September 12, 2012 - Comments Off on The birth of sexy search

The birth of sexy search

Stu Owens, our head of digital marketing, argues that search specialists have to network across businesses if they are to continue to be effective…

Perhaps one of the unforeseen outcomes from Google’s panda and penguin updates is that search specialists will have to remove their earphones and emerge blinking from their VDUs to talk to the rest of the marketing department.

If traditionally search was a technical specialism, today it is sexy, based on combining great sites with exciting content and connecting with influencers. It is a discipline of ideas, people and reputation management.

Search experts are now digital asset managers that manage a brand’s online reputation, an integral part of social media and public relations. For search to be truly effective it must be an integral part of all marketing activity. Search must seamlessly weave around all elements of a campaign to ensure that they drive traffic to the brand or product.

While on-page optimisation is still important, it is now based around the user experience and contextually relevant information rather than thousands of pages of key word optimised copy. It is clear that video and imagery pulls better response rates and this should be an important part of any content strategy.

We firmly believe that the agencies that thrive will be the ones that quickly adapt to the new world where great ideas drive content and engagement with real people. Bloom is already developing a social media tool, in partnership with the University of Reading, that can separate out truly influential people from spam accounts and we firmly believe this will play an important part of future Google updates. You can see the genesis of this approach with the current identification of trusted author status for some individuals and sites.

Reputation management will increasingly fall to a search remit as consumer sentiment will impact search rank negatively or positively. This will require integration with customer service, social media and PR teams.

We are often asked what this means to brands with existing sites. It is really important to understand where a business now and put in place a plan to quickly move them to a search strategy fit for the new reality. Any poor quality links should be identified and purged as a priority.

The rapid growth of mobile is another issue to factor into any search strategy. The current approach can be summarised as SoLoMo or social, location and mobile. It is important to have a coherent strategy that ties in social media, geo-location services and a user friendly mobile site. This allows plenty of scope for creative ideas that allow brands to use tie-all three together. Rewarding check-ins on foursquare is one simple example of this emerging strategy.

Mobile is still an emerging strategy and brands are watching each other to identify what works, the best channels and monitor ever changing consumer behaviour. However, it is clear that as mobile internet usage overtakes desktop that a coherent mobile strategy is vital.

Our industry requires a new breed of search specialists and data analysts that understand data but get excited by creative ideas, engage with social channels and can talk PR. These chameleon SEOs will be the sexiest people in marketing.