Last week, digital marketers all around the world focused their attention on the premier social media and optimization conference and expo that took place in Las Vegas. Of course, I’m talking about Pubcon Las Vegas 2016, which is supported by the industry’s leading businesses, sponsors, and exhibitors involved in search marketing, online advertising and social media.

Therefore, we decided to dedicate our weekly SEMrush Chat to Pubcon, one of the most popular industry events of the year. This time, all our chat questions were based on the speeches of seven Pubcon speakers. Since the event was held in Las Vegas, we decided to craft these questions in the form of casino games and award a prize to the participant who answers the most questions correctly and faster than the others. The prize was a three-month SEMrush GURU account, a free three-month Snappa account and an invitation to be our special chat guest in November.

Q1 from Bill Slawski: Based on your own experience, what are the three most common technical SEO challenges that marketers face?

The first question was inspired by Bill Slawski’s speech on the evolution of search results and how marketers can markup their content to make their efforts stand out from their competitors.

We asked our chat participants to name the three most common technical SEO challenges that marketers face today.

Matthew Young believes that, today, marketers have to think carefully about how to scale their efforts and correctly allocate their resources. To fuel more efficient and effective marketing campaigns, they need to clearly understand their company’s core strength, as well as its weaknesses. Resource allocation is important, because it helps you plan your marketing strategies wisely and effectively manage your business.

Another challenge most marketers face is the fact that the digital marketing world is always changing, and they must constantly adapt to these changes.

Matthew also assumes that schema implementation tends not to be a priority for marketers. But he considers page speed to be another big issue, because users today are becoming increasingly impatient.

Arnout Hellemans agrees that speed optimization is one of the major challenges that marketers face today. He also believes that it’s important to make your SEO and UX efforts work in tandem. Today, we can’t rely only on search engine optimization or user experience.

As for markup, Arnout believes that marketers need to better understand it. Using Schema markup correctly helps you provide search engines with a clearer picture of your webpage.

“But the biggest technical SEO challenge is understanding and communicating with developers and getting them on board,” continued Arnout Hellemans.

Lex assumed that most marketers face two major challenges. The first one is actually not knowing where to begin with technical SEO. And the second one is, conversely, focusing too much on it. She provided a nice infographic by Propecta @propecta that compares traditional and modern SEO, which are depicted as a cappuccino and a caffè latte.

The Express Writers team also shared their opinions, saying that some marketers and site owners still struggle with creating a mobile-friendly website. In fact, many of them don’t test the mobile version of their sites.

Matt Lacuesta pointed out the three most common challenges marketers face. Some of his points intersect with other chat guests’ opinions. The challenges are getting buy-in from your developers, minimizing bad redirects and improving your website and URL structure.

Now let’s see what technical challenges Bill Slawski sees in SEO today

Three most common technical challenges in SEO

Today’s Web is becoming more complicated; Google RankBrain learns the context of words from its knowledge bases. By building intelligent sitemaps you allow search engines to better crawl your website. Schema markup enables you to tell search engines not just what your data says, but what it really means.


Q2: What three-letter word describes the top 2016 marketing trend that will most impact how brands market in search in 2017?

Next we asked our chat participants to name the top 2016 marketing trend that will have a major impact on all brands’ search marketing in 2017. We provided a small clue –it’s a four-letter word.

Although, we received some other variants of this word, most of our chat participants mentioned AMPs.

Some of our guests joked when they offered other answers, but mentioned AMPs in the end.

Matt Lacuesta thinks that this three-letter word could be “fun,” because it creates more engagement. Nevertheless, he believes that Duane Forrester, who spoke on this topic during Pubcon, would also answer “AMPs.”

Indeed, the speaker sees AMPs as the top 2016 marketing trend that will have the most impact on marketing strategies in 2017.

AMPs - future of digital marketing

In October, Google celebrated the first birthday of the Accelerated Mobile Pages project. According to its official statistics, there are now over 600 million AMP pages published on 700,000 domains. AMP is not a search-engine-ranking factor. Nevertheless, we all know that webpage load speed plays an important role. Richard Gingras, Senior Director of News and Social Products at Google, says that speed does matter: “If we had two articles that from a signaling perspective scored the same in all other characteristics but for speed, then we will give an emphasis to the one with speed because that is what users find compelling."


