Over 160 Insights From BrightonSEO Apr 2014 (#BrightonSEO)
It’s that time again! We’re covering every single session from this year’s BrightonSEO as they happen and will be updating this post throughout the day with the five tips you can’t ignore from each talk.
We’ll also be featuring Mike’s slides after his talk at 5pm today and a detailed write-up on the Koozai blog. He will be looking at a Blueprint for “Boring Content” Marketing.
A big thank you to Ali Moghadam, Gemma Holloway, Emma North and James Perrin for putting together this write-up.
SESSION 1, Track 1: Keynote
Malcolm Coles – How I earned loads of links by ignoring SEO
- Historical print brands are under threat from online newcomers. SEO has been traditionally the main driver.
- Usvsth3m.com launched as a social only project – ignoring SEO. Four people involved with no budget or ties to parent its Trinity Mirror (Mirror.co.uk). First piece of content – Where’s Damascus? Launched at the height of Syria crisis. Stored IPs of who played this to see which areas knew where Syria was. Earned big links from big publications.
- How much are you hated by the Daily Mail? was a game created by usvsth3m. We played a live version in the dome! A million people played this game online. It resulted in ranking for the term Daily Mail for some time.
- Mobile visits and the timing of mobile traffic – Can your infographic work on a mobile? As an example, the mirror won’t carry infographics unless they are mobile optimised. Responsive infographics are possible with HTML coding.
- A/B test headlines to find the most popular – Mobile and Facebook are closely linked. Facebook traffic is often masked by Analytics as direct, so be careful with stats.
SESSION 1, Track 2: International
Kate Dreyer – The Global Site Migration Monster – A Case Study
- Domain strategy underpins everything. NEVER use URL parameters for country specific websites – Just don’t. Migrate the weak sites to a hub site, but don’t migrate your strong sites.
- Internal Planning – Use a project management system like Confluence or Basecamp. Train everyone in your overall goals, i.e. make copywriters, designers etc. aware of SEO.
- Consider keyword translation – volume changes, direct translations etc.
- Migration – Translation MUST be done by a native speaker of the country you are catering for. Avoid special characters – this can lead to very long URLs. Consider what the target country uses when typing URLs. Japan tends to use English URLs while Russia tends to use Russian ones. Use Hreflang tags to indicate country specific sites.
- If targeting two different countries with a shared language, I.e. Mexico and Spain, do not make their sites identical. This would require the use of canonical tags meaning one version would not be indexed. Instead, make them unique and use Hreflang tags to differentiate between the two.
Damian Koblintz – Beyond the Hreflang Tag
- Offering – Do your customers actually want more? Do the target audience of your target country want more of your whole offering as a business or should you focus on one specific area?
- Service – Can you deliver what you target audience want more of? Consider the early adopters and give them a reason to come back.
- Support – When they call, will you answer? It is crucial to get the necessary legal obligations for your target countries right. You need to make sure you meet the expectations of your audience in the target country. German market expectations of service and support and different to those in England. Will your customer service standards meet that expected in the target country?
- Site – You’ve got this one! Translation is interesting because not every piece of translation is as important as the rest. Prioritise legal documents and the checkout process. Consider what content has the highest conversion rate and get that translated as a matter of priority.
- Scalability – Success isn’t all high fives and hot tubs. You need to expand at a rate which weighs the amount you spend and the return you achieve. Consider at what rate you can afford to expand.
Gemma Birch – Facebook Who? The Lesser-Known World of Social Media
- Visit internationaldigitalhub.com for a downloadable guide on international search
- Amongst the big 5 social media sites there are others you should consider. It is important to consider the more localised social media sites used in the additional countries you target. For example, many of the big five are banned in China so they use alternatives such as weibo.com.
- An estimated 73% of Chinese online users prefer online videos to TV. They use sites such as youku.com, but if you decide to use this platform it is important to consider the censorship policies of the target audience.
- Russia is the biggest internet market in Europe, making it one of the favourite for expanding. 30 minutes is the average time for average Facebook users, but its’ 9 hours for VK users (Russia’s version of Facebook).
