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The #SearchLove Chronicles – Day 2 – Morning Sessions

30 October 2012 BY

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The first day at Searchlove was characterized by a strong strategical allure. Sure, there were few sessions which were more tactical, but the general tone was about marketing. I think it is ‘normal’ these days. SEO must (re)learn the Marketing part of Search Marketing, as it that part the one which will make SEO survive in this evolving time.

Today will probably be more tactical stuff, thanks to Richard Baxter, Dave Peiris, David Mihm and other speakers. The day is going to start. I already see Duncan Morris on stage. So let’s the chronicles begin:

David Mihm: The Need to Know of Local SEO

A lot has happened in Google Places during these year.

But the 30% are local searches. Pre January 2008 Local was like everything else. But from that date came the 10 packs for generic queries. From March 2009 Local was a total different silo. And then came the blending of the general search silo and the local one.

The fact is Google wants to know everything about a business, that is even more so in local search. And this year came the Venice update, maybe the most underestimated update of late. In general Venice means a stronger influence of general search into local searches.

Also the Local Algo evolved. Before there were Title Tags plus Links, Citations plus Location Data and Reviews. Now, with Google Plus Local we have to add links (again) and probably social signals.

Tactical on page we must pay attention to on page optimization in order to help Google associate your site to a location. For instance Title including business title. Then name, address, Schema mark up and KML (Geo sitemap).

Rich snippet in local are important too (as told before, for addresses). Is it influencing rankings. Probably not, but yes CTRs.

Links are still important in Local Search. Not really directories… and usually you don’t need many of them. Also the anchor text in local search is diminishing its importance.

Location Promincence. A highest score associated with the documents referring to the business. Let’s say: at least one amazing link or citation is needed in local. So we need links with “Local Scent”. Those kind of links that associate your business locally: school, local government sites and so on.

So:

  • Leverage internal linking
  • Leverage corporate blog
  • Leverage social channels
  • Hosts events
  • Sponsorship at local level

Citations

Citation is Name, Address and Phone Numbers. Citations are the most important factor in Local. The more citations, the more Google consider a local business popular. Therefore you have to study very well the Citation EcoSystem, which is structured in tiers, the first with more important sites, which feed less important sites or even Google Plus Local. Even if the EcoSystem is complicated, if you figure out those “starting” sites, you are in the good direction in order to be cited in all the others.

Important too is to find niche citations sites. In fact they can be the differentiating factor, especially for SMBs.In this sense, colleges sites play a great role. David suggests the Local Citation tool by Whitespark for these searches.

Difficulties in citation.

  • Clean up your data;
  • Report the problem
  • Create a strong MapMaker account (not yet in UK, but yes France. Check it out)
  • Claim over bad listings. This take a long time to be crawled by Google.

Reviews matter

  • +Local slightly more important
  • Site diversity still important
  • Keywords (Long tail and head)
  • Sentiment
  • Power reviewers

Quantity over quality. Yes… quantity still is more important than quality of the reviews.Instead Sentiment Analysis is something relative recent, but it is totally incorporated now as a factor in Local. What about unstructured Sentiment/Reviews, as a review in a blog? Google is pulling them in the algo as well.

Hence:

  • Segment customers with Gmail addresses (easier to ask for review on Google Plus Local)
  • Consider the ease of leaving a review for someone without an account (Qype, Yahoo)
  • Incorporate feedback into everyday process (maybe creating a specific page in your site for feedback)

The next big thing are Power Reviewers, which is something you may already know is a factor in Yelp. How to discover them? It is almost when you look for influencers, somehow. Topsy is a great place where to start looking for them. But also Followerwonk is good for these searches. Or advanced queries on Google (i.e.: “title=”Elite 2012″ Manchester” site:yelp.co.uk/user_details).

Another nice tool is FindPeopleonPlus.

What is the biggest change with Google Plus Pages?

Categories. Now it is a little more difficult with +Local. What Google will use instead of categories? Probably anchor texts, reviews… Some benefits from the new interface. As a longer presentation. Links to your social profiles, apart site and blog. In most cases, the +Local ranking algo appears to be nearly identical to that of Google Maps with zoom level set at 11.

Keyword Research

You can use Google suggests, as Adwords may have not enough data. Google Trends also is great for “generic” keywords which may be important locally too.

ProTip: use Pure GEO as Proxy. It makes your keyword search easier. Or use MOBILE as Proxy, because local search on mobile is on the rise. Another great way to sniff keywords: form completions.

Analytics

Content -> Site Content -> Contact Page -> Secondary Dimension -> City

Demographics -> Location -> City -> Secondary Dimension -> Keyword

Tracking Rankings

Suggested the new tool by Whitespark.

