In the midst of all the keywords, statistics, and data crunching, it’s easy to lose sight of who we’re doing it all for. Ultimately it’s humans who we want to land on our content – not just search engine spiders.
The second day of Pubcon Las Vegas was a wake up call to fact that marketers should be doing more to please people with their digital strategies. Or, at the very least, consider them to the same degree that we consider engines and algorithms.
The day’s sessions reinforced the idea that optimization strategies should be designed for humans as well as algorithms.
Morning Keynote: Conversation With Google Adsense Team
Google’s John Brown and Richard Zippel team kicked the day off with their latest people-pleasing contribution to the digital world: accelerated mobile articles.
Google and Twitter have launched their own content delivery platform, which is said to aid in the distribution of content to mobile devices.
Clicking on links from certain publishers in either a Twitter feed or a Google search, full articles will pop up immediately versus waiting several seconds. The instantaneous delivery will be accomplished by showing people cached web pages on publishers’ sites.
To Google’s dismay, their announcement was derailed at the hands of one attendee who thought it was an appropriate time to grill the Google team on their European policies.
The attendee took issue with the fact that there might eventually be some cross over into US search results. To Google’s credit, the team did their best to thwart criticisms and stay on message to get the word out about the new product.
Afternoon Sessions: Site Audits and Holistic Search
Following the morning, I attended a live site audit where a perfect example was shown of a site that was designed for engines over people.
The site in question had done everything necessary to please search engines, but are still were not getting the rankings they felt they deserved.
When the panel asked the site owner what kind of content was being created to educate people about his products, it was clear that strategy hadn’t been considered.
Again, reinforcing the importance of creating content for both people and search engines.
Search is the Study of Human Behavior Online
During a session on holistic search, Rhea Drysdale of Outspoken Media reinforced the ideas that its an SEOs job to guide people to the content they want to find.
Drysdale summed an SEO’s job in one of the most important ways I’ve heard it stated:
“Search holds the key to what organizations need to succeed. We are the keepers of how humans want (or don’t want) to find and interact with our organizations.”
Afternoon Keynote: Rand Fishkin and the Two Algo World
Rand Fishkin’s afternoon keynote explained how we’re now marketing in a two algorithm world:
- Algorithm 1 = Google
- Algorithm 2 = Subset of humanity that interacts with your content
Fishkin explained in detail that human interaction, via click-throughs in search results, correlate positively with higher rankings. Fishkin also made a strong case that getting visitors to visit more than one page on a site also led to greater results.
Optimize for also input and human output, Fishkin stated, adding that neglecting one for the other is a failed strategy.
Fishkin was also gracious enough to share his full slide deck here.
Storytelling and SEO
One of the final sessions of the day was dedicated to storytelling and SEO. Martin MacDonald of Orbitz explained how he’s seen millions spent on creating content simply to please Google.
Marketers are essentially filling the web with content people don’t want to read because Google’s Panda algorithm rewards fresh content.
However, marketers could be getting much more mileage out of content if they used storytelling principles to create content people want to read.
Easier said than done, right? Creating new content is a challenge, especially if you’re not particularly skilled at writing.
Three tools were recommended for helping marketers tell better stories with content:
- WordPress: For hosting the content, of course.
- AESOP Story Engine: A WordPress plugin that can walk you through the entire storytelling process
- Impactana: A tool for identifying content that’s about to go viral. This can be used to discover what topics people are interested in.
The three tools mentioned above are all free, but it was warned that Impactana may soon become a paid service.
For the full visual story of Pubcon Day 2, please see the photo gallery below.