Food for thought: Napa Advanced Search Summit

On Sundays, I post about interesting content I came across during the previous week. This week, I was fortunate to attend the Napa Advanced Search Summit, which was packed with great content.

Kudos to the organizers, BLUSH Digital, for putting on a top-notch event—we were even treated to a mid-afternoon wine tasting, as the cover photo shows. Here are highlights from three presentations which offered great insights applicable to the financial content world:

John Sellwood Search Laboratory

John focused on the beauty of using scientific methods for content marketing. I found two of his recommendations particularly helpful:

  • Have a repeatable method. His team, for example, has a specific formula for increasing the odds of a campaign going viral. Yes, it’s based on the stochastic general epidemic model—they’re serious about taking a scientific approach. I’m strongly in favor of marketing methods which rely on data and proven results instead of luck and speculation.
  • Local expertise matters. John discussed this in terms of having a team of culturally-sensitive native linguists who can provide in-country SEO and marketing know-how. In my mind, the idea also translates to subject-matter expertise. To deliver a profitable list of keywords to a financial company, the researcher needs to understand the core financial concepts. A keyword tool might suggest “equity market volatility” and “private equity volatility” as related or interchangeable keywords—but your researcher needs to appreciate the differences.

Adam Singer – Google Analytics

Adam provided a great checklist for making sure data visualizations are presented effectively:

  1. Keep charts simple
  2. Tell the readers what they should take away
  3. Call out percentage changes
  4. Don’t spin data, ever
  5. Get the right data to the right stakeholder.

He also mentioned a few sites where marketers can gather data visualization inspiration and brush up on best practices, including Information is Beautiful and FlowingData. Financial content relies heavily on data, so I’m looking forward to using these tips and resources to step up my visualization game.

Stephan Bajaio – Conductor

Stephan touched on the idea that SEOs can sometimes feel like janitors, stuck in the corner cleaning up digital messes. He advised SEOs to focus on becoming a recognized center of excellence, which can be achieved by actively sharing their incredible insights with a bunch of other well-funded and respected groups within the organization.

While I’m thankful that I don’t feel like a digital janitor, I love his idea of working to become a center of excellence: Break out of your silo, strive to understand what other business units need, and find ways to help. We can create a virtuous cycle that will empower our own team and other teams.