A few members of the SEO team recently attended a SEO conference to keep ourselves in the loop on the latest trends and hot topics in the industry. Amy Harris, Ian Wright and I found the conference very informative and useful, mixed in with a great opportunity to network with some of the most influential people in the industry.
The main points we found out were that creating a brand is vital, mobile is growing rapidly, quality content is more important than ever, PRs and SEOs are increasingly operating in the same area, exact match anchor text and over optimisation are on the way out and apparently we’re all blackhats now.
A topic that was particularly hot was that of the mobile. Again people are saying that it is the “year of the mobile”, and if we look around us and people’s behaviours the mobile is increasingly becoming an integral part of everyone’s lives in the way that they do search and share content with other people. This argument was represented to a great extent by Bruce Daisley in his talk, the Director of Twitter in the UK. I found his presentation very interesting and engaging as well as learning some very interesting facts about Twitter.
He told us about “Interstices“, the gap between things. He explained how by putting mobile phones in people’s hands we are using them to bring connectivity to every conceivable space. We are basically filling in the gaps by using social media and searching for content on our mobiles, on occasions where we would normally not be doing much, such as waiting for a bus. One significant point I took from this presentation is that we all have to seize the opportunity in the interstices.
There were plenty of other useful talks and panels from top SEOs which provided us with some great content for our presentation to the rest of our colleagues. Below we have provided an overview of the main points of the conference through our notes and slideshow. Enjoy and feel free to add any of your comments on the latest trends below.
Big Brand Perspective
• Mobile is growing. Clinic Compare 37% of Google traffic from Mobile and it converts better than regular traffic.
• Mobile good for paid search
• Problems from mobile - how to design site (app, new version, degraded version)
• Attribution can be difficult – where did a sale really come from?
• Social is easier for some brands than other Seatwave (Facebook app) vs Moneysupermarket
• Moneysupermarket focus on consumers, providing value, (sometimes gimmicky)
• Some companies now even make their site Facebook (spotify)
• Facebook Ads are a tough nut to crack – spoiled by Adwords
• Scaling Facebook Ads is more difficult
• Google updates mean we need to focus on more natural looking pages, links, softer touch – focus on engagement and content sharing.
• Brand traffic is where we want to move, but difficult. PPC much easier with a brand.
• API traffic can be huge. Expedia provides 65% of travel searches mostly through API.
Stat-o-Rama – Hitwise and Comscore
• 2.2 billion visits to UK Search Engines
• 35% of non-paid traffic to retail sites is search, social media’s share was declining
• Spike in contact lenses search in October for Halloween. High street stores often don’t stock them
• Olympics strict rules about what can and can’t be put on site
• Can set-up bespoke sites for events
• Lloyds does social marketing well – Facebook Olympic sponsor page
• Upload photos to their site
• 8% clicked through to other page on Lloyds site, 50% had never been before
• PPC gets more ad spending than any other category, but for brands TV/Press still bigger
• Facebook ¼ of all display ads
• 1 in 5 minutes online is on Facebook
• Non-PC share of internet use growing quickly 10% now, 20% year end
• Characters work really well in finance – meerkats one of the most popular brands
Running a European Search Campaign
• For every country you need a different approach
• About us Page – People read that before they make a transaction
• If it does not reflect the country you are targeting, you could lose a lot of customers if you just translate from English.
• Needs to have a flavour of localization
• Make sure you understand the market and do research > to build into the design of the template
• Localize templates, Structure > Physical layout > Navigation
• Local Domains are by far the safest
• Send Google signals that eg. Google.fr is the local Search Engine
• Landing page should always be in preferred language
• Use languages within the country, eg. Catalan
• If you set up a new Domain to translate, you need at least 10 pages
• Colours play a role
• Education website for MBA, targeting Scandinavia and India.
• In Scandinavia > Young people doing research (English). In India > Parents doing research (Translate)
• Factors to consider: Design, Language, Colour and their Own Payment Systems
• It’s evolving from something that already exists as oppose to something new. No need to create a new team
• “Social Giving” – Like getting a voucher when you’re younger
• Seal of approval from a friend > inspiration and discovery are things at the top of the funnel. Big part of Social Commerce
• Important to get key influencers to purchase and they will ultimately share
• If someone is engaged in the product they purchase, they are more likely to share about it than someone who gets it for free
Are PRs from Venus And SEOs from Mars?
