Ion Search 2013 > Top Takeaways

Simon Penson 7 years ago

When it comes to advanced search marketing few events are more in demand than the Leeds based conference that is Ion Search. And for good reason; it's filled to the brim with top speakers chosen as much for their knowledge as their 'name' and ability to pull the crowds.

Zazzle MD Simon Penson was one of those asked to 'speak' and he was supported by a number of 'Zazzlers' who captured as many of the key takeaways from the event as possible. Below you will find the key points from the most impactful sessions, distilling the most useful 'learnings' for those that want the very latest opinions from the search marketing world:



Link Removal & Google Penalties Panel

  • If your site is penalised, don't panic. Calm down, sit back and analyse the data. Find out exactly what's causing the problem.
  • Use Google Analytics to pin point when the traffic/ rankings dropped.
  • Google sent out 3 different responses to manual penalties
  • Loss of traffic, no warning
  • Loss of traffic, with warning
  • Warning, with no traffic drop
  • There seems to be threshold as to whether you lose rankings or not.
  • There are two types of penalty messages
  • One is a warning indicating Google has dealt with the unnatural links themselves
  • One is a warning saying you need to deal with the unnatural links.
  • Bing Webmaster Tools is more transparent than Google's counterpart
  • Go through all previous link building contacts you have to start removing the links.

How to sift through link data

  • Use as many link sources as possible.
  • Keep refreshing the link data to capture any new links found.
  • Make sure you disavow and links you have removed and 404ed already so that Google is aware of it straight away.
  • Disavow the full domains as much as possible,

How to Define a Bad links

  • Duplicate IP clusters
  • Check for dupe who is domain info
  • Look for the use of the same email address as a way to discover link networks.
  • Link Risk Management needs to be reviewed monthly.
  • Can you just disavow links, Yes but its not recommended and highly unsuccessful. Do both link removal and disavow.
  • Prove to Google you have changed your ways.
  • Only reconsider if you are 100%  sure that you have a manual penalty. If you have an algorithmic penalty and you reconsider you are only flagging yourself up.
  • When you have disavowed, you can reconsider for a manual penalty after 24 hours as the manual reviewer will compare your disavow list against your link profile.

Ross Hudgens:

  • Content Marketing is a long term strategy that requires commitment and intensity to work. People quit too easily.
  • Google Analytics Trackback is great for tracking links over time.
  • Allinurl:/tag/BRAND advanced searches is a great way to track activity around a brand. Use the 'by time' dropdown to see over short or longer periods. Useful when looking for activity around bigger content campaigns.
  • Create employee pages on your site to offer a better place to link to other than their Twitter page.
  • Use your Twitter Bio to ask people to link to the RIGHT page for you when citing your work. This ensures links benefit you not Twitter.
  • Email people that link to your Twitter to reclaim links.
  • Use brand misspelling checks to find hidden links that you can convert into correct links.
  • Yesware email plugin is really useful when it comes to tracking outreach. Watch for email opens and follow up.
  • Image Raider is a new tool for tracking image use. Makes it easy to spot those using your images so you can ask for a link.
  • Read Nudge, a business book about influencing people around decision making. Massively useful in converting people from your content.

Marcus Tandler:

  • Google is getting smarter at discovering keyword stuffing, bad links, irrelevant content, content that's not unique and spam.
  • With the new Penguin algorithmic update, not afraid to hit big brands with penalties if they're being pushy with any of the above.  Has to be able to TRUST links.
  • Companies can apply for reconsideration in order to maintain visibility and page ranking.
  • You can validate paid for links if it is not obvious they have been paid for - this is a way around the algorithm.
  • You can disavow bad links if you believe that your site has been harmed by pool quality links - ONLY if you know what you are doing and if you've know exactly what you've done.
  • Google is an effective algo and has an effective PR strategy which encourages brands to monitor their SEO strategy.
  • Content marketing is best for sustainable link building, whereas infographics are best for organic link building. This is the rinse & repeat strategy.
  • platforms, your industry, your niche and track your rivals. It's important to identify linkerati within your nicke.
  • As well as needing to trust links, it also needs to trust AUTHORS.
  • Google+ is currently considered a social LAYER rather than a social NETWORK.
  • User engagement is about shares, retweets and clicks. Need to identify who your engagement is and who likes the content.
  • Google wont replace links with social signals - they consider it to be spam.
  • Content now appears on different platforms across the web. Authors need to be trusted as anonymity may equal irrelevance as an author.
  • Google+ needs to be spam proof before it can be algorithmed.
  • To gain relevance as an author in the future, you need to:
    - Be active in your community
    - Be an industry expert
    - Product great, relevant content
    - Have opinions
    - Be controversial
  • Links may carry different weight depending on the likelihood of the surfer clicking  them.
  • The future of SEO is TRAFFIC - When google believes a user has found what they are looking for, the sites will be trusted.
  • SEO agencies should use data to improve upon searches.
  • Links may count for more if a search is satisfied.
  • Build links for USERS not SEARCH ENGINES.
  • Traffic encourages better SEO, better content and higher consideration of users.


