Interview with Danny Sullivan

To kick off the series of interviews leading up to SMX London 2014, I started with the extremely busy and passionate Chief Content Officer of Search Engine Land and SMX program editor Danny Sullivan. Danny is a well known search engine expert having started covering the space in late 1995 and has been a continuously active member of the community via social media, blogs, media interviews, research articles and the Search Marketing Expo conference series.

Danny Sullivan1) What do you think the biggest challenge facing the search industry in 2014? That’s tough. Biggest challenge in SEO? Paid search? Overall? I’d say overall, the biggest challenge is probably trying to continue to keep up with it all. Search is constantly changing, with new opportunities and shifts. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, Google makes some change to authorship, or to search ads, or a new player comes along with an interesting application to cause you to rethink priorities and tactics.

2) What is the one bad habit that you think marketers just need to move away from? What is the regular item that really grinds your gears? Focusing on useless metrics. Ranking reports, which don’t mean you actually got visitors that converted. Follower counts, rather than conversions.

3) What is the biggest advancement/improvement that you have seen in the search industry during 2013? Perhaps more people realizing they can’t depend just on Google for traffic and that search is more than Google.

4) What was the biggest curve ball thrown to the industry that you did not see coming in 2013? 2013’s curve balls were really continuations of Google’s 2012 changes, to withhold search term data — [not provided] — and to charge for shopping listings. The big banner ad test was a surprise, I suppose. I covered these things here.

5) What is the one product or company that you had high hopes for that fell flat in 2013? I hoped we’d get more out of Facebook Graph Search. It hasn’t been as useful to me as I thought it might be. I miss being able to search just for posts.

6) What is one recent change to search that you think people should be exploring & researching in more detail? Authorship and structured data.

7) What is one recent change to search that you think people are far too focused on and need to stop obsessing over? Withholding of search terms. They ain’t coming back.

8) What is one new tool/platform that has peaked your interest lately that people should consider exploring? Snapchat, because I haven’t been familiar with it being, you know, not a teenager. I’m curious to see if it keeps growing and how marketers might be able tap into it.

9) Are you excited about wearable tech and how could marketers start to use it? Yes, see this post.

10) As an active user of Google Glass has it changed your views on technology and marketing? It’s helped me understand how much ads will follow us around in real life as much as online. See also the link above.

11) Do you believe that wearable tech like Google Glass will dramatically change marketing? Are companies and marketers ready for it? Eventually, it will — right now, the tech isn’t even ready, so marketers shouldn’t be panicking.

12) SMX has taken you around the world what’s your favourite city for attendees? It’s always nice to get back to London, though my favourite city is probably Sydney. I just love to look at the bridge. Such a wonderful view and setting.

13) What makes London a great city for attending conferences? It’s a hub that many people are already in or can reach easily.

14) What is the main ideas/points that you hope people will get from attending SMX London? In general, I’m hoping that SMX London 2014 continues to allow people who want to know the latest trends, strategies and tactics in search continue to find that in a conference setting.

15) So where can people find you if people want to follow/engage with you online? Danny can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Google+

Thank you Danny for your time in answering these questions. If you want to catch Danny Sullivan’s keynote and many of the other great speakers and save ££££ on your tickets for SMX London 2014 you can use our discount code LOSTAGENCY14 when you register online here.

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