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What I Learned By Attending More Search Conferences Than Is Really Healthy in the Last Few Months

I think it’s the time of the year but I’ve found myself scuttling all over Europe speaking and attending search, affiliate and digital conferences. It’s been good fun even if my liver has taken a bit of punishment – I have learnt a huge amount.

One of the interesting things about seeing speeches from experts all over Europe and in a variety of industry sectors is you start to pick up on themes and similarities in what they are saying. In this blog post I wanted to discus some of those patterns, as I think they are a good indicator of what we should all be thinking about.

Personalisation


Whether it’s down to cookies, referrer stream data or data based on your social connections it’s become increasingly apparent that you need to understand how to better personalise your offering.

At the moment many of the forms of personalisation do seem a little on the ‘creepy’ side, but that’s an inevitable stage for new technology, before it becomes common place. But potential privacy issues aside as a marketer I find the ability to treat your customers more like individuals has huge potential and power. But as any good comic book fan will tell you, with great power comes great responsibility.

Structure

Structure and the web isn’t sexy, but it’s important and should be something for every marketer to think about. The trend of structure is a diverse on, from new but vitally important mark up languages like schema.org, the world of APIs and the apps and websites built around them, the return of tagging with hashtags and Blekko to even open source.

The rise of WordPress and Drupal are huge, they have been around for years but, I think finally people no longer have to worry about the content management system behind their site. That’s dealt with. They can focus their thoughts, time and budget on experimenting built on that strong foundation. Want to build a job board? There’s a plug-in for that, membership site? Plug-in in, even the themes like Genesis and Thesis allow people to worry about less about technology and concentrate on creativity.

Alternative Algorithms

What does it mean to be a search engine marketer when you’re spending time promoting content on Twitter or Facebook? When Local relies on a different set of rules and signals to normal search, are you in a different discipline? I like to think of my role increasingly as a marketer who understands algorithms; that algo might be Facebook’s Edgerank, Google Local, YouTube or some yet un-decided Twitter search system. You need to understand how marketing works but you also need to get your head around the signals and patterns the algos are influenced by change your approach accordingly.

Data Driven Decisions

We’ve always liked to play up how measurable search marketing is, it’s a strong hand to play against traditional forms of marketing, however we’re only really just beginning to scratch the surface how we can use data to gain insight and make better marketing decisions as a consequence.

Keyword Research has always been at the heart of the art of search marketing but I’m seeing huge value in interest driven content development based on Google Auto-suggests. When the keyword research tool was hidden away you had to know what you were looking for. Now every person sees suggestions based (to some extent) on user data – as a consequence content creators are doing a better job fulfilling those needs.

We’ve been playing about a lot recently with predictive modelling, it’s still predictions, but with every test and experiment we’re growing in confidence in our ability to predict the future! And that’s before you even start talking about tools like Website Optimiser taking multi-variant testing mainstream.

It’s an exciting time to be a digital marketer, and I know with all the ideas spinning round in my head I’m going to be a busy boy.

If you enjoyed this blog post you might appreciate this slide show on the same topic.

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2 Comments
  • jason @ internet marketing on July 10, 2011

    Some great points there Kelvin. Let’s hope your liver hols out for a few more years – at least until we’ve bled you dry of ideas and articles!

  • Eric Walters on October 28, 2011

    Kelvin, the slide show technology doesn’t allow for viewing on iPad – well, not using the Go Reader App anyway. Always enjoy the podcast (which I usually listen to whilst commuting between my office and clients in locations up to 2 hours from home).
    Have joined Limked In group: thanks for all your good work.
    Regards, Eric Walters – Brisbane, Australia

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