Finally it's day 3, it's been quite a lot of activity over the past two days and a hectic one too. But with some great authoritative speeches on different facets of search marketing it's been great.
Following is our coverage of the sessions on day 3
Session: Generation Next: Search In The Coming Decade
The speakers for this session are Brad Goldberg, Microsoft; Dr. Larry Heck, Yahoo and Peter Norvig, Google Inc.
Chris puts the question to the panelists: "Will Search as we know it survive?"
Brad thinks it would and as the verticalization increases, it would become more useful, and would perform broader tasks. Peter thinks that it would be more of a natural interaction with data, more devices and dialoges back and forth. Search would evolve, and become more pervasive and relevant says Larry.
The panelists think that an average query would be longer. It's going to be tough to to get the results back. Chris questions, What about voice activated queries? Is it going to require a lot of changing in search marketing? the user experience would be better with time, things would change for advertisers.
Chris asks the panels, that search is evolving. Do you see that coming where there's a research assistant and realization of semantic web? It's a good idea but Brad would be surprised to see it in a practical way that's useful. Peter thinks that the timescales would help the user.
What one feature would you like to have working in 5 years?, asks chris. Enable people to search in a more verticalized way, opines Brad. The link between the user and the content, says peter. For larry it's access to search everywhere.
Session: Web Analytics Roundtable
The speaker for this session are Gary Angel, Wes Funk, Omniture, Brett Crosby, Google Analytics and Richard Zwicky, Enquisite.
Gary comes up on the podium first and provides an overview of the session, he mentions that the problem with these tools is the information overload, so decision can be difficult.
The tool basics are: data collection, there are two prime flavors of web analytics. These are Software as a service systems implementation by using tags. The software that you can run in-house which processes the weblog files. Both of these provide similar data and functionalities. The primary issues of the analytics data quality are: to track the tracking visitors over a period, how long the visitors stay on a page. Where do they go and counting the bots.
What is it that matters? It's the needs that drive differentiation, what you want to measure determines the real-world tool needed. It depends on what you want, is it visitor segmentation: ie to consider a group of user and monitor their behavior? Or is it Dimensional Reporting, it's like finding out the number of visitors who did 'x' and which ones did 'y.' Set up time is yet another factor. Or Data integration: since the online data can have varied sources, the data binding capacity of the system makes it better. Or data integration for customers and SEM data as well.
Some prime features that are needed for SEM analytics are: tracking the results by search terms used and purchased. You also need to track content match scores, times for parting and day parting. Collecting, cross-attribution reports is also important in addition to using flexible attribution models. You also need to consider to collapse search terms to be analyzed as a unit. At the same time viewing the performance of SEO and PPC campaigns.
If you're planning to use your analytics, then you need to consider a couple of important points. You need to think about the whole organization and its knowledge and skills. It's important to select a realistic tool. Plan according to what your objectives are. Then there are things that you really need to be concerned about, viz, it's not easy to find people, implementation is a tough job. You can't attempt analytics without the tools and resources. There isn't a Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“safe approachĂ˘â‚¬Âť to analytics, hence you need to really think about the payoffs for your efforts.
Session: Industrial Strength SEO
It's Martin Laetsch who's the first to speak, the fact of the matter is that if you've got a small site, the basics aren't too tough and it can be optimized fairly easily. For a site that's big, and has a huge number of keywords, the time's just not enough. He asks the audience that how often it is that you can conduct an audit of your website. Is it on a yearly basis, bi-annually and or monthly?
The important thing is to define the SEO standards and best practices. In order for you to be able to create consistent processes and written standards, you'd need to provide a complete training, and create communication and collaboration protocols and expectations.
The other thing to remember is to monitor pages, that rank well for specific keywords, if you plan to create a monthly checklist of things to do viz. the pages to audit and optimize.
For yahoo, the measures of success of their SEO is through an internal scorecard. If there's an index that follows the predictive model, they can track SEO efforts for a period of time. They're also using a dashboard to take an overview and also to compare their work with competitors.
For your SEO campaign, do not wall-off the content, or communicate success to a lesser degree. Or even forget to communicate the same with departments viz. IT, design, ad sales. If you expect too much too soon that's also a mistake; also don't forget editorial oversight and to implement the required changes.
Session: SEO Q&A
The moderator for the session is Danny Sullivan, the Q&A Moderator is Cindy Krum, Blue Moon Works, Inc. The speakers are, Jill Whalen, Bruce Clay, Todd Friesen, Visible Technologies; Greg Boser, 3 Dog Media, Stephan Spencer of Netconcepts.
