Search Leeds is back and better than ever with an impressive line up of speakers from some top agencies and brands. We’ve got Koozians on the ground letting us know some of the key takeaways from this year’s talks on Content Marketing, Paid Media and SEO.
Here’s everything you need to know:
The Future Doesn’t Exist in Silos
J Schwan @jschwan – St Ives Group
J kicked off Search Leeds 2018 with a talk about human connection, how to work together for success and why this is so important for our future. J quite rightly says: “in order to realise our industry’s fullest potential, we need to question everything”.
Our key takeaways are:
- Most organisations are still working in silos and this is impacting how they interact with customers and the user experience.
- Even as digital service providers, we are not immune to this issue. Agencies, businesses and brands still have departments in different locations, departmental KPIs and different budgets. All of this is affecting the ability to work in a more streamlined way.
- For this to work, there needs to be a solid belief in connectedness and everyone in the digital industry needs to improve on this.
International site speed: Going for super-speed around the globe
Bastian Grimm @basgr – Peak Ace
It’s so important to have fast loading websites, especially in a mobile-first world, and sites have to work for your end user as user satisfaction is the most important thing for any company. Here, Bastian Grimm goes through web performance optimisation, going further than AMP, to make any and every website really fast!
- 47% of users think a site should load in 2 secs!
- Image optimisation – 60% of traffic is image traffic – that is the single biggest component of every website. Use tiny png tiny JPG for all images – loads of new image formats coming though as there is room of improvement. Google’s WebP is a good alternative (only works on Chrome, however). Lots of other formats coming out from other companies such as Microsoft etc. 80% savings can happen very easily with these new formats.
- Customer web fonts – 70% of all sites use a non-standard font. Processing this CSS slows the site through render blocking. Font Style Matcher is a tool that finds your custom font and matches it with a similar regular font to overlap it. This helps stop the slowing of the site and fight the flash of invisible text. It’s just one line of code but it makes a huge difference.
- Better measurement – PageSpeedInsights doesn’t tell us much. Translate experiences into user metrics – Time to First Paint and First Meaningful Paint are better to look at. Chrome Dev Tools can give you these paint timings. Performance Observer is another great tool that also links up with GA
Track campaigns like a bloodhound: How to make your marketing work harder
Jill Quick @jillquick – The Coloring In Department
This talk explored GA and its complexities as it was built by developers and not marketeers. The importance of data as “without data you are just another person with an opinion”. Organic, paid social/social media and email.
Core reporting API – inbound traffic, without being tagged, won’t be placed in the right category, which can lead to inaccurate data. This can be assisted by UTM parameters such as:
- Medium – e.g.: organic, email
- Campaign – e.g.: various campaigns around different channels
- Source – where does the link live – e.g.: database
All channel > add a secondary dimension > source medium > default channel grouping settings.
Our key takeaways are:
- GA data is gospel/set in stone.
- Medium and source is often labelled up the wrong way.
- If you have an email campaign and it is not tagged properly and set up with a UTM parameter, you run the risk of being placed in the ‘wrong’ traffic bucket (direct or referral).
- If you are not tagging on social (e.g. Facebook) the company will be putting that in referral. Paid social will get thrown in with referral and will be unable to talk about % paid social versus organic social.
- Data is then accessed from its GA acquisition reports.
- Ensure you agree uniform naming convention across campaigns to avoid ruining the data.
- Cost of acquisition per channel.
- System defined checklist supplied by Jill for companies to implement.
Intelligent Search and Intelligent Assistants: Exploring the AI Era of Search
Purna Virji @PurnaVirji – Microsoft
Purna covered how artificial intelligence is trailblazing in search. Predicting what we need, not waiting to be told what we want. Virji begins with exciting us about AI, and how for decades we have been fascinated by AI before showing a video from the 90s, where Microsoft had dreamed about intelligent homes. And now, how cloud computing, powerful algorithms and big data are helping us advance with AI.
Our key takeaways are:
- What is AI? Technology that can perceive, learn, reason, assist in decision making and act to help us solve problems.
- Search is becoming more intelligent because AI is helping to change it from simply being able to index online content, to being able to understand the context and be able to reason over it. If you don’t understand context, then what is being provided is keywords, not a well-rounded answer, and an echo chamber. AI can empower you to find the right answer for you. There’s never been a better time to shift to audience marketing: more than half of digital advertisers want to increase audience marketing. In fact, we should be focusing less on keywords and more on audiences.
