ThinkVis – Social Media, Spamming & SERPS

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I was lucky enough to attend my 4th ThinkVis conference this weekend and as usual, not only did I enjoy it immensely but came away with a headful of ideas that I’m chomping at the bit to work on. As some of you may know, I’m lucky enough to divide my time as an SEO consultant for my own agencies (Sorbet & Carnival Creative) as well as for Dave Naylor at Bronco and you can read my Bronco post about ThinkVis here. This, one, however, is with my SorbetDigital hat on :-)

So, the day kicked off with coffee and meeting up with old and new friends which is a brilliant start to any conference. I thoroughly recommend it. Great to put faces to names at last and to meet up with colleagues from the past. On to the presentations:

Mel Carson: ‘Learn & Earn with Social Media’

Mel is an old friend of Bronco but I hadn’t yet had the chance to meet him so was very much looking forward to his session on Social Media. Mel is the Community Manager for Microsoft Advertising and I know they take this pretty seriously but was still impressed with their approach and how they use it to interact with peers, customers and everyone else in the community that may benefit. If there were still some tired heads from the night before, they were quickly woken up by one of Mel’s first slides on a certain US fitness magazine…….


  • Images are generally recognised by search engines about 4 times faster than text is – so optimise those alt tags
  • Video & image searches are becoming an increasingly important part of the search experience for users. Make sure yours are discoverable and shareable
  • Start tracking social media data so you can act on it

Rob Kerry: Going International with SEO

I was really looking forward to this one as I have a number of overseas clients and I was hugely relieved to know that I’m already doing much of what Rob recommended, phew! His session obviously struck a chord with many people as he had lots of questions to answer at the end with sound advice being given to each one.


  • Use a country specific Domain Name where possible – but remember that each site will need it’s own SEO/Linkbuilding campaign behind it.
  • Subfolders for specific countries can be set up on Webmaster Tools and they have just as much chance of ranking as a separate TLD does. This will only work for Google of course.
  • Country specific hosting becoming less of an issue
  • Take the time and effort to provide original and good quality content for each site. Do not duplicate content.

Lisa Myers : Social Media & SEO

A very pregnant Lisa gave a great presentation on Social Media and what it means for SEO. Using real clients as examples, she demonstrated that Social Media can have a real impact on traffic and revenue if used/done properly


  • Twitter and Facebook are not Social Media – they are Social Media tools.
  • Put yourself in the searcher’s shoes – use that viewpoint to generate ideas for linkbait.
  • Remember that generating linkbait isn’t enough – it must be client appropriate, relevant and marketable.
  • Linkbait needs to be on the site you want the links to come to!

lisa myers

Jaamit Durrani: Linkbuilding in Real Life: A Practical Guide to Dominating the SERPS

This was an excellent presentation from Jaamit and, like the site clinic before it, focused on some specific websites and the links that could be generated for them.  This really put the art of linkbuilding (and it is an art) into context as Jaamit went through some examples of linkbait, content generation and out manoeuvring your competitors.


  • Set up a linkbuilding planner so you do something each month
  • Go for quality inbound links but also a good quantity of them too
  • Anchor Text in inbound links is still important – but don’t overcook
  • Guest blogging is great for the kind of inbound links that make Google smile.

Paul Madden/SEOidiot : What Would a Spammer Do?

Although Paul’s disclaimer took up about half of his presentation he still managed to pack a huge amount into his session which was a real highlight of the day for many people. As an ex-spamhead/Black Hatter, he brought his unique insights into that world to us and showed the enormous benefits but  horrendous pitfalls of that type of approach.


  • There are two types of spammer – but this is merely semantics :-)
  • Don’t trust dating sites unless you want to meet up with a bot. Or end up on Daytime TV.
  • Build your own tools so you have control – public tools will end up getting trashed by spammers sooner or later
  • Spamming is a Bad Thing – but it works so be aware of it

Dave Naylor: How to Gain Ranking Dominance in any Market Sector

I’ve written more about Dave’s presentation on the Bronco blog but will just say that it was a genius move to put him on at the end of the day when minds and bodies were beginning to flag. I know a lot of attendees were there to see Dave speak and he ended the day on a real high note.


  • Attention SEOS!: Anchor Text to Brand percentages on incoming links are becoming more and more important. Start working  that now.
  • Google want the same from your site as your customers/readers do – relevant, well written content.
  • It’s risky to rank in the organic listings at #4, #7, #8 & #9. Google still appear to be testing these positions so you run the risk of bouncing in and out of the front page.
  • Brands cannot be touched – Google HAS to show them. Develop your brand and you’ll be on safer ground.

I hope that has given a little insight into the day for those unable to attend or for those that were there but in different presentations. There are some great posts about ThinkVis already online and I’ll revisit in a few days and add any more that I come across:

Claire Carlile:

SmartDog Digital:

Kean Richmond:

David Whitehouse:

Rishi Lakhani:

Heartwood Digital:

Keiron Hughes/PushOn:

Paddy Moogan:

Rhys Wynne:

All photos by Jackie Hole

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  1. Mel Carson  September 6, 2010

    Thanks for the shout out Carla and great to meet you!


  2. Tom  September 6, 2010

    How many of those sarnies did Dave scoff? 😉

  3. Lisa Myers  September 7, 2010

    Hi Carla, it was great meeting you, and thanks for the kind words. It was nice to finish off work before maternity with a great conference. Next time though ill be more sociable, I’m not normally that “timid” :) see you soon!

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