5 Takeaways from SearchLove Boston 2018

Last week, several KoMarketers had the opportunity to attend SearchLove 2018 in our lovely city of Boston. There were so many of us, we barely fit all fit in the photobooth frame; see exhibit A:

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There we all are! 

Personally, my favorite part was getting to see our Senior Director of Digital Marketing, Casie Gillette, lead a session about the keys to a successful content marketing strategy. It was so cool seeing someone you work with every day get up on the stage and really rock it!

But, I digress. The Distilled team put together a great show this year, which they attributed to the many awesome speakers who flew in from around the world to share their insights and knowledge. The mini dessert buffet from the Revere Hotel didn’t hurt, either.

Feeling like you missed out and wish you could’ve been there? Good news! Today, I’m sharing 5 highlights from the show to guide your search strategy this year and beyond:

1. Paid Media is Evolving Fast

Samantha Noble, Managing Director and Founder of Biddable Moments, shared just how much digital advertising has changed over the last 10 years (and a ton of paid media options) in her presentation, “Beyond the Reach of Keyword Targeting: The Evolution of Paid Media.”

Over the last 10 years, ad platforms and options have changed dramatically. Samantha uses Google Maps and Google Images as examples of platforms that used to be free but have since incorporated ad space as a way to grow and drive revenue. Search ad listings have also expanded and evolved over the past several years to incorporate information that encourages users to click, such as company reviews, delivery time estimates, available promotions, and easy-to-navigate site links.

Most of all, Samantha’s presentation showed there are so many digital advertising options available to marketers today, and likely many more to come. Below are several new Google Search ad options she talked us through:

  • Vehicle Ads
  • Visual Sitelinks
  • Brand Enhanced Sitelink Format
  • Pop-Up Map Ads
  • Knowledge Panel Ads
  • Card vs. Listing Ad Format
  • 4 Ads at Bottom of SERPs
  • Expanded Ads
  • Video Ad Extensions

2. Don’t Be a Newsjack@$$

Ryan Charles, Marketing Director of Hire a Helper, shared his insights about newsjacking, aka taking advantage of news stories to promote a product or brand. We’ve witnessed some brands do this really well over the past few years – think Oreo’s “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl or Hostess’ and MoonPie’s Twitter feud during the solar eclipse.

If you spot an opportunity for your brand to engage with a current news story or event, how do you decide to go for it? To be a successful newsjack-er, the most important piece is to make sure your promotion or advertisement is adding to the story. More specifically, Ryan outlined what to check before hitting the publish button – saving you from becoming the next newsjackass:

  • Do you have a connection to the story?

  • Do you have an original angle? According to Ryan, this angle needs to be unexpected, spark curiosity, and make people laugh.
  • Can you ship it in 24 hours? News moves fast, so you have to move fast to “catch the wave.”
  • Are you offering value? This could be monetary, comedic, emotional, or societal value.
  • Are you willing to take the risk to your brand reputation? The rewards of newsjacking can be brand awareness, links, or even money. Remember smaller brands can take bigger risks than big brands.
    • To mitigate risk, get feedback from outsiders before you post, understand the nuances of the story, and stay neutral if possible.

The bottom line is, your brand can reap serious benefits from tasteful newsjacking, but make sure you’re not misleading the media about an event, trivializing or capitalizing on a current event without thinking about participants, or newsjacking without value.

3. The Key to Successful Content? Data, Data, Data

Of course, there’s our very own Casie Gillette’s session “The Power of Data: 15 Keys to a Successful Content Strategy.” Even though businesses create more content than ever (2 million blog posts are published per day!), only 5 percent of that content drives engagement. A solid, data-driven strategy is essential to driving engagement and success. Below are a few of the tips Casie shared during her presentation:

  • Create Goals: Why are you creating this piece of content, and what do you hope to achieve? Whether your goal is organic visibility, form submissions, shares, or even purchases, make sure it aligns with business objectives.

  • Establish Baseline Performance: Any content that performs below that baseline can be refreshed or repurposed to improve performance and value.
  • Know Which Devices Your Consumers Use: Optimize content for the devices your users consume content on, whether it is mobile or desktop.
  • Monitor Impressions, Position & CTR: If a piece of content has high impressions, high position, and low CTR, you probably need to reevaluate the keyword you’re targeting.
  • The 5-10 Concept: Focus optimization efforts on content ranking in positions 5-10 to push it higher in SERPs.
  • Optimize for Question Queries: 27 percent of search queries are questions – figure out what questions your customers are asking and make sure your content answers them!

4. The Future of Video is 1 to 1

Chris Savage, co-founder and CEO of Wistia, shared his passion for video during “The Future of Video is One to One.” He started off with a prediction:

The reason? Video has evolved over the last six or so years, from many people making low-quality user-generated content to many people making high-quality user-generated content, as a direct result of better film and video technology available to consumers.

Brands, too, are creating videos differently. Chris cites Dollar Shave Club’s viral product launch video, which changed how brands think about video content: Video became a key marketing element. Companies started creating videos to support customers throughout the sales funnel, from product explainer videos to content marketing videos and recruiting videos.

Today, thanks to smartphones, users have access to super high-quality cameras at every moment and are creating videos daily. Chris stresses that brands have to keep up, and think about creating more unique video content – even pitch a prospect, as a thank you, or as follow-up communication.

5. Look Beyond Keywords: Visual Search

Jess Scholz, Global Digital Director at Ringier, shared the possibilities of visual search, AR, and VR in her presentation “Looking Beyond Keywords: From Visual Search to New Realities.”

Did you know 74 percent of consumers say text-based searches are insufficient in helping find products online? As a result, 23 percent of searches are for Google Images. Marketers need to start thinking about optimizing their products and offerings for text-based queries looking for images, and visual queries.

To help make it easier for users to find your product images effectively, make sure all images have optimized metadata and the surrounding copy is based on keywords your customers actually search for. Uploading high-quality images to your site also make it easier to customers to find products through Google’s visual search.

Jess’s tip for brands concerned with creating a lot of high-quality images is to repurpose user-generated content – not only does it take the pressure of creating unique content off of brands’ shoulders, but users who engage with UGC are also two times more likely to convert.

During her presentation, she also discussed the possibilities for computer vision and AR. The key for implementing search by camera functionality or AR into your brand’s strategy, Jess notes, is ensuring it has value for the consumer and makes their life easier (whether it’s buying a product or gathering for new information).

Final Thoughts

There were so many amazing topics and speakers at this year’s show, and each gave us a look into what’s coming down the pike for search marketing and how to be ahead of the curve. So glad I had the opportunity to spend two days learning from the best of the best!

‘Til next year!

“The KoMarketing team took our PPC and SEM marketing efforts to the next level. They are a team of thoughtful, creative, and smart people, and they get downright scientific when it comes to measurement and attribution. A true pleasure to work with.”

Will Bernholz — Will Bernholz, Vice President, Marketing, Dropsource

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