After a fantastic first day, I have returned for a second day of talks at SMX London at Stamford Bridge. On Day 2, I am attending mostly the Advanced Track, dipping into the Search & Social Track for one of the early afternoon sessions to discuss advanced technical SEO.
With tips from the aforementioned tracks.
How To Survive The Death Of Link Building
- Link building is still important… just don’t be stupid about it! Don’t build links like its 1999 or you will fail!
- You can be extremely successful without any active link building by making your site as linkable as possible. But many sites will still benefit from good link building.
- Two types of links: acquired links and earned links. Natural, earned links are much more effective and safe while acquired links are easier to scale but risky.
- Use 80% of your budget on earned links and 20% on acquired links.
- Visualise you link profile with a tool such as Majestic SEO and compare it with your ranking competitors. If they are are too different you may not be ready to compete for that top spot.
- People link and share only when you have something worth sharing: there has to be a value!
- 5 categories of link bait that work:
- Great tools and free help: create something no one has before or take something and make it better.
- Games and competitions: people love to compete and you can boost the value with a valuable prize.
- News: real news or fake news if you can (eg: Onion, The Poke, etc.) Produce news fast for your segment.
- Provocations: keep within your niche and be safe with your approach.
- Humour: as with provocations, be careful and make sure your humour is safe for all and not likely to offend.
- Two reasons for acquired links: they tend to open doors to more authoritative links and deep links to really relevant pages.
Kirtsy Hulse, SEO Strategist, Digitaslbi
- Links are still important as they’re one of the strongest signals for search engines.
- There is no denying that bad links still work in some cases, particularly with big brand sites that have always performed well. However search engines are catching up.
- There are niches where it is harder to earn links, but it’s never impossible.
- Even PornHub have been earning natural followed links from huge sites with quality content (i.e. infographic on states that watch the most porn!)
- Rather than creating content that you hope will work and be shared, first start thinking about the audience and the kind of content they would be interested in and genuinely likely to share.
- Set up Audience and Interest Reports in GA to get a top level view of your audience to get a better idea of who they are.
- Look at the demographics of the people who visit vs. the people who convert; is there correlation or are you likely to need different content for an engagement audience to that of your converting audience?
- Facebook Power Editor is a powerful tool for getting some audience insight from you Facebook audience.
- Other useful tools for audience insight include Tailwind, Quora, Compete, Follower Wonk, Quantcast and BrandLove.
- With audience analysis you can group your audience by key demographics such as gender, age, etc. to work out what type of content will work best for each group.
- TGI is a survey tool worth investigating to get even more insight into your audience and get a better idea of what’s important to them.
- If you’re in a difficult niche for interesting content, think about stepping outside the box to create more interesting content tailored to the audience and more likely to be shared.
- Link reclamation is a great tactic for getting easy, natural links. Outdated Content Finder, Image Raider, Broken Link Finder and Fresh Web Explorer are great tools for finding any mentions or references to you that could be linked.
Stephanie Beadell, Content Marketing & PR, BuzzStream
- Getting links from influencers is an important and powerful technique.
- Quality links are going to continue to drive value for years to come.
- Big sites should take more time to outreach to with custom emails, not templates.
- Little Bird is a new, powerful tool that finds out who the most important people are in your niche. You can export blogs to Feed.ly to monitor what the high profile blogs are talking about over time.
- BuzzSumo is a good tool for finding sites to review that are in your industry.
- FollowerWonk again is a great tool for plugging in influencers and identifying more.
- When you have found your influencers you need to reach out to them. Don’t use templates for the biggest sites.
- The most effective outreach messages are short and snappy; under 150 words. Summarise the story in the subject or use a compelling fact.
- Another compelling approach is to offer the high influencers an exclusive: go to them first so they get the content first.
- Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to get in front of people with job titles that match your audience, i.e. market to Directors, Managers etc. at a certain company or in a certain industry.
- Spilt test outreach templates for smaller sites but customise the opening and the close of the email: try to only template the middle.
- Target experts, not Twitter celebs. The biggest users on Twitter or similar in your niche are not always the expert.
