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What I Learned at Search Engine Bootcamp

Last week I was fortunate enough to be given a pass to attend the Search Engine Bootcamp here in Melbourne. I tweeted throughout the day quite a bit – but thought I’d write up some of the tidbits that I took away from some of the sessions over the day.

There was a lot covered so I won’t go through it session by session (I missed a few at the start and end of the day too) but here are a few of the quotes and ideas that I came away with from different speakers (and a few thoughts on why they stood out).

Tim McDonald – Found Agency

Tim spoke about PayPerClick advertising and while I’m not into PPC I was interested to see a few similarities between what he spoke about as key ingredients to driving traffic with PPC and in techniques that we talk about in driving traffic organically through good blogging technique.

In one section he spoke about the reasons that people click on ads – including:

  • benefits – people click on ads that promise to benefit them in some way
  • brand – people click on ads with brand names that they recognize
  • differentiation – people click on ads that are different from others in some way
  • curiosity – people click on ads that make them curious
  • legibility – people click on ads that make sense
  • call to action – people click on ads with a call to action in them

What struck me as I looked over this list was that it could quite easily be translated into a list about how people read posts with headlines or titles with certain characteristics. When people are scanning through lists of potential posts to read in their RSS reader, on sites like Digg, in Search Engine Results – they’re more likely to click on titles to read the full post if it delivers in some of the above ways.

Nathan Stewart – Alkemi International

I heard Nathan speak earlier in the year and found him to have lots of good insights. Last week he spoke about landing pages and different aspects of websites that convert. Again – much of what he said could be applied to bloggers. Here’s a few tidbits that stood out to me:

Let Your Site (Blog) Evolve its Design – When redesigning sites – many people ‘dump’ their old sites and move onto a completely new version. The problem with this is that you fail to capitalize upon the lessons you’ve learned with your current design.

Nathan used Amazon as an example of how to do it better. If you look at Amazon from day to day and week to week you don’t notice a lot of changes in their design – but if you compare it from month to month and year to year you can see that their design is quite different. Their strategy is to incrementally change, or evolve, their design over time. Lots of small changes that are tested to see what works best – which over time add up to effective change in their design rather than just a complete redesign.

Why are websites failing to persuade people to take action:

Nathan shared three reasons.

1. poor planning – sites tend not to think about where they want to ‘lead’ their readers/visitors. Good planning will think about a site in terms of ‘paths’ that you want to lead people along to travel through a site and to a point of conversion.

2. no customer centric Architect – someone needs to take on the planning role. Many websites developments don’t have someone taking on responsibility for this.

3. upside down approach – too much focus upon graphic and navigation first and then content last. Start with content and add other graphical and navigational aspects later. Content (text based) is king.

Understand Your Visitor (Reader)

Nathan also focused quite a bit on getting into the shoes…. or more importantly the minds… of visitors to your site (or blog).

  • most people visit your site with a purpose in mind – understand what it is and deliver it
  • understand how your customer buys and makes decisions
  • actions only take place after a decision has been made – if you want people to ‘do’ something you need to help them make a series of decisions along the way rather than just tell them to do something. It’s not just about the final decision – but usually it is a series of decisions along the way.

It is really about understanding the world from your audience’s perspective. Knowing demographics (how many of your readers are male, how old they are, what their income is) doesn’t really tell you enough about your readers – you need to know how they think, how they make decisions, where they are in the decision making process when they visit your site etc.

Four types of People and their Buying Styles

Nathan presented a slide that presented four different types of people and the way that they made purchases. I wish he’d had this slide up longer because it fascinated me but I managed to get some of it down. He said that these four styles were based upon Myers Briggs personality types and that when designing a landing page for a website it was important to address all four buying styles in your copy.

The four types could be remembered with different characters from the Simpsons (and also Sex in the City):

  • Competitive – what can you do for me? (Bart)
  • Spontaneous – why should I buy it from you? (Homer)
  • Methodical – how does it work? – (Maggie)
  • Humanistic – who has used your product? – (Marge)

I didn’t get much more than that but Nathan talked about how the first two styles were much more fast paced buyers so should be addressed at the top of a landing page and that the last two were slower paced type people so you could address them lower on the page.

Jason West from WebSalad

Jason’s topic was Online Reputation Management. To be honest I thought I’d find this session more helpful than I did. Perhaps I know more about the topic than I thought I did, perhaps its just too big a topic for such a short session or perhaps it was because he kept talking about bloggers as ‘those bloggers’ :-)

One of the aspects that Jason spoke about quite a bit (he must have said it 10 or more times in his session) was the importance of owning Google with reputation management. He mentioned again and again how they didn’t really look much beyond Google what they did and didn’t focus upon managing people’s reputations in other forums like social media.

While I can understand why they do this (Google is probably the #1 place to focus and in some ways it is easier to manage) I think it’s dangerous not to include other sites. A recent example of how social media sites can really hurt a brand’s reputation was seen recently in the debacle that Motrin had with some of their advertising and the uproar that happened about it on Twitter. Under estimating what social media can do in terms of an online reputation can be dangerous and it will only become more and more dangerous.

