Search Down Under – SEO Cafe Learnings

SEO Marketing

On Tuesday evening in a boardroom in Elizabeth Street MELBOURNE, 12 marketers / search professionals gathered for a roundtable discussion on organic search. This discussion was the first “trial” session for myself and my friends at internet retailing to facilitate a discussion around the topic of search in Australia.

The session was attended by marketers / search professionals from agencies and client side roles and were from all experience levels. What was great to see was the enthusiasm from those with expertise to share strategies and techniques and the thirst of knowledge from beginners. The session covered a range of discussion topics from social search through to algorithm changes, link building and measurement, and this article summarises the key learnings from the events discussion.

Googles Mayday Algorithm Changes

Google’s latest algorithm change in May termed “Mayday” has been dubbed the long tail game changer with many larger websites potentially feeling the effects of a loss in traffic from Google’s algorithm update. The session explored the impact of the Mayday change and the general consensus was that some had definitely seen a decline in traffic from long tail terms whilst others had seen steady month on month traffic.

Has your site been affected?

Through Google analytics advanced segmentation marketers / search pro’s can segment short tail and long tail terms into 2 categories and analyse the behaviour of each. For those wishing to utilise this segmentation technique refer to the following article which provides a quick link for the segment to be set up within your Google analytics profile – http://www.davidnaylor.co.uk/google-analytics-short-taillong-tail-segmentation.html

Twitter & Facebook Search

Twitter SearchThe group discussed the opportunity which lies within social search, however the discussion around “social search” being a search channel in its own right delivered some interesting insight. During the discussion statistics about the current volume of searches being conducted on some of the major social platforms and the growth potential in the future were shared.

Facebook Search; comScore said search queries on Facebook grew from 395 million in January 2010 to 436 million in February 2010, a growth of 10 percent. And by May 2010, search engine watch was quoting 600 million searches.

Twitter Search Statistics; According to statistics released at SMX Australia there are 500 million searches being conducted globally per month.

Leveraging This Opportunity

Viewing social channels as search platforms in their own right provides new opportunities for SEOs. By optimising content posted / shared on these platforms to maximise visibility for relevant searches, organisations can start to tap into the potential value derived from the many searches already occurring within the social space.

Measurement – Metrics To Measure Search Performance

Google AnalyticsThe discussion turned to how search pro’s and marketers are measuring organic search efforts. Whilst personalisation and localisation are playing an increasing role within SERPs it seems many still utilise ranking tools to measure performance alongside of other key indicators such as back links, indexed pages and of course traffic generated through search efforts and the engagement / conversion of that traffic.

However one of the most interesting comments regarding measurement surfaced around brand vs non brand related terms and how marketers should measure these as part of search performance. As search is an acquisition channel, should brand related searches count as a win for SEO traffic, or brand? Some within the group advised that brand terms are omitted from reporting the performance of search which is an interesting phenomenon. At the very least marketers need to consider if they should be segmenting organic search into 2 categories brand vs non brand search – as brand related searches could increase within any given month as a result of other marketing/brand initiatives and thus could skew general SEO performance.

Google’s Vertical Search Strategy & Implications

Vertical search has obviously been a key area of development / innovation for Google and Bing over the past year and it is interesting to see Google replicate a lot of filtering tools deployed by Bing in 2009. However one of the most interesting which was discussed during the session was the ramifications of the new “fewer shopping sites” filtering options on the search results page. Unfortunately for eCommerce sites, if a user selects this filtering option – it remains selected for subsequent searches – this may therefore result in many eCommerce sites dropping off page 1 of SERPs during an entire user browsing session – which could have significant ramifications on traffic.

It is difficult to quantify the impact these latest changes are having on sites. In addition it is also difficult to determine if Google have made this latest change to support the introduction of Google products into Australia and globally, however there is no doubt that this will be an topic that will be discussed in greater detail by local marketers / SEO’s over the coming months.

Thank you to all who attended the event. And for those that didn’t I hope the above summary provides some useful insight to further improve your organic search efforts.

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