WTC Recap: Mitch Joel, Chris Brogan, and Julien Smith on SEO and its Future

Chris Brogan and Julien Smith at Women Tech Council

SEO is alive and flourishing, according to some best-selling authors and professional bloggers. In a Utah event sponsored by the Women Tech Council in Utah last week, Chris Brogan, Mitch Joel, and Julien Smith drove home the importance of visibility as one of the keys to building online communities and earning consumer trust today.

While they spoke about topics that extend beyond the SEO world, they made some valid points and gave stats that are worth passing on to the SEO community.

From Mitch Joel:

  • The number of clicks on banner ads has declined by 50 percent since 2007. (The overall number makes up a very small fraction of the total number of web users).
  • The average online review score (on a 1-5 scale) is 4.3. This is rather high, considering that many companies are fearful of potentially negative reviews. They shouldn’t be if they’re doing things right. In fact, negative reviews often convert better than positive ones, in instances where the complaint is because of a feature or attribute unimportant to the prospect.
  • Around 20 percent of searches each day are completely unique (never before searched). This demonstrates the importance of long-tail content creation and optimization.
  • Around 80 percent of first brand interactions occur in search results. (No better testament to SEO importance than that)
  • About social media: “Don’t write checks with social media that your website can’t cash.” (from Avinash Kaushik) Investment in driving site traffic only pays off when the site is prepared to receive the traffic.

From Julien Smith:

  • Break patterns to create emotional connections, meaning “do things differently so that people remember you.” There must be something unique about your website, your content, etc. so that an emotional connection is formed.
  • People don’t gather around the profound. They gather around the simple and silly content. Don’t overdo your site content to appeal to a “highest” common denominator, especially if you’re trying to sell. That being said, do use “insider language” and terminology to build reputation and credibility. You can form a community around yourself if your content rewards people who are “in on it.”

From Chris Brogan:

  • We buy from people we know and like, regardless of the value proposition. (You don’t have to worry about being the lowest price if you’re giving people a way to know you and buy from you, and you’re connecting with them)
  • New Media Labs (Brogan’s company) targeted their market with changes in website wording. They put, “Works with Fortune 100 and 500 companies” on the site before they had ever had a client from that group and it brought in business that qualified itself because of that statement.
  • Upcoming trends on the horizon include (1) mobile computing being an increasingly more important ground for ecommerce and interaction, (2) increasing presence of private networks/communities online, (3) development of more sophisticated “social CRMs” that shorten the gap between company and customer.

From the top-secret post-conference Q&A:

  • The future of SEO will be about the integration of content creation with the way humans think. SEO companies should focus on offering content creation as a service to more closely tie keywords to content.
  • Learning social media monitoring and listening is worth more than learning how to use social media messaging tools. Listening transforms your company’s branding and messaging to match what people are talking about rather than the “message” your marketing department made up.
  • There is no such thing as a social media expert. Brogan and Smith both reiterated that they’re both businessmen who know how to use the tools, but who will be around long after the social networks turn over, using new tools and techniques.

Image credit: Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt

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4 Comments

  1. Maile Keone says

    Great write up and summary of important info from the conference. And a big thank you to SEO.com for supporting the Women Tech Council both through sponsorship and sending folks to attend. You are a community partner that many others should learn from and emulate your support of so many aspects of our community. Much appreciated!

  2. Rob Caldwell says

    Nice summary. I especially liked the comments on the “Top-Secret Post-Conference Q & A”.

  3. Pete Codella says

    I am certainly in favor of the “listening” comment. All too often companies feel they should jump in to social media because they think everyone else has. I say first listen to the conversations on social media using RSS feeds from online searches, importing them into Google Reader to create a listening platform, then, when it’s warranted, get involved in conversations. If nothing else, listening can help guide communication efforts and make the company’s messages more on target with what their constituents are looking for.

  4. Jacob Stoops says

    Totally agree with this comment…

    “There is no such thing as a social media expert. Brogan and Smith both reiterated that they’re both businessmen who know how to use the tools, but who will be around long after the social networks turn over, using new tools and techniques.”

    Also, I find the SEO statistics from Mitch to be very interesting.

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