SMX Sydney – Standout Speakers, Sessions & People

April 6, 2009 •

Below is a review of SMX Sydney 2009. For a review of SMX Sydney 2010, visit live blog posts of the event (on Silver Pistol): SMX Sydney 2010 Day 1 and SMX Sydney 2010 Day 2.

If you didn’t make it to SMX Sydney 2009, I’m afraid I have some bad news. It was awesome! Great speakers, quality content, and some genuine people floating around.

This post is little more than a brain-dump. I’m just gonna mention some of the great people I met and list some of my takeaways (bear in mind, I didn’t take comprehensive notes at each session, so my notes probably say more about my needs as an SEO copywriter, than anything else!).

Standout Speakers

IMHO, the standout speakers of SMX Sydney 2009 were:

  • Cindy Krum – Cindy spoke on mobile SEO and international SEO. Some good meaty content, and a lot of thought-provoking stuff.
  • Darren Rowse – Darren spoke on using Twitter for business. He managed to make his presentation accessible to newbies, but still useful for experienced Twitterers. No surprises that he was good.
  • Lucas Ng – Lucas spoke on writing ‘killer’ headlines for PPC ads. Some great fundamentals with a handy list of psychological triggers.
  • Jason West – Jason spoke on video optimisation.
  • Monte Huebsch – Monte spoke on Local SEO.

Standout People

I met (and caught up with) a heap of great people. Grabbed business cards from most. Think I’ve mentioned most here.

Session Notes

Day 1 Keynote – Rand Fishkin (SEOmoz)

  • 8/10 searchers are dissuaded by the Description/snippet
  • Great stats on click-thru of top 10 results
  • Trustworthiness of a website – Good ‘degree of separation’ diagram: To Google, a site that’s one link away from a trusted seed (such as Amazon or an edu) is 0.4% likely to be spam, two links away is 1%, three links is 14%. This is why links from seed sites are so important.
  • Rand’s breakdown of SEO signals:
    • Trust/authority of domain = 35%
    • On page & keyword = 30%
    • Page level link metrics = 25%
    • Usage data = 10%
  • Great SEO pyramid diagram
  • SEO has to be a culture built into the business
  • Emerging trends:
    • More interest in SEM since US financial crash
    • More awareness = more competition
    • More crackdowns on spam, particularly individual, more immediate action.
    • More tools and metrics
    • Search engines have more data sources, not just content & links. Starting to pay attention to how users use the Internet.
    • Social media is merging with SEO
  • QDF – Query Deserves Freshness. Some queries need fresh results. If Google sees a lot of new content in news and lots of new searches for a particular subject, it assumes that something new has happened, and that people searching for that content/news will benefit from seeing the latest results. It then adapts its algos to display newer results (pages that people are newly linking to). These pages often outrank more popular, authoritative, older pages on the subject. This is why blogs are effective for SEO, as are news sites. If you stay up to date with news, you can get the jump and rank ahead of more popular, authoritative sites. Rand did this for the canonical tag.

Video SEO – Jason West, Websalad

  • Video search on YouTube = ¼ of all US google searches (Comscore)
  • 13 hrs of video uploaded to YouTube every minute
  • 80mil watched every day
  • 200k new vids uploaded every day
  • Only 1-2 video results on p.1 of Google for any search
  • Although Jason didn’t have any eye-tracking results, he speculates that video results in SERPs has changed the way people view results, because they draw the eye.
  • Important to remember that the video content itself is not indexed. Only the meta data (Title, transcripts) and on page content are.
  • Duplicate content is an issue for videos too, i.e. If you syndicate for to try to make something go viral (rather than hosting the video on your own site), Google will only display what it thinks is the most relevant version of your video, which may be the syndicated version.
  • Use a combination of self-hosted and syndicated video. E.g. Put a short (promo) version of your video on YouTube to leverage YouTube’s search presence & traffic. Include a call to action at end of the promo video, like, “Visit for the full HD version of this video.”
  • Syndication – Leverage established seo strength – How do you direct traffic/benefit back to your site?
  • You can also syndicate your video on target niche directories (where there are communities).
  • Content ideas: features on projects, promos, instructions, thank you, testimonials
  • Better to host on YouTube or self-host? YouTube is piggybacking. Self-hosting, you’re getting the SEO benefit. Perhaps a combination is the best. With short on YouTube pulling ppl back to the full version on your site. Plus relative to how many push mechanisms you have in place (and search presence), you might want to use YouTube.
  • Syndicating on YouTube:
    • By using YouTube, you can dominate the SERPs (i.e. One of the results will be your own web page, and one will be your vid on YouTube)
    • YouTube is obviously no follow, but still drive lots of traffic (both thru YouTube direct and YouTube results in Google SERPs)
    • Optimum length for a YouTube vid is < 3 minutes (avg 2.5 min)
    • Once you’ve added your vid to YouTube, publicise it through social media
    • YouTube Title & Desc optimisation is similar to regular web page. Put backlink URL first in description
    • Use keywords in YouTube tags
    • Aim to get your video to appear on YouTube’s popular page
    • Link back to YouTube from your own site to increase the vid’s popularity (+ email, promotions, etc.)
    • Embedded views no longer contribute to YouTube popularity
    • Use keyword rich anchor text in links to your YouTube vid
  • Podcasting
    • Doesn’t have to be as short
    • Radio National ABC 2008 – ~21 million downloads
    • Set up RSS, link up subscribers, submit to iTunes
    • Be prepared for bandwidth demands if your podcast becomes popular
    • Distribute to podcast directories & search engines
    • Transcripts for SEO – include a snippet on the page, keyword rich, possibly enhanced (optimized), then link to the full transcript, also optimised. Titles, etc. same as regular SEO
  • Future: Google can hear your video (GAUDI – Google’s audio indexing system) – can pick up the keywords

