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December 29, 2011

Best of Search Conferences 2011: Day 2

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Internet marketing conferences are an exciting resource for those in the SEO and SMM community, offering the most up-to-date and cutting-edge info from experts finding great success marketing online, as well as popular search engine and social media platform employees themselves. You may not have been able to attend all the Internet marketing conferences you wanted to this year, but we reported on many. We’ve categorized the most popular sessions and compiled the liveblog coverage highlights to report all week. Today’s tracks bring you strategic and tactical recommendations for social media marketing and local search and services.

Keynote

Bing’s Stefan Weitz: Confluence of Social Data & Search — SMX Advanced, June 8
Speaker: Stefan Weitz; Moderator: Danny Sullivan

Stefan Weitz and Danny Sullivan

Top Takeaways:

  • The “Honey Badger” updates to Bing Webmaster Tool included updates to crawl setting management, user and role management, an added toolbox of help info (suite of new videos, data and how-to information), and the release of Index Explorer (a rewrite of Index Tracker based on freshness, performance, extensibility and stability).
  • Schema.org is a markup protocol of tags recognized by the major search engines. In the info-overload environment of the Web, structured data allows webmasters to communicate info to search engines in a uniform way. Events, organizations, people, places, local businesses, products, offers and reviews are just some of the categories that can be indicated through the Schema.org protocol. The inclusion of Schema code is a ranking signal for Bing.
  • Social signals are being infused into search more and more because of the understanding that human curation can do things machines can’t. Facebook “likes” get people’s attention because social proof is a major influencer. Twitter is a network that’s highly correlated to breaking news.
  • Users signed into Facebook will see personalized Bing search results. Bing’s social search filter uses the Internet’s social graph (currently Facebook, although expansion is intended) as a filter of “collective IQ.” The “wisdom of the crowd” improves search results, allowing Bing to take trusted social signals into account when delivering search results.
  • Bing Instant Answers displays information to a searcher, seeking to directly answer a user’s information needs rather than pointing to other pages on the Web. Instant Answers is expanding beyond information to also include services, like Open Table for a user looking to book a dining reservation.

 
 

Twitter

Top Takeaways:

  • The performance of a businesses Twitter channel can have a big influence on search success. In order to make Twitter and SEO work together, sprinkle short- and long-tail keywords into tweets, use branded links in tweets, and target tweets to appropriate parts of the consumer decision-making cycle: awareness, consideration, decision, transaction and advocacy.
  • To become an influencer on Twitter, first identify current influencers in your subject area using resources like Twillow, WeFollow and Ontolo. Then target your audience and understand that for every 10 people you follow, you get about six followers back. Finally, segment your own lists to stay on top of discussions to build engagement.
  • Automation offers the advantage of efficiencies and can be successfully implemented on Twitter. You want communications to feel personal, however. Never automate a reply, and don’t initiate private messages until personal connections are made.
  • Twitter can be used as a link building channel, as links on the network are highly controllable and are followed by search engines. The link value from Twitter is not long-lasting for Google, but are very good for real-time search results. A Twitter users authority has a strong bearing on the value of links for search engine algorithms.
  • Twitter is a strong brand management channel. Along with monitoring brand name, also monitor phrases like “I need a” + keyword, focusing on responding to phrases that might be used to find your product or service.

Best of Conference Posts on Twitter

Yes Virginia, Tweeting is SEO – SMX Advanced
Speakers: Michael Hayward, Elle Shelley, Jennifer Lopez
Retweet Me: How to be a Twitter Authority – SMX West
Speakers: Martin Beck, Gabe Gayhart, Jennifer Lopez
Automating Social Media – SES San Francisco
Speakers:  Aaron Goldman, Paul Madden, Charles Black
Twitter, Real-Time Search and Real-Time SEO – SMX Sydney
Speakers: Danny Sullivan
 
 

Facebook

Top Takeaways:

  • The average number of likes and comments on a Facebook post is public data that Google and Bing can access and use as an indicator of engagement . In this way, a brand’s Facebook performance weighs in as a ranking factor.
  • Blended search, real-time search and personalized search are all facets of social search. Blended search refers to search results with image results, news results, paid search results and social media along with the standard results. Personalized search is heavily affected by an individual searcher’s social graph and user preferences.
  • Brand participation on Facebook should be guided by calls to action and the answers to these questions: How do you make your brand a verb? What verbs describe your brand? How can these verbs increase engagement?
  • There are many avenues to encouraging engagement with a brand on Facebook. Like-gating is the act of encouraging people to like the page to see what is behind the gate. This increases likes by 50 percent to 90 percent in his experience. Facebook ads can take the person to the Fan page or any particular tab. Off-page fans can connect to a brand on Facebook with a sign on a window or receipt with a URL.
  • Incorporate Facebook engagement on the website. Make it as easy to connect on Facebook by adding share buttons. The question of where you put them depends on what you’re doing. A home page may have buttons it in a different place than a blog or product page.

