Keynote Speaker Joe Laratro Talks “Moving the Needle” in Search Marketing


The keynote speaker for our second and final day of Confluence Conference 2016 was Joe Laratro, president and founder of Tandem Interactive. Brimming with energy, Joe advised the audience they were in for quite the ride.

“I’m going to move quickly through these, and wrap up with a rah-rah,” he said.

Joe outlined best practices for a few different categories, which we’ve compiled for you in one place.

Here are Joe’s insights on:


  • Expanded Text Ads

“You can’t turn your ads into this, Google recommends you do but it’s a bad idea,” Joe said.

Best practice: Take advantage of the character limit and put your brand name in the title. Include important business information and create multiple versions to test what works – and what doesn’t.


  • Link Building

“There’s no reason not to do link building,” Joe said. “Your website is not going to grow if you’re not doing it.”

Best practice: Use a lot of different strategies, if you only focus on one thing and Google says it’s bad, you’re in trouble. Maximize your sites – including your social media sites. Conduct quarterly link audits to sniff out poor-quality links. This is a proactive practice which will prevent you from suddenly taking a major hit when you discover all your links are bad. Most of all, avoid shortcuts. “There are no shortcuts in SEO – SEO is all about service and knowledge,” Joe said. Going back to your partners and seeing if they’re willing to link to your site can be a great link-building strategy, he said.


  • Sub-Navigation Links

Living in a mobile-centric world, Joe said, doesn’t mean you can overlook the importance of well-crafted SEO on your website. In fact, he says, a mobile-focused society means this is even more important. “Good SEO architecture still has to exist in a mobile-first world.”

Best practice: make sure your website works with mobile, not only in design but for SEO as well.


  • Unlinked Mentions

Let’s say your brand noticed it received press coverage from someone – yes! But then you notice you didn’t get a link back to your website. No problem, Joe said – someone from your team should reach out and ask if you can get a link. There are a few ways you can monitor for any mentions of your brand by others – and see if they’re linking back to you.

Best practice: Utilize a tool such as Ranktank or Google alerts to monitor what others are saying about your brand. You’ll want to monitor for mentions of your company’s name, your product name, and even the names of your brand executives.


  • Competitor Lost Links

This situation is a little different from unlinked mentions. Competitor lost links happens when a site hosts information about and a link to one of your competitors’ websites – but the content is removed for some reason, therefore the link is lost.

Best practice: “Look for those lost links, and see if you can go back and say to them, ‘Hey, you used to have this page linking to a competitor. Why don’t you put it back up, but this time link to us instead?'” Joe said.


  • Local Citations

Joe discussed something he called “barnacle SEO,” which is utilizing ranking-based websites to help your brand get traffic.

Best practice: “Let’s say you’re a pizza place in OKC. If you’re in the business of selling pizza, it’s very unlikely you’ll rank for pizza,” he said. “But if you look for ‘best pizza’ you’ll see sites like Yelp, that people can rate your pizza on. You want to get onto those sites so you’ll show up higher.” An added bonus to this approach? You’re link building while you’re doing it.


  • Search Console Maintenance

Joe recommends keeping an eye on your site and monitoring for any issues that may come up, including 404’s and bad backlinks. Joe shared an example of a website that suddenly noticed their traffic had dropped off to the site. When they looked at the backlinks, many of them mentioned Viagra and other related things that were hurting their site by association. People will do this to hurt your website, so be aware! “These people do this because they think if you can’t be number 1 or 2, what’s the next best thing? Knock them out and take their place,” Joe explained.

Best practice: Correct or redirect 404’s on your website. If you notice you suddenly have a lot of them, ask yourself: why? Either put the content back up and fix the links or redirect to another place on the site. Create Google alerts and set them for +/- a percentage or change in organic search week after week. “These kinds of alerts will raise a red flag very quickly,” Joe said.

Your Maintenance SEO Checklist 

Have a regular checklist that you look at, whether it’s weekly or monthly. Use the tools available to you to monitor your website and make sure your SEO doesn’t get wrecked.

Also, check proactively for credit card expirations. You don’t want your customers’ credit cards to expire and miss out on updating that information. And test your phone numbers. Make sure they’re still working numbers.

In the consumer decision-making process, 1 in 4 people consults three or more sites in making that decision. And 40 percent consult the same provider more than twice before making a decision. You want to be the one they consult more than twice – and more importantly, you want to be the one they choose.

laratro2How do you stand out and get consumers to revisit your site?

Provide better quality content. It’s all about finding better ways to answer their question than your competitors. You want them to believe you’re the expert and give them little or no reason to go elsewhere looking for answers.

Build your brand. There are a few ways you can do this. Don’t discount the importance traditional PR could have. “Earned media is some of the best linking you’ll ever get,” Joe said.

Socialize your content. As committed as you are to good content, you also need to be committed to getting it on social media and getting it out there.

Present a unified marketing message. Traditional advertising is important too. Try “something catchy that will really hook,” Joe said.

Innovate, innovate, innovate. “Innovation is important to link building. It’s not just getting the same links as everyone else, it’s asking yourself: ‘what can we do that’s new?'” Joe said. As things shift to new technologies, brands need to think about how to link build in this ‘innovation age.’

“We can’t let mistakes stop us from continuing to try to innovate,” he said. And that means testing everything you do. “If you’re not testing, then you’re not innovating.”

The Wrap-Up: Rah, Rah, Rah!

Joe thanked the audience for attending Confluence and left them with inspiration to take back to the office on Monday morning.

“We have an unbelievable industry and you should all be proud to be a part of it,” he said. “We have to be so passionate about what we do, and explore all the opportunities as they come.”

Although the industry is ever-changing, and for some, it might be daunting, Joe reminded us to take heart and remember why we do what we do.

“This industry is a win, win, win,” he said. “If we’re doing a great job, we win for ourselves, for our customers, and their customers. We win with search engines.”

“We win for everybody – we win for the team.”