I had the great pleasure of visiting the ionSearch conference today, hosted in the wonderful city of Leeds. This two day conference showcases the very best in search from around the globe, and I decided to share some of the great tips I’ve learned so far.
Here’s some of the tips from day one. Please note that as there were three different tracks, I was unable to attend all talks, panels and workshops; so if I’ve missed you out, I do apologise, and you have licence to grill me on Twitter
Exploring the differences between Web and Marketing Analytics - Andrew Dumont (@AndrewDumont)
- Marketing analytics looks at the why and how – they are channel specific ROI
- Web analytics is simple, such as traffic, referral traffic, bounce rate etc
- The marketing sweet spot – to blend web analytics with marketing analytics Marketing analytics is hard
- Steps to use marketing analytics: use standard KPIs, tools to use (Kapost, Google Analytics, Buffer), and look at these metrics over time – measure, learn and evolve
- Common pitfalls: A lack of team communication. Thinking that It’s someone else’s job. No, it’s all our jobs
- Takeaway is to think broader. Use this data to help with our marketing decisions. Become a better marketer.
Rapid-Fire Content Marketing - Ross Hudgens (@RossHudgen)
- Content marketing is painful. Content marketing requires repetition and consistency Content marketing requires constant iterative action.
- How to get links – Search where your brand had been mentioned recently Each employee should have their own personal page, then brands and journos can link to these pages Find who is linking to your twitter and ask if they can link to your website do the same on google plus. Look at popular employees and see where they are getting links. Look for domain name misspellings. Do the same for images, videos and so on
- How to get social shares – LinkedIn company pages. Optimise your twitter profile with SEO. Twitter schedule – be more deliberate with when you’re sharing. Wherever you have content, you must have social buttons. Look at installing a social pay wall.
- How to connect with your audience – Favourite Tweets. Create private lists of customers – listen to what they’re saying and act on it. Influencers on Pinterest, hacker news, YouTube, Ego appeals -indirectly mention an influencer that is likely to see your content.
- How to get more traffic – Mix up the code you use in Infograhpics. Rank using slide share authority. Comment early on posts likely to rank. Newsletter sign ups on contact forms. Mention your brand as part of a bigger case study
What’s next in Search - Marcus Tandler (@mediadonis)
- Google still needs to trust links, and also the authors
- Google have an effective PR strategy by reminding you not to do black hat
- Sustainable link building comes from Content Marketing. Despite fluctuations it will always steadily rise, but you need to know hat you’re doing.
- Google plus is not a social network,it’s a social layer. Google needs to trust authors, this can be achieved by looking at who is clicking, interacting and engaging with your content, what circles are they in?
- Connect with your community – find people to become industry experts. You need to implement Rel Author.
- Traffic is the future. Google want to see people performing the same search patterns, and they have loads of data on how people are using the Internet. They want to rank sites that satisfy the user. Build links for users and not search engines. Traffic makes you do better SEO and Content Marketing.
Case Studies in Using Content to Drive Conversions - Ignacio Lucea (@CopyPress)
- Google are a middle man, but they want to become closer to the user.
- They want to provide the user with the content they are looking for. So they need to keep being relevant.
- There are now smarter users – self educated buyers Big brands are now focusing on constant communication and interaction. Not slogans, these are dead.
- We have to put more effort into our strategies. Content marketing is the vehicle to build communication with your users. To drive traffic and convert you need to engage with the user first. Don’t fool the algorithm, work with it.
- It’s not about how much or size, it’s about how you use it and where you put it.
- Authorship is key. Google needs and wants content, but they need to trust who is creating that content.
- Build emotional relationships through content marketing. All content is created to provoke an emotion. What emotion do you want to provoke from the user?
- Each content type and channel serve a different purpose. Think broader about your content, and how to engage with the user. Spend time building relationships with media outlets and publishers. Use connection seeker to match writers with publishers.
- 90% buy on recommendation – with emergence of social buyers, be sure to create content that’s shareable
How to convert?
- Think of users mood and mode when interacting with them.
- Look and feel are as important as the product itself.
- Use CTAs Profile your customers through the content they are interacting with – create lead funnels.
