Chiang Mai SEO Conference 2019: Our Impressions and Takeaways

Just as we get back to normality from attending the Chiang Mai SEO Conference of 2019, things have had a bit of time to sit in our minds.

We are ready to bring you a digest of what happened and what we learned over the two days of intense SEO nerding.

This is a follow up on our previous CMSEO roundups and you can find the original 2017 CMSEO roundup podcast here.

We've also released our 2019 takeaways in this episode below:

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This conference is one of the most, if not, the most important event for our industry so let's just jump right in.

Photo credit to Cobus Van Vuuren

Matt Diggity's Opening Keynote

Matt is the founder of the conference as well as the man behind the group.

Matt was tasked with putting together the opening keynote for this year and the underlying theme of his presentation was that SEO has never been easier. 

With all the tools available and also the great Rolodex of speakers lined up over the next few days, we've gathered why he's so positive about the SEO industry.

It's impossible to give you a step-by-step replay of his entire presentation, but here's a few points that really stood out to us:

  • SEOs and content sites are reaching big scales. A site that earns $25,000/mo in profit can sell for 40X (this is on the high end) and that would return $1MM straight into owners pocket.
  • Give the Google robot what it wants based on what it's currently ranking.
  • Don't feed fluff in your intros. Dive right into it and be aware of the visitor's search intent for this page.
  • “Do all the things” that give your website legitimacy as a real business. Affiliate sites can benefit from creating author boxes, about pages and even Google My Business accounts. Including schema markups about your company.
  • Each link has three main properties: relevance, trust, and power. All links provide some context and/or “relevance” but here's an example: if you are a site about cats but you get a link from a website about dogs, then Google understands more that your site is possibly about pets. On a similar note, if that external link is from another cat site, with higher domain authority, and the topic you're getting a link on is about the same topic you're getting linked to then that's a more powerful and relevant link from a trustworthy site.

Matt also released his entire talk below so check it out:

Kyle Roof: Google's Algorithm is an Algorithm

Beyond running High Voltage SEO, Kyle's claim to fame was that he entered an SEO conference 2 years ago, where he ranked a local website to #1 where the majority of the text was Lorum Ipsum, the Latin filler text.

All from sprinkling a few important keywords in the right places to satisfy Google's crawler.

Here are a few major takeaways from his presentation:

  • Google can't read, and barely English at that.
  • Math is your friend in SEO.
  • Onpage SEO can get you very far.
  • There are major groups of on-page optimization that you should care about:
    • Group A: Meta title, H1, body content, URL
    • Group B: H2, H3, etc., and anchor text (from the page you care about)
    • Group C: Bold, italics and image alt-tags
    • Group D: Schema, open graph, and HTML tags

One of the best parts of the presentation was when Kyle showed more examples of this “experimental SEO” still working in today's search results. 

Stacey MacNaught: Outreach to Bloggers, Journalists & Anti-Outreach Tactics in 2020 and Beyond

Stacey runs an agency called Macnaught Digital and her talk was all about link building, or what the enterprise folks call “public relations.”

One of the major takeaways from her presentation was that she has greater success link building with journalists than with bloggers.

From Stacey's experience, the ROI from journalists is higher because of the website's domain authority that they usually write for and also the link is easier to get and often unpaid.

Here are some other takeaways from this presentation:

  • Get a small yes first, then go for the bigger one later. For example, if one publication gives you a link, then it's likely they'll link to you again if you show the same quality in your content.
  • Facebook groups are providing tremendous opportunities in link building.
  • Many publications have their content calendars publicly available so you can time your outreach better.
  • Your outreach emails should include phrases and a tone that matches the voice of that publication or writer.
  • Tracking your opens can be very helpful in following up with likely link candidates, but be careful because tracking opens can cause your email to go into the spam folder (this was also mentioned in Sia Mohajer's talk from one of the workshops earlier in the week.)
  • Don't be afraid to utilize Adwords to increase your visibility and get links passively and at a low cost.



Barry Adams: The Secrets to Technical SEO Success

Barry Adams runs Polemic Digital and was in charge of filling our heads with technical SEO mastery.

This presentation was enlightening and a good baseline to build up your technical understanding of Google and how it's reading your website and ranking you based on that.

Here are our top takeaways from Barry's presentation:

  • Barry separates technical SEO into three distinct areas: the crawler, indexing, and the ranker.
  • The crawler, also known as Google crawl bot or Google bot, is the little spider that crawls the web and tries to “understand” all the information available via the HTML on your pages.
  • URLs that are deemed more important to the overall internet are crawled more often. Think of a big site like Amazon being crawled more often than a blog in the low 10,000,000th of traffic.
  • There are polite crawlers and intrusive crawlers, Google is a polite crawler and not trying to overload your website.
  • Javascript can be the cause of major bloat that hurts your load times.

