An eye on ionSearch 2013

I was at the first ionSearch last year when it was a one day event and the chat was how SEO had evolved from the mathematics of building links to the strategy of earning trusted links.

This year ionSearch was much bigger. It was a two day event, had tools and technology from around the world, sessions and panels on SEO and PPC. I was lucky enough to feature on three panels; Affiliates and Search, Local Search and Big Brand Search. You can see my Tweet coverage here.

The big talking about this year was around the role of Creative and Outreach. What matters most in a successful SEO campaign? We had PR agencies (partnered with SEO agencies) get up on stage and argue it was the content, creative idea and execution that mattered the most. We had content marketing agencies that got up on stage and argued that it was the outreach that mattered most.

I asked the question to the final panel; “If you had £10,000 to spend would you split it £2k on creative and £8k on outreach or £8k on creative and £2k on outreach?” The final answer? Andy Atkins-Krüger, the moderator cheated a little (okay, a lot) by saying he would spend £6 on research and then £2k on each of creative and outreach.

The point there is that the creative idea absolutely has to tie into the audiences you intend to outreach too. The audiences you outreach to absolutely have to have some investment in the idea or message you are bringing to them.

It’s hard to imagine a Search conference of 2006 would have this sort of discussion. A few years ago the mantra “a link is a link” might have been heard. This year we had that expression denounced and trounced.

SEO has changed.

In fact, outside the official sessions there was chat on the name “SEO”. Does it still apply? People gossiped over whether – when – brands like SEOMoz or SEOGadget would rebrand. Andrew Dumont from SEOMoz did hint at a secret project but wouldn’t be drawn on branding. The secret project? Likely to be another technical innovation from the Mozzers.

Of the three sessions I spoke in it may have been the last one (and the 9am on day 2) panel that I enjoyed the most. This was a return to Local Search.

I got to speculate on the impact of the FTC ruling in the States (no scraping Yelp) combined with the fresh EU ruling (highlight your own results). I think the two may combine so that Google needs to collect data into their own system (to remove the need to take/index/crawl others) and then are told to prominently highlight those results if/when they appear in search results! I ask you; does that sound like a terrible thing for Google?

The audience in the session didn’t think so and my fellow panellists (Aleyda Solis of Seer Interactive and Daniel Bianchini of SEOptimise) kindly agreed with my suggestion that G+ Local was an “in it to win it” for a quick win local strategy. We all agreed that bigger brands needed a broader approach for the long term.

Next year? Already looking forward to it.

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