11 Crucial Takeaways From SMX Advanced 2012

By Greg Finn

Last week, I attended SMX Advanced 2012 in Seattle and left full of knowledge, insight and a bit of an airport infused hangover.  Outside of travel complications, the show was a smashing success and I wanted to share some of the biggest takeaways that I gathered from the show. But first off the obligatory disclaimer: I do write and moderate for Third Door Media, so I may be biased.

Here are my 11 largest takeaways from the show:

  1. HARDCORE SocialI was lucky enough to put together and moderate one panel for the show, Hardcore Social Tactics.  Instead of the usual Twitter & Facebook tactics we were able to really dive headfirst into non-mainstream, tactical social marketing.  The panel included Monique Pouget from ThunderSEO, Marty Weintraub from aimClear, Brent Csutoras from Kairay Media and Vince Blackham from 97th Floor.To be honest, I was worried about this panel, providing social tactics that are "hardcore"  means going above and beyond with the content, info and actionable takeaways.  However, the speakers absolutely crushed the panel and went above and beyond with the tactics.Monique covered a variety of hardcore tools, personas and intertwining social accounts.  Marty covered the heck out of Facebook, even calling it a "glorified email channel." Brent revived the notion that content marketing works - and showed concrete examples of wins he's had over the past few months.  Vince batted clean-up and showed how to absolutely dominate Pinterest - and had one of the best decks of the conference in my opinion.Overall the feedback was outstanding and I feel that it truely lived up to the hardcore name.  So what if you missed it?  No fear, see the content below:

    Here's some more coverage on the panel:
    • Hardcore Social Tactics: Advanced Strategies for Pinterest, Facebook, Reddit — SMX Advanced 2012 - Bruce Clay
    • 12 Hardcore Social Media Tactics from #SMX Advanced in Seattle - Microsoft Advertising
    • Hardcore Social Tactics – SMX Advanced 2012 - Outspoken Media
    • Live From SMX Advanced: Hardcore Social Tactics - Search Mojo
    • From Pinterest to Reddit: Advanced Tactics For Hardcore Social Domination #SMX - aimClear
    • Hardcore Social Tactics: Waking up with Weintraub - Managing Greatness
    • SMX Advanced 2012: Hardcore Social Tactics - YourSEOsucks
    • Are Your Social Strategies Hardcore? - Milestone Insights

  2. The Truth About Links RantThe highlight of the conference for me was the "Ask The SEO's" panel.  The information was great, and during the session Danny Sullivan (from Search Engine Land and MarketingLand fame)  absolutely went off on link buying.  I could explain it more but rather you can listen to the rant here:

    Or read Danny's followup post: Link Building Means Earning "Hard Links" Not "Easy Links."
  3. +1 - Not As Big A Factor As AnticipatedWhen +1 launched last year, it was expected to become an important ranking factor.  In the You & A with Matt Cutts panel, Matt Cutts came out and said that +1's weren't the best ranking signal.   While he said there was potential, Cutts said that you don't have to go out and get get a ton of +1's to rank well.
  4. Pagination & Canonicalization For The ProsThe panel "Real Answers For Technical SEO Problems" had great info from Adam Audette, Jeff Carpernter, moderator Vanessa Fox and Google's Maile Ohye. The information and dialogue really helped to clear up the recommended steps for sites with tricky technical issues.Bruce Clay had great coverage on the panel, and as always Adam Audette brought it and his entire deck can be seen here:
  5. Continued ConnectionsNo matter how great the content at a conference is, the human connections made are just as important.  I had time to network with peers, learn more about  other folks' strategies & tactics and even drink a few beers and uncover some secrets.  Everyone at the show seemed very welcoming and eager to share off-the-record tips.
  6. Bing Webmaster Tools Adds PhoenixThe new tools from Bing are unbelievably helpful.  Thanks to Duane Forrester and the Microsoft team for the new Phoenix tools, much appreciated.  A great video with Duane was also captured on SEOmoz as well:
  7. Tools Galore
    The Hardcore SEO & Social Tools panel was amazing. Michael King, Merry Morud and Rhea Drysdale did a fantastic job.Virginia Nussey at Bruce Clay had an excellent write up that covered the tornado of toolsfrom each presenter. Michael King also released his presentation on SlideShare (don't miss this):

