We are a few days away from Share13, the industry's premier digital marketing event focused on organic search and digital marketing. Things have been hectic at BrightEdge as we give finishing touches to but we did get a minute to catch up with Simon Heseltine, industry thought-leader and Director of Audience Development at AOL.
Simon Heseltine is currently the Director of Audience Development for Huffington Post Media Group within AOL Inc. In this position Simon and his team are responsible for planning and implementing SEO projects and trainings for many well known sites across the HPMG / AOL brand portfolio. Simon will be part of a panel discussion on how to make the most of the search engine opportunity in the light of the dizzying change that the industry is used to. Here is a quick transcript of our chat.
BE: Tell us about your session at Share13.
SH:This will be my first experience of the Share conference, and so I’m looking forward to expanding my network with industry leaders I haven’t yet met, sharing ideas, and talking about topics that affect all of us. I’ll be speaking on the topic of “The Search Engine Opportunity”, basically discussing where we can, in today’s world, still get good, quality traffic to our content.
BE: What are your thoughts on the impact of “not provided” on search marketing?
SH: It makes search marketing much more challenging. Sure we can talk about how following best practices is the way to go, but as “not provided” continues to increase, the data becomes less and less statistically significant. Some sites now have >75% of their traffic in this hidden bucket. How do you know what’s working? You don’t. Sure, you can look at page data to see which pages are getting the traffic, but then thanks to the ios6 tracking issues there’s another chunk of data that’s missing. It’s all rather depressing, really. Or to look at it another way, it’s a challenge, a challenge that anyone in the search marketing industry now has to deal with.
BE: How has content come to be the focus of search and digital marketing?
SH: As far as I’m concerned, content’s always been a focus. Without the content you’re not going to achieve your goals, whether it’s to get people to buy something on your site or just read your articles. Now I will say that social has changed the focus more to the content side. With search engines, if the content can’t be found, can’t be crawled, or is just poorly targeted, the chances are you’d not show up when someone searches for you. With social, that’s not the case. Someone shares your content once, and it shows up in their friend’s feeds, where they can discover and share to their heart’s content.
BE: How do you view the rise of Earned media and the relationship between Earned and owned vs paid media?
SH: As most of the sites I work with tend to be on the newsy side, we’re usually the place that people are hoping to earn links and articles from. The recent Google crackdown on advertorials is going to move people away from native advertising and towards trying to earn rather than pay for articles.
BE:What is your approach to publishing content and measuring performance across channels like site, social, and search?
SH: We have lots of different sites on different CMSs, but we’ve basically determined what the metrics are that matter for us, and we measure every site against those particular metrics. We have a dashboard that provides those key metrics to stakeholders in an easy format for them to quickly determine the health of a site, and it shows the different traffic-generating mechanisms across that site.
BE: How important is mobile search in 2013?
SH: Mobile search is continuing to grow and therefore can’t be ignored. You need to make sure that you have your mobile strategy buttoned down and in place (although if it’s not in place by now…why not?). Mobile device and tablet usage are both continuing to increase, so plan for it.
About Simon Heseltine
Simon Heseltine is currently the Director of Audience Development for Huffington Post Media Group within AOL Inc. In this position, Simon and his team are responsible for planning and implementing SEO projects and trainings for many well known sites across the HPMG / AOL brand portfolio. Simon is a frequent public speaker at conferences around the US, and the UK on all manner of topics related to online marketing, and has published articles for various online industry sites over the years.
Simon will also be teaching a Search Engine Optimization class at Georgetown University this Spring. Simon has worked in online marketing for over 6 years, with over 7-1/2 years in the local search industry (including several years as a developer), and he has experience working with SEO, Social Media, Reputation Management, and PPC. Simon has built up online marketing teams, and has been brought in by several companies, to train in-house online marketing teams in industry best practices.
Share13 is in San Francisco on August 22-23
Share13 is the industry's premier digital marketing event focused on organic search and digital marketing. Share13 is packed with content from leading brands and hands on practitioners on what is working in their business today. Unlike many other user conferences and public tradeshows, share is exclusively for search and digital marketing practitioners at leading brands. Attendees learn best practices from leaders, share their own expertise and make connections that last a lifetime.
Information and registration: http://www.brightedge.com/share13 Follow updates on Twitter @brightedge #share13