- Search is increasingly becoming the centrepiece of consumer engagement and it’s becoming more visual – you get a lot more pictorial results now, which makes it easier to find the answers to what we’re looking for, and they are more engaging. You can also search by imagery (22.6% of people will search with Google Images). Now, you can even search within an image. We can now click on a hover button on, say, a necklace someone is wearing in the picture, and then you will be served up with loads of similar necklaces for you to buy.
The past, the present and the future of mobile
Gerry White @dergal – Just Eat
We all know how important mobile is, with it being the main device used to access the internet for many people. Gerry White takes us through the history of mobile, but more importantly he will tell us what’s coming next for mobile.
- PWA – Progressive Web Apps – Tinder is a great example of this, as is Instagram and Financial Times! There is a huge checklist on Google to show what is a PWA, but 2 main criteria are that it must have a manifest JSON LD file and Service Worker (which allows you to access the app without the server). Basically, PWAs allow you to access websites really easily on your phone.
- Voice Search – Alexa has been changing things since 2014, but only 5% of homes actually have an Alexa. It’s great for music, lights etc but quite terrible as a search engine. Google Assistant is getting better – but we need to help by making sure everything is marked up on Schema to ensure that voice searches can actually find your site. Without giving the search engines the information we can’t expect them to find it. This is actually what mobile first is all about – Google isn’t looking for pages anymore but information.
- Augmented Reality – this actually came out in 2009 but it wasn’t that great. It’s now been made much more practical and user friendly. It will be getting better and better as we go forward and it should be something that devs and marketers get into.
- The future – Companies can get so much data and information on us from sensors, websites etc. And as long as this is consensual, it can be a great thing. Machine learning is happening already to allow Google and Facebook etc to know so much about us and tailor experiences to us all on a super individual basis. Whether this is ‘right’ or how much data they should be allowed access to is a whole other issue!
Analytics Tracking: or how I learned to stop worrying and love Google Tag Manager
Emma Barnes @ejbarnes89 – Branded3
This talk discussed the capabilities of Google Tag Manager (GTM), how initially GTM can appear intimidating and complex, but with perseverance and experimentation, it has endless possibilities.
Emma encouraged placing page view tracking on all pages and placed an importance on GDPR in relation to cookies being used as personally identifiable information. The talk explained how to create event tracking tags, tracking clicks on products on e-commerce sites, implementing data layers and benefits of GTM for multinational websites.
- Implement event tracking on all pages to track events such as downloading a PDF or clicking on a phone number.
- Ask web developer to help you put info in the data layer on the website – it communicates through your site and GTM about what may or may not be on the page – e.g. the author of a blog post. You can tell GTM to look for an author and add as a content grouping.
- Sometimes Google doesn’t read it. Not a futureproof solution. Worth testing/monitoring.
- Paid – in GTM you can select a tag for remarketing/tracking for paid.
- Tag Manager might be scary but embrace it – it is an exciting learning process.
Useless Projects: Where AI Meets Human Creativity
Rob McGowan @edit_agency – Edit
Passionate about imagination, Rob explored where AI meets creativity, asking whether AI could be used as a tool to build better connections. Rob explains that an electronic circuit thinks quicker than a human brain and so the future of automation and how we connect with bots is changing.
Our key takeaways are:
- Creativity is born from abstract connections and we need to have the freedom to just sit and think, conjure up creativity that stirs the soul. Procrastinate properly and use this as the incubator for creating ideas.
- We need to be responsible for the information we are putting out there, otherwise the bot will learn bad habits, negativity and some quite concerning behaviour. A test was run from the darkest corners of the web and how the bot responded; the results were quite scary.
- Can AI be creative? We’re getting there with human help. The future will present us with a great opportunity in that eventually everything will be automated, but we have the capacity to make mistakes and learn from them.
How not to f**k up a migration
Steve Chambers @stickyeyes – Stickyeyes
Migrations need to be treated very seriously as there are several things that can go wrong which lead to a significant loss of organic traffic. Steve Chambers goes through common issues, pitfalls, where things can go wrong – and how to avoid them.
- The goal of migration is to improve the website – not just keep it all static.
- Pre-Migration planning – Responsibilities, Resource, Project Planning and Checklist. These need to be sorted and in place to ensure your migration goes as smoothly as possible. Don’t work in silos – get as many stakeholders involved as early as possible. Consistently track progress and share with all shareholders at all times. And don’t do it on a Friday!
- Image redirects – this can get forgotten about. Pass 301 redirects to these as well.
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