Overview of the c3 Conductor Searchlight Conference 2015: Day 1

The annual c3 Conductor Searchlight conference took place this year on October 28 and 29 at Pier 92/94 in New York City. Conductor Searchlight is a powerful tool that you can use to identify content opportunities, monitor keyword rankings and the competitive landscape, get ideas for linking, ensure the efficiency of your paid search spending, and much more (I highly recommend checking out all its features, functions, and benefits!) This was my second year attending c3, and I was blown away by the amazing speakers and content this conference offered (not to mention the food).  I mean, just take a look at the agenda.

ICYMI, here’s a look at my favorite sessions from the conference this year.

First Things First (I’m the Realest)
Certification and Opening Keynote

Will Smith ain't got nothing on our Legend-certified Chloe Yeung
Will Smith ain’t got nothing on our Legend-certified Chloe Yeung

My day started promptly at 8 AM check-in followed by an awesome bagel bar (hello, bacon cream cheese) and getting down to business with certification exams. Since I was already All-Star and MVP certified, I signed up to get Legend certified, the highest level of certification for the Conductor Searchlight platform. The certification exam consisted of a 25-question test that included multiple-choice, multiple-answer, and open-answer questions and an oral exam that reviewed real-life scenarios for how to use the tool.

legend certification medal

After passing my exam and receiving a medal for it (yeah, I’m kind of a big deal), I made my way to the opening keynote address where CEO and co-founder of Conductor Seth Besmertnik cartwheeled onto the stage to deliver his opening keynote. He discussed the new customer journey vs. the traditional sales funnel, the value of content over ads, and the importance of to being a #SmarterMarketer by adapting to these new trends in search. We heard from an expert panel and some existing customers on innovative ways they use Conductor, how they’ve adapted to the buyer’s nonlinear journey, and how they’re working to fulfill their users’ unique needs. We also got a sneak preview of some of Conductor’s new features set to launch soon, including CMS integration with Adobe, Competitive Intelliscope for a detailed look at competitor performance, and Audience Intent Explorer, which helps identify content opportunities that match your customers’ intended search.

The Ranking Farce – and What You Should Do About It
Wil Reynolds – Seer Interactive

For too long, SEOs have focused on rankings rather than what the customer was actually looking for. In this presentation, Wil discussed the importance of focusing on the user. In his example, he searched for “flooring ideas,” which is usually an early step in this particular buying journey. His intent was to find ways to style your floor, flooring patterns, best materials to use and their benefits, etc. But instead, top rankers for the keyword (e.g., Home Depot) all insisted he buy flooring products, which didn’t match his interest, causing him to bounce from the site.

Key Takeaways:

  • If your content doesn’t match the user’s intention, fix it. High-ranking content that doesn’t match intent can ruin a user’s perception of that brand. Keep in mind that if a user searches for something and finds a page that doesn’t match their needs, it’s unlikely they’ll click on content from them again.
  • “Winning at search, losing at people.”  So you’re ranking #1, does that matter if nobody finds your page useful? Once Google nails user intent, those top-ranking pages that aren’t helpful to the user will surely drop in rank.
  • eCommerce sites need great content to compete with Amazon.

embnyc tweet

  • People love free content and hate giving away their contact info in disruptive popups. So build great stuff, whether it be blogs, tutorial videos, guides, or anything else, and give it away for free. It builds trust and a positive view in the user’s mind, and will help you.

Using Content Marketing and Social Media to Build Your Organic Search Ranking
Tami Cannizzaro – Senior Director, Demand Generation, eBay Enterprises

Tami’s presentation showed some great examples of how to tailor your content and campaigns to your target audiences. For instance, Church’s Chicken put out an article talking about the history of the chef and recipes of the company’s chicken to appeal to older, loyal customers as well as an ad featuring a parody of the popular Silento song to appeal to younger customers.


Tami mentioned that her team meets weekly to discuss trending topics and news to generate content ideas, which is not only an awesome way to determine the most effective ways to connect to your audiences and ensure that your brand maintains relevancy, but it also allows your group to pull together to find solutions.

Closing Keynote
Tiki Barber – Co-Founder & Chairman, Thuzio

Former NY Giants lineman Tiki Barber co-founded a company called Thuzio, which pairs celebrities with companies looking for celebrity endorsements. In this question-and-answer-style presented, Tiki fielded queries about influencer marketing and social media, and the importance of leveraging both to build your brand. One of the important takeaways from this was making a splash in your local market even if you’re working with a limited budget. For example, although  a smaller company may not be able to afford a big name celebrity, they should investigate local options that can still generate buzz and generate results.

wakefly tweet

Conductor Bash Aboard the USS Intrepid
Although there was a lot of information packed into the conference, there was still time for fun, too. This year’s Conductor Bash was held above the aircraft carrier the USS Intrepid. This carrier saw battle in World War II, the Cold War, the Space Race, and the Vietnam War and is now a museum dedicated to its history. An interactive museum with cool history and awesome stuff to look at and play with. Need I say more? This is a picture of me pretending to fly an Army helicopter.


Stay tuned for my favorite sessions from Day 2 of the Conductor C3 Conference. Get key lessons from New York Times, Condé Nast, titans of internet – YouTube, Bing and Pinterest and more!

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