SearchTHIS: The Word from SES, Part 1

The Search Engine Strategies returned to New York City last week with a bang as search marketing rocked the New York Hilton with four days of multi-track sessions. Attendees numbering in the thousands had a lot to say about the state of search. The overwhelming message? While search is still young, it is showing signs of growing up.

Of course, there were wild parties (well, wild from the good Catholic boy perspective), loads and loads of free stuff from search providers (frogs, mints, mouse pads), but as is often the case with popular conferences, digging a little deeper into the behind-the-scenes action can shed a bit of light on what is really happening in the biz.

Blogs are all the rage, but how do they work with search? A popular name for search has disappeared from the face of the business and is that a good idea? Why are shopping engines so important? A big business taught us about how to reach out to search, and a new twist on an old tool format has everyone talking.

Overture becomes a memory

Stock up on those Overture tchotske’s. This week, Yahoo! announced the Overture name will disappear forever. In a move possibly sparked by an effort to increase shareholder equity and the perception of product diversification, Overture will now be known as Yahoo! Search Marketing Solutions. Yahoo! offered quite the overview of its diversified search marketing offerings in its release:

  • Sponsored Search Listings, the flagship search advertising product
  • Content Match, Yahoo!’s contextual advertising listings
  • Local Match, Yahoo!’s local sponsored search offering
  • Site Match Self Serve and Site Match Xchange, Yahoo!’s search URL submission products
  • Yahoo! Product Submit, the Yahoo! Shopping URL submission program
  • Yahoo! Express, the Yahoo! Directory URL submission program
  • Marketing Console, which enables advertisers to track campaign performance across multiple online channels
  • Search Optimizer, which allows advertisers to improve their campaign performance and reduce the amount of time spent managing their listings

I happen to think this little move is a pretty smart one in the grand scheme of growing up because Yahoo! has a great deal to offer Overture and its constituency, and Wall Street likes diversity. But everyone has their own opinions. Shortly after Yahoo! made the announcement, the popular second-tier search provider FindWhat apparently disagreed with my assessment.

"By bringing Overture under the Yahoo! brand, Yahoo! is further highlighting the manner in which it directly competes with many of Overture's major distribution partners," said Craig Pisaris-Henderson, chairman and chief executive officer of FindWhat.com, Inc. 

Competition? Maybe, but the rate of consolidation (mergers and acquisitions) and segmentation (partners separating from distribution providers) in the business continues to astonish me. Yahoo!’s major syndication partner (MSN) undoubtedly will go its own way in the near future and any perceived conflicts will take a back seat to diversity.

Blogs, search, and PR

There were a few sharp sessions on buzz and its unflinching cousin, public relations. Jupiter Research analyst, Gary Stein, who could be out teaching best practices on how to moderate conferences, led a discussion about using blogs and real-time consumer opinion to harness key information for future advertising initiatives.

Another panel included Search for Profit’s Dr. Amanda Watlington, who suggested that blogs are not only causing a flood of information online but also are challenging the paradigm of passive user queries in forcing a shift to active information flow with technologies such as Really Simple Service (RSS) feed development tools. Watlington suggests the following for achieving success:

  • Plan your blog for power
  • Add fresh, quality content often
  • Give and receive links generously
  • Syndicate widely through feeds

Another panel discussion with SEO PR’s president and co-founder Greg Jarboe included key advice on how to take advantage of rankings in press releases. Jarboe showed how targeting keywords in press release headlines, subheads, links and images could significantly impact the reach of release information. Jarboe also emphasized that while rankings may not be improved with press information, this doesn’t mean revenue will not be affected. He cited an example from Southwest Airlines that generated over $1.9 million in sales.

The pattern here is clear: A specialized sibling industry is rapidly evolving around the phenomenon of quickly available consumer opinion. People want you to know what they think; advertisers and brands want to know what people think, and our internet world will never be the same.

Tomorrow: Shopping engines, big business embraces search, PPC and PHI and more.

iMedia Search Editor Kevin Ryan’s current and former client roster reads like a “who’s who” in big brands; Rolex Watch, USA, State Farm Insurance, Farmers Insurance, Minolta Corporation, Samsung Electronics America, Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Panasonic Services, and the Hilton Hotels brands, to name a few. Ryan believes in sound guidance, creative thought, accountable actions and collaborative execution as applied to search, or any form of marketing. His principled approach and staunch commitment to the industry have made him one of the most sought after personalities in online marketing. Ryan volunteers his time with the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization, and several regional non-profit organizations.

 

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