Let’s move on to the next question!

Q3: Pick five words that work best as emotional triggers: secret, me, promise, membership, lie, smart, fantastic, best, I, excited, or fast.

Every decision we make largely consists of various conscious and subconscious emotions. Marketers try to understand human behavior and psychology in order to influence their customers’ decisions.

If used correctly, different emotional triggers can significantly boost your marketing efforts and increase your sales.

We asked our chat guests to pick five words that work best as emotional triggers from the following list of words: secret, me, promise, membership, lie, smart, fantastic, best, I, excited, or fast.

Emotional trigger

Some of our chat participants think that your choice of words should depend on several elements, like the nature of your product or service. He named these variants: amazing, strategies, tricks and tips.

Zala Bricelj recommends using words like exciting, valuable and smart, as well as superlative terms that add extraordinary or exaggerated qualities to something. Sometimes superlatives can work much better than other types of terms. These words also attract customers’ attention. If used strategically, superlatives can help you craft more effective marketing strategies.

Some of our chat participants recommended using free and now. These two words imply instant gratification. In the world of digital technologies, internet users are used to getting what they want quickly and easily. People want gratification and they want it now. "[The words that work best as emotional triggers are] free, you, guaranteed, save, and now," suggested ThinkSEM ‏ @ThinkSEM.

Debi Norton offered her own variants: integrity, authenticity, genuineness, conscious, and intriguing. When using emotional triggers, marketers should determine the desired action they want their users to take and then understand what emotional state can drive that action.

Some words induce certain emotions and feelings. Words like integrity, authenticity, genuineness and conscious induce the feeling of safety and satisfaction. Marketers usually use such terms for sales pages to make people feel secure in their choice. The word intriguing is related to the emotional state of curiosity and can be used to attract your target audience and make them want to take your desired action (e.g., to read more or click).

It’s not always so easy to use them to make your customers take your desired action. Indeed, consumer behavior is difficult to predict – sometimes even for experts in the field. Nevertheless, if you intertwine the right emotional triggers in your overall marketing strategy, you can create much more effective marketing messages that will help you reach your business goals.

You need to analyze your marketing communications and sales funnel and try to identify what emotional triggers can be used at each step of your customer journey. You should clearly understand what values drive your audience and what values your users associate with your brand and product.

Now let’s see what Ian Lurie mentioned when he talked about emotional content triggers at Pubcon.

Content emotional triggers

According to Ian Lurie, the words that work best as emotional triggers are secret, promise, membership, lie, and smart.

Q4: What is included in the 'Pages Crawled Per Day' graph in Google Search Console’s 'Crawl Stats' report? (Pick one of choices from the image.)

The fourth question was based on Dawn Anderson’s speech on crawl budgets and the importance of URL optimization. She addresses some common myths, facts and theories on crawl budgets and took a look at some theories of ‘crawl rank’ and other concepts.


We asked our chat participants what is included in the ‘Pages Crawled Per Day’ graph in Google Search Console’s ‘Crawl Stats’ report. We offered three different answers to this question:

Page Crawl

We received a variety of responses, and some even thought that that all three variants are correct. But most of our chat guests provided the right answer – files of any type that return a 30x and 200 response code.

Page Crawl

Dawn Anderson explained that these pages in Google Search Console’s ‘Crawl Stats’ report are not just single webpages. In fact, GSC doesn’t even show you what URLs have been crawled. The ‘Crawl Stats’ report provides you with information on Googlebot’s activity on your website for the last 90 days. These stats include all content types. They’re important, because you need to understand what Googlebot really thinks of your site.

Q5 from Marie Haynes: What should be the last step in the Penguin recovery process?

Our next question was inspired by Marie Haynes’ speech on the role of link acquisition in Penguin recovery.

We asked everyone to name the last step in the Penguin recovery process. We offered four different choices for an answer. And here’s what we’ve got:

  • 29% – Disavow unnatural links

  • 7% – Audit your backlinks

  • 59% – Get good, natural links

  • 5% – Clean up on-page webspam

Most of our chat participants think that getting good, natural links should be the last step in the Penguin recovery process.

After you conduct a backlink audit and try to disavow your unnatural links, you need to submit a reconsideration request to Google so it’ll reconsider your site. Then you can focus on getting good, natural links.

