SiteSell Presents: SEARCH with David Amerland, Martin Shervington and Mark Traphagen
We are extremely excited to share with you our fourth and final broadcast of the SiteSell Presents series: SEARCH with David Amerland, Martin Shervington and Mark Traphagen. The event took place live on Monday, July 27th and was an intense and relevant topic, both for the panel and attendees.
Besides getting a chance to hear from such recognized experts as David, Martin, and Mark, we tackled questions like:
- What Is Semantic Search, Social Search, And Where Is Google Headed?
- What Can Businesses Do To Stay Ahead Of Google?
- What SEO Tools & Services Do You Recommend?
- Where Is Search Heading As It Relates To Content-driven Sites?
… and more!
Our SiteSell Presents: SEARCH Show Page has more information on the broadcast and our fantastic guests.
Watch the recording of SiteSell Presents: SEARCH –
Full Transcript of “SiteSell Presents: SEARCH with David Amerland, Martin Shervington and Mark Traphagen”
Mike: Hello everyone and welcome to the fourth and final episode of SiteSell Presents. I’m your host Mike Allton and today we’re talking about the power and intricacies of search. Search, specifically Google search, has continued to change and evolve seemingly on an hourly basis. And we’re going to explore where search is headed and how businesses can adapt. And you’re in for a real treat, as today’s guests are three of the top experts in this area. I’ll introduce each and then we’ll get into some questions for the panel but before I do, I want to remind all of you once more that if you’re watching live you can leave a comment with a question in the event page and we’ll try to get to it during the show. With that, let’s say hello to our guests. David Amerland is a professional advisor to companies globally. He blogs for a number of websites including Forbes, Journalism.co.uk, and Social Media Today, and he writes for magazines and newspapers. He explores the implications of semantic technology in daily life. Hello David, and welcome to the show.
David: Mike, hi, and I’m really happy to be here with the guests you have lined up.
Mike: Thank you, appreciate it. Next we have Martin Shervington; he’s a speaker, consultant, author, professional coach, and marketing psychologist. He has written several books and leads a thriving Google+ community and consulting service, Plus Your Business. Hello Martin, and welcome to the show.
Martin: Hello Mike Allton!
Mike: Thanks so much.
Martin: It’s good to be here. It’s good to be here with David and Mark. It’s a trio isn’t it?
Mike: It is, yeah. And finally, we have Mark Traphagen. He is the senior director of online marketing for Stone Temple Consulting. His mission is to help businesses get seen and heard to get their message out, and bring in people who want and need what they have to offer. His special know how is in the intersection and search. Hello Mark, and welcome to the show.
Mark: Hey Mike, thanks for having me, great to be here and like the others have said, this is kind of a Google+ reunion here. Love being with these guys, anytime, any excuse.
2.00 – Panelists Share More About Their Backgrounds
Mike: Awesome, I appreciate all three of you coming. So first I think it would be great if you each took a moment to share with us a little bit more about yourselves, what your background is, and we will start with David.
David: Ah, okay. Easy things first – I write books about search and marketing. I write articles on online sites like Forbes, again, on the same subjects but I also advise a number of Fortune 500 companies on the social media and search. So you sort of bring all those things together in a very sort of hopefully practical way.
Mike: Great. Martin, can you share a little bit more about yourself?
Martin: Yeah, so my first start was in organizational psychology and I spent the last three years really around the Google ecosystem, a lot around Google+ and now a lot on Google My Business, and with a strong focus on reviews and local search and that’s been a project now for the last however many months. You want more? Other than that, I’ll stop.
Martin: I’m sure I’ll say more as we go. But I tend to be looking at what you can be using social for, how you can build communities around content that leverages it into search and I think that’s something that probably formulated over the past few years that a lot of people are using which is to get engagement up in the same community build.
Mike: Great, and before we go to Mark, I want to share this comment from Ray Hiltz, he says, “Wow, it’s like the Google+ holy trinity.”
Mark: Be prepared to be disappointed if you’re…
Mike: Great. And Mark?
Mark: Yeah, so I have that super-meta job on marketing a marketing agency. I’m basically the marketing director for Stone Temple Consulting, which is about a 50 employee digital marketing agency. We deal with the Fortune 500 clients that David Amerland has left us, the few he leaves behind. We pick up his droppings. Historically an SEO agency that has evolved into an agency much more centered around content marketing but still with that technical SEO savvy. So that’s where we specialize.
04:21 – What Is Semantic Search, Social Search, And Where Is Google Headed?
Mike: That’s fantastic. So now I think it would probably be a good idea if we kind of brought everyone in the audience up to speed on current terminology and trends. So if the three of you could help us understand, what are things like semantic search, social shirts – search – and where is Google headed?
