Key learnings from BrightonSEO April 2012


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BrightonSEO has become one of the most popular and respected natural search conferences in the UK. The most recent event was held on April 13th 2012, and was attended by over 1,000 of the UK’s finest search marketers at the Brighton Dome. Jellyfish were both present and presenting at the conference, and this summary has been created to provide our clients with key learnings and takeouts.

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Key learnings from BrightonSEO April 2012

  1. 1. Jellyfish POVBrightonSEO Key Learnings, 201217/04 | 2011© Jellyfish Online Marketing Ltd 2011
  2. 2. Jellyfish POVBrighton SEO Key Learnings, 2012BackgroundBrightonSEO has become one of the most popular and respectednatural search conferences in the UK. The most recent event washeld on April 13th 2012, and was attended by over 1,000 of the UK‟sfinest search marketers at the Brighton Dome. Jellyfish were bothpresent and presenting at the conference, and this summary hasbeen created to provide our clients with key learnings and takeouts.Panel Session – Ask the Search EnginesFirst session was a live Q&A, featuring Pierre Far from Google, DaveCoplin from Bing and Rishi Lakhani, specialist SEM consultant. Aftera short burst of predictable „is SEO dead?‟ questions (short answer– no!), four points to consider: Google and Bing were quizzed on an exact definition of a „bad‟ link; aside from the highly simplistic standard Google explanation, little insight was gained. Good questions from the floor e.g. „how can we create good links if you can‟t tell us what is bad‟. Clear hints from Google that the next algorithm update will (as predicted by Jellyfish) prune links in a much more vigorous manner than seen before. Search signals: Google confirmed that over 200 signals are considered, but also that „SEO is not a check list‟; great content and user-experience is what counts (that must sound familiar by now<) Significantly, an explicit statement from Bing that being „good at social‟ will be a key ranking factor. What does being good mean? Well, it‟s not about volume of social activity (although this will clearly help). Rather, social quality was equated to sharing fluidity, in other words, how effectively content is shared, liked and commented on within relevant / influential audiences. And in the most heated segment of the session („why are you screwing us by not showing SEO keyword data‟), the panel took a beating (well, Google anyway) about the impact of SSL natural search encryption, and higher proportions of „not provided‟ keyword data. Google argued that keyword levelPAGE 2
  3. 3. Jellyfish POVBrighton SEO Key Learnings, 2012 data is accessible via Google Webmaster Tools (GWT); audience countered that GWT data is „pure fantasy‟ and is no substitute for analytics data. Google stated that SSL was necessary as search queries become more „personal‟. Audience view – it‟s a push to drive greater investment into PPC, where keyword level data is fully visible (see our previous POV<.). This one is going to run and run.Pick of the PresentationsRather than a blow-by-blow of each presentation, we‟ve created atopic based analysis to provide a singular summary as follows:Technical focus – what do search bots actually do?During a beguiling (to some) / bewildering (to others!) session,Roland Dunn‟s presentation on what do search bots actually do wasa real eye opener. For example, his deep analysis concluded that:PAGE 3
  4. 4. Jellyfish POVBrighton SEO Key Learnings, 2012The technical SEO implications (especially for larger site owners)are significant, indicating that very careful consideration should begiven to better monitoring of GoogleBot via log files, and then toworking out how best to „direct‟ bots to the pages that matter mostto users (for example, by increasingly granular configuration ofrobots.txt files).After all, there would be little or no point in optimising a wholebunch of pages if they‟re never going to be indexed and rarely re-crawled. This is especially relevant to site owners / publisherspursuing a long-tail strategy, or who promote using fresh, news-type content.Rich snippets; the information and authorship layerQuick reminder<<what is a rich snippet? See below:In our previous POV (Google Webmaster EDU Seminar March 2012),we reported that:„Google is keen to promote the use of rich snippets. Their view isthat an improved user experience is delivered by investing data(Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS)) with knowledge (richsnippets). Cynical view: Google is extracting more content fromyour landing pages, encouraging users to spend more time lookingat the SERPs (and eye-balling Google PPC ads). Positive view: SERPsbecomes a better place to make an informed decision, consumershave more intent when they click through, everyone is happy!‟PAGE 4
