The speaker was Eric Covino, who is a Search Engine Optimization expert. The first topic of conversation was the Google May Day update. Essentially what the Mayday update did was, it tamped down the numbers for companies which had been using their main pages as sources of good SEO numbers for their more obscure and deeper pages.
For example, a housewares site might have excellent SEO for its main page but not much for its page where it sells rakes. Under the old system, the rakes page benefited from being associated with the main page. Now, that is no longer the case, and the rakes page (in our hypothetical) must beef up its SEO on its own. It stands or falls, SEO-wise, based upon its own merits, and not on those of the main page. This is an advantage for smaller companies and companies with fewer deep pages (which, generally, is going to define smaller companies anyway). Stagnant sites show this (and all Google updates) much more readily than more actively updated sites, so in those instances, a change like this loomed large. However, companies with robust and actively updated sites may not have noticed too much of a difference, except in the sense that their rankings may have improved.
The real question, as always is: are we in a market where we can compete? That should be the question asked by every company. Focus on links and get onto directories, such as DMOZ (the Open Directory Project), Best of the Web and Business.com. Interacting where your users (or potential users) are is also very helpful. This means forums, blogs, etc. It’s all about content and calls to action. Keep adding and promoting content, blog about it, invite in guest bloggers and look to guest blog on others’ sites.
There was a lively discussion on keyword domains. That is, these are domains whereby the domain name is a precise match to the keywords used to search for it. An example, would be Clothes.com. There is a known bonus for having keywords that match one’s domain name. However, since individual words are pretty much all taken, there was a question as to whether separating keywords in a domain name, such as by using hyphens, would help or hinder a site’s rankings. The consensus was that the hyphens would probably not help.
More recommendations were: Advanced Link Manager and Advanced Web Ranking. He also liked Raven SEO Tools, which has a link toolbar that’s $19/month. There’s also Majestic SEO but it does not seem to be updated on a timely basis.
Personalization is key. Don’t just focus on rankings. Try local links, such as you can get from newspapers. Get listed on Universal Business Listings, Google Places (it was particularly recommended), CitySearch and Yelp.
The discussion then turned to Facebook ads. It was anecdotally reported that one person had gotten an 85% clickthrough rate for his business. It was agreed that, even if that rate is not perfectly correct, Facebook is very good for very granular targeting. It can be very worthwhile and it is rather inexpensive. Another idea was to use Tweetworks.
Inside Facebook was recommended as a book to read about the ins and outs of advertising and running social media business fan pages on Facebook.
One more tip about Facebook: make sure to embed the code for the Like Button, as this adds to any liker’s Facebook stream.
Finally, the hashtag for the event was #BostonSEO. Their next meetup is August 2nd; I am considering attending.