Overcoming Centroid Bias

Mobile is having a strong influence in its diminished importance, but it is still there. Just do a search of hotels in London and enlarge the map. What we can understand checking the hotels listed in the first positions is that exists a strong correlation between number of reviews and “rankings”. But also links from very trusted sites may overcome the centroid bias Google has.

Richard Baxter: How we Build Links at SEOgadget

Question: why Richard is still working in SEO? He knows SEO needs to evolve. Mozrank is not something real people are interested. And also all this hype for guest posts and infographics led to crapness.

Again, as in other speeches at Searchlove, comes the need of more and better marketing. But SEO is optimizing. And you can optimize (almost) everything for links. They reflected and applied that idea to their own site. Every page of a site can be a looked as something, which can earn links.

A classic example are 404 pages. Use them to establish your brand. Remember to always add value in your landing pages, which are all the pages of your site. Doing RCS is imperative, as Wil Reynold told yesterday. For this reason SEOgadget invested a lot in its blog, hiring people like Kristi Hines.

Sometimes just creating a video which answers to the most common questions about who you are can be a real success. Then you must create relationships in the industry. And leverage your technology (as SEOgadget did creating its own APIs).

Mentions equals links in this new Internet era

But how to get your own brand in front of the people you really want? Where do we need to be? When you’re creating Personas from scratch you can screw up the result. So Richard start working on creating simple schemas based on actual people. So you need to know what that people is sharing. Richard suggests Tweet Archivist for this kind of search. And it uses advanced Twitter queries.

We need to understand what are their influencers sharing? Because that is the stuff what they are sharing, clicking and link. For this part of the analysis Followerwonk is your ally, thanks to its influence score.

Said that you don’t need just to know what sites they share or are influenced by. You have to know what people they all are following in common. Those are the influencers of the ones we want to target. Now that we know who are the people in the “intersection” between the three “personas” we are targeting, we must learn what they share.

Using the Twitter APIs combined with an extraction formula, which function is to unshort shortened URLs, Richard pull out an Excel spreadsheet he can analyze in order to have real data helping him understanding what is the most shared content.

Once you have the sites, you can start pitching them with your own content, in order to put your brand in front of the people you’re targeting and who visit those sites.

This is really targeted outreach:

  • who are you targeting
  • identify influencer intersect
  • what are those people hearing
  • be there!

Geotargeted Mentions = Links

Where I can get mentions?
SEOgadget discovered how city official sites usually publish tons of information related to statistical data. So they create an infographic and used the tactic above described in order to have it shared.
Link Reclamation (Image + Brand Mentions)
Almost a classic: do a reverse image search and you can rescue links on an ongoing basis. That is one of the advantages doing very good infographics.
But you can do the same kind of job reclaiming a link for brand mentions. Simply do an advanced query on Google, scrape and export.
Once consolidated start the job.

APIs

Start use them in order to automate a lot of job you are used to do manually, as retrieving contact information. Sometimes it’s about working smarter. This is what made SEOgadget recreating Open Site Explorer into Excel, so to add to the OSE data those other you need for you daily work: ranking, traffic volume, URLs ranking…

What about Content?

Just make it remarkable.
How?
Start to create a wire frame, come up with a story and then ask for opinions, feedback before creating the real content. Recap everything, organize and create. Survey influential People. This is the way to go. But do it right.
To summarize, this is the message Richard wants to share with us:
  1. Identify your target segments
  2. Find out who influences them
  3. Be there

Lauren Vaccarello: Conversion Tracking & Online/Offline Attribution

Increase Returns through data integration, this is what Lauren preso is about.

How are we going to do that?

First: bridge gap between digital and physical presence. And sometimes this gap is HUGE.

Then: Use attribution modeling better invest budget. In average 7-28 marketing touches before a sales closes. What is the value of each marketing touch? Are some worth more than others?

Lead Gen is Different. That’s sure. It’s not a simple sequence of search, click and call. It’s not about one person calling and buying. This is not what happen in B2B. There is a longer process and more persons involved. Simple to understand: you don’t buy a 1 million bucks product alone.

Let’s pretend we do a search in Google (“crm”). We have SERPs in return: paid and organic. What should your metric be when someone click on our result and enter in our site and then have to complete a form. Remember, a form doesn’t mean a sale. For this reason is important to optimize for offline metrics.

Example: we search for blue widget and red widget. The Blue Widget has a certain cost per week, a lead number per week and an average cost per lead. And the same Red Widget. Numbers can tell us that we cannot afford all those costs. But the metrics can tell us what “Widget” we can choose, and sometimes the apparently cheaper is not the best choice accordingly to the real important metric: revenues.

