July 10, 2014 | Sarah Danks

It’s been 13 whole days since the Minnesota Search Engine Marketing Association’s inaugural conference. AKA the MnSearch Summit. AKA the Day Search Got Warm & Fuzzy. Seriously. There was a lotta marketing love going on.

Without further ado, here’s a recap of the day…

Lee Odden of Top Rank Marketing:

Where Does Search Fit in the Digital Marketing Mix? (Morning Keynote )

“CMOs predicting that digital will be more than 3/4 of the marketing budget over the next few years. BUT, almost  80% don’t think their company will be ready.” Which of course means opportunity.

Some other takeaways: mnsearch-summit-3

  • Smartphones – now have the highest level of screen time per day, over all other devices
  • Content – same message, “attract, engage & convert”
  • Optimize content for buyers, for experiences, for expertise
  • Consider using Google Consumer Surveys
  • Check out the Buyer Persona Tool – Adelle Revella’s
  • Oh, and he loves taking selfies.

(And, let’s not forget the portmanteau word he threw out: “infotaining.” I love me some portmanteaus.)


Arnie Kuenn of Vertical Measures:

Link-Building Strategies That Move the Needle

Greatest line of the presentation? “The best place to hide a dead body is Page 2 of Google search results.” That’s some good search marketing humor right there. He said some of the main reasons websites don’t perform well are duplicate content (on the pages and within titles/meta tags), blocked content, over-use of anchor text. But, if your traffic has plummeted, you can recover.

More items of note:

  • Determine whether anchor text is over optimized/repetitive mnsearch-summit-6
  • Check out the “Google Penalty Recovery Kit” – verticalmeasures.com
  • Never – paid links, anything in volume is trouble – doesn’t work
  • What does work: internal links, brand mentions, use link outreach: edu, gov, org; work on unlinked brand mentions
  • Good methods: blog on other sites, blog w/partners, directories –local/industry, let the source determine the tag
  • Use an editorial calendar
  • Links thru content – resource pages, infographics, free guides/case studies/white papers – lead gen, link attractor, long life­span value, offer a freebie at the end of every blog post


Oli Gardner of Unbounce:

Advanced Landing Page Optimization

As usual, Oli’s brutally-honest-landing-page-critique-isms shone through in this session. He started off by telling us that 98% of landing page experiences suck. Awesome. Then he ripped into some hapless companies’ landing pages, told us what the hell is wrong with them…but then what he’d do to FIX them. He also came up with the longest initialization of the day: “NSAMCWADLP.” Which stands for Never Start a Marketing Campaign Without a Dedicated Landing Page. Obviously.

Other highlights: oli gardner at mnsearch summit 2014

  • He’s seen more landing pages than anyone else on the planet (I think he means Earth; not the planet he’s from).
  • If you give a visitor cause to pause, they most likely won’t convert.
  • Keep the “attention ratio” as small as possible on your landing page. Don’t  overwhelm the visitor; lead them to conversion.
  • The best way to communicate with people looking to build a retirement income website is to verbally vomit on them: “AMPLIFY YOUR MARKETING,” “WHAT YOU GET,” “RELEVANT UP-TO-DATE CONTENT,” “ENGAGING NARRATED VIDEO,” “COST EFFECTIVE,” “GET STARTED,” “AVAILABILITY IS LIMITED,” “SUCCESS MADE SIMPLE,” “SUBMIT.” 🙂
  • Your call-to-action should fulfill the sentence that begins, “I want to…”
  • Red shoes.


Larry Kim of Wordstream:

The Weirdest Re-Introduction to AdWords Ever

As a lover of PPC marketing, ThinkSEM was honored to sponsor Larry’s “AdWords Secrets” session! Lots of stuff to absorb in this fact-filled presentation. Most interesting to us was his take on entirely pausing the bottom 1/3 of keywords (the ones with ultra-low CTR/QS), i.e., the “dead weight” of the account. Re-allocate the money that those were chewing up and reapply to remarketing efforts. *DING* goes the lightbulb.

