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This last week saw the 2013 Search Marketing Expo come and go. With speakers like Matt Cutts and Duane Forester, you can be sure there were a multitude of interesting forums that covered pertinent industry updates. While there is a wealth of information to be gleaned from a conference as prominent as SMX West, here are three major game changers that can contribute to the overall success of a website.

1.  MARKUP MATTERS 

In 2011, I urged that you must not ignore Schema.org and that early adopters would see the biggest return.  Well it’s been nearly two years since Schema.org’s big debut at SMX Advanced 2011 and guess what…it’s is only becoming more evolved, more powerful, and a more important tactic to having content stand out effectively in search results.  Here are some really cool types of schema markups that are being used by savvy SEO-minded webmasters:

Recipes with Reviews:

Schema Markup recipe review

 

Music Events:

schema markup music events

 

Authorship (AOL Ranking for “Getting a Job at Google”):

schema markups authorship

In the past, there were many conflicting markups, vocabularies, and syntaxes when it came to microdata. Google and Bing are making a coordinated effort to use Schema.org as the uniform markup language, syntax and vocabulary. The good news is that Good Relations, which is a notable markup vocabulary used on many ecommerce sites, is planning to fully integrate to the Schema.org core so there shouldn’t be any need to do a massive overhaul of any previously implemented markup.

 

2.  (NOT PROVIDED) DATA IS ONLY GOING TO INCREASE 

Up until October of 2011, SEOs were basically spoon-fed invaluable data from Google Analytics. That all changed when Google decided they were going to “protect” the data of users signed into their Gmail accounts and Google+ accounts.  As a result, Not Provided began appearing in our Google Analytics data.  While it was a mildly roadblock for us SEOs, most of us weren’t kicking up too much of a fuss, mostly because we were still getting more than enough data to make educated decisions on which keywords to use when optimizing sites.

Then in 2012, Google extended their “privacy protection policy” to all users of the Google search toolbar, regardless if they were signed into a Google account.  Not Provided data began to skyrocket.  Many SEO’s have been faced with the challenge of finding the necessary information in order to be effective.

This ever-increasing loss of data was an undeniably very humbling moment for us SEOs. One adjustment suggested was to begin taking steps away from using ranking reports.  A an SEO at an agency, I really don’t know how we can ever fully get away from ranking reports altogether.  Clients might not need them, but they definitely utilize and want them.  So how do you minimize the importance of ranking reports, which for so long have been the building block upon which we rationalize the need for our services? One good idea thrown out there was to make keyword strategy less about non-branded keywords and more about developing a brand that identifies with a product type or service.  Zappos does this with shoes.  Jacuzzi does this with spas. Pampers with baby diapers. The wonderful thing is that even if you’re a company with a small advertising budget for branding, you can make use of your social media profiles to get your content and name out there, which segues me to my last takeaway – REL=Authorship and Social Media.

 

3.  REL=AUTHORSHIP & RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN 

Matt Cutts, the head of Webspam at Google, and his counterpart at Bing, Duane Forrester, both consented that their respective search engines are really studying how search results are affected by authoritative and influential person’s/brands/communities content.  The rel=author tags are important for two reasons.  First, It allows companies to verify all their Google+, which gives Google better insight to the communities you are part of and where you exist online.  Secondly, the tag creates off portal to all a user’s previously written content (see below).  Based on the social mentions that your content receives and its connection to various branded social profiles, Google can begin to really understand how authoritative you are to your various circles.

REL=authorship

Responsive Web Design” was another buzzword regularly spoken by these two panelists.  With the advent of smartphones and tablets, search is being conducted on many non-desktop devices.  Having a site that can respond to the various devices will be crucial to improving behavioral metrics (time spent on a page, bounce rate, conversions) associated with improved rankings.

 Here’s an example of Wpromote when the site is opened on a desktop browser.  Now see how it’s design layout changes as you make the browser window the size of mobile browser.

wpromote responsive web design

responsive mobile wpromote design

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