This is something we can understand only if we integrate offline and online data.

Optimize marketing for leads, pipeline and sales.

How are we going to do that? Let’s start with Paid Marketing. Integrate your online with offline via CRM.

First, create a tracking code, which takes into account:

  • unique CRM tracking ID
  • Campaign Structure
  • Offline conversion Data
  • Sales Enablement

Then, set up the forms.

In Paid Channels it works: Google Adwords, Email Marketing, Banners > Forms > CRM

Organic (SEO and type-in) is little harder, because you can’t really control 100% your landing page. But the process is not different finally.

Social is somehow in the middle. Actually you can control the landing of your social media postings. What you can do, then, is segmenting the different social media venues (Twitter, Facebook…). This is the magic of having an CRM with tracking.

Well, now what?

Create dashboards and optimize. Dashboards are useful as much as they can describe us in a easy to understand way how something happened online is reflecting in an offline final metric.

For Paid Channels the best is to automate everything: Ads > Results > Landing > CRM > Bid Management Tool.

But creativity matters too.

Contact and Lead Augmentation.

Let’s say we have a sales manager, but he does not take decisions by himself. There are a VP Manager, a Sales Engineer and an IT Director involved in the decision. We need also their contacts. The cost of having one contact or four is not that different.

You have to work with your sales team:

  • Easy access to campaign data
  • Regular calls with sales
  • Shared goals

Easy, right?

Let’s talk about attribution modeling! The “touches” can be really a lot before a sale is closed.

Exist many models:

  1. First touch. SEM > Email > Event > SEO. The conversion is attributed just to SEM.
  2. Last touch. SEM > Email > Event > SEO. The conversion is attributed just to SEO
  3. All touch. SEM > Email > Event > SEO. All the touches share the same attribution.
  4. Weighted All Touch. SEM > Email > Event > SEO. The attribution is pondered over the merit of each touch.

This last is the way to go.

In order to weight the attribution you have to score every response and then you are able to really calculate the value of every channel.

  • Data integration is hot
  • Use offline data to optimize online campaigns
  • Look at all marketing touches to determine ROI
  • Rinse and repeat

Dave Peiris: The Unexpected Value of Creating Things

Dave presents us searchga.me, which tag line is: “Think Like Google”.

Why he created that web? Because he uses Google the 20% of his time.

Another site he created was hackerbuddy.com, a site which aims to help devs also knowing each other. Something useful, and for that reason noticed by Mashable and BBC. Another example: grndctrl.com (ground control). A dashboard which aims to make you understand where you money goes penny after penny. Again: useful and different… Hackernews loved it and BBC too.

What was the biggest lesson? That side projects have a value. When you’re working for clients, don’t forget to have your own. Maybe they are “puppy sites”, but they are your site and your experimentation field, and if you are doing them well you can gain reputation from what you may have at first considered just hobby sites.

Mozcast.com is a perfect example of side project, which works so well that is helping surely SEOmoz in gaining more subscribers for their tools. The same can be told about tools.pingdom.com

Here some tips for building side projects:

  • Ask yourself what would your audience find useful. Doing so you can find something specific you can work on.
  • Start with a prototype.
  • Speed in execution in side projects is really important. If a new product can’t be shipped in 6 months, Yahoo will no longer bother (Marissa Mayer)
  • Nothing good has never been designed by committee. Avoid “shitasmia”.
  • Do one thing really well.
  • Launch

Press helps… and to be covered by the press you must remember that journalists love stories. For instance, if you are targeting Mashable, try to write the article first. This method force you to understand how those press venues works.

But don’t forget the little guys, because is from where the big ones are looking for news. Oh, ignore famous journalists. Followerwonk is cited again as the perfect tool for searching influencers. In this case Dave talks about the search bio function.

When it comes to press, then, make writing about you easy. Care of your “about us” pages. And don’t get discouraged if you are not covered by the press. It doesn’t mean you or your project are not interesting.

Try to promote new feature. For example Hipmunk did it in order to relaunch itself, thanks that they added the “wi-fi on flight” feature, something surely appreciated for business travel. Remember: projects can be small, if they are useful. And what if your devs have a tech blog? Use it! Do like Dropbox is doing with its devs’ blog. Netflix does the same.

Tip… give aways icons if you are a designer. They have always success because of their utility. Or create small events, like meetups. Or guides.

And don’t forget offline. You can create things offline that people loves to share online.

The juice is: find a problem a solve it.

AUTHORED BY:
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Gianluca Fiorelli is an SEO and Web Marketing Strategist, who operates in the Italian, Spanish and English speaking countries market. He also works regularly as independent consultant with bigger international SEO agencies.
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