This was my first ever 'techy' event as an emerging SEO content writer. I've been told that my role is 'the future of internet marketing', an opinion echoed at Distilled's event last night, so no pressure then, none what-so-ever. I only ask that those who are technologically endowed bear with me as I attempt to untangle some of the buzzwords banded around at last night's event...(erm...what does GIS stand for again?)
Will Critchlow: Internet Trends for Marketers (@WillCritchlow)
All speakers gave a succinct overview of their topics with invaluable tips that the digital industry could take away and implement almost immediately. What I enjoyed about Will Critchlow's talk was his BC 2013 retrospective of the digital age and prophecies of where technology will be ten years from now. These weren't outlandish predictions, the guy had graphs, statistics and angry birds on his slides, so must clearly know what he's talking about.
Since 2003, we've emailed on our mobiles, 'skyped', we transferred to broadband, albeit a slow connection, and streamed cats doing stupid things. Will predicts that not a lot will change - but insisted that everything would be smaller, or 'micro'. We will still be using a small-screen to email, read and stream so that our devices can continue to fit in our pocket, immediately available for many growing everyday needs like the 'micro-payment' which Will predicted will be on the rise (possibly spearheaded by Amazon via some sort of 'always logged on' feature.
There will also be an amalgamation of devices, as consumer behaviour has shown that we use our phones, tablets and pcs interchangeably. Our computer will curate more of what we actually see based upon what we actually engage with, and the internet will just get faster and faster as it reaches more and more people.
Will also provided insight into the future of social media and how he believes internet marketers should be focusing their activities over the next few years. He pulled up a great example using 'Snow Fall: The Avalance at Tunnel Creek' which featured in the New York Times whereby a significant amount of time and effort was placed into producing a very long article with some clever programming going into the production of a 'live' background. Will's point with this was that the article has been shared everywhere but that he doubts many people have actually paid it any attention. That, he stated was what we need to work harder on in the future. Social media is not just about likes, tweets and shares but about getting attention and engagement by having real people actually see your stuff online rather than simply glossing over headlines and clicking a social link.
What did Will think would be the future of search:
- Brands and marketers will need to build up a genuine readership to compete with computer curation
- Implementing the personal authority stamp
- Brands as real publishers
- Banks setting up APIs
- Putting unexpected people in charge to generate original content
- Positioning yourself as the first of firsts - can be difficult and dependant on chance
Chelsea Blacker: The Future of Local SEO (@ChelseaBlacker)
Chelsea introduced a number of local SEO strategies which I think shouldn't be overlooked. Google is increasingly pulling in data from maps, review sites and business directories, reiterating the priority that Google places upon the personal authorship.
If we're hungry we'll look locally, if our car breaks down, we search for a local garage - it's just common sense really. This is where GIS (Geographic Information Systems) steps in, if you're optimised for local listings, this system will display your business to the 1-3 people that search locally. And with the growing number of smartphones, you need to take your local visibility into account.
Chelsea advised that for local search we reach out to the local markets also, so contact local newspapers, radio stations and businesses. This would therefore start to compile a much larger feeling of 'local' around your business by having links and content from authoritative local sources.
Here are some of Chelsea's hot tips for the future of local SEO:
- List everything, everywhere - Use Google maps with at least 5 high quality images. Use geocoding so people can get directions on the move
- Get power reviewers onside - positive Google reviews will help you rank higher
- Create a landing page for every address
- Take advantage of Schema.org mark up and Google's rich snippet feature - those gold stars are priceless
- Blogger outreach - Content continues to reign
Nick Beck: Integration between Social & Search (@NicholasBeck)
Nick re-introduced me to something that I thought was a dead feature on Facebook - Facebook notes. I really didn't think I'd hear 'Facebook notes' and the term 'the evolution of social and search' in the same sentence, but apparently it's true. The authority of Facebook can raise rankings, if only for a small time, but could be crucial if you want to integrate your presence for a timely event.
Other tips from Nick Beck for social and search integration were somewhat obvious such as 'sharing buttons and 'link building' but here are a couple that I felt were more tactical and somewhat dastardly:
- Optimise your property for timely events - become part of the conversation to raise your brand's profile
- Stamp your authority on the search results by ensuring you dominate the rankings for your brand. How? Make sure you're signed up to all of the major social networks as Google tends to favour these, ensuring any pesky bloggers who have written about you are pushed off the first page
- Add stars to PPC ads
In summary, the event was succinct and informative, until a member of the audience implicated that there was a horizon for Microsoft and Google, unwittingly admitting that he had probably been asleep for the past 45 minutes or since the dawn of the internet.
"Will Critchlow - Internet Trends for Marketers" presentation slides
"Chelsea Blacker - Local SEO in 2013" presentation slides
"Nick Beck - Social Search" presentation slides