One thing that Jason spoke about that I did find helpful was the way that they view Google for different search terms. They see the results page on Google for brands that they manage as ‘shelf space’ and look at what control they have over the different listings on the first two results pages on Google.

Another key quote from Jason – “A blogger can have more influence than a major brand has over their own brand online.”

Kate Gamble from Bruce Clay Australia

I found Kate (follow her here on Twitter) to be a refreshing way for my day to end at Search Engine Bootcamp (I had to leave after her session). While she said she hadn’t presented well she covered the topic of Social Media Marketing very comprehensively and clearly.
She spoke about the 4 C’s of Social Media:

  • Content
  • Context
  • Connections
  • Community

A process for Companies Wanting to Get into Social Media Marketing

She also outlined a helpful process for companies wanting to get into social media as a marketing tool.

  • listen – where are your people, people interested in what you’re interested in. Always start with this.
  • set objectives – get this clear
  • participate – based upon objectives
  • monitor – without this its largely a waste of time
  • report – what did you learn?
  • analyze – what does it mean?

This process is cyclical – so once you’re done you go back to listening.

Social Media Breadcrumbs

I also liked the concept of ‘creating social media breadcrumbs’ that Kate spoke about. A social media breadcrumb is a path that we create to lead those who find us on social media sites to other places that they can connect with us. So on a Twitter profile it might be a link to a page which has other social media sites that we have presence on or a link back to our blog. Kate spoke about how these ‘breadcrumbs’ should be consistent from site to site and have the same ‘story’ and ‘branding’.

Shiny Object Syndrome

Kate spoke about how everyone wants to play with the latest social media toy on the block – but this can actually be distracting and waste your time. Instead ‘go to where your people are’ – find out who those you want to interact with in social media are gathering and build a presence there – whether those places are the ‘cool’ places to be or not.

Calls to Action

We often think about developing Calls to Action in advertising and even in writing effective blog posts – but it isn’t something I’d given a lot of thought to with social media. Here’s the question:

what do you want ppl to do when they see your profile on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace….etc?

It’s actually a great question and one that need not be that complex to answer. Your answer might be – to drive people to visit my blog – or to check out my LinkedIn profile – or to buy my book. Once you know what you want people to do having seen you on these sites is to call them to do it and give them a clear way to do so.

Reflections on Search Engine Bootcamp

All in all I had a good day at this conference. It was a relatively small event (there must have been 30 or so in the room) but that made it better as it gave an opportunity to circulate, ask questions and not get lost in the crowd.
The content wasn’t what I’d call advanced – but was solid and well presented. As you can see above – I came away with a few things to think about. Interestingly most of it wasn’t really about search engines directly!

There were other speakers that I’ve not written about here (the full agenda is here) but I either missed them (there were a few I wish I’d seen earlier in the day) or didn’t find them quite as relevant for me.

I’m looking forward to SMX in Sydney next April now!

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Thanks for the great information on the Bootcamp Darren. This is the kind of post to go back a read several times to make sure you do not miss anything.

  2. Nice write-up, I might have to go to SMX if it’s in Sydney. I like the idea of evolving your design instead of entirely replacing it and addressing the different types of buyers on different parts of a page makes a lot of sense. I know I’m the kind of person who probably won’t jump into a purchase until I’ve checked every available detail.

    BTW I couldn’t find the link to Kate Gamble on Twitter (or am I just going blind?)

  3. This is a great post Darren – Thanks!

    I think that I suffer from “shiny object syndrome” when it comes to new ideas or my blog – however when it comes to social media I am behind on the new stuff.

  4. Wow thanks for all the great information. I really liked the idea of the evolving site design. We just started our blog a few months ago and it evolves almost every day. It still has a lot of evolving to do as well, but there are only so many hours in a day.

  5. great post darren :-) your blog is a goldmine of useful blog info :-) another thing i like about your site is that loads so fast, it even loads faster than google philippines.

  6. Brilliant. So helpful thanks. I am forwarding this to our e-commerce staff and tweeting about it etc.

    Fantastic content as usual Darren.

  7. I’lll digg it!
    and bookmarking too…
    search engine make big change in business behavior. Like yellow pages in the first launch. They make business very popular and easy to find out. Thanks Darren for writing this greats post

    JuicyProfit Cats!

  8. Excellent Post! A lot to learn – I better get going :)
    Thank you for another very helpful post

  9. Thanks for the report on SEO Bootcamp. As you said, there’s a lot there that might be applied directly to blogging,

    One thing that struck me is Kate Gamble’s “go where the people are.” I find I have a lot of trouble keeping up with social media AND commenting on other blogs and forums AND doing the daily tasks required of a blog AND writing good content.

    I have decided to concentrate on just one or two social media venues. But now have to determine where the people are that I want to interact with! Twitter is an obvious choice, but I’ll have to think deeply about any other one I might use.

  10. Oops! Search Engine Bootcamp! You can tell what I was thinking about!

  11. Hi Darren.

    Whenever I’m watching a powerpoint presentation, I take a picture of a slide that is interesting. It’s a lot more effective and faster, frees me to pay closer attention to whatever is being said.

    I leave some blank space on my notes and “sync” the picture with my notes, adding what I think is relevant from the slide to my notes.

    There are a few twists. Before the presentation statrts, make sure the room is not too dark (and tweak your camera settings if necessary). You should also turn off the flash. And lastly, but also important, check your picture if it’s not blurred or dark. If it is, take another shot.

    The whole process takes about 15-20 seconds and is a lot simpler than my description.

    (And thanks for your attention, your content is very inspiring!)

    Cheers, D.

  12. Thanks for sharing the post….
    Nice material you have provided….

  13. Thanks to your retweet of http://www.dont-be-a-magpie.com, I made number 3 in Google for that phrase.

    Amazing only 1 day and number three.

    The power of word of mouth.

  14. Thanks for sharing what you learned at the bootcamp Darren. Very useful information. As a former Macintosh software engineer, I can attest to Nathan’s emphasis on having a customer centric Architect. Usability and an easy-to-navigate user interface are also important.

  15. Very informative post. Thank you. It is obvious that you put a lot of time into this.

  16. Wait, did I read Sex in the City? Now, that I can relate to! So, would that be:

    Competitive – Samantha
    Spontaneous – Carrie
    Methodical – Miranda
    Humanistic – Charlotte

    And fascinating how the first two types respond to things in the top part of websites, the other two the bottom.

    I’m going to keep all four characters in mind as I make changes to my site.

  17. I didn’t get the chance to swing by Melbourne for that. I couldn’t afford cab fare, but I’m grateful that you wrote it up, because it gave me lots to think about. I admit that I scraped the good parts into an Evernote note so I can go back and suck on the good stuff again.

    You’re a treasure, Mr. Rowse.

  18. Loved the Amazon example.

  19. One of the best articles out there on social media, tips, advices, marketing, seo. All the info that is presented here can be a great starting point to use. If you can read between the gaps and if you’re able to do some research on the topics covered here you can get quite a lot information.

  20. Dear Darren,

    I am regular viewer of your posts and always enjoyed and get a lot of information and Tips from your Posts.

  21. Really cool! I currently work for an online company in Web Marketing. I am in control of all the PPC campaigns and love to hear that I’m on the right path. Thanks Darren!

  22. A thousand “thank you!”s for posting these detailed notes. I found your post through a twitter feed provided by @vcfreak.

    Working on the marketing side of the residential real estate industry here in the United States, there is so much that can be learned from events and tips like these to put into practice. Providing the detailed notes are extremely helpful.

    I took the liberty of posting a link of your article on Active Rain so real estate professionals here in the States could pick up a few tips for themselves:


  23. Content is still King along with having the ability to see your site navigation through your prospects eyes and really being objective about it.

  24. Darren,
    Thanks. This is one of the best posts I’ve read in a long time on any blog. I enjoy your style of writing. You shouldn’t make assumptions, but I would assume that you are probably also a very good public speaker.

  25. Nice Article Darren…i agree with you..social bookmarking can be misleading to site visitors at times and may not be good putting all the social bookmarking widgets on a website.


  26. Thanks so much for posting this – I was reading your tweets while you were at the conference so it’s great to have this compiled in one place.

  27. Thanks Darren. Thanks for the post, I’ve only just started to promote my new website and for every new site I produce there is so much to consider and you’ve reinforced a few oldies as well: http://melbourneaccommodation.tv/

  28. This is not an easy road but info like this, everyone who work hard and smart will come ahead.

    Thank you for sharing

  29. I think for the Simpsons example, Methodical should be Lisa (Maggie is the baby).


  30. Are you going to the Europe somewhen?

  31. Hi Darren, I always always find you so generous in the info you give away on your blog, and greatly appreciate all you have to say. And I had to smile this time because, though I’m probably one of the few people in the world who’s never watched the Simpsons, having trained as a counsellor, I do know my Myers Briggs! And my guess is that:

    Bart would be the NT – independent, intellectually curious, makes decisions analytically
    Homer, I think, might be an SP – impulsive, fun loving, practical, hands on, realistic.
    Maggie – hmm! an SJ, I think – likes precision and order, resists change, is decisive.
    Marge – definitely an NF – possibilities and relationship based, perceives the world via iNtuitive means – no facts thank you, makes decisions based on feelings and how it might affect self and others.

    Thanks for this Darren. I really enjoyed it. Especially as I’ve been congratulating myself for having broken the 1000 a month visitors, and then discovered, to my horror, that my bounce rate has increased alarmingly.

    Any advice you – or anyone else – can offer on my home page and blog would be much appreciated. Mel Menzies

  32. Great post Darren. I recently started a blog for the company I work for to help with search engine ranking. Your post is very informative. I am going to have to read it again to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

  33. Nice post Darren I really enjoy stopping by your blog. Any ways where do I find out about Internet Marketing events like the one you mentioned in Melbourne?


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