- Use Twitter Cards to increase engagement by taking up more space in users’ feeds.
- Passively build links by optimising your content titles for journalist discovery. Use terms that journalists might use to find data and information, so that they will quote you as a source.
- Be explicit in your outreach and on your site if you have an expert available for quotes or comment.
From Microdata & Schema To Rich Snippets: Markup For The Advanced SEO
Bastian Grimm, Managing Partner, Grimm Digital
- Search engines rely increasingly on markup to understand your website and code.
- Markup provides meaning for search engines. Semantic markup is meant to describe content.
- It also increases maintainability and the quality of your content.
- The semantic web provides a common framework, because regular HTML is limited.
- Schema.org introduced in 2011 to support the Rich Snippets Google brought in 2010.
- One major benefit of proper markup is the increase in CTR that rich snippets in search provides, through standout and increased space taken up in the SERPs.
- Not many sites are using microdata yet – only 0.3% of domains – meaning there is a huge opportunity for those that do.
- Only 34% of all keyword searches do not return rich snippet results, which is likely to continue to drop as markup is used.
- Google doesn’t use markup for ranking purposes at this time but you may see an increase in traffic due to increased CTR.
- Hand-in-hand with Schema is the Knowledge Graph and the extra information provided, collated from data sources that are properly marked up.
- The scary part of rich snippets is the massive reduction in organic search results. All the more reason to make sure you’re seen!
- Implementing Schema is easy: it’s just an extension of HTML using the code taken from the Schema.org site.
- Be sure to test markup with the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.
- Be careful if using the Data Highlighter as it is not perfect: Schema is by far the better option.
- On WordPress you can use a plugin to implement Schema, and other CMS’ have similar plugin options.
- Be conservative with markup as if they are spammed too much we won’t get them back!
Samuel Edwards, Online Media Strategist, Tenthwave Digital
- Recipe rich snippets including reviews, ratings, preparation time, nutritional information, a picture and more.
- A recipe needs to be the only page marked up and needs to contain full information about the recipe.
- Even on Bing, the result will stand out because it uses the recipe image, if not the other additional structured data.
- A huge number of recipe searches show rich snippet data of some sort.
- The process starts with looking through the relevant Schema markup library to find elements that are relevant to the page.
- Markup templates can be used for new content and UGC such as user-submitted recipes.
- Schema markup should be implemented site-wide and tested thoroughly with the Structured Data Testing Tool.
- In testing, the increase in organic search traffic 93.46% year on year.
- Ranking increases were actually clearly seen too, even though Google claims that markup doesn’t affect rankings.
- The potential issue with rich snippets is that poor reviews and ratings are displayed in the SERPs so you need to ensure your commenting system doesn’t bring down your average rating based on comments which are questions rather than reviews.
- Be sure to check for errors in Google Webmaster Tools and fix them as they arise.
Barry Adams, SEO & Digital Strategy consultant, Pierce Communications
- The forgotten Rich Snippets: job posting, products, events and music.
- In the job industry, very few listings use structured markup and rich snippets so there is a great opportunity in that industry.
- In order to get rich snippets for jobs you must have a number of key information on the page marked up, including title, date posted, hiring organisation, job location, base salary and salary currency.
- Product markup is a huge opportunity. Data which must be marked up includes model, brand, manufacturer, item condition, description and offers (price and availability).
- Event markup is perfect for any events or businesses in the events industry. Essential attributes include name, start and end date, performer, location and offers (again, price and availability).
- Music markup is essential for musicians or sites in the music industry to give standout to music listings in the SERPs. Attributes needed include name, by artist, duration, album and image.
- To get rich snippets shown in Google you need to be trusted by them. You are not guaranteed to get them even if you do use Schema or any kind of markup.
- Equally, some trusted sites get rich snippets even when not marked up, including Amazon.
- In general though, the more information you give them by marking up data, the better.
- If you have structured data markup errors in Google Webmaster Tools, fix them. This can be the difference between not having rich snippets and finally getting them.