David: I’ll sort of kick it off. I think both Martin and Mark are going to be able to add a lot of detail here. So let’s draw a very big, broad picture here. How has search changed over the last two or three years? It’s changed dramatically and it’s changed a lot. Now essentially, search used to be something that was highly technical in terms of what we did on the site itself. And it was intended to help Google find it and then statistically present the results in a sort of certain order which allowed somebody to find the relevant, to sift through them and find the relevant answer. So in that world, there were two things. There was an uncertainty in terms of what the correct answer would be and Google used to rank sites in terms of that answer. There was an uncertainty from top to bottom and there was also an uncertainty whether within the ranked sites, there was the result you were looking for. You had to do the hard work as a person. The reason all of this happened is because Google didn’t really understand the language you used and it didn’t understand the intent behind the search and it had no way of understanding what you were actually looking for beyond your search query. And all this has changed now. Forget semantic search, we’re in a fully semantic technology world and what that means essentially is that the data which surrounds us, the data which we generate, the data which we’re embedding essentially constantly connects and from that connection we get constant refinement of meaning and purpose. So for instance, if we forget that we’re talking about digital and we think how we operate in the real world, if you think about the relationships which we have with the people around you, they’re in a constant state of flux. In flux in terms of what they do, what they say, how they say it, what you say, what you said, what happened, what you hope will happen. So all of these are constantly recalculated on a daily, hourly basis within the work environment. The same thing is now happening algorithmically in search and not only in search but also through the devices and the connections we make, through the data we generate, and all of that is pulled together in the search interface for our own purposes here every time we actually look for something. Is it perfect? Far from it. It’s a huge task. There are huge holes in it still that are constantly being filled in. It’s getting better and better every day and we’re seeing a change in direction of optimization and websites which now have to deliver value, they have to deliver uniqueness in style and voice rather than just content and also they have to have a very strong social component because of that. And I will leave it here because obviously Martin and Mark have very important insights on both of these things.
Martin: I thought we’d just leave David talk for the whole time because he’s got it covered hadn’t he?
Mark: Martin and I get to just nod our heads.
Martin: I make notes when I’m with David. That’s a nice bit. You want to dive in a little bit on the social side? You mentioned social SEO and then pass it over to Mark. So what David is saying is that the activities that you take and the next bit is the people who are connected with you, the people who are engaging with you around your content, starts to signal to Google something. And that something is going to be dependent upon the person, the people [kids screaming] and the nature of the content itself. When it comes to search, if we look at an example of a blog post, and some people think that just posting onto Google+ in its own right without any engagement at all gets it ranked and gets it a good chance of it getting to appear on the first page and all of this is here and you hear all of these things. There’s an opportunity to think about this differently in terms of social and the relationship with search. When a person who is in your network engages on your content, the potential for people to see that content that are in their network increases. So that either increases through spreading in social, the +1 recommend button for instance on Google+ spreads it socially. We know the same in, if you look at this for spread in Facebook, it spreads it socially when somebody likes something you see it in the timeline and all of this sort of stuff, and that’s social. It spreads the information. Now, with Google and Google+ because Google sits on top as a search engine on top of Google+ we have personalized search so when I search for something that is a semantic search for…David’s in my network, it’s likely David would appear for most people, but the likelihood of a post coming up from David with his face next to it which is a Google+ post, that’s the only way a face can appear, is very high. That’s a personalized search result for social SEO. David is influencing my search results because I have him in my circles. Ok. But the stage after that is very much when you go beyond the social and you start to go to the realm of authority.
Martin: What is the most authoritative content? What’s the most relevant, and I know we’re going to get into semantic, but relevant content for someone to see outside of anyone’s network. In other words, that first page of Google, top two, top three, top five, spots in particular when you’re doing an incognito search. And what we found is that through the social engagement you don’t just get the spread, you don’t just get the connections, you don’t just build the relationships even though that’s incredibly important, but you also find that this content surfaces longer term within these incognito results because these posts are deemed to be authoritative by the algorithm based upon the people whom are engaging from within your network. So if I post something on semantic search, a real niche topic, and David and Mark and Eric and yourself Mike, and everybody engages, the likelihood that the algorithm sees that as an important post because they’ve put their name to it, they’ve clicked a button that adds their face next to it and they share it to the network as well, all of that creates some sort of link structure which you can go look at in the background, but more importantly, it just says hey, this is important for people to see based upon the authorities that are already in that space and it surfaces. And we’ve tested this now for years and we can see that community building leads to search results. That’s my little take on social SEO.
