Crafted BrightonSEO Takeaway 2013


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In April, the Crafted team visited the superb Brighton SEO conference and were lucky enough to take home a number of key insights from a variety of industry expert speakers.

Don’t worry if you missed the event because we have combined our findings into one easy-to-digest takeaway which we hope you will enjoy.

Crafted would like to thank Jackie Hole for providing some outstanding photography and Kelvin Newman for organising the event - we can’t wait for the next conference!

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Crafted BrightonSEO Takeaway 2013

  1. 1. KEY TAKEAWAYFili WieseEx-Googler@filiberI heard a lot of talk aboutlinks and link building. Butalso about measuring successand content.Bread and butter contentfeeds long term conversionsOutreach newsEx-Googler’s Top TipsData News in briefDara Fitzgerarald of Fresh Egg highlighted that GoogleAnalytics creates incomplete data because it is currentlybased on sessions and can be visited from multiplebrowsers and devices. Dara uses the term “session silos”and says that by using universal analytics, multi-channelfunnels and attribution modeling, users can make betterbusiness decisions.Ali White, T W White & Sons described how data fromphonecallscanchangeasearchmarketingstrategy,givingthe full picture of both on-site and off-site conversions,which also highlights areas that are not currently targetedor appear not be performing on-site. He also stressed theimportance of focusing on “conversion through to sales”.Nikki Rae of Future Insight said it’s important to checkthat Google Analytics cookies are working correctly andthat issues may arise such as pages not being trackedor incorrect mediums being displayed in the trafficsources. “To check the cookies use Google Analyticsdebugger. To track subdomains or multiple domains use_setdomainname as well as _setallowlinker,” she said.Anna Lewis of Koozai said that Google Analyticscontains many tools that can analyse data and help youmake informed decisions. “Continually test your websiteto improve conversions and usability. Consider metricssuch as what operating system, type of browser or screenresolution is being used,” she said.SEO in largeorganisationsNick Rinylo of Creare describedhow combining an effective strategy,a dedicated team, intelligent systemsand effective delivery can generateretention and scalability: “Choosingthe right people is paramount.Close ties with local universities andeducation means they can recruit thepeople they need and influence thecurriculum,” he said.Dan Patmore of Argos describedthat getting buy-in from stakeholdersfor a piece of activity is easier ifyour competitors are doing thesame thing. Dan also described that“quick wins” are difficult to achieve atArgos due to their long developmentschedule; making friends with otherdepartments is critical and allows youto influence people and get thingsdone by ‘piggy backing’ on otherdevelopments.BerianReedofAutotrader explainedhow companies can automate SEOon large websites in order to improveefficiencyandreducecosts.Automaticlink building, via software such asTynt, can show where your contenthas been copied and pasted from andcan provide links. “Automate whatkeeps you up at night – you can useAnalyticsalertstoseekeytrendsdayonday, week on week, month on month,”he said.StopchasingGoogle,start chasing the customer, says SEO expertSEOs need to stop “chasing Google”and start “chasing the customer”in order to sustain traffic andconversions in the long term. Making the internet morenavigational for the consumer, bysolving user queries effectively,should be the main aim of searchmarketing, according to Ade Lewisof Teapot Creative.Problem solving Following the Google Penguinupdate, optimising a site with thesole aim of improving SERPs is nolonger a viable strategy; firms shouldnow focus on delivering high qualitycontent that helps consumers tomore effectively solve problems: “Good Google rankingsshouldn’t be the overall aim ofSEO, but an outcome of goodbusiness practises which maximisesthe overall consumer experience,”said Lewis. “SEO is therefore no longerabout optimising a website forSERP, and more about optimizing abusiness so it deserves to sit at thetop of these rankings. “SEO now needs to beginmaking positive changes to peoplerather than computers. Thestarting point is the consumer,not driving ranking positions,”added Lewis.Quality over quantity To allow this to happen, firmsneed to improve the quality andrelevance of their content whilealigning SEO strategy with othermarketing output. Content, according to PeteWailes of SEOgadget, should becarefully planned and executed tobest satisfy consumer demands: “SEOs should not be saying,let’s make an infographic or let’swrite a guest post, just because thatis fashionable right now. They shouldbe asking: what is the customer’ssearch query? What type of contentwill best solve this problem?”An integrated approach Tim Grice, of Branded 3,spoke of the need to integrate searchwith other marketing functions suchas advertising and PR: KEY TAKEAWAYSharon think it was clear that SEOis really all about good qualitycontent. That was my take-out. KEY TAKEAWAYDave CoplinBing@dcoplinFor me is to stop seeing SEO inisolation but as part of a joinedup approach. KEY TAKEAWAYKevin GibbonsBlueGlass@kevgibboIt’s not SEO, PR or contentmarketing - it’s simply gettingyour brands story in front of atarget audience. KEY TAKEAWAYTim GriceBranded3@Tim_GriceI think it was that SEO needs tobe genuine marketing activity,and not just some stuff you doto get rankings. KEY TAKEAWAYAde LewisTeapot Creative@Teapot_AdeFor me it was 50/50: the shift ofSEO towards proper marketingand google reinclusion requests.