Earlier this month, my colleague Lindsey Murray and I attended Search Engine Watch’s first Connect Conference, a brand new industry event that brought together top practitioners and innovators from around the globe to discuss in the very latest technology, strategy and thinking across paid and organic search. I was impressed with the turnout, energy, outstanding presenters and the overall depth of knowledge that was shared.
Rapid changes in the current customer-centric landscape, including the incredible growth of mobile, changes in user behavior and smarter search tactics, keeps us all on our toes. Nonetheless, as someone with more than 15 years of search engine marketing experience, I wasn’t sure how much new learning I should expect from the event. To my delight, the conference did not disappoint. Below are three of my favorite takeaways from the SEO-focused sessions I attended over the two days.
my top three SEO takeaways from #ConnectConference
1. funnels, not so much
To directly quote the very talented and award-winning marketing and analytics author Avinash Kaushik, “Funnels, f*$king funnels!” A lively keynote speaker known for his demonstrative style and passionate delivery, Kaushik believes we can’t really know where people belong in a conversion funnel without knowing their intent. Is your organization listening to what the customer is telling you they want, or are you stuck in an old school process that you think works? Kaushik challenges us to change the habits of marketing and, going forward, to focus on customer intent.
2. sometimes more is more
When it comes to content length, there are a lot of opinions as to what’s considered optimal. However, in the words of Martin Macdonald, Head of SEO for Orbitz and a fantastic presenter: “More content generally results in higher rankings.” Macdonald showed how pages that rank in the first five positions on search engine results pages contain a minimum of 2,000 words on the page, sharing data from the US Auto Industry (2013). As you can see in the chart below, there does appear to be a drop in content length as one moves from the first to tenth position and, on average, 10th position pages have 400 less words on the page than first position pages. While this data is not segmented in any way, it does point to the trend that higher ranked sites have more content.
3. local wins
Nearly every search conducted online has local intent, whether it’s someone looking for paint, luggage or a last minute dinner reservations. Businesses, and marketers working on their behalf, should make sure the URL, business name, address and phone number is 100% consistent everywhere they appear online. Start with data providers such as Axciom and Experian, and claim all listings for your business and then remove the duplicates. Use a local phone number whenever possible—consumers anticipate that 800-numbers will route them to a call center. And this last tip, while not immediately intuitive, is a great one: encourage users to review your business on Google, as leaving reviews on TripAdvisor or Yelp can cause those sites to outrank your own.
Thanks to Search Engine Watch for great speakers, lively camaraderie and a worthwhile event. Read more takeaways from the event in my colleague’s post, “hot paid search topics at Search Engine Watch’s Connect Conference”
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