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BlueGlassX Recap – Actionable Takeaways You Can Implement Today

by Jon Cooper
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This week I had the chance to attend BlueGlassX, a conference put on by (you guessed it) the BlueGlass team in Tampa, FL. As much as it was fun, it was also extremely helpful in terms of what I took away from the presentations.

So, I thought I’d do a recap. Even though the speakers for paid search, technical SEO, local SEO, and others were all awesome, I’m only going to be recapping my 3 favorite sessions because I think my readers can get the most out of these.

NOTE: I’ve read conference recaps before, and I think a lot of them are average at best. With that said, I’m only going to try and recap the most valuable information.

Beyond the Buzz: The True Power of Content Marketing

Speakers: Hugo Guzman, Kevin Gibbons

Hugo emphasized that you have to convince your higher ups that you have to create content that doesn’t have commercial intent. You just want to create something that’s helpful. Bloggers & publications won’t link/share if it’s over promotional (or even if they smell a hint of promotion!).

He also explained how he was able to set up analytics so he could measure AND SHOW that content that doesn’t sell can actually drive increases in sales via SEO.

Next was Kevin Gibbons. He broke search intent (and content purpose) down into 3 categories: Do, Know, Go. They either want to do something (i.e. “buy Legos”), know something (i.e. “places to visit in Tampa”), or go somewhere (i.e. “Cracked blog”).

For content of the Do type, this is the content you want to rank that converts. Know is obviously informational. Go is branded, and this is where ORM might come into play. He broke down a simple, actionable strategy to implement with informational content:

  1. Find questions people in your industry are asking
  2. Create thorough resources on those questions/topics
  3. Set up Google alerts for these questions/topics
  4. Join the conversation, drop a link to the content as the source.

Great content, great links, and clicks back to your site. What’s not to love?

He also stated that people share content for one of these reasons:

  1. It’s interesting/insightful
  2. It’s from a brand they love
  3. Social validation (makes them look knowledgeable)
  4. It’s funny/entertaining
  5. There’s an incentive

If you don’t hit at least one of those (hopefully multiple), your content doesn’t have a chance at getting any traction.

Lastly, he broke down 6 people that share content:

  1. Altruists. Those who are charitable/helpful.
  2. Careerists. Those who are trying to build a reputation.
  3. Hipsters. Those who like being first to share
  4. Boomerangs. Those want to feel connected.
  5. Connectors. Those who like to stay in touch with what’s happening.
  6. Selectives. Those looking for a reaction from others.

How to Build A Large, Passionate Audience from Scratch With No Connections

Speakers: Rob Woods, Derek Halpern

Rob works for a domainer that’s just starting to build out some of its valuable domains, so he got a chance to build out BlackFriday.com (he also did another, but this was the most interesting).

Before you figure out how to get an audience, you have to define your audience and find out what really resonates with them. If you don’t, you could create the best content in the world, but you’d be getting wrong people to read & share it.

Start out with a few assumptions, but challenge them as soon as possible. Use tools like Google Ad Planner, Quantcast, and SEMRush to do the demographic research. Surveys also work great, and offer incentives (i.e. a Wal-Mart gift card) in exchange for getting someone on the phone for 10-15 minutes to talk.

Next, you need to start creating personas. The more details you can create around each, the more you can get into their shoes and try and see things from their perspective.

He quickly found out that his audience was full of women aged 25-45 with middle income & education. After some tests on Facebook, he quickly realized this was the best platform.

The best way he built his audience on Facebook was from giveaways (i.e.), ecard image posts mom could identify with (i.e.), and countdown posts (i.e.). As you can see, he managed to build his audience to over 1.2m fans by just doing this!

A couple good takeaways:

  • Explicitly ask people to like/share. I know it’s super complex, but it worked extremely well for them.
  • Make sure your images are 403px x 271px (best display for mobile).
  • For Giveaways, use Strutta or Wildfire
  • Give people a reason to visit your site from Facebook. That’s you end goal, isn’t it?
  • Try and act human! They recently updated their cover photo to one of all their staff. (he didn’t say this, but I think this helps a ton)

Finally, email is the best way to keep in touch with your audience, especially for a website like his. He found that his audience didn’t like getting emailed detailed, helpful content; they just wanted deals. So make sure you test this with your own audience!

