The Future of Search: Marketing Analytics, Real Life and Links
Last week IonSearch Leeds took place. The 2 day conference featured some of the industry’s top search marketing and social media professionals, presented in an interactive and non-commercial fashion, discussing and showcasing advanced search marketing tips.
We had 2 great and beneficial days of networking and also improving one’s own contact list. Of course, it was not all just work, the organisers of the event also treated their delegates to some great fun after the conference.
Exploring The Differences Between Web & Marketing Analytics
When we think about measuring performance of our marketing efforts, we think about Analytics. To date, those analytics haven’t changed much. Things like pageview and time on site are the KPIs that we use to evaluate success or failure. But the web has changed, and so have our marketing efforts. Our measurement needs to change with it. During the session Andrew explored the concept of marketing analytics, and how how it can flip the typical way of looking at the marketing world on its head.
Digital marketers usually rely on data generated from Google Analytics but according to Andrew we as an industry are missing out big time if we don’t take other insights into account. He provided a great comparison between web and marketing analytics KPIs – whereas emphasis was put on the interception of the both – hence the marketing sweet spot. So what is meant by that? Using other available data – big data to really understand and see where to invest and what to prioritize. It’s fair to say I believe that many digital marketers heavily rely on web analytics but it’s time not to only also ask ourselves how our sites perform but how all our marketing channels perform together – a far more holistic approach therefore! As a result the marketing sweet spot is right at the centre of web analytics and marketing analytics! Another advice provided was to spy on your competitors – see what they are doing and see if you’ve missed out somewhere. Look at the following
Your community: how does it grow and what keeps them happy?
Social: What social networks are they using and how?
Content: What content type do they have?
Forums: What forums are they using and how can you differentiate yourself from them?
Paid: Social, search, or retargeting? What’s the estimated spend?
SEO: Keywords – have you been missing out? And what about domain authority?
However, one of the most important KPIs mentioned was content – know how your content performs, is it bringing results? Does it engage your audience? If you’re in the position to answer these questions you’ll be on to a good start!
What’s Next In Search?
Search is constantly evolving: we’ve seen Pandas and Penguins shaking up the rules that everyone has to play by, but what’s next? Marcus shared what he believes the search engines might have up their sleeves to provide users with better SERPs and for what savvy SEOs need to look out for in the future.
He flew in straight from Munich to speak at ionSearch. He kicked his session off taking us down memory lane – sharing with us how he first got involved with the the internet. He used to optimize sites for AltaVista – which back in the day basically was just submitting your site. However, his curiosity became interest and interest became love. As you can gather he has plenty of web experience and seen how Google has evolved and become pretty smart over the years. Their link analysis has become far more advanced – just think of the Disavow tool.
It allows you to contact Google if you think your site’s ranking is being harmed by low-quality links you have no control over – for Google to take into account when assessing your site.
Generally speaking though SEOs are not necessarily popular for doing what they are told to do – and Google is working hard to change that! Therefore if you engage in spammy links you will get caught eventually. So what does this mean for us?
Sustainable Link Building
The way forward is sustainable link building which can only be done through high quality content marketing! This means that we as marketers need to publish content in all shapes and forms now – be that an infographic, an animation video, etc – but you have to do it! Additionally, we need to ensure that your social sharing buttons are embedded – aloowing your audience to share your content amongst each other. This will give you good results but you have to be on the ball to maintain that!
Content is often only relevant for a certain period of time. The landscape has changed and it is no longer about constantly ranking at number one! If your content doesn’t bring you results you must be doing something wrong.
A good starting point is to analyse your industry – what has previously worked, what does your audience like? For instance, YouTube brand videos are currently very popular – try to integrate it into your mix. Keep in mind that different social media channels are better suitable for certain types of content. Alright, so you have a great piece of content and your social media networks in place – the next step is seeding. If you don’t share it with your audience, how are they supposed to pick up on it?
Google Is Tackling Spammy Links
The search giant not only trusts links any longer but authors have now become another crucial aspect for their ranking factors. Think of G+, which is currently a social layer and not yet a real social network. It’s en route to be soon though. Marcus is convinced it won’t fail why would Larry Page have decided to reward those who improve G+ with big bonuses then?
Keep in mind though that search terms are very often time specific – for instance, bird flu won’t be a popular search term for long but certainly when the epidemic is spreading.
Google needs to trust authors – they are determining how well perceived a content creator is. How many people click on the links the author shares? How trustworthy is the author? How many people interact with a certain Twitter account? Who engages with the author’s content? All these factors are now taken into account by Google and will affect your rankings.
A good example was provided: if you write about SEO and either Danny Sullivan or Rand Fiskin like it and socially interact with you and your content Google knows that you must be doing a great job.