• PRs most concerned with revenue, not other KPIs
• PRs try to measure reputation and influence
• PRs then attribute revenue to activities
• Launch new things in January if possible because press wants to write about the next new thing
• Points of contact can be an issue in an agency environment
• Writing Press Releases really try to think what you want to get out of it – press or just a link?
Breaking Free of Panda
What is Google looking for?
(3) sneaky JS redirects
What does Google look for in web spam?
(1) words per page
(2) compression ratios
(3) globally popular words
(4) query spam
The link conundrum
(1) link stuffing
(2) single phrase reliance
(3) nepotistic links
Google’s stance on poor links
- finally clamping on bad links
- reviewing unnatural links warning is not Penguin
- anchor text percentage per keyword
- brand vs keyword
- Google Panda (Feb 2011)
- Google Venice (Feb 2012)
- Google Panda (April 2012)
- Google Penguin (May 2012)
Impact in numbers
- 60% of sites approx no effect on rankings
- 35% have drops on specific keywords but other keywords still ranking high
Over reliance on single channels
Article syndication → panda
High end blog network → declassification
Directories → declassification
Are serps better? Is google giving us results we expect? Probably not.
How to break the cycle?
-Not all content is good content.
- Push to quality
- the blend is key
- utilise a varied link profile to promote your site
- Don’t treat social as just another link acquisition channel
- Get your link profile brand friendly ..over reliance on non brand anchors is a slippery slope
- If feasible - tie into Google authorship programme
- SEO is essentially doing what google doesn’t want you to do
- tipping point/threshold to being affected
- at the end of the day there is an equation
- brand anchor text to protect yourself + good quality sites + building authority
What do once you have been hit by Panda?
- building new sections vs getting rid of sections of your site
- combination of using brand name and domain name
Search and Social Legal Perspective
• In the UK a company can’t own twitter followers, even if they are branded, if the account is used solely by one person
• Laura Kuenssberg went from @BBCLauraK to @ITVLauraK - 60,000 followers
• Issue of what do people tweet in the off hours
• Copyright protects most things except an idea
• Normally company owns what is created during working hours
• Potential problems with freelancers over who owns what
• Copyright infringement is when a substantial part of something is used and varies from place to place
• Headlines can be copyrighted
• 11 words for exact quotes fine, 12 too many
• Tweets are copyrighted, but re-tweeting is ok
• Linking can get people in trouble now – still largely untested
• Buy as many domain variations as possible (e.g. sucks, scam, etc.)
• Hate sites are fine in UK law as long as they don’t make money
• Adwords bidding on Trademark terms fine as long as ad copy doesn’t use term
• Can’t be held for libel, if you take it down, but UK has problem of libel tourism
• Libel even for linking is possible
• Right to privacy but subject to freedom of expression
• EU cookie law comes in 25 May 2012 – nobody knows what’s going to happen
• ASA now legal sanctions for false online advertising in the UK
• Testimonials need a clear trail, can’t be made up
• Employers can be held liable for online harassment, but penalties mitigated if they have a policy in place.
How to Create an Online Brand through Search
• Found presentation quite general to marketing
• Used the quote: “The consumer is not a moron; she is your wife” > Understand your customer and what they are interested in. Important not to look down on them
• Conversation for conversation’s sake is not really useful – eg. How was your weekend?
• Build a brand through originality, but you will be copied
• Learn by copying then start deploying your own style
• People buy a product for what it “does”, but they buy a brand for what it “says” about them
• Stories are key to brands
• People rely on shared knowledge because we don’t like to think
• Talk about benefits in Meta description instead of a feature if you’re trying to build a brand. Unless you’re selling a commodity.
• The trick is to create something of social meaning, above and beyond the product or service
• Good way to understand a brand is by knowing what it stands against > provoking people that are against them – eg. Ryanair
Building an In-House SEO Team
• Companies that do well with in-house SEO look at what the benefit of ranking for certain keywords would be, then spending appropriately – how much will it take to win? How much will we make?
