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Coming in with the final of our four blogs recapping BrightonSEO 2018, here’s our final rundown of the talks with actionable takeaways and slides.
In the field of international SEO, Google is not the only search engine we should optimise for. This talk by Jitka Jizerova introduces three more of the world’s main search engines:[Slides TBC]
Censorship is high in China – the so-called ‘Chinese Firewall’ puts bans on forbidden words and slows sites down massively when they are hosted outside of China. When marketing to China online, make sure to host your site locally and employ a native copywriter to translate your content in Simplified Chinese. Don’t link to any Western social media sites – use WeChat and Sina Weibo instead. Keep in mind that Baidu places more importance on Alt Tags and Header Tags than Google does – however, it is not penalising as heavily (yet) against duplicate content.
Yandex is the main search engine in Russia, although Google has the highest market share on mobile due to its sales of Android phones. Because Yandex spans 11 time zones, its employs a local linking system which allows you to target locally. Yandex has an algorithm which recognises the entire context of a piece of content, which is why quality content with excellent grammar is paramount. Yandex is also used in the Ukraine, Belarus, Turkey and Kazakhstan.
Naver is regarded as a community platform rather than a search engine. SERPs show very personalised search results that are divided in various categories, including ads, UGC, blog content, magazine content, news, apps and much more. Brands are advised to create content for each of these categories. Naver also has its own social platforms: Blog and Café (the latter is a forum). It comes recommended to update these regularly.
In this session, Guy offers useful insight gained when spending a million on Facebook. He analyses an audience-first approach and the importance of measurement, rules and attribution.
Clicks don’t buy anything – people do!
Guy showed how he used personality profiling tools to get a sense of how an audience is likely to respond to a message, combining IBM’s personality insights tool https://www.ibm.com/watson/services/personality-insights/ and the quick app development tool Buzzy https://buzzy.buzz
Capitalise on all of the 1st party data you hold (whilst you still can, pre-GDPR)
Approach defining user intent in the same way one would write a press release, focus on the who, what, why, where, when and how.
Use voice search data and organic keyword research for ad copy inspiration.
Tailor your ad copy according to the purchase funnel, i.e. Top (TOFU), Middle (MOFU), Bottom (BOFU)
Don’t copy and paste InMail. Simple as that.
Use local terminology on LinkedIn advertising to differentiate your ads, nobody is doing it.
This BrightonSEO presentation saw Stephen covering out-of-the-box tools and how to make the most out of reporting on data.
Start reporting on predictive measures of success. Rankings are not necessarily appropriate in a powerful performance report. If you’re doing a good job with SEO, the ranking system will be very personal. You’re never going to give everyone an accurate view of your performance. Instead focus on predictive measures of success. To include Page speed, Link metrics, User Metrics.
For unexpected results, you should be covered by traffic/conversion-based alerts. If you know what to expect. You should know what equates to unusual behaviour to catch unexpected results.
Once you have this information, you can report ahead of time. Make stakeholders aware you are expecting a drop because of seasonality for instance.
This talk from Ade welcomed a new way of thinking about ranking factors: brand…
Since the dawn of old school Google’s reliance on authority left them open to manipulation, focusing on external links, but it became easy to spot fake link profiles.
Google evolved with Penguin, embracing content marketing and digital PR – but we’re still focussed on building authority – but Google is moving away from authority and looking at non-link-based authority signals.
Brand is a personality of the business, sum of all the customer experiences, and what they have to say about the business brand =reputation. Have a set of brand values to define your business – otherwise individuals within the business will project their voice as the brand. The guidelines ensure you’re all using the same voice.
Personal experience recommendation is based on whether you know, like and trust the brand – the same applies for Google, our job as marketeer is to make Google know, like and trust our brand.
Anna talks about the importance of understanding search intent and gives us some easy ways to do this:
Look at the search query: the easiest way is looking at modifiers such as “best” (commercial searches), “how” (informational searches) and “near me” (local searches).
Look at paid ads. If they exist at all it implies a commercial or transactional intent. Go further and look at the emotional triggering and calls to action. Remember that ads aren’t subject to the same level of quality algorithm as organic results so take them with a pinch of salt. You can even run your own tests and measure CTR of the ads.