  8. Google Doesn't Use Bounce Rates In RankingsOne of the age old questions in the SEO realm is "Does a page's bounce rate play a role in rankings?" The question was answered by Matt Cutts in the You & A Session with Danny Sullivan. Outspoken Media had the best coverage on the topic stating:Does Google look at bounce rate?
    "People keep asking, do you use GA? Google doesn’t use GA in its rankings. That’s the sort of thing…I like that, personally. Think about bounce rate. It’s going to be noisy. Every time you have a redirect, you lose about 1% of your traffic. That’s a good reason to minimize redirects. Bounce rate also doesn’t measure if you just got the answer you need. If you go to Google and type in “sunset,” you get the answer immediately, so you don’t need to stay. I understand the interest in people saying Google’s going to use it. We try not to take stuff off the table, I just see a ton of pitfalls in trying to use bounce rate."(Don't miss their full coverage on the panel. )

    While Matt had mentioned that the bounce rate data from Google Analytics wasn't used, I questioned the usage of Chrome data.  He quickly responded that Chrome bounce rate data wasn't used either:

    Thanks Matt!  Oh, we photobomed a picture Matt was taking with Todd Mintz too, sorry Todd:
    Matt Cutts Penguin Photobomb

  9. Use Responsive MobileIn the iSEO session, it was announce that Google officially recommends responsive design for SEO:

    Again, Outspoken nailed the coverage, don't miss it.

  10. Nofollow For Links Within the Next 6 MonthsOne of the hot topics throughout the You & A with Matt Cutts was "Negative SEO." Matt mentioned that Google will allow Webmasters to report bad inbound links "within the next 6 months."
  11. No ShortcutsThe "Ask The SEO's" panel which used to bring about confrontation, disagreements and bickering wasn't the same this year (nor has it been for the past few years to be honest.) Instead of arguing the panelists instead backed each other with the notion that quality content and attention to users is the best way to rank, there are no shortcuts. While this may seem uneventful, it really hammers home the fact that quality content and marketing are paramount. Though I missed it, Danny referenced the presentation from Grasshopper's Casie Giletteas the proper way to build links & market - without using shortcuts. Her presentation on Authority Building vs. Link Building can be seen here:

-and for a bonus-

  • SMXers Know How To Party
    SMX Advanced saw some epic parties, the networking event was highly attended, the SEOmoz party was epic, and after hours in an industrial/British Invasion dance club and the AfterDark party included a photo booth that streamed photos to the big screen (great idea Akvile):Greg Finn & Merry Morud On The Big ScreenI had a blast hanging out with everyone but also missed a few conference staples like Tony Adam, Lisa Barone and many more. Lastly (and maybe most important to my healt) I learned that Zaca does help to circumvent hangovers (thanks Vanessa!) and I definitely recommend if you are going to be downing an alcholohic beverage and need to stay sharp the next day.

In conclusion, SMX Advanced 2012 had many many actionable takeaways, and an overall great time. Can't wait to do it again at SMX East 2012 in October.

Disclaimer: I do write and moderate sessions for Third Door Media, the parent company of Search Marketing Expo shows. However these opinions are solely my own.

By Greg Finn


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Meet the Author

Head of Performance & Innovation / Partner

Greg Finn

Greg is the Head of Performance and Innovation for Cypress North's digital marketing team and one of the founders of our agency. In 2010, he and Matt Mombrea started Cypress North in Buffalo. Greg oversaw the opening of our second office in 2022, located in his hometown of Rochester.

As Head of Performance and Innovation, Greg co-manages our digital marketing department and works closely with our team to ensure all our clients achieve the best possible results. He is always looking for ways to test new digital marketing techniques and technology, and oversees all teaching and training efforts to ensure our agency stays ahead of the curve.

Greg is also a co-host of our weekly Marketing O'Clock podcast, where he and the team provide updates, insights, and hot takes on the latest SEO, PPC, and social media marketing news. In addition to weekly news shows, Greg hosts our Marketing O'Torial digital marketing tutorials and often co-hosts bonus Marketing O'Talk episodes that bring together panels of digital marketing experts.

With nearly two decades of experience, Greg is a known and trusted voice in the digital marketing community. He’s a contributor for Search Engine Land, a member of the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) programming team, and has been a featured speaker at some of the largest search engine conferences, including SMX, eSummit, and Pubcon. 

When he’s not working or staying updated on the latest trends, Greg enjoys watching his kids play sports and coaching their soccer team. He’s been named the runner-up “Greg of the Year” on Marketing O’Clock’s annual Clockscars Awards four years in a row. While the coveted award has evaded him for many years, Keanu Reeves has not. Greg once saw him at Gabriel's Gate tavern in Buffalo (and noted he was very tall.)