My SMX West 2013 Takeaways

I’m at the airport getting ready to head back home after spending 3 days in San Jose, California at SMX West. I figured I’d post a few of the things I found interesting as takeaways from the conference for those who weren’t able to attend.

Tips & Tactics

There are going to be a bit random, but here we go…

HTML5 and H1s

Duane Forrester said while on stage during the Excellent Search Adventure session that when it comes to HTML5, Bing will only look at the words contained in the first H1 on the page. Any subsequent H1s will be seen only as styling and design elements.

Links still matter

Both Duane and Matt Cutts said during their Excellent Search Adventure panel that links still play a larger role than social in both Bing and Google. Matt said on a later panel that he didn’t see links (and their value in Google) going away anytime soon – or even close to soon. They simply are looking for better ways to validate them and spot obvious manipulation.

SMX West Session

Disavowing a domain versus a URL

I don’t like the disavow tool, but for those who do, I figured I’d mention that both Matt and Duane mentioned several times that rather than disavowing individual links from a domain you don’t want links from, you can instead disavow links from an entire domain at once.

SMX West Session 2

Facebook Promoted Posts

The keynote with Grady Burnett of Facebook was really, really interesting. A lot was discussed, but the biggest “I can implement that now” thing I took away from it was about Promoted Posts. Facebook says they launched Promoted Posts with small businesses in mind. Over 500,000 Pages have used the service, with 30% being new advertisers and 70% of those becoming repeat advertisers. The cost is sliding depending on how big of a following you have. I talked with several people over the next few days who seemed to feel the Promoted Posts were worth the cost for them – so it’s definitely something I’ll begin experimenting with.

Facebook ad campaigns targeted to the media

In the last session, Marty Weintraub did an awesomely energetic (as always) presentation on the power of aiming Facebook ads for client campaigns towards the national (or local as the case may be) media. But, be sure to have something awesome to put in front of them.

Promote your site, not your social presences

Keri Mogret presented some information she’d learned earlier (sorry, can’t remember from who – edit: I now know it was from Jennifer Evan Cario) – but it was about keeping your promotions on your blog. I.e. Don’t tweet a link to a video you’ve done on YouTube – tweet a link to a post on your own blog that embeds the YouTube video. It’s easy to forget that your blog is the only one of your social presences you truly own – and if you drive traffic from one social network to another, your blog should always be the middle man in between.

The Authorship Conference

This conference had SO MUCH talk about Authorship and Google+. Matt said several times that giving and flowing trust to people was definitely one of the things Google is working towards.

Google+ pages can act as people

Mark Traphagen pointed out during his session that in recent weeks, Google+ “pages” (or whatever a business page is referred to) have been changed to allow businesses to interact on Google+ in the same way people can, without the former limitations business pages used to have.

New Google+ cover photos

Google+ came out with GINORMOUS new cover photos. This was discussed a bit at the conference. As an FYI, Cypress North has a fantastic guide on the topic – complete with a downloadable template and inspiration.

Logged in vs. Logged out

My take on why Google+ matters after watching several sessions on it. The results change dramatically for folks logged into Google+ – and that’s easy to benefit from if you’re working your Google+ profile and posting and promoting high quality content in your niche. It may not matter when it comes to strangers who haven’t circled you, but it can greatly increase your visibility within your network – which can in turn result in links and publicity.

Tools & Resources

Help for hacks

In one session Matt Cutts displayed several specific examples he asked us not to cite outside of the session of sites that had been hit with various types of hacks. Hacking can affect your rankings and your CTR and the problem is a bit more common than one might expect – happening to brands both large and small. So, Google created a specific resource to walk webmasters through identifying hacks and achieving recovery from those hacks.


Struggling to find the time for Pinterest? Jennifer Lopez (from the Moz, not the block) shared a tip during the last session about a site called Pingraphy she’d learned about earlier in the conference from a session by Brent Csutoras. The site allows you to upload pins in bulk and schedule them. She then begged us to use this for good and not evil. :)


Some good points – to me anyway – were made during the conference.

Understand who your competition is in social

Annalise Kaylor made a very smart comment regarding Facebook. To paraphase – if you’re Coke on Facebook, your competition is not Pepsi. It’s her cousin and her favorite TV show and her friend’s vacation photos. Understand that – and work it to your advantage. Another smart point she made? Facebook is not a strategy, it’s a tactic.

Don’t bet against Google+

We like to joke about the Google+ network, but Todd Hartley smartly pointed out that if you’d told us five years ago that Facebook and Twitter would be an integral part of the marketing strategy for a company, we’d likely have laughed… “Don’t bet against Google+”

Best Overheard of the Conference

[Mics go out in the Future of Search in 2013 panel]
Greg Boser: “Google Censorship!”
Duane Forrester: “I guess the sound in here is ‘not provided’ Matt?”
Danny Sullivan: “I’m sure the sound is working just fine in the PPC session!”
[The whole room roars with laughter]

SMX West 2013 – All in all

This was one of the best SMX conferences I’d attended in years. I spoke on four panels back to back on the last day and was exhausted by the end (but loved every second of it!) but I came away with a lot of interesting tidbits – some published above, several more that were said in confidence during networking at the bar. I’m not sure what the Third Door Media crew did this year as far as strategy, changes and improvements, but it clearly worked. :)

Have a Takeaway to Add?

P.S. If you were in sessions I wasn’t or heard a nugget I didn’t and want to share, feel free to do so in the comments. :)


About Rae Hoffman

Rae Hoffman aka "Sugarrae" is an affiliate marketing veteran and the CEO of PushFire, a search marketing agency specializing in SEO audits and link building strategies. She is also the author of the often controversial Sugarrae blog. You can connect with Rae via Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

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  1. Cheers for the take-aways Rae, it’s been sooo sooo long since I got to a conference. Your shares from SMX are super valuable for me.

  2. Rae,

    Great seeing you as always at this SMX Authorship conference :)

    Your first point on H1s would pertain to any HTML format, at least from Google’s view…never heard that Bing provides any weight to an H1 after the first instance for HTML 4.X formats.

    Authorship I feel will be the validation signal for links not just for the writer of the article but as well of those sharing and commenting on it (means to dismiss spam/bot comments/shares).

    In the end, via talks I had with the Google team there won’t be a visible AuthorRank, since as they say, “we learned that lesson with PageRank”, but there will be one internally and I’m sure there will be third party tools attempting to discern that rank, similar to Klout.

  3. Keri Morgret says:

    Hi Rae,

    Thanks for the shoutout in the post! It was Jennifer Evan Cario who had made the presentation.


  4. Thx for this Rae, appreciate you being concise :) . I can attest to the promoted posts stuff, it’s the *only* advertising I though and the ROI is awesome.

  5. Thank you for these takeaways, we sat this conference out but love the “golden nuggets” of info that you’ve shared. Will have to try out Pingraphy!

    • You’re welcome Sara – I definitely plan on trying the tool. I get in “moods” re using Pinterest – so this way, I can pin the way I normally do, but spread them out to post to the site in a less “bunchful” manner.

  6. I thought the exchange between Danny, Duane and Matt when the sound when out was one of the most quick witted, hysterical moments of almost any conference I have been at. #classic (Enjoyed being on the link panel with you too)

  7. Thanks for taking the time to do this, Rae :). I liked reading the wit there from Greg, Duane n Danny.

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