“Good Google rankings shouldnot be the overall aim of SEO”“Focus yourcontent and userexperience onconversion goals– make it clearto reach.”~ Ralf Schwoebel, Tradebit “We need to fully integrateSEO strategy so that its centralfocus is about marketing, notmanipulation. This doesn’t meanSEO is dead, far from it,” he said. It is therefore no longerviable to view SEO strategy inisolation – optimising content andranking positions must fully accountfor overall brand values. RalfSchwoebel, of Tradebit, spokeof the need to create an overall brand“feeling” which is consistent acrossall content and marketing mediums: “All of Red Bull’s messagesare consistent with a feeling of‘giving you wings’. You don’t need tospend millions to achieve this, justbe consistent in your approach.” Mark Henshall and StefanHull, Propellernet also highlightedthe need to use consumer insights todrive content strategy, incorporatingmarket research findings to producehigh quality content whichmakes the internet, and world,a better place.Ex-Googlers on…spam anddisavowed links• Google responds to mostspam reports within a week:keep them short and concise.• All manual link penalties arereviewed personally.• If you’re disavowing links, itmay be worth disavowing theentire domain; this tool has nonegative effect.• Google uses Chrome userdata and can track everyclick within itEx-Googlers on…social signals• Social media links are notcurrently used for improvingsearch rankings.• Facebook cannot createsignals because Google can’taccess the required data.• Google+ will becomeimportant in the future, startusing it now and you willbenefit later.Following her talk, Lauren Pope ofBrilliant Noise was quick to correcta member of the audience whosimply referred to her as a “ContentMarketer”. “I’m a Content Strategist,” washer firm, razor sharp rebuttal. Many speakers emphasisedthe need to think carefully, plan andsuccessfully combine different typesof content in order to satisfy longterm business requirements. It is not enough to createcontent on a whim or chase viraltraffic which creates quick ‘sugarrush’ wins but ultimately failsto generate a steady number ofconversions. “Bread and butter content isthe stuff that answers questions likewho, what, where, when, why, howmuch, and helps users to accomplishthe task they came to your websitewith in mind. “Viral content is like jellybeans: it’s tasty and gives you asugar rush, but not healthy in thelong-term.” An overall content strategyshould aim to balance bread andbutter content with an occasionalboost of viral content. This waySEO activity can maximise traffic,revenue and advocacy in the longterm. “You’reprobablygoingtohaveto veer so far away from your coreproduct area to capture attention inthe kind of volume you need to goviral that you probably won’t makemany or any sales or leads. “Bread and butter contentshould always be geared towardsgenerating sales, either by doing abeautiful job of telling customersabout your product, or byencouraging them to use more of it. “They might not like or shareit, but if you help them solve aproblem,findananswertoaquestionand give them a really effortless,straightforward and enjoyableexperience, they’ll remember it.They’ll come back again, and they’llprobably recommend you in thefuture too.”InsightsfromPaulMadden,Manual Link BuildingPaul’s talk provided some really interesting insight aroundlink building. Following Penguin, he feels that all linksshould be seen as posing some element of risk and shouldbe validated by SEOs at every opportunity: “analyse therisk of every link that you place or have placed,” said Paul. The key signals of risk include: a high percentageof commercial anchors, banned words, poor link metrics,wrong cctld, links to bad places and low social and siteinteraction. Paul explained that if you are hit by a penaltyyou need to carry out a link audit, keeping a record oflinks you remove and disavowing those you can’t. Firmsshould also bear in mind that re-inclusion requests maytake several attempts.Lexi Mills, Dynamo - 7 secret weaponsof successful content & outreachOutreach news in briefGeoff White at Channel 4 shared some insights intosuccessfully pitching ideas to journalists. Timingis crucial, particularly in the case of press releases,as one news story can easily replace another. Greatcontent tells a story and is written for people,about people.Hannah Smith, Distilled, described how “smallcontent” such as guest posts can generate consistentbut low-level results; acceptable until your nichebecomes more competitive. “Big content” can takemore than 40 hours to create and is often an expensivegamble, but can result in much greater rewards. Pitch“big content” to clients by demonstrating that theidea supports brand positioning; implement themover a longer time period to spread costs.Link news in briefDanielle Fudge from