The first London SMX in 2007 was a great conference– so the 2008 event held in the New Connaught rooms in Russell Square had a fair bit to live up to. However in spite of a recession there was a good crowd in attendance and the conference attracted many attendees people from all over Europe.
To kick off the event Chris Sherman reminded us that we there were a lot of positive changes happening in the current search space. Search engines themselves were finally opening up – particularly so MSN & Yahoo.
So Chris suggested we were now witnessing an end of the ‘us v them’ mentality that had long seemed to exist between the search engines and online marketers.
It was positive to hear this from Chris – though Google has always tended to be less than transparent. Perhaps a change is around the corner here too? Lets hope so…
ZhaoHui Tang – Principal program manager for Microsoft Adcenter.
In his session ZhaoHui introduced the KSP – Keyword Service Platform, which is a Microsoft Excel plugin. The tool installs its own navigation menu into Microsoft Excel software and allows the user to undertake detailed keyword research, and mine an array of data.
The tool seems to have a wealth of function and allows users to discover search volume as well as giving future forecasts – such as 3-month search volume forecasts.
The tool also allows users to get geographic and demographic data for the keywords that can help a user to focus on keywords that are both geographically and demographically relevant.
Adcenter labs also now has a tool to show keyword associations in graphic form and can even assign a ‘commercial probability’ value for keyword searches.
The demo of this tool looked really neat. Personally for years I’ve been copying and pasting data from keyword tools into excel and to have Microsoft create something for Excel with a load of solid data to back it up is great and to top it off its free!
A number of SEOs and PPC managers I spoke to seemed genuinely impressed and excited by this new tool and it came up again and again as talking point throughout the event. If you’re in the UK however, you will need to wait a bit longer for the UK version to roll out. ZhaoHui estimated 3-6 months for this.
Nathan Buggia – Head program manager for Microsoft Live Search.
Nathan continued the Microsoft Keynote session and this time showed the audience some of the features and benefits of Live search webmaster center. Similar to Google’s webmaster tools Microsoft webmaster center can assist with trouble shooting websites E.G by identifying 404 errors on pages – also under one login a user can list up to 25 websites listed.
Nathan told us MSN had being surveying webmasters to find out what they were most interested in.
The survey data showed the following:
Data about customers needs was seen as most critical. Secondly improved placement and traffic from search. Thirdly help with SEO and then analytics was also deemed to be important.
Nathan told us Microsoft’s priorities were as follows:
1. Relevance. Microsoft were investing a lot into this.
2. Helping people get stuff done/ Helping people find things. Microsoft want to make using their search engine: “a great experience for people who want to explore”.
3. Microsoft were investing in the business model of search.
When asked about what advice he has for webmasters and online marketers Nathan told the audience.
“Establish your critical metric and build everything else off that”
Nathan also told us that Pay Per Click (PPC) appears to be recession proof – possibly as its performance-based marketing. Display advertising revenue can fall but all the indicators suggest that PPC is a strong business model for the company in spite of global economic downturn in many sectors.
Finally Nathan was asked to do some crystal ball gazing by Chris Sherman and predict what would change in the next 5 years in the search marketing space and he suggested
1. A fall in offline spending
2. An increase in online ad spending
3. Search engines would be more transparent
4. More Return of Investment (ROI) measurable advertising would evolve.
Some interesting content in session one, and certainly the keyword plugin for Excel seem to catch everyone’s imagination – well done Microsoft!