Here are a few more tidbits:

  • CTR of 6%+ for 1st spot position
  • Keyword types: high commercial, branded, local & questions/informational
  • Create ads with emotional pull: awe, laughter, amusement, joy
  • CR – Avg: 2-3%, Top 25% managers/performers = 5% CR, Top 10% of performers = 11.45% CR – Unicorns anyone achieving higher! larry kim with clint danks at mnsearch summit
  • For mobile, calls are worth 3x more than clicks through to the landing page.
  • Call extensions – shorten & improve results. Eliminate the two choices for mobile users — force them into click-to-call; gets best results. If you send them to landing page, conversions are lower.
  • Mobile CTR drops 45% based on ad location from spot 1 to 2.
  • Google display reaches 92% of users
  • Remarketing increases engagement 3x



Justin Cutroni of Google:

Moving to User-Centric Measurement

A guy from The Google. And not just any guy; an Analytics Evangelist. At MnSearch. GAH! So exciting. He digs his job. He’s written books. He speaks. A lot. Even en español, por lo visto (habló en La Ciudad de México en 2011 para promover servicios de Google.)

Here’s some stuff from his English preso:

  • Segmentation is important in analytics, especially in justin cutroni at mnsearch summit 2014regards to remarketing.
  • Using behavioral data helps you reach the correct audience.
  • We need to be thinking about the life cycle of a client; not just the initial “conversion.”
  • ga(‘create’, ‘UA-XXXX-Y’, ‘auto’);
    ga(‘set’, ‘&uid’, {{ USER_ID }});
    ga(‘send’, ‘page view’);
  • Seriously, this guy’s funny. Who else would think to squish RandFish?


Jason Miller of LinkedIn (and a ROCK. PHOTOGRAPHER.):

Welcome to the Funnel

This guy. This guy is cool beans. I mean, c’mon. The guy photographs rock concerts FROM THE PIT. AND uses metal bands as marketing analogies. Hello.

Some rockin’ info:

  • “It’s up to marketers to deliver a better content experience.” jason miller at mnsearch summit 2014
  • Content: not more, just relevant. Oh, and treat it like leftover turkey!
  • Useful x Enjoyable x Inspired = Innovative Content
  • Repurpose content: blogs, slides/slideshare, infographics, webinars, videos, sponsored updates (outbound & inbound)
  • B2B – Slideshare – Google indexed
  • Visual is new headline
  • Content working: Referrals + Social + Quality Leads
  • Rock/metal bands — like KISS & GNR — can teach you a lot about marketing. m/(*_*)m/
  • Awesome rock ‘n roll photography. Check it out.


Darren Shaw of WhiteSpark:

How to Get Results in Local Search (AKA How to Not Suck at Local SEO)

This presentation was chock-full of good information — too much to list here — about the Dos and Don’ts of local search. Basically, if you wanna know how NOT to suck at it, this guy can tell you.

Here are some highlights:

  • Reviews: are HUGE — provide a better user experience (in some industries).
  • Don’t ever buy reviews. Don’t have NO reviews. Get at last 5 Google+ reviews.
  • Get keywords in reviews. mnsearch-summit-24
  • Barnacle SEO: attach yourself to a big ol’ fixed object and wait for customers to float in.
  • Increase awareness of Yelp.
  • Websites that suck: no home page content, keyword stuffing, over-optimized anchor text, low-quality/dupe content.
  • Google+ stuff that sucks: spammy descriptions, PO boxes (how is this even allowed?), putting yourself in the ocean, using call-tracking numbers in listing, redirected URL, using wrong primary category.
  • Sucky citations: 1000s of structured citations, incomplete, call-tracking numbers, inconsistency, duplicate citations.
  • Links that suck: spammy links, cheap & crappy guest posts, forums, etc.
  • Bottom line: don’t be sucky at local search.


Rand Fishkin of Moz:

Why Content Marketing Fails (Afternoon Keynote)

I have to admit I was a wee bit starstruck around Rand at first. I mean…he’s a BIG fish in the pond (pun intended). Then I met him. And I realized: he’s one of the nicest, down-to-earth people ever…even after I snuck around trying to surreptitiously capture candids of him all day.