Forward3Ddescribed that within specific niches‘Black Hat techniques’ are stillwidely used within the pay day loansmarket. Interflora provided enoughevidence that we should stay awayfrom advertorials and avoid buildingunnatural link portfolios. Daniellealso highlighted the importanceof knowing what your competitorsare doing.Neil Walker from Quaevo Mediadiscussed scalable post-Penguinlink building. He recommendedthat SEOs do not ignore WMTunnatural link warnings andensure that all unnatural links aredisavowed. For reconsiderationrequests, SEOs should “tell the truth”,“provide examples” and rememberthat “Google reviewers are human”.Build links that aid local search,sponsorship, content PR and social.Matt Roberts, Linkdex, and KevinGibbons, Blueglass, explained thatwe need to refrain from using theterm SEO as search marketing hasnow evolved hugely. Businessescurrently implement strategy across anumber of separate ‘marketing silos’,but it is important to collaborate.They also said you should “plan,create, optimize, share, measure andvalue” when creating a content plan.News round-upDave Coplin, Microsoft Binghighlighted the need to redefineour use of technology in order tomaximise global opportunities.“Doing something the way wehave always done it is no longeracceptable, we need to work tomake the web, and world, a betterplace,” he said.Rich Falconer, Lbi, explained thatSEO friendly AJAX is good foruser experience but, if used badly,poor for search; Power Mapperalso usefully visualizes yourwebsite structure. SEOs shouldstudy competitors’ pages to seewhich keywords they’re using.Sharon Flaherty,, discussed content strategy,showing how her successfulcreative campaign drove traffic,conversions and rankings. “It’s notall about SEO,” she said, “it’s alsoa lot about brand engagement”.Content is about “getting peopleto be loyal to us,” she said. Dixon Jones, Majestic SEO,emphasised the need to use datamore accurately to predict futuretrends. By using social signalsfrom Twitter, analysing datafrom Wikipedia, or harnessinginformation from any otherwidely available source, we canunderstand trends and moreaccurately create future value.Julia Logan, Content Mango,talked about how “negative SEO”can be self-inflicted as a resultof insecure plugins, incorrectredirects or duplicate content.Make negative SEO economicallyunviable for competitors; developa highly reputable and trustworthysite with large levels of traffic.Alan Ferguson, CentralBedfordshire Council, explainedthat by streamlining his site hewas able to make his site work forcustomers. “Cut out unnecessarypages, optimise your content, putit in the language of customers,”he said.Marcus Taylor, Venture Harboursays that prior to implementing acampaign you need to ask yourselfwhy it matters: “gather feedbackfrom users, remove any contentwhich might give the impressionof spam, provides incentives forpeople to share your content,”he said.Alex Moss, 3 Door Digital,explained that socially structureddata can improve click throughrates, generate exposure and allowcontent to be tailored for eachsocial network. Using Google+,Facebook Open Graph or TwitterCards can help to build clickswhen your content is shared.Photo: Jackie HolePhoto: Jackie HoleEx-Googler Jonas Weber raised a few eyebrows when he described how SEOs “think too dirty” in theirsearch activity, instead opting to hire journalists and writers who generally use less manipulative techniques.Their advice focused on creating quality content and relevant links:1 Overall, SEO should be a long-term strategy- keep outreach and link building relevant.2 For an in-house SEO, build up a relationshipwith relevant sites and exchange links; makethem consistent.3 If you are going to buy links then at leastmake them relevant to your site.4 Content for search engines should be aboutsolving a problem – description has to befollowed by an explanation.5 Your content should be relevant and useful topotential clients – cater for people rather thansearch results.1 Understand what people will be talkingabout in the future.2 Supply images with your content andconsider design elements.3 Topical ideas often lack longevity - scale themthrough niche markets.4 Integrate social hooks - review social mediato see what people are talking about.5 Generate additional links through thecreation of linkable on-site content.6 Target your top 20 influencers - give thembeta versions of your product, ask theiropinion, make them feel part of the story.7 Place no more than three relevant links inyour content - include any anchor text linksin the footer.TakeawaysTakeawaysA guide toInternationalSEO in 3 stepsAleyda Solis, SEER Interactive1. Assess yourinternational potentialAnalyse international trafficusing Google Analytics.How does your visibilitytranslate into clicks? Studythe volume of searches,queries and CTR frominternational locations andanalyse keyword trends.2. Target your audienceTarget by language or countrydepending on relevance.Study behaviour – what arethe keyword trends andconversion rates?3. Develop aninternational siteFind the right structure foryour business’s characteristics.Host locally with a localIP to target relevant languageor country markets. Promotewithin internationalcommunities through SocialCrawlytics and Followerwonk.Image creditsThanks to Jackie