Technically Speaking: Advanced Technical SEO Issues
Patrick Altoft, Director of Strategy, Branded3
- Google now looks at significantly more factors when ranking sites than it once did, meaning websites have to do much more to succeed
- Technical SEO is about people; about optimising the technical aspects of your site for the benefit of users and thus satisfying Google.
- Google hated the massive net approach of previous years, where creating loads of pages for keyword variations worked.
- Every page should be included in a relevant site map to help Google navigate your site.
- Your indexed pages as listed in Google Webmaster Tools should be checked regularly to ensure that you do not have too many or not enough pages indexed.
- Make every single page awesome; audit every page regularly and ensure any low quality pages are developed or removed to maintain a high quality of indexed pages.
- You must know, control and understand every page on your site.
- With out of stock products, don’t keep pages indexed as users will almost always bounce back to search, meaning Google will see that your page isn’t providing any value to users.
- If possible (tools required i.e; Sitecore) use personalisation to understand the visitor and improve their experience of your site.
- Use reviews strategically to help boost conversion rate. Use a range of detailed and useful attributes for visitors to review products against.
- Use a reward to incentivise reviews, i.e; a voucher.
- Split test your review request emails to see which get the best response and the most reviews.
- Get reviews of the service within 12 hours of the delivery or supply; then follow up those who were happy with the service to get a product review 14-30 days later.
- Faceted navigation: make sure that everything you don’t want indexed are not indexed. Keep a tight control of category and sub-category pages.
- Make sure that the pages you want ranked are the ones indexed: link to the correct landing pages and not to search results pages.
- If you don’t upgrade your mobile site and overall experience on devices, Google will push your site down on devices. You could rank top on desktops but page 3 on mobile if you do not have a mobile or responsive site which works well.
- Screaming Frog and DeepCrawl are two great tools for a technical and indexing audit.
- Perform audit indexation and check page quality and link structure frequently.
- In a case study, the client site took numerous clicks to find the right product and buy. The challenge was to reduce down to one page for sales with filters, etc. without losing traffic. The solution came with AJAX.
- Because the purpose of the change was to improve the journey for users, the hope was that no major SEO issues would be encountered.
- The recommended method for using AJAX is The Google AJAX Crawling Scheme. This is where you use a hashbang (#!) to denote fragments of content.
- You then create a static snapshot of the dynamic content for Google to crawl and understand.
- When Google sees the hashbang instruction, it “escapes from the dynamic content that the crawler cannot see and goes to see the static content.
- You cannot use spaces, percentage characters, etc. in hashbanged URLs.
- However, this causes huge numbers of duplicate content risks. The solution was to canonicalise URLs depending on how similar they were.
- Due to the huge structural changes, monitoring was hugely important. This includes checking rankings, traffic and any other metrics that could be affected.
- After implementation of the project, visibility drops dramatically in the short term, before learning about the site and new structure.
- However, France and Spain didn’t pick up, despite the rest of the world’s site performing well. This was the result of English localisation being wrongly mapped.
- Eventually, visibility actually grew beyond where it started, showing the success of the project.
Building Robust Ad Campaigns With Search & Display
- The old ways in paid search aren’t enough: the paid search field has changed dramatically within the last year.
- It’s no longer enough to have a standard text ad without extensions and other features. If you don’t, your competitors will.
- There is a diminishing returns pattern when it comes to paid search: eventually your time becomes less effective if you are not concentrating on new areas and quick wins.
- Lots of easy wins are the key to getting the most out of your time and investment.
- Search and display, in terms of management and optimisation, are now very similar. They both share things like devices, locations, time, etc. This means that the strategy can often be applied to both types of campaign, without a completely separate strategy for each.
- However, keywords is very different between search and display. Display keywords, matching words on a page, is far more predictable than trying to predict how people are going to search and what keywords they will use.
- Review locations, time of day and day of the week comprehensively to identify what works best, where you should and shouldn’t be targeting, etc. to identify tweaks that could lead to quick wins.
- Remarketing for search is an incredibly powerful opportunity and Remarketing for both search and display uses the same signals in terms of targeting.
