BrightonSEO is a huge event in the digital marketing world – it’s a great platform for knowledge exchange, networking and fun with SEO. And you definitely want to be a part of this!
Of course, the SEMrush team couldn’t miss the chance to attend – we came back with vivid impressions and lots of surprises. During the event we broadcasted live right from the venue and discussed hot-button SEO issues with the industry’s brightest minds, and today we want to share with you our interviews with 24 amazing BrightonSEO 2016 speakers and attendees. So put on your best headphones, set aside everything else, and prepare to dive in!
I'm pleased to welcome Dawn Anderson. Hi Dawn. Dawn is from Move It Marketing.
Dawn, as a very experienced Googlebot chaser. Please reveal to us your latest techniques.
I think the main key is spending quite a bit of time actually understanding Googlebot’s journey through a website, server log analysis has got to be right up there with the top things to do because obviously, if you don't understand Googlebot’s path then you can't remedy any issues. I use a range of tools to just find out things like the server’s response code etc. Make sure both server response codes are the ones that I want Googlebot to actually have. If you like herding Googlebot around, making sure that Googlebot ends up primarily in the most important parts of a website and also utilising. I’m really, really a big fan of XML site bots, almost like a scaffold underneath the website, especially the larger websites. Googlebot kind of understands the structure and the architecture really, really well. It means that breadcrumbs are really, really useful and just the internal link optimization. I hope that useful.
In your speech, you talked about crawl rank. What is it? Can you tell us more about it?
First and foremost, I need to stress crawl rank is almost a bit mythical and that nobody has ever confirmed straight out. This is actually a ranking factor. I need to stress that in there. There does seem to be a correlation between crawl frequency of pages and ranking as such on the low to no page rank pages on the websites. For instance, if you have the lower bot many who say tens of thousands of pages on an e-commerce site, or direct listings or local listing site where page rank may have not flow down and there are few factors separating competitors bloating our page on pages and a site. There just seem to be like the correlation between if you can get shortcuts into to those pages so that they crawl more often, they do seem to rank higher. However, my thoughts of that is, it is almost more to do with the emphasis of importance. A lot of the patents talk about page importance which is page rank. Given that Google talks a lot about internal links and their support pages on internal links say these are all about the relative importance of your pages. If you can really work well with an internal link structure, I think that you can almost gain benefit from the concept. I believe in it.
Good, good spread the word. What would be five most powerful technical SEO techniques for a better crawl experience?
I would probably say they are not in any particular order of these but five off the top of my head, making sure that in your XML site map you have a final destination, you're not actually adding things like 404s or redirection's or 500s. I suppose that comes from the server anyway. Ultimately try and get it so that in the end, they’re all 200 are ok in your server, in your XML site map. Having said that, another really good way to optimise a crawl is if you are going to get rid of a lot of really, really low relevant or pages that are actually not any value, use site maps as well to add 410s because Google finds them much quicker. You don't have to temporarily remove them a week later.
Relationships, that’s two. The third one canonicalization but limited canonicalization, never used canonicalization on pages that are not of equal value, that’s three. Four, server log analysis. I think said that.
Thanks for sharing your tips. Finally, what are the most positive factors affecting Googlebot visit frequency?
I'd say change. Change but not just any old change. Critical material change and page importance. For instance, a whole page is more likely to get crawled pretty much on every visit, maybe XML site maps get crawled on every visit. A lot of visits anyway. Importance, i.e. high up in the structural website and critical material change. Those are the things that I think the key factors in Googlebot crawl. Hopefully it's useful.
Very useful. Thank you so much for sharing with us all that knowledge with us. It’s brilliant.
Thanks for having me.
First off could you tell us what main SEO aspects should UX designers focus on?
I'm not really sure if it's a UX designers responsibility per se but I think it's more of a collaboration between a developer who understands user experience and performance, a designer who can understand how science can act more as a conduit as opposed to in experiential interference, if you like under SEO, a technical SEO when it comes to getting the best out of UX and where research meets UX. Maybe there's room but a hybrid role in the future. Maybe we need technical SEO's to broaden their skills set somewhat. I guess people can work that out in different ways but I think that there's definitely room for more cross skilling.
