The SMX Advanced conference was jam-packed with info that I know many site owners and webmasters who could not make the show are dying to see. There have been a large number of summaries published from other attendees including those who blogged in real time; great resources for truly detailed reports. In my case, I want to provide StepForth readers with a concise list of the news and tips that really stood out from the rest. In part one of the SMX Advanced summary I discussed duplicate content issues and some other tips that I felt deserved immediate attention. In part two, I will tackle tips for efficient marketing and search engine optimization and a list of the top SEO tools including my own favorites.

Tips for Efficient Marketing and Search Engine Optimization
I loved this seminar! There was a whole host of SEOs on the panel that I really respect and it is always great to hear about new tips for speeding up the process of SEO – or at least to make the work more accurate. Here are some of the tips supplemented slightly with my own feedback.

  • Cost Effective Promotions: Socially promote your website and build links using interns. It is a great way to affordably promote a company and train potential long-term employees. After all, the interns will get to know your brand very well and become extremely familiar with the social marketing avenues.
  • Accurate Keyword Analysis: Where accuracy is absolutely vital (most cases), when conducting keyword analysis you should check to make certain that your keyword data is consistent across multiple research tools such as Keyword Discovery, WordTracker, Yahoo Keyword Suggestion Tool, MSN Adlabs, Google Adwords Keyword Tool, etc. This is especially important when you are suspicious of the keyword order from a specific provider. Note that MSN Adlabs was a tip within itself at the conference; it offers a wonderful toolset! (Google please copy this!).
  • Write Headlines that Work: One of the presenters (I think it was Danny Sullivan) recommended reading an excellent article by the New York Times called “This Boring Headline is Written for Google” which gives valuable insight into how headlines that work in print and on web differ so greatly. Here is an excerpt that sets the tone of the article: “Part of the craft of journalism for more than a century has been to think up clever titles and headlines, and Google comes along and says, ‘The heck with that,’ “observed Ed Canale, vice president for strategy and new media at The Sacramento Bee.
  • Go Google Local or You’re Loco: Getting a free local listing with Google should be a no-brainer for everyone because it can provide your company with a free listing above all other organic listings. For example, just type in “Victoria BC tours” on Google and you will see the first 3 rankings are local. These rankings were free and I am sure have paid off immensely by usurping the official organic rankings by 3 crucial positions. For more info learn how to add your company for free in Google Local.

Excellent SEO & SMM Research Tools
The SEO panel provided a few examples of the great widgets and applications they use to make their life easier. Here are a few, including my own favorites:

  • SERPH: track the ‘buzz’ of yourself and your competitors using this handy social search tool
  • SEO for Firefox: a great plugin from SEO Book
  • XENU Link Sleuth: a popular tool for many SEOs, XENU can quickly analyze your own or a competitor’s site.
  • Groowe Search Toolbar: install this toolbar and you will have access to at least 10 search engine bars within one application.Note: Here is where the SMX tips stop and my personal recommendations begin.
  • Compete: this great free tool can provide a statistical comparison of up to 5 different websites. Excellent for competitor analysis.
  • Alexa: Alexa is the granddaddy of sources for competitor analysis data. Check out your own website’s profile and see where it stands in comparison to your competitors.
  • WWW or Not?: Is link popularity split between two versions of a domain name (i.e. vs If so, this tool will tell you. This is valuable if you want to see if your own website has extra link popularity sitting on the sidelines from other sites that have linked to the ‘wrong’ address. Learn how to fix this situation for your website.
  • PR Prowler: although PageRank is not nearly as transparent as it once was PR Prowler is serves as a helpful method for finding the best sites to get links from or to advertise on.
  • Check Server Headers Tool: although slightly technical this tool, provided free by provides valuable insight into the setup of yours or your competitor’s servers. For example, StepForth uses this tool to verify that our clients have properly set up their server redirects (301’s) so that duplicate content issues are avoided. It is also used extensively within our competitor analysis reports; it is useful to see how your competitors might have an edge over you.
  • Domain Tools is one of my favorite sites for competitor analysis. The most useful component, the Reverse IP Tool, allows me to plunk in a single competitor’s domain and then see every other website that is hosted on its server. In rare instances where the co-hosted domains are owned by the competitor I can get a hint at any future marketing plans my clients should be made aware of.
  • Robots.txt Syntax Checker: There is nothing worse than making an error in a Robots.txt file and accidentally dropping a site out of the search engines. The free Robots.txt checker will review your Robots.txt file; ensuring it is properly created and it will provide you with the rules within the file in plain language to ensure everything meets your approval. This is a valuable tool for avoiding serious indexing issues.

All of these tools are listed on my Recommended SEO Tools page for future reference.

More to Come!
I can’t believe how much info I have to write about from SMX and the latest related news! As I write down more information about SMX I come up with my own ideas and comments so this series is going to span at least one more article. I hope you are enjoying it. Next we will discuss Social Media Marketing.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth SEO Services
Celebrating 10 Years of SEO Excellence