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I feel fortunate to work for a company that invests in ongoing training and education for its employees and consider it a huge perk that I have the opportunity to attend SLC|SEM’s monthly events. I was especially looking forward to last night’s presentation by Danny Sullivan on search marketing trends and best practices.

In case you’re unfamiliar, Danny Sullivan is the editor in chief of Marketing Land and Search Engine Land and is also considered by many in the community as “the godfather of search.” Danny was kind enough to take a small break from a ski vacation in Park City with his wife to speak to members of Utah’s digital marketing community at the new Adobe building in Lehi.

The following is a quick recap of some of the key points and takeaways I wanted to share with those that weren’t able to attend last night’s presentation:

A Lot of Things Change, but a Lot of Things Stay the Same

Danny started the evening off by telling us there’s no revolution going on in search. Regardless of the latest algorithm updates, new social media platforms, link devaluations, etc., people still type in a query and get results. Danny added perspective to this thought by reminding us that it’s Google’s job to resolve a query as quickly as possible and our job to make sure that our websites provide the most relevant results for that query: “At the end of the day it’s all about your audience and the user experience.”

Danny called the recent changes, trends and developments in search marketing more of an “evolution, not a revolution.” Danny was careful not to discredit the merits of new opportunities and search survival strategies, but also encouraged us to go back to the basics. As far as where we should be spending our time, Danny pointed to the 65% search market share Google holds in the U.S. and said it’s wise to focus the majority of your efforts where most people go to get their information.

Google’s not Going Anywhere

Danny asserted that “Google isn’t slowing down” and provided some noteworthy examples of things that were supposed to decrease Google’s popularity but didn’t: the pay-to-play model of Google Shopping, campaigns like Bing’s “Scroogled,” and the increasing percentage of search terms that are “Not Provided” to content publishers. Google’s ever changing privacy landscape has affected marketers in a big way—we continue to get less and less information from Google.

Regardless of these changes, however, Google retains its dominance. People still turn to the search giant to get results, and as long as that’s the case, sound SEO strategy will still be needed.

In other words, as Danny said last night, SEO will never die. Unfortunately, neither will the predictions.

Be Social—It’s No Longer an Option

There’s been a lot of discussion about links lately—links being devalued, link penalties, disavowing links, link warnings, etc. When speaking about links, Danny told us to “seek hard links, not easy links.” In other words, use valuable, sharable, content-driven assets to get links that will drive qualified traffic back to your site. Infographics, outstanding blog posts, viral video campaigns, and how-to guides are all examples of the type of content you should be creating and sharing to get really great links.

Danny also discussed the increasing value and importance of social signals as search engines continue to look at them as a sign of trust from users and use them as a ranking factor. Danny stated that social media is turning pages into people, places, and things with reputations. He also predicted that search engines will continue to pay more attention to social signals, since these are more democratic than links as “votes” to determine relevance.

Get on Board with Authorship

Danny stressed the importance of authorship and explained that most types of websites, including B2B, B2C, and ecommerce, should be utilizing authorship through a verified brand Google+ page and through implementing authorship on blogs. He used Park City Mountain Resort as a great example of a business that is currently utilizing authorship to increase its visibility in the SERPs for not only navigational queries from searchers, but also for content shared on their Google+ brand page.

Danny also mentioned how implementing authorship is another great way to essentially built trust and authority with Google, thereby helping to increase brand awareness, visibility, and making your great content stand out from competitors that are not utilizing the attribute.

Memorable Tweets from the Night

[tweet https://twitter.com/dannysullivan/status/304382678524907520]

[tweet https://twitter.com/tamrajh/status/304423879126958082]

[tweet https://twitter.com/RickGalan/status/304420782732361730]

[tweet https://twitter.com/Derek_Perkins/status/304435471147208705]

[tweet https://twitter.com/atraine/status/304417870891331584]

[tweet https://twitter.com/whitpye/status/304420136830504961]

[tweet https://twitter.com/seocom/status/304422113136214016]

[tweet https://twitter.com/PaigeCWilley/status/304435356525289473]

[tweet https://twitter.com/iGoByDoc/status/304433849478283264]

[tweet https://twitter.com/Bebabz/status/304429624602001409]

[tweet https://twitter.com/shawnbarrington/status/304434271785992193]

[tweet https://twitter.com/hilarybiggart/status/304430748293795840]

[tweet https://twitter.com/seocom/status/304419198212390912]

[tweet https://twitter.com/slcsem/status/304467445987561473]


After Danny presented, there was a brief Q & A period where attendees were able to get Danny’s thoughts on everything from negative SEO to Facebook’s new open graph search.

All in all the night was a huge success, and SLC|SEM deserves huge kudos for facilitating and organizing the event. My personal takeaway is to take changes in search in stride and focus on the user experience by focusing on providing value. If you are a digital marketer living in the greater Salt Lake City area, I would highly recommend attending an event to hear some the industry’s thought leaders and to network with fellow digital marketers. To learn more about purchasing an annual membership, please visit SLC|SEM.

Featured image credit: Skyguy414