I just got back from a trade show within the last month and although there were a ton of great brands and PR firms, there were also a lot of large SEO and Branding mistakes I found across numerous booths, sites and contests. Many of these people aren’t mid level to advanced SEOs, and some aren’t that familiar with Social Media, which is probably one of the reasons they are making these basic errors. What shocked me was the severe lack of knowledge of branding and measuring the effectiveness of a show. Here are 5 of the top SEO and branding mistakes I found at this show, I have seen at other shows, and across multiple sites and booths when doing a site audit or when I stopped to talk.
1. Linking to everyone that gives you something and off of keywords
One thing you do not want to do if you are a brand is get involved with bloggers and sites that are doing a follow up post and giving keyword rich backlinks to numerous sites in the same posts. It is bad enough that most of the sites aren’t relevant to you specifically, but by making them (unnatural keyword based backlinks) and combining them with other unnatural backlinks you end up with a few issues.
- Each link in the post takes away the value of the link from the post and passes less juice or authority.
- Google has been pretty specific about keyword rich backlinks, just read their blog about the latest penguin updates as well as any major reliable SEO site like SEJ. Don’t go for these clearly paid for and somewhat harmful links from these sites. I am probably going to write to some bloggers I met and have some taken down or disavow them if they refuse.
- If the sites linking to you aren’t relevant to your content, it can take away how you should be categorized and what the search engines should rank you for. It also puts you in a potentially bad SEO neighborhood. If you have kids products, you don’t want to be linked in the same post as a company that sells vibrators and probably not on the same site they are getting links from if your goal is to rank in the search engines.
2. Tweeting, Pinning and Sharing on Facebook without using a URL or image
It’s great that people were at the booths tweeting out everyone who would give them anything and sharing a post on Facebook while using hashtags. The problem is that there is no real long term value, branding or benefit from it. There is also no SEO value from it. The reason I don’t feel it is real branding is that their followers, friends and family know they are at a tradeshow and know they will be sharing and tweeting this stuff. Although they may see something new, they are expecting a million shares and will probably be filtering instead of looking through most or all of their shares. There is an even bigger issue which I bring up below. Here are four things they should have done differently.
- People have smart phones so have them tweet from the site and add in the hash tags on the share button from the urls. This helps send ranking signals to the search engines, increases the shares and helps to give people who do see the tweets and shares something to click on so you can measure the success of the campaign from the increase in clickthroughs and visits during the time period of the tradeshow floor. You can also gather sales data to see if you got your money’s worth.
- Use shorter easier to type hashtags. Many booths had multiple hashtags tags and each were very long. Not only did people misspell and mistype them, some like me got frustrated and just didn’t share, even when we loved the product and thought it was awesome.
- Use a hashtag relevant to the show, but if you want branding and new customers, why not include a general one that people would actually use normally and search for? This was a huge loss with the amount of people tweeting and retweeting. By using a popular hashtag that is relevant for your business, brand or company, and having a lot of people using it with your brand and a link to your site, you could have gotten new traffic from these social media mentions. You could also have had one tweet go out and asked people to log in, follow you and retweet it to really make sure you gained exposure and hit the top of the hashtag page and replaced the images for those hashtags on Twitter. Twitter wouldn’t like you gaming it, but you would definitely have possibly been able to take over numerous hashtags and gotten brand exposure, traffic and sales if your message was strong enough.
- Use images. I think only one booth had people tweeting and sharing images. Not only did other brands lose out with people sharing on Pinterest and gaining the image spots on Twitter, but images can help to increase click through rates, shares and get exposure and sales. That is what the goal is with exhibiting and only one booth did it! I was kind of shocked.
3. Linking to everyone in the same post or in general
- This takes away from your own site and says you sell links or whore off links for products. That is a huge mistake to show Google. It doesn’t matter if they are do follow or no follow, you shouldn’t do it.
- If it is a review and wrap-up of the show, and the people you are linking to aren’t in your same niche (a foodie or cooking site linking to diapers instead of cheese or food merchant) this takes away from the value of your site (not much) but doesn’t help you either because you are linking to non content-relevant things. It doesn’t really help the brand or advertiser either (unless you have real, legit and non incentivized traffic that clicks through, shares and spends money).
- By not splitting everything out into relevant content and linking from relevant content to relevant content you are not doing your site any favors. What you should have done instead of the wrap up post with a bunch of links to brands and merchants is found a way to tie the product into a post while keeping it relevant to the topic of your site or not linked to them at all. Although this isn’t the best thing to do for SEO, since it isn’t 100% content relevant, it is at least somewhat relevant and won’t be boring for your readers if you write with them in mind.
4. Not asking the right questions as people approached the booths
Instead of being asked what types of sites I had or what niche, the people at the booths ignored me or just said here is some free stuff. What they could have done is asked what type of sites I have and then talked about how the products could be interesting to my readers. By knowing the types of sites they could also get better links, know who to work with, follow up with first, who has quality sites and traffic and who has crap sites where they will never get exposure to the audience they need to.
5. Not using categories or campaigns for the types of bloggers or setting up goals for exposure
Each type of Blogger should have been approached differently. If you had a food product, approach fitness bloggers about the ingredients, health benefits and ways to incorporate it into your diet. Mommy bloggers would want to know about how it can be kid friendly, discounts and places they can buy it. Food bloggers want to know how they can incorporate it into recipes so you could mention to them other items to substitute your product for and to add flavors or even give pairings and recipe ideas. This could have been done for any product that was being exhibited, but nobody, except for one company which wasn’t a brand, actually asked what type of site people had and gave information relevant to the Blogger. Nobody ran competitions relevant to that niche which could have been more relevant to the Blogger’s followers and got actual and better branding. Instead people went general which probably resulted in little to no success compared to what the advertisers and brands could have had.
The show was an amazing opportunity to network, build backlinks and get your brand exposure. Unfortunately the education level was far below par and even though some of the brands were very creative, almost all of them missed out on huge opportunities. They all spent a ton of money and with a few small tweaks they could have easily gotten more and been able to show measurable results when the show was over. Some of them did a good job, but most missed some huge opportunities. At the same time, many of them were very large companies so they probably won’t know the difference and the company probably won’t care as long as they bring back cards and say they got branding and exposure.