First up, I am not a search expert, Jerry is, as are many others, but I know just enough to get myself into trouble.
I have a basic process I follow (that I borrowed from this book):
1. Research: This is divided into four key areas.
• Topic research; what are the likely search terms related to your conference (hint: it won’t be the date, most likely not the venue, and most likely not your conference name)?
• Competitor analysis; what are the other events and associations optimizing around? who are they linked to? etc…
• Keyword research; not just traffic estimates, but what comes up when you currently search for those terms who are your search competitors
• And lastly find the influencers!
2. Planning and strategy: What is your content strategy, your link building strategy, your social media plans, what search engines are you focused on, what’s your PPC strategy, what technical/infrastructure issues do you need resolved. Set some realistic goals to measure success (It also helps to have some metrics to express the starting point).
3. Implementation – Internal and External: On-page optimization, on-site optimization and off-site optimization.
4. Monitoring: I use SEO Moz…there are lots or free ones…
5. Assessment: Measure your impact on your goals.
6. Maintenance (then loop back to assessment/research): You might need to make a few tweaks.
The problem I see, frequently with conference marketers, is that they become focused, almost preoccupied with infrastructure and technical changes. They also get caught up in selecting tonnes of keywords, most of which turn out to be very generic and of little SEO value. Not saying they aren’t important but…
In reality the number one thing you need to do is get links to your site, off page optimization, get this right at least and you should be OK. As someone once said, links are the currency of the web! Some currency is worse than other currency, but money is money right? Some marketers still get caught up in the quality of the links, is it no follow, does it have a good page rank which are both important. But most likely you are only looking at quality sites your community will look at, or vendors who target that group also.
The problem with SEO for conference marketers is time, not your shortage of it, that’s a given, but the fact that good SEO takes time, and your event is in 16 weeks (Maybe less….). There’s no need to get carried away with every rule in the book, or coming up with an extensive list of keywords. Pick 4…. Then spend every waking hour getting more links (OK maybe just the time in the office).
Conference SEO really boils down to links…. Get them from as many good sources as you can! Got Links?