While at SES NY 2013, I had the opportunity to attend the Activating the Social Search Dynamic session with speakers Dan Cristo, Director of SEO Innovation at Catalyst Online, and Duane Forrester, Senior Program Manager at Bing. While SES has come and gone, I’d like to share some remaining tidbits whose value exists in perpetuity and can help you achieve long-term campaign success.
First and foremost, successful SEO is built on two key components: relevancy and trust. Friends and family are trusted resources, and influence decision-making. Along these lines, let’s focus on social search, your social tribe, what they are and action recommendations associated with each.
1. Create relationships.
- Get to know your customer
- Make them smile
- Get a conversation going
- Deepen relationships
- Be human with your brand
- Use interesting ways to engage people in areas that are important to them
2. Scale relationships.
- Employees are at the heart of scaling relationships
- For example, ESPN uses employees to represent their brand – Everyone is “name+ ESPN”
- Use podcasts, videos , and images
What is a Social Circle or “Tribe?”
A content distribution tribeis identified by number and type of:
- Loyal consumers – friends and family
Whether you’re an advertiser or social media marketer, it’s important to have a Social Circle. Do you? Well, do you have a:
- Tribe set up?
- Appropriate budget?
- Content pipeline?
- Vision, mission, and plan associated with your social strategy?
If you already have the above or are still in development, remember that:
- Rankings are based on trust,
- Trust is based on intimacy,
- Intimacy is measured by engagement, and
- Engagement is generated through the creation, deepening, and scaling of relationships!
That’s all fine and good, but what can you do now with your current ad campaign to align yourself with the future of social search? Well, at Bing Search, we try to solve for imprecise results and lengthy tasks by moving from “queries” to “sessions.” To refresh, a query is a single action by an online searcher, while a session is a collection of related search actions over time. For example, a particular search query is “dog.” The associated session includes, “dog beds, dog accessories, dog toys, vets near me.”
Information from these search sessions help advertisers determine where to invest. Users go through a variety of decision points as they move through the purchase process. It can take people weeks to make buying decision. Consequently, it’s important to look at how people are using keywords and adjust your campaign based on computationally understanding user intent.
A trick I learned: Using personas to represent this process can be very effective. Microsoft creates personas for the examples they show to personalize who your customers are and their habits. For example: Linda is searching for exercise equipment. What does she plan to do with the equipment? The more we know about her intent, the better the results we can provide her. To round it all up…
Search continues to evolve:
- New devices demand different search experiences other than links
- The ability for these devices to feed into real-time signals helps us handle intent better, and can therefore provide a more tailored experience
- Search is not just mobile phones or tablets, and it’s not just text entry. Anything could be a search – voice, a picture, a gesture, sound – anything! We are building the universal interface for search.
Why social matters to search:
- Signal of topical authority
- Real time – engines want fresh content fast
- Integrated social signals influence click actions of searchers
- Social signals remain as only a few of the thousands of signals for organic ranking
- How users click on your results can impact ratings, and when we show cues like your Facebook friends with results, click rates can be impacted.
Where does SEO fit in?
- Have good content - content is what people are looking for
- Social - incorporate into your programs
- User experience - do usability testing to improve your product and impress your boss
- Link building - still important; amaze your users and they won’t be able to keep quiet about your business!
- It will always begin here
- Match data from external sources against your own data
- Develop “share of voice” reporting to explain success versus ranking reports
- Back to sessions – create keyword campaigns around topics
Encourage more sharing:
- Create lists
- Use hooks – ego , humor
- Participate in communities
- Share other’s information
- Ask questions
- Look for ways to streamline your time
- Identify a customer need and fill in the blanks
- Identify patterns so you can leverage efficiency efforts
- Content is the reason – Create experiences where people are wowed by the results of the content
- User experience is your religion - Measured based on satisfaction. Dwell time is the time you spend on the page, which is an indicator of satisfaction. A very short time = dSat.
- Keyword research is a beacon
- Quality is your watch word
- Authority is your goal
- Niche is your starting point
Are you doing everything it takes to activate the social search dynamic?