Feb 27, 2008 120 reads by Navneet Kaushal

Search Marketing Expo West, February 2008, Day 1The Santa Clara Convention Center has come to life as the Search Marketing Expo was declared open. All the attendees have their eyes set on covering fundamental and basic issues, the latest happenings and forward-looking keynotes from leading authorities in search marketing and technologies.

Following is our coverage of the sessions on day 1.

Session: Opening Keynote by Danny Sullivan: Search 3.0, Search 4.0 & Beyond

Danny begins by emphasizing how the times have changed since the first generation of search or the Search 1.0. The period was a cakewalk as it was dependent on the location and frequency of search terms. As of now the age of Search 2.0, in which the links do enhance the democratic nature of search, though the system is still fraught with manipulation. Google leads in Search 4.0 aka personalized search. While attempts to include the social search haven't been a hit, but social media simply can't be ignored and assures everyone that there's no need to be scared of it. Social media helps in building links, increases visibility and influences reputation. SEO is on a growth path and there's a need for PR efforts, SEO case studies and to resolve complaints.

Session: The Blended Search Revolution

The Blended Search track at SMX West, has on the panel David Bailey from Google, Cris Pierry from Yahoo! and Raju Malhotra from MSN Live Search.

Hosting the panel is Vanessa fox, the ask.com representative has not arrived as yet so she begins by showing off the Ask User Interface. David Bailey speaks of Google fulfilling its primary mission of Universal search. Says that it was simply web results earlier but now we have the blogs, images, news, code and the best part is that all of it is available from one search box, rather than using many vertical engines.

She now shows the latest releases on the Universal search from Google

  • There are now the local business review snippets within search results
  • There's a list of ten local businesses for if you run a broad query in the serps
  • A increased number of videos from external sites are displayed in the serps
  • There are more number of pictures with triggering on the long tail
  • Books too are grouped for the topical queries, mostly at the bottom
  • There's a comprehensive blending of which is more than just being at the bottom of serps
  • There are also universal blends for the international audience, other than Google USA
  • A growing diversity on the page is the overall theme

How does it all work?

There's an increase in the diversity amongst the search results, gives the example of Ella Fitzgerald, users are searching for a whole array of results. The universal search works by searching all Google indexes and only then collect the data, use it for better ranking. The query is sent to several vertical engines and the results returned are then compiled with the help of a ranking algorithm to show the results and in which places.

There are a couple of challenges like the capacity to expand, optimize the big infrastructure. Rank compares to apples and oranges. Like in the (Green Bay Packers ) & (Kentucky Fried Chicken), where should it go to the local results or the web results. Apparently, looks like the web results, but need to notice the whole text as 'green bay' and 'Packers.' So Google has the task of handling the situation to make the results relevant.

Google makes use of the PageRank, phrase matches, anchors etc, other indicators as the freshness, users' ratings, TOC matches etc, the universal search is all about technology.

So what’s next with universal search

  • Enhancing the relevance
  • Ramping up the new categories blogs, Images
  • Enabling users exploration the the universal search

Where would seo land up?

  • The web results are indeed the main results at Google, but the universal search is to complement this listing, but the normal webmaster guidelines still apply.
  • SEO for Images requires publishing high quality images on the high rank tagged images.
  • Videos seo, use sitemaps at the Webmaster Console and tell Google about the contents of the video.
  • Product search requires you to submit your feeds to Google Base/Product.
  • For blogs, the quality needs to be high

Sean Suchter from Yahoo's search

He explains that Yahoo! focuses more at the placements of shortcuts at the same time finding out what information the users need to answer their search query. At Yahoo! there's a great deal of content in music, movie, pictures from Flickr etc, videos, local business results, maps. There's also the capacity to fine tune the restaurant search by location city visitor guides, hotels by chains location. Lots of info about one of a kind hotels. A category for consumer electronics, health etc.

A quick presentation by Cris about Yahoo’s SearchMonkey (yahoo’s open search platform ) is shown.

Next up is Raju Malhotra the director, product management for Live Search, Microsoft

He feels that the blended search this the first step to the internet and information that being hunted for. At Microsoft, the favorite means of researching is to simply camp out with the users and monitor their search behavior, and the info being hunted for. They've found that users search in three primary ways.

  • They want an answer to a specific question, eg. weather, directions, traffic, etc.
  • The users searching in the discovery mode, eg. research and shopping
  • Users exploring, surfing through the search, eg. entertainment, music, hobbies, videos, etc.

