The new seo and why you need to understand it - Presentation Transcript
The New SEO and Why You Need to
Morning Ladies, I’m Claire Robinson-Ayres and I’m going to talk to you about SEO.
I entered the SEO arena because as an in-house marketing manager trying to resource SEO
companies to look after our website I started to notice a couple of things:
SEO people were really good at the technical things but,
SEO people couldn’t understand how SEO fit into the marketing mix and what it meant for
the business model as a whole.
SEO people struggled to communicate between marketing, web developers, and graphic
designers. There were communication problems at all levels.
I realised that if, as a marketer, I had those technical skills I could fill a gap in the market, being able
to look at the marketing plan, understand the business objectives, whilst seeing what was required
on a technical level and working out the best way to make everything fit together. So, I joined an
SEO Agency and trained under one of the top SEO specialist’s in the UK for three years before he left
to help run a top agency in London and I left to be a freelance digital marketer and help businesses
So that’s my SEO story in a very brief nutshell! Now to the good stuff!
What Was SEO
SEO used to be simple, it was what it said on the tin… Search Engine Optimisation. Most people
know it as this, and if you refer to SEO, the tactics I will talk about now are what you will think of as
Listing your website in every directory / forum you competitors are listed on.
Buying sponsored reviews from bloggers
Getting added to blog rolls, and footers on as many blogs and sites as possible
Writing *frankly* crap articles (think oDesk freelancers charging $10 per article crap) then
posting them on every single article site you can find with a bajillion anchor text links in,
then spinning the article to post it another 10 times.
Leaving links in blog comments on every single blog you can find all over the internet, then
going back next week and doing it all over again
Repeating the above but with forums
Listing the site on every internet directory in existence
Social bookmarking, think sites like delicious which bookmark pages for you to read later or
share on your social networks but on a scale which is beyond belief.
Guest blog posting – on any and every website which will take your blog posts, you won’t
spend much time on these, because you’ve lined up 50 for this week!
Every page needs an H1, and these keywords, it reads crap, well that’s OK because Google
will like it and that’s all that matters.
Make sure there’s a mix of keyword rich anchor text links…do they not make sense? Tough
Usability….Run a few tests, tell the developers to change a few things but that will be about
Social Media? “Well that’s got nothing to do with SEO and is not measurable and is
completely pointless” (Yes, I was told these exact words by somebody in the SEO industry
less than two years ago!”
All of these tactics ended with the aim of building as many links back to your website as possible so
that your site looked really popular and Google would say “wow, look at them, they’ve got
thousands of links, they must be really good” and voila you’re at number one in the search
rankings…as the meerkats would say “Simples”.
As you can tell, most of this was absolute rubbish, very easy to manipulate and created a lot of spam
all over the internet. From the websites which were collecting it all to the content going on the sites.
So Google, decided enough was enough, and in a series of algorithm changes put their foot down…
February 2011 – Panda hits
Panda was the first of the big updates of recent years, this update affected about 12% of search
results and cracked down on thin content, content farms, sites with high ad to content ratios, and
low quality issues. It took several months to roll out and didn’t hit the UK until April!
April 2012 – Penguin hits
Known as the webspam update Penguin came along affecting about 3.1% of sites who were flagged
as being targets for spam so those with significant keyword stuffing and involved in link schemes like
link exchanges or buying and selling of links.
August 2013 – Hummingbird hits
Google didn’t officially announce Hummingbird until the end of September but all of the data points
to it hitting in August. It had a huge impact on semantic search and Google’s knowledge graph
results making Google more intuitive, less in need of hand-holding and making SEO more about the
user experience than the search engine.
These updates are just the main highlights each of these have had a series of updates since their
inception and there are constant minor updates ongoing but what we know is that SEO in 2014 is a
completely different animal to SEO in January 2011!
I’ll be honest, I don’t like referring to SEO as SEO anymore. It seems wrong to call something Search
Engine Optimisation when these days the focus is about the end user and the user experience. It
seems my reasons for entering the world of SEO were right on because now the entire focus has
shifted and digital marketing is at the heart of everything SEO with just the technical aspects
remaining. So what does SEO these days entail?
Broken link fixes – Google hates 404 errors, you all know them well, those pages you get to
when you click on a link and get told the page doesn’t exist! So these need fixing and a
regular crawl of the website will highlight where these are so that they can get fixed.
Meta Data – Meta data has reached a whole new level of amazing, on the simplistic level we
have meta titles and descriptions which are the basic information we’ve always put into
websites to ensure search engines know what each page is about. But now Google is a huge
fan of micro formatting.
Micro Formatting consists of meta data about every aspect of the content on your page
which is split into different categories such as a product review, a business, an article,
contact information, or a person.
Micro Formatting contributes to what we see when we get Google Authorship and Rich
Snippets results in Google Search Results aswell as helping websites rank much better
because search engines can read and find the information they need to help them rank sites
much more easily.