- Each interaction you have is an opportunity to build a relationship
- Gather emails if customer does not convert
Early Afternoon Session
Owls Away: HootSuite’s Community Building Secrets - Shain Shapiro (@shainshapiro)
- #hootup is a room of three or more people talking about hootsuite or social media. They want to be the company people use to speak to their communities
- They have a network of envoy’s and ambassadors. They reward customers through their participation.
- They’re really keen on their blog. They profile places they are going to be at, so if you’re hosting a #hootup, you’ll be mentioned in their news roundup. They also profile their diplomats/envoy’s.
- Anyone who tweets Owly, they reward them and interact with them. They reward them with plenty of ‘swag’, e.g. cards, scarves, masks, beer holders. They also customise country specific Owlys. This helps them create additional content.
- Any communication they send has some sort of Owl based connotation/pun.
- Hootsuite university. Training and education is the backbone of their product/community. It’s a series of courseware, resources, training material. If you pass their courseware you become a qualified and certified social media specialist/consultant.
Panel – What’s a Great Link? – Matt Roberts (@Linkdex_Matt), Stephen Lock (@stevejlock), Marcus Tandler (@mediadonis), Simon Penson (@simonpenson), Ross Hudgens (@RossHudgens) and Kelvin Newman (@kelvinnewman)
- A good link is one that you’re not embarrassed about, and are really proud of. Also, would the link hold value outside the search engine? That’s a good benchmark. Relevancy and trust are clearly also important.
- What makes a great link profile? Don’t control anchor text, just let them form naturally. Good link profile is something that you can’t simply replicate. That’s the profile that adds value.
Penguin recovery tips:
- Remove site wide links
- keep commercial anchor text under 20%.
- Look at link graphs and establish what links have been tarred with the same brush. For example, it could be that all links are from a particular location in the world.
- Don’t just think about removing links, don’t forget to build good quality links.
- On Google’s first look during reconsideration requests, you have to look clean. Google’s quality control team need to see that your site is clean, and then they’ll consider it. Their workload dictates this.
- At what point do you say , ‘just start again’ to a link profile? It depends on whether you have a decent brand or not? Do you ever have potential to rank with that site? If not, start again.
- Social media is important, but there are some industries that it simply won’t help/work/affect. E.g. Hemorrhoids - people don’t want to like or share anything to do with that. When it comes to creating shares, there’s no gaming going on, the proof is in the pudding. Create something that people will share.
- What is the future of link building? Content marketing! It’s become a lot more creative, so you need creative people on your team. It’s hard to build links without being creative. There’s a strong correlation between link building and PR people.
- LinkedIn is a really underrated tool to use for link building. Search for the industry, and you’ll find the right people to talk to. You’ll have their name, so it’s easier to approach them.
- Generally speaking, when it comes to link building, like content marketing, have a plan and stick to it. E.g. If you’re going to blog, do it properly and stick it out. Short term strategies, guest blogging does work. As long as its relevant and its a real site. Long term, establish a strategy, fill an editorial calendar, and come up with brilliantly creative ideas.
Late Afternoon Session
Best Practices & Opportunities to Make the Most of Mobile SEO - Aleyda Solis (@aleyda)
- Use your Google Webmaster Tools for Mobile verify your mobile search visibility.
- Identify mobile crawling issues.
- Look at what the Google bot is doing to your traffic, are they redirecting it?
- Redirects are typical errors within mobile SEO.
- Check how the Google bot mobile crawls your site.
- Check your mobile search results. From this you can establish who your competitors are. These might be different to your competitors on desktop.
- Use diverse keyword tools like Semrush, Ubersuggest, Search Metrics.
- Compare and verify this with Google keyword tools, as this allows you to filter by mobile device.
- Establish your mobile requirements and restrictions.
- Match this with different mobile web alternatives e.g responsive design, dynamic serving, parallel mobile web. The last two presents new opportunities to target new keywords and traffic. But responsive design is cheaper and easier to maintain, and there’s no risk of content duplication.