Mark: I’m going to bring in a third leg here, I hope. David gave a great overview of what semantic search means in the semantic web world that we’re living in. Martin brought in the social component and how important that is, and I very much agree with that. I want to bring it in from the perspective of your website, your home base, your site, still a very important place for you, but it’s changed it’s meaning over the years. David eluded to this a little bit, it used to be the main task for a site was just to be well optimized, to try to have the right words in the right place to get Google to think that you are relevant for a certain term, and you hope that you rank for it and try to get links to that. It’s gotten at the same time much more complex but also somewhat delightfully much more human, and I think more real in some context. And what I want to bring into this is the edict also of real user engagement and what real users are doing with your site and the growing importance of this. So we have to have content that’s semantically rich and semantically relevant as David said, you’ve got to be building a social network, you’ve got to be building an audience out there that loves what you do and shares it and then attracts relevant authoritative people who share it and promote it, sending those relevant signals to it, but you also have to have more than ever, a site that is truly useful to real people for what you’re about. And we’re seeing evidence of Google paying more and more attention to those kinds of signals. When people go from a Google search result to your site, what do they do? Do they bounce right back to the results and go looking for another result, click on another result? That’s really bad in most cases. It depends on the circumstance. But many other signals, basically it all works together as this wonderful web. All of the things that the three of us are talking about are so interrelated and cooperative that it’s actually getting harder and harder to talk about, specifically about, any one signal. These things all work together. So you want to be building a website that is the best possible resource for whatever you’re about, whatever your topic is, whatever your product is, whatever your cause is, it’s the best resource on the web for that. It’s the one that people are going to go to, they’re going to read, they’re going to say, “ah, this is what I was looking for.” And they’re going to share that with their friends and they’re going to go to more pages on your site and they’re going to come back again and again because all of those things create an atmosphere where you will be creating all the other signals that we’re talking about. This all works together interdependently. But so far, the good news is we’re still far from perfect on this as David said but the good news is that all these things that Google is trying to build into their algorithm are leading us more and more toward the web that we all really want out of search. What we want is we want to get the answers to our questions. We want to get informed. We want to find out what’s the best of whatever we’re looking for. And that’s always been Google’s mission to uncover that. Now the one other thing I’ll throw in here before I quit is we’ve all mentioned a little bit about personalization.
Mark: But it’s personalization and customization now. We’re seeing more and more of this where for more and more queries when you go on Google you very rarely now see the old traditional ten blue links. But you’ll see all kinds of other information, some of it not directly from websites, some of it directly from Google or Google taking information from your site and putting it up in a box where people may or may not need to click any further to get their answer. So it’s all getting a lot more complicated and you’ve got to be doing a better job of being a resource than ever before. I’ll stop there.
David: Good points.
Mike: That was great and it’s interesting that you mentioned that search is moving to a web and websites are moving to a web that is more like what we want and what we envisioned because a lot of people would have a little angst about what changes Google implements and requires like with mobile readiness but some people see it as Google pushing us and pulling us into those kinds of directions.
16.00 – What Can Businesses Do To Stay Ahead Of Google?
Mike: Last week we read about the release of Google’s latest Panda update 4.2 and of course earlier this week we were all in the throws of trying to deal with Mobilegeddon. So what are some of the strategies and recommendations that businesses can employ to keep ahead of these changes to search?
David: Okay, first of all this is a question that always comes up and it comes up in various guises and essentially what it boils down to is what should I do very quickly to actually get the best results possible? So we’re looking for shortcuts and the big difference in the search world we’re in now and the web that is being created is that there are no shortcuts. That doesn’t mean there are no answers to the question, on the contrary. There are actually answers which lead us back to basics. So the question is what do you do to make a business the best it can be and the most relevant it can be to the target audience? And if you can correctly answer that, then the challenge becomes how you do then translate that into a digital medium? How do you translate to your website? How do you translate to the mobile experience to your customers? Or the tablet experience which is partially different? How do you translate it in the way that they will actually experience the content it will find on the web? So it actually meets the business principles, your business goals, your business criteria, and this is the thinking that comes in. And for anybody that’s been following Stone Temple Consulting posts over the last 24 months, they’ve done a lot of research on this, they have consistently pointed people in the direction where we’re not looking for a specific strategy but we’re looking for an overall content creation strategy that reflects the business, the core business values of a particular business. And Mark will be able to elaborate on this but essentially these are the questions which will give you the answers you need.
