Key Takeaways from IonSearch 2012
Search Marketing Conference - 18 April 2012, Leeds, West Yorkshire
Wednesday saw the launch of IonSearch, a Leeds-based digital marketing conference. Myself and a number of my colleagues from the new business, PPC and SEO teams attended and were pleased to see the Leeds-based event had attracted a wealth of talented speakers, expert panel speakers and delegates from both client and agency sides of the industry.
Jimmy McCann, our Head of SEO and Peter Whitmarsh, our Head of PPC both spoke on expert panels and did a fantastic job of representing Search Laboratory to the 250 delegates who attended to hear the latest on 'Killer Keyword Research' and 'Maximising ROI for High-Turnover Ecommerce PPC Campaigns'.
I thought I would share a couple of the most interesting key takeaways from the other speeches we attended:
LEE ODDEN (TopRank): OPTIMISE & SOCIALISE
- Every 2 days we create the same volume of data as has been created since the dawn of man to 2003 (Eric Schmidt, Tech Crunch).
- 16% of search queries typed into Google have never been witnessed before (are brand new to Google).
- Google has 88bn searches conducted each month, worldwide.
- At any one time there are 50-200 different versions of Google's algorithm in the wild (Google Inside Search) .
- When it comes to making buying decisions only 1% of people are influenced by social alone, however 51% are influenced purely by search and 48% by a mixture of both. He predicted that over time, with the ever increasing social uptake, this percentage will rise and the search only percentage will fall.
- Currently 23% of all time online in the UK is spent on social and the figure is rising.
- 'Say No to Silos'– Do not allow your content creating teams to become disjointed – PR, Marketing, Customer Service, HR and all other relevant departments must work together – synergy between your content producers is key!
- Don't only measure social metrics like Tweets, Followers, Friends etc – actually relate them to key business outcomes otherwise they are pointless.
- Video content should be re-purposed (i.e. write text based scripts and use screen shots to create blogs and supplementary content) – The video itself is not the end product.
SEO FOR ECOMMERCE (EXPERT PANEL)
JOHN HINCHLING (BlueClaw), JONATHAN ALDERSON (TwentySix), DANIEL BIANCHI (SEOptimise), STU OWENS (Bloom):
- Use .hmtl scheme mark ups on your product pages to ensure that special offers are being passed through to the results pages – also use this mark up to show the number of matching results your website has – if you have 100 "black dresses" to pick from but your competitor in a higher organic position only has 5 – which results would you be more likely to click if you were looking for a black dress?
- Displaying Google Shopping results can drive an additional 15% of sales for your ecommerce website.
- Error management (looking at 404's, 505's, 301's) is hugely important for website and link stabilisation – remove or redirect product pages for stock which will not be returning. Use tools such Google Web Master Tools & Xenu to identify error pages.
- Page titles have different effects on different genders. Men like bold statements about the product whereas women like answers to problems or questions. Think about who actually buys and influences your purchases – men might be your demographic target market but do their wives and girlfriends persuade them what to buy for example?
- Product videos can increase sales by 6% (According to a Zappos case study).
- Reviews have a positive effect on CTR (if positive of course). Implement reviews on your ecommerce website to boost click throughs. However - Some people felt rather cautious about the use of reviews both on PPC and organic results. Some negativity existed amongst the panel about the risk of review spam and abuse by competitors. Personally I think it was a little over-cautious on the panel – surely if you genuinely provide a good service and don't go out of your way to upset your competitors then why would they go out of their way to falsely review you? (Frankly if they do it says more about them than it does about you). I do understand the wariness but as with everything in Social Search today – you have to be prepared that if you do not do a good job then people will talk about you negatively in a public forum. It is a fact of business life in this day and age. Questions were raised amongst the panel as to if Google would review its policy on reviews in the near future.
- Sites who are found to falsely create reviews for themselves can be permanently blocked by Google from using the .html schema.
TIM GRICE (Branded3): LINK BUILDING IN COMPETITIVE INDUSTRIES
- Clean up bad links! Check for spikes in your link building profiles and identify if your profile looks unnatural – if it does (often due to poor paid linking practices or creation of many low quality links) think about what you can do to improve things.
- Ask yourself regularly – what does my page or content have to offer a user?
- Vary anchor text and ensure to use a good measure of brand anchors. Ensure exact anchor text does not make up more than 15% of your back link profile.