Sean Walsh: How Social Media is Revolutionising Sports & Entertainment 

  • Manchester United are a bad example as they inexplicably don't have a Twitter account
  • Man City are doing a great job across channels
  • Social is no longer something that you shift onto your intern, need a thought out strategy with execution
  • Connected stadiums - Man City created a #blueview hashtag where fans could tweet their views and then see them on screens in the concourse at half time
  • Problem in many stadiums is poor connectivity which clubs are working to rectify
  • 48 million people on Twitter follow a football team
  • Sports teams need to focus on how they can leverage their offline presence to their advantage online.  Valencia FC in Spain are a good example, when they couldn't get a shirt sponsor they put their Twitter handle across the front of their home kit
  • City opened up data that fans could share - stats on possession, assists, goals etc
  • Hearts FC in Edinburgh created an app where fans could order their half time pies from their seats based on social feedback
  • Some sports have started using Ref head cams whereby the ref wears a head cam and the video is uploaded to YouTube for fans to see the game from the refs view
  • Great examples in entertainment include which is a website that launched to build up to the release of The Dark Knight film.  It put the users into a distorted reality, as if they were part of the film - and the content on the page changed with the release of the film, as if the Joker had hacked it, creating a great content experience for users
  • Bad examples in entertainment include the likes of Coronation St who regularly trend on Twitter when their episodes show but do not make the most of it
  • Shops and other environments should start encouraging engagement through Twitter and other channels
  • You should have an editorial calendar in place for social as well and have it align with your other channels
  • Focus needs to be on engaging the audience, not broadcasting at them
  • Twitter is the second screen now and brands need to come to terms and embrace this
  • Launch of to showcase good and bad examples
  • For all content as yourself: Who cares? Who wants to read this? Why will they find it interesting? Will anyone find it valuable?

Jeremy Waite: How much is a fan worth? (if anything…)

  • Level of knowledge in the average boardroom is very low
  • If they don't understand the value of social they will continue to invest in things they do understand (even if they can't measure them), e.g. TV, radio, print
  • Social is about finding the people who matter most, there's a misconception that social is cheap and easy and at a boardroom level there is an education piece around this
  • Syncapse survey stated that a fan is worth $136 - this is not true as it's completely variable by brand and the way they did it doesn't quite work out
  • 90% of content marketers only track engagement metrics - not ROI
  • Social is one area where you can beat your competitors without having to match their spend - it's a level playing field
  • Just because we can measure everything, doesn't mean that we should
  • 5 ways to measure the worth of a fan - sales (e-commerce), brand awareness, brand preference, brand advocacy, ad recall
  • Brands should be hiring more analysts and data scientists and less community managers
  • The half life of a tweet is 6-7 minutes
  • A fan and a like are completely different things
  • Brand preference is survey led based on ad variation splitting with different sample sets
  • ROI can only mean return on investment. Return on engagement/interactions/creativity etc is all irrelevant

Panel: Infographics, Data and Inbound Content

  • Infographics have become much more difficult today, as there is increased competition
  • Infographics still have 2-3 years left
  • Infographics are swamped with spam

Brainstorming Process

  • Identify your niche/target audience/content type
  • Don't decide on doing an infographic straight away, base that decision on research
  • Group together people of different backgrounds to come up with different ideas
  • Focus on client needs, what's being talked about, and what is causing buzz
  • Outreach to people for placements first else the content won't have any use.
  • Contact journalists and bloggers see what they're interested in and what they've got coming up get them involved throughout the process to build a relationship for the future


  • Two sizes
  • No control of location
  • Creating content that hooks then brings into the proper location - more seo value
  • Link to interactive piece
  • Difficulty in planning and story rather than creation for interactive infographics
  • Thinking in 3D for interactive
  • Motion graphics
  • Tools are not the answer but adds value to custom bespoke content that gets results
  • Need to work to get infographic shares
  • Wireframe with clients
  • Black and white wireframe - focus on composition and content - remove emotional attachment
  • Matlab
  • Graphica
  • Tablo a SVG into illustrator
  • Infographics tend to either me data focused or story focused, analytical or emotive
Outreach process
  • Work with journalists from beginning and work with them together
  • No different from any other content
  • Have a strategy
  • 3 teams - social ads, infographic submission sites, building relationships with influencers
  • Quality infographic directories
  • Linked in
  • Inspiration from news
  • Editorial calendar
  • Pinterest
  • Magazines
  • Reading