Mark: Yeah, there are still technical things you need to do and I’ve been a little disturbed by some articles I’ve recently that, it’s not the quite the SEO is dead meme that we were seeing maybe a year ago or so, but it’s kind of the next evolution of that, where it’s something like, well content is so important now that you can just ignore SEO, traditional SEO, and I don’t at all think that’s true. I don’t think anybody here think that’s true. David said it well that there are no shortcuts. There are still things that it’s good to do and Mike you brought up one, the so-called Mobilegeddon. Everybody I know at Google cringes every time we use that. They said it was the “mobile-friendly update.” But our testing showed that it did have an effect and most of the effect was negative, not positive. In other words, sites that were already mobile-friendly didn’t get much of a boost which is where most people were looking. But we saw a lot of sites who did not, who were not mobile ready, lose rankings about the mobile update back in April and May. So that’s something again, increasingly as your audience is going to be using mobile devices, that’s something you can’t afford to not pay attention to. Sorry for the double-negative there. So that takes a certain amount of technical expertise. At some point if you’re serious about your site and about doing well and being found, you need to bite that bullet and get some help with that. It doesn’t necessarily take a lot depending on what you’re doing but somebody who knows what they’re doing, to help you basically get things set up correctly from a technical aspect. But once you’ve got that in place and it does take some maintenance ongoing-ly, but once you’ve got that going, as David said, the real important thing we’ve been saying this whole broadcast so far, the very most important thing is not to concentrate on any tricks or shortcuts but to concentrate on your end user, who they are, who your audience is, and thinking about how can my site and my content both on my site, other sites, and in social media be the very best in my topic area for those people?
Martin: Can I add as well about local? Local and mobile, I think one of the big steps for people to take is to look at the person who is finding the piece of information and what action they take from there. What context are they in? Do they put something into search, in which case, what device? Do they follow you on social? Do they have notifications? I’m obsessed by notifications right now; I’ve got some more stuff coming out, because if you can get people’s attention then you have, it’s push notifications, so you don’t have to leave it for them to find the information. So it’s okay. Notifications are almost the new email opt-in list for some people, particularly if you have your own app which is for another day. Local – mobile searches on local, so for local restaurants and bars near me but, Mark we talked about this for a while, it radically changes the results that you get based upon where you are. And when you start taking into account Google Now as well as you’re getting suggestions of different restaurants and different pieces of information, you start to build a map and the map is different to your website alone. Your website, as Mark says, is home base. But you have all of these places that people can find it and it’s not just in search. These social notifications and people sharing and posting it – all of that stuff reaches beyond but you need a map. And you’ve got to create a map to understand that then you’ve got to start tracking, you’ve got to start looking at which bits aren’t working and start to optimize it which is why obviously with mobile-friendly sites particularly, if you take restaurants and things, so many of them will have lost because they’re not mobile-friendly. It’s a huge space and I think that’s one of the challenges is knowing how to navigate it, what do you need to focus on? Because the tendency is to chuck the site up, to put a bit of content out, fingers crossed and hope for the best. And I think there are steps and stages for businesses to put a plan into place that allows it to be, I have to say, a year, two year, three year plan. Otherwise, use AdWords. Just get the traffic to the site by paying for it and improve the conversion rates and go from there. Social should be used once you’ve ideally got evidence that people want to buy the thing that you’re selling. And I think AdWords is a really powerful way to kick that off.
Mark: That’s a great point.
23.00 – What SEO Tools & Services Do You Recommend?
Mike: When it comes to implementing these strategies, what tools and services do you guys use and recommend and I’ll say feel free to insert an unabashed personal plug at this point if it’s relevant.
David: Okay, that’s a good question. Now, in terms of managing the social side, there are a whole lot of tools out there including Hootsuite for instance for sharing content across social media platforms. There’s Buffer which allows you to essentially bring in your content and stagger the timing of it so you don’t just flood everybody the moment you get online and have an eight hour gap while you’re doing other things. And there’s also the question of at which point do you do things yourself and at which point you go to an agency. Now I must say here that I think we’re getting to the stage where search engine optimization itself, because it’s so diffused now and so complex and it changes so quickly, it really needs to be done by a professional for you which does not absolve you however from the need to understand what is actually being done. Mark mentioned how important the technical aspect is. It continues to be so. And things are constantly evolving. So essentially when you hire a professional now, it is different to when you hired a professional three years ago or four years ago, when you hired somebody for a month to SEO your site and they went away until you needed them again. Now when you actually call in a professional, you are embedding things in your business, the expectation, the skillset, which you don’t have the time to develop internally. So you know what you’re buying, the professional will take time and effort to actually understand what your business does, so there’s a relationship there which is long term because both parties need to actually work. And Martin mentioned a two/three year plan, well search engine optimization and visibility in search and across all the different devices, it does need to be a long term thing. You need to plan for it. It won’t happen overnight. You will not be on the first page of Google tomorrow just because you hired somebody.
David: Which means that if you want shortcuts you either have to pay for it doing it AdWords, that will give you the traffic, and then you can work on conversions because there are problems there and you can get people that don’t convert. And then work out your long-term strategy which will give you the organic growth. And these are the things you need to be reminded of now when you’re making your purchasing decisions in terms of the tools and the services which you need to access.
