It’s been a few weeks since the SearchLove NYC conference, less than a week since PubCon in Las Vegas and just one day since the entire Outspoken Media team moved into our new office space. Exhausted is the word of the day! Another word – EXCITED. Fired up. Or in my beach bum slang… stoked.
Conferences give us an opportunity to meet with existing clients, potential clients, business contacts, industry friends and most important – they give us a new way of thinking about a specific problem or they give us inspiration from new tools and techniques. In the SEO world, that’s major. We need to constantly be thinking about what’s new because as soon as certain techniques (cough, infographics, cough, guest posts, cough, link exchanges, cough, resource pages, cough) get over-saturated it reduces the chance of acquiring new links and coverage.
So, amidst the hustle of the conferences, I jotted down a bunch of notes to share with you. These notes came from sessions, lunches and over drinks between friends, so there are some serious goodies in here. I apologize in advance for missing some attributions and if you know you shared it at the conference, let me know and I’ll add a link! And, feel free to share your thoughts on any of the below notes or your own finds in the comments of the post.
Let’s start with SearchLove, which was without a doubt, one of the best conferences I have ever been to in terms of quality and actionable content.
The first night at SearchLove I had the pleasure of meeting Noah Kagan. To be honest, I didn’t know who he was when I met him, but he was wearing a hoodie and a hat to a nice dinner. That meant I instantly liked him, because at my core, I’m a daily hoodie kind of girl. Once we started talking I realized that he was the co-founder of AppSumo (well, that’s kind of badass) and he’d been involved in several other MAJOR sites. We started talking about business and female entrepreneurs. He recommended I check out Sheryl Sandberg’s (COO of Facebook) video from TED and I think it’s a must-watch for everyone, man or woman:
The Checklist Manifesto
Noah also recommended I checkout The Checklist Manifesto. I’m only a few chapters in, but can already say that it’s a must-read if you haven’t already picked it up. In a world with too much information, it’s impossible to know everything. What’s more important is building a system that can allow for effective and informed decision-making. Written by a doctor, it’s both grotesque (unless you don’t mind detailed surgical information) and incredible. Great business book regardless of your industry, but I would wager it’s especially important for SEOs since our world, tools and clients range so much.
I don’t remember who shared this, but have a feeling it was Mat Clayton from Mixcloud. This competitive intelligence tool gives insight on Facebook apps, which is a pretty nifty way of conducting competitive analysis, as well as, seeing general industry data.
This provides social statistics for Google+ from the founders of Twitter Counter. Pretty cool way to discover what’s popular and has a nice capture of Google+ popular posts and some user demographics.
Think about it like Mechanical Turk for writers. Helps find writers for your specific industry.
David Minchala shared this link. Factual provides APIs of datasets from reliable sources for health, education, places, entertainment, government and more. The possibilities for this content are endless. Infographics, data sources, quality assurance, link prospects, etc.
Hiring Advice from Rob Ousbey
Rob Ousbey is the VP of Operations in Distilled’s Seattle office. Besides being a great Time Warp dance partner, he’s had a lot of experience hiring and that’s priceless when you’re trying to find the industry’s best. During his presentation on Outreach, he shared a tip that seems really basic, but I wager most managers don’t do it — watch your candidates USE the Internet.
That’s it. Someone might interview great, but if you sit them down at a computer and request they perform the actions they just communicated to you, there might be a completely different story. Figure that out before you make a costly mistake.
Brian Chappell of Ignite Social Media mentioned IceRocket during our online reputation monitoring session. Owned by the Meltware Group, IceRocket was built as a real-time search tool. You can submit your blog to IceRocket using their Ping Us feature. They also have a trend tool that monitors trends over time.
This is just a theme that ran across SearchLove and PubCon. As SEOs, our jobs are becoming more technical, because we need to streamline our methods, gain a competitive edge and find a way to process large amounts of data without losing intent. To do this, we have to start embracing APIs and custom tools (unless you already have). We want tools with APIs, because those give us the ability to get what we personally need and in the format we need it. Layering multiple APIs kicks things up even more.
As a company, Outspoken Media has relied on third-party tools for the majority of our work. That’s starting to change and for no other reason than we now know what we can do well and we need to be able to do it faster (assuming there are no publicly available tools that do whatever it is). If there are APIs that can speed up processes like link prospecting, we need to leverage those for the sake of our employee’s time and patience, as well as, our client’s ROI.
Brian Chappell also shared ifttt with me, which stands for “if this then that.” It is a simple “recipe” for how to automate tasks with a number of different web services like Evernote, Twitter, Facebook, RSS, Dropbox, SMS and more. The New York Times did a piece on 7 Ways to Automate Your Life With ifttt and Brian has a post over at Ignite, which speaks more to our industry with recipes for monitoring your reputation, saving links and scheduling an editorial calendar.
During a presentation Stephan Spencer gave he mentioned Ubersuggest.com, which is a tool our SEO Manager shared with the team awhile back. We’d previously been tapping Google’s URL: http://google.com/complete/search?output=toolbar&q= which would return whatever we put as the keyword at the end of the URL. The problem was that this only captured the results that appear in AutoComplete. ProMedia Corp has a Suggester tool similar to Ubersuggest, but it doesn’t allow you to export the results. That’s what we loved about Ubersuggest, you can export the data as a .txt. And, if you’re a smarty pants with Python you could always construct your own version following the instructions here: http://answers.oreilly.com/topic/1526-how-to-use-the-google-suggest-api-to-come-up-with-topics-for-answers/
Chrome Scrape Plugin
At lunch (you know, where the real knowledge bombs drop), Wil Reynolds mentioned that Justin Briggs had found this plugin for Chrome that makes it simple to scrape a webpage and drop the results in a Google Docs spreadsheet. Sweet.
While speaking with me on the competitive intelligence for reputation monitoring panel, Taylor Pratt mentioned Raven SEO Tool’s CustomRank tool. This is a fun little tool that I remember they’d released awhile back. I gave it some consideration then, but it wasn’t something we could quickly scale. It still isn’t because you can only search one domain at a time (for now, not sure if they have plans to invest more time in it). What I really like about it though is that an internal link prospecting tool we’re developing needs a mini-algorithm to power the sites that it returns. We’ve already been looking to use certain APIs like SEOmoz, as well as, Alexa Rank and Page Rank (really just as a qualifier). This showed us how we can put all of the pieces together and possibly modify the algorithm based on the individual client or industry.
What did you pick up from PubCon and SearchLove? Are you already putting it to good use? If not, what’s stopping you?! That’s where the return for the trip lies. Get to work. :)