Last week I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the Search Marketing Expo in Toronto. Though this was a smaller, localized event, the attendees and speakers came from near and far, and generally this was a more experienced crowd in the search space (not to mention the overtone of advanced analytics due to the concurrent eMetrics event). Here are a few highlights:
"Back to basics" is becoming a stronger trend, and it is anything but basic. Without any advance coordination, those of us on the "Future of Search Crystal Ball" keynote session (including Outrider's Jeff Lancaster and Single Throw's Larry Bailin) agreed that sticking with the basics is a marketer's lifeline in a rapidly-evolving world of search. On a later panel, Omni Marketing Interactive's Shari Thurow agreed, and rightly noted that these types of activities are anything but basic. As time goes by, it seems evident that the foundations of natural search are becoming well-established, if not to the point that true best practices could be established at some level.
"Answer" marketing rocks. As a
presenter on the "Real-Time and Social Search" panel, I gained a renewed interest in social- and search-based answer marketing, presented by Gil Reich of Answers.com. When great consideration is
taken, the benefits are tremendous to both the user and the marketer. This is clearly an aspect of marketing that deserves further attention (as long as it benefits the user first).
UGC is a core aspect of social and search. WebMama's Barbara Coll had some great insight into the benefits of user-generated content, and also a useful example of leveraging social networks as an alternative to a core Web presence.
Marketers need to dig deeper into linguistic analysis to benefit both search and social. On our Personalization panel, Thurow delved deeper into the semantics and linguistics of keyword usage, and tied it in well with the relationship to personalization.
There was a bit of dissention on the benefits of ranking reporting. My co-panelists Thurow and Coll did not hold back on their dislike for ranking reporting -- they don't even provide this as a measurement of performance for their clients. While I totally agree that some marketers are often way too obsessive about rank checking, there are still many benefits as a measure of increased visibility and performance.
We all agreed that if you're going to do it, staying focused on higher level head terms is often the best way to go, but getting into the weeds of individual long-tail terms will most often just bring headaches with no key takeaways. Looking at your analytics data is a key measurement of visibility (we all agreed on this). But there is definitely a shift in performance for the top visibility of head terms (based on data), even by increasing one place. And also, the inherent trust in the no. 1 result of your favorite engine extends credibility, for which it is certainly worth ranking.
Great panelists on the tools and mobile panels. The mobile panel was an hour and a half, but it was an enlightening discussion with a great panel and moderator. Fuor Digital's Joshua Dreller reviewed some new services on the Search Tools panel.
There is something in the air with search and social. There were many rumblings about the increased prominence of search and social together, to the point that it is becoming the crux of future marketing strategy. Don't expect this hot topic to go away anytime soon. I presented on the high level strategy of "marketing in the moment," combining both search and social, and also appealing on a change brand marketing philosophy altogether. I will be presenting more on this at Search Insider Summit. If you are planning to be there, I look forward to picking up the conversation.
View my SMX Toronto presentations on Slideshare, "Real-Time Search 101", and "Personalization: The Basics, Google Ethos, and Optimization."