• Branding is good defensive SEO
• Discount according to risk - 20%-30% risk for any plan
• Search should move towards PPC ROI
• Small experiments before big ones
• If you use agencies use monthly contracts
• PR key to success for Moneysupermarket
• Need short, medium and long term content and linking strategies
• Widgets can work well
• Unibet uses meme contests
• Copy needs to be creative, but visual aspects really sell it.
• Often use agency/in-house hybrid
• Training people how to do things your way key to success for large brands.
Social Media Meets PR (Public Relations)
• The opinion of the panel was that “Social Media is still PR” > Just a different channel.
• Social is about relationships
• Crucial: Fans and metrics
• But use Metrics to do your job better, not necessarily to see if you’re being successful
Reputation Management in a Digital Age
- a brand is “what they say it is”
- BP oil disaster example
- Interflora (not responding to negative tweets)
Deal with the negative
- uncover and respond to all mentions
- never pose as a happy customer
- respond publicly
Reward the positive
- acknowledge positive feedback
- keep a record of your brand angels
- network with the people supporting your brand
- positive and negative comments
- trademark infringement
- counterfeit sites
Phrases to monitor
- brand name
- common misspellings
Sites to monitor
- Tweet Deck
- Google Alerts
- social graphs
- negative brand searches
- brand term traffic alerts
- social conversations
- shared URLs (data hub activities)
- social network interaction
- social visitor flow
- Google and ripples
Brand Monitoring Dashboard
- trademarks (engage trademark specialist)
- social media profiles (creating relevance)
- domains (register revelants TLDs)
Brand searches in Google Analytics
- create advanced segments in Google Analytics to monitor your brand keywords
What ranks already?
- analyse your brand and competitors
(6) social profiles
Is there a Place for Blackhat SEO in modern day SEO campaigns?
• We’re all Blackhat now – “While SEOs can provide clients with valuable services, some unethical SEOs have given the industry a black eye through their overly aggressive marketing efforts and their attempts to manipulate search engine results in unfair ways.”
A Perspective of Twitter - Interstices
Bruce Daisley, Director of Twitter in the UK
• Interstices: It means the gap between things
• You want to understand mobile you need to really mind about the gaps
• The potency of gaps between things (now often filled with social media)
• Bring those moments (like reading media) to a space that didn’t exist
• Exploit Interstices, 3 Rules:
1) Truly Mobile
3) Easy to Action
• The development of the web is accelerating – not slowing – and there are two lessons of what is changing. (1) It is mobile first (2) What used to be the gaps are now becoming the main event.
• We are using our phones to bring connectivity in every conceivable space
• Anyone feel like they cram more into their life now than they ever did before?
• Anyone always use their phone while they are waiting for a coffee?
• Anyone routinely find themselves walking down the street on their phone?
• Well in the first instance by putting mobile phones in people’s hands we have changed what they are able to fill their time with.
• There are three rules that you should understand to get the most from mobile.
1) Truly Mobile
• Design web for mobile too
• Be genuinely and uniquely mobile
• Massive shift towards mobile
• Text is much quicker than email. The average email takes 2 days to open, text takes 4 minutes
• The potency of simplicity
• Text is > Mobile, Simple and Easy Action
3) Easy to Action
• Ease of transaction is the most important thing
• Mobile is about Glances, not long session length
• People look at mobile an average of 150 times a day
Seize the opportunity in the interstices
• Twitter created ads that look like normal tweets, with promotion written at the bottom
• Discovery Tab: Surfacing things that are adjacent to your interest
• Mobile is point of Sale. Ability to make sale on the go
• Create a hash tag (#) for a campaign/program. eg. Nike #makeitcount
• It directs people to the program
• Incredibly potent for holding a conversation together. eg. #prayformuamba
• Journalists end their articles with their Twitter handle > Great way of measuring response
• 60% of audience tweet and create content, 40% of people don’t
• David Guetta won’t give his login to anyone else when he was asking Twitter for his Analytics
• Because it’s a personal articulation of who they are, their voice
• Twitter is now Open to advertising
How Social Media + Internet is Changing the Media
• Technology is changing rapidly and what is in fashion now, won’t be in a few years. And we don’t know the winner yet
• Personal/Professional dilemma can creep in when you’re out doing things.