- Why bother with the countries which still don’t use the big five? Because they still offer a tasty, yet less tapped slice of the cake – competition is lower for international businesses on the country specific social media sites. They are also great platforms for building up trust – “a global business just round the corner” idea. Be selective, be real, be relevant, be aware!
SESSION 1, Track 3: Crawls
Tony King – Breaking Bad SEO – The Science of Crawl Space
- Crawl space is the totality of possible URLs for a website. All URL variations included: mobile, shortened, internal, external, dynamic, canonical, international, etc.
- Size does matter: don’t waste Google’s time with unnecessary crawl space. Poor management can result in broken links, duplicate issues, indexing issues, etc.
- Maximise indexable space, minimise crawlable space, optimise canonical space.
- Identify low value navigation pages – restrict indexation to focus on stronger content
- Make sure all URL structure is consistent; indexable pages are in sitemaps.xml, non-indexable ones are disallowed, etc.
Dawn Anderson – ‘Crawl Optimisation For Maximum Impact
- Having more indexed pages does not equal more traffic, as it can lead to a slower crawl rate. With big or growing sites, beware of infinite loops that can stop Google crawling the rest of your site.
- Consider “Crawl Budget”: the number of pages crawled is roughly proportionate to PageRank in that pages with lots of links get crawled more.
- Crawl rank could be a ranking metric as deeper pages compete with a great deal more low PR pages. By this theory, getting your pages crawled more could increase rankings.
- Crawl optimisation: find out where Googlebot goes using your server logs and keep watching. Check and monitor for over-indexation: 500 page site shouldn’t have 50,000 pages indexed! Resubmit XML sitemaps often and never have the same URL in multiple sitemaps. Avoid soft 404s: use hard 404s or 410s.
- Optimise your internal link structure to ensure priority pages are seen as such by Google. Don’t lie on your last modified date: Google will stop trusting you.
Bastian Grimm – The Need for Speed: How to make your website REALLY fast!
- Improve site speed and performance for users, not for search engines – the rest will follow. Top ranking sites almost always load far faster than lower ranking ones. Amazon saw an extra 1% revenue for every 100ms load speed they improved.
- Use web based site speed tools rather than browser based which rely on your browsers load speed.
- Use image spriting; SpriteMe is a good tool for forming sprites and providing the CSS code. Don’t scale images in the browser; use the right image file size! Use TinyPNG and JPEGmini to reduce unnecessary data from images without losing quality.
- Use W3 Total Cache with WordPress. Minify CSS and JS; use short names and code, remove unnecessary breaks, etc. Enable GZIP compression. Serve static resources from a cookie-less domain. Remove HTML comments. Move inline CSS/JS to external files. Make sure social buttons are asynchronous.
SESSION 2, Track 1: Earned
Stacey Cavanagh – The Habits that Land you Links
- It’s about doing stuff that attracts links as a by-product. We can do this by building good habits.
- There are three ways they have done this:
- Idea generation. To make this more efficient Stacey looks at 6-5-3 method. 6 people, one worksheet and 30 minutes. Start with a problem statement. 5 minutes, 3 ideas. Pass worksheet to the left, and write 3 more ideas. Repeat for 6 rounds. 108 ideas in 30 minutes. NUF testing – Mark your 108 ideas out of 30 based on set criteria.
- Asset generation. Don’t ask clients to complete forms. We have conversations with our clients as it’s more effective. If you’re producing surveys make sure you tell stories from your data. Don’t just regurgitate the findings. Get into the mind-set of offline content – do something real.
- Outreach. It’s all about reprocity – Understand what you can do for someone and they will do something for you. Only contact someone who will care about what you have to say. Segment your data this way. When outreaching, phone or write a letter, don’t send emails.
Vicke Cheung – Tips for Designing Great Content
- Spend the first 15 mins gathering images. Be broad with initial research. Refine your ideas and images in the next 15 minutes by asking what you like and dislike about the images.
- Once you have an idea and format, put together a design production brief. Make it clear and concise for your designer.