  5. 5. Jellyfish POVBrighton SEO Key Learnings, 2012Three sessions during Brighton SEO confirmed this, and provided arange of technical views on how best to implement rich snippets,ranging from discussions on the various formats available (e.g.microdfata, rdf, rdfa), to conjecture regarding the potential ranking„power‟ of authors, and use of rel=author / rel=me tags as next-step „trustrank‟ SEO tools:So, if / when trustrank comes to fruition, the ranking potential ofcompeting content (e.g. hints and tips content, or advice guides)would be influenced by:• Whether the content is correctly „linked‟ to an author• How influential the competing authors are; logically, an author with better / more relevant social connections would improve the visibility of their contentJellyfish have been providing advice and guidance on the use of richsnippets during 2012, so it‟s good to see this issue gaining widecoverage and acknowledgement.Strategic view – the next algorithm changeFact - a significant change in the Google algorithm is on its way(„Google‟s Matt Cutts announced that Google is working on asearch ranking penalty for sites that are “over-optimized” or“overly SEO‟ed.”‟). Recurring event theme: how can brands andpublishers be prepared, or (as one presenter commented), behavelike turkey farmers, not turkeys?PAGE 5
  6. 6. Jellyfish POVBrighton SEO Key Learnings, 2012Our thoughts are:• Traditional authority signals will decrease in importance• „Ye olde‟ link building will become less effective• Google will increasingly look at more personal, social signals to determine authority• Search Plus Your World (SPYW) is a clear indication of this trend• As the „mix‟ of signals required to succeed in SEO becomes more complex, understanding the effectiveness of specific tactics will become more difficult• Site accessibility / perceived content quality via technical fixes have traditionally been de-prioritised in favour of off-site authority optimisation – this needs to change!• SEO and social activity needs to be better integrated to promote visibility of and engagement with high quality contentIn other words, now is the time to ensure that your SEO efforts arealigned to this increasingly complex blend of signals, and to also beaware that as newer signals become more important, older signals(e.g. links) will be de-emphasised (i.e. will become less effective).Jellyfish PresentationOur contribution to the event was created by Tim Ireland, JellyfishSEO and Social strategist. Entitled „SEO { PPC Working Together inHarmony, Tim‟s presentation focused on:• The importance of understanding user journeys (searchers are people)• How user journeys alter depending on the nature and intent of people‟s motivations, needs and wants• The unique signature generated by different kinds of journeys• Mapping / co-ordinating SEO, PPC<.and ideally all communications tools to these evident signaturesPAGE 6
  7. 7. Jellyfish POVBrighton SEO Key Learnings, 2012The full presentation from Brighton SEO is here: thoughts – joining it up…Key themes from Brighton SEO have been highlighted by Jellyfish inprevious POVs, but a number of fresh insights should remain onyour radar for 2012 and beyond:• The use of better structured page mark up (or rich snippets, at a tactical level) is clearly a hot topic and should be near the top of your SEO to do list for 2012.• Related to this, and as we suspected, the link between who you are (author) and what you publish (content) will become significant, both to better assist user journeys, and likely as a new and powerful ranking factor (trustrank, which also makes total sense in a social search context)• The algorithm will change soon and Google will look to an increasingly complex blend of content / people / social signalsPAGE 7
  8. 8. Jellyfish POVBrighton SEO Key Learnings, 2012 to determine the authority and hence ranking potential of your pagesSummary & Next StepsIf you‟d like more information on any of these subjects, do get intouch, we‟d be happy to help.And in the meantime, a selection of our POVs is available to viewand download from here: 8