Paid and natural search were the topics of this week’s Figaro Digital seminar, which took place at the Hospital Club, Covent Garden, on Thursday 11 December. Taking us through the technical headaches and the changing nature of search marketing were speakers from Liberty Marketing, Barracuda Digital, Adobe, and Branded3. Here’s a snippet of what they had to offer
Google now and then—changes through the last 10 years
First up, Martin Dinham, Director of Barracuda Digital, took us on a “whistle-stop tour” of Google: outlining its evolution from 2004 to the present day. Despite having undergone visible and persistent changes, “Page rank is still the fundamental underpinning of Google” he says. All digital has a history, so we are reminded to be pragmatic about the past when it comes to SEO. Delegates are advised, therefore, that a thorough backlink audit should be the starting point of any SEO campaign and that this should be a manual process, in order to ensure that no nasty surprises are lurking in your company’s digital history.
“If you have site level issues, address them,” he advises further. “It’s all about content”. Mobile, personalisation and mark-ups are areas that didn’t exist in 2004, and Martin encourages delegates to take advantage of these. The four rules of good content—ensuring it’s on brand, evergreen, outreachable, and best in class—will impact dramatically on the success of your SEO project.
How do you decide where best to focus your search engine marketing resources?
Next Ben Magee, Senior Digital Account Co-ordinator at Liberty Marketing, accentuated the importance of being clear and organised when undertaking any SEO project. Knowing and understanding what areas most need your attention is key. He takes us through some fundamental elements of initiating an SEO project: initial auditing; keyword use; content and outreach strategy; and local SEO.
“Think it through,” Ben stresses. Finding a search demand should be the first task, and then your content can be written in a way that tailors it to that readership demand. A few key takeaways from Ben: plan your personas—just because individuals are searching for the same thing, they may still require different experiences; map everything out on a content calendar; put content in one place, and use one keyword to avoid “keyword cannibalisation”. Finally, don’t let your users leave—put calls-to-action in place and keep them interested.
Paid digital space explorers
Entering the world of the matrix, Meghan Falter, Solutions Consultant at Adobe, was next up: helping us to avoid trip-ups when it comes to search engine marketing. “Our universe is mobile,” Meghan asserts. As such, brands must ensure that they have the right mobile bid modifiers for all of their campaigns, or risk limiting reach and missing out on valuable traffic. Doing this manually is not scalable, she says. PPC is becoming more programmatic, and it is crucial to ensure that your PPC tool gives you device-level data so that a better understanding of the journey between click and conversion can be grasped.
“The future is now. Digital is so fast that this is already happening. We need to be able to keep up with it in order to capitalise on it”. As such, engagement metrics and automaton are essential to making sense of the storm of data that is out there, and making it beneficial to your company.
How SEO has changed as a channel but why it can still contribute
Is SEO dead? No, it’s just changing, says Mike Jeffs, Senior Account Director at Branded3. And this is because the way people search is changing; users will still be searching for answers, products, and info, but the potential of them doing this by predictive, voice, or sight is very real and should be taken seriously. The top challenge is better connecting with customers through connected devices, and bringing the customer experience online.
“Customer in, not product out,” Mike says. Your brand needs to be the best answer in a series of communications. But how? By putting your brand, and content, where people can find it: something that SEO can help with. Having a content marketing user model and getting specific about individual keywords are highlighted as main points here. So, Mike leaves delegates some food for thought: keyword research is still key—you need to know at what moment of the user journey searches are happening; and you need to make sure that you are the best, most comprehensive, answer for users.
Article by Estelle Hakner