SMX Part 1: Best Practice Won’t Win the Race

Last week I flew to Seattle to attend SMX Advanced, a two day conference on Search Engine Marketing.  This is one of the largest and most respected conferences on search marketing in the country. Most of the people who attend the conference are search marketing specialists, and unlike me, they understand the technical aspects of SEO.Adam and Tony, our two most senior search engine optimization specialists, attended as well. They have been to this conference in the past and look forward to it every year. Not only do they gain a lot of knowledge from the workshops, but they also get to mingle with their like-minded peers. Many of the rock stars of search engine marketing speak at the event. Yes, there are rock stars in this search marketing world. (I'm not sure if they enjoy the parties, but I can tell you Bing knows how to throw one.) Even though I'm not a search marketing "specialist," I attended because I wanted to get a feel for where the industry is and where it's headed, to meet the talent, and to see if I could bring anything back that would help us serve our clients better. Tomorrow, we are having a meeting to make plans for that last aspect. But in the meantime, I thought I'd share with you a few of the main takeaways, from my non-technical old-guy perspective.

Best Practice Won't Win the Race

This industry is moving so fast that even those who work in it every day simply can't keep up with the pace of change. As Tony said of the conference: "My face was melting." A few years ago, if you simply made sure you were following industry best practices you could be competitive.  You might not dominate, but you'd be in the game. Today that is no longer the case. You still have to follow "best practices," but if you are in a competitive space, that just gets you to the stadium--it doesn't get you in the game. What I find interesting is that even just following best practices isn't easy. To do even that takes a lot of work and a solid technical foundation in search marketing.

Beyond Best Practices

For years, one of the main mantras of search marketing has been "Content is king." Making sure your site's content is structured properly is what I would consider one of the best practices. So if you don't have even that done, you'd better get started immediately or it could take you years to catch up (if you ever do.) With that said, here are a few bits of advice I would give to company owners and top executives.

  • If you want to avoid getting left behind, you need to make a commitment to developing content that goes beyond the basics of product and service information.
  • You need to commit to developing content that will educate your customers and prospects and will help them make good decisions related to the purchase and use of products or services you sell.
  • You must recognize that this stuff is extremely complex--both from a strategy development perspective and a technical implementation perspective. It's not a small commitment, but it's more than worth doing correctly.

Check back for SMX Part 2: Educational Content Marketing

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