Now, onto Derek’s presentation. What he emphasized is that you should spend as much (if not MORE) time promoting your content than creating it. He gave us 3 strategies to do this.

The first is controversy, but only the right type. There are three types – high, medium, and low. Low is what you want. High is like religion and politics, and low is like Coke or Pepsi.

So for example, Derek talked about a post he wrote on his blog titled The “Content is King” Myth Debunked. He argued that design was king. Once he hit publish (at this point he didn’t have much of an audience), he started contacting designers saying “hey look! I just said design is king. Do you agree? If so can you leave a comment?”.

After designers started leaving their comments saying how right they had been all along, he then contacted all the people who have written about how content is king in the past. He emailed them saying “hey look, these designers are bashing you in the comments. Go let them know that content still is king!”

He built up some playful controversy, and 215 comments later, he had some of his first engagement on the blog.

The second strategy is targeting specific communities. If you tailor content to specific people, they’ll like it a lot more and be more willing to share/link/opt-in.

So for example, Derek knew that massage therapists was a good portion of his existing audience, but he knew he could tap into that at a much bigger scale. So by creating a post about how spa owners could use email marketing more effectively, he managed to create something tailored to them, but didn’t piss off the rest of his audience (still had some great general takeaways).

One link to the post via a massage therapist Facebook page drove him 700 email signups!

The third strategy is the drafting technique. In a nut shell, find where the writers that have talked about your competition, give them a reason to write about you, then reach out to them. They’ve already proven they’ll write about your vertical!

For example, a woman he knew noticed that there was a ton of press about Kickstarter successes, but none about Kickstarter failures. She managed to put together an infographic (a mediocre one at best!) on the numbers of failures, then reached out to those who wrote about the successes. She got tons of PR and got links from sites like Mashable & VentureBeat!

Note: the funny thing Derek pointed out was that the numbers were actually wrong. She managed to work with the person who called her out on it so she could put together an infographic with correct data, then reached out to all those who shared the first one to see if they’d share the new one. Guess what? It worked! Double the links!

Link Building Strategies That Actually Work

 Speakers: Julie Joyce, Ross Hudgens

I wish I had Julie’s slide deck because there was a lot I’m potentially skipping over, but overall she talked about building a defensible link profile. I’ll list her tips in bullet format just because there was so much.

  • When you’re building links, think like a black hat who doesn’t want to get caught.
  • Use tools to find your worst links, then try and get them removed. It’s always better to be on the safe side of things.
  • You can get penalized by free links, so don’t just take anything you can get.
  • Don’t do seasonal pushes; try and keep link velocity consistent.
  • Sometimes you have to forget about scalability when it comes to real quality
  • Negative mentions are great because no one’s trying to pursue them.
  • Create a “Do Not Contact” database if someone tells you not to email them. You don’t want a blog post up the next day about how you’re spamming them!
  • Use a rewards system to motivate your link building team. I.e. if everyone meets their weekly goals, buy them pizza for lunch on Friday. Internal contests also work great.

I probably left out a few other goodies, but these ones stuck out to most me.

Next up was Ross, and he fired off a ton of awesome tools, tips, and tactics. Here’s the best of it:

