Dave Chaffey - Insights Director at ClickThrough Marketing, The Search Conversion ExpertsI recently took part at the Econsultancy Digital Cream event where client-side marketers discuss approaches to improve their digital marketing.

I was moderating the SEO roundtable where we discussed the main challenges and opportunities marketers were seeing with their SEO.

These were the main topics which were of interest to the 30 or so marketers at the roundtables:

1. The impact of social signals on rankings

The announcement that social signals now influence SEO rankings is well known, so this has to be a big issue to consider, particularly since many companies don’t have a blog and/or it’s not so well integrated into their site products and services pages.

At each of the roundtables we discussed how to integrate the type of content that will be shareable and linkable into commercial, non-publisher sites. Methods to gain backlinks are unsurprisingly still a major concern.

Even before this announcement I noticed many companies making efforts to integrate their SEO with online PR and social media. There seem to be more joint responsibilities for SEO and social in the larger companies that get it, a good move I think.

Many of the challenges for larger organisations involve getting SEO specialists to work more closely with other parts of a company or agencies working on online PR and social media initiatives.

2. Mobile search

Google revealed recently that over the past two years, its mobile searches have grown by more than five times.

As I showed in my last ClickThrough post,  you can see how much this matters for your sector using Googles own tools.

3. Local search

Closely related, following an algorithm and interface update towards the end of last year, Google Places has become a lot more important for local searches involving the name of a location plus a service.

If you see the tell-tale red balloons dominating the search results for searches related to your services in an area, that’s a sure sign you need to take action.

4. Video search

Did you see the stats showing that YouTube has become the second-most important search engine in many countries? That suggests the opportunities for video SEO should be explored alongside other forms of blended search, if they’re not already.

5. Opportunities to engage on other sites

There’s a tendency within SEO to think inwardly about driving traffic to your sites and gaining links on other sites. But as the social web has evolved there may be new options for reaching an audience on other sites which perform well in the SERPs.

I see these types of sites as increasing in importance – often within the SERPS:

  • Q&A sites – Yahoo! Answers is still important, but other generic sites like Quora and niche sites like StackOverflow are increasing in importance.
  • How-to sites such as eHow and VideoJug.
  • Article sites – these have been impacted by the 2011 Google Farmer-Panda update, but sites such as eHow are still favoured by Google so it’s still part of strategy.

Few of the companies attending had been directly affected suggesting that if a site is a recognised brand producing unique, quality content, this update will have a limited impact.

6. Site migration

I chaired 3 roundtables and was surprised to see, in each one that, at least one person mentioned their concern of how a site redesign or relaunch affecting their URLs might impact in SEO. This was based on their experience of previous refreshes. All of this just goes to show that as well as reviewing new approaches, it’s important to know how to get the basics right too.

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About the author:

An acknowledged expert on digital marketing, Dave was recognised in 2004 by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of “50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have shaped the future of Marketing“. Dave is also author of five best-selling books including Internet Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice; and eMarketing eXcellence.