Best practices for all approaches:
- Optimise your mobile web speed
- Follow googles mobile performance best practices
- Design and organise your mobile interface, make the most out of the space
- Optimise your mobile pages relevance, targeting keywords
- Create a google plus presence if you’re a local business
- Track all of your mobile web activity as well as your mobile ROI
Panel – Social Media Commerce – Séan Walsh (@walshybhoy), Jeremy Waite (@jeremywaite), Aresha Krishan, Alex Craven (@AlexCraven) and Shain Shapiro (@shainshapiro)
Is social media about making sales, or assisting sales?
- This depends on the context, but generally speaking its both. Brands will be pulled between click to buy and click to share. You have to start with click to share, and be respectful of the platforms, so don’t go in with deals.
- Brands should really focus on engagement. It should be 10% content, and 90% engagement, but most brands have it the other way around. Brand stories are driving social media strategies, hence why coke have slashed their advertising budgets, and put this into Content Marketing.
- A lot of brands are too focused on getting more fans, but forget about engaging with the fans they already exist. Hootsuite spend a huge amount of time engaging with their community, it’s part of their core values.
- We need to monitor how well posts do, and this will help us understand what works well for brands.
- Pinterest is the best social media platform at the moment, but it could well be ruined once they allow advertising. Twitter is on an obscene growth curve, and Facebook has reached a ceiling.
What do you think of Google Plus?
- If the community is not there, it is hard to justify why brands should use it.
- However brands should still try and use Google Plus because of the future benefits.
- Brands should be respectful of how each community operates, and the Google plus community can be different to Facebook and twitter.
Key takeaway: community management is key, and can result in an uptick of sales.
Local SEO - Aleyda Solis (@aleyda), Andrew Girdwood (@AndrewGirdwood)
- What changes have you seen since Venice update?
- Create more static pages to leverage that information to be more specific.
- Local might change dramatically soon. Google Plus local is just around the corner. Here is a local social feature with Google Plus coming and we must embrace it.
- If you just use one channel you could be missing out on huge potential. Use different channels, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google Plus.
- What influences local search results? On Google plus, it’s all about what your friends like and do. So get your audience interacting and engaging, and that’ll help with local rankings.
- Reviews are still significant. You need to encourage reviews. Follow up with emails and target your audience to ask them for a review. A clever approach to incentivise reviews is for small businesses to sponsor meetups and events by providing them with your product or service. Small businesses have the advantage because they are flexible and you can engage with the community a great deal more than.
- Is there a gap in the market for a local SEO technique? To have a local presence amongst your client’s community. To be invited to their events, shows, meetups, so you can blog, market and promote them.
- 70% of local queries come from mobile search. If the main information looks good on a mobile device, there is a greater potential to convert. There’s an intimate relationship between mobile and local, and this is something that needs to be leveraged.
Infographics, Data and Inbound Content - Kelvin Newman (@kelvinnewman), Ian Irving, Shelli Walsh (@shellshocku), Claire Stokoe (@killer_bunnie), and Alex Postance
- Where do you start with creating an Infographic?
- Always has to start with identifying your audience. Who is going to view it? Understand who your audience is. Collaboration is the best way to get ideas down – between you and the client, and between you and your Digital team.
- The size of an Infographic is a problem amongst journalists. There is a move away from traditional lengthy infographics, and a move towards smaller interactive content.
- everylastdrop is a good example of interactive content. The key is to creatively think of a story and bring that to life via interactivity. These pieces would only really work well on the clients site. They are far less likely to be shared or hosted on other sites.
- You have to put in a lot to make your Infographic work and get the results. You have to produce something special and spend a great deal of time putting this together.
- Outreach process tips. Use tools like Gorkana and interact and engage with journalists and publishers who may be interested. Have priority targets such as journalists and sites, then have secondary targets like blogs and traditional outreach, and then thirdly there are Infographic promotion sites.
- You need to spend time building relationships with influencers. LinkedIn is a hugely underrated outreach tool to target and promote your content.
- Where do you look for inspiration? Ask yourself if the concept is newsworthy. Pinterest is a great way of getting ideas. Absorb as much information from a wide variety of sources to help with your creativity.