In 2016, how often should an SEO specialist listen to UX designers and rely on their observations?
Constantly. Absolutely constantly. It needs to be much more of a collaborative process, not just at sight build the stage because with the best will and intentions we all know but we are not often consulted within that phase as an SEO for example. After the fact going back to kind of reversion things or improve things informed by the data that we can see, and solving problems together so working with a developer and user experience designer to say these are the symptoms, these are the problems that we have, how can we as a team kind of work together to improve the amounts of time that people are spending on our content for example which is a common problem particularly with the younger demographics for example.
You mentioned cross skilling just earlier, what is the ideal balance between technical and creative thinking? What do you think?
That’s a really tough one.
It is, isn’t it?
I guess it depends on the objective of the particular exercise. If I’m looking at say performance, I would say that I would put my SEO on it that’s got the most technical skills and technical capabilities. When it comes to solving performance issues though, you do need to be a creative thinker although you might not have a creative visual output. It’s still the same sort of mindset, still that kind of hacker mentality that break it apart make it work that kind of, this isn’t the implementation we envisioned but this is our work around, this is our happy solution. I would say probably 60/40 for a technical problem and solution and if we’re talking more about creative fronting, if it’s a content design objective than maybe more kind of 50/50 balance. I think that’s a great thing about SEO people, we tend to have that kind of left brain, right brain working in harmony.
It's a brilliant answer to a tough question, thank you. Possibly another one, how can a technical minded SEO specialist bolster his or her creative abilities? What if someone was more on the technical side, how can they bolster to their other part of the brain?
I'm not sure that you always have to. I'm a great fan of finding and matching people into the right role that’s right for their skill set and whilst there was an argument that everybody can be creative if given the right tools and the right time, and the right encouragement, if it doesn't always come naturally to you, it might not work with the needs of the business. I'm reluctant to force people to develop skills that they just don't feel comfortable with. That said there are a number of ways but if you do have some skills within the more creative areas and you want to combine your technical underpinnings with more creative output there's all sorts of techniques like mind mapping, there’s free association and that way of thinking creatively. One thing we do in the office is science around autonomic processes and how we free up the conscious mind and allow the subconscious mind to solve problems. That sounds all a bit waffley and airy-fairy. To put it simply, playing with Lego for example, building something and concentrating your conscious mind on solving a problem. I'm building a little structure. It's not difficult. It allows your subconscious to start solving problems.
It leaves alone to stop fixing the solution.
It's kind of the theory behind shower thoughts. What are you doing? You're in the shower and you're just mind numbingly boring, washing your hair or whatever it may be and you can have some really inspirational thoughts.
I often do. Shower thinking time.
It's that kind of process. That's a good way of setting some time aside and occupy your hands in something not too difficult and allow your brain to wonder.
Let your brain figure out. Some very good tips there. Final question. What are the most important elements of Mobile UX?
That's a huge question. I’ll kind of distill it a little bit to frame a response.
If you can distill it down.
When it comes to Mind Bar the most important element when it comes to user experience obviously is speed. Speed not necessarily in the bandwidth let’s say or the speed of connection or connectively, it’s the speed resource delivery. That’s where people get really annoyed. If you think of all those sorts of click-baity titles and content that you see that you think, “That’s going to be fun, I’m going to read that,” and as soon as you try to open the page, you’ve got the scrolling bar and its taking ages to load.
You bail out straight away. It’s really, really frustrating. It’s got to be speed of resource delivery to help answer that content query, to satisfy that user need as soon as possible.
So you did a talk earlier today at the event, it was about audience marketing through PPC. Why do you think this is a hot topic in 2016?
