Rethinking Search and Strategy

One of the best things we ever did at Podcamp Philly was to team up with Li Evans and SearchCamp.  The Searchcamp topics cover everything about search engines, optimization, marketing, and more.  For anyone producing any content online, I am convinced you need to have at least a rudimentary understanding of search to understand how to help the search engines do their job better, to help them find you, but to help them also learn and understand relevancy better and better over time.

Mike Grehan, from ClickZ, and Search Engine Strategies, gave what we called a Fireside Chat, where he spoke about search in general and profound ways, making me rethink how I approached SEO and SEM.  Here are some of the things Mike said:

-Google and all the other search engines are based on crawler technology.  Crawlers are not contextual in nature, and they’re not very fast.  In addition, they aren’t able to index all of human knowledge, especially given the rate of new information from user generated content being produced.  What shows up in search engines is largely based on links to help ferret out what may be more important or relevant from the rest, assuming Google knows it’s even there.

– The Web and the Internet are different things- most email and IRC chats, for example, are not on the web per se, so they are not indexed and will not show up in search.  This means all that chat alongside your Ustream show will not be indexed.

-Algorithms are taking more and more notice of social media, and incorporating rankings, ratings, and all of that information into search to try to make search query results more relevant to the end user.  This means that every time you rate something in Amazon, you are helping the search engines do a better job at getting the next person the best and most relevant information for what they are looking for.  While this means we are all contributing to Google’s information each time we rank something, we also benefit from everyone else doing the same thing- an aggregate benefit from every click.

-Ultimately, reputation- how popular you are, how many people talk about you, rate you highly- will, in turn, lead to organic traffic, more links, and a higher presence in search engines.  If you have no content to harness, de facto, the less important you may be considered online.

-Pictures, mulitmedia and the like, now part of search results for queries in Google, help attract more traffic, so it’s even more important to tag that nultimedia in all of your blog postings.

-User generated content versus mediated content has a greater effect on search relevancy.

-Google tracks not only every click through, but every click back to results, to figure out whether it’s serving up the most relevant content.

So what does all this mean in the aggregate to me?

-SEO is not dead, but it’s getting trickier to game it.  However, it’s going to become even more important to link out, create in-depth experiences, use multimedia and social media in your marketing strategies than ever before. I know it’s making me already be less lazy with links, and to think if links less as creating a bibliography for every blog post, but as creating a reference library and referral library that benefits both myself , the subject matter and people I talk about here equally.

-Reputation and remarkability- your basic business issues- are still the cornerstones to success.  If you aren’t worth talking about, your rank will reflect this.  You have to be awesome, as Chris Penn says; you have to be able to differentiate yourself in the marketplace, and you have to be good enough to be worth talking about.

-There’s a greater convergence coming between text and multimedia.  So for all of us out there, producing podcasts, videos and other multimedia for the web- we’re prepared to get a greater benefit as search starts to index this better and better over time.  It also means that if you are “just a blogger”  you need to start considering whether a more multimedia beyond mere text and mixing it up will be more successful overall in the long run.

There’s still a lot to think about, to mull over and process, but I wanted to take a moment not only to thank the Podcamp Philly and SearchCamp organizing teams, our fantastic sponsors, presenters and more, but to share the important take-aways I had from the conference this weekend.

And, a quick mention for a swag bag sponsor-you can get your own Twitter Jewelry from Survival of the Hippest- click on the Finch to save 10% and tell them Podcamp sent you.  Got to love the link juice, anyway.

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