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September 28, 2011

Keynote: SEOs Get Social with Bruce Clay — Search and Social Hawaii

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Welcome to Day 2 of the Search and Social conference in Hawaii. Yesterday, we did an inner tubing event through an old sugar cane plantation’s water ducts. It was very cool.

Today, Bruce is going to talk about the convergence of social and search. He starts with a video called Social Media Revolution 3:

Until you see that video, says Bruce, some don’t understand the behavior behind Internet use, and that’s what we are going to talk about today. A user’s community feeds the person much better than just alerts. There’s and increase in people who prefer social media to browsing.

He asks, how many people do not have a Facebook account? One person raises their hand. [There is a gasp in the room — hee.]

Almost half of social media sites are accessed via mobile. Watch a line of people waiting in line. People used to talk to each other, now they are just on their phone. It’s not that people are spending more time on mobile. It’s time they wouldn’t spend on a computer that they are now spending on their phones.

He is talking about the original Google and its 10 blue links. We thought it was wonderful. Google attempted to give us relevant results and it was a one-size-fits-all result. Now there are levels of personalization. Your behavior is now modified by your prior browsing history. To start, this was only on some keywords, not all.

Google tries to discern queries for general keywords. He is using an example of a word “hammer” — Google doesn’t know if it’s the tool or the artist MC Hammer. Google has to figure this out. So in order to address that, they are looking for the browsing history to figure out intent.

Social and behavioral search is part of getting rid of this ambiguity. Google needs to control this for a better user experience. The real focus is getting to the individual and that’s where social plays.

We’ve found the Google API to be inaccurate, but Google says it’s not. So we found that it seemed inaccurate because of behavioral search. How do we report on our rankings now as SEOs?

Search and Social Hawaii: Keynote with Bruce Clay

How many people believe Google is in the business of making money? [Chuckles in the audience.]

Google is going to dominate the SERP at an individual level, personalized to each searcher . It will confuse the user to the point that they won’t know the difference between organic and paid.

Now, review sites remove the fear, uncertainty and doubt that allows a person to move from a shopper to a buyer. It’s not the site. They might go to the site and not do anything.

Sharing content. If you have good content, people will link to you. Why would people link to you if it’s bad? Why would you share it if it’s bad. You have an obligation to point to things you endorse. In a social world, you better have good content.

We have to think about something bigger than just each one of the disciplines within Internet marketing. Aimclear did research that shows that an increase in social media efforts boosted the success of pay-per-click advertising.***

If Google can take all the information about you through Google+ and other areas, that translates to more revenue for Google. SEO is going to adapt and benefit. Social media will be in the search results again, like when it included tweets in the real-time results.

Social media solves the spam problem. We’re not buying links for this. It’s part of something bigger. Links in comments are typically nofollow links. We believe Google looks at the nofollow as a buzz factor. It’s still a signal to Google that people are talking about your blog.

We need to match the persona of the searcher to the persona of the website. Are the conversations that we are having socially match the community we have? Match the brand?

It’s only a matter of time before the average person starts to understand how to use a Like button or +1. These buttons are best put at both the top and the bottom of the content. We are finding content is endorsed more after people read it.

Some signals for ranking and social:

  • Authority of a sharer
  • How quickly and how often shared?
  • The share text (copy)
  • What personas are doing the sharing?
  • Likes are the new links
If we are socially involved, we will end up with links, with people coming to find us. We need to get engaged outside of our own sites. We wants leads. We want traffic, not rankings.
Correlation doesn’t tie to cause and effect. SEOmoz has a lot of reports on correlation data. But actually just doing the test biases the results.
He is showing this image from the other night:

Search and Social Hawaii

It’s meant to be a representative of the people that use search and social. What do each of these people care about and how will Google cater to them?
Questions:
Q: Can you incentivize +1s?
A: We’ve seen it, but Bruce is asking Matt Cutts whether or not that’s spam or not. We think it might be likened to spam.
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2 responses to “Keynote: SEOs Get Social with Bruce Clay — Search and Social Hawaii”

  1. John S. Britsios writes:

    Jessica, first I would like to thank you for sharing these news.

    Now you mentioned above:

    “Google tries to discern queries for general keywords. He is using an example of a word “hammer” — Google doesn’t know if it’s the tool or the artist MC Hammer. Google has to figure this out. So in order to address that, they are looking for the browsing history to figure out intent.”

    I do not think that it is the only way for Google handles all that. They do a fantastic job when you add to your content semantically related words. Maybe also adding to your pages CTags (Common Tags)?

  2. Jessica Lee writes:

    HI, John — you’re welcome, my pleasure! You’re right; it’s not the only way. But it’s one way they do. And totally agree on the semantically related words (aka tilde words). That’s something I always incorporate in my SEO copywriting. C tags — please elaborate. :)



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