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FEATURE: Capitalize on Emerging Marketing Trends Emphasized at SMX West

by Virginia Nussey, March 26, 2013

Audience: Search and social marketing industry

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes


  • Three major themes that emerged from this month's SMX West conference represent opportunities for businesses.
  • Conference speakers and Bruce Clay illuminate ways to capitalize on new technologies behind identity verification, social search and Knowledge Graph.

The topics covered at an Internet marketing conference paint a picture of the online landscape. If the themes that emerged from the first SMX Search Marketing Expo of 2013 tell a story, it's that:

The future online is social.

Google is adding more ways to rank reputation and authority to solidify its position as the ultimate popularity contest judge.

And Facebook is the social butterfly who knows everyone and what they're into, so get connected.

These three takeaways from SMX West aren't breaking news, but every business operating online must know by heart and weave themselves into the fabric of this developing story. Bruce Clay, Inc.'s search marketing methodology can help you identify the opportunities for your business to be the authority in your industry and get your audiences' attention in social spaces.

So, here you'll find industry thought leaders' recommendations shared at the SMX conference and Bruce Clay's insights into the technologies at play, the players behind them and where the openings are for marketers.

Proving Authority and the Authorship Advantage

We only have to look as far as everyday life to understand that reputation goes a long way in trust and commerce. Google+ and authorship verification is a framework for establishing the identity of the Web's major authors from Google hangs all types of info about an individual's subject matter expertise, community standing and popularity. Your bloggers and content producers must participate in this system in order for content to have the greatest impact.

There are numerous advantages to verifying authorship, including:

  • An author's headshot in search results next to content they authored. Images in SERPs increase click-through-rate. The author instantly gains searcher trust when an author is recognized, through the searcher's network, previous searches or prior reading.
  • Improved relevancy assigned by Google, whose Author Rank or Agent Rank patent suggests an author's reputation will factor into search rankings.
  • A signal of ownership if content has been duplicated elsewhere on the Web.
  • Access to author stats in Google Analytics. In this Google Labs feature, authors can see impressions and clicks for their stories.
  • Potential for bonus links to show up when a searcher bounces back to a SERP after clicking on a verified author's results.


At SMX West, a panel of search marketers explained Why Claiming Your Identity Matters and shared recommendations for building authority and dos and don'ts of participating in Google's authorship verification system.

In Bruce's reading of the state of Author Rank and authority factors, he explains:

"I think right now pages have authority and I think that it's only a matter of time before individuals have some degree of authority. Where the biggest question came out of SMX that I understood was whether or not an individual is an authority on a particular topic and that authority can spill over into other things."

"Google is far from being able to figure out the realm of authority by individual. I don't think they can say definitively that you're an expert on this. They can say you're an expert because a lot of people follow you but I don't think they have it set-up in a way that they can delineate the topics."

"I think Google has a lot of the infrastructure in place to make it work, I just haven't seen it be an influence yet. I think it will emerge over the next year and I think it's going to be significant when it does."

For in-depth examination of Google verified authorship, this month's Claiming Your Authorship on the Web covers setting up and optimizing your Google+ profile for authorship.

Market Mining and Guiding Content with Facebook Graph Search

Over at Facebook, the social media site has amassed deep and broad info about users who readily share their personal preferences and network connections. The ability to target audiences with demographics and psychographics on Facebook has created a promising new frontier for Internet marketing. The new Graph Search product already has marketers thinking of creative ways to use the tool to improve their content and targeting.

At the SMX West session Meet Facebook Graph Search, product manager Loren Cheng walked through the functions and features of Graph Search, ending with some simple optimization tips for businesses with a Facebook presence that will improve the likelihood of users discovering and interacting with your business.

Graph Search also represents a powerful tool for content idea generation, persona building and market research lite.

In order to get the most from Graph Search, Bruce reminds marketers to look to Facebook's ulterior motives. What does Facebook get from this product release? If we understand that, we can capitalize on it.


"The real trick is how Facebook is going to tie this into ad targeting. The thing about the major tech companies is that you always have to follow the money. So what is there that Google cares about, what is there that Facebook cares about, and what is there that LinkedIn cares about? Because they all have to make money. What do each of them care about for this particular service? How do they make more money with the service? If we can figure out how they make more money, then we can figure out how we can make more impact on our market."

"If Facebook has this wonderful ability for us to identify things, they're giving us a fraction of what they have. They already had it, but they can sit here and watch the people do the search and watch how we respond to the people in the result set. And that can start improving their internal search and their internal algorithms so that they can perform better selling it and targeting people and knowing when to display what kind of ad."

"If they pay attention to what people look at once they get a result for the query, then they can improve the results. Otherwise they don't have any feedback on whether or not they're even going in the right direction. You have to think Facebook is doing this for Facebook. How does Facebook win by offering this to users. I think this is a feedback mechanism for Facebook to improve their ad targeting system. I think that there is a bottom line ulterior motive between any product offered by Facebook and Google and LinkedIn that is designed to help them get money from users and right now it's an early stage filtration system and they're just getting the data."

Google Knowledge Graph and Search Visibility

Google's Knowledge Graph shook up search results in a major way when they were introduced in May 2012. Since then, search marketers have adopted strategies for working within a system where Google cuts out clicks to websites by serving facts right from the SERPs. It's still a soft science, but at Inside Google's Game Changing Knowledge Graph, speakers shared tips for getting into Knowledge Graph results.

During the conference, Bruce spoke to Performance Insider about an optimization strategy for Google's new approach to information delivery.

In this interview, Bruce explains:

"There's a complex strategy to apply to content. We have to understand Google is matching the searchers preference to a website that caters to that same preference. On the searcher's side they're using Web history and consecutive searches and your geographic location to eliminate ambiguity. What we have to be able to do on the content side is use the kinds of words and descriptions to also eliminate ambiguity. On an object level, that would be the Knowledge Graph. On a content level it's using synonyms and it's using stemmed version, singular, plural and past tense of all these words. If we are able to use words in a robust way, then the persona of the Web page can be matched to the persona of the person doing your query."

So that's the story of SMX West and the Internet marketing industry. Use this info to tell a story with the new and exciting tools and platforms for your brand online.

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