The first question comes up as Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“What are some primary things to do to SEO your Web design?Ă˘â‚¬Âť The primary things being suggested are RSS, you need to have a good CMS, and use a flexible platform, include keywords in text links, and have a way to measure performance indicators. The other most important things are to build the architecture around your keyword research.
Next question up is Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“What are some of the best SEO tools available to the public?Ă˘â‚¬Âť Some of the best tools being suggested are keyword discovery, firefox web developer toolbar and the search status, google webmaster tools, SEOToolSet, TouchGraph, and Thumbshots Ranking Tool.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“What tools can be used to measure rankings?Ă˘â‚¬Âť you can do so with InQuisit but most on the panel think not to focusing on rankings.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“How many words should be in the Title tag?Ă˘â‚¬Âť Though a specific number isn't being suggested, an advice is to have about 3, but no commas in the title.
It's also a bad practice to stuff too many keywords into Titles tags, it can dilute keywords. Make it attractive so that people can click.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“In light of the paid links war, have SEO methods changed?Ă˘â‚¬Âť it's important to think before buying links for ranking, the risks need to be considered, and an open disclosure to the client is important. Also important is to be sure, whether organization fits whether the mission is compatible or not? It's easy to get links when there's your site has a high-value content.
Session: In House Issues
The first one to appear is Bob Tripathi, he begins by asking whether all are excited for the last day at SMX?Ă˘â‚¬Âť
He talks about what you need to do when you start-off and you're in your first or second year of your program. When you implement an in house SEO program, you need to consider how much your company can leverage the search and what you can handle.
If you would like to make a case for an in-house transition, you need to explain what the present program lacks and also present the value addition and cost benefits for an in-house program. Some more key points come in for in house programs, you need to choose the model depending on the company and industry. Also acquire executives on-board and teach'em about paid/organic search and show a serp. To go after smaller wins is the key to confidence.
When you form an in-house SEO program, you need to consider the budget, also the size/complexity of the site, current organizational structure, and also the challenge of hiring. If you make a presentation to executives, you need to avoid jargon and use stories to make points instead. Also during presentation for milestones, focus on the competition and investment than spending.
Session: Linking Q&A
The panelists for this session are Nathan Buggia, Live Search, Microsoft, Matt Cutts, Google, Priyank Garg, Yahoo! Search, Rae Hoffman, Sugarrae Internet Consulting, Peter Linsley, Ask.com, Todd Malicoat, Stuntdubl
What are ways to prevent losing traffic when moving a site to a new domain?, comes the first question, suggestions keep coming as, permanently 301 redirect your site. Play it extra safe, move a part of your site and then check the rankings if they are ok you need to go. You need to be conservative with alterations to content & layout. You need to get new links, after you implement the 301 the engines would resolve the change faster.
Google's advice is to disclose paid links, Live advises using nofollow on paid links. Yahoo opines that paid links aren't useful and looks out for them. Next comes up the definition of a paid link? Advice from live search suggests that the spectrum is quite broad. Links vary from bad and inept ones to the ones like American Veterinary Association gives to paid members.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“What difference do outbound links make?Ă˘â‚¬Âť More important is to think about the outbound links as helping the visitors as the engines think well of you, if you link to good reputation.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Does Google consider siloing or sculpting manipulative?Ă˘â‚¬Âť Yes it does but Google is just against bad manipulation. Before you worry about the advanced techniques like sculpting page rank, ensure that the basics have been covered.
Session: SEO & Usability: They Can (And Should) Coexist
The first up is Shari Thurow, begins by asking Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“What is usability?Ă˘â‚¬Âť explains usability and suggests tips for it. When you optimize usability you need to use and validate the users' language, communicate a sense of place, include textual and graphical cues, and provide a structure for your info architecture. Also make sure the interface is supportive of the architecture, and not vice-versa. Focus on promoting user confidence.
Keyword research is essential and do it first, also include some important keywords present in the site's information architecture and interface. Ensure that
SEO and usability both are congruent for achieving the best ROI. SEO helps with the traffic and usability helps in conversion.
If you include Flash on your Web site, don't incorporate Flash for the whole design. You need to create Flash elements instead. Additionally, provide the important content that's displayed in Flash in a search engine friendly manner.
One of the major SEO considerations is usability. Keywords need to be utilized in titles, descriptions, body copy in addition to links for usability and SEO considerations too.
Coverage by other members of SEM community:Search Marketing Expo West, February 2008, Day 3,