likely your website was impacted by the algorithm update (Penguin or Panda) but not to the extent to get a manual penalty applied. The biggest takeaway from this session is not to give up on penalty recovery. Research your link profile and request removal (or disavow) your links to the best of your ability. It may take several attempts before your reconsideration request goes through. Don’t give up after 1 or 2 tries!
This session provided very practical ways to recover from a penalty for most business owners. The biggest challenge for most companies is to decide if spending the next 6-12 months battling a Google penalty is more cost effective than building a new website. For many small businesses, the latter may be their only option.
Content Marketing Strategy
This session was presented by Dave Roth and Chris Bennett. The session focused on ways to create engaging content and getting that content noticed on social media. A few of the tactics included celebrity athlete home sales and creating tools that are not directly promotional for a brand. “Tag teaming” social mentions was used to get celebrities to react to each post.
I found that while the examples were very interesting, they require a lot of resources for most small and medium size businesses. Developing an interactive tool or micro-site is great for companies that can afford the risk on their budget. For some industries like Financial Services, an interactive tool may be the only way to reach organic search and social media goals. The editorial tips for Reddit were very helpful. It seems like the best way to get content promoted is to make the content the furthest thing from self promotion but somehow tie in a link or brand mention in the article.
Mobile Advertising – Targeting and Optimization
This session included John Busby, Kevin Adams, Dave Roth, and was focused on marketing your website through the use of mobile ad platforms. Google PPC Mobile features like “click to call” are one of the top reason people use mobile to search. Platforms like MoPub and Ad Mob were mentioned to attract clicks from specific ad networks to reach a mobile audience.
I found some of the examples used helpful, but the overall focus on the session shifted quickly from mobile search to native ads in apps. Mobile advertising has grown quickly and now seems to be shifting from platform to platform with few clear dominant players in the space. Its very clear that the future of advertising on mobile goes way beyond Google search.
Optimizing Mobile beyond Screen Size
This session’s featured speakers were Ralf Schwoebel, Chris Goward, and Tim Ash. Techniques discussed included how to best optimize your website for mobile devices. There is no mobile user and desktop user, they are both the same person, just on a different device. Different design concepts were discussed on how to use responsive design. Simply wrapping tablet content down in a long scrolling page is not responsive design. Take your user into consideration and what they are looking to get from your mobile experience. More advanced topics such as device content targeting were featured.
The biggest takeaways from this session had to do with content presentation on phone and tablet. As the screen shrinks, the options should get more narrow. What’s truly needed on mobile vs. what can be displayed on a desktop.
After day 1, I started to shift my session focus from search and social to mobile. Mobile is an interesting space that is working well for some advertisers. Much of 2013-2014 has been spent researching and implementing mobile advertising strategies for clients. Going into 2015, its clear that a mobile strategy is needed to be successful in almost every industry.