Roundup from SearchLove SanDiego 2014

A few search strategists from Bluetent were lucky enough to hop a plane to San Diego earlier this month and attend Distilled’s SearchLove Conference. 2 days, 16 speakers, and plenty of industry discussions later, we returned to Colorado with a nice stash of new tips, tools, and ideas. Since 3 of us attended the conference, we thought it would be fun to each share some of the highlights. There definitely seems to be a common theme between each of our takeaways – see if you can find what it is.

Jack Scherrer – SEM Account Manager

Jack Scherrer, SEM account managerSome of the sharpest minds in the the digital marketing world gathered for two days of drill-down into the state of the industry. While there was no shortage of new strategy and tools, one theme permeated many of the speaker’s topics – that the fundamentals of your digital presence and search marketing strategy remain largely the same: know your audience, provide high quality content that provides the solution to the end user’s problem, and pair it with a seamless user experience.

And now more than ever, cross-channel marketing is a fundamental component of a robust search marketing program. Effectively reaching and connecting with your audience requires your brand to be nimble across a wide range of mediums and devices, and requires you to remain People Focused. Justine Jordan, an email marketing specialist from Litmus, reminded us that email is an opportunity for your brand to touch customers on a one to one basis. A user experience that builds trust and provides value can provide stellar returns and increase brand loyalty, while an intrusive, poorly built email can produce exactly the opposite result, alienating potential customers and damaging your brand’s reputation.

Google continues to become more sophisticated (and perhaps more unpredictable) in the way it understands, categorizes, and delivers a brand’s snippet in the search results. By building strong relationships with current and potential clients through quality, trustworthy, authoritative, people-focused content, and a seamless user experience across multiple marketing channels, your brand can create it’s own groundswell of customer loyalty and growth, and remain resilient in a changing digital world. Remember to remain People Focused, and leverage all the marketing tools your agency can provide.

Brynn Flaherty, SEM Director

Brynn Flaherty, SEM directorThe first speaker of the conference, John Gagnon from Bing, provided some of the more relevant ideas and stats for the travel and tourism industry we primarily work in. John spoke about building strategies around big moments/events and leveraging ad campaigns around these moments. Most of our clients are in resort areas that thrive off of events each year to help keep occupancy up. Finding ways to capitalize on those moments through cross-channel marketing is essential. Take advantage of key moments throughout the year when these “big moments” occur, by:

  • Holding onto inventory
  • Creating special event packages and relevant landing pages
  • Using cross-channel advertising to market the event and packages (paid, remarketing, social, content)

John also spoke about the power of bidding on your brand terms in a paid campaign + showing up in the organic listings. When both the ad and the organic listing are shown, Bing measured 32% more clicks. This really resonated with me, especially since we recently sent out a client postcard on this very topic. SEO and PPC can be a very powerful duo when they work together. And don’t be afraid to bid on your brand terms, otherwise someone else will!

Brand term bidding + SEO delivers more clicks

Chris Savage from Wistia, a video hosting company, also had a very memorable session on a topic that I think is uber-important for 2015: In-house Video Production. With the iphones, GoPros and tablets of today, it’s affordable and easy to shoot and edit videos in house, and we should all be doing this as a way of connecting with our audience. While the main focus in any of our SEO/SEM campaigns is usually to generate revenue and/or conversions, Chris spoke about the importance of creating relationship-building content through video, which doesn’t have anything to do with dollars or conversions.

Relationship building video content

Don’t be afraid to show your brand’s culture and personality with simple, in-house videos. Open up to your audience, make it fun, make it informative – whatever floats your boat. What’s important to remember is that it’s the small touches that are going to get people excited about your brand (and ultimately lead people to convert).

Chris used a couple zany videos Wistia made in-house as examples – a game of tug of war to decide which internal chat software they should use, and a fun video their team made about the office closing for the holidays. These videos didn’t directly earn Wistia dollars, but they helped strengthen the relationships they have with their customers (and future customers) – and relationships are good for business. Just watch this 1-minute video and tell me it doesn’t make you feel a little closer to the Wistia team…

In the travel and tourism industry, the warm, fuzzy feelings generated by these “small moments” might make the difference between someone booking a vacation rental through Expedia or through your company. Videos that connect with your audience and build relationships will set you apart from the OTAs. It’s important to remember that videos don’t have to be professionally done or go viral to make an impact. Wistia even offers a tutorial on shooting video with an iPhone. Let’s get together and brainstorm about video content for your brand!

Dan McKey – SEM Account Manager

Dan McKey, SEM Account ManagerMaking a grand entrance once again was Rand Fishkin, the CEO of Moz. Even with his preposterous new mustache that makes him look like a cartoon villain (he said it, not me!), you could visibly see the room’s focus intensify as he took the floor. Rand once again earned the respect he so often garners by jumping into the topics that everyone else had either avoided or didn’t know enough about.

The major takeaway for me was Google’s shift from Keyword Matching to Topic Association. The days of matching keywords 1 to 1 with a page are over. Instead, as Google shifts more towards a focus on industry authority and credibility, topic association is going to get you more traction. If users who search North Dakota Real Estate also typically search for Hunting Terms, then that’s your market and it’s time to cater to it by giving them the proper information on your site.

He went on to discuss the rising importance of branding, partner relationships, and several other things. His presentation was incredibly robust, but I think it’s safe to say that, in 2015, Google will care more about your brand and reputation than your ability to meticulously place keywords.

Brynn, Jack and Dan from Bluetent's SEM team

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