- Use realtimeboard.com for cross collaboration on design and content ideas.
- Make sure you perform quality control. Test using responsinator.
- Design considerations. Typography – typekit gives you a range of type fonts. Google fonts and font squirrel are also good and free. Images – use big images to set tone, use real images that evoke the emotion you’re looking for.
Patrick Hathaway – Cool Sh*t You Can Do With WordPress
- Automation. Ifttt & Zapier. Set up rules to automatically share content on social media.
- Streamlined workflow. Bit.ly/auto-wp-site – Journalists only needed to update google doc which automatically updates the WordPress draft.
- Plugins and themes. Slickquiz is a free quiz plugin.
- Parallax scrolling pages. Bit.ly/wp-parallax-themes and bit.ly/bigvideo
- Interactive content. Client example – Jungle rumble wanted a real-time updated scoreboard. Built a platform to talk to WordPress, customers updated their score on their phone, which automatically updated online.
Dixon Jones – Do links still matter in 2014
- Links are not just about how important a page is; it’s about context.
- Partial anchor text and internal linking are important.
- Information flows through links, and characteristics are inherited. This is important to consider when thinking about links. Information that is semantically close to a link will develop that characteristic.
- Links and pages in context are more valuable. This is important for hummingbird.
- Links are about relationships and relationships are human. Links go a lot deeper than just working out what page on a website is authoritative.
SESSION 2, Track 2: Data
Dara Fitzgerald – The State of Universal Analytics
- When should you migrate to UA? No huge rush – You’ve got at least 2 years, but the sooner you migrate the sooner you benefit.
- Test with a new UA property, get all tracking in place. Then upgrade existing GA account and simply replace your web tracking property in the tracking you have set up for UA.
- What’s the timeline? Data collected from ga.js will be processed for a minimum 2 years. At some point it will become the operating standard.
- Differences – number of sessions with be higher in UA because a referral which occurred within the 30 min session on GA would not be recorded as a new session. In UA it will be classes as a new session.
- Benefits – User ID Override to allow cross device tracking, use of Measurement Protocol for digital devices, simplified and more accessible configuration options, custom dimensions and metrics, dimension widening.
Dr David Sewell – Google as predator: the evolution of search
- Google is a predator because it has sharp senses, extra abilities, agility and speed.
- Just because your site is old and you have seen a lot of success from Google don’t believe you will always stay there. Google diversifies as it ingests all of the website data out there until it doesn’t need what you offer anymore. It is important to stay innovative in your online offerings. Reimagine something and do it better.
- Partner with people in your environment in a fight for survival.
- Distract the predator by portraying that you are working on one project when in fact your focus is on another.
- Be selective with the information you provide Google about your business. Use it to your advantage! Don’t just give it all of your knowledge.
Ammon Johns – Value Your Data- Knowledge is Power
- Get rid of Google Analytics! But why!? It’s the easy option (installation, access, easy to convince users).
- Downfalls: the most common means it is the most blocked (Norton 360 blocks GA), your data has value that you shouldn’t just give away (Google receives more data from your use of GA than you do), it uses JS which isn’t the best solution and it doesn’t work well on mobile.
- GA is bad for your business. The easy way usually means bodged. The business value is in doing the hard things well. It’s a product for everyone – this offers no USP in you doing the same thing as everyone else.
- GA isn’t really free! It’s buying your data, the real cost to you is the opportunity. You’re telling them how valuable your sector is so that they can decide which sectors to branch into.
- Don’t use Google Analytics as a default option – ALWAYS evaluate the other options.
Due to their overwhelming popularity, we were sadly unable to attend Track 3’s Technical talks this session. We’ll continue to keep you posted on any updates we receive, but in the meantime why not leave a comment below and let us know how you’re getting on if you’re attending today?
SESSION 3 Panel Debate
The Reality of SEO – Panel Featuring Fili Wiese, Kaspar Szymanski & Paul Madden, Moderated by Nichola Stott
- Disavow is not enough. Google explicitly tells us to get the link REMOVED. You must show serious efforts have been made. All built links are against webmaster guidelines – Google sees it as your mess to clear up, not theirs. Document all efforts to submit with the reconsideration request.
