Our Search Marketing Seminar took place at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden on Thursday 4 June, with speakers from Barracuda Digital, Liberty Marketing, Branded3 and Skyscanner offering expert advice on everything from mobile search to leveraging content for SEO. Before the presentations, we talked to our delegates about the digital challenges they’re facing at the moment
“The biggest challenge we are currently seeing in search marketing is the increasing amount of general searches, especially on mobile, that are being taken in by The Knowledge Graph. As is often the way with Google, the only way to get on top of this information is to use AdWords.” – Freddie Neighbour, Ecommerce Analyst at IntuDigital Ltd
Content is King in SEO – Reality or Cliché?
Martin Dinham, Director and Anthony Tuite, Head of SEO at Barracuda Digital
“If content is king, distribution is queen.”
The aim of Google has always been to surface the best content and reward those who create it, say Martin and Anthony at Barracuda Digital. But in the days before Panda and Penguin, the search engine “didn’t have the technology to back up its own rhetoric” and the internet became flooded with spam. Google’s algorithm updates were its first real steps towards controlling the honesty of the content that appeared in the results page.
Nowadays, Google can read your content and even understand its context. It can see if your content has driven shares or links and, if it has, it might rank you higher for it. But how can you go about ensuring your content is seen by, and approved by, the right people to ensure that Google sees its value? Martin and Anthony outline three types of content: static content (a starting point—product pages etc); blog content (secondary content to highlight expertise and brand voice); and strategic content (larger pieces to drive domain authority). Get your on-site content right, and invest in your blog to make sure it’s connecting to the right places. Test before you invest in bigger pieces of strategic content.
Remember, content is important, but distribution is equally as important.
Watch Martin and Anthony’s presentation in full here.
The SEO Way to Change your Website
Richard Foulkes, Digital Marketing Consultant, Liberty Marketing
“Think about your SEO before you even begin a web redesign.”
Out of the 68 per cent of marketers that did a web redesign in the past 12 months, 37 per cent didn’t track any metrics, Richard at Liberty Marketing tells delegates. Changing platforms can significantly impact your SEO if not fully integrated into your planning and strategy, and Richard offers up six golden rules for marketers to consider before getting started.
Before you think about anything else, think about your SEO: it’s not easy to get traffic back once it’s been lost, but if there’s a strategy integrated into your platform relocation then it’s possible to maintain ranking. ‘Noindex’ your site before you begin building. Audit your existing site—this is an opportunity to make your site even better optimised, and improve how it looks to site users as well as to Google. Crawl your existing and test site using a tool like Screaming Frog. Ensure you’re using 301 redirects as opposed to 302, as this shows Google you’re moving permanently. Keep your current onsite SEO work. And audit your inbound links to erase anything still hanging around from pre-Penguin days. Most importantly, don’t let your website go down even for an hour or two. This could be detrimental to how Google ranks you.
Watch Richard’s presentation in full here.
Guerrilla User Testing for Search
Stephen Kenwright, Head of Search at Branded3
“SEO has a ‘not my problem’ problem.”
There’s a long-standing assumption that SEOs do link-building and nothing else. But SEO is now intrinsically bound in issues of content and user experience, says Stephen at Branded3, as this is what Google really cares about. And rather than just producing loads of content to drive traffic and links, marketers need to be thinking about the “added value” of what they’re offering. The key to this is to know your customers: what they’re searching for; where they’re doing it; and how they navigate the search results.
Guerrilla testing is an ideal way to see first-hand how users interact with your content. You’ll need around five volunteers, some cheap software and a quiet room. Give them a task such as “Book a flight”, and see how they proceed. This process might just throw up some issues you hadn’t even thought of, such as unexpected search terms or tripping points.
Watch Stephen’s presentation in full here.
How Mobile Search is Changing the World
Michael Briggs, Head of SEO at Skyscanner
“Mobile SEO isn’t about search engines, it’s about the user.”
Advertising is disruptive, says Michael at Skyscanner, its design is to get in the way. Nowadays, with the proliferation of blogging channels and social media, everybody has the opportunity to publish themselves. And we’ve moved beyond publishing into broadcasting. The search engine results page is now massively different. And mobile is integral to this; the only thing holding back mobile is the concern around making transactions without the comfort of a bigger screen.
Google can now understand your content: your location; the time of day; your individual needs. Search for a coffee at 11pm at night and Google will tell you that there are no coffee shops open at this time near to where you are. It is these “micro moments” that marketers need to understand and use to connect with consumers—moments to which mobile search is almost single-handedly the best solution. Being there when users need you, and on which device they need you, is the key; if you don’t care about your users, Google won’t care about you. Michael’s key takeaways: make pages “light” so that users can access information easily. Consider other countries if you’re an international business, as what constitutes useful content may be different. Know the location of your users. And it goes without saying that your website should be mobile-friendly. Wrapped up in all of this is that fact that the user should be at the heart of your mobile search strategy.
Written by Estelle Hakner.