- Demographics data is incredibly powerful for ensuring you conserve budget and send relevant users to the most relevant landing page.
- Third party demographic tools can be used with display campaigns and are incredibly powerful and detailed, providing a huge opportunity for more targeted ads.
- Display is a great way to spark the consideration phase in a similar way to TV and reaches a huge audience.
- Consider the most perfectly targeted audience to target highest with display which would be incredibly specific. Then think of the best audience, and the next. Target a wider range but focus more budget and refinement on the targeted audiences.
- Persuasion = Remarketing. However, it’s not often the final click in the conversion path. This is why it’s important to continue raising awareness to that audience.
- Get the basics right in search first before then seeding interest in your brand or product through display.
- Next, consider messaging; a story to tell them at each step rather than continuously popping up at them. Give them something new at different stages of their interaction.
- Lastly, prevent leaks from all the stages of the sales funnel using Remarketing.
- When those fundamentals are in place, you can consider less important factors to find more quick wins, including extensions, video, rich media, Betas, dynamic Remarketing, PLAs and more.
- Tracking is essential, particularly when combining search and display. You cannot get your value right if you don’t. You must know which channels were involved in any conversion and to what extent.
- Use the same tool to manage your search and display data because that is the only way to get data on how the two compliment each other.
- Testing makes perfect: ad testing is everything so split testing and refinement is essential.
- Lastly, cap your frequencies! Don’t drive your customers round the bend by following them everywhere around the web constantly for a month.
Cedric Chambaz, Head of International Marketing, Bing Ads, Microsoft
- The web innovation of recent years means that search must follow. It is no longer a case of simply sorting and returning documents, or about 10 blue links.
- User interface has changed, as has the intent and the behaviour of users. It is no longer all about questions, it’s about actions.
- Why would users continue to navigate to google.com or bing.com to run a search when they can talk to their device, use native search features built into device operating systems, etc.
- Why should SERPs be 10 blue links when they can be interactive and augmented?
- Search is now a database of intent and SERPs should be representative of that intent.
- Ad extensions enable users to engage directly from the SERPs and provide more value
- Sitelink extensions allow you to supply links to potentially more specific resources for broad searches where the intent isn’t clear.
- Sitelinks are proven to increase CTR through both additional ad space and also through directing visitors to something more specifically relevant than the ad alone.
- Video extensions can play videos within the SERPs, giving a huge amount of real estate to your ad.
- In addition to more real estate from extensions and the resulting increased CTR, there is also the valuable decrease in irrelevant clicks by giving users more information to ensure that you are what they are looking for.
- Fundamentally it’s a case of serving the right content to the right people at the right time in the right way.
- Two free tools to turn search intents into smart marketing insights:
- Bing Ads Intelligence Tool: a free tool that connects Excel to the Bing search database and gives you advanced keyword research insight including search volumes and demographics.
- Power Map: another free plugin for Excel that allows you to map your data (exported from your ad campaign, etc.) and gain smart marketing and audience insight to aid both your online and offline campaigns. Includes dynamic heat map features and is well worth checking out.
The Brave New World Of Universal Analytics
Martijn Beijk, Sr. Business Consultant, comScore
- Smartphone penetration is 75% in the UK and growing 14% year on year.
- 91% of millennials own a smartphone and 55% of over 55s.
- A day a week on average is spent on a mobile phone!
- Coupon site usage has increased enormously on both desktops and smart phones and tablets.
- In contrast, both weather information and maps have decreased for desktop but increased significantly on mobiles.
- Businesses that have a strong mobile site and/or app often show an increase in mobile visitors and market share.
- But it’s not just mobile and tablet; it’s also game consoles, smart TVs, SatNavs, watches and more than is seeing increased online usage.
- Universal Analytics as a concept (not necessarily Google’s platform) is essential to tag visitors on one platform to identify and track their behaviour across all the devices they may use.
- The traditional AIDI system of user journey now looks more like a flight map, with users dipping in and out of various phases and devices and engaging in different ways before the conversion.
- The Apple store is a great example of a store that is not designed to sell, it’s more of a showroom or a “temple” for their products. And yet they sell well.
- Data about online behaviour relating to location can be hugely invaluable to big brands who can use the data to work out where they could benefit from a new store.
- iBeacon allows you to capture in-store activity, enabling heat mapping and other technologies to send the right people the right offers at the right time.
- You need a clear measurement strategy and have all of your systems and channels alighted to monitor the quality of your data across all sources.
- You can check out www.comscoredatamine.com for free data resources courtesy of comScore.
David Sosnowski, Director of Data Insights & Analytics, Ayima
- It is important to understand how digital behaviour impacts in-store behaviour.
- You can start to do this is with cross channel tracking.
- Universal Analytics is the process of tagging and tracking users, not visits or sessions individually.
- Measurement protocol is the process of importing offline data into Google Analytics to include in analysis of the big picture.
- In order to use measurement protocol you need to create an application to process the real world data automatically, ie; at the cash register, and send it straight into Google Analytics.
- Case studies using this sort of technology show that online behaviour was connected to a large number of offline, in-store sales.
Ask The Search Marketing Experts
Brad Geddes, Founder, Certified Knowledge
- There are a lot of fake signals out there, with 75% of tweeted content having not been read by the tweeter! As such, it can’t easily be used as a ranking factor.
- Keywords are not being taken away from paid search, only from the paid search data in Analytics!
- By bidding on a keyword you can then use organic comparable data through AdWords which is interestingly different from Webmaster Tools.
- Tools have just made it easier for social communities to thrive, they have always been there – forums have existed since the very early Internet days.
- Privacy online, particularly in a social networking capacity, could continue to increase as an issue.
- Organic data can never be lost from a successful search engine completely as the market share would be lost when users don’t use the search engine, which they wouldn’t if it we’re completely paid content.
- When it comes to PPC landing pages, a PPC professional needs a knowledge base that includes understanding what is needed from landing pages and the factors that are important for Quality Score. Plus they are able to fluently interpret Analytics data to understand performance, but not necessarily the ability to make the changes on site, etc.
- In agencies it’s essential that everyone working on a project (SEOs, PPC managers, Content Marketers, etc.) meet and keep up to date. A project manager is needed!
- “What frustrates you the most?” – the link cleanup work Google has created for us!
- Don’t try to put out a news story every day for the sake of it: take time to research it and create useful content.
- The key SEO takeaways are essentially that links do still count and good content is the way to get them. Engagement and behaviour is increasingly important for rankings which we need to be aware of moving forward.
- You can still get keywords from Webmaster Tools and should use it for insights, even though it’s not fully accurate.
- Social is just going to grow. It’s a great industry to be in!
- We are still waiting for a backlash based on social, with more pushes for “get off the phone and get outside” messages starting to emerge.
- When it comes to online data privacy, this generation generally doesn’t care: those with issues tend to be the older generations.
- It is probable that the percentage of a website’s traffic which is organic decreases, with more sources including social playing a bigger part.
- The SearchMetrics suite is good for adding insight in place of missing keyword data.
Martijn Beijk, Sr. Business Consultant, comScore
- When you think about content, first think about your goals and make sure you test what works best at meeting those goals.
- Focusing on keywords or the lack thereof needs to be removed – it is not the most important thing for SEOs and webmasters to focus on. Focus on signals and engagement.
- People are spending one day a week on devices, on social, shopping and more. It’s a huge marketing opportunity.
- Entity search is the future, where keyword-driven search and marketing is the past.
- “What frustrates you the most?” – The wrong kind of ‘content marketing’.
- There is so much content and social material out there that we do need gate keepers to understand what is quality.
- Engagement is an important signal for search engines and it’s essential to be aware of how long users are on your pages.
- Social media is the wrong term, it means nothing; it’s social networking or social marketing.
- Google’s market share is unlikely to change in the short term but certainly might in a few years time.
A big thank you to SMX London for a fantastic two days. Be sure to share our write-ups with any who may have missed the conference or needs a recap.
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