SES San Jose 2008
- August 22, 2008
- by Duncan Fisher
Blended and Universal Search
One of the more popular sessions of the day focused on Universal and blended search where we saw speakers from the 3 major search engines talking about their search page UIs and how they are testing new methods of displaying image / video ads alongside natural and paid listings.
The main philosophy behind this approach is to help provide the user with more information in the form of different ad types when conducting an initial search. For the search advertiser this should mean a click through on to their site will be more likely to result in a conversion as the user is more educated having sanity checked the relevance of the site. It will be important that the search specialists liaise with their in house web dev teams or with their clients if an agency, in order to ensure that relevant content is available to be pulled from their site into this blended results display.
From a PPC perspective it is thought that the way sponsored listings are displayed will have to evolve to some degree as this new layout in the SERPs will have an impact on user behaviour in terms of where they are clicking on the site. I’m sure the major search engines will not be foolish enough to cause a negative impact to their monetised streams of traffic through sponsored listings so it will be interesting to see how they shape their interaction into the SERPs going forward.
This was a particularly fascinating session and gives us food for thought on how search engine results will evolve in the future. The idea behind semantic search is that when a user types a search into the search engine, the system will produce results that take into consideration the different language elements of the search query. By looking at these different elements of true natural language & other semantic variables, the search engines will be able to produce more relevant results. What this will mean to the user is that they do not have to focus on a “cave man” approach to word structure and more on descriptive search phrases with their search queries.
As Erik Collier (VP of Product Management at Ask.com) alluded to, the system should work so that no matter how many different ways you reword the same search query, the result will always be the same. These new generations of semantic technologies are a way off from deployment into the major search engines, but this vision of how search should look in the future seems feasible and would be welcomed by the end user.
Function F8 usually does it
On a less serious note it was good to see that although many experts of the search industry were present at the event, the same could not be said of the IT support who struggled for 15 minutes to get Ron Jones, Search Engine Watch Expert, up and running on the big screen in the “Ads in a Quality score world” session.
It was then the turn of Kendall Allen, former MD of incognito digital, who was 5 minutes into her talk before realising the incorrect presentation was on the screen – sign of a presenter who knows her stuff! The session itself gave some useful tips for organising a list of things to do when trying to improve your quality score across an account. Most experienced search marketers will have been aware of the content within the presentation but there is a difference between knowing it and putting it into practice. Sometimes a different perspective can highlight an easier way to implement / monitor a strategy.
For those involved in the SEO world on a day to day basis, conferences such as this are less about learning innovative new techniques and more about reaffirming knowledge. Some of the best takeaways so far have been to do with the increasingly talked about subject areas of Mobile and video SEO.
Mobile SEO is yet to hit the mainstream, partly to do with handset and mobile browser limitations, but also because many websites and products are not a natural fit to the mobile audience. You may search for a local taxi firm but you probably wouldn’t apply for a loan via your mobile phone. It was therefore encouraging to see the extent to which some people have researched and practiced in this area, and the data and learning’s that were being shared. Top techie tips included:
o Use your regular domain and URLs to avoid duplicate content and the duplication of efforts. Quite a good compliment to the title of the session: ‘Death of the .mobi’
o Minimal page sizes will reduce bounce rate – Remember pages take longer to load on a mobile
o Detecting the phone being used and serving a handset specific CSS file will enable pages to render correctly.
o Use emulators to test how mobile pages will appear on different handsets
o Regular SEO techniques still work!
Interesting stats that were shared included:
o Number of handsets vs number of computers
o 75% of all mobile searches are done on iPhones, yet iPhones make up only 5% of all handsets used.
o There are 225 million mobile phone subscribers and only 191 million internet ready desktops
o ‘Local’ based searches dominate in mobile search
While many people may be dubious about the future of mobile search this session certainly did a lot to convince them otherwise. The takeaway thought being that its growth is currently only restricted by hardware.
As is the case with mobile, ‘video search engine optimisation’ (or VSEO) is starting to be taken more seriously too. With Google’s acquisition of YouTube and the presence of video increasingly creeping into the Google SERPs (from multiple sources), the analysis of opportunities (both branding and sales driving) and video search campaign success is becoming ever important. Key takeaways and useful tips were:
o Most video search engines are still based on (or factor heavily) meta data – basic, logical SEO techniques should be applied.
o Mass submission of videos (through services like Tube Mogul) provides multiple opportunities to gain more of that lucrative page 1 real estate.
o A big focus should be placed on YouTube – It still makes up for 98% of video plays across all of the Google properties, and receives 13 hours of new videos every minute!!
o Any online video publisher should be making use of Google’s video sitemap service, and be supplying a ‘call to action’ style thumbnail image to be used with the video.
Some impressive case study stats from Greg Jarboe, citing his work with Stack Media certainly show the potential for video optimisation in the online marketing mix if appropriate and promoted correctly.0 Comments