- Disavow is quick and cheap. But you have to be thorough in the clean-up for it to work. It is a SUGGESTION, not a directive.
- Directories are generally unresponsive. Don’t always expect a reply, but do all you can. Disavowing a “good” domain is okay. Disavow is, in part, a crowd sourced bad links network. Benefit of the doubt is given to infrequently disavowed domains. The top 10% are considered.
- Domain level disavow is recommended to kill all links. Google docs are recommended for team sharing, instant updating and conversion to .txt
- What are the properties of a bad link? Googlers say: Would you keep it for the traffic? Then let it live. However… Nofollow it! Link building IS NOT BAD. Do it for the traffic, do it for the conversion. If in doubt, nofollow, otherwise just aim for the audience.
- 75,000 links for $5? It could be cheaper to destroy than to build. So, is it possible? Gareth Hoyle says yes and it’s historically SEOs fault. Googlers steer clear. They do not seem to want to give spammers the platform. We get a clear answer – Fili Wiese says YES, negative SEO can happen. But it is very very rare. It is webmasters responsibility to look at their link profile.
- Kaspar says don’t always associate old, crummy links (which any site of a certain age will have) with negative SEO. Nobody is innocent. Those who claim it are generally guilty. Fili says check the numbers – all markets have a different threshold for link spam. Poland for example is notorious for link spam and will have a higher threshold than the UK
- Has there been an increase in blatant negative SEO? Penguin backlash. Kaspar says that the algorithm is blamed far too often. Control everything you can. Fili says the web is in continuous flux. User requests are in continuous flux. Evolve. If you expect to stay still and static and rank high, you will not succeed. The algorithm is CONSTANTLY refreshed. Google isn’t focused on SEO at all. It’s focused on users. Don’t feel victimised. Users rule google, not SEO.
- The Reality of SEO: a lot has been destroyed in a short space of time.
- User experience is key to visibility.
SESSION 4, Track 1: SERP’s
Rob Bucci – SERP driven case study
- Geo-Modification: Modifying a search query with a location. I.e. California Auto Insurance.
- Ranking weight x search volume = ranking score
- People tend to ego modify search query when then are looking for a service in a particular area or have to physically go to a location.
- Markets matter: Work out what percentage of traffic you competitors are already receiving and look at competing in markets where your competitors have less than 20%.
- Everything is local. Even searches which aren’t ego modified are localised.
Andrew Isidoro – Hacking the Knowledge Graph
- Concepts + reference = Entity. More than 1/5 of all Bing queries submitted are purely named entities. 71% of all search queries contain an entity
- Knowledge graph finds one reference about an entity and matches it with a second reference about that entity. If they match, they present it as fact. But when carrying out an experiment, it was determined this was only present in one place.
- Making yourself seen in the knowledge graph: Schema – use sameAs schematic tag. Link your social profile (rel author, Klout etc). Add everything about your website and business to FreeBase. DO NOT add yourself to Wikipedia!
- Entity recognition, personalisation of results, schematic citations (especially for physical location entities).
- SEO tends to ruin things for themselves, so if you are going to do it – do it properly the first time round!
Tim Grice – Engagement & Brand Awareness as Ranking Signals
- Links are dead! We stopped caring about the user because all we care about is rankings. But that doesn’t work anymore. If you do not engage the visitors on your website, you will start seeing a loss in rankings (this has already been happening!).
- Return to search algorithm – looks at who is hitting your website and how long it is taking them to come back to the SERPS and either modify their result or go to another site. Then use this to determine how relevant your website is for that search term.
- This is an extension of panda – how much quality is your site really providing your users. It’s far more than just duplicate content. Most panda issues can be solved through better engagement.
- If you have been hit by panda but you have rewritten your content and it’s not duplicated anywhere, you need to start paying attention to engagement stats in Analytics. Look at your most viewed pages – optimise them to attract traffic which will engage, consider the users intent.
- How? You MUST understand your users and understand what it is they want? Catering for the robot is just no longer acceptable.