Look at search snippets. Quick answers can imply an informational search, shopping results can heavily imply a transactional search. Local pack implies a local intent.
Voice & mobile search tend to imply that the person either is out-and-about or doesn’t have access to a screen. These searches can imply immediacy.
When a person is searching from a desktop they are more likely to do research and planning.
Location can also imply intent: If you do a search in Brighton for chips – you want to eat the kind of thing you get in a chippy, but in Germany it means a bag of crisps
This talk covered the process of auditing a website, including audits, marketing opportunities and practical advice for businesses.
Keywords need to be relevant, popular and attainable.
What are the wrong keywords? They may be vanity keywords, synonyms that no one uses. Stephan gives us an example where a bank says that they can’t use the word mortgage on their website – you have to use home loan. Problem is, no one searches for home loan.
There are different ways of slicing and dicing this. A good way of looking at it is by thinking about the funnel and identifying where in the funnel the user is.
Also worth thinking about is long-tail queries – even though the search volumes for single terms are low, in aggregate it can really add up. They also tend to be less competitive.
Know them intimately! You should try to develop personas for them. Give them names, know their routines!
Understand their pain points – what are their challenges, fears and frustrations? Identify the keywords that identify what their pain point is.
Think about structure in terms of thematic mapping – start with broad keywords at the top of your structure i.e. “Music”. Then next level down could be genre i.e. “Dance music”, then further down “House”, then maybe particular artists at the next level, and so on.
Look not just at search volume but also at ideas, trends, seasonality, geographic variants, and mine competitors for information.
Some useful tools that Stephan has found – a range of tools is important so that you can look for corroboration. Some of the ones he introduced were:
Anna’s talk showed us how to use Google Analytics to its maximum with helpful tips on customisation, dimensions and events.
Making use of GA and ensure you have events setup and are using the data.
Make more use of custom dimensions. Split customers by weather, content labels, added to cart etc… and analyse their behaviour in groups.
You want to see where users are dropping out!
In this interesting talk, Dana explains the importance of calculated metrics in Google Data Studio to make the most out of your reports:
To look at historic revenue data for clients that don’t have eCommerce. In order to prove ROI. (image attached). You can then evaluate the value of paid for referrers.
Why does G! report on sessions as a primary metric rather than sessions as the focus. Make sure your reports focus on users.
Your clients want to have a relaxing time. They don’t want an 18-page report.
Julia taught how to stay on the front foot with reputation management and not to only worry about your reputation when something negative has happened.
Suggested searches that come up when you type into google, searches related to, “people also asked”
Consider the Impact on Rankings
If something bad starts ranking organically how do you get rid of it? Negative SEO won’t often fix it and could make it worse, pushing it down with something positive is a lot of effort for minimal effect.
Outreach your positive brand message as much as possible, actively use social media and engage with your social mentions, social channels let you counter negative channels in their environment
Sabine’s BrightonSEO talk showed us how to think about all the following before expanding to other markets in order to avoid having to invest time and money in a domain consolidation process, which may result in your local visibility plummeting.
Try to find the numbers to back up your decisions.
Look into your target group’s purchasing power and shopping behaviour; your competitors; the gaps in the market.
Make sure your existing markets won’t be suffering.
Make sure search engines know which page should rank for which searches. Dedicate time to server structure in order to achieve fast site speed. Have location-based subdirectories in place.
Keep testing and reasoning, making sure you’re still invested in the right markets.
The average lifespan of a company is plummeting; you have to stay ahead of the curve, otherwise you might seize to exist as a company. Adela’s BrightonSEO talk tells us more…
The rise of digital assistance and more apps being powered by AI, meaning that voice search will become more important than ever.
AI will help us turn data into insights to help reach new audiences; improve customer engagement, for example, smart chat bots; increase operational efficiency, which will allow you to focus on strategy and creativity, and
Artificial Intelligence is technology that learns from us and finds ways to be helpful. It amplifies human ingenuity with technology. At this stage, Microsoft’s AI can find cancer clues in search queries, help farmers identify conditions that influence their crops, help blind people navigate and ‘see’ the world. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, start investing in AI solutions for your company.
