3 Newbie Takeways from Search Engine Stategies

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This post may seem a little late in the game, but I just started at HMG Search Marketing as Organic Search Manager 2 weeks ago, where my first piece of business was to attend the Search Engine Strategies Conference in New York. Initially, I admit I was a little intimidated by the giant brain dump I was going to encounter, but soon realized that I already had a good SEO foundation from MaineToday.com, and finally relaxed to take it all in. I have pages and pages of notes, but here are my top 3 takeaways that can make a difference in search and internet marketing:

1. Analytics are useless unless you can drive real and meaningful action. That means, unless you can segment your audience, page views, uniques, referrers, etc. are all pointless bits of data. Segmentation is defined as the goals and motivations of visitors; what keywords did they use to find you? Where do they come from? Was it a social link? Other in-market links? Did the visitor engage with your site? Incorporate that into other stats, and you’ll get am actionable conversion rate. From there, build a story. People like stories, they don’t like numbers.

Side note about analytics: it was mentioned a few times that site stats are never accurate. Look at the trends, build your story from there. And don’t forget to look at the bounce rate. If something is not working, shouldn’t you look at it?

If you haven’t checked out Avinash Kaushik’s blog, Occam’s Razor, go now.

2. Did you know that 64% of search engine users are looking for business information? So if you’re into B2B, your SEO/SEM strategies need to follow the sales process. When you reach your prospects early, make sure that your PPC ad copy and your landing page copy reflect that phase in the buying cycle. There’s s a great opportunity to grow leads when people are only “researching” the web. Also offer multiple ways to have this prospect interact with you. They may not want to be contacted right away, so provide free content through a blog or whitepaper. Offer tools, or a tour of the product. Perhaps develop a microsite. Validate the inquiry, qualify the lead, then start the sales process.

3. Mahalo. Have your heard of it? You may have. Now, since I’m a newbie, I haven’t. But I have heard a bit about Jason Calacanis and the controversy that surrounds him. So Mahalo is worth sharing. In Jason’s words, it’s a “human-powered” search engine; basically, user-generated search results. Where is this going? To keep it short, it’s potentially the search source where your friends (trusted sources), crowds (recommendations and reviews) and machines (the search engines) meet. And if any site owner has disagrees with it’s Mahalo ranking, it is discussed, in public, so everyone can access it. I don’t know what to make of it, but he’s definitely a smart guy and on to something.