The top SEO conferences

google foundersE-commerce specialists and digital marketers have been debating whether SEO still plays a vital role in online marketing for a long time. Some digital marketers question the relevance of SEO today, and some predict that they will soon be extinct in the future. Other SEO researchers and consultants disagree with this theory.

These people who think that SEO is not dead simply believes that it is slowly evolving. Today, SEO focuses on user intent, social signals, and content quality. Marketers think that producing an informative and engaging content will have better chances at ranking higher and staying in the authoritative position.

Meanwhile, sites that rely on blackhat SEO techniques such as spammy backlinks, keyword stuffing, and low-quality content will either see their rankings drop or never rank at all.

Altogether, optimization strategies remains a valuable tool that many marketers and webmasters use with Google algorithm updates as the critical driver of SEO. With the constant updates by Google, many marketers and SEO experts need to adapt quickly to the implemented changes and come up with a more efficient SEO practice.

For many specialists and SEO enthusiast, conferences offer an interactive way to stay updated on the developments in digital marketing. As this is an industry that undergoes constant changes, the information shared by the experts in these conferences is valuable to to all people interested in SEO. If you are thinking about joining a digital marketing conference, here are the top three conventions you can attend yearly.

Search Engine Journal Summit (SEJ)

The SEJ summit is a conference that focuses on topics like on-page SEO tips, link building, and content strategy. They emphasize original and first-run presentations that will provide the participants the opportunities to interact and connect with the speakers.

This conference focuses only on the essential points for maximum efficiency. They only accept 18 attendees per speaker. Because of this small ratio, they can easily cater and attend to the questions of the attendees. That is also the reason why the SEJ summit only lasts for a day.

MozCon

The MozCon conference focuses on dynamic sessions filled with actionable tips and informative talks delivered by the leaders at moz.com. Aside from SEO, they also tackle many different topics such as content marketing, social media marketing, customer relations, mobile optimization, conversion rate optimization and overall analytics. This conference usually lasts three days.

Search Marketing Expo (SMX)

The Search Marketing Expo is produced by the Third Door Media and helps thousands of SEM and SEO professionals fine-tune their marketing skills. They provide tutorials, exclusive training, seminars and workshops for digital marketers who would like to learn from the sharpest minds in search marketing.

This conference invites the best people in the business like Jerry Dischler and Scott Brinker – both of whom work at Google. Their recent speaker was Olga Andrienko, SEMrush’s head of global marketing.

What makes SMX unique to other conferences in that it provides different streams for different participants. Anybody can sign up and choose between workshops or sub-conferences that best suit an individual’s needs. That means whether you are a beginner, an intermediate or an expert, there is a place for you in this conference.

If you are a specialist in digital marketing, attending conferences in the industry is the surest way to stay on top of your professional career. Learning from the researchers and the experts in the industry is an essential component of understanding the entirety of the industry you are in and where it is headed to.

SEO conferences also showcase unconventional and controversial methods that will help attendees dominate the search engine results page. Intimate events like these reveal the best tactics, strategies, and secrets every SEO specialist needs.

7 Reasons a 23 Year Old Should Run Your Social Media

social marketingYesterday, an article from INC entitled 11 Reasons a 23 Year Old Shouldn’t Run Your Social Media popped up in my Facebook newsfeed. It was posted by a friend who, out of school, was hired to run social media for a startup. She commented along the lines of: “I guess it might be time to throw in the towel.”

This article really pissed me off for a number of reasons, even though it had disclaimers at the beginning. The graphic accompanying the article itself is a photo that could’ve been out of Mean Girls, showing two catty girls gossipping. After reading the article, I scrolled down and was not surprised to find it was written by a lady who runs a digital marketing firm. A ha! I thought. No wonder. I’ve seen this before…just plain FUD.

Here’s my response….a 25 year old who ran social media for a startup for 3 years, who hired and fired several agencies because they just didn’t make the cut. Oh and disclaimer…not every firm is like the one I’m describing, but I just want to make a point.

1) They’re not on your team – As a firm, the agency you hired has one goal: do the minimal amount of work to get the job done. I mean come on: they have many other clients to please. To scale their business they need new clients and happy retained old clients. They are happy when you don’t really pay attention to what is going on. If you hire a young person to join your team, he/she will want to please the company as they want to progress their career and have a great recommendation when it’s time to move on.

2) They don’t really know what’s happening at your company – Sure, you may have regular update calls but do you remember to update them on every single little thing happening at the company? Things that may not seem important actually are: hiring someone new and welcoming them through social media is one example. A young person doing social media at your company can be like a fly on the wall, absorbing information and sharing with the world in a real time manner.