Adrian Durow – Think Eyes… Not Just Keywords
- Attention, Interest, Desire, Action (the click). Position isn’t everything.
- In eye tracking studies of the SERPS by Southampton Solent, domains get more attention than any other element of a standard search listing. 76% domain focus for the terms “content marketing agency”.
- The idea that search listings with authorship markup are more successful at attracting attention was true, but not as powerful as first thought. 65% of listings for “mobile site or responsive design?” achieved focus – none of which was on the picture. 50% of searches for “which car colour is best?” Were viewed even those there were less authorship listings.
- Search listings with keywords at the beginning of the listing title get more attention than those with it present later or not at all. 60% of search listings beginning with “SEO software” were viewed.
- Compelling sales based language also attracts higher volumes of attention, as did review language and numbers in titles.
SESSION 4, Track 3: Future
Rich Kirk – SEO in the bigger picture
- It’s important to put SEO into perspective as part of the bigger picture. Find its place and where it fits in best with your overall marketing strategy.
- Customer behaviour is changing – spending behaviour is changing towards bargains, more faith in online content businesses instead of older traditional platforms i.e. newspapers.
- Influence of online media is growing stronger (as well as online purchases), so brand image and user experience is now more important than ever.
- Golden rule: build great experiences. Be remembered; make a lasting impact.
- “Owned media” (SEO, content) is a better long term investment than paid media because of the impact on brand awareness. Invest in owned media first to make a better return when you later invest in paid media.
Matt Roberts – SEO for Brands in 2014
- In 2014, SEO starts with “why” and moves onto “how” then “what”
- “Why” gives you your purpose.
- So why? Because organic search is the single most dominant channel users turn to when searching for something to buy. Fact.
- How? Optimise content and pages for people – your customers, not google. Use keyword research to make sure you reach out to the right people with the right content.
- What? Customers are searching for information and products you know about. It’s your job to make sure you give them the answers.
McKenna Sweazey – Do we still need an ‘SEO Agency?’
- Content marketing is all the rage, but it’s not new. People are getting smarter with it.
- It’s not a campaign or tactic anymore; it’s a philosophy, telling a story about your brand.
- Client side content marketing needs team structure changes, to bring together SEO and content marketing into an overall Internet marketing strategy.
- Content campaign best practices: clear goals, planning, optimisability, flexibility, distribution plan, measurement metrics.
- Buying advertising for content to aim for good CTR and quality traffic will also generate natural links and social shares.
Jose Truchado – Is responsive the solution to all our mobile problems
- Mobile SEO is about adjusting design and content to focus on users device types, search behaviour and intent.
- Location mobile SEO – 69% of consumers expect businesses to be within 5 miles or less of their location. In reality, people use mobile searches for shopping most when they are in store rather than at home or work.
- Mobile SEO ranking factors: site and page authority, mobile-ready sites (with good conversion rates and user experience), page speed (1 second or less) and errors e.g. soft 404s.
- Mobile SEO challenges: no single standard for what is a “good” mobile site, Google’s been slow at developing and adopting mobile tech, differences in user behaviour across multiple devices.
- Mobile site options: responsive design, dynamic serving, separate mobile site.
SESSION 5, Track 1: Lightning Talks
Pete Campbell – Native Advertising: The Secret Weapon of Content Marketing
- Use native advertising to create pearly white links. Content advertising (related links on a news website, make sure that the layout of the site you are hosting the advertising on will draw attention to your website), social advertising and advertorials.
- The content you create doesn’t need to be great; it just needs to be packaged well.
- Always have a HTML embed tag for every piece of content you create, not just for infographics.
Ali White – Make more money by integrating your data
- Before you start delving into data you need to know exactly what it is you are looking at from an outcome perspective.
- In order to integrate data you need to have sources, the best tool for this is Universal Analytics. You can use the data import tool to pull in the cost data.
- If not in ecommerce, you track your success through data via goals but goals aren’t always accurate measures of success.
- Don’t just run AB tests to drive more conversions – follow those conversions through and use the version which is going to generate you more profit.