- A study conducted in Spring 2011 looked at companies who ranked in the top 10 positions on the SERP's for a range of 50 terms - those who ranked highest had more variation of their anchor text.
- Tweets are not yet deemed as links in the purest sense however they do act as a catalyst for linking. There is some evidence to suggest that tweets pointing to commercial pages on a website can have a mildly positive effect on rankings (if you already rank in fairly strong positions).
- Consider link ability vs. share-ability – good content needs to have both!
ANDY ATKINS-KRUGER (WebCertain) – MOBILE SEO & SOLOMO (Social, Mobile, Local)
- This year really is the 'year of the mobile'!
- Mobile broadband subscriptions now outnumber fixed broadband subscriptions.
- One third of mobile searches are conducted at HOME!
- Apple still wins on traffic numbers.
- The UK has the biggest uptake of mobile of any country in Europe –It is the European leader for smartphone and mobile phone usage and is really setting the pace for uptake and trends in usage.
- 1/3 of all activity on a mobile is now Search.
- Growth of mobile retail is very significant – 87% year on year growth.
- General reference and classified ad's are also major areas of growth for mobile.
- Social usage on mobile is growing (doubling in fact YonY)
- Interesting MySpace and Tumblr are still in the top main social networks accessed via mobile after Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!
- Increasingly local coupons are instigating shopping via mobile.
- Bing recently recommended a single URL strategy for mobile – Google have recommended the use of mobile stylesheets/CSS.
- There is now a mobile crawler but no dedicated crawler exists for tablets so businesses must decide if they treat tablets as mobile or desktop searches. Desktop is probably currently the best way to treat tablet users.
- There is a current 'Apportunity' for businesses to cash in on the App market!
- Currently there are 618,546 live and active Apps available at an average cost of $2 each.
- On average every member of the Apple App store downloads 3-4 Apps, a total 25bn downloads to date.
- iPad accounts for $70,000 of revenue per day generated for newspapers and magazines.
- China is the biggest market for Free App downloads.
- Market your apps via multiple sites NOT just Apple!
- Chomp is Apple's new App Search Engine – it is up and coming. Is the Apple store to become a search engines with a new format for results? It is likely there will be a PPC model for Chomp in the near future.
DANNY GRAY (Google): G+ AND SEARCH
- 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.
- There are now more digital demands on our time than ever before and therefore it is harder to get noticed/engage with users.
- 77% of brand content is created by consumers and not the brand itself!
- Messages on Twitter etc are impersonal and aimed at the wider public generally.
- A clever use of G+ from Intel saw them ask their Google+ followers which circles they wanted to be in – did they want Job/Career news? Tech news? Customer Services updates? By letting the users choose their own circles it made the content being distributed more relevant to their followers needs. This is the beauty of Google+ over other social networks.
- Google Hangouts are the new way to interact. Like Skype it allows a video chat to take place however multiple users can log in to your Hangout at any one time. You can for example arrange to be online at a certain time and people can meet you there to chat. This could be a great way for clients, contacts or prospects to meet you – also great for customer service!
- Google have seen a 5-10% CTR for PPC adverts with social elements included in their adverts. Linking your G+ to your PPC advertising (enabling social extensions) can be a benefit (perhaps currently more beneficial for big brands).
- Google + has been the 'biggest game changer in Search Engine click through rates ever witnessed by Google'.
- Google + now allows for verified pages. Add a Google+ Verified badge to your page to give you more credibility.
- Google+ is to be seen as a new 'common thread' in social and not a 'wholly new channel'.
- Use social media to look for up and coming trends and try to plan your content development around what topics are hot
- Be 'Link Worthy' and ask – what did I do to earn this link?
- Seed your content by asking influential people to share your content and link to it.
- Be prepared for the introduction of the new EU Cookie Directive in May. Up to 90% of tracking and analytics data could be lost! Think about how you will manage your campaigns after the law is enforced.
- Some controversy exists over what businesses need to do to comply with the new Cookie Directive – either way you should be seen to be thinking about it. The experts suggest it is possible that the enforcement might be pushed back and delayed again?
Overall it was a very interesting day. Jimmy's slides from his speech on Killer Keyword Research are available on Search Laboratory's SlideShare page should you wish to have a look at them.
Some pictures from the day:
For full photos of the day please visit the IonSearch Flickr account.With thanks to Twitter for some of the images used.