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Live Blogging: New World of Search Webinar from Mediative
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Live blogging 40-minute live webinar, with Duane Forrester, Sr. Product Manager from Bing, Gord Hotchkiss, CSO of Mediative, and Charlotte Bourne, Sr. SEO Strategist will answer the top 20 questions related to the evolving landscape and future of SEO strategy.

Get a chance to engage with these top industry thought leaders as they share their expertise in a roundtable discussion to questions such as:
  • Is traditional SEO dead?
  • How have the big developments in search recently impacted the way we approach SEO?
  • How do SEO tactics fit in with social media?
  • What are the new strategies required to help businesses reach their online goals?

With so many changes happening in the engines specifically with Google, there continues to be new technologies and search offerings that marketers, site owners and site optimizers should be aware of. Things like Google's Knowledge Graph will change what users see on a search results page.  We continue to see regular algorithm updates and these updates are getting more frequent and are larger than what we have seen in the past.  Google really is trying to clean up webspam and provide the most relevant results possible.  They truly do want to provide the most relevant result in the quickest time possible.  They quite often reference Star Trek and super computing needs so that the answers are always at out finger tips.
The Webinar is a roundtable format to answer some of the typical search related questions that we often hear.
Gord Hotchkiss began discussing the current state of SEO:
  • he referenced how Enquiro (now Mediative) predicted personalization and universal search back in 2007.
  • he talked about relevancy and search and how traditional factors such as links and other signals were used to try to connect the content and intent.
  • search lives with us a lot more now - we ask for more information - the emergence of mobile
  • we have seen a move towards usefulness and functionality - the emergence of Apps
  • linking has imploded due to the need for usefulness
  • the signals that the search engines are using now have changed
Is traditional SEO dead?
  • Duane started out by suggesting that SEO is not dead but the notion that we need to mature past SEO is where we are heading.
  • you still have to have a technically sound website
  • your SEO efforts need to be broader - how we label it needs to evolve
  • SEO is becoming a known marketing pillar just as radio and TV had in the past.
  • you need to define and understand the types of skills you need in your online marketing efforts
  • search engines look at "dwell time" similar to bounce rate
  • social is integrated so fully into the search experience.  Social is the beginning to understanding of intent.
  • traditional SEO i not dead, it just has to evolve.  "Most site on the web are lacking"  SEO fundamentals.
  • how do we understand how social impacts search - Duane illustrated that you have to amplify your presence - influence the user to love you )socially, links etc).
How has SEO Evolved Recently?

Charlotte started off mentioning three areas where she has seen a lot of recent change:
  • semantic search - schema.org markup
  • lots of changes with mobile and mobile SEO
  • search plus your world and other social initiatives
Duane:  "The fact is one, two or maybe three good links can be all it takes for you to rank #1 in search."

Gord:  There are certain categories of B2B that will be passionate and will be able to leverage social activity.  SEO in B2B tends to be all about the longtail.  Sometimes a couple of goodquality social links can be all you need to place well in the engines.

Charlotte:  You need to socialize with the influencers and participate with them.  Just like B2C, it's beneficial to understand who is influential in your specific vertical - both from a link building and social perspective. You want to find out who the influencers are, which are going to be the same sites you want links from and the same people you want to engage in the social space.

How has the competitive landscape changed?

Charlotte discussed the importance of maintaining the long term vision to avoid penalty in the search engines.

Gord discussed the importance of local for smaller businesses and mom and pop shops. 

Charlotte:  Find the space that you can be competitive in, focus on the longtail such as leveraging GEO-specific terms.  Take a look at your keyword basket to ensure it is long tail - you won't be able to go after high volume terms, but there should be a lower volume space you can compete in.

Duane:  You are not going to go head to head with the big sites.  Understand the longtail to uncover the opportunities where you can drive conversions.  Use the basics of SEO, create quality content and be thinking how to increase conversion rates and conversion optimization.  You might be dealing with less volume but you need to be better at conversion optimization.  To use the local search systems you have to have a physical local location.  80% of queries are local intent.  You have to have a place to go to to send that business.

Duane:  Become experts and an authority on your subject matter.

Gord:  Don't discount your traffic from mobile.

Duane:  Don't get stuck about thinking about B2B and B2C in traditional terms.  Keep your viewpoint open.

What are the most simple yet overlooked tips to SEO success?

Charlotte:  Title tags and meta descriptions.  It is easy and does have an impact on rankings and click throughs.

Duane:  Title tag can impact your rankings.  The meta descriptions is useful for enticing the click as users scan a search results page.  The meta description is critical.  If it is "wrong" Bing will pull something off the page to replace or populate the description.  Again become an authority.  Have other people tell other people that you are an expert.

Gord:  Keyword research should be ongoing.  It is not a once and done.  Pay a lot of attention to your keyword discovery process.

How Can SEO Tactics Integrate into Social Media?

Duane:  SEO is a fundamental element.  You will always have things that you will need to refine.  At some point you have to build the next level.  This is where social comes in.  Build your authority.  You want to be a part of the conversation but not necessarily lead the conversation.  Use a 90/10 split where 90% of the time you talk about "other stuff" and 10% of the time you talks about "your stuff".  Who is your audience and what do they value.  you have to understand the concept of a hook.

Charlotte:  Link bait, create content that has a hook.  Promote your content through social media channels that will generate links back to your site. 

Gord:  You can create your own thought leadership online.  Be authentic.  Sites that do the "hard work" will have a lasting presence.  You have to earn it.

Some Key Takeaways
  1. Charlotte: Play for the long term.
  2. Gord: Spend less time worrying about the algorithms and more about your users and your market.
  3. Duane:  "Wow" your user.  There are no shortcuts.
I did pose the following question to Duane Forrester:
It seems like there are increasing users who are unhappy with Google's recent changes, results and algorithm updates.  How is Bing taking advantage of this to win new users and gain market share?

Duane's response:  Bing’s focus is on delivering an excellent user experience that blends search and social by including the best of breed sites with our search experience.  Partnerships have always been key for Microsoft and our strategic partnerships with Facebook, Twitter and other noted social spaces enables us to create an inclusive atmosphere when blending search & social.

Search + social. Sounds like a winning combination to me.

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