The Power of Search – Digital Doughnut September MeetUp

The September Digital Doughnut Meetup was on The Power of Search which could’ve been called the twin powers of search. With the speakers taking up different positions, it was optimised from both ends. Zigfrids at Hoxton Square hosted the energetic group who turned up to listen to the current state of search, how not be searched, and how to get the most out of organic search. Graham Ruddick opened the night asking how many people in the room worked in SEO – 20%, Digital Marketing – 60%, and General – 20%.

The two opposing views on how to use search can be summed up as; to the best of your ability, or to avoid being seen by it at all. Ideally you use both approaches well and use them intelligently.

The first speaker Emily Hill, CEO of Write My Site, gave us a rundown on the history of search including Black Hat SEO and why Google introduced Panda (looking for quality content), Penguin (snapping off link baiting), and Hummingbird (heralding the age of semantic search). Her slideshare explained “Google is trying to become more sophisticated. It wants to go beyond the words and phrases people use, to figure out what they mean.” As long as people know what they mean, do Google and I think alike about my keywords and search terms? Semantic (relating to meaning in language) search is based on 1. Predictive search, 2. Voice search, 3. Image search.

For predictive search Emily introduced us to ConceptNet5, a way computers can use a semantic network to help understand text written by people, “It is built from nodes representing concepts, in the form of words or short phrases of natural language, and labelled relationships between them”. As you do, I search my name Samantha and the first result is ‘related to Carrie in Sex and City’. To be fair this is one of the shows I use to remind people of my name now that Bewitched draws too many blank stares.

With a teachers aplomb Emily shares with us the best types of content. Regular nice, long articles so you’ll need to put a bit of time aside. She reminds us of the Knowledge Graph, providing you with the answers to your search query without having to leave the results page. With this you need to make sure your company info on Wikipedia and other sources about you and your product are up-to-date, clear, with accurate descriptions that customers would write in search bars when asking about you/your product. Even YouTube videos are offered as an ‘answer’ without you having to navigate off the search page.

With a final quote from Matt Cutts about having an awesome site that has lots of quality content and Brian Cart from Copyblogger telling us to use words in phrases that people actually use – the first point on her final slide sums up the juicy part of the talk, “learn the language of your customers” find the search terms they use and use them as keywords and phrases in your nice, long, quality content on your awesome site. Your copy for search is important but don’t forget copy still needs to be eye-catching.

I had a great chat with Habbi from promogogo.com who told me about the site they have just launched. The site “is a management tool for live events and entertainment. It brings together in one place ticket sales, social media and tools to create campaigns. It is designed so you see what sells tickets.” Gotta love these digital solutions you can discuss over a beer (two for £6 – bonus). I’m catching up with Habbi again to find out more so I’ll keep you posted, definitely asking her for some hot examples.

The next speaker was Neville Longbottom’s double on the Harry Potter films, Bertie Stephens CEO of Flubit. Their powerful proposition is about avoiding the searching eyes of Amazon, Ebay and the like who find out the price anyone is charging for a product so they can sell it cheaper. To use their ecommerce site just send them your email and wait to be accepted, then you can access the private, personalised, prices for online UK retailers. Read about their recent partnership with Barclays on startups.

You only go to Amazon when you’re looking for something in particular. When you find it, you have an option to go to Flubit (once you’re accepted) cut and paste the Amazon link and they’ll source a private, better offer, for the exact same item but cheaper, and that supplier will deliver it to your door just like they would if you bought it through Amazon. As reviews on sellers and delivery are rated on Amazon, Flubit can pick the best ones from this information. On their FAQ page they let you know they are not a price comparison site, all offers are personal and private to you. And if they can’t provide a better offer, they let you know within 48 hours.

Their winning angle: Flubit hide themselves from search so they don’t end up in a price war with behemoth ecommerce sights. And the fact that it’s bespoke is getting a lot of attention. The managing director of Barclaycard Digital Marketplace David Herrick, says: “its technology will allow us to build on what we have already created at bespoke offers to give all UK consumers personalised offers and create significant sales opportunities for UK e-tailers.” Although their business proposition is based on how not to be searched, they still need search when it comes to people looking for information about their reputation.

There was the usual champagne business card draw, won by Oban Digital. Congrats!

I had a good chat with Richard and Gregory from Square Socket about their website design and development company, and Richard also had an idea for a talk he’d like to do at the Digital Doughnut Meetup, on ‘the painful lessons I’ve learned in business’. You can read Richard’s analysis on a site he admires. Gregory and I got into a discussion about whether technology is making people lazy, whether the digital divide is separating people or bringing them together, and if you need to be an Apple person?

What would you like to hear about at a Digital Doughnut Meetup?

Come to the next one!

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