Christoph Cemper: Risk in link building

  • Link building used to be easy and a lot more fun
  • All of our sites are slightly unnatural
  • All agencies now need to have a link emergency plan
  • Create a list of links and how to contact to remove them
  • We should no longer think in terms of price per link, but in terms of RISK PER LINK
  • We need to be spreading our risk profiles in terms of links
  • Link Research Tools look at your link profile and decipher what are toxic links, high risk links, low risk links etc so that you can see your percentages and focus your attention on the areas of most danger
  • We should be doing link profiles in this way on competitors to see their healthy links and seeing these as prospects
  • The danger in link profiling competitors without looking at risk scores is that we do not know what they have disavowed
  • A link is not always a link - a good link for one page, is a highly toxic link for another
  • We should run a regular review to give us new awareness and then classify links by risk types and probability.
  • We need to use this new checklist when link building:
  • Is the link technically ok?
  • Can I show this link to Matt Cutts?
  • Can I show this link to my competitors?
  • Am I able to remove the link?
  • The future may be that links are valued on number of clicks, factoring in seasonality issues
  • Also reviews of businesses will be factored in
  • Use Link Detox what if rules to see what would happen if a set of new links were added to your link profile, how many are healthy, how many are toxic?

David Harling: Real Life SEO

  • Relationships fuel content
  • Vloggers, bloggers, journalists, influencers - they're all people, think of them in this way
  • Razorfish partner up with Cision which is a media database, and Linkdex for their author networking tools
  • Outreach needs to standout amongst the crowd
  • Crowdsource ideas, make the bloggers feel involved
  • The three things that bloggers want most are products (not just freebies, but exclusive access), experiences, and to feel involved in the process
  • Razorfish work with some great brands so have the ability to tie in offline experiences with their blogger outreach
  • They don't stipulate that people have to write or give links, but they know based on their past relationships and experiences that getting the right people to certain events will mean that links are built
  • It's not about how big the brand is or the budget, it's about being as creative as possible with what you have
  • Give people great experiences that they feel involved in and they will write about it and give you quality links
  • Building relationships w/online influencers
  • Outreach campaigns to fuel brand advocates
  • Real life brand experiences and how they Impact online
Relationships fuel content
  • Talk more about content
  • Creating relationships over time helps to develop and create content without the high cost attached
Types of people
  • Importance has remained the same that we need to build relationships with people
  • Web masters - built relationships to help SEO
  • Link partners - generally marketers that understood importance of content so needed to build relationships with them
  • Advocates - need to build relationships with these people who engage, share and shout
  • Influencers - build relationships with people who could influence a grouper individual (danisnotonfire)
How do we find these people?
  • Not about a list of contacts but instead the strength of relationship with contacts
  • Cision - media database - quality contacts - bloggers, journalists, influencers
  • Linkdex - influential authors and contacts - network map who's connected to who
  • Relationship management
  • Not keen on manua work
  • Crowd sourcing ideas
  • Entertain their interests nd objectives
  • Two way relationships
  • Products
  • Experiences
Identify content opportunities
  • Becoming a strategic partner and become part of the clients process in order to help add value in areas you don't typically see or haven't thought about before
  • Landing Page
  • Invite PR and link prospects
  • Supply clients with list of high value targets/prospects that will write content about it online
  • Google places and locations
  • Capitalising on search engine profile (places, smart results, optimise, semantic data)
  • Video content - doesn't need to be big budget in order to create video content mobile phones can take videos. YouTube is worlds second biggest search engine
  • User generated content
  • Brand content
  • Real time content - live stream, live blog, live tweets
Offline/online connection
  • Uncover hidden opportunities that are typically offline and bring them online
Case Studies
Nike Paris run social 'we run Paris'
Paris 10k run where users wore a Facebook location device and ran through certain signals to automatically post to Facebook how far along they were and how they felt
Audi city London
Interactive product display making offline experience digital and online. burglary experiment
Recruited internal team for publishing content. Offered people opportunity to be a burglar for the day and created video content using this. Building content opportunities. Video is important content. Don't need a massive budget.
Puma yard
Puma yard, coincide with Olympics in London and invited people to come to the event. Invited influential bloggers using data from tools. Give the a free experience. Not directly asking for link or content because they naturally create content
Stub hub!

Lower budget example where influential bloggers were simply invited to a pub quiz together sponsored by Stub Hub! which they then wrote about.

Dave Naylor & Andy Barr: How to get the best out of your SEO using Effective PR and Content Marketing

How we work
  • Play to our strengths
  • Coordination between teams
  • High levels of communication
  • Sharing of information

Creating a brand

  • Google +
  • Google local
  • PPC
  • Trust Signals


  • Demonstrate thought leadership
  • Regular and consistent media engagement
  • Demonstrating innovation
  • Reacting to industry

James Carson: The 10 Key Steps to an Audience Building Content Strategy 

  • Build personas - Kaput
  • Message architecture: essence, core values, personality, facts/icons/truth/belief, product, feeling, what it says
  • Get content creators aligned together
  • Mailchimp voice and tone explain how to write like Freddie
  • Defining information architecture
  • Card sorting book
  • Categories - topics that exist in hierarchy
  • Tags - grouping of content
  • Strategy behind category and tagging
  • Don't mix up page types and topics
  • Make use of children categories
  • Creating your own visualisations is easy using Excel,, Quipol,


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