I was fortunate enough to attend 2 days of SES San Francisco last week, and with it came a learning experience not only on a personal level, but a professional level. I attended a total of 8 sessions, 2 keynotes, 2 book signings, and wandered the Expo hall aimlessly on a number of occasions, and if there was one theme that carried over from one thing to another, it was that search has become more than just SEO.
When Jeffrey Hayzlett, former CMO of Kodak kicked off SES with his keynote there wasn’t a single mention of SEO. Instead he talked about how Kodak reinvented and revived its brand through the power of social media, community, and customer service through both of these channels.
In my first session, “Search: Where To Next?”, Shashi Seth, the Vice President of Search Products at Yahoo explained the evolution of the user experience at Yahoo and how the future of search engines will focus on the user experience and personalization. He explained that for too long the search engines have focused on the algorithm and the information retrieval, and now it was time for the search engines to focus on the user. In doing so, Yahoo will start taking things like historic data, social connections, and geographical information to mold the search results of the future. With personalization at the forefront your Yahoo home page may feature a single pane that features video, images, social updates, and news all personalized based on your interests, connections, and location. The motivation behind this focus? Yahoo has seen a 40% increase in engagement when personalization comes into play.
During “Search, PR and the Social Butterfly” Sally Falkow stressed that, “Sustainable organic growth requires a commitment to unique and valuable content creation on a regular basis and the wherewithal to deliver it effectively.” Meaning that now, more than ever businesses need to be looking at ways to develop content not only for their own websites, but for their social networks, their blogs, press releases and anywhere else they can get involved.
So what does this all mean for SEO? It means that the future of search isn’t just about the one with the most backlinks or the one with the most fine tuned on page SEO, its about the one who is most involved with their overall internet marketing. The one that sees SEO as a piece of the overall puzzle that includes things like social media, news, blogs, images, videos, local search and more. I hate to quote myself, but I think I really hit it right on the head the other night during a conversation with Dana Lookadoo “It’s not about traditional SEO anymore. It’s about total Internet marketing & getting involved across the board.”