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Yesterday was the last day of PubCon South here in Dallas. There was no shortage of chatter around the sessions, yet somehow I had a song in my head all day. It was something about, “Chinese food makes me sick,” and “Abercrombie and Fitch.” If you know what song that is, you are probably the guy who was two rows behind me humming it. Anyhow, let’s recap with a few of the best sessions of my experience here. If you saw others that I missed, grab me on twitter, @andychesnut. I’m wishing that I had cloned myself for this conference.

Scott Stratten – Keynote Speaker — ROI and Social Media

Scott split the curtains wide to open up the conference day by making every reactionary businessman on the globe feel silly for having referred to talking as “Social Media.” I wholeheartedly agreed with his expressions of frustration. Whether it is text, audio or video, you are talking. If what you are saying is worthless, that worthlessness just became magnified by the virtual channels you released it through.

His best tip of the morning – If you are asking, “what’s my ROI? You are thinking about it WRONG!” Talk with your customers. Use the virtualization “talking” platforms as a chance for publicized customer service. You can try to put a dollar sign in front of the effort required to appreciate and engage a customer, but if the dollar sign is thought about before the happiness of the customer, you’re going to flop in the social platforms.

Jessica Bowman – Inhouse SEO

This next bit applies to the Inhouse SEO, the agency that is trying desperately to understand client business strategy, and the IT department manager who is suddenly having his project scope swamped with SEO requirements. For the SEOs, Jessica was pleading that you understand the SEO-IT gap can exist between the executive vision and the action level.

While your CEO and VPs may be absolutely pumped about the SEO strategy, you may be shooting yourself in the foot if you are skipping the directors and going down to the developers. You can bet that when the development team sees how much SEO strategy is going to add to the budget, hours and scope of their next launch, they are going to take it up the line. Please, take the time to work with everyone in the chain.

To those in IT, be patient with your SEO. Search engine optimization specialists have a tendency to stick their nose in everything. So ask them SEO questions and take a little time to understand the SEO strategy. You may not be able to implement everything at first, but work with the SEO team in baby steps if you need to.

Bill Hunt – Large Scale and International Search Strategy

I got to sit in on two of Bill’s sessions, and I was sponging (is that a word?) everything he said. He talked about his experiences with helping to organize IBM’s global search program. He shared his thoughts on making global site templates a priority in any international brand. He also emphasized the impact that can be had from getting involved in the corporate policies and letting them work to the benefit of the search team. I got the chance to talk with him for a long while afterward and he was kind enough to volunteer some thoughts about managing massive keyword databases.

Rob Snell – E-Commerce

Rob talked a great deal about the story behind his family business. I could recap the whole thing here, but it’s far more entertaining from him in his Mississippi steez. The highlights I pulled from him are:

Do everything you can to interact with your customers online the way you interact with them on the phone. Steve (Rob’s brother) would spend 30 minutes on the phone with each customer letting them get to know him. Do you let your online customers know who you are?

Content happens in the 15 minutes you have while waiting for your next meeting. As a site owner, use downtime to be writing a product review, a description, or an FAQ. Generating unique quality content requires time, so find the time.

Ian Lurie – Query Deserves Freshness

Ian had some great thoughts for those of you who are starting small and feel overwhelmed with the task of beating out the behemoths in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It’s called QDF and its not anything new, but it is becoming more and more popular.

To break it down, in the event of a spike in searches for a given term, the search engine will boost new content that is relevant and reliable to the top of the SERP for that term. This means that if you are involved in the topic, or well aware of the trending topic, you as a small competitor can grab some traffic from the trend wave. Few big brands are using QDF to their advantage, so take hope, if you are agile enough to post content while the topic is trending, you can get some of that traffic.

There were other sessions about some great search tools, and some thoughts on gathering competitive intel. Michael Gray gave some insight into Google using social network data as an influence in universal search rankings – quantity of retweets, etc. Amanda Watlington was also on the Personalized and Universal Search panel. She made some bold statements about the coming death of rankings. I’ll have a blast posting about that one at a future date because I disagree on so many levels. Rankings will be a key metric for many years, even if the metric is modified. What do you think? Is rank headed for the trash? To be clear, I’m a fan of Amanda and her Ph.D in Linguistics. If ever there were a person who could teach about keyword research and search intent, it is her!

I have about twenty other pages of notes from the sessions, but I just can’t fit it all into this post. Tell me what you thought of the conference.