Last Thursday, we hosted our Paid Search, Display & SEO Seminar at h Club, Covent Garden. Our speakers shared their knowledge on topics, such as defending your brand, reporting on SEO and ensuring that old content isn’t damaging your rankings. The presentations offered practical advice and invaluable takeaways for search and display marketers.
People are bad at searching. However, Google is getting better at deciphering the user’s intent. The input of fragmented sentences into the search bar often yields the desired results. Sam Roberts, Digital Marketing Consultant at Liberty Marketing, demonstrated Google’s proficiency by showing how the search term ‘Beer Garden Now’ can get accurate results, despite its incorrect formatting. Google is able to reverse engineer the search term, turn it into a question and establish what information the user actually wants to see. So, if Google is getting smarter, does this make the life of a SEO easier? The answer is both yes and no as alongside these increasing sophistications, Google also implements algorithm updates which need to be factored in and adapted to.
Last August, Google launched its Medic Update which largely targeted low quality blogs, professional services and health sites. The primary reason for this was to ensure that users weren’t being harmed by bad content and advice. Content now needs to display clear signals of Expertise, Authority and Trust in order to improve rankings. Essentially, it needs to be clear that you are qualified to talk about your content and that you won’t be misleading or misinforming users. Google doesn’t just judge your site on an article level, but it takes your whole site into consideration, including old content. Your old content could be killing your site’s rankings, but don’t just mass delete it. Revisit your old content and make sure that it will be pleasing to both Google and the user. The best place to start, as with everything in the world of digital marketing, is with your data. Audit your existing content and identify where quick wins can be made e.g. small ranking jumps. Finally, Sam shares how you can optimise and recycle old content by updating layout and imagery, refreshing keyword research and obviously displaying trust signals.
Watch Sam’s presentation here.
Stephen shares how all four of these reports can be automated. A warning report should flag any potential issues that may arise which you can then notify your boss about before they receive the trading report. Tools like Little Warden, Deep Crawl and creating email alerts through Google Analytics are all useful for identifying any future problems. Your clients will be most interested in viewing the tracker report and this can be automated by scheduling crawls and assigning tasks. Supermetrics, Buzzsumo and Vuelio are all helpful in creating this kind of report. Watch Stephen’s presentation for tips on creating indicator and trader reports. SEOs may feel like their boss doesn’t value or understand their work, but when reporting on your progress it is important to speak their language. They are more likely to sign off on funding for a project that is predicted to give them a specific and long term ROI. It is also worthwhile having a one on one chat with whoever you are reporting to, as it allows you to find out the data they consider more important and the format they would like it presented in.
Watch Stephen’s presentation here.
Like most of us, Shreeniwas Iyer, Head of Engineering at Quantcast, admits to occasionally feeling AI fatigue. However, he reassured us by stating that we are close to the peak of the hype. According to a report by Gartner, “the AI hype in marketing heavily outweighs actual adoption.” As marketers, we tend to overestimate the short term adoption of a new technology, but underestimate its impact in the long run. Shreeni defines AI as a “machine mimicking ‘cognitive’ functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as ‘learning’ and ‘problem solving.'” He uses the example of AI being able to calculate people’s wine preferences to demonstrate how it can also be incorporated into your digital marketing strategy.
AI can help you find your target audience on the open internet. There are 50 million distinct online behaviours and machine learning can help you to determine which users are more likely to be interested in your product or service. It can simplify the process of narrowing down who you should be targeting, allowing you to focus your attention on delivering creative marketing. Despite the hype surrounding AI, Shreeni believes that machine learning is imperative for solving problems at scale, identifying real decision drivers and repositioning the human focus.
Watch Shreeni’s presentation here.
In a unique, wedding-themed approach to SEO, Helen Pollitt, Head of SEO at Avenue Digital, shared her tips for standing out in the organic SERPs. She likens the process of buying an attention- grabbing wedding dress to being able to rank and stand out in the right SERPs. Helen discusses the importance of user intent and explains how it is key for conquering the organic SERPs. Checking Google’s interpretation of a word before optimising it will prevent you from ranking in the wrong place. Not only is a wedding an effective extended metaphor for SEO, but so also is Monopoly. Search marketers want to get hold of as much property, or SERP real estate, as possible. Basic, rich, enriched, featured snippets and knowledge panels are all ways to build up your SERP property portfolio.
Breadcrumbs, reviews, FAQs, Q&As and sitelink searchboxes are all ways of amplifying your rich results. Featured snippets can take the form of a paragraph, lists or tables and are a great way of attracting attention to your brand in the SERPs. A useful way of achieving a featured snippet is by studying what sort of sites and content are ranking and seeing how they’ve managed it. Helen suggests that once you’ve identified what they’ve done well, you should replicate their patterns of success. However, imitating their approach will get you nowhere unless you already have a solid structure and a clear topic that you want to feature for. There are two different types of knowledge panel, branded and local. The former is more difficult to get, as it is at Google’s discretion which brands are worthy enough to receive this ranking place. The local knowledge panel can be claimed by businesses once they have verified their identity. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are worth looking into as Google gives them more prominence in the search pages, allowing them to feature in reserved spots such as AMP stories and news carousel. Helen ended her presentation with one final piece of advice, ” the key to showing up in the search results is understanding the search intent and make sure you have SERP domination.”
Watch Helen’s presentation here.
80 per cent of CMOs are worried about brand safety, so it is important that you adopt protective strategies. Some brands are so concerned about preserving their brand that they go to extreme measures; last year Burberry destroyed $38.7 million worth of stock in an effort to defend their brand. Lorna Gill, Marketing Manager at Adthena, doesn’t encourage quite so drastic measures but strongly believes that steps should be taken to safeguard your brand. AI and machine learning are tools that can make defending at scale a lot more straightforward, as well as being able to monitor in real time.
No brand is safe from brand bidding, especially when considering that one third of daily searches are brand bidding related. It’s a dangerous game when so much revenue is up for grabs, the technology industry could potentially lose 41 per cent of their revenue from brand bidding. Trademark infringements are also surprisingly widespread with an average of 19 per cent of searches being classified as infringments. Considering these statistics, it is important for brands to set up a defence plan. Lorna explains how Adthena help a number of brands achieve a high level of protection. Defining and automating your daily workflow, understanding any patterns and assessing how reliant you are on paid brand traffic are key areas to consider for brand protection.
Watch Lorna’s presentation here.