Have content on site which is of a high quality, written for your target audience, at least 300
words per page (ideally 500) and NOT keyword stuffed. Yes I said NOT keyword stuffed.
You shouldn’t do link building in the traditional sense anymore, building lots of links all over the
internet is just going to get your website penalised and coming back from a Google black mark is
hard work. Instead embrace digital marketing tactics which will, in turn, create natural, high quality
links back to your website. Some of the best, and I would say essential, tactics to embrace, are as
Blogging – Have an on-site blog and update it regularly, fortnightly at a minimum, an
absolute ideal would be daily, but for anybody but big companies who can budget for full
time content writers this is rarely realistic. Then promote your blogs to encourage sharing.
Guest Blogging – There has been a lot of discussion lately after Matt Cutts from Google
slammed guest blogging. The problem is a lot of companies and marketing agencies went to
the extreme with guest blogging and used it as an alternative to the old school article
posting method. If you do high quality blogs, and have them posted on sites which are
relevant to your own and don’t do 50 per week you aren’t going to have a problem. In most
cases, I aim for 1-4 per month and see some great results from this.
Social Media – Where are your target audience? What are they talking about? Get in on the
conversation. Now, one of the biggest mistakes businesses make when starting social media
is to promote and sell, then they wonder why it doesn’t work for them…DO NOT DO
THIS…social media is about communication, two way communication. Talk to your
customers, ask them questions, thank them, welcome them, laugh with them, share
interesting content with them, then every now and then share something with them about
Google+ now this could fall into social media, but it is becoming a huge part of standalone
SEO strategies since Google integrated their Google Places pages a few years ago, now
Google+ has a number of signals which appear to increase the chances of a site ranking well,
not least the number of +1’s a page has, this also applies to +1’s on links to a page…so get
Mobile – In case you’ve missed the news 2014 is the year of the mobile. If you don’t have a
mobile or responsive website you really need to get this sorted out. According to the Mobile
Marketing Association mobile search will overtake desktop search this year, and according
to a Google study 81% of mobile searches are driven by speed and convenience, and are
likely to encourage follow up actions be that a purchase or social share.
Usability Testing – This is a great way to find out what ‘real’ people think of your website and
how they use it. Any number of experts, me included, can give you advice until the cows
come home, but what truly matters is the average joe sat at home, which is why usability
testing is an invaluable tool. There are a number of different types of usability tests but two
of my personal favourites are the 5 second test where someone looks at your site for 5
seconds then answers a few questions about the site…you’ll be surprised how much people
can tell about a site in 5 seconds. Then there is a full usability test where you send someone
to the site and video their journey through the site. What is interesting is often what they
say they are seeing and what they do with the mouse are two different things, showing that
what they think they are doing is completely different, so you can make changes according
to not only what they tell you, but what they actually do!
Extra Things You Should Do
These are some additional things you should be doing to ensure that you keep your website ahead
of the game with SEO.
Ensure your blog has social sharing buttons installed to encourage people to share blog
posts with their network.
Upgrade to the newer and much more data driven Universal Analytics as soon as you can,
invites are being added in the Admin section of your Google Analytics account as they are
being released. This will be compulsory at some point this year, so you may aswell get ahead
of the crowd.
Start using Google Tag Manager, to update information being fed to your analytics without
the need for updating your analytics code every five minutes!
And…keep a close eye on your website stats, this can give you lots of information to help
guide your next steps, content ideas and target audience.
Get TwitterCards coding installed onto your site, this way, when somebody shares
information about your website, the information which is seen on the Twitter information is
much more than just a simple tweet, it is information pulled from the page the person has
Search Results Today
Finally, don’t get hung up on your rankings…there are several reasons why I tell you this, not least
because no two people see the same search results anymore, I’ll finish up with some examples of
different types of search results you can expect to see in Google these days:
Local Search Results – based on your actual location, your profile location, or a location
you’ve entered into the search bar
Knowledge Graph Results – The knowledge graph is a combination of data sources and
algorithms which Google uses to provide useful information relating to a search.
Vertical Search Results – These are the more traditional search results which you expect to
see, although with the addition of images, videos, news, articles etc these are forever
changing and will never look the same again.
Paid Search Results – These are all of the results which show adverts for people who have
paid for a result via Google AdWords.
Add to this additional information which goes into search results such as:
Authorship Mark Up
Review Mark Up
All of these search types appear in different styles, priorities, and designs depending on the search,
user, and location etc. Meaning that you can be number 1, on one screen but on your neighbours
screen for the same keyword number 10.
What I’m getting at here is that you should concentrate on your site traffic, which pages are
converting traffic, which aren’t, and looking into why? Always be asking yourself questions about the
actual data you have rather than “why am I not ranking at number one”.
Anybody can manage their SEO, of course the issue can be time and knowledge, which is where
people like myself can come in useful to take away that pressure.
I have put together an e-handout which has the talk, presentation and some useful links included for
you to refer back to. If you would like me to send this to you, please let me have your business card
with SEO written on it and I’ll get them all sent out by email this week.