SearchLove 2016 Conference: Trend Highlights

Fast Web Media

Expectations were high for this year’s SearchLove, as the conference boasted an all-star industry line-up with content topics hot off the press. The event certainly did not disappoint, and I was left feeling inspired by the knowledge and honest experiences shared by my industry peers throughout the two days. I’ve chosen to summarise four presentations which I particularly enjoyed, and summarise the key take-outs that will be of interest:

Creative Outreach Campaigns

Speaker: @LisaDMyers, Verve Search

Day one kicked off with Lisa Myers, CEO and owner of Verve Search, sharing some of her successes on creative outreach through the use of campaigns. Lisa emphasised the point that creative ideas are born out of a creative mindset, and that this particular mindset may come from people who may not have a traditional creative background per se. The tenacity and drive of people in the campaign team will largely determine the creative output, and the overall success of the project.

In addition to this, great campaigns don’t always have to be expensive or complex, as Lisa demonstrated with her successful Historic London campaign for Expedia. The campaign overlaid images of old buildings onto their modern counterparts to showcase the drastic changes in years gone by. Historic London’s campaign was well received, catching the attention of major newspapers and generating a number of high-quality links. Executing this campaign did not require a mass amount of resources, as historical images are already widely available, amongst the other resources needed: a photographer and the correct location. The images were provoking enough themselves, that a majority of the success can be owed to how shareable the content was, and ultimately how it appealed to an incredibly large audience – old and young.

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A snippet from the Historic London campaign for Expedia.

RankBrain in Action

Speaker: @dr_pete, Moz

RankBrain was a recurring topic throughout the two-day event, with a presentation by Dr Pete Meyers sharing his thoughts on RankBrain. According to Dr Meyers, RankBrain can make the connection between grouped entities, thereby aiming to serve the most accurate search result for search queries that Google isn’t familiar with. The implication for keyword research is to move away from looking at keywords individually, and instead start grouping keywords that share a common theme before determining group ideals in order to create contextual keywords. The next step is to research the most common search queries that people would search for relating to the contextual keywords, and then optimise the content on a site to answer the query accordingly to improve its rankings. With the growth of featured snippets showing in the search results and the continued growth of voice and mobile search, looking at keywords as concepts makes complete sense.

SERPs for Queries

Speaker: @STATrob, STAT

Rob Bucci from STAT spoke about how featured snippets are here to stay and as research shows, we are seeing an increase in the number of featured snippets shown in the SERPs for various types of search queries. STAT claims this is an opportunity searchers can’t ignore as it is the cornerstone of Google’s strategy for mobile and voice search. Featured snippets aim to provide the most succinct answer to search queries, which are the perfect format for people on mobile devices. Currently, Google shows 3 format variations: paragraph, table and lists. The format of the content on the site determines the format of the featured snippet, so we can (to a degree) influence how our content may show as a featured snippet in the SERPs. Questions tend to generate featured snippets, whereas statements may not. By researching the common featured snippet formats that appear for relevant search queries, we can optimise the content accordingly on site to increase the chances of the site appearing as the desired featured snippet in the SERPs. Studies show that 29% of featured snippets are tables. A key tip here is to not provide all the information in the featured snippet, but just enough to entice the searcher to click through to the website to read the full answer to their query.

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A paragraph snippet.
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The snippet of content here is displayed in a list view.
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Information here is presented in a table view.

WhatsApp Chat Marketing

Speaker: @jesstiles, Ringier

Jes Stiles’ presentation on WhatsApp Chat app marketing was very insightful and informative, focussing on how brands increasingly use chat apps to personalise their product/service offerings and communicate with their customers. According to Stiles, chat apps give customers a sense of immediacy and intimacy. Companies like KLM, who has always been very innovative in its digital marketing, are a good example of using Whatsapp Chat apps to engage one to one with the customer at any point during their customer journey. Retailers and travel companies are also taking advantage of this communication channel to meet the needs of their customer more closely and drive sales. The challenge for chatbots currently is the interpretation of customer queries in order to understand context and sentiment. For WhatsApp, there is still a lot of machine learning development required, thereby brands wanting to adopt personalised, one-to-one communication may face the issues of cost and scalability. Banks are now able to communicate with their customers through a range of platforms like Facebook Messenger, Slack and SMS using the artificial intelligence platform Kasisto. Kasisto uses natural language processing, speech recognition and artificial intelligence, which allows customers to find out their balance and get answers to their queries.

Summary

SearchLove provided a varied and in-depth insight into the most current, and up-and-coming, trends in the search world and beyond. Working in this industry means having to remain proactive in uncovering the latest and fastest grossing trends, from not just Google algorithms, but digital innovation as a whole. I, and the rest of the team at Fast Web Media, are looking forward to what next year will have in store…

Did you attend this year’s SearchLove conference? Tweet us @FastWebMedia to have a chat about your key takeaways.

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