Martin: Can I add in Local again, a current obsession, and a bit of the shameless plug bit. Reviews – if you’ve got a local business, you’ve got to focus on reviews. Not just the social proof in search which it can appear in your AdWords that you can have Google accelerating, but you can also have stars that appear in organic search. Check that out, that’s a big thing. But you can include the reviews on your website as well. And there are people that are suggesting that the increased amount of trust is leading to increased conversions. You start to see this as a part of your exposure so people see it. They click and then they have increased trust again. So very much, David is the one that talks about trust being, you’ve been posting about this, one of the most utmost things, reviews help to improve trust. Get more reviews.
Mark: We’re kind of leaving the local to Martin here which is great. I’m glad he’s covering that because it’s very important. I’m sure it’s very important to many of the people who are watching this broadcast. But just to underscore what Martin was saying just as a personal anecdote, the guys in the broadcast know that I was on the road for the last three weeks, just got home two days ago for the first time in three weeks, travelling a lot. And while I was travelling it was a great experience because that time I was very much a consumer of the local. I went through four different cities in those three weeks and well really more than that. But four different major locations and the reviews I realised were critically important to my decisions. That’s where, and when it came down to it and I was looking for a restaurant in the evening or bar to go to or any kind of business locally, you know, the websites all say the same thing. They all say they’re great. Their AdWords ads all say they’re great. But the critical thing for me in making a decision was digging down into the reviews and seeing what real people had to say. So I just want to underscore the importance of that if you’re a local business in particular. The question was about tools and those sorts of things. There’s so many. At Stone Temple more and more we’re using in house, developing our own tools, we have a team of developers and we’re working on a number of tools of our own which are clients get the advantage of. But there’s a lot of things I could mention. I’ll just mention one more in the social realm that probably a lot of people are familiar with but if you’re not you should really look into particularly from the content side and that is BuzzSumo. BuzzSumo is a very easy to use tool that basically you can look can look at from a number of different angles, you can look up a topic, a subject, a keyword, you can look up a particular site, you can look at authors, and you can see basically the most popular, socially shared content on that topic or from that site or from that author. And that can be great for research. That could be great for competitive research. What are your competitors doing in the content area and how are people responding to it? What’s resonating? It can be great for new content ideas. I go to it a lot for that. I look at it and say, okay in this topic, what are the most popular things that have been written on this topic from a social share standpoint, and then my goal is not to imitate those because if they’re so popular it’s doubtful I’m going to compete directly with them, but look at them and say, is there an angle that they haven’t covered? Is there something about that particular angle they took that I could expand upon or use in a new way? So, I’ll just mention that as one tool that you can use in a lot of different ways to help you produce better content and do better with your social audience.
Mike: Yeah, that’s a great recommendation, Mark. I mean that could have applied to any one of our previous shows. That’s great for blogging. That’s great for creating social content. So, yeah, BuzzSumo, I can’t talk today, it’s a great idea. And I agree, I was watching you in Alaska and what a great time you were having, and secretly hoping that you wouldn’t have too good a time that you wouldn’t come home because you did suggest that you might stay there and I didn’t want you to miss this show.
Mark: Yeah, if there was any place that would tempt me it would be there but as people keep reminding me I haven’t spent a winter there yet so maybe I’ll do that and it will cure me.
30.00 – Anything New In Terms Of Video And Search?
Mike: It’s a little different. So we do have a question from our friend Scott Scowcroft who says, any updates or new thinking in terms of the social use of video? Any rules of thumb? Anything new in terms of video and mobile?
David: Yes, yes and yes. I mean I’m not sure if it’s an update on the new thinking but essentially we’re in the throws of the visual web. Better devices, higher computing power, greater bandwidths for connectivity, all are contributing to the increased use of multimedia. And this allows us to achieve perhaps the only viable shortcut we can have on the web which is how to actually determine trust which Martin said. And it’s a very human quality. It can be done without video which takes a long time, but it can also be done very quickly through video by actually establishing a visual frame of reference with somebody which allows you to feel the human connection and actually say yes, I like them, no I don’t. Yes I trust them; no I don’t – based on the non-variable use that you actually see. And that’s the way we’ve always operated so video is becoming an incredibly important part of marketing because it helps to establish that one to one connection that Mark was talking about where you essentially need to build the relationship with your audience. You’re not going to do it through mass marketing, you’re not going to do it be advertising, you need to actually connect with them in terms of who you are, how you do things, the values which you share, the values you project, and how you can help them on that sort of shared connection basis. And video plays an important part in this.
