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3 Important Takeaways from SearchFest 2012

February 27, 2012

SearchFest 2012 Portland

SearchFest 2012 took place in Portland last week, once again bringing together everything search and social in the Pacific Northwest. Here are my three key takeaways from this year’s event.

1. Search and social marketing is very much alive and kicking

The morning keynote from Eli Goodman (ComScore) threw out some pretty compelling statistics where search marketing and social media is concerned, including:

  • There are more than 3.5 million search engine searches being made per minute
  • 42% of people are logged into Google when they search
  • Google +1 results are showing up for over 1.2 million searches
  • 12% of Google searches contain social signals (compared to only 5% in Bing)

Google Plus may not be popular amongst the search community, but it’s a force that can’t be ignored. With Google+ we are now seeing a much stronger convergence between search marketing and social media. With the emphasis that Google has been putting on Google+ as a social search signal, SEO folks should be caring very much right now about social signals and social influence, and what this means to organic rank.

2. Company education is a must

The problem with social media is that “everyone” is an expert… or so they think. In the Social Analytics session, Kelly Feller (Citrix) and Justin Kistner (Webtrends) highlighted to me the importance of social media education within a client company. In particular:

Moving people away from a check-list mentality — People within your company need to understand that setting up accounts in places like Facebook and Twitter is very much a long-term commitment, not a short-term campaign, nor something that simply gets checked off your marketing “to-do” list.

Setting up a Facebook page simply to support a one-off launch or program that goes away at the end of the month is about as stupid as buying likes or followers (ie: please stop this madness). Which leads nicely into…

Helping marketers to understand the concept of EdgeRank — Followers are important, otherwise you’d be wasting time talking to yourself. However, follower count should never be your main success metric. Justin revealed that on Facebook, less than 3% of your followers will actually see your page content. This is because of EdgeRank.

In short, EdgeRank is Facebook’s algorithm and it decides whether or not your post is worth showing on people’s news feed, based upon whether your followers are interacting with it (for example, through liking or commenting). Essentially, what this means is that having 100 followers who interact with your Facebook content is better than 100,000 followers who don’t.

Surprisingly, not a lot of general marketers know this. It’s often assumed that if something gets posted on your page, then it will go out to everyone. Not true. Unfortunately, this can lead to some silliness when it comes to setting metrics and the use of campaign-based accounts.

At one point, Intel had over 200 different Facebook pages, most of which were lying dormant after campaigns came to an end. I can’t help thinking that a better understanding of these concepts up front could help reduce some of the clean-up further down the road.

3. Use site maps for universal advantage

We know that HTML and XML sitemaps are important to help search engines index and “understand” the structure of your website content. Often, our sitemaps are based on products/services. However, Marshall Simmonds (Define Media Group) and Rhea Drysdale (Outspoken Media) highlighted the importance of sitemaps that help support our presence in universal search results, including sitemaps for:

  • Video
  • Images
  • News
  • Blogs

Where video is concerned, you can also add your YouTube videos to your video sitemap, as long as the video is embedded on your site. Why would you do this? Because over 80% of universal video search comes from YouTube.

Additional Information

Catch up with all the action from this year’s SearchFest with the event hashtag #searchfest

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