5 Loud and Clear Messages About Search, Social and Content Marketing

SMX West Search Marketing COnferenceIts not often that you get to sit in a room with leaders from Google, Facebook and Bing and learn where they think the internet is headed. These companies, and many others, sent their thought leaders to speak at SMX West, a search and social marketing conference in San Jose Ca. Much of the time, when I am at a conference, I am presenting, so it was great to have a chance to be in the audience and learn more about how search, social and content are converging to create marketing power.

Now, I admit, it was a total geek fest of information that would make most people’s eyes bleed. Luckily I love this stuff, so you don’t have to dive in that deep. It was intense, and some of it was way too technical for me so I made sure to take great notes to share with our SEO pro, Julie, who is enjoying her new daughter and had to take a pass on this one.

In the course of three intense days some trends came through loud and clear. This is what you need to know:

1. G+

Google is serious about Google Plus. They have made significant changes over the last few months – rolling Places into G+, requiring a G+ account to write a review, and most significantly, displaying search results based on who you are connected to on G+.

Presenter Mark Traphagen said “Unlike any other network, G+ extends your reach far beyond the network itself”. And in another session, Panelist Brent Csutoras said (strongly) that the one place he won’t automate social is on G+. In all other social networks, what you do is fairly self contained, with Google Integrating G+ into search, the impact of your footprint extends to your entire online presence.

2. Sharing

Last week I attended the District 2 CASE Conference where it was discussed that sharing could be considered the key measurement of success in social. I have seen this brought up on the AMA Nonprofit Marketing forum as well as other places lately and wrote about it in What Makes a Post Sharable?

It was a central topic at SMX West as well. Its not just social media, its not just a sharable web. We are moving to a connected economy where who you are, who you know and what you do are transparent and integrated into online functionality.

3. Content

In an online world where your audience has the power to share your story, you have to give them the tools to do that. If sharing is the key metric in connection marketing, your audience needs a constant stream of valuable items to like, comment on, and pass along. Building an audience, discovering what they respond to and developing sharable media will be critical to staying relevant.

4. Authority

If you already have a Google account, chances are you have done a search and seen the results populated with pictures of people who have created content. As Google pushes toward a connected web, they are also striving for identity and accountability. Search engines want to return the best results possible in order to keep you using their systems. The concept of “Authorship” for both individuals and brands was a big focus and it is likely to expand in the near future. This actually provides a lot of opportunity for content creators to capitalize on their knowledge and claim some real estate in search ranking.

5. Don’t game the system

The best way to show up well in search engines is to learn the rules, follow the rules and provide valuable content that is targeted well. Read about best practices in search from reliable sources  so you can work every angle without running risks. Getting back into Google listings after being booted may take a lot more effort than the tricks are worth.

So the good news is that I was able to narrow down three days of amazing ideas to five  areas to focus on. And that still leaves a lot of work ahead. Luckily I have a great stack of resumes for content creators lined up for interviews next week.