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Search Engine Strategies London underlines importance of social search

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By: NMK Created on: February 27th, 2012
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The annual Search Engine Strategies (SES) London conference ran from 20-24 February 2012 and brought the UK’s growing search industry together to assess the key challenges in search marketing. So, just what did attendees learn? One overarching theme was that social search is set to dominate. By Chris Lee.

By Chris Lee

SES London continues to grow in stature, attracting heavyweight speakers, such as Google’s digital marketing evangelist, Avinash Kaushik. Key focuses this year included local mobile search, the growing role of social media influence in search, evolving search engine optimisation (SEO) best practice and paid search strategies.

So what did the attendees make of the event?

In his blog, Andrew Girdwood of digital marketing agency bigmouthmedia – who also spoke at the event – expressed his interest in Google’s hints that quality signals do exist which could affect search results.

“Some SEOs, including this blogger, suggest there is a category of quality signals that could be called ‘author authority’. This is based on very heavy suggestions from Google via Matt Cutts [Google’s SEO blogger] but is not accepted by all SEOs. What is certain is that Google has a new(ish) markup that lets qualified authors connect their content with their Google+ profile and have this connection displayed in the search results,” he wrote.

“Google did not confirm (or re-confirm) today that there was a quality signal collection for authors or that there was a connection between ranking signals and author markup. This is in-line with Google’s typical communication/no comment on the details of their algorithms even though they have previously blogged that trust and expert authors are factors that the Panda [Google’s quality update in 2011] examines,” he continued

Focus on social search

For Jackie Hole, a contributor to SEO blog State of Search, the key emphasis on social search and content marketing was an overarching theme of SES London 2012.

“Success in search and social is not possible if you are not taking the time to put together a well thought out content strategy and deliberately optimising for the keywords and keyword phrases that your prospects are using to find you,” she wrote of her take-outs from Krista LaRiviere of SEO software firm gShift Labs’ speech.

Google’s own SEO tips

In Wednesday’s session Google itself unveiled its top tips for SEO success. Those included:

• Do something cool (compelling content or service)

• Include relevant keywords in your copy

• Be smart about your tags and site architecture

• Attract natural links and votes/+1s/follows

• Sign up for email forwarding with [Google’s] Webmaster Tools

• Stay fresh and relevant (social media sites, new devices)

Social search is therefore becoming more and more relevant to brands, a key learning for Tobias Zehnder, head of operations and innovation for Zurich-based search agency Webrepublic.

“We love to attend SES not only to get new ideas and insights for our daily work as a search engine marketing and AdWords agency, but also to benchmark ourselves against the market on an international level,” he told NMK. “Some of the main takeaways from [Friday’s] sessions are the conclusion that social is gradually becoming a paid game as more and more companies compete for space on the users news feed. Also, social has a growing impact on search: social signals on landing pages, as shown by [BlitzLocal CEO] Dennis Yu in his exciting session, boost conversion rates and help to get most out of search ad budgets.”

The next SES Conference will be in New York, running from 19-23 March 2012.

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