3) They are not physically there – Are they there when everyone pulls a prank on the CEO or a customer stops by to take a picture with the team? The glory of social media its ability to show progress in real time…something a young person on your team can capture and post instantly.

4) They are expensive – You can hire someone (especially in this economy) for a lot cheaper than engaging a digital marketing/social media agency. Young people are hungry for experience and are willing to live off of ramen to be part of something cool. This is not a stereotype…I know plenty of young folks who gave up lucrative jobs out of top schools for the ability to have a more meaningful, interesting experience (I did). Luckily for your budget, social media falls into that realm.

5) They are not as willing to learn – Someone who is just out of college is used to learning. They understand they don’t have experience but are willing to hear you out, try hard, and adjust willingly. Unfortunately, firms tend to have policies and procedures in place that are “just how it’s done.” They may be willing to budge a bit but hey you know what….they know better because they do this for a living damnit. This kind of mentality is super detrimental in any company, but especially a startup.

6) Their goals are not in line with yours – The goal of an agency is to have happy clients who keep paying monthly fees. The goal of your social media is to get the most bang out of your buck and grow your following/audience online. Who do you think will accomplish this more?

7) They may not understand your business – One of the firms we hired never took the time to actually understand what my startup was doing. It was a little complicated (in the payments space) and throughout the entire time we engaged them, they kept talking about it in different ways, trying to mold it into something they could understand. A young person who does your social media will absolutely understand what you do, because that is their job.

I could keep going on and on making the point that an agency will not be as invested in your company’s success, not be as flexible and willing to work long and hard, etc etc, but you know what….I have to go run social media for my startup.

Lessons We Can Learn From Inspiring Entrepreneurs

When attempting to find the market sweet spot for your startup, entrepreneurs often walk the line of embracing history, and forging their own path. As the late Steve Jobs so eloquently stated,

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

Obviously, there is no denying the success that Steve Jobs enjoyed, and the history of Apple has been well chronicled. However, not everyone can create history, and there is a lot to be learned from it when evaluating a potential business model.

How to Identify a Product-Market Fit

When attempting to find an ideal market for your product or service, it is imperative to understand what the competition is doing, and how you can iterate or improve upon it to meet a unique customer need. Much of this is done by talking to prospective customers, figuring out the products they use, and what they would want from an ideal product.

Often, people don’t know what they’re looking for, but you can see, when talking to them face to face, and seeing their reactions, if your idea is unique and exciting. Steve Jobs once asserted that people don’t know what they want until they see it.

However, it is important to see how a potential customer, or preferably hundreds of prospective customers’ reactions to your product in order to determine if there really is a fit for what you’re offering. In the case of Jobs, the reaction to the product was obvious and Apple now is one of the most recognized brands in the world.

Cause Marketing Works

There have been numerous examples in recent history of entrepreneurs who based their marketing efforts on supporting a cause. Some of the more notable that come to mind are Toms and Tickets for Charity. In both cases, the success of the offering was almost wholly reliant on the cause that they supported.

In the case of Toms, for every pair of shoes purchased, another is given to a person in need. Without this sort of altruistic approach, the simply-crafted shoes would more than likely have remained anonymous.

Tickets for Charity launched in 2007, with the idea of reselling tickets purchased by corporations that would otherwise go unused. Part of the proceeds would then go to various charitable organizations that these companies would be proud to support.

This business model is an excellent example of both identifying a product-market fit and leveraging cause marketing. TFC founder, Jord Poster found that 30-70% of the event tickets corporations purchase each year go unused. He also realized that these same corporations also had strong charitable ties and made significant amounts of donations to charitable organizations.

By providing an easy way for these companies to give back without costing them any extra money, and with his company facilitating the entire process, Poster found his market sweet spot.

Company Culture Matters

There are numerous examples of crazy company cultures out there. Google is among the most prominent of those with their sleep pods, infinity pools, wall-to-wall whiteboards, among other Googley things. Whether it is global juggernauts like Google and Amazon, Successful shoe moguls Zappos, or small-time operations everywhere, company culture plays a huge role in a company’s success.

It is important to hire those who are on board with your company vision and values, and do their best to perpetrate it. Those who detract from a company’s virtues can be cancerous to the overall culture, and have a negative ripple effect on others. In the words of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, “I’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person”. Employees shape company culture. Company culture determines company success.

Emulating Inspiring Entrepreneurs

While the vast majority of us will never be as successful as these inspiring modern-day entrepreneurs, we can certainly learn from their achievements. Get to know your customers, figure out what they want, find a cause they believe in, and put the right people in place to bring it all together.

Don’t get discouraged if your idea doesn’t come to fruition right away, or when you meet with opposition. There have been many shocking starts to successful businesses. Why not us?