SEO…social media…conversion…local search…pay per click and search engine marketing. You may not know it, but these terms can greatly affect your business, especially if you’re using your website and social media to attract customers.
At the recent State of Search Conference, more than 300 people met at the Hilton Hotel conference center in Richardson, Texas, to learn the latest on the topic of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and how to use it to help businesses drive website traffic.
The State of Search Conference 2013
The DFW Search Engine Marketing Association (DFWSEM) organized the day-long event, bringing in a full roster of well-known speakers like Rand Fishkin of MOZ, New York Times bestselling author, Bryan Eisenberg, and Duane Forrester from Bing.
The agenda was divided into four different tracks, SEO, Local, Paid Search and Social Media. Each track featured informative topics focusing on best practices for building a business online, attracting website traffic and reputation management with social media.
Opening Keynote: Building Great Digital Marketing Teams
The day started with a huge round of applause for the keynote speaker, Rand Fishkin. He strayed from his usual topic of SEO and spoke to us about building great digital marketing teams and how to recruit, hire and empower marketing teams to achieve remarkable results.
- Recruiting and hiring the right people is so important to his company that MOZ once offered a $12,000 referral bonus. However, they soon learned that large referral bonuses aren’t the answer.
- Finding, hiring and building the right team is one of the most important things you can do to improve your business.
- Who are the right people for your team? It’s a delicate balance between their skills, how well they perform their job and how well they fit in with your company’s culture, values and the rest of the team.
- To attract the best applicants, you should create a Career/Jobs pages on your website that tells a compelling story about your company. 4. How you treat your employees goes a long way to attracting new employees and helping your recruiting efforts.
- Forget those tired old interview questions. Ask questions that reflect their ideas about the job and how well they understand their role within the company.
Local Search and Social Media
I’ve read a lot about the growing trend toward hyper-local and locally focused websites, so I decided to attend most of the presentation in the Local Track.
Bill Hetzer’s presentation, Local in 2013: Recent Updates & New Strategies, focused on how to use Google+ and Google Local. If you are not on Google’s social platform, Google+, you should start using it right away. Along with Google Authorship, Google+ and Google Local are essential elements of getting found in search engines.
- Local businesses should set up a Google Local and Google Local Carousel profile. This is especially important for retailers, restaurants and local service businesses.
- Adding EXIF data to photos will improve search results. You can use geosetter.com to embed EXIF data (NAP, url, tags and subject).
- Google Authorship
- Use a consistent format and date for your business NAP (Name, Address, Phone) across every online presence.
Dana DiTomaso from Kick Point presented an interesting session called Local SEO is for Everyone. Using the premise of selling football jerseys, she showed examples of how national retailers can increase their local search results.
- Even though you sell nationally, you can benefit from local searches by creating locally focused content.
- Research local trends and keywords with MOZ Competitive Link Finder tool or Google’s Trends and Keyword Planner to optimize your content. Use regional and local lingo for keywords. This is also useful data for a sponsored or paid Facebook ad.
Paula Keller ’s presentation on how to survive and thrive in local searches summed up many of the key points of Local Search. Did you know that 70% of U.S. households use the Internet before shopping locally? That means you need to take action to make sure your business is found online.
- Get your Google+ Local situation straight. Link your Google+ page to your website,.
- Dig deep on your citations / local listings. Again, use of a consistent NAP is essential. Use the same NAP on Google+ Local, on your website, social media profiles and on business directories.
- On-site optimization through proper landing pages. Create a Contact/Location page with a link to your Google Local page that includes a map. Clean up any duplicate and incorrect citations.
- Use getlisted.org or other sites to find unclaimed directory listings for your business.
Content is Still King
As a web content copywriter, I was glad to hear about the importance of content continuing to drive searches. With Google’s ever-changing algorithms, creating useful, relevant content for your websites is the best way to improve your search results.
While content should be optimized for search engines to find you, the old “black hat” SEO tricks no longer work. Compelling and interesting content will always be a best practice.
BIG News from Bing
The closing keynote speaker, Duane Forrester, senior product manager at Bing, gave us a very lively and informative presentation on the future of search.
- The use of mobile devices will continue to affect searches. Not just mobile phones, but tablets and new technologies, like Google Glass and even voice-activated services in your car. There are more than 9 billion devices in use and the average household has five mobile devices.
- Websites will need a better UX (user experience). We will have to reorganize the web for task completion, helping the user understand the web.
- Focus on content. Create a content strategy that includes unique, compelling content that gets shared organically.
Duane introduced Bing’s new feature, Connected Pages. This allows businesses to claim their social media pages and connect them to their Bing Webmaster Tools account. The Bing Connected Pages dashboard will show search metrics and website traffic sources.
The State of Search Conference was a day filled with information. There was so much information to take in that I need to review my notes to remind me of some of my next action steps.
With a few people live blogging, many of the key points from the day’s sessions tweeted and most of the presentations available on SlideShare, I’m glad I will have an opportunity to review the sessions I missed.