The web has changed dramatically over the years – just think about the evolution of social media! Good content is very similar to books – we know that a great book can only come from a great author. The same applies to online content– spot on, isn’t it?
So what are we ought to do? Connect with your community with true passion and produce good content and have an opinion – add your personal views – what’s your take on that particular topic? Most importantly though you need to implement the rel=author tag otherwise you will lose!
Marcus also stated that G+ is apparently installed on 14% of web pages in java code. This clearly shows that Google is on a mission wanting to pinpoint our online social graphs.
The search giant is fantastic at analyzing its users search patterns – as they are collecting data 24/7 and they understand how we move through the internet. At the end of the day their objective is to provide users with the best results for their search queries.
So What Do We As Digital Marketers Need To Do?
Build links for users
Leverage the real estate you have within the SERPs
Implement rel=author – there is simply no way around it!
Create better content and think about the users for the keywords you are targeting!
“Translating Real Life Examples Online”
David Harling, Head of SEO at Razorfish (@DavidHarling)
Relationships fuel content.
Razorfish increasingly talk about creating engaging content – and the industry is changing in how we approach search, social and PR. But it’s how you manage the cost of building and growing content that will be key. Scaling content and continually producing content over time costs money.
David has an obsession with user generated content. This became very clear during his session.
The methods of relationship building are also changing.
The first people he began to engage with were webmasters. Their value was in sourcing links. They owned a site and could publish a link. As the industry changed they became link partners and you could reach out to other people who had access to a website, such as the marketing team. You no longer wanted to talk to a webmaster, but to these link partners who understood why you wanted to be associated with them. The social era became prominent and the people you targeted became advocates. These were the people that wanted to shout about a brand or your clients, people who displayed an endorsement for a brand. It was no longer just about getting links – this was about an individual’s ability to create a perception around a brand. But now we’re talking about influencers. Someone who has the ability to influence an individual’s behaviour. We’re talking about relationships, this is what’s important. They’re all real people though and you have to get to know individuals. Some agencies still have relationships that are dictated online or via email etc., but you can reach out in a real way.
He understood building relationships around brands was going to become important. So 2 years ago he plugged in a media database. He used Cision, who gave you access to a database of contact details. That’s all they did though, so they had to achieve things and build relationships themselves.
To build relationships online, they didn’t want to just email mass people and talk to them in the same way. So in the early stages they crowdsourced ideas and asked a set group of bloggers how they should engage, e.g. what would the bloggers like from them?
As an agency they wanted to be transparent in how they built relationships. From the ideas they crowdsourced it turned out that Product was one good way of targeting bloggers, but more interesting – something they were looking for was experiences. They were looking for two way relationships. This all gave him a very clear picture about the ideal format of outreach.
From here they needed to identify the content opportunities. They get access to their content, marketing and PR plans from their clients so they can understand them and create opportunities. David notes that all agencies should have this inside relationship to do their job properly.
Search social and PR is very much about creating content.
There’s also a need to focus on both online and offline connections. The offline model is becoming far more important – you need to talk to people face to face
Razorfish Paris used the Nike Fuel band technology to run a smart campaign to get the participants to run and then their families could track them. It also tied in socially. This was something offline which is brought online for engagement. Puma also created a brand experience over the summer called Puma Yard. So you can ask as an agency – how can you leverage events and how can content be created?
If organising an event, invite influential bloggers and don’t forget journalists. Don’t assume that if your brand is running an event, journalists will naturally turn up. Consider them when you plan because they will write about it.
Now onto user generated content – David’s obsession! This is about an experience, where you actually want people to get involved. Then they’ll go away and create content naturally. This isn’t about over engineering or dictating. Its about creating an experience people will want to cover.
Puma Yard tried to capture the essence of their event and allowed people to experience their time online afterwards. They also offered real time content with live streamed video content. This gave people access who wouldn’t otherwise have had access.
From a link perspective – we talk about the importance of links and he believes it is still important – but the old methods are very much dead. Earned links is the best model. Puma saw incremental growth from natural linking as a result of allowing people to experience something – not telling them to link.
You also have to think about brand visibility and invite people you consider influential. You’re creating a profile. Positive brand views emerge with are very third-party-led.
And for the smaller brands, to put it into perspective, you don’t have to have massive events to give people an experience. You can do that in smaller ways. He gave some client examples – StubHub, Asda’s George etc. For George they gathered a group of bloggers and, around the jubilee, they launched a Queen’s jubilee blogger tea party. This wasn’t about getting them to do something, but like Andrew said, its about being human – they sent them a thank you packagae, which included everything they needed to create their own street party, or ‘blog party’. They also gave them access to exclusive products – saying thank you in a personal way. They listened to the crowdsourcing, which said to send products, to offer an experience and essentially it was two-way relationship. A lot of content was naturally created through this, which is an added bonus.