Charles Floate: What You Learn From Building Over A Million Dollars of Links A Year

Charles is the owner of DFY Links and has been messing with Google's algorithm since his early years.

DFY Links is a fairly new brand but this past year Charles was able to spend over a million dollars on link building alone from DFY and his personal projects.

These are our takeaways from the presentation:

  • Watch the bigger sites so you can understand updates across a larger landscape.
  • Pages with more internal links, from more powerful root domains were being rewarded after the BERT update
  • Don't be afraid to ask the blog your guest posting on to provide additional internal links to your guest post
  • Press releases can increase the number of local citations your site has
  • Foreign SEO (non-English) can be an easy win because over-optimizing with your links is rewarded positively – for now.

Gael Breton: The Kaizen Approach to Site Building

Gael is from Authority Hacker and his presentation was all about Kaizen, which is a technique based upon consistently small improvements over time.

Now if you've been doing SEO for any time, you'll know how important it is to take on this sort of approach for your sites.

Here are our top takeaways from Gael's presentation:

  • Many of the pages on the first page have been “Last Updated” within the past year.
  • SEOs should give more weight to “Clicks” than “Search Volume”
  • Complex topics can't be explained by a simple snippet within the SERPs, so it makes sense to go towards these complex topics in order to maintain clicks.
  • Don't complicate the SEO process and imitate what Google is already ranking
  • Google is rewarding snippets to sites with cleaner code, and those that actually designate a specific part of the post as the “featured snippet” in the schema markup.
  • Always follow up with your outreach emails.

Travis Jamison: How to Add Zero's to your Projects

Travis runs an investment company called Smash VC and an agency with a similar name called Smash Digital.

This presentation was different than the others simply because Travis didn't talk about SEO techniques and more about how far the skill of SEO can get you in all areas of business.

Below are our major takeaways from his presentation:

  • Invest your skills and time into things with much larger payoffs
  • Consider how your “investments” of time and money lead to more opportunities. For example, is your affiliate site in a niche where you can sell other products, both physical and digital?
  • Travis claims that many multi-million dollar businesses are just fancy SEO sites. Some of these sites are reliant on Google that it could affect their public valuations as well.
  • Don't base the value of a business purely on what a broker prices it at. Think of the intrinsic value the asset has to earn you income in the future.
  • Say “no” more often and wait for the clearest opportunities for success.
  • Everything you apply your time and money to should include a margin of safety. For example, if this site's rankings drop by 30%, will it still be a good investment? Or, if this site doesn't earn any income at all, will it still be a good investment of my time?

Start Acting On These 3 Value Bombs

What's the point of going to a conference, if you don't act on what you've learned?

Here's a quick action plan that we'll be applying into our own SOPs and affiliate sites:

  1. Review the content that's not doing well, rewrite it if necessary and mimic what's already rankings. If you want help with this too, then head over to our affiliate content services and we'll do the same.
  2. Introduce more Schema Markups and clean up your HTML code. Every editor from Elementor to Thrive Themes will add extra HTML that's just not necessary and complicates your site's relationship with Google's crawler.
  3. Whenever we publish a guest post, either for ourselves or for our guest posting service, we'll make sure to ask for internal links.

Beyond the meetups, dinners, and drinks, we've been able to pull out some powerful tips to move into 2020 with and we hope this review has helped you too.

Have any thoughts, questions, comments? Leave them below.

25 thoughts on “Chiang Mai SEO Conference 2019: Our Impressions and Takeaways”

  1. Through the entire article, I have seen a few common things experts talking about. Site Speed and Security, I think 2019 is will be a successful year if you follow all the steps that our experts have talked about. Thanks for the article.

  2. Thanks for this. I couldn’t make it to this conference but this break down of value definitely helps. I’m wondering if they are selling the recordings like they did last year.

  3. Hey Alejandro
    Thanks for providing such useful information. I’m also a Digital marketer and I find your articles really informative so I keep sharing them. You are doing a great work, keep up the good work. god bless

  4. I think it was amazing SEO conference. I hope i can be a part of that type of conference. Everything is very open with a very clear clarification of the issues. It was truly informative. Your website is useful. Many thanks for sharing!

  5. Really valuable takeaways! I’ll be referencing back to this article several times. I hope your FB and Google Ads test pans out as would love to see that case study.


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