Sunday, March 29, 2009

SES: First Head Dump

I had hoped to get some blogging done the Friday and Saturday following my attendance at the Search Engine Strategies (SES) Conference in New York City, but when I got back, my real job kept me hopping through both of those days.

It’s just as well, because I’ve been pondering how in the world I would get what I learned from head and onto the page in some cohesive fashion. I have 70 pages of notes from 3 packed-in days. The amount of information, AHA’s, and mindblowers that I received would take me an entire year to sort through, investigate, blog and apply.

So, I’ve decided to record my general impressions here, and then go through each session that I attended in separate blog posts.

I took my daughters with me so that they could play around in NYC while I was in the conference. I was glad I did because they had fun and provided me with an escape from the dizzying amount of information that I was trying to take in. Each day, they cheerfully said, “Have fun at your conference, Mom!” and each day I desperately scrambled to retain everything that I could. Blogging will help me to sort it all out, so here goes.

I attended over 20 sessions in 3 days. It is important to note that the attendees were mostly technical people from large business or consultants to large businesses. In the past, these conferences have been highly technical (I have a degree, work history, and 10-years teaching these subjects under my belt so I am okay with the technical aspect) with a small amount of marketing thrown in. Let’s keep in mind; the subject of these conferences is how business can better position themselves to be found by customers on the Internet. In the past, the answer to this question has always been technical in nature.

This world was previously dominated by Geekies who didn’t take into account actual marketing principles, consumer behaviors, or even stoop so low as to actually think about the people applying the technologies they were designing. For them, it was 100% about the technical aspect of how these new ideas were applied.

For example, they used to ask, what is a meta-tag and how is it applied? What are the bots that find them and how do the bots behave? How many links do you need and where to have your website rank well? What product should your website be designed in so that it would perform best in a search engine search? That kind of stuff.

Being 1/2 geek and 1/2 marketer, I always wondered when the human aspect would actually become a part of the search mix. I got to NYC this time, and wondered no more. The time is here. This message was loud and clear throughout:

“It is imperative to understand marketing techniques and the full consumer purchase/product cycle.” Awesome. For me it’s like having Mommy and Daddy back in the same room.

So, let’s first talk about Social Marketing. The first concept that I picked up is that Social Marketing is taking over the search engine role almost entirely. This means that consumers are asking each other more and more about things that they previously would have asked Google about. Tools like Twitter and Facebook are facilitating this. I came away with the knowledge that Twitter (and devices like it) is the single most important aspect of the future of the Internet! I know! Who’da thought it! But, I see that it is true.

I attended a couple of Facebook sessions, and being their biggest fan, was duly impressed, I will discuss what they are doing in the future in a later post. It’s fascinating. I believe that they, more than any other Social Media Leader, will benefit from Generation X and Y behaviors.

Another key concept is that ranking well in a search engine search is no longer important. Look at how social media is changing the search landscape and you’ll realize why. People are less and less looking to “cold” results from search engines but instead are asking people in their social networks before searching. This is a BIG one! Make no mistake; ranking well in a geo-targeted search is something completely different, and a very important place to rank. More on Geo-targeting and how to do it later.

A critical piece of information that I received is that mobile search is the future, period. Let me say that again: YOU. MUST. MAKE. ALL. PLANS. TOWARDS. THIS. INEVITABILITY. Look at this statistic and you’ll get it: iPhone users total 5% in this country, but 75% of mobile inquiries come from them! That should blow the lid right of your head with a huge AHA! Google has been working quietly towards their “Cloud Computing Initiative” where all things will be stored in the “cloud” including your software and data. We won’t have computers on our desks anymore, just a smart device that operates everything we need which is stored in our piece of the “cloud.” If you don’t have an iPhone yet, don’t get one. Wait for the new models, the ones that read QR codes. Don’t know what a QR code is? You will! Mobile computing is literally changing the face of the Internet as we know it. Much more on this later.

Some others:

* Analytics are the new rankings
* You must understand full product purchase cycles for your industry
* Universal and blended searches
* On deck and off deck searches
* CSS structures with baked in website designs
* Geo-targeting (big big big!)
* What will people be doing in 5 years?
* Relevant linking and intent content
* Local filtering, intent modeling
* How to launch a global website
* What are people looking at most online? (Hint: Videos!)
* The future of the Deep Web and the Semantic Web
* What are the five most effective social media sites? Watch for a blog post!
* What is the Viral Value Triangle?
* Linking and Navigation Structure
* Google says that 40% of queries have a local intent, so guess what they are doing about it and how you can, too.
* Three ways to rank locally. Thanks to Google for that one.

And people, that’s only from day one.

So, hang with me and I’ll blog it as I go through it bit by bit. I was hoping that I would come back with something like "10 Great Tips" that would be easy for a small business to implement. However, the face of everything is changing and so it is back to square one for all of us. The first question you must answer before you can start to design your plan is:


My Marketing half yelps a triumphant "HA! I've asked that question since dirt was young!"

First up, checking out the power of Twitter.

Jennifer Bunker

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