Martin: Can I just add in something that’s emerging? Because I’m just outside Silicon Valley and we’ve had access to the Android TV device from nVidia, a pure device. Sony is looking at 50 million Android TV units coming out by the end of the year. Android TV is Google in the home. And if you’re looking at videos, you need to see that the interface, and there’s other devices you can get it on, but the interface is different. It’s not mobile, it’s not desktop, it’s very different. For videos there are no annotations to click and we know the annotations have been sort of downgraded and we now have got the cards so that’s where it’s going but there’s nothing to click. There’s no description so there’s no links to click. So if you’re looking at video and yours is likely to get surfaced in search or it’s an app or anything like that, but that’s another day, if it’s a video and it could be played on Android TV, then you need to think of call to action at the end of it that isn’t “click here” because it’s a different way that people are seeing it. They’ve got a mobile, they’ve got a controller, or they’ve got an iPad or something like that, it’s again, different. I think as a marketer being aware that this is something that’s moving on the horizon because there’s a battle for the home. The home is going to between Apple and Google but it’s Android. I think this is one of the key things for people to see. Android as a platform is huge. So I’d also go back to look at what people are doing on the mobile device whether it’s iPhone or…where are they watching the videos? Are they watching in natively on Facebook because I know if you’re listening to it, you want to load your videos as well, if you want extra traction, it’s appropriate for that audience on that platform, but if they’re watching on the mobile, what are you doing? What size is it? What does it look like? You notice I couldn’t turn the phone all the way around that was a bit weird on that. But what is it like? What’s going on? What’s the emotional response? When it’s tiny, are your graphics too small? All of these things are understanding the context in which the information is being engaged and consumed. So, and also if you ask for thumbs up you see in on the phone. You don’t see it on an Android TV. It’s going to be really interesting because it’s different psychology.
Mark: That’s so brilliant what Martin just shared. And very important for people to be paying attention to.
Martin: That’s why I love you guys. See, that’s why I come here.
Mark: Just to get personal affirmation?
Martin: Yeah. Just keep it coming, man.
Mark: And he’s so devilishly handsome, don’t you think folks? No, it truly is. It truly is what you need to be paying attention to. I think, we’re seeing this and Facebook was the first to train us for this at Stone Temple. We do a lot of videos. We have a video studio now. We produce a lot of in-house short form videos and we were optimizing them for YouTube which means we were thinking about the click, we were doing the annotations, thinking all that way, and Facebook forced us to think differently because which a Facebook video we’d been experimenting with that, now we’ve been experimenting with the embedded videos actually uploading directly to Facebook and getting pretty good results with that. But you can’t – there’s nothing to click on, as Martin said. And so you’ve got to think differently.
Mark: Now, we’ve been crudely experimenting with just putting up a short link visually on the screen and saying, you know, if you want more of this content go to that link, seeing what we get with that, but we’re already thinking bigger than that and you’ve got to think you’re video has to be serving a different purpose than just getting the click to something. So it really is shifting the whole strategy. I think that’s very important.
Martin: Have you thought of and I’m checking this out and this is something that I think where it needs to be possibly, is shortcodes. Text shortcodes to something, like what is the item you’re seeking, and then what is the easiest, least painful way for people to achieve that or to take that step to achieve that item and I think it’s looking at could it be that you base it to text or is it just the website just as you say Mark and what is it then – is there an incentive to do that? What is it? Sign up for the free what have you, you know? I think we’ve got to take a step back and realise – the funny thing is we’re not even talking about only other platforms, it’s YouTube itself that are going to have to be thinking about this because of Android TV. So we’re going to have to get a lot more creative and that’s one of the things that I came away with and just went, yeah, is a website address enough or do we start getting more creative?
Mike: Yeah, Jeff Sieh has been using that with his Manly Pinterest Tips podcast. At the end of the podcast he gives them a short 5 digit code, and a number, text it to, so that they can sign up for his newsletter.
Martin: Yeah, that’s great.
36:31 – SEO Myths Or Poor Techniques To Avoid
Mike: Great, well let’s shift gears for a minute and let’s talk about what’s not a good idea when it comes to search and optimization? What are some of the myths or the no-longer true techniques that online businesses should avoid?
David: Well, any kind of offer that offers to sell you links and these keep on coming and you are tempted to think, yeah well may as well try it, the answer to that is don’t. You’ll really, seriously get burnt. Anything which sounds like a good way to gain search by getting your buddies together and thinking well you know I’ve got about a thousand friends, we get together on Google+ and Facebook and start going round robin some of the content, it’s bound to do well in search, again, don’t. And the reason for that is that it’s an entirely transparent web. Now Google has a signature of an organic profile. They understand like they have a signature of an organic website. They understand exactly how that profile behaves so if you get your thousand friends to actually do this, well you may have a little bit of short-lived success, by the time you get to number three, you begin to drop, and by the time you get to post number ten, you may even get a Google warning that you’re doing things wrong. So these things shouldn’t happen. You focus on actually getting all that energy and that creativity into really delivering great value to your audience and then think, how are you going to actually make the things that matter to them visible? How are you going to make things that matter to you and your business visible to them? And this is exactly where we get the interface of psychology of search, search engine optimization, search marketing, and content creation and content marketing. These are all things now that are whole which projects a personality or voice of a business and that’s the thing. Avoid the shortcuts. Avoid the temptations. Do things the hard way because it actually works.