No slides for this one, but Authoritas were kindly streaming everything in Auditorium 1 so you can watch the Q&A here:
At the moment Google only indexes the desktop version of content. It looks at the mobile version but indexes the desktop content. This is going to be switched round with Mobile First Indexing. If something doesn’t exist on the mobile version then with mobile first indexing it won’t be indexed!
In general Google have noticed that it’s a lot harder to make everything included on one page without having dividers and tabs etc – so they don’t want to disadvantage sites for using them. John doesn’t know what the end result will be – whether sites will try to take advantage of this in, say, a year’s time. So if they see people abusing it then they might change things.
Final tip: If it works well for conversions then it will probably work well for search
Good question – one John hears a lot. The bigger problem from Google’s side is that a lot of times, people see low traffic on mobile because the mobile experience is bad.
However, there will be sites out there that don’t get a lot of mobile traffic – but this is going to continue to change over time.
Bottom line: John wouldn’t recommend disregarding mobile optimisation just because you don’t currently have a lot of mobile users.
Yes… however John admits that he isn’t that person.
Google do have people who have been there for a long time, who have really in depth knowledge of search and the algorithms.
For example – with mobile first indexing changes that they made, they took a lot of time to understand what the changes would be and how it would all work together. So it’s not the case that Google is an autonomous machine where no one really knows what is happening – there are people there who do pay attention!
John doesn’t have a timeline and Google try not to pre-announce certain things in case plans go bad. But he does expect that they will try to expand the amount of information available on Search Console e.g. for voice queries.
He also expects more API features to be made available in Search Console!
Google want to avoid Search Console having too much focus on the extreme expert audience – but an API can cater for these people better.
In terms of the new UI – they didn’t want to blindly take everything from the old UI and blindly move it across, but they plan to bring as much as possible across over the next year. They don’t plan a 1 to 1 match and want to see how they can make information more useful in future.
E.g. people who go into search console, pull out a pile of lists and have to be an expert before they can really understand to do with this data. They want to provide more actionable data such as “something broke on your website last week that you need to fix”
(Google actually track what we are doing on Search Console with GA!)
They tried to use a variety of data when trying to understand page speed – and that does include some real world data such as the Chrome useability data. They are still fine-tuning exactly what data they will use for this.
There is not just 1 speed number to focus on – it’s good to understand the different tools and understand the background of what they are actually showing e.g. because sometimes it can lead you to low hanging fruit to fix.
Top Stories is an organic search feature – it’s not based on something simple like a meta tag. Google takes into account a variety of signals to decide what appears there. So it’s definitely not just based on using AMP.
These factors change over time as well – as with any organic search feature.
Follow-on question: Do you expect rankings from the carousel to be included in GSC?
At the moment it’s counted as one block, but John isn’t actually sure. He will personally be taking feedback on board!
Sounds like the person asking knows there’s a lot of content on their site that doesn’t need to be indexed/crawled!
There’s a few ways – noindex is like a sledgehammer for this purpose. Maybe robots.txt makes sense though if you have a resource intensive site. For other uses, look at combinations of noindex on pages, or noindex nofollow.
For the most part that works fairly well. If you have faceted navigation and filters on an ecommerce site it gets complicated.
The tricky question with a lot of things like faceted navigation etc is that there isn’t one answer that works for everything. You have to take an analytical approach.
The disavow tool lets you take care of these issues yourself. If you know the last SEO who worked on the website went out and bought links or did something crazy with a PBN then that’s something you can use the disavow tool for to clean it up. Or if you have a manual action you can use it in that context.
When you look at your link reports and you see something crazy happening and think “I don’t want to be associated with this” then it’s also useful for these purposes.
For the most part John wouldn’t recommend looking at this every week because Google does take care of it for the most part.
John believes that Google doesn’t take any action against websites that are often disavowed. This is because people might take advantage of comments for example and they don’t want to punish sites harshly for things like this.
For the most part this isn’t a good use of your time. Google looks at websites overall. For the most part things like PageRank sculpting do not make sense for most websites.
For the most part John believes that practices like PageRank sculpting add more complexity to the practice of optimisation, and the costs outweigh the benefits.
John doesn’t have an official answer for this!
SEO will continue to be around. There will be aspects that will continue to pay a role regardless of how the technology changes over time.
Unfortunately our roving Koozians on the ground were not able to personally review all of the talks at BrightonSEO, but we have collected all the remaining slide decks here: