Two times per year, the leading search, SEO and social professionals converge at PubCon to discuss the latest trends in our industry. As with any major biannual conference, there are always a few topics that get repeated from convention-to-convention, but there are some that seem to resonate more than others. Here’s a small list of we picked up on:
Social signals are big, really big
We all knew social media was going to be huge, but it’s doubtful many knew how huge it was actually going to be. The signals created by users on social networks are becoming some of the most important ones today; but it’s not just Likes and comments, it’s also reviews, retweets and shares.
If you’re not on Google+, sign up and use it immediately
We’ve said it before, but Google+ is not a social network. It’s much more than that, not only for Google, but for users, businesses and everyone in between. Google+ is the thread that connects every Google service–be it Gmail, search, News, Reader, etc.–to each other as well as the user. Google’s head of Google+, Vic Gundotra, was chanting this mantra earlier this year when he told The New York Times, “This is just the next version of Google. Everything is being upgraded. We already have users. We’re not upgrading them to what we consider Google 2.0.”
Google 2.0 is the most important search engine optimization tool out there right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re an individual user or a brand, your influence on Google+ is one of the most important social signals on the web. Unlike individual Facebook posts, which don’t apear in SERPs, Google+ posts do–especially if they have several +1s, comments or shares. SupportLocal CEO Justin Sanger spoke about the importance of the “network” at PubCon, saying that interaction with Google+ (as well as Google+ Local) is the most important signal to send to Google. On Google+, he said, “people are links.” One +1, comment or share from an individual user is the same as a traditional backlink, except to your Google+ profile, not your website.
Get high-quality reviews regularly
Sanger also stressed the importance of reviews during his Google+ presentation. He said the interaction between a company or brand and its customer before a sale is no longer the interaction you need, you want them talking post-sale. Getting a sale is great, and obviously a company needs them to sustain itself, but it’s the comments and reviews from a satisfied customer that Google eats up like a kid eats candy on Halloween night. Reviews on Google+ Local are how Google determines if your company is worth recommending to users looking for your particular service.
A lot of companies stress about getting reviews, but it’s really much more simple than many people think. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask.
SEO isn’t dead and neither are links
Every search engine optimization practitioner has heard it before: SEO Is Dead. But every time, SEOs find ways to “game the system,” if you will. If this year’s PubCon affirmed anything, it’s that not only is SEO not dead, but neither are links. Backlinks to your site are as important as ever, they are just important in different ways than in the past. It’s not longer about having the biggest, most titanic link profile, it’s now about building a network of high-quality links that direct users back to your site in a meaningful way.
Google Penguin has forever changed the way we as SEOs must build our link networks. It’s made us be much more careful than in the past, and it’s for the better. Google’s goal is to give users the best possible results when they search for “XYZ,” which is whY Penguin and Panda have had had, and will continue to have, such a monumental impact on how SEO works in the future.
We are very excited for the next PubCon, which will be held in New Orleans in April, because by then, this will be a whole new industry all over again.