  • rand fishkin at mnsearch summit 2014Set the right expectations for teams & clients
  • Content needs great community behind it
  • Content reinforces belief
  • Encourage discussion/debate
  • Keep financial/promotional interest in mind
  • Leverage group inclusion dynamics
  • Make the sharer look smart/important
  • Before creating content – who will share & amplify this content?
  • 3 methods – broadcast using social media, EM; 1-1 thru social media, EM or in person; paid amplification (buzzsumo)
  • http://keywordtool.io/ provides valuable KW info (and he should get a fee for promoting them 🙂 )
  • Normally, yellow shoes. But not today…


Connie Bensen of Dell:

Creating a Culture for Social Marketing

I have to admit, as a woman search marketer I was PUMPED to find out we not only had a couple of women speakers; we got one from DELL. (Dude. We got a woman speaker from Dell! No? Too much?) Anyway, it was very exciting to have Connie present a session!

Some notes:

  • Encourage collaboration — internally AND externally connie bensen at mnsearch summit 2014
  • Shift to customer-centric content
  • Use LinkedIn  to showcase company brand
  • Make business social across the organization
  • 3 elements of digital transformation: 1) vision & leadership; 2) digital transformation team; 3) digital customer experience
  • Business functions > collaboration > customer-centric care
  • There’s a need for real-time marketing…successful content
  • Integrate social into the work day


Adria Saracino of Distilled:

How to Match Your Marketing Efforts with Customer Emotions

Another woman on the presentation list. Yay! It’s awesome we had another high-caliber woman presenting at MnSearch’s very first Summit. Best quote of the afternoon: “If you have a sh*t product, you will fail.” ‘Nuff said.

That being said, here are just a few other things she said that’re definitely worth saying:

  • Gut reactions are formed in 3 seconds or LESS adria saracino at mnsearch summit 2014
  • The wise mind exists nestled betwixt the logical and emotional mind
  • We’re all FOMO MOFOs.
  • Know your buyers’ cycle(s).
  • Get your stuff shared! But know WHY people share
  • WHAT do people share? Cheer…smart stuff…excitability trumps all.
  • More choice = more regret.
  • We’re not robots — don’t forget emotion!
  • Be a sensitive marketer.
  • People share things online because they want to feel involved. Make a connection with them.
  • Trigger people’s emotions with your content.


Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting:

Google’s Hummingbird: Where It’s Been and Where It’s Going

Fun fact about this guy: apparently he was the 1984 World Foosball Champion. Who knew there was such a thing? And…is beer required to participate?

Some facts from his preso:

  • 3 parts to Google Hummingbird: spider, index, search eric enge at mnsearch summit 2014 engine (okay, the 4th part is The Knowledge Graph)
  • No rewrite to the search engine, EVER…until Hummingbird
  • Natural language search — “context” stuff (user intent): i.e., sports teams results playoffs vs. offseason; initial search + follow-up questions: show me pictures of (insert person here), followed by “how tall/old is he,” “who’s his/her spouse,” etc.
  • Keyword stuffing has changed drastically from 2000.
  • “What are the real questions users have in mind?”
  • Answer the questions on your web page!


Marty Weintraub of aimClear:

Paid/Organic Social Psychographic Content Distribution! Conversion, Social Signals & Community Building

Well, he certainly wins for longest presentation title ever. I’d never had the privilege of watching Marty present before; now I understand what all the fuss is about. Highly entertaining, extremely honest and fun to watch. I literally got exhausted just watching him hopping about.

Main points: marty weintraub at mnsearch summit 2014

  • Bluekai – Little Blue Book, source for data; http://www.bluekai.com/bluebook/
  • Consider prospects’ lifecycle milestones
  • Develop content for: conversion, SEO & Friendship
  • @aimclear – Super Secret Psychographic (wait…was I not supposed to divulge that?!)
  • Think positive thoughts about your mother.


mnsearch summit knocked their shoes offI cannot reiterate enough how excited I am to have been a part of this vital conference! It was so uplifting and yet  humbling to hear everyone congratulating everyone else on jobs well done, watching great sessions, seeing friendships forged and old acquaintances reunited.

If you attended this conference and it didn’t jazz you up for some reason or another, then you just may be the world’s only living heart donor.

I simply CANNOT. WAIT. for next year’s MnSearch Summit. I’m assuming next year’s conference will knock people’s socks — er, shoes — off, too!

I’d like to offer a big ol’ ¡GRACIAS! to everyone who made the first Summit such a success: the MnSearch board, volunteers and members. All the wonderful sponsors (including our venue sponsor, St. Thomas). And, of course, to every single awesome presenter. Thank you!

Want to join the club? Become a MnSearch member here.



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