Local SEO – Monte Huebsch, AussieWeb

  • List your site on local business directories (e.g. Google, HotFrog, AussieWeb – all free)
  • 40% of searches are for local content
  • 62% of people search online then buy in-store
  • Where does Google’s data come from re local search? Some through commercial relationships with directories, some scraped, some reviews.
  • If you haven’t claimed your Google local listing, Google will pull your info from Yellow Pages. If you claim in Google, it overwrites the Yellow data.
  • Claim your Google local listing by mobile phone ‘cos you can verify instantly. If you choose to verify by mail, it takes bout month.
  • Can your Google local directory listing be detrimental to your rank for searches, say, from another country (e.g. I’m an SEO copywriter servicing clients worldwide. If I list in Google’s local directory for my address in Bateau Bay, NSW, Australia, will my ranking on US SERPs suffer?) According to Monte it doesn’t.
  • Microsoft require you to list in local directory to appear in local search
  • Ranking factors for local search:
    • Proximity to address queried
    • Number and quality of reviews
    • Keyword relevance
    • SEO characteristics of your website
    • Link to local listing
    • Videos
  • Contact Us page is dead. You should have your contact details on every page. Better for user experience, better for local SEO.
  • One location, multiple areas – you can tick a box in Google local directory, but you’ll probably still rank lower than sites with a single specific address
  • You can enter region, instead of street address
  • Multiple locations, one website – all covered by Google listing

Mobile SEO – Cindy Krum, Rank-Mobile

  • Mobile SERPs have simplified rendering; you need to rank higher to be seen above the fold (the bottom of the mobile display area)
  • Mobile searchers usually have an immediate intent. They’re not usually browsing. They want to do something immediately and can’t wait to get back to their computer to do it. And it usually involves spending.
  • Mobile phones are personal and integrated into everyday life
  • The quality of your site’s rendering on a mobile phone will affect your Google rank
  • Don’t use .mobi
  • You might choose to create a mobile-only version of your pages (e.g. (subdomain) or (subdirectory)) or use a mobile/traditional hybrid stylesheet. The hybrid stylesheet avoids dup content as you can simply apply style sheet to single content, based on the browsing device.
  • You can choose to let the visitor’s browser detect & redirect automatically, or you can force the visitor to nominate whether they’re viewing from a computer or mobile.
  • As per traditional pages, use robots.txt tell the mobile bots what to index and what not to.
  • When rendering, mobile simply stacks your content. So if your mobile content starts with a complex nav menu, you might have to scroll down several times to get to the content. And if you click on the nav, a new page may display, but you may not be able to tell, as the nav on the new page will be the same as on the previous page, and there’ll be no visual cue to tell the visitor they’re on the new page. Or if you have sliced images, they may be pulled apart and stacked.
  • Start pages with jump links at top (e.g. click here for nav, click here for content), not usual nav.
  • See her presentation for rendering test sites.
  • Traffic is an important signal in mobile search algo
  • Include phone number in Title/Desc ‘cos many users won’t want to visit your site, they’ll just be after contact details and will take them direct from the SERPs if they can.
  • Mobile browsers are “stoopider”!
  • Submit your site to mobile search engines & directories
  • Browsers are heading in the direction of one web (i.e. no need for variations of your site, just stylesheets)
  • Mobile searchers tend to use more keywords in their query.
  • Mobile-specific keyword research tools are in development (someone in the audience said Google already offers one)

Internal Linking tactics – Jane Copland, Ayima Search Marketing

  • Breadcrumb links are more useful for ppl than SEs.

