The opening keynote talk was Amit Singhal (Google Fellow, Search Engineer) talking about the future of Google’s search engine, making particular reference to their continued desirability to improve the usefulness and relevance of their results for people. There was an emphasis on achieving this through the ability to distinguish and interpret words and meaning the same way that a human being might.
In order to give people a better idea of what he meant he used the Star Trek computer as an analogy. This computer although clearly not real, was so intelligent that it would ever rarely make a mistake based upon confused meanings resulting from the input by the end user, say carrying out a search by voice. This computer almost always seamlessly knew what the end user wanted to find, do or achieve.
In order for Google to go about achieving this he explained how Google’s continued investment in acquiring knowledge and meaning through a vast collection of data sets grouped and sorted into “entities”. These entities could either represent a particular concept or notion based on its collected contextual meaning and understanding.
Apple (Computers ) vs Apples (the fruit)
The New Periodic Table of SEO
Google’s precise search ranking algorithm is a closely guarded secret. In the world of SEO we’re largely dependent upon real-world testing, observation and intelligent guess work and theories coupled with Google’s quality guidelines and information released around updates.
This session covered the findings, experiences and a number of speculative theories based on graphs and evidence of a number of established internet search marketers including Marcus Tandler, Marcus Tober and David Naylor.
What did I take away from this session?
- Establish a strong brand for your business if you want to do well in search
- Having branded anchor text links is crucial in order to establish trust, credibility and a more natural link profile for when Google evaluates your website’s rankings—especially since Google’s recent Penguin update.
- Observation: Websites that consistently rank highly do not make use of banner advertising.
- Socially shared content and signals were becoming more important, however links are still absolutely crucial for optimisation efforts and have the most impact.
Life In A [Not Provided] World
Scott Krager gave a lot of positivity to a subject and situation that clearly seems to have a lot of SEOs and search marketers worried, this of course being Google’s decision to no longer provide Google Analytics users the list of search queries of users who are logged into a Google account (Gmail or Google Plus for example).
This session will probably be most memorable for its dialogue between Duran Inci (Optimum7) on the talking panel and Pierre Far (Google Webmaster Trends) seated in the audience discussing and justifying Google’s subsequent decision to hide these particular keywords.
Scott stated his belief that Google would be incredibly unlikely to reverse this decision and predicted that the future of knowing keyword queries bringing in traffic were likely to become more and more scarce for example as browser such as Firefox automatically omit this data from it’s web browser.
During this session a number of short term tips and strategies were suggested that would allow you to balance out the effects of this change as well as how he saw. Whilst this may have been a hit on SEO Marketing he reiterated that the quality of the web is actually being improved through other updates and changes whereby Google now wields the stick against the websites that have long been ignoring its quality guidelines in order to artificially inflate their respected websites’ ranking positions.
What I took away:
- It’s likely in the future that the majority of searches using keywords will be hidden and that this information will no longer be available to us. This is not just Google, it’s a growing trend.
- Everybody is in the same boat, and it’s up to us to find more creative ways in order to analyse, report and action beneficial improvements that are not entirely dependent upon knowing the precise keywords used to bring a visitor to a given website.
- Google are starting to reinforce their quality guidelines in a less wishy-washy fashion than they once did, and that if you’re not going to play by their rules you face losing out in spectacular fashion.
- Webmaster tools will play a more significant role in complimenting Analytics information
- Trim away your poorly performing content or turn it into something great
Hardcore Local SEO Tactics
Unfortunately the first two speakers near put me to sleep, however I was incredibly thankful for Aleyda Solis who brought and put so much vigour and energy to her Local SEO talk along with great advice on how businesses can and should be improving their local presence.
She suggested that reaching out to engage and form relationships with local communities and other businesses would allow acquiring business citations, links, mentions and other social references from other local websites and authors is hugely beneficial in terms of optimising businesses local search presence.
- Start producing very beneficial localised content. This means going beyond rehashing your existing content with local search terms!
- Choosing the wrong CMS and technology behind your website can be detrimental to SEO for larger organisations wanting international reach
- Mobile optimised sites are going to continue to be far more prominent for local businesses who serve customers on their doorstep
Schema and Authorship
This session communicated the advantages and benefits of websites using rich snippet based information. Google want to put a face behind the content on the web, and this session talked about the potential advantages and appropriate usage and best practise of the Google Plus rel authorship and more specific Schema mark-up.
- Google want to put a face to online authors, writers and content producers through their authorship designation and they’re making it easier to link authors to websites’
- The additional contrast and interest created through authorship information appearing within the search results makes for a more visible, trusted and overall more appealing result in order to pull in the clicks
- Schema mark-up makes your information more accessible to non-humans in order they can understand the relationship and context of your information
- Don’t inappropriately blitz your website with rich snippet information whereby not appropriate or beneficial to people or a search engine. Quality guidelines still apply.