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On Tuesday evening, I popped down to London with my colleague Nick Andrews to check out Jo Turnbull’s latest Search London event, Authorship and Schema Markup, Social Media and Google+ Local.

The event was twice as good as any previous ones we had been to, with two excellent speakers on stage this time, as opposed to the usual one and an excellent choice of venue. In our experience a venue can make or break an event such as this, regardless of how good the speaker might be however the venue for this event was fantastic.

Held at the Doggetts Coat and Badge just off Blackfriars Bridge, the pub was able to provide a dedicated conference room offering no interruptions, good quality speaking equipment (although there were a few issues with the wireless microphones!) and a very informal / relaxing atmosphere with panoramic views of the London skyline and river Thames.

Paul Chaloner: Social Media and Google+

Paul Chaloner of Fresh EggFirst off, we had the pleasure of listening to the head of social media at Fresh Egg, Paul Chaloner. This was the first time we’d had the opportunity to listen to Mr Chaloner and he did not disappoint. He gave us a talk on Social Media and Google+.

Paul did a good job in selling the importance of Social Media to the audience, although I myself am still hesitant in the amount it effects search engine results (certainly anything more than short-term gains). The importance of using social media, as well as examples for it being used for customer service, reputation and brand awareness were all outlined. Quotes from Dave Coplin and Google’s Pierre Far were also highlighted; quotes taken from April’s Brighton SEO event I believe, used to highlight the importance of quality content.

We were taught to integrate everything into everything, to plan and prepare our social media campaigns and were given some suggested tools to measure the success of a social media campaign:

Social media monitoring

Emphasis was put on the importance of using Google+, which is expected to have over 400 million users by the end of the year. Paul also mentioned on more than one occasion about how broken Google+ is at the moment, but that didn’t come as a surprise in our Receptional corner. Getting control of our Google Place listings as a business is a struggle these days.

Paul concluded his talk with the word FARQ… Freshness, Amplification, Relevancy and Quality. Paul’s slides can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/seojoblogs/social-media-and-google-2012.

Unlike some speakers that we have listened to over the years, Paul was very aware of his audience. He made a noticeable effort to keep the talk both light-hearted and on-point, ensuring that any presentation points requiring little time spent on them were quickly mentioned without any level of detail. Similarly he ensured that questions requiring lengthy answers mid-presentation were referred back to at the end so as not to hold up the second speaker Lisa Myers and to keep his presentation moving forward. This was certainly one of the best presentations we have had the pleasure of listening to.

Lisa Myers: Authorship and Schema Markup

Lisa Myers of Verve SearchThe second speaker, Lisa Myers from Verve Search gave us a talk on Using Schema.

Both Nick and myself had seen Lisa present a number of times before and as expected she didn’t disappoint. Some areas of Lisa’s presentation had been touched upon in the first talk by Paul so there was a smooth and natural feeling transition in some instances from the first talk into that of Lisa’s.

Lisa emphasised throughout her talk that it’s much, much easier to set up schema than a lot of bloggers and industry professionals make it out to be. She made references to this blog post, by Ben Holbrook on more than one occasion: http://www.vervesearch.com/blog/seo/how-to-implement-the-relauthor-tag-a-step-by-step-guide/

Search LondonExamples of recipes with 5* reviews and length of cooking time appearing in Google’s results were demonstrated, as well as shopping results. The advantage of using schema, we were informed, was that it grabs attention, aids you in dominating the SERPs, helps develop trust and increases your click through rate. Oh, and conversions too apparently.

Lisa made a very clear point that with the changing face of what we would consider ‘traditional search’, you don’t need to be top of the search results to obtain a search user’s click. The enticing listings with Schema markup and linked Google+ profiles means that you can get more clicks than the top results if your listings look better. Hopefully that’s true of me, now that my face appears next to my blog posts in Google, like so:

Schema example

Takeaways from this talk by the 2011 Search Personality of the Year were to implement schema as soon as possible (at the very least, implementing Rel=Author and Reviews).

Summary

Both Nick and I were in agreement after the event that it was by far one of the better ones that we had made the trip from Bedfordshire to London to be a part of. We were extremely impressed with both Paul and Lisa, taking away some interesting thoughts and ideas for debate back at Receptional.

The networking that followed the event was probably not the best we had experienced with many people leaving fairly early on following the end of Lisa’s talk however those that did stay for the duration offered engaging discussion over a few drinks.

Search London did a great job with this event and we will certainly be making an effort to attend the next one.

#SearchLondon – Schema Markup and Google+ Local rated 5 stars by Barrie Smith5 Stars

References

Paul’s presentation slides can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/seojoblogs/social-media-and-google-2012

Lisa’s slides can be found here: http://www.slideshare.net/lisadmyers/schema-rich-snippets

Photographs from the event can also be seen on the Search London Meetup Group page: http://www.meetup.com/search-london/photos/9647642/

#SearchLondon