  • Use BrokenLinkBuilding.com to scale broken link building.
  • Use Scrape Similar to scrape SERPs
  • Use TinEye for reverse image search (Google also works)
  • Use FollowUp.cc so you remember to follow up your outreach efforts
  • There’s a correlation between comments and links, so generate more comments.
    • Reduce distance between end of post and comment area
    • Add # of comments at top of post
    • Highlight author’s comments
    • Notify commenters by email if their comment gets responded to
    • Use comment systems or an algo to float best comments to top
  • CDBaby got 20k citations of it’s confirmation email on the Web. Do something cool, get citations, then reach out to webmasters to link.
  • Share an influencer’s content on Twitter, then have a Twitter feed in your site’s sidebar. People will click the links, and influencers will see referral analytics coming from your site. Great to build awareness/relationships.
  • Email is great for engagement. Float your opt-in form in your sidebar to stay with the user as they scroll.
  • A/B test social sharing buttons & locations.
  • Always put the links in your tweets between text.
  • Get writers with high author rank to write for your blog (i.e. hire freelancers).
  • Build fake products targeted at passionate fictional communities. I.e. all the zombie products over the past couple years.
  • Target those who do link roundup posts. Try and get your content in front of them.
  • If you have a slick office, get it featured on (and a link from) Office Snapshots.
  • Find 404s on your site, redirect and save link juice.
  • Use competitor link tools to compare your site with adjacent but similar verticals. I.e. if I’m a digital marketing blog, compare with entrepreneurial blogs.
  • Always look past the first few pages of SERPs to find failures. Find their best content, recreate it (if it’s dated), and conduct outreach.
  • Google your employees. Find where they get mentions, conduct outreach to get links to their employer.
  • Build content with high search link intent (i.e. informational content)
  • Get guest posts from blogs of companies you’re paying (i.e. SEO software companies)

And that’s it! There were also a couple do not blog/tweet tips that were ridiculously awesome, but I can’t share them here :)

A lot of the recap info I got to refresh my memory was from Michelle Lowery’s live blogging, so HUGE kudos to her. You can find them all on the BlueGlass blog.

Well, it was an awesome 2 days and a great first conference. If you’re thinking about going to a BlueGlassX event in the future, I highly recommend you do.

Thanks for reading! Make sure you follow me on Twitter and checkout my link building course.

This post was written by...

Jon Cooper – who has written 120 posts on Point Blank SEO.

Jon Cooper+ is an SEO consultant based out of Gainesville, FL who specializes in link building. For more information on him and Point Blank SEO, visit the about page. Follow him on Twitter.

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13 Comments
  1. Annalisa says:

    Hey Jon,

    Thanks for the review! I’m always a fan of Julie & Ross, pretty much everything they say is awesome!

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Agreed, to of the smartest people in the industry and blessed to not only have heard them speak, but also to have met them in person.

      Thanks for the comment Annalisa!

  2. Jarrod says:

    I am assuming that you did not include all of the top-secret insider tips that have never been shared before in this recount.

    • Jon Cooper says:

      I’m guessing you’re being sarcastic here as to say nothing new was shared..?

      If so, then I completely disagree. Sure, a good amount I’ve heard before as well, but for one, Rob Woods’ and Derek Halpern’s entire presentations were pretty new to me. They gave great examples (especially how Rob grew a page to 1.2m fans from scratch in a pretty short time period…).

      A lot of Julie Joyce’s presentation on motivating a link building team was also great, new stuff. Some of Ross’ I’d heard before, but especially the CD Baby part stuck out to me.

      So don’t be so quick to throw the conference under the bus :)

  3. David Angotti says:

    Jon,

    Another excellent post! Thanks for sharing all of the great information and hopefully I will see you at the next conference.

  4. Daniel says:

    Great review, I didn’t know nothing about this coference, but there were a lot of awesome tips and examples, specially the Cdbaby part.

    Thanks for sharing!!

    • Jon Cooper says:

      Agreed, the CDBaby part blew me away. I’d heard of that email they’d sent out before, but didn’t realize how big of a link opportunity it was.

      Cheers Daniel! :)

  5. Matt Morgan says:

    Thanks for the breakdown Jon. Sounds like it was a pretty exciting conference. I’ve been re-evaluating my link building strategies for 2013 and this was helpful. BTW, your link building course was well worth it. I dropped a plug to it in an article I submitted to SEOmoz this morning.

  6. John Grginov says:

    Loads of useful stuff, I like the part where you try to solve problems rather than trying to blatantly sell things to people.

    Also I’ve never heard about BlueGlassX before, so I’ve learned something. ;)

  7. Howie Nguyen says:

    Thanks for sharing your takeaways for all of us that couldn’t attend the event. Makes me want to attend the next one.

  8. Hi Jon, THanks for sharing these tips and strategies from BlueGlass. Especially loved the three content marketing strategies from Derek. Need to build more authority among expat bloggers for a client, and these three strategies seem useful. Now, have to mine data from over 100 competitors to see their back linking pattern. Were there any tips on doing better competitor research? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Arjun

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