Transformation of Search Summit Recap


On October 19, 2018, several members of the Efferent Media team headed into New York City for the inaugural Transformation of Search Summit, which was sponsored by Search Engine Watch, one of the leading sources of online information for all things search related, and its sister company Click Z, the online digital marketing community.

Efferent team members in attendance included SEO Department Manager Michael Roberts, Social Media Manager Megan Guard, Search Coordinator Joe Czarniecki, and Search Coordinator Eileen McGovern. Sessions were provided by industry heavyweights, with representatives from brands including LEGO, Microsoft, Hilton, Google, and SAP.

In between sessions, the Efferent team was able to meet and speak with representatives from Kenshoo, Botify, Acquisio, and Adthena to discover how their software could provide solutions for Efferent clients (plus they were able to pick up some pretty sweet swag!)

Each member of the team had different takeaways from the Summit. For Search Coordinator Joe Czarniecki, the topic of voice search was deeply relevant, saying, “With the rising popularity of AI like Alexa, Google Home, Siri, and voice command, search is becoming a vital aspect to SEO and search engine rankings. It seems to be no longer a strategy of optimizing for search engines but rather optimizing for strategies like incorporating the use of featured snippets, using tools like AnswerThePublic, Google autocomplete, and Google suggestions can give us a better understanding of important keywords to rank for and what information people are looking for.”

Position 0 was also on Joe’s mind: “Position 0 is also another vital aspect to strive for because the future of SEO involves an increasing number of voice searches and what’s listed in position 0 is what it reads to the user after a voice command or inquiry. As Melissa Walner, Director of Global SEO for Hilton explained, ‘80% of Google Home responses stem from a featured snippet.’ So, it’s important to be ahead of the game with schema markup for local businesses and other useful rich snippets.”

Fellow Search Coordinator Eileen McGovern was intrigued by the possibilities presented by both voice search and the Internet of Things (IoT). She says, “With the rise of AI and the increased connectivity of smart devices, search engine marketers have to really get into the minds and intentions of their target audiences. As one of the speakers said, ‘The future of search isn’t search; it’s visual, and it’s AI.’

“A Gartner projection sticks out to me: ‘By 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human.’ AI will get smarter, more intuitive, and every business must adapt to the new paradigm or risk losing out. When your customers are looking to reorder fresh produce because of a notification from their smart fridge, you need a plan in place already to capitalize on that opportunity. It won’t be enough to just pivot. The opportunity will already be gone.”

The most memorable seminar for Mike Roberts, Efferent’s Director of SEO, was from Melissa Walner, Director of Global SEO for Hilton, regarding voice search. He said, “Much of this is what we have known/realized and been working on already…but all of the data from the hotel landscape, gave a much fuller and robust view of how voice search currently impacts, and will impact, SERP listings.”

Social Media Community Manager Megan Guard found the keynote by SAP Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing Transformation Siddharth Taparia to be particularly compelling, saying, “Free data we provide through daily usage and reliability are essentially what will allow us to push forward in technology and how we will advance in the world of SEO.”

Megan was also struck by what Kerry Curran, the Managing Partner for Marketing Integration at Catalyst said about relevant targeting “during the new customer journey…how important search keywords can be when selling to a general audience” and to “keep in mind your larger audience demographic by all regions.”

For the Efferent Media team, some of the actual ideas weren’t new for them but rather, it induced them to look at existing concepts in new and different ways. Being able to learn about real life applications of marketing principles enabled them to see just how effective some seemingly simple concepts could affect large scale businesses. The entire Efferent team is looking forward to putting these concepts to work for their clients and seeing how they can impact businesses of all sizes.

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