• We don’t have a lot of control over social media, but the good news is other people don’t
Increasing Site Engagement
- at the end of the day it’s about KPI and transaction
- brand vs experience
- brings personality and creative content
- “fun stuff” section
Good to have less choice
- funnel effect which takes the noise away
- leave or engage
Vancouver convention centre vs Dublin convention centre
* Let your customers deliver the story
* Don’t want to be too much of a hard sell
- business understanding what they want to achieve
- understand who you are selling to
- building technology and content
- having best practice on transaction pages
- designing for mobile first as the primary entry for design
(1) accelerate experience
(3) easy to complete an action
- All about the structure of the narrative
- People will scroll
- Detail leads to conversion
All about offline experience too...whole journey through
• Is scalable link building still possible in the post Panda/Penguin world?
• Buying lots of links no longer works
• Creating massive and good quality content still viable
• Know your link profile
• Know your competitors link profiles
• Outreach is key to try and scale
• Label links as retractable
• Debate about if taking down links makes it possible to recover
• Build to what Google wants 2 years from now
• Providing educational materials one way to get links (run contest where students could win something for linking to FinancialTraining.co.uk from .ac.uk sites)
• PR increasingly key to getting good links
• Exact match anchor text may now correlate with Google CPC data. High CPC may mean spam. Low volume/low CPC keywords to focus on.
• Google may now be monitoring people who’ve sold links
• Screenshot of e-mails (don’t send) if you get unnatural link warning
• Negative SEO – outsource SEO to India, do a campaign badly - don’t just do an xrummer blast
• Whois spam – claim to be you ask to have your links removed
• Links part of partner contracts
• Exact match anchor should be used extremely sparingly – no more than 20% of all links
• Citation (URL and/or Brand name) with links still very valuable
• Variation key in link building – heavy on brand
• Incentive your users to build links to you. Contests, etc.
• Gamefication – rank content on site based on social mentions in last 7 days
• Rel=author only one author per site
• Learn PR
• LSI keywords next to brand link, does not have to use anchor text
• PHP function to vary anchor text length
Marketing across Multiple Platforms
• 1.2 billion Mobile web users
• Don’t forget TV, non-digital space
• Tablets are geared towards content consumption not creation
• Are being widely accepted as a form of business communication
• Tablet KPI is focussed around engagement
• PC/Desktop KPI is focussed around engagement and response
• Smartphone KPI is focussed around response
• Tailor message to device
• Smart TVs, connective TVs
• Not current from a commercial perspective
• People will be accessing devices at different times > Graph
Delivering Insights from Social Media
- Twitter - automated response/human element
- human interaction. use their language to help build keyword for our language
- looking at the impact of a retweet to see the value
Metrics for Twitter
(1) Outreach (propensity to share and engage)
- most important to remember your objectives
- how conversational is a brand? what resonates?
relevance to traditional marketing funnel and metrics
- social cannot stand alone it needs to be part of IMC
- ‘like’ statement of satisfaction....why not put it at the transaction?
-repetition of words and types of words
- set of words for positive and negative
- rise of true social data analyst
Key strategies and tools to influence?
Psychology in Search
• Psychological factors (General):
o We trust the opinion of authorities
o We like to spread the word
o We want what others have
o We are open to peer pressure > want to belong to the group
o We can’t resist our kids
• Google is allowing you to create your own background > Making it personal
• Google + is an identification management tool
• http://google.com/s2/search/social > Google can see who you are connected to
• Google are building up who we are and connecting everything together
• You need to know who you are targeting and how people think and make it personal
• People do click on personalized results/rich snippet results
• Jesus was the first social marketer. “He had 12 followers, and one unfollowed him”
• Target a “Talker” > Shares content
• As well as clients and potential clients
• Clients are not going to trust you if you say you’re good, but will do if others do
• Target people to influence each other by getting them talking.
• Target people based on trust
Creating effective Search Campaigns
• Expectations, measure results, reports, refine and start again
• Make sure all data is not just in the authors head but also in another secure location
• Search is not an isolated marketing activity
• Links are all about relationships
• Using connectors – Special press release, provide pictures, go live URL, advance warning
• Google ripples tool in G+
• Outsourcing can work, but you always need a project manager
• Peer review for dev team
• Use of text expanders
• Web design for ROI
• Pomodoro Technique
• Author crawler