We were joined by Branded3, Builtvisible, Liberty Marketing and Browser Media for an afternoon dedicated to current issues in SEO and PPC. Search is now inextricably entwined with content, trust, social signals and the authority your brand wields online. Convening a couple of days after Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update (more on that below), we heard about ranking, engagement, visibility and picked up a few quick wins along the way.
Why Engaging Your Audience Matters in 2015
JJ Grice, Search Strategist at Branded3
“Aim to end the search.”
Remember when SEO was all about loading your content with keywords, building links (it didn’t really matter where from) and then waiting for the ranking figures to rack up? Simple, wasn’t it? Though not necessarily that useful for users. Then, in 2011, along came Google’s Panda update which was designed to weed out sites with thin, duplicate content that didn’t really serve any purpose. That was followed by Penguin, which penalised spammy links. What these updates did, explains JJ, is remind us that websites need to be created with their users in mind. In fact, according to Search Metrics in 2014, it’s user engagement signals that now top the list when it comes to ranking factors. “Your job is to engage your traffic,” he says. He dived down into the mechanics of Google Analytics and offered some tips for increasing click-throughs and dwell time. Links still matter, but it’s relevant results that drive more clicks. Fundamentally, says JJ, every search marketer’s objective is to be the final stop on a user’s journey; to satisfy and thereby end the search. And one last, alarming, stat for harried marketers working in SEO: you have 3.8 seconds to engage your user. Devote proper time to your content if you want users to devote their time to you.
Low Effort, Big Return Marketing: Quick Wins for SEO
Richard Baxter, CEO at Builtvisible
“Never lose focus on the marginal gains.”
Following on from JJ, Richard at Builtvisible rolled up his sleeves to deliver some practical advice on using marginal gains – small increases in efficiency across the board – to get optimal performance out of your site. He highlighted the importance of domain management: knowing the history and geography of your site, particularly if its lifespan stretches back 10 or 15 years. Duplicate content, he acknowledged, is a staple in plenty of SEO workers’ lives. To see all the pages indexed to your domain, head over to Google and key in: site:yourdomain.co.uk. Google will provide a full link of indexed pages. To see indexed pages without the ‘www’ prefix, key in: yourdomain.co.uk-inurl:www. Plenty of major brands are suffering needlessly from duplicate content. Manage internal links as well as well as external ones (a tool called Screaming Frog can crawl your site for redirects which diminish link equity). Lastly, says Richard, redevelop successful content. “Everybody tells you to build great content. I think you should redevelop your best content. Google Analytics will tell you what’s performing well. Ahrefs will tell you what’s performing well socially. Why not choose a blog post and redevelop or even redesign it? It can be a big investment to launch into a piece of content and not know whether it’s going to work. So write your blog post, test it, if it does well, redevelop, redesign and relaunch it.”
SEO and PPC Checklist
Gareth Morgan, MD Liberty Marketing
“Are all of my pages showing up on Google?”
Gareth highlighted 20 factors that can impact on your search marketing and presented some simple solutions. Social signals, he noted, are increasingly significant in search. Retweets, Likes and other shares are a sign that someone’s endorsed you and what you do. Rich snippets are another source of quick wins. “This data allows you to grow your space on the search results. If nothing else, you take up more off the page which means there’s more of a chance for eyeballs to land on your listing.” Depending on your industry, Gareth recommends promoting events, recipes, authorship, images, reviews and star ratings. Google+ Local, with it pinpointed maps, is another opportunity. “These are the first stop in many searches but you’d be amazed how many companies that consider footfall and local traffic key to their business, don’t have a local SEO strategy.” Google’s Mobile update – ‘Mobilegeddon’ – came into effect from 21 April. “This is Google introducing search results that are mobile friendly,” says Gareth. “We haven’t seen too many changes so far but this is just the very start of the roll-out. The indication is that this going to be massive. Someone at Google was quoted as saying it’ll be bigger than Panda and Penguin. That’s big. Have look at your analytics and see how much traffic you’ve got coming from mobile.” To use Google’s free tool and test the mobile-friendliness of your site, head over to:https://www.google.co.uk/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
How to Get the Best from your Agency
Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media
“Don’t slip back into the silo.”
Joe Friedlein, Director at Browser Media, closed the session with his thoughts on developing a successful working relationship with your SEO agency. His ingredients for a harmonious and profitable relationship are grounded in communication and a solid briefing. Know (and share) each other’ objectives. Have clear benchmarks for success. Have realistic expectations and respect each other’ roles. Understand what the budget allows. Weigh expectation against timescales. If more than one agency is involved, maintain inter-agency dialogue. Involve stakeholders. “There are very interesting parallels now between SEO and PR,” notes Joe. “Search agencies have to look at PR agencies and appreciate how they work with their clients.” In every successful brand-agency relationship, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.