SES Chicago 2011 1/2 Conference Recap

sesbannerI had the wonderful opportunity to visit Chicago this week for the SES Conference. Mark Jackson and I also had the chance to take part in the ClickZ Academy where we helped present on SEO fundamentals. A big thanks goes out to all attendees of our presentation. I was unable to stay in town for the whole show but did try to cram in as many sessions as possible for the first half of the conference.

While the sessions I attended where chock full of great tips, tools and methodologies for search strategies; it was not hard to recognize a resounding theme. Most of all the tracks weighed upon SEO not being just about traffic and rankings but also about the user experience and conversion optimization. While this would obviously be implicit in a Conversion Optimization session, it was found across all genres from SEO 2.0 to Information Architecture for the modern Website.

A secondary focus I noticed across the sessions was a reinforcement on search and social integration. It simply has to be a part of your mix. Those who understand how to make them play well together will win and those who ignore the relationship will lose.

Below are a few key takeaways from individual tracks at the conference.

Winning! Measuring Social Media Success
Eli Goodman
-People that are fans of your Facebook pages are likely to have different personas than your regular site traffic.
-Friends of Facebook fans seem to be younger than fans themselves. (Interesting)
-Remember fans come from other countries too!
-When a Facebook user sees something he likes, he is more inclined to visit the site through a Facebook click than by finding the page on his own.
-A Facebook fan spends more time on the fanned site by 8% and transacts at a 11% higher rate.
-Most branding happens in a user’s news feeds than on a company’s fan page.

Tami Dailey
-Social media value is different for each brand for both fans and consumers.
-Increase fans on Facebook and get new consumers.
Case Study: Buy one get one free worked way better than just a $1 off. Achieved a 90% redemption rate too!
-Brand awareness
Case Study: A leading retailer found that when they created 4000 FB pages, one for each US location, they had 21 million impressions and 2.2M engagements.
-Revenue/Conversions
Example: Visitor A may spend $500 and Visitor B may spend $35. However, Visitor B may be more profitable — if he is more vocal and thus a key influencer.
-Connect the dots between social sharing and revenue. Average order values are 48% higher through social sharing.If eyes are the windows to your soul then fan comments are the windows to their thoughts.Your fans are your survey base.
Example: 48% of fans referenced a specific product. 17% mentioned the trench coat and now the company has the trenchcoat in the window of the store and posters of the trenchcoat just inside the store.

Duplicate Content
Eric Enge

-Don’t syndicate content all over the Web.  It won’t help you.
-Create new and original content.
-Use rel=canonical.  It will help against scraping and help to show origination point.
-Even if you are first to post, if Google thinks a scraping site is better fit to show the scrape then they will out show you.
you. (Very surprised by this!)
-Duplicate content is not a penalty, it is a “filter”. They choose not to show you.

IA(Information Architecture) For The Modern Site.
Shari Thurow

-If someone comes to your site and doesn’t find the content respective to the SERP display, there is only a 12% chance they will ever come back to your site.
-A sound IA reduces the chance for duplicate content.
-Architecture precedes design and development. Create content then address the technical considerations.
-Don’t let the technical crew review the IA, have usability people do it.
-Tip: Take the tags out of a page and ask people what the page is about. If they still cannot tell where they are on a site then there is a problem.
-Don’t give people too many options on a Web page.
-Be mindful of not having too many links on a page. You will confuse people.
-User Generated Content: contact good reviewers to see if they have reviewed other products.
-Reward good reviewers.
-IA happens long before a site is built, not after! Remember usability, labeling and organization.

UGC (User Generated Content) SEO
Michael Dehaven

-Most major eCommerce sites have 80-90% of content that is comprised of UGC.
-Use auto suggest to get keywords for consideration 1.Don’t forget the fundamentals of SEO
– Search engines get bored. Refresh your content. UGC helps to do this.
-Don’t have an unbalance of content on a page. Too much UGC drowns out keyword focus.
– Unlock the long tail vault.
– Ask for content at relevant times. Ex., Ask for the hotel review while they are staying at the hotel.
– Convert reviewers into advocates.  5% of reviewers will become advocates that will answer multiple FAQs and such.
– Can reviews improve SEO for a well optimized site? Yes.  The freshness of content makes for quick improvement.
– Case Study: UGC usage showed 23% lift quickly.
– Case Study: Large outdoor retailer saw a 200% lift in traffic and Googlebot visits came 200% more frequently. They removed the content.  – – – Google quit coming around.  They put it back up and Google starting crawling more again.
-Shoot for 6-8 reviews per product page.
-80/20 rule: 20% of professional content and 80% generated by users.
-UGC beyond SEO: By 2014, 53% of all purchases will be influenced by online research.

Conversion Tools of the Master Craftsman
Bryan Eisenberg

-It’s about tools, people and process.
-56 billion dollars has been spent on driving traffic this year, but conversion rates are the same as in 1998.
-48% think they have no control over their conversions.
-Don’t slice and dice optimization as too many tests can be bad and force inaccurate results.
-Don’t create random changes.  Instead find out why people are interacting the way they are.
-Analytics are not a numbers list.  It is a to do list. (Love this)
-Ask people for feedback.  What is the biggest challenge in buying “product X”
-Set up call tracking.
-When a form is submitted and not responded to in one hour, its loss of convertibility is 6x.
-Check your page load speed.
-Optimize the price for certain referral channels. Ex., Half price shipping for PPC visitors.
-Spend 80% of your time on your headline and 20% on your copy.
-Consider form layout and labeling.
-Badging: match the wording of your ad to the copy on the linked page. Maintain scent!
-Never write an ad your site can’t cash.

SEO 2.0: Less is More
Sam Michelson

-Remember to not SEO so heavy.  You lose out on convertibility.
-With usability you can create goals.
-Traffic without conversions doesn’t work.
-Think like your customers.  What is their keyword-speak?  What are they likely looking for besides a product?

Convergence of Search, Social and Content Marketing
Aaron Kahlow

-With a campaign don’t think of it as one channel, such as search.  Bring them in and feature a social link to join a group and create additional channels to help bring people in to begin their funnel to a conversion.

Arnie Kent

-Research.  Come up with ideas and then create content.
-93% of buyers online or in stores use search before making a purchase.
-86% use non-branded queries.
-94% of users click on organic listings than do paid listings.
-Think about how users search for your content. What are the keyword searches they use? Use Google Auto-Suggest tool and be mindful of the long tail
-Check trending on Twitter, Yahoo and MSN.-Check answer sites such as Yahoo Answers and Quora as well as questions and conversations on Linkedin and Facebook.
-Check Google discussions.-See what content gets voted on in Digg, Stumbleupon and Reddit.
-Create  content that answers these questions.
-Look at OSE to see how competitors are getting links to their content. What types of links are they getting links from?
-Can you answer the question with images and video to better cover 1st page coverage for Universal Search.

Lee Odden
-SEO is the peanut butter, social is the jelly and content is the bread.
-In interactive search dominates, but social is becoming more popular.
-Optimization is a state of mind.  It is a holistic view. What are we optimizing though?
-53% of all time spent on the Internet is in content consumption.
-Go out to a social environment and see what questions are asked about your topic. Answer online and be the provider of content.
-Study shows 1% use social alone for brand discovery, 52% use search alone and 48% use social and search. Who is your customer?  PC vs. mobile?  Do they like your long content or short content?

Plan of attack:
-Research customer segments
-Keywords, topics, message
-Content and promotion plan
-SEO and then promote

Well, there it is. That was the first half of the conference. I hope you found some useful and actionable ideas here!