Search in the Connected and Real-Time World (a Marketing Masters session)
A two-hour session on the grand topic of SEO: brilliant push, or bad idea jeans? We'll leave that for the evaluations. Panelists included Bruce Clay, David Snyder (of Verizon fame), Kevin Ryan from Motivity, Dona Ross from Performics, Jessie Stricchiola from Alchemist, and Greg Sterling.
The first titillation came from the thrilling, horse's-mouth anecdote from David Snyder on his personal experience with Verizon roaming charges and the subsequent internet storm that followed. The lesson? Besides how to become "the most dangerous man on the internet," Snyder revealed the secret behind the sky-high rankings that his rants achieved. Social, social, social. If the content you're sharing resonates with an audience (with rage against cell phone companies being an extreme example) -- they will share, they will comment, and you will rank.
The takeaways from Bruce Clay struck a similar vein. Social plays a big part in search -- and not just because of the Google-Twitter duo. Rather, you can use the social media space to monitor the internet and your target communities for new keywords. If you can find your consumers and hear what they're talking about, you can then apply that terminology to your keyword set.
Another main point was that ranking is not everything. Since search engines are focusing more on what he calls multiple consecutive searches (think a query for "tools" followed by another search for "hammer") it's more important to optimize for the right words. For example: you might rank high for "java" but only when the previous search was "programming" OR "starbucks" OR "parasailing vacation."
Bouncing this idea off of Evan Magers of iSearchMedia, he says:
If you're thinking about SEO intelligently, ranking is merely a metric, one of many signposts on the path to a larger objective. You've got to optimize for terms that bring visits that become sales, and you have to consider every touchpoint along that conversion path, from the initial search all the way to the sale.
Other main points from Bruce:
- Negative keywords save you money on PPC, but that doesn't mean you should do the same with SEO. It could be good word, it's just not converting. Tell your SEO team that see what they can do to make it a good keyword for your brand. Magers agrees, and add that you could even pull it into PPC, too: "Targeting more specific keyword phrases is the smarter move for a lot of reasons," he said. "Competitiveness aside, one of the biggest advantages is that the more specific the keyword, the more psychological insight you have about the problem the person searching on it is looking to solve. That makes it much easier to tailor your offer and/or the copy describing it to that specific search intention."
- In the past year, Google has changed its algorithm once every 13 hours. Not only are your competitors not sleeping, but Google is constantly changing -- so you better stay on top of those changes.
- The localization part of search engines is flawed. If you search for "pizza New York" it assumes you are already there. But if you're searching for hotels in Vegas you're probably not in Vegas. Another example: "drug rehab" in LA is considered a shopping term; elsewhere it produces research results.
Other takeaways from the session, via Greg Sterling, who was (as per usual) chock full of data on local search:
- Local is the "last mile" of search. Recent data from Google shows that 20% of all searches are now "related to location." Crunch a few numbers and you quickly find that that represents 14.3 billion queries. If you look at how much small businesses -- most of which spend their budgets on local advertising -- declare to the IRS ($50 billion) and you start to get an idea of how much of the pie local advertising is taking up.
- There are a lot of challenges, however. Determining the right message for each market, the toils of trial and error, identifying and managing search terms, measuring ROI, budget constraints, competition, and differentiating are the primary pain points.
- If local is the last mile, mobile is the last block: though 66% of consumers say they don't want ads on their phone, it's coming. (Hold onto your hats.)
One last tip, from David Snyder, about Bing. (Yes, Bing.) Want to rank high? Do two things: 1. Anchored text search links, and 2. Put keywords in your URL, preferably as part of the domain. Done and done...