Unravelling URLs & demystifying domains – Greg Grothaus, Google

  • Canonical tag is a hint to the search engines. They may choose to ignore the suggestion.
  • Good FAQs section in downloads

Copywriting for search – Chris Thomas, Reseo

  • Fire your big guns first. Solve the visitor’s problems quickly. Don’t lead with “Welcome to…”

Writing killer ad copy – Lucas Ng, Fairfax Digital

  • For ppc ads, “get thin” outperforms “get fit”
  • Great list of psych triggers
  • Lucas has posted his presentation on his blog.

Bot Herding – Priyank Garg, Yahoo!

  • Dynamic URL redirecting in Yahoo Site Explorer. You don’t need to do it, but it does obviate the need for Yahoo to crawl your site for 301s and canonical tags.
  • Crawl errors coming soon for Australian pages (in Yahoo Site Explorer).
  • There is an AU Site Explorer @ Page & Link numbers sometimes diff between US & AU versions
  • Authenticate your site with Yahoo

International SEO – Cindy Krum, Rank-Mobile

  • Hosting location is still a more important signal than telling Google Webmaster Tools where your site is.
  • SEO issues of multi-national brands:
    • Multiple languages
    • Diff search engines in diff countries
    • Inconsistent competition between countries
  • What language your links are in, and where they come from
  • You can manage international SEO with one site, multiple sites, or a blended approach:
    • One site:
      • Use location detection software to determine where the user is coming from, then serve the correct version of the content. (NOT talking about auto translation. She means having different versions of your content and serving a translated version when required.)
      • This is the best user experience.
      • However, inbound links in diff languages can confuse the search engines, as they take links as cues to the site’s language.
      • When using one site, you can use sub-domains/directories for each language. This is a good way to include the main keyword in the URL. You can use the translation of the keyword in each sub-domain/directory.
      • If you use a sub-domain, you can host it separately from the main domain (i.e. host in the country you’re targeting).
      • But sub-domains/directories can cause duplicate content issues if you have one for each country (as opposed to one for each language), because you’ll have, e.g., multiple English versions on the same site.
      • If using language as part of subdomain/directory, use proper language name (e.g. Espanol, not Spanish)
    • Multiple sites:
      • One for each language or country
      • Better chance of ranking well in diff countries
      • Rank faster generally
      • Link benefits because links will tend to be in the same language as the site, and from the same top level domain TLD (eg.
      • However, it splits traffic and links and can make it harder to rank in .com search engines.
      • Specify the country for each site in Webmaster tools
      • Much better click thru with country-specific site because ppl like to click on their own country’s TLD domain (e.g. Australians prefer to click on results).
      • But raises issues of domain authority (unless you register and populate all of your domains at the same time.)
      • Duplicate content doesn’t really exist across different TLDs. E.g. You could have an American version on your .com domain and an Australian version on the domain, and not suffer an duplicate content issues. Yahoo and Google reps were both in the room and ALMOST fully endorsed this. With conditions…
    • Blended approach:
      • Use one or two country specific if they’re important markets or high traffic (e.g. .com & but sub-domain/directories for lower priority countries. Or sub-domain/directory if you can’t get the TLD (either ‘cos it’s unavailable or difficult legally to obtain).
      • Put languages with similar aesthetics on the same language site.

Meet the Search Engines

Yahoo – Priyank Garg

  • Google Search revenue to surpass MS Windows revenue in 2009.
  • Yahoo Boss looks great for startups/entrepreneurs in digital –
  • SearchMonkey – add deep links, content and images to Yahoo SERPs, but searchers have to opt into SearchMonkey to see those additions –

Google – Greg Grothaus

  • “definitely maybe in the future” we’ll be using searchwiki data as a signal for natural search

Site clinic

  • A single link from authoritative site (even without anchor text) is better than multiple, keyword rich links from unimportant sites. Greg Bose.

Downside of SMX Sydney 2009

The only downside of SMX Sydney 2009 was that it could have done with some more advanced subject matter. Even the ‘Intermediate’ and ‘Expert’ streams were a little too basic, if you ask me.

I mean, we did, after all, pay to have a heap of hard-core SEOs and search engine employees out here. It seemed such a shame to let them go to waste. I would have loved to see some hard-core SEO sessions from all of them!