Martin: And it’s relationships David, isn’t it? That’s what it comes down to. We’ve got the content and we’ve got the site. We know there are principles around the search engine but this is back to build relationships.
David: Yes, absolutely.
Martin: And that’s why it takes time because it takes time to build trust.
Mark: And I’m going to give Martin two brilliants here. You don’t give away more than one but he mentioned something. It’s been alluded to before but I think it’s very important even though we’re talking about negatives right now, just to say this positive of not to underestimate the value of relationships that you build. That’s a longer term strategy. It’s harder to do, but as David said, the harder things are the ones that pay off. And the value of that. We’re seeing that more and more. Some of our best business, our best referrals, our best links, all of these things come out of relationships. Sometimes relationships I just had to experience recently where someone, just happens to be a journalist, but I’ve been building relationship with this particular journalist at this major publication for two and a half years online. I mean just feeding him information from time to time and I see something he thinks will be interesting, and for those two and a half years, other than a couple of mentions, you didn’t really get anything out of it in terms of direct return.
Mark: But then recently one of our major studies was published, we were able to alert him to and this became a thing for him. He wrote a whole article on it with links to us, everything, in one of the major business publications in the world. That didn’t happen by accident but it was a two and a half year cultivation of a relationship. So that’s very important. Just from the myth side, I’m going to just reiterate the thing that I said earlier and just repeat it to reinforce it. And that’s the myth that you no longer need any technical SEO on your site. And I want to bring it back just to tell you a quick story. One of our clients, obviously I won’t say who they are, but they’re one of the top five highest traffic sites in the world by anybody’s measure. And they messed up recently. They messed up just in terms of their technical SEO. The site was so complex and so complicated, that they created, unintentionally, but they created this huge knot, that became so difficult for Google to get through for its robots to crawl and understand, that Google just kind of gave up and they started seeing a massive reduction in traffic. And they called us in and it was a huge job. It took many, many, many months. It’s not completely done, to untangle that mess. Frankly, if we’d been there from the beginning we never would have advised them to do the things that got them into the mess. But I say it to underscore that, here’s a huge site, multi-billion dollar site with all kinds of resources, all kinds of in-house people to work on these things, and they created such a mess that Google couldn’t understand their site anymore so just to underscore that, you can’t afford to ignore those technical issues. Your site has to be basically optimized so that a social – excuse me, that a search engine can understand it, it’s robots can crawl it properly. You can get to the content. You can figure out the connections between things. So don’t believe anybody that tells you that you don’t need to do that anymore.
David: Good point.
42:04 – Where Is Search Heading As It Relates To Content-driven Sites?
Mike: Yeah, that is so true. Now, at SiteSell, every one of our customers are building these extensive content based websites and they’re all designed to earn revenue, where do you see search headed in the future, particularly as it relates to these kinds of content driven sites and online businesses?
David: Well search is beginning to do what it was intended to do in the beginning and it couldn’t do very well because the technology wasn’t there. And that is, it organises information in a way that makes sense to the end user in relation to his search query and intent behind it. So essentially, to boil this down to simplicity, it provides answers which actually make sense and allows us to do things, either to learn something or get something done or buy something if it’s a purchasing decision. Which then, if we inverse this, a website that doesn’t actually help do that, won’t really surface in search for very much longer, if it surfaces at all. And that’s the way that a website needs to be set up. So even if you have a website which has content and it is only intended to sell ads, make money through that, and there are websites like that, well make sure the content which you have now, is not the poor quality, quickly thrown together content that had keywords to get somebody on the website, on the off-chance that they would see an advert they would appeal and click on it because that won’t happen anymore. If the website itself isn’t solid, it hasn’t got high quality, if it’s not trusted, if it hasn’t got expertise which now the website has, then you won’t be seen. And these websites which are poor in quality will eventually die out completely and we’ll never see them again. So the web which we hoped we would get in the beginning when the web came along, will now become better and becomes authentic and authoritative, it’s actually by degrees beginning to happen.
Martin: Shall I add in as well? People when they start off and they create their site and they have their product, and they’re looking at content and then they’re starting to build relationships, starting to do the social, starting to do the community building, all of that is good. That’s exactly what needs to happen is build a community around your content. However, you need products that people want to buy. And that’s… go to the end point to start with, and go and check out the keywords and go and find out what the audience is and go and find out why you are driving people through social to the site and then why you want to be sitting in search in order for people to take the next step because the site is the what’s capturing them. Whether it’s a newsletter or whether it’s like a lead magnet type of opt in thing which you download the .PDF and you’ve got a lot of Copyblogger for understanding how to do this really, really well; but you need a product that people want to buy.
