By Kim Roach (c) 2006
Search engine marketing has come a long ways since its early days of pioneering entrepreneurs. This was made evident at the recent Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose.
You can see the changes on the faces of representatives from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Fortune 100 companies. You can hear the changes when talking to the swarms of SEM consultants, agencies, and software vendors. Indeed, if there was any one place where you could feel the excitement of the SEO industry, it would be at Search Engine Strategies.
The growth of this conference alone indicates the maturing of an exciting industry. This year’s conference hosted over 4,000 attendees.
The growth of search engine marketing could also be seen in the packed auditorium listening to Danny Sullivan’s conversations with Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Yes, my friends, our industry is growing and this is one of the most exciting times to be involved in trends that are transforming the face of advertising. We are changing the face of publishing, with offline newsletters losing much of their audience to online publications. The Internet is quickly becoming the preferred news and information source over television, magazines, and trade publications.
If you were present at this year’s San Jose conference, then you surely experienced hours of great content, wonderful people, and a general air of excitement. If not, let me fill you in on what I believe to be one of the greatest conferences this industry has to offer.
Let’s begin our journey at a session called Searchonomics. The Internet, the numbers were quite exciting. David Hallerman from eMarketer announced that online advertising spending was expected to reach over 20 billion next year. By 2009, Internet ad spending is expected to be bÃgger than radio ads.
If you sell products online, you may find it interesting that 74% of online users are looking for more information about a product or service. 66% of U.S. adults often or always research online before buying and 55% of U.S. adults often or always research online to find the best price.
Another hot topic at this year’s conference was social search. Chris Sherman stated that algorithmic search has plateaued and that humans are still better at creating a more relevant search system. Thus the popularity of social search, which is powered by the wisdom of crowds.
There are a number of different social search platforms.
One of these is shared bookmarks and web pages. This can be found at sites like del.icio.us, shadows, furl, and diigo. There is another category known as tag engines. This includes technorati and bloglines. In addition, there are also personalized verticals, which include eurekster and rollyo. You are probably also familiar with collaborative harvesters, which include sites like digg, netscape, and reddit. The last category of social search platforms are social Q and A sites. Some of the most popular examples include Yahoo Answers, Google Answers, and AnswerBag.
However, social search also comes with a number of potential issues. They include ambiguity of language, lack of controlled vocabulary, and spammers who try to take advantage of the system. Chris Sherman of SearchEngineWatch.com believes that the ultimate solution will be a combination of both algorithms and social search. This will lend to the creation of “trust networks” and an increased level of personalization.
One company that is leading the way in personalized search is Eurekster. I had the pleasure of talking to Grant Ryan, CEO of Eurekster, about the benefits of social search. This company has created a truly customized experience for the end user based on the wisdom of crowds.
Eurekster actually allows the user to train the search engine over time. If you’re a publisher, you can use a Swicki to create a customized search engine for your own website.
To add a Swicki search engine to your own site, go to Eurekster.com .
Another session that I especially enjoyed was Search Algorithm Research. In this session the panel presented some of the top SEO research papers that provided insight into how different search engines rank a web page.
Search engines are becoming much more transparent in identifying what they are looking for when ranking a website. Of course, we’ll nevÃ«r know the exact algorithm, but there are always clues. Listed below are some links to some research papers you may want to look over.
Site Level Noise Removal
The Original PageRank paper
Topic-Sensitive PageRank: A Context-Sensitive Ranking Algorithm
Hilltop – search based on expert documents
Convergence of PageRank and HITS Algorithms
Authoritative Sources in a Hyperlinked Environment
Lexical and Semantic Clustering by Web Links
Undue Influence: Eliminating the Impact of Link Plagiarism on Web Search Rankings
Another informative session was News Search SEO. This session went into detail on how to optimize press releases for maximum exposure in the news search engines.
The key point was optimizing your press release for targeted keywords. As I have discussed in a previous article <>, press releases perform best when they are optimized for the news search engines. They should be optimized in much the same way that search engine optimization specialists optimize ordinary web pages in order to achieve higher rankings.
Unfortunately, the keywords used in news search engines are different from those used in the traditional search engines.
The panel presented a solution to this problem. Google News Suggest allows you to find keywords that are used specifically in the news search engines.
Another emphasis was based around the benefits of social media press releases. With today’s technology, you can now include a variety of multimedia formats with your press release, including mp3 files, podcast links, photos, and even videos. If you are not using all of the tools available to you, then you are missing out on additional exposure.
The last day of the conference was a flurry of activity as thousands of people filled the auditorium to hear Danny Sullivan interview Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google. They discussed Google privacy issues, click fraud, Google’s recent partnership with MySpace and MTV, Google Adsense, and the future of Google.
You can listen to the entire interview at blog.searchenginewatch.com .
I hope this article has given you a small glimpse into what an exciting event this is. If you’d like to get even more coverage on the event, visit: SearchEngineLowdown.com .
If you are involved with search engine marketing, I urge you to make it to one of these conferences. Not only are they fun and informative, but it is also one of the few times that you will be in a room full of people who are passionate about the same topics as you.
About The Author
Kim Roach is a staff writer and editor for the SiteProNews and SEO-News newsletters. You can also find additional tips and news on webmaster and SEO topics by Kim at the SiteProNews blog . Kim’s email is: kim @ seo-news.com