I know that the organisers have to cater to a very broad audience (and yes, I spoke to Barry about this), but I think the number of people in the more advanced sessions is a good indication that the industry is ready for something a bit more meaty.

Please comment

Please comment if I’ve missed anything important from the above sessions, or if you have a summary of one of the sessions I missed.

Feel free to comment...
comment avatar
Anne Chiew wrote on April 6th, 2009

Great write up! It's so good I'm just going to print it out and present it to my team for my wrap-up of SMX coverage next week :) Agree on the level of content.. shame to bring out the international speakers to only sell us the benefits of search (when obviously we know how good it is.. otherwise we wouldn't be at SMX) Hopefully next year the Advanced Stream will be in the Crystal Ballroom & they find a sponsor for dodgem cars.. it's bloody expensive at Luna Park :P Otherwise big tip of the hat to Barry and his team for putting on another great SMX Sydney. The only Oz conference anyone interested in SEM should attend.

comment avatar
Burgo wrote on April 6th, 2009

Wowsers... nice write up mate! One thing that I think deserved mentioning too... the coffee was great, wasn't it? Heh :P

comment avatar
Cameron Stewart wrote on April 6th, 2009

Hi Glenn, Thanks for all your twittering/blogging for us non attendees. Lucas Ng posted his presentation on his site - good to link to just for reference :) - Cheers Cameron

comment avatar
Lucas Ng wrote on April 6th, 2009

Thanks Glenn. It was good to meet in the flesh - you are even more awesome IRL than online! I agree with cry for 'more advanced' sessions. It was a pleasant surprise to see how packed the advanced sessions were this year - the Aussie industry has matured in leaps and bounds in the past 12 months :)

comment avatar
Neerav wrote on April 6th, 2009

No one mentioned the great food, i thought all the morning tea/ lunch & afternon tea choices were great especially the chocolate cake & slices :)

comment avatar
Barry Smyth wrote on April 6th, 2009

Thanks Glenn, What a great write up & I agree with you on the content, but trying to cater for everyone and keeping the whole agenda flowing is a difficult job, but one we are getting better at doing this, I also think this was our best agenda by far. We are looking at the idea of having some sessions programmed by consensus for next year, letting the industry decide what topics should be in the advanced track. And I agree with your other commentators here, this year was the best food we have had in three years & it took a whine from me to Luna Park to get a menu change, so it was worth complaining. See you next year. Cheers Barry @chiewy - I'll get you a ride FREE pass for SMX Sydney 2010, might be a good sponsorship opportunity for someone.

comment avatar
Glenn Murray wrote on April 7th, 2009

Hi Barry. Thanks for your comment. I truly do understand how hard it must be to cater to all audiences. And so did everyone else I spoke to. All the feedback I've heard has been very positive. Nonetheless, I really like your idea of incorporating industry input in your programming. I'd love to see that! Thanks again for a great couple of days. (And I agree, the food was great.) Cheers.

comment avatar
More on Why .Edu Links and Their Value wrote on April 13th, 2009

[...] new information seems to support that conclusion.  A blog post at Divine Write provides notes from the recent SMX Sydney convention.  One of the speakers, noted SEO voice Rand [...]

comment avatar
David Temple wrote on April 14th, 2009

Great to meet you Glenn, thanks for the ebook it was excellent! My son is learning internet marketing and this is the first thing I'll have him read. Didn't get to go on the rides at Luna Park. The boat ride was enough for me, lol. I'm sure there will be more advanced subjects at SMX 2010 but what I want to know is, where are the flying cars they always told me would be around then?

comment avatar
Glenn Murray wrote on April 15th, 2009

Note that in Rand's latest Whiteboard vid, he appears to have revised his trustworthiness percentages (or I just copied them down wrong during his SMX preso!). The revised figures are: 1 link away from a trusted seed = 0.01% likely to be spam 2 links away = 1.2% likely to be spam 3 links away = 4.7% likely to be spam (although he seems a little unsure - it may, in fact, be ~14%)

comment avatar
seo sydney wrote on August 13th, 2010

I have heard that SMX have taken the unprecedented step of removing ALL “Basic” content from the SMX Sydney 2010 Agenda. This allows them to add more than 36 Intermediate to Advanced level training sessions to SMX Sydney, giving you more advanced content than ever before, and they have added more Pay per Click content into the agenda in 2010.

comment avatar
Google PPC Consultant wrote on January 19th, 2018

Wow… nice write up my friend! Thanks for sharing

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *