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Here’s the second part of my Think Visibility write up, featuring Dixon Jones of Majestic SEO and Annabel Hodges of OMD, the first part of can be found here. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to catch the other presentations, so I’ll be with you in reading write ups of these that other people have done.
Dixon Jones – Link Intelligence
Nobody really knew what Dixon was going to present about, but whether it was his Majestic SEO link tool or something else related to links I thought it was likely to be good, and I was right! He gave an excellent presentation about link building, not just using Majestic SEO. He also included examples of what’s worked for particular websites:
Using the Press
Example: The Beautiful People .com
You may remember the dating website that caused a lot of controversy when they announced that they were removing thousands of fat people from their site to make sure they only had beautiful people registered. They released a press release to PR Wire and kept building the campaign up, as a result they received links from a number of news sites, as well as a large volume of links. The link acquisition graph matched the traffic with increases, leading to the following conclusion:
Good bait = good links = good traffic
But this method does need perseverance and the links need to be built with the aim of relationships if your aim is to increase traffic as a result.
Blogger Linking the Easy Way
You may think, “guest blogging, I know how to do this” but Dixon takes it further than the normal method. We all know we should try to build a relationship with the blogger but a good way to make this a good relationship is to give them exclusives and things that their readers can’t do without, from which the blogger can then get credit. When looking for bloggers try to find those who get their blog posts retweeted, as this shows that their content is appreciated and shared by others.
Finding Links the Cool Way
Ok, I don’t think Dixon called it this, but he was talking so fast that I couldn’t keep up with everything so I’ve decided to give it my own subtitle! Dixon suggests using DMOZ to identify your verticles and then use the Majestic SEO ‘Clique Hunter’ to see which sites link to these sites. We’ve all done this, whether we’ve used Majestic or the tools from SEOMoz or somewhere else, but the next stage, which makes it cool (in my opinion) is to make a custom Google engine for the sites you’ve found.
This then enables you to easily see which of the links you’ve identified as potentials are actually rated by Google. Thus solving the long standing issue of having lots of possibilities for links but not being able to weed out the ones that aren’t worth your time. I’ll definitely be trying this out as soon as possible!
Identifying Competitors Targets
When having a look at your competitors, a good way to find out what they’re targeting is to export all of their links, including anchor text, and then put the list of all anchor texts in to a free tag cloud generator to easily see what keywords they’re targeting. So simple, but not something everyone thinks of!
Did Dixon make that word up?! Anyway, the method here is to use Paper.li to engage technology with humans and websites. It’s an online newspaper that you get daily, but you choose what goes in it. This way you have the types of things you want to read to hand and you can also share these very easily and get lots of links from Twitter. The content is gone by the next day, but the links for this site are growing massively – so much so that it doesn’t even matter that Google doesn’t like this type of fast growth, it’s doing well regardless.
There were a number of other techniques discussed, but I’ve chosen to only write about the ones that got me excited. The one type of link that I discussed with Dixon later in the day is something I wouldn’t dream of posting about as it might land him in trouble… I mean, buying drinks for someone who might just link to you counts as black hat, doesn’t it Dixon?
Annabel Hodges – KPIs, Data, Reporting and Communication
This was a presentation I was really looking forward to as I’m always trying to improve KPI measurement and reporting, plus Annabel is a great speaker. Many of the tips here were good reminders of things that we should all be doing, but some of them are easily forgotten.
Top communication and reporting take aways:
1. Maximise your relationships
2. Understand what your clients are thinking
3. Remember the bigger picture
4. Don’t be the only person who knows what’s going on
5. Have brainstorming sessions with people who have no idea about the project
6. Always take cake to a brainstorming session
7. Use organisational tools to help other people access information when you’re away
8. You can never CC people in to enough emails
9. Find out what clients want to see in reports
10. Don’t hide things that aren’t pretty, clients need to know problems as well as success
11. Once you’ve sent a report, phone to discuss it
12. Use the traffic light system to easily show performance
13. Differentiate between opinions, ideas and facts
14. Always be clear and specific
15. Nothing is ever too obvious
16. When in doubt, summarise!
My favourite one here is number 6!
Top link and on page SEO take aways:
1. Think about quality versus quantity
2. Look at your ‘link churn’ (how many aren’t live anymore)
3. Geographical link locations are important for multi-national campaigns
4. Aim for variations of anchor text
5. Look beyond the obvious
6. Measure the number of indexed pages over time
7. Measure the number of landing pages actively bringing visits
8. Look at brand vs non brand comparisons
9. Analyse the activity of returning visits on non brand keywords
10. Stay on top of more than just analytics and ranks
11. Collate all information from different part of the projects
In addition to these points, Annabel also explained some good analytics things to look at that are sometimes overlooked. For example, Click through Rate is one of the biggest factors in PPC, so why doesn’t everyone use it in SEO too? The statistics are available in Webmaster Tools so you can measure it and try to improve it by tweaking the titles and Meta descriptions.
One point that led me to a brainwave on the analytics front was measuring which pages are working for you organically. Find the top entry pages from organic traffic and compare these to the top entry pages from all sources. Annabel suggested setting up a goal in Google Analytics for when visitors land on your target pages, and including a goal value for each page dependant on what it could be worth to you. For example, if someone lands on a page which has a quote form, this might be worth $10. By creating a separate profile in Google Analytics for Organic traffic and using these goals here you will easily be able to see how your value from organic traffic increases over time.
The best bit of the presentation for me was seeing how they measure keyword visibility at OMD. This enables them to see how much they gain from having a position one ranking for one term over a position four ranking for another term which may have a higher search volume. I’m hoping to try and create something similar to this for Koozai now.
So, thanks to Annabel and everyone else for the brilliant presentations, but I’d also like to thank Annabel, Dom and everyone else who was involved in creating the Jaamit Award and fundraising. The award is a brilliant idea and a great way to ensure that all the good work Jaamit did within the SEO community can continue. For those who don’t know, Jaamit Duranni was a brilliant SEO, very friendly and helpful, he always shared things he knew and he is probably the most loved and most missed SEO. He encouraged me (and so many others) to go to their first SEO events and meet the amazing community that he was such a part of. Well done to Rhys Wynne for winning the first award, another great member of the SEO community.
And to end my write up, I’d like to say another massive thanks to Dom and the Think Visibility team. It was a fantastic conference for so many reasons; here are my concise highlights and reasons why others should attend in future:
1. So many friendly people to talk to
2. Fantastic presentations
3. Something learnt from every presentation
4. We all got free bacon butties
5. We also got free Pic n Mix
6. A great place to meet old friends for the first time
7. Leeds is actually quite nice
8. It’s a great source of inspiration
Search engine technology is evolving, and so is the digital marketing industry. The more experienced professionals amongst you may remember the days of gleefully stuffing keywords into your copy to boost your rankings, blindly spamming strangers to join your email lists and easily securing media coverage for your thinly veiled advertisements.
Site speed is an important area of website optimisation that people working in the world of Search Engine Optimisation are becoming increasingly concerned about.