Matt Lacuesta ‏@MattLacuesta

A5: After you identify and try to disavow your links and a reconsideration request, getting GOOD links shows you're trying #semrushchat

Lex suggested that acquiring quality links should be your first and your last step in the Penguin recovery process. This is what you should always concentrate on.t

It appeared that most of our chat guests were right. Marie Haynes provided a Penguin recovery checklist in which the last step is to get new high-quality, natural links:

Penguine Recovery Checklist

At the conference, Marie Haynes discussed ways to reevaluate your links and get out of Google penalty situations.

Q6 from Samantha Noble: What five paid media strategies would work best for turning existing clients into brand advocates?

Our sixth question was about paid media strategies. Samantha Noble shared a range of tactics that you can use to target your audience for loyalty and advocacy.


We asked our chat guests to mention five paid media strategies that would work best for turning existing clients into loyal brand advocates.

Below you’ll find five strategies that Samantha Noble provided during her speech as well as some of our chat guests’ answers.

  • Encourage your customers to ‘Forward to a Friend’ using Gmail Ads

By using Gmail Ads you can encourage your existing clients to forward an email from you with unique discounts to their friends. You need to upload the email addresses for your clients who have bought a specific product or a set of products as a Customer Match list. Samantha Noble pointed out that you need a minimum of 1,000 email addresses. Then you can use Gmail Ads that are designed to encourage your customers to forward your email with discount to their friends.

  • Use remarketing

Choose a platform on which you want your customers to review your product/service and create your ads. If you don’t have access a designer on staff, you can use the AdWords Display Ad gallery. Then upload a list of your existing clients as a Remarketing list or Customer Match list. To target customers from that list, create a Display Remarketing campaign.

  • Use star ratings within Google Ads

Using star ratings within Google Ads can help you highlight positive feedback from your customers. Encourage them to leave reviews on major review websites, like Reevoo, Trustpilot, Viewpoints, and PriceGrabber. To get these stars you need to have been reviewed at least 150 times within the past 12 months. To understand whether or not certain ratings have a positive impact on your campaigns, you can check the Automated Extensions reports.

  • Include customer reviews and testimonials

Samantha Nobles also recommended including customer reviews and testimonials on your landing page. Instead of thinking B2B or B2C, she advised thinking in the context of H2H (human-to-human).

  • Use Gmail Ads with Customer Match

Last but not least, you can use Gmail Ads with Customer Match to promote a “refer a friend” scheme. First, you need to create a Display Campaign and upload the email addresses of all your clients that bought a specific product or set of products as a Customer Match list. Then you can use ads that are designed to promote your “recommend to a friend” scheme.

All these strategies will help you turn your existing customers into loyal brand advocates.

Media strategy for conversion

We have just one question left! Let’s move on!

Q7: What SEO audit fix can result in the fastest positive impact on your search rankings?

We dedicated our final question to SEO audits. Michelle Held shared a thorough guide to conducting an SEO audit and a social media audit at Pubcon.

We asked everyone what SEO audit fix can result in the fastest positive impact on your search rankings. And here’s what we’ve got:

  • 64% – Unblock Googlebot

  • 0% – Copy content from others

  • 8% – Hire a link farm

  • 28%– Ask Google to index you

As you can see, 64 percent of our chat guests think that unblocking Googlebot will help you improve your search rankings faster than any other actions.

The Medium Blue team answered with an image.

But besides having a wealth of SEO knowledge, our chat participants also have a great sense of humor!

The ThinkSEM team shared their own experience, saying that fixing bad tags can sometimes have the biggest impact on your search rankings.

According to Michelle Held, you must ensure your website isn’t blocking Googlebot from crawling your site. Otherwise, Googlebot won’t be able to crawl and index your website, and this may lead to a loss of rankings in Google’s search results.

SEO audit fix

That’s it for today!

When we determine our winner, we will announce him or her on Twitter using #semrushchat and #pubcon.

We hope you enjoyed our SEMrush Chat casino game! Thanks to everyone who participated!

Author Photo
Liza PerstnevaLiza Perstneva is a Social Media Manager at SEMrush and a #SEMrushchat host. Follow Liza on Twitter.
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