Sphinncon Israel: overview and my presentation on WordPress as social media and SEO hub

News and Views

sphinncon Yesterday was the second time Sphinncon took place in Israel. Sphinncon is “a version of the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) Conference, but tailored as more of a low impact and more social gathering for search marketers” (taken from the event booklet). Barry Schwartz from Search Engine Roundtable, Search Engine Land, and RustyBrick, was the organizer, and the Jerusalem College of Technology provided the venue.

I really enjoyed the event and here’s why:

  • It was in Jerusalem: We Jerusalemites are always schlepping to Tel Aviv for internet and technology related events.
  • Good networking: The crowd was awesome. I had a great time schmoozing.
  • Impressive panelists: I may not have had to schlep, but some pretty amazing speakers did schlep from around the world to come to this event, like Vanessa Fox, Dixon Jones from Majestic SEO, and Tomer Honen from Google’s Ireland office.
  • Good food: Especially the caesar salad and the hot chocolate cake thingy. Yes, I’m shallow. And the fact that I got a free pen really made this event aces in my book.
  • Funny people: Sam Michelson from Five Blocks did not disappoint. His title slide said he was going to talk about “Reputation Management for the Mossad.” Turns out he was kidding (though right now they probably could use some rep management). Loved that. Gil Reich from Answers.com was pretty entertaining too (check out his post about the best everything at Sphinncon).

Here’s what I think could be better:

  • More useful content from the speakers. I did learn a few new things, but the presentations I heard were nice but kind of fluffy. I got the feeling that the speakers didn’t want to share any really valuable information with the audience.

Check out Barry’s run-down of the event for more details, speaker information, and photos.

Update: I forgot to mention something very important. The last Sphinncon didn’t have any women panelists or speakers, and although I thought the event was great, that bugged me and I wrote about it. For some magical Google reason, if you search for the term Sphinncon Israel, that post is always in the top 10 results. Anyways, this Sphinncon really made up for that with a good number of women panelists. I wouldn’t say it was 50-50, but I think this industry is not 50-50. A quick glance at the crowd certainly seemed to indicate that this is a guy-dominated industry, which is fine, but it was nice to see women represented too. So thanks Barry!

WordPress for social media and SEO

I was on a panel about social media with Vanessa Fox, Debra Askanase and Roi Carthy. I spoke about how to set up WordPress to be the hub of your social media and SEO activity. Here are the main points. The presentation is embedded further on:

  • Your internet presence must be based on a hub which is your blog, or website combined with a blog. WordPress is a great platform for creating that blog or website/blog.
  • WordPress is great for SEO. Yes, there was recently a kind of “WordPress SEO showdown” between Michael Gray and Robert Rolfe about whether WordPress really is good for SEO. Rolfe says it’s not because the permalinks (URLs) that you can set up are limited and not perfect from an SEO point of view. Gray says that WP is not perfect, but its benefits outweigh the disadvantages.
    Sidenote: before I got up to speak Barry told the audience he wanted them to see something. Then he searched for the term Sphinncon Israel in Google and our blog post about Sphinncon Israel two years ago appears on the first page.
  • Social media should be used in conjunction with SEO, and vice versa. If you use the tactics of one without the other, you are missing out on a lot of untapped internet goodness like more keyword opportunities, diverse traffic streams, link building, long tail keywords, etc.
  • Some good tools for integrating social media are Chat Catcher that aggregates all the conversation taking place about a post and publishing that conversation as comments on your blog; facebook fan box and facebook connect; flickr galleries, YouTube galleries; LinkedIn TypePad application called BlogLink for displaying an RSS feed on your LinkedIn profile – this app is better than the WordPress one because the WP one is limited to one WP rss feed while the TypePad app allows you to pull in any RSS feed.
  • Track your feed subscriber stats with Feedburner. Make sure that auto-detect for feeds will find your feedburner feed URL, not the built-in WordPress feed URL. Can use a plugin, htaccess, or hard-code the header.php file.
  • Don’t forget about email. Use RSS-to-email service to make your life easier. Feedburner is free but you can’t brand your mailings or add people to the list; MailChimp allows you to brand your mailings and add people to your mailing list, gives you more control.
  • Track how you’re doing socially with the following tools: bit.ly for tracking how many people clicked on tiny URLs you posted on twitter etc.; tweetmeme; Topsy (check out the Topsy page for Sphinncon); PostRank
  • Hootsuite allows you to fire and forget the sharing of your blog RSS feed with your various twitter profiles, facebook profile, facebook fan page, and LinkedIn.
  • Don’t leave the growing mobile user demographic out in the cold: easily make a mobile version of your WordPress site with the WPtouch plugin.
  • WordPress is itself a social network thanks to BuddyPress which allows you to create a social network on the WP platform. The most recent version of BuddyPress can be used on a single installation of WordPress, as opposed to only being compatible with WPMU (multi-user WordPress).
  • WordPress and SEO – WordPress makes it easy to implement a lot of the SEO basics, like rel=canonical meta tags, redirect all pages to with or without www, add an XML sitemap. The All in One SEO Pack plugin helps you manage page and post title structure site-wide, control meta-descriptions, no-follow areas of the site like categories, and more. Yoast’s Meta Robots Tag overlaps a bit with All in One SEO, but it offers additional features too.
  • Google recently started to display breadcrumbs in search results. Add breadcrumbs to your site with a plugin or by modifing your functions.php file.
  • Check for broken links in your site, and correct them on the spot, with the Broken Link Checker WordPress plugin.
  • Easily add internal links with SEO Smart Links plugin that allows you to enter a word, and then tell the system that whenever that word appears on the site, it should link to a specific page. There are quite a lot more plugins that I mention, but why not view them yourself in the presentation embedded below.
  • Optimize your site for speed – the speed with which a page loads is apparently considered for its ranking. Therefore, you need to speed up your pages. Check out the presentation for some ways how.
  • You also need to secure your WordPress site against hackers. Some ideas for that are in the presentation too.

Ironically, even though I mention all the plugins above, if you really want to promote your site online, it shouldn’t be running too many plugins since that can seriously slow the site down. Many of the plugins I mentioned can be run briefly to accomplish something, and then deactivated once you don’t need them to do their deed anymore.

Here’s the presentation: