State of Search 2018

Oct 30, 2018 | SEO

ASTOUNDZ had the pleasure of attending this year’s State of Search, an annual search marketing conference held in Dallas by DFWSEM. With a host of speakers covering topics ranging from SEO, Local SEO, PPC, and Social Media Marketing, there was something for everyone.

Each non-keynote session was short, lasting anywhere from 25-30 minutes, but each was full of valuable insights & actionable strategies. The sessions were also crafted to be relevant for those across digital marketing, including agency owners, SEO specialists, or just content marketers in general. Continue reading our blog to gain an inside look at the nuggets the ASTOUNDZ team gained while visiting the State of Search Conference.

Search Engine Optimization Takeaways

State of Search is an SEO conference at heart, meaning every session & keynote aimed to improve SEO ability and knowledge. We ultimately found three central themes to the conference, which were either directly addressed or implied in each session:

  • Search engines are evolving. The amount of SERP Features, and the consistency in which they are served, is only trending upwards. This means as an SEO, it’s critical that a website’s content be developed and formatted in ways to best capture these features.
  • Everyone has a website with SEO in my field, now what? Depending on the competitive landscape of a market, strategic content marketing must be done in parallel with SEO. In other words, creating content that can be shared through social & referral channels will help provide the necessary boost to your website to begin ranking on the first page. Additionally, working to build out your Local SEO profile, if applicable, can help set yourself apart from the competition for both users & search.
  • User Experience will be the key to SEO. Finally, the most important takeaway the ASTOUNDZ team had was how important user experience will be for SEO now & in the coming years. Bad UX means less return visitors to a website, which results in diminished search rankings. Also, as Brand SEO emerges as a common strategy to avoid competitive searches, making sure your site provides the best UX possible is incredibly important.

Local SEO

Local SEO was such an important aspect of this year’s State of Search that it required a dedicated category. With an hour-long keynote by Greg Gifford, from DealerOn, in addition to many shorter sessions, the amount of coverage on Local SEO was initially staggering. DFWSEM did an excellent job in scheduling the Local SEO sessions throughout both days though, so the amount of coverage was never too overwhelming. As an SEO Agency in Houston, we are well versed in Local, but the ASTOUNDZ team was still able to bring back some nuggets:

  • In Local SEO having a link as a Follow or Nofollow is irrelevant. The link signals that matter are ones from relevant websites in the target area being optimized for. An example would be a local community site or a school.
  • Local content is far more important than unique content! However, this does not mean it’s now ok to duplicate webpages and replace city names. Instead, more focus should be on creating content that helps your site become a local destination/resource.

Brand SERP as a Home Page in Local SEO

If you’re a local business and you Google your company name, what do you see? Many find a partially filled out Google My Businesses (GMB), organic results that link to different webpages, and social media profiles. What if the social media profiles aren’t filled out correctly, or if your reviews aren’t up to par? This is a bad brand impression, and even worse if your GMB info is not correct in addition to being incomplete.

What we will begin to see is that over time, users will look to brand searches as way to quickly access business information without going to your website. As a result, by not making an effort to optimize your brand searches you could be losing out on potential customers because brand searches are highly correlated with intent to purchase/contact.

Need help with auditing and optimizing for Local? Contact ASTOUNDZ and one of our SEO Specialists will reach out to you!

Reviews Matter (more than ever)

A common strategy within marketing is to look at what everyone is doing, and do the opposite to stand out. When it comes to online reviews, however, this idea needs to be thrown out the window. Online reviews are easily the most important aspect to Local SEO. Without getting too in-depth, reviews factor into – Reputation Management, Schema Strategies, Social Proof, Conversion Optimization, and Local Search Rankings for both Page Results & Maps. In other words, everyone needs them.

So, how can you begin generating reviews? There are many ways, but the most important starting point should be identifying where to begin generating reviews. Between Google, Facebook, Yelp, and other industry/niche specific sites (like Houzz), there are several main platforms to choose from. If you’re a restaurant for example, focusing on Google & Yelp first, before building up reviews on social is the way to go. If you’re a plumber, you may choose to focus on Google & Angie’s List. To help decide these, look at what your top-level competitors are doing, and which platforms have their best reviews (not just the most reviews).

Looking forward to next year!

State of Search 2018 was one for the books. The amount of industry insights from leading experts and the networking opportunities make this conference a must for anyone in SEO & digital content marketing. The ASTOUNDZ team looks forward to seeing you all at next year’s State of Search in Dallas!

To view more about the State of Search and to register for next year’s conference – click here to visit their website


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