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Search v. Review Sites – Chinwag Event

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 4th September 2008

The rise of Search Engine Marketing has been monumental in the last few years, something that was confirmed this week following e-Consultancy’s valuation of the industry in the UK at £2.75bn, rising by 24%.

With this stat in mind, on Tuesday evening, I attended an event organised by Chinwag, held – in true ‘New Media style’ – at a Soho Pub. Here the debate was between review sites (supported by The Filter, Reevoo and Trusted Places) and Search (Media Vest and SEO Blog).

The initial premise was perhaps a bit folly as on the one side you had content creators and on the other, a vehicle for helping users find content – hardly conflicting aims. And, unsurprisingly, the overriding conclusion was that the two could and should happily co-exist and even influence or work closely together for mutual benefit (for example with Google now using reviews in its local searches).

There were however a few other interesting points that I picked up during the evening:

The continued rise of social media and the question of trust

One of the main challenges to review sites in addition to (and perhaps instead of)  search was from social networks. This was of course a very tech savvy crowd but there were several anecdotes that centered on using Twitter or Facebook for example to get recommendations from friends. This fits in nicely with the ‘taste profile’ idea used by The Filter and and is surely the end goal of Google’s personalised search. This argument all boils down to trust: who do you trust to give you the best recommendation? Most people would say their friends (or like-minded cyber-friends in the case of Twitter!!).

What will the effect of mobile be?

The question of mobile wasn’t really raised but I think it is an interesting one. With the growth of mobile internet with the addition of GPS on devices like the N95 and the iPhone, local search is surely going to be a huge growth area. Combine that with social networks and recommendations and you have a really powerful service. You can already twitter your precise location from your iPhone for example.

Google is everywhere 

At the end of the day everyone (or at least every online business or surfer – review sites included) needs search and, in the UK at least, that means Google. Throughout the evening when people mentioned search or SEO, Google was front of mind. This isn’t a new revelation but it was particularly poignant as at the same time as the debate was raging in Soho, many miles away the search engine was making another very bold move.

Thanks to Chinwag for organising the event (anyone interested in new media should check out their forthcoming events) and to the panelists: Jon Myers – MediaVest, Lisa Ditlefsen – Base One / SEO Blog UK, Walid Al Saqqaf – TrustedPlaces, David Maher-Roberts – The Filter, Luke Errington – Reevoo and chairman, Steve Johnston – Google Consultant.

Danny Whatmough