John McDougall and Robert Cialdini at Pubcon

Pubcon New Orleans Recap of Day One

This is my first Pubcon, despite having attended Search Engine Strategies from its first year for a half a dozen years straight or more. I have also attended SMX, which has some great advanced stuff, and when paired with Pubcon and Conversion Conference will make a great once-a-year routine moving forward.

On Tuesday morning I wolfed down eggs and sausage at my hotel, practically swallowing them whole because I was so excited to hear Dr. Robert Cialdini give the opening keynote. I bumped into Brett Tabke, who told me Dr. Cialdini was sitting by the projector if I wanted to meet him. Being introduced to one of my all-time marketing heroes within the first three minutes of walking into the conference by the founder of Pubcon pretty much sums up the type of experience you have here.

Dr. Cialdini discussed his six principles of influence and tied them to web marketing. The six principles are: reciprocation, liking, commitment and consistency, scarcity, authority, and consensus/social proof. If you’re not familiar with his work, check out, and he also has a great CD that you can get to listen to in the car.

I asked Dr. Cialdini if perhaps when I give three-hour sales presentations, which I should know better than to do so as not to be the unpaid consultant, if I am giving away the farm and breaking the rule of scarcity. He said to keep it to an hour, but do not hold back and give 100% of your best stuff and that will help put the rule of scarcity into action and make people crave more. After his talk I asked him to sign my Pubcon book and asked if I could take a picture with him. He said “I was thinking about you” … I’m not sure when, because it was immediately before he went on to speak, so I think he has two brains so he can think about other things while he is giving a presentation, and he said you should also make sure to personalize your information in your one-hour presentations. If people feel special and that you are honestly giving them some heartfelt information tailored to them, it does not have to be a long pitch to sink the hook deep.

John McDougall and Robert Cialdini at Pubcon

Dr. Cialdini also discussed how reciprocity can work on the Internet. When you put up e-books, you can’t really expect people to feel that you’re giving something super special because they know that the e-books are for everyone that comes to the site. One way to deepen the impact of your e-books is to break them out by persona or industry, etc. By having content targeted to specific audiences, they will feel that you went out of your way to serve them specifically, the impact of the gift will be much greater, and they will feel more obliged to return the favor. His new upcoming book is called something along the lines of “The Small Big” … I can’t wait.

I won’t go into great detail, but a couple of other highlights are tying the principle of authority to the web, because that is certainly a hot topic with Google and social media where you just can’t game it anymore and it is critical to show your thought leadership when developing real content. Also remember that people will buy much more based on what they feel they will miss out on and lose than on your features and even benefits.

The next session I went to was called Algo Chaos! I can certainly relate to that since the last couple of years have been a roller coaster in the world of search marketing. Jacob Bohall, Bill Hartzer, and William Atchison presented with Joe Laratro as the moderator. I then went to SEO 2014 with Bruce Clay and State of SEO 2014 with Greg Boser. Basically three sessions in a row with some of the top marketing minds in optimization.

Some of the big takeaways from these three talks:

Bruce Clay said that we are due for an overall big update from the spam team at Google. Panda will be softened a bit and quality content is still urgent to Google as well as load time/page size and reduced text from around 800 to 500 words and anything related to mobile that can improve your rankings as well as conversions.

User experience and having an engaging site that works well on mobile is not even remotely optional as mobile becomes an even greater focus for Google, and Facebook as well. At SMX recently the head of Google algorithms, Amit Singhal, said that part of the future of search relates to the fact that 5 billion more people will come on board via a wide variety of mobile devices…

Considering Penguin has updated on a six-month basis, we are due for another update soon — likely within a couple of months — so get your disavows done in the next month or two so you can be included in the update. It was also reiterated that you need to ping the exact links that link to you so that Google can crawl them and no longer pass a negative to you from them. Link Boost from Link Detox does this. In general there was a lot of conversation around Penguin penalties and what tools were good for them. Jim Boykin has some great tools as well as Link Detox from Link Research Tools and Remove’em. In the end, the tools only save you maybe half of your time because of the rest of the time has to be spent manually taking a hard look at fine-tuning what is a good and what is a bad link. Any way you slice it, it has to be done and moving forward, link quality and diversity has to go up. Broken link building and discussed a nice way to make your life easier when getting links.

I loved what Greg Boser said about ranking reports … he basically said he was going to puke if he sees another blog post about how ranking reports are dead. Yeah, we all get it that you don’t want to overly focus on lame, easy-to-do SEO tactics and focus on quality content of course — like we’ve been telling people since 1995 when we said content is king, for goodness’ sake — but at the end of the day on your path to get real conversions and align with clients’ business goals and key performance indicators, if you are in the world of search engine optimization you simply do need to know where you are ranking and maybe more so now with Not Provided. And it’s helpful to use tools that let you check various cities for rankings, and I think he said Authority Labs does that or you can use open-source tools like Phantom JS.

Another interesting point that Bruce Clay and others made was that it is not a race to see who can post the most amount of blog posts but who gets the most links and shares etc. on quality content.

Branding and PR should play a greater role along with social media sharing as part of your promotional outreach, and just pumping out mindless content certainly won’t be enough.

Greg Boser phrased it nicely by breaking it into three stages:

  1. Strategy
  2. Content development and production
  3. Promotion of your content.

Bruce Clay also theorized that Google may reduce the amount of natural SERP links from 7 to 10 down to five. Yikes. That sucks! If Google puts more ads in the middle of the page in the places/map section then SEO people can’t settle for less than top five.

William Achison from Internet Marketing Ninjas mentioned a cool tool called BlockScripts that lets you block spam crawlers, etc.

Eric Enge in a conversation at the networking registration event reiterated how little impact social media is having, if any, on organic results. It is just too complicated of a signal and so do it for content promotion and the side effect of links, not for direct results in SEO, other than when people are logged into Google, etc.

Overall I had a blast talking with Bruce Clay, Jim Boykin, Eric Enge, Brett Tabke , Greg Boser, Dr. Cialdini and more … and that’s Day One. I have to rush out the door now to wolf down some Southern grits to fuel me for what surely will be another intense day.

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