Kevin Ryan, Vice President, Global Content Director, Search Engine Strategies and Search Engine Watch, and I will be speaking at the “Introduction to Search Engine Marketing” session at SES New York 2008. It's just one of the 78 sessions, workshops, panels, keynotes and training classes to be held at the Hilton New York from March 17-21.
Now, I attended my first Search Engine Strategies conference back in March 2002 and I've spoken at two dozen SES events since August 2003. But, preparing for this particular session has been much tougher than I expected.
This session in the Fundamentals Track is supposed to provide “a clear and concise overview of the key concepts involved in Search Engine Marketing.” Back in 2000 when the most popular method used to improve rankings was “changing metatags,” the key concepts were comparatively simple. Today, Google uses over 200 signals for ranking. So, the key concepts have become comparatively complex.
Who are the major search engines?
Let me give you a quick example of one of the “trick questions” that Kevin and I are supposed to answer: “Who are the major search engines?”
Well, the correct answer depends on whether you use comScore's data for “core search queries” or “expanded search queries.”
According to comScore, Americans conducted 10.5 billion searches at the core search engines in January. But, searches for mapping, local directory, and user-generated video sites that aren't on the core domain of the five search engines aren't included in the core search numbers. If these expanded search queries are counted, than Americans conducted 14.6 billion searches that month.
That means there are 4.1 billion expanded search queries a month! As my mother (who was a high school math teacher) use to say, “That's bigger than a bread box.”
So, who are the major search engines?
Well, if you use “core search queries,” then Google Sites rank #1 with 6.1 billion search queries in January 2008, Yahoo! Sites rank #2 with 2.3 billion, and Microsoft Sites rank #3 with 1 billion. But, if you use “expanded search queries,” then Google ranks #1 with 6.2 billion search queries in January 2008, Yahoo! ranks #2 with 2.4 billion, and YouTube/all other Google sites rank #3 with 1.6 billion.
Is YouTube a search engine? As my father (who was the director of marketing for Oldsmobile) use to say, “This is not your father's Oldsmobile.”
Introduction to Search Engine Marketing
That's why it's so hard to provide “a clear and concise overview of the key concepts involved in Search Engine Marketing.” Half of them have changed significantly since last year's Search Engine Strategies New York.
Here are five key concepts that were covered by sessions in the Fundamentals Track a year ago that should continue to be covered in the Introduction to Search Engine Marketing session this year:
• Keyword Research – researching the most relevant, specific, popular and competitive keywords for a given website.
• Website Design – building a “search engine friendly” website that that pleases both crawler-based search engines and your visitors.
• SEO Copywriting – according to Seth Godin, a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change, “The best SEO is great content.”
• Link Building – building quality links in an appropriate manner, which means following Google's guidelines, such as: “Don't participate in link schemes.”
• Search Advertising – advertising on a search engine by purchasing keywords that relate to your product or service.
And here are five more key concepts that are featured in tracks or Orion Panels at SES New York 2008 that should be covered in the Introduction to Search Engine Marketing session this year:
• Web Analytics – tracking, collecting, measuring, reporting and analyzing quantitative Internet data to optimize websites and web marketing initiatives.
• Universal Search – delivering blended search results that incorporate videos, images, news, maps, books, and websites into a single set of results.
• Vertical Search – including video search, image search, local search and news search.
• Social Search – determining the relevance of search results by considering the interactions or contributions of users.
• Contextual Ads – delivering ads based on the content of a web page that's being viewed, usually in an automated or semi-automated manner.
I'm sure there are other key concepts that should be included. You may want to share your thoughts on what should be covered in the Introduction to Search Engine Marketing session or the other sessions in the Fundamentals Track. We've started a new thread in the Search Engine Watch Forums.
This is a topic that's bigger than a bread box. And, when you take a closer look at SEM these days, it's not your father's Oldsmobile.