The Sessions continued with an increased gusto on day two as well, and a lot was deliberated upon by the august panelists and speakers.
Following is our coverage of the sessions on day 2.
Session: Louis Monier: Past, Present & Future of Search
Louis Monier, AltaVista search engine comes up to air his views. Danny asks him to give everyone a picture of the past, present and future of search. Says the web is only as good as its index. In the past when Internet first came up, there was an obvious need for search, engines were slow and covered only a small part of the web. Following which there was an increase in the SEM industry. Also that the early search engines gave more weightage to phrases used on for query that existed on the page.
At present more weightage is given to anchor text and linking information. Users of today want to find all the relevant sites, not just a few select ones. In the future, the human powered searches through the directories, personalized, social and vertical search, natural language processing, and semantic search are on the anvil.
The search engines are used for a lot more than searches viz. spell checkers, aggregator, etc. So an advanced engine will act as a research assistant by hunting for information and analyzing and then coming back with a report. At present however there's little choice than accepting the narrow definition of search. He also offers a caveat, the search engines are making choices for you and so might slice out information that you're looking for.
Session: The Personalized Search Revolution
First up on the podium is Chris Sherman, he begins by saying that there's a lack of quality industry definition for social search. He tries to give a simple definition, that it is a collection of Internet wayfinding tools informed by human judgment. A personalized search is based on Web history and it helps to find a lot more appropriate results for an individual user and also provide subtle changes in ranking.
When you market for personalized search, you need to create content that is appealing and compelling to your target audience. Since the search experience and marketing needs are quite simple, it means that the SEOs won't have to alter their marketing plans much perhaps.
Steven Marder of Eurekster is up next. He moves on to some examples from Search 1.0 through 4.0. For social search there's a convergence between social media and search, its now the search algorithms and humans, then there's the Community. Marketers can benefit from the key features of social media.
At present one of the biggest challenges in marketing for social search is to create and also find high grade user-generated content. There have been initiatives from Yahoo, but they are still limited. At the same time the pinpoint has a slider to change Yahoo! Shopping search results dynamically. Search Monkey being an open source allows you to add applications and also to include your preferences for prominence of some specific results.
There aren't stats available on conversion rate for the personalized search but the search engine folks believe that it works. While Google doesn't come out with figures about the usage of personalized search, it's large – are the claims.
Session: Landing Pages and Multivariate Testing
You need to optimize the landing pages by implement A/B testing, multivariate testing, and targeted content delivery. A navigation on the landing pages is also fine as tests have shown. For multivariate experimental designs you have fractional factorial and full factorial. In the fractional factorial design you'd need less data but you only test the page only partially. In a full factorial design you won't miss out on anything, but there's a lot of data you gotta deal with.
In case you are pressed for time while performing multivariate testing, try beginning with a plan and have objectives. You need to consider whether a page really needs to be tested, try understanding who are the visitors on you pages and what's their origin. Cutting corners on a design isn't a good tactic.
The process for multivariate testing entails: identifying the page elements which have the greatest impact, developing a hypothesis for each one and testing a couple of variations, finally repeat the exercise.
Session: SEO & Social Media Marketing
Up first on the podium is Rand Fishkin, expresses his love for social media marketing and also puts the onus of SEOMoz's popularity completely to social media marketing.
There are many link techniques which have gotten diffused in striving to eliminate spam. So at present, to broadcast your content and to get links through social networks is gaining ground.
Barbara Boser of the 3 Dog Media, is up next. To make social media sites work for you, you need a daily commitment. Try to learn what's popular in several communities. Followed by building a reputation. Your profile is very important. Ensure that your profile isn't same as the other popular profiles. Try out a unique name and avatar across different sites. And prevent yourself from being caught.
Talks about some more key-points that are important for success with social media, begin by networking with the top ranked users, try adding supportive friends. Try avoid friends that require a high-maintenance. Be an early voter, leave comments and try submitting from a variety of sources. You need to write titles that match the community, list your other site profiles and IM. And don't submit in excess of three stories a day, at the same time don't take comments personally.
There are several benefits of Twitter to be used as a marketing tool: you can reach out to the extremes of your target audience. Users would voluntarily subscribe, additionally there's a great potential within the pull technology. You can reap the benefits of Twitter by, making a profile before making friends; deciding on and equilibrium between information and sales messages. Further you can use several tools to post and automate if it's possible.
Session: Search Ads & Behavioral Targeting
It's Jonathan Mendez to surface first for the presentation. He recommends the areas to focus on for personalization as building segments and affinities, hypothesizing relevance, creating and developing, testing and validating and finally monitoring.
In order to optimize for behaviorally targeting search adverts, you need to make segments and affinities, in addition to hypothesizing the relevance, creating/developing, testing and validating and monitoring.