Best of Conference Posts on Facebook

Building Buzz on Facebook: Getting Liked & Shared – SMX West
Speakers: Ty Downing, Greg Finn, John Yi
Socially Analyzing – Wappow Hawaii
Speakers: DennisYu
From Links to Votes – Wappow Hawaii
Speakers: Ian Lurie
Social Media and the Open Graph Protocol – Wappow Hawaii
Speakers: Christi Olson
 
 

Google’s Social Side

Top Takeaways:

  • Google+ is born from a philosophy to bring people to the core front of the Google experience. With the explosion of content, users are more empowered than ever to be publishers, authors and bloggers, so Google aims to create a social experience that permeates every aspect of online activity.
  • Tools on the Internet are meant to help you exist like you would offline, but the experience isn’t perfect yet. Not everyone online is your friend. It’d be nice if you could treat people as they are and not as the platform allows you to. Google+ Circles lets you share as you would offline, share what matters with people that matter.
  • The +1 button exists across the Web and comes together in search. Social connections may very well improve CTR on search ads and organic listings. This traffic is coming to your site pre-qualified. It may increase the engagement and quality of the person on your site. Ninety percent of consumers online trust recommendations from people they know. Seventy-one percent say reviews from family members and friends influence decisions.
  • Google +1 is expected to affect at least three of the four main search Quality Score factors and the same can be expected for Google’s display network. Google+ will influence Google AdWords through the ability to target age, gender, likes and interests.
  • YouTube is a very social channel and also overlaps with users’ explicit search needs and interests. YouTube ads are very targeted, very effective. Twenty-seven percent of YouTube sessions contain search queries. Captions are indexed by YouTube and Google and are used as signals. Playlists allow you to use more popular videos to drive newbies to more of your content, and playlists can appear in search results.

Best of Conference Posts on Google’s Social Side

Up Close with Google+ and Google +1 – SMX East
Speakers: Brian Fitzgerald, Carter Maslan, Chris Silver Smith, Gregg Stewart, Max Thomas
Getting More from Google+ & the Google +1 Button – SES San Francisco
Speakers: Jonathan Allen, Timothy Jordan
New Tools & Techniques for YouTube Success – SMX West
Speakers: Grant Crowell, Jeff Martin, Eric Papczun, Manny Rivas
What Every Paid Search Marketer Needs to Know About Google+ – SMX East
Speakers: Josh Dreller, Benjamin Vigneron, Mathew Guiver
 
 

Local Search and Services

Top Takeaways:

  • When trying to rank in Google Places, focus on establishing signals of relevance, distance and prominence. Prominence centers on links and PageRank and citations. If citations were the new links for local in 2009-10, links are the new citations for local in 2011-12.
  • Citations are anywhere the business name, address and local phone number (NAP) are included together online. Citations are a very important ranking factor. Google used to show a base list of citations on a places page. As of the July 21 update, they removed citations. A custom search to replace this is [“biz name” + “address” + “phone number”].
  • Google Places Search is affected by PlaceRank. Google calculates PlaceRank with Google Maps, Google Buzz, Wikipedia articles that have location associated with them, photos that have location associated with them (photo-sharing sites) and YouTube videos with geotags.
  • Google Places is intended to be a reflection of the way information is found in the real world. Google wants to create a map of the world’s information geographically and is focused on making it easier to discover the best sources of information about any place in the world. In practical application, webmasters can improve their ranking chances by including markups for data precision. Rich Snippets help and authorship builds trust. And having a mobile friendly site matters. Having a site that clicks through well is important.
  • A 2010 study of consumers locating local info and content online show that cell phone and mobile devices have the highest YOY growth rate. The difference between mobile users and PC users is mobile users buy within an hour and PC users buy within seven days. Social networking is a common activity on mobile devices. Social media users find local business info through personal recommendations, ratings and reviews.

Best of Conference Posts on Local Search and Services

Hard Core Local SEO Tactics – SMX East
Speakers: Mike Ramsey, Matt McGee, Will Scott
Up Close with Google Place Pages – SMX West
Speakers: Brian Fitzgerald, Carter Maslan, Chris Silver Smith, Gregg Stewart, Max Thomas
Location Services: The New Local Search? – SMX West
Speakers: Rodney Hess, Ken Norton, Gib Olander, Jason Rupp, Chris Travers
The SoLoMo Landscape – SMX East
Speakers: Gregg Stewart, Gib Olander, Siva Kumar
 
 

Live Conference Episode of SEM Synergy

Killer Facebook Ads: SEO + Social Media 4eva – SMX East, September 2011
Guest: Marty Weintraub

  • Facebook works on a wide range of classic public relations and advertising KPIs, including crisis management, internal relations, community relations, investor relations, events, direct response and making a product name known to a new market.
  • The high degree of user targeting is one of the biggest benefits of advertising on Facebook. In Killer Facebook Ads, there’s an appendix of pre-set audience targeting buckets. Facebook analytics and Facebook metrics are always evolving and pretty complicated so it’s helpful to be able to refer back to target segments.
  • The book has a section on productivity hacks for Facebook advertising. The alpha pattern match is one demographic research productivity hack. Go to facebook.com/advertising > create a new ad > precise interests > precise targeting. Start typing, say, the letter A, or a word. The short-tail of user interests is displayed. Then add a space after the word and you get another selection of words, the mid-tail. Unearth the depth of inventory of precise interest in facebook ads.
  • All data points to Facebook being a fabulous channel to get people to the top of the conversion funnel, but you can do direct response on Facebook. Most likely, the conversion cost will be higher in Facebook because it’s a display channel and will cost a bit more on the CPA side than paid search. But, fantastic things happen in multi-channel campaigns; lots of data says that if you market aggressively and take a softer touch in Facebook, the result will be radically improved paid search CTR, with lowers cost and improved conversion on the landing page.
  • Don’t discount Facebook-specific KPIs when considering the power of Facebook marketing, like friending, application downloads, event sign-ups and liking a page. Savvy marketers are putting offline conversion pages, forms and e-commerce tools on their Facebook page. An a/b split test of how conversion works for the same mechanism in and out of Facebook often reveals higher conversions when inside Facebook.
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