Shaun Russell – Competitive Intelligence – How to steal your competitor’s lunch
- Consider what elements of your competitors’ website would be beneficial to your business.
- Keyword driven monitoring is dead. Look at market driven intelligence.
- Review your competitors’ keyword and start targeting any which you aren’t already targeting.
- Look at sales copy from competitors
- What percentage of a competitor’s traffic is driven by their sales copy. Adopt this sales copy. I.e. do they emphasise their huge range, latest offerings etc.
SESSION 5, Track 2: Content
Julia Ogden – How journalistic principles will shape the digital marketing of tomorrow
- Create great content to educate, inform and entertain. Tell a story that grabs and holds on to the reader. The intro needs to hook the reader. Give the big facts first. The following rules are what Julia always sticks by – and so should all online writers:
- The first few sentences need to include the when, what, who, where, why and how. Look at what is new/different?
- Always add a human element, avoid jargon and use quotes instead.
- Always get work proofed! Simplicity is key. Can anyone understand it?
- Never write something you know isn’t true
Matt Evans – Using Content For Direct Response
- Have we stopped stuffing google with keywords, just to stuff it with content?
- Selling through content is the next level. How does content work into the sales funnel? The belief that content doesn’t sell is FALSE. The whole sales funnel IS content, in one sense or another. The phases of the sales funnel (for a customer): Unaware, knowing the situation, product awareness, purchase intent
- Content is leaving a gap in the middle of these phases. A more informed audience is more likely to purchase
- You need the right content at each stage of conversion, from capture to completion
- How can you target those that are completely unaware? Target with PPC, Twitter and social media ads.
Anne Ratigan – Why Blogging Still Matters
- Bravery. Telling stories is brave. Businesses are afraid of opening up, of potential ridicule. A great blog is about telling stories with a human face and human emotions. Nuts about Southwest is a prime example of excellent corporate blogging
- Use personas. Imagine that you are someone else, and write for them. This is a powerful exercise for writers
- You can always find ways to get creative with writing about anything. If you’re bored writing it, your reader will be bored reading it
- Use an editorial style guide. Innocent drinks use a very in depth style guide and their success is very well known. This is the brands voice.
- How do you grow your audience? Consistency. Keep sharing and pushing content with social media. It’s all about the audience!
Mike Essex – The Content Marketing Blueprint For Boring Industries
Read Mike’s slides for yourself by clicking here.
SESSION 5, Track 3: Productivity
Matt Fielding – How to Deliver Cheap (Not Nasty) SEO
- Respect your website enough not to hand control of SEO over to the lowest bidder. Simplicity is the key to cheap enough SEO to be safe but scalable.
- Create strong help/advice pages focused around people in the research/buying stage, not the already bought stage.
- Have realistic expectations based on agreed ROI targets and tangible KPIs. Rankings and traffic are indicators of progress, not measurements of success.
- It’s much easier to double conversion rate than double traffic. Speak in the right commercial language to create long-term relationships with clients.
- Carry out regular technical audits including reviews of Webmaster Tools and PageSpeed Insights. Leverage existing assets for links before spending budget on creating new stuff, etc. including images, information, other marketing activity, etc. Blogging only works when you do it well, providing unique, expert knowledge and insight.
Ned Poulter – Automate Your Way to Productivity
- Marketing is a services industry where we sell our time, so forecasting and essentially budgeting time can be very difficult. Many of us spend 28% of our work week on email.
- Save time on social media with tools like Buffer and IFTTT. Use Tweriod (free) to find out the best time to tweet your posts.
- Reduce distractions with simple tasks such as turning off notifications on your phone, or customise notifications on Android phones to make sure you don’t miss important ones.
- Use MightyText to texts from your computer.
- Reduce the clutter in your inbox by separating junk and clutter, using filters and automatic rules. Use Unroll.Me to roll up all your email subscriptions into a digest, also enabling you to unsubscribe from undesirable ones very easily with one click.
That’s all for this year’s sessions. Let us know how you got on at the event in the comments section below.comments
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