Pubcon Las Vegas 2019: the speakers’ perspective

October 10, 2019 - 7  min reading time - by Rebecca Berbel
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Oncrawl’s at PubCon 2019 in Las Vegas! We caught up with a few of the speakers after their conferences to chat about what the experience was like, and why they’re so passionate about the subjects they spoke about. Here’s what they had to say.

Motoko Hunt – International SEO and Optimization with Michael Bonfils and Keith Goode

The session went really well–we had some really good questions and the audience was really engaged.

So many different aspects of SEO are involved in international SEO. When you only have one language, you can focus on many things in SEO, but when you have multiple languages, multiple websites, or you’re targeting multiple countries, so many other elements come into play. Often SEOs get scared or confused. Hopefully this session helped answer some of those questions and helped people understand that there are options! You don’t have to do things this way or that way. You can choose, based on your business goals, which options are best for your website.

I chose this subject because I’ve been doing it since 1998. It’s great — when I started there were only a few small markets that companies were interested in. But now not just the global level Fortune 500 but also the smaller, medium-sized companies now realize that the potential for them in the global, international market can be a big part of their success.

JP Sherman – On-Site Search Optimization

I’m really pleased with the conference this morning, because what I talk about isn’t really a traditional part of the SEO conference thing. It’s not about links, it’s not about content. I talked about site search, and based on the feedback I’ve got, it’s been really fantastic.

The main points about on-site search (people searching your site for information) include:

  • It’s important and should be paid attention to
  • There are things you can do to get better results and better user interaction and essentially help people find what they’re looking for on your site.
  • Here’s the thing–if they’re searching your site, they think you have what you want, and if they don’t find it, they’ll leave.
  • User experience – how to measure it and how to improve it.

I’ve been doing site search for about 6 years now. I originally started doing site search as a way to influence ranking signals and relevancy signals for a startup for video games. Now I work at RedHat, where I have a body of content of over 2 million pages that I index and create results for. I’ve noticed that no one really talks about site search at these SEO conferences, and I think it’s really important.

Jackie Chu – Mining Server Log Data For SEO Benefit

I’m excited because I think one of the things I wanted people to take away is that there are a lot of really cool things you can learn from log files. People also really liked the Bing hack that I had, too.

If you change the way to do SEO and you start to think crawl-first, it’ll really change how you approach doing SEO in the future. We use so many laggy indications, like Google Analytics, changes in rankings, changes in keyword data, but the only source of truth of what Google thinks about your site is log data.

Once I discovered server log data, it really changed how I do SEO–to the point where I check that every day, religiously, versus automatic alerts that I have set up for keyword tracking (otherwise I’d be in my keyword tracker all day). I really liked it because it helped me see in real time when problems were arising, versus when traffic declines had already been realized.

I hope the community will be excited. It was definitely a high-level intro to server logs, and I’ll go a little bit more deeper tomorrow [Wednesday]. One of the things I pointed out is that sometimes your crawl data can help you identify parts of your site that you literally didn’t even know existed–it’s kind of like an Easter Egg hunt. I hope people are really excited to look into their log data, or to at least look at the Bing Index Explorer, which is a little undervalued tool!

Peter Leshaw – “In-house SEO”

My presentation is focused on the in-house SEO track. I have a lot of experience managing and building in-house SEO teams. SO my focus in the presentation is on hiring: where to find and hire people to fit the different positions, how to grow and nurture them so that they’re learning more so that they keep ahead of the curve so to speak, and what to do–tactics and methodologies–to help them adapt and, again, stay ahead of the curve. For example, adapting a culture of testing, taking a fondness to math because everything we do is about numbers. These are the things that keep your team on the top of the charts and competing against other companies doing similar services.

I love coming here because of the access to the other professionals who do the work that I don’t do. If I’m in a situation where I need to rely on a certain expert to do something that I just don’t have the experience in, I know I can flip through my PubCon rolodex and find other people here–whether they’re exhibitors or attendees that I’ve met, or even what I consider my fraternity here: other speakers that we network with. I like the inclusiveness and the ability to have access to people–smart people.

I think, as I mentioned, building a team that’s in-house SEO, one person might be in charge of writing content and looking at the results of that content, whether the content went viral or not; you have people who are building landing pages, so you’re looking at what are the conversion rates of those landing pages. Everything you do on the team is going to be tied to a metric.

David Iwanow – Maximizing Global SEO Performance with Bill Hunt

My topic is around globalization of SEO: how to get more from SEO when you have to produce content to attract business from international markets, but also other languages.

I guess the big thing is that you need to make sure that you have the right investment: invest in tools, to identify when you have problems with your site. Also, monitor your Analytics data and Search Console data to see where there’s potential for new content to be produced, but also see where there are weaknesses and areas for improvement. Also the big thing is to have a budget. Make sure when you get into international SEO that you’re not doing it on the cheap. You want to make sure you have a real budget to do it well.

[International SEO] is one of those topics… In my last couple roles I’ve had a global role and I see it as one thing in SEO that we still do really badly. For example: English markets focusing on a French audience but not bothering to convert their content into French. Also within the European market, you have German companies focusing on the Dutch market and not bothering to produce their content in Dutch. It’s something I do see that people still do badly, and from a technical point of view if you don’t have a proper tool to crawl through your website and identify issues, people still do things very badly such as hreflang tag implementation.

Hopefully the audience will react fairly positively to this subject–that’s if they can understand my accent! Obviously, I’ll be sharing the slides on Slideshare afterwards, and they can read off the slides if they can’t understand my accent. But I want to see people energized about doing international SEO better–as well as testing things and experimenting things, and being open to potentially failing when they launch products but also adapting based on those learnings.

Rebecca Berbel See all their articles
Rebecca is the Product Marketing Manager at Oncrawl. Fascinated by NLP and machine models of language in particular, and by systems and how they work in general, Rebecca is never at a loss for technical SEO subjects to get excited about. She believes in evangelizing tech and using data to understand website performance on search engines. She regularly writes articles for the Oncrawl blog.
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