Martin: Otherwise you spend all this time doing the social and the engagement and you have a great party, but you may not get results there and we’ve been through this in Plus Your Business and we’ve got the ship steady now, but I can tell you it isn’t easy moving high volumes of individuals into a place where they go, “okay, I’m now willing to take the next step.” You’re working in perceptions and you’re working on more than anything else, in my opinion because I like community building, you build the relationships. And Hangouts are one of the most effective ways to do that. But I’ve learned a lot about what I would do differently if I was starting now… it’s got some pros and some cons on the journey that we’ve all been on, but I’d say go back to look at the product first and then start looking at the content you’re putting out.
Mark: Well gosh dang it…I have to give Martin a third brilliant in one Hangout. This is like…I can’t stand it.
David: It’s interesting right?
Martin: You’re only saying that because what I say normally is average. But today, it’s above average.
Mike: It’s above average.
Mark: It’s definitely raised your average. But I’m going to give him that mostly because it’s just a perfect segue into what I wanted to give as my tip which is out of that, yes, you must have a quality product that people will talk about, people will get enthused about because that leads to what I want to say which is building a brand, the importance of that. One of the most golden things you can have in business altogether but especially on the web and even in how it affects Google now, is to have a brand that people talk about. I was at Moz Con just a couple weeks ago in Seattle, and one of the speakers was showing some really stunning examples of Google Auto Complete in searches. Auto Complete is when you start to type in a search query and Google gives you this whole drop down of suggested queries that kind of finish out that query, that adds words to it. Well, one of the main sources of those of course, is things that people search frequently. So when you see those suggestions, it means that people are searching that a lot. He started showing us some suggestions where you start typing in a certain query and one of the top suggests after that query is a brand name. So I’m going to make something up here, but Lubricated Widgets the thing…you start typing that in and you see the third one down is Lubricated Widgets Brand. That means that a lot of people are searching when they think of those lubricated widgets, they think of that brand. How powerful it that? And people have noticed, it’s been a long standing thing to notice, it’s not new, that big brands, well known brands, tend to do very well in Google Search and that led people for a long time to… some people just pass the conspiracy theories that Google just gave automatic preference to big brands and it was because they spent a lot on AdWords. We have no evidence of any of that. It’s much more likely that it’s simply the fact that if you have a brand that a lot of people are searching for, it makes sense for Google to rank that brand’s content higher. They know already the signals are there. People want to see that. So whatever you can do to get people talking about your brand, and Martin’s suggestion is a huge part of that, to have high quality products that people really want and that they will talk about and share. That’s one of the most valuable things you can do.
48:29 – Where Can We Find Our Panelists?
Mike: That’s absolutely right. Now, before we wrap things up I would like each of you to share what you’re working on now and where everyone can find you.
David: Okay, I’m finishing a book on trust and how it used in the online environment and how you can actually benefit from it. There will be more details on that on Google+ as soon as I’m allowed to say more. You can find me at DavidAmerland.com or Google+ or Twitter @DavidAmerland.
Mike: Great, thanks. Martin?
Martin: I am…two things, Plus Your Business. One is the academy, so we have that as a place to learn marketing. We were initially offering this on Google+ but we recently went on Facebook and LinkedIn and we have specialist people coming in every week so we have that. And a new Reviews Product that is going to be launching very soon and it helps small businesses get more customers through the door and we got techniques that we use and then we’ve got some backend systems that we’ll have ready to rock in roll in the next weeks or two. So that’s what I’m working on. You can find me on Google+ or PlusYourBusiness.com.
Mark: And I’m working on two major things right now. One in Eric Enge who is the CEO of Stone Temple Consulting and I, are working together on a forthcoming book on how social media is used by real social media professionals.
Mark: And we’re doing a series… we’re basing it on a series of many interviews of many top brands in the world and their social media leads. Some of those interviews you can already see at StoneTemple.com. There’s many more to come. So that’s one thing. I’m also working on my personal content project for the rest of the year, is on the humanization of business on the web and social areas. That includes everything from how in-house personal brands can be used to build the brand of a business, to just how businesses can become more human and thus build their brand, the thing I was just talking about in the previous… as far as finding me, I love to say this these days, just Google Mark Traphagen.
Mike: That’s fantastic. And that’s it for our show today everyone. I’m so thankful for my guests David, Martin, and Mark for being so generous with their time and their insights into search. I’d like to thank each of you in the audience for listening in. I hope you’ve learned as much as I have and I hope you’ve enjoyed this entire SiteSell Presents series. All of the recaps and transcripts including today’s by Friday, will be found at SiteSell.com/blog. Bye for now.
Mark: Thanks Mike.
Martin: Take care.