To make good adverts you need to consider your audience and other details such as how they've reached you, the frequency of their visits etc. These statistics can help you customizing a page for a particular audience, once you know where they come in from. During the process of focusing on a particular user profile, you can avoid considering demographics and psychographics and try to see their behavior about their search patterns, buying patterns and where they went.
Session: SEO & Blogging
The speakers for this session are Andy Beal from Marketing Pilgrim, Michael Gray of Atlas Web Services and Aaron Wall of SEO Book. This session is being moderated by Vanessa Fox, Search Engine Land.
The first panelist to appear on for the speech is Aaron Wall. He says that blogs have the potential to get you attention in the marketplace, all you gotta do is be opinionated and original. There's a high degree of competition amongst blogs, you can do well by focusing on a niche, have a bias, have a smart format, filter, give opportunities for interaction, post regularly, monetize, and use push marketing.
To achieve a good formatting for your blog you need a clean design, adopt a tone that's positive and reinforcing, it's important to include an about us page, include a way for press to contact you, make use of pictures, video & sketchcasting. Make use of simple words and short sentences, you can take the advantage of bullet lists, headers and subheads.
When it comes to monetizing your blog, putting adsense above content isn't a good tactic, try selling only branded adverts or include affiliate offers. You might want to increase the prices for maintaining a high visitor count, avoid early monetization.
There are other tricks as well that work for blogs, one is to ask questions to attract the readers and infuse interaction. You can try optimzing titles, headlines so that people can find you. Get more traffic by including contests and by inviting guest writers. Blogs can also serve as tools for managing better, as you can give a solution to the problems that crop up. They also serve as research tools and showcase comments from professionals. As a sales tool, they help you to promote your services/products.
Session: Is It Time For Search Marketing Standards?
The first one up to speak is Paul Bruemmer. He talks about how there are fire standards and that fire planning entails fire exits and occupancy limits etc. SEM professionals need to develop industry standards if they want to have a sustained growth, something like a professional code of ethics. There are several benefits of standards, like they provide guidance, credibility, and protection and help everyone to move in a direction that is mutually beneficial. There is an initiative in this direction from SEMPO, IAB, and DMA. There's a model for industry standards that defines the SEO/SEM tactics and also provides a risk rating for all of those. The risk ratings will be based on the feedback from community. The model's process entails: A definition of tactics by an authoritative committee, adoption of definitions through a process of beta releases and feedback, constructing a rating system, publishing and promoting final results, in addition to a continuous review and evolution.
There are several caveats viz.: restraint of innovation, loss of control or unfair concentration of power, fading morals and ethics with standards and guidelines; an application that is too wide or narrow and enforcement and authority. The clarity of the code of ethics need to be clear to practitioners, researchers, and the public. The standards need to be specific than the ethics and also measurable.
Session: SEO 2.0 For Web 2.0 Sites
The first one up to speak is Shari Thurow, Director, Omni Marketing Interactive. She expresses that CSS is nothing but the html addition and allows for the webmasters to manipulate several design elements viz margins, fonts, links, colors and placement. CSS offers quite a few benefits and they are increased speeds, decreased download times in addition to facilitating the positioning element. They can also communicate with ease the visited as well as the unvisited links.
It has certain demerits too, viz there are limited fonts with logos, also users need to have the fonts too. Then the focus groups and usability testing could show that the fonts used aren't the common ones. Sometimes hyprelinks formatted by CSS come to overpower the content of a page and this could hamper the focus of the content.
With the use of text formatting you can hide the text & links with css, xhtml heders can be used for h1s and there are several uses of css which attempt spamming the search engines but they simply don't work.
Mikkel deMib Svendsen, from deMib.com comes up now. He describes that what web 2.0 is all about. Ajax is the new trend around and helps to bring about interaction with the users at a much deeper level. Web 2.0 has the visitors engaged and it also differentiates itself from the age old standards.
He says Ajax stinks as you only link with the application and not the page, though it can be dealt with by reloading the page per each click and cloaking the page. He is about to offer tips on Ajax, you should use Ajax, use it for a good reason, make it optional for visitors, you need to error trap the links with 301s and allow the professionals to work on it.
For the social Web 2.0, the user generated content is good but expensive. You don't need a keyword research and misspellings aren't a problem. Do you want to have 20,000 SEOs or UGCs? Be wary of spammers, educate users on seo tips, the basics would do such as titles etc. Tell them about getting links to their content, with each one getting few you'd be rich with links.
If you'd like to take a peek at yesterday's sessions, see: Search Marketing Expo West, February 2008, Day 1
Coverage by other members of SEM community:
Search Engine Land