#SAScon 2013 Overview

Last week saw my first visit to SAScon, on behalf of Banc Media at Manchester Metropolitan Universities Business School, their new home in order to accommodate a larger attendance. Armed with Twitter and Banc’s blog I had planned my two days, ready to tell the blog and Twitter worlds all the juicy info-bites from the sessions ahead.

I felt two main topics were dominating not only the session titles but also the conference chat and ‘shop talk’. Opening only a week after the latest Google update, Penguin 2.0, this was always going to be a hot topic, regardless of the impact (or lack of) to both agencies & clients. The other main topic, something which is close to what we do here at Banc Media which was on blogger outreach & content building vs links.

I attended 14 sessions over the two days, on a hhuge variety of social, search and related topics; I’ve been able to outline my key takeaway points from the two days.

Thomsonlocal – Keynote

  • Small business owners are more interested in sales leads and phone calls than search rankings.
  • Find the opportunity where investment has already been made and traffic can then be bought for a cheaper price.

WordPress Luvfest

  • Never use free WordPress themes, even the ‘cheap’ $20 ones can be good for your site and are generally more secure.
  • rel=author & rel=publisher are a big deal and are not being used enough in WordPress
  • The key point to keeping your WordPress site safe is a strong password and keeping your plugins up to date.

Making It Personal

  • Intensive personal search can result in you being left in a filter bubble and missing out on any new searches.
  • Stop using Google, diversify your own search, and reject the filter bubble.
  • Install an adblocker, logout of your online stores when browsing; anything that means you might see something new.
  • Not even your best friends will share rubbish content; it has to be great for everybody these days.
  • 1 in 10 PR agencies may have looked at Google Analytics without being scared.

Google Analytics – Keynote

  • Common tasks online are now multi-screen activities.
  • New Universal Analytics is available to new websites.
  • Google Analytics with be introducing a ‘User ID Override’ later this year to count individual customers from multiple devices and not separate hits.

Stalking the Zebra

The key points from this session’s live blog can be found here.

Social Media meets PR meets SEO

  • PR teams need to be as savvy online as they are offline, the skillsets are becoming converged.
  • PR is one of the safest ways these days to build links.
  • SEOs are providing some better results from blogger outreach than PR, but PR creates better relationships from this.
  • PR and SEO agencies may very well end up the same thing in months/years to come.

Content Outreach

You can find all the key points from our live blog of this session here.

Where Next For Search

  • Links shouldn’t just be for 12 months any more, but for a lifetime.
  • Relationships are the future, it’s not good enough to just be an SEO or PR agency, you need an understanding of both.
  • In five year’s time we may be looking at the ‘right site’ as opposed to the ‘best site’.
  • There’s no such thing as mobile SEO, it’s a red herring.
  • Google are controlling everything we do as SEOs through the fear of penalisation.
  • Online brand reputation is so important and will continue to be for the next five years.

Multi-Channel Marketing

  • The high street is starting to use multi-channel activities to create sales in store where logistics might otherwise reduce a sale opportunity.
  • In the future we will be visiting a store but completing the transaction ourselves using either our own or an in-store channel.
  • Universal Analytics will be the key to this, allowing tracking across multiple channels.
  • High streets of the future will be virtual showrooms with multi-channel activities across the board.

Cutting-Edge Search Technology

We live blogged this session, the key points can still be found on our site here.

Expert Assessment of Penguin 2.0

  • Penguin 2.0 has been developed to gradually build over time and penalise sites further down the line, eventually running every day.
  • Sites given a ‘clean’ bill of health were still penalised after Penguin 2.0.
  • Big brands although scared to use SEO due to Penguin, may not actually be affected.
  • Penalisation reconsideration is possible but not advised.
  • Metrics cannot be relied on any more to find good links, human quality control is now required.
  • Depending on the size of your site a manual penalty is much better than a devaluation.

I certainly learned a lot from SAScon, but I’d be surprised if everybody attending didn’t learn at least one thing new. In my own relatively new experiences in SEO I can always learn lots, so this was a great couple of days for me. I met a lot of knowledgeable and influential people with whom I can learn more from in the years to come, they increased my ever-growing feeling that the SEO & digital community is just one big happy family. I’m looking forward to next year already!

You can find below all the links to the session slides that are currently available online, this will be updated.

WordPress Luvfest – Bastian Grimm Slides

WordPress Luvfest – Joost de Valk Slides

The Dangers of Personal Search – Barry Adams Slides

The Role of Social in Search – Steve Lock Slides

The Viral Marketing Playbook – Andy Barr Slides

Advanced PPC Techniques – Ben Wightman Slides

How to Deal with (Not Provided) – Graeme Benge Slides

Life after (not provided) – Barry Adams Slides