Humanizing marketing and SEO

Just eight months apart London SMX (where I spoke on Hummingbird) was light years away from SMX East (where I gave a keynote speech on Entities and semantic search).

The main difference was in the approach from the many marketers and SEOs I saw and spoke to while there. Traditionally marketing is all about the emotional touch points that sway a potential customer to convert into a paying customer. SEO, on the other hand is all about bringing in lots and lots and lots of potential (and not so potential) customers and works to convert a small percentage of those that we know converts.

The former is all about the ‘soft’ science of emotional appeal. The latter is all about the hard science of clicks and backlinks and visitor numbers. Except that now this is no longer true. Semantic search is changing the way marketing is done on the web and because it creates radical transparency, it forces online and offline to work together and it pulls in signals from everywhere:

At the SMX East Conference in NYC in 2013 marketers were worried about the loss of reported keywords from Google Analytics and SEOs were uncertain about what to do next as their hard skills were being deprecated (link building, keyword mining, on-page optimization). In London, during SMX 2014, marketers and SEOs were in alignment about the need for great content and the requirement to build Trust, Authority and Reputation on the web.

My presentation there reflected a lot of that:

In just eight short months we’ve gone from agonizing over the loss of metrics that allowed us to create content that served as ‘traffic magnet’ and ‘link bait’ to focusing on how we can connect with our target audience as people, gain their trust and prove our authority.

The transition also marks the change between traditional marketing methods and human-to-human (H2H) marketing. As we look at the methods that allow us to create authenticity, authority and trust the sure thing is that the year ahead is now going to be governed by the questions of how do we precisely quantify authentic, trustful behavior without risking artifice and falsehood?