He moves ahead with an example snow reports and searching for info on ski shops. He figures out 'one click' directions in examples of blended searches at Microsoft.

What are the implications for the SEO perspective. the local searches have a big share of 33%. If a person searches for a ski shop in San Jose, you'd want to be #1. one way to better your rank is to feature in the business listing in built in the Microsoft webmaster dashboard. A huge proportion (80%) of online shoppers start off with product search queries. Microsoft allows users to upload the whole of the product catalog so as to help users find the whole range of products available.

Session: Search Marketing & Persona Models

Gord Hotchkiss begins by asking how many people are using personas at present? Only a handful do. Why do people use personas at all? Before 1992 the emotions were removed from neurology and psychology, there's a whole lot of emotions that affect decisions, and personas help you to cash in on those factors lying beneath. The factors which offer something more than the “rationally” considered ones. People manage reward, risk, emotion, knowledge in decision making. But way humans interact with search engines in very similar ways. The decisions move through from being broad and narrow down to specifics. So the intent of wording coupled with size, placement of images determines how the actions are taken.

Persona is akin to a character of the brand that's constructed to target the audience that could use a site or a product. If you have a marketing persona it will create empathy and integrate the emotional part of people, which is so much used in decision-making.

To create a marketing persona you'd need to research the demographics followed by brainstorming and documenting it. Things that would prevent you from doing well in creating the persona are the stereotypes, perfectionist attitude and uncommon words. Once you're through with building the persona you need to measure, review and alter it accordingly. The personas act a stand-ins for your users, you'd need to draft your message to communicate with users and make a write a text for their needs and wants. There's a caveat that you shouldn't trust the data gathered from research too much, because you need to act on what actually people do rather than what they tell you they'd do.

Session: Defending Your Paid Search Budget Against New Ad Fads

First up is Brian Combs, he begins by emphasizing that while defending things, budget isn't the only thing, and more of it is about time. Time for price comparison among second-tier search engines as also for testing new keywords, ad copy variants, new landing pages, etc. Understanding of your numbers is important, this includes some precise metrics and analytics, cost per lead, cost per acquisition, cost of different kinds of paid search and ROI.

This helps to showcase a clearly spelled out definition of success, you need to educate the site's stakeholders. The focus should be on the biggest ROI drivers so as to maximize ROI across different. When you evaluate the programs you need to present stats. The advancement in paid search such as the geotargetted ads, mobile ads, video ads, local ads, etc simply can't be ignored. Stats reveal that the global paid search revenue would be hitting a $30.5 billion mark. And it had gone up by 48 percent last year. The paid search advertisers have experienced an ROI in the range of 15 to 20 times of the investments made.

Session: The Economics of Search

Chris Sherman begins by briefing about why the session is taking place at all. He asserts while, many SEMs know about marketing side but aren't aware of the other part and that is what the engines think about, and make money?

First to surface is Michael Schwarz, he talks about the future of sponsored search. And that the primary competitors of Google and Yahoo! in the sponsored search are the organic listings. In short people click on the sponsored search listings because organic search isn't good. The interests of both the advertisers and search engines are for the most part same. All are important, maximizing the value delivered to users and advertisers and maximizing the search engine's profits. Sponsored search is faced with some major challenges, such as that of making it more relevant, including better measures of the user experience, better targeting and lacking tools for advertisers.

When you bid on AdWords, it you need to bid on real search behavior, should use long-tail keywords, consider the cost per conversion compared to the value per acquisition. Also the bid should continue until the value per click is equals the incremental cost per click.

Moreover, you would want to consider cross subsidization as well. Try making deals with low profits or margins now, to be able to grow in the future ahead. Google will not be left untouched by recession, this is so because as people would purchase less they'd also search less.

Coverage by other members of SEM community:

Search Engine Land

Bruce Clay

Top Rank Blog

Search Marketing Expo West, February 2008, Day 1, 5.0 out of 5 based on 1 rating
Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal

Navneet Kaushal is the founder and CEO of PageTraffic, an SEO Agency in India with offices in Chicago, Mumbai and London. A leading search strategist, Navneet helps clients maintain an edge in search engines and the online media. Navneet's expertise has established PageTraffic as one of the most awarded and successful search marketing agencies.
Navneet Kaushal
Navneet Kaushal
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