86 Billion* Free SEO Tools: Why Your Brain Is The Best Tool Of All – Mike Essex (@Koozai_Mike)
Check out Mike’s blog post: 86 Billion Free Tools: Why Your Brain Is The Best Tool Of All
Buzzstream’s Link Outreach Best Practices Workshop (@BuzzStream)
- The reality is that link building is hard work. What used to work doesn’t work anymore. What was link building is now link removal.
- Broken link building works effectively, if done appropriately. It’s based on volume. It works until everyone starts doing it. Good link building is hard, but that’s a good thing.
- “In the land of the blind, the one eye man is king” you just have to be a little bit better than other link builders, because most of them are not very good. Out reaching to people who you know are going to like your content.
Link building process:
- Market segmentation. Understand those segments. Identify micro segments.
- Leverage the easier to get links to help get the most difficult links.
- Commit to relationship building, prior to outreach. Don’t just be another “Dear webmaster guy”.
- Start with people and sites you have a relationship with
- Finding opportunities: lots of search queries to use, backlink analysis, social prospecting, email lists (fullcontact will find social metrics based solely on an email)
- Qualify and annotate prospects with Buzzbar. You can see who you have built relationships with. A great way of filtering prospects.
- Socialbro is a great tool. Create twitter lists of people whose content you’ll want to share.
- Don’t rule out actually picking up the phone.
4 rules for outreach emails:
- A call to action
Robert Cialdini’s book ‘influence’ is a must read.
Early Afternoon Session
How to get the best out of your SEO using Effective PR and Content Marketing - David Naylor (@DaveNaylor) and Andy Barr (@10Yetis)
- Creating a brand from an SEO and pr perspective is different. Seo is bout googlifying your brand and gaining trust. PR is more geared towards creating values and an identity.
- Content Marketing is bullshit. It’s just another buzz word.
- Interactive Infographics are the future. It has to be well thought out content.
- What does it take? Is it interesting, controversial, thorough, engaging, thought provoking?
- What is he future? The fundamentals of old skool content marketing is still applicable. But you need to be really strategically thinking and planning your content.
- They expect to see more partnerships between SEOs and PRs, content is getting bigger and multi platformed, and a rise in hybrid marketers with cross platform skill set.
Carson Content – The 10 Key Steps to an Audience Building Content Strategy - James Carson (@mrjamescarson)
1. Persona research – to build up a profile of who your audience is
- John steel – truth, lies and advertising
- Tools: Follower wonk, Facebook insights.
2. message Architecture
- The most important thing you what your audience to think and feel about your brand.
3. defining an information architecture.
- Categories are topics that can exist in a hierarchy.
4. Stock, flow and curation
- 70 per cent should be bread and butter, 20 per cent should innovate off what works and 10 per cent needs to be high risk.
5. Team work flows
- Outreach, content, design, development, analytics – these are all the departments that contribute to content marketing
6. Genuinely good ideas
- These need to be effective, or you’re wasting our time.
- Three classes of succesful headlines: Self interest, news, curiosity
8. proper formatting
- Understand how users read on the web. They don’t. So use short sentences, and simple structures.
- Visualisation and images
- video e.g. iMovie, Premier, Adobe.
- data tools, e.g. Infogr.am, quipol, polldaddy, visual.ly
10. Constant Review
- Use dashboarding to see all of your comments and reviews across all platforms on the web.
- Netvibes, soovle, trendsmap all good tools for you to see reviews, allowing you to respond quickly.
Late Afternoon Session
Keyword Research: Considering the Bigger Picture – Kevin Gibbons (@kevgibbo), James Murray, Nichola Stott (@NicholaStott) and Stephen Emerson (@Stephen_Emerson)
- UK search is growing by a billion searches a day
- Google control 88% of the market
- Paid search is still really important
- Search is the portal into the window of what people are thinking
- Knowing what the nation wants and is thinking is key for search marketers
- Search is just one channel, which means that as search marketers you need to think broader, and more like marketers to be successful
- Conversion tracking and data hacks is becoming more important
- Understanding the purchase journey is more important
- Only four types of query: informational, navigational, transactional, connectivity
- Research – Select – Purchase (Stages of the journey to use specific keywords)
- We need to problem solve – about what our customers want and create content with these keywords
- Constantly monitor Google Alerts and Google News