Marketers Just Wanna Have Fun – #Inbound2012

Hubspot recently staged their annual Inbound Marketing conference in Boston and it was brimming with talented guest speakers. If you are old enough to actually remember the 80s, you might be excited to learn that Cyndi Lauper was the special musical guest. She happens to be an advocate for SEO and inbound marketing.  Guess Internet Marketers just wanna have  have fun, too.

What Did We Learn About Inbound Marketing?

There were several high profile keynote speakers including David Meerman Scott, Susan Cain and Gary Vaynerchuk. My personal SEO hero happened to be there, too. Rand Fishkin is the CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz in Seattle and author of the Art of SEO, one of the best books I have read about Internet marketing. Rand’s presentation theme was throwing out old, irrational SEO biases, which he likened to online dating.

Let me explain.

His example was to show data where the majority of women excluded any potential mate who was under 5′ 9″. This irrational bias prevented dozens of other positive attributes these men had, from coming into play. As SEO has established many maxims over the years, what we think should be best practice, does not always equate to actual success online.

Here were some of Rand’s top irrational biases, which SEO practioners and their clients should be thinking about:

Bias: “Ranking Positions are all that matter”

While ranking number 1 will always be the Holy Grail for many site owners, understanding the behavior of searchers faced with a far more varied set of search results, including rich snippets, can be fruitful. By generating star ratings/reviews, creating blog Author profiles from your Google + account and leveraging social media and video, these types of rich snippets can be much more enticing for searchers.
Rich Snippet example

Rand’s Google + author profile

Rich snippets can encourage a higher click-through rate than the rather dry Wikipedia result or exhaustive online directory result at the top of the page. The ‘text only’ bias is becoming less important as social media, review sites, blogs and video increase their algorithmic value with search engines. Another related bias can be to “only focus on high volume terms.” which by now most people have heard and understand. The power of the long tail (and middle) often provides the majority of any given site’s best traffic. Tip: Use Google Suggest to mine for terms that people are using. Keeping up with the news in your industry will also provide insight into what will be searched on.

Bias: “Link Building is required for SEO”

We all know that chasing our competitors’ inbound links can be tedious and difficult. Have you thought about building your own links that are just as valuable? By building the relationships in the first place, you are more likely to get the kind of relevant and authoritative link that your competitor cannot buy either. A link that is good for a competitor actually might not do you as much good as them because of the relationship between that competitor’s content and the linking site.

We’ve heard that spending money on acquiring links skirts dangerously close to black hat SEO, but spending money in a different way on relationship building, can earn you those links. Examples include sponsoring local events, being involved in your industry as contributing authors or staging a launch party for a new product. Newsworthy events can earn a good link from a local or national newspaper, so don’t forget about the old fashioned press release to keep journalists in the loop.

Bias: “Only Facebook and Twitter matter”

Google+ is still trying to win over fans, but the fact of the matter is that it can earn as much traffic as Twitter and Facebook, and potentially better engagement. Google + also enables you to get your contributing author profile image into search results as Rand’s example above shows. You’ve heard about putting a name to a face, so ask yourself if you are more inclined to click on a search result link with a smiling face?

Google + profile

Cyndi’s Google + Profile

Do sites rank better if they have a Google+ account  set up? The answer is probably yes. If your ‘circle’ of Google+ friends grows and you become an influencer, then there is every chance Google’s search engine algorithm is picking up on this social signal. What Facebook and Twitter do not offer, is an equivalent amount of content to add to your profile, so this is something that you can take advantage of.

If you want to hear more about Rand’s presentation and other Inbound 2012 presenters, leave a comment or connect on social media!