Last year when working in London, I had the privilege to attend SES the Search Engine Strategies conference in London. Being back on home soil obviously means that this year I have had to miss out however I have been following the guru’s who have attended the event to provide Australia’s digital network with some of the key learning’s from the event.
Overall from all the commentary it seems that there were no major new revelations but a lot of good nuggets to help SEOs improve their search strategy.
Conversions & Metrics
One of the hottest topics for the conference seemed to be centred around ways to drive intelligence out of your analytics to make more informed decisions about your search strategy. For too long SEOs have measured effectiveness of efforts through rankings and other superficial measures. However experts have taken the opportunity at this conference to challenge SEOs thinking. Below are some of the different ways SEOs should consider slicing and dicing their data to gain new insight (and in fact many of these can be applied to other channels to compare success).
1. Search term segmentation
One of the new measures organizations are looking at is to quantify brand engagement (I think it is more recall) through analyzing search and direct visitor traffic;
Brand Engagement (recall) = (Direct site visitors + Brand Searches) / (Total Search Visits + Direct Visits)
To me however search term segmentation extends well beyond generic vs brand terms. Grouping keywords into topics / related segments and analyzing onsite behavior and conversion is a useful way to understand how certain kinds of keywords are performing and where some of the best traffic / value is being derived from with your search activities. This analysis enables SEOs to determine where their effort is best spent.
2. Per visit values
The per visit value equation allows SEOs to go beyond traffic. This measure allows SEOs to determine how much value monetary or otherwise is on average delivered by each visitor to a site.
Visit Value: Goal Value Total From Search / Total Search Visits
By understanding this value SEOs can develop strategies to improve that value or alternatively use this information to forecast the future value that can be gained through further investment.
For non e-commence sites this one is often a little trickier, however like ecommerce sites traffic = revenue but just in a different form. Non revenue generating sites need to attribute advertising $$$ and value derived from visitors. By doing so non e-commerce sites can start to become more strategic in their analysis of value from search and traffic in general.
Aside from measurement and conversion some of the other important topics covered were related to content and strategy. Whilst I didn’t glean as much from these there are definitely some golden moments that are worth reiterating.
SEO Strategy & Content
Planning – “Chasing keywords is a reactionary way to develop your search strategy – it needs to be proactive”
With keyword research a staple in the search diet, this is definitely a new way of thinking about how to plan search. Should we ditch our keyword tools? On the contrary search marketers need to be smarter at identifying trends to get ahead of the search curve and use tools to identify these trends.
Execution – “Getting good at execution is key”
Search experts can benefit from riding the topic wave. 2 hours after Michael Jacksons death Amazon had revamped their whole MP3 site whilst competitors didn’t get anything up until the end of the week. Whilst sites being indexed within hours of making a change is a luxury for some, the message here is clear – agility and quick execution in search can give you the edge over your competitors.
Delivery – Content really can disappoint
For years organisations have allowed search people to bastardise their site in pursuit of rankings but now search industry has to evolve. The bottom line is more time needs to go into the planning of content to really understand user behaviour and to deliver high quality engaging content. In this era content just for search will fail it will be those who build for the user first and the search engine second that will win.
The above are of course just my highlights from the event. If you want to read more on the outcomes of the event I have attached some of the best blog coverage on the seminars. Enjoy!