I think this is something that we've seen Google and Bing to a degree bringing out more and more over the past 12 to 18 months and the benefit that you’ve got if you're using audiences within your paid advertising campaigns is for me, essentially your competitors have got this and they can't essentially replicate what you’ve got as your audience. Your audience, the traffic that’s coming through your site belongs to you. They can't actually replicate that. I think that gives you the edge over the competition.
What would be the number one recommendation you would give to an advertiser who is considering audience marketing?
Start now. The amount of clients that we speak to that are sort of thinking, “Yeah, we might dabble in this in a couple of years time, we might try it in 12 months.” What you need to do essentially now is build up your marketing list so that you got them there ready to use. If you don't build them up, they need time to actually grow. All the time that you’ve got data sat in your analytics accounts, get the audiences build up so that when you are ready to use them, you’ve got ready-made audiences so you can actually hit go at that moment in time. Otherwise, if you leave it 12 months, you’ve got to basically start from scratch then.
OK. The time is now.
The time is definitely now.
Google obviously released a lot of updates to AdWords every year. What do you predict is on the cards for the future?
I'd probably say something that I've been thinking over the past few months. Obviously with Google shopping, Google shopping was a free platform essentially called Google base at the time, you used to get loads of free traffic through to a site and they've now monetized that and they’re doing a really good job with that. The next thing I predict, they may start to look at is Google Maps and try to monetize that as a platform.
Potentially I don't know. You never know. They’ve got the free platform there anyway and locally it’s becoming even more important when it comes to paid advertising. These near me searches are on the rise all the time. I think maybe Google Maps is going to be the next think that they try to monetize. Maybe. Who knows.
That's an interesting prediction for the future there. Can you tell us one restriction that you have with Google AdWords that you would love to see changed?
RLSA limits. When you're trying to put together RLSA and your marketing lists, at the moment you have to have 1000 people in that audience in order for you to actually use it. When it comes to standard remarketing, you just need a hundred. I would prefer and I don't understand why they have got such a big difference between normal remarketing and RLSAs. I think if they could lower that limit, it would allow people to get a lot more targeted with their audience targeting. That was obviously the back of it.
Finally, what are your must have PPC tools?
SEMrush of course. We do use SEMrush a lot when it comes to paid advertising. If I’m being honest, SEMrush is probably one of the most tools that we do use than any of your other keyword research tools like Google AdWords planner, standard PPC tools, Google Analytic, all of those kinds of platforms but SEMrush is the one we kind of use as a go-to for research and stuff on competitors.
In early 2016 you analysed tons of data and came up with an impressive study about how to get more featured snippets. Can you share with us any major take ways from that?
Sure. Absolutely. I think one of the most interesting things that came out of the research was that featured snippets can appear from anywhere in the search engine result page. You don't have to rank at position number one in order to be in the featured snippet. You could rank at position number five and still appear at the very top. If you think about the featured snippet as position zero with everything else, it's a good way for you to skip all of the competition.
Some might say that featured snippets just steal traffic from you. Can you confute this argument?
It really depends on whether you're winning the snippet or not. When the featured snippets first came out, one of the problems was that Google was not actually providing a citation link to the content where they took the snippet from. I think what happened is Google realised that webmasters wouldn’t stand for this and so now all featured snippets have a link to the content where it's taken from. So really featured snippets have become a great opportunity to drive traffic.
OK. What would be the best strategy to make it work for good for featured snippets?
It all depends on figuring out what will work your particular niche or industry. You really don't want to spend content or fake it. You need to create content that answers valuable questions. If you were to take an example like if you would doing marketing dentist practice you might create content around informational careers around dentist practice: How much do adult braces cost? How much does a dentist make per year? If there is value to their audience and they’re questions that people are asking and you answered them well your content you will appear in featured snippets.
What kind of company should consider ranking in featured snippets as a winning SEO move?
Anyone who works in an industry where there are informational queries that could drive interest to that websites. Any time you're in industry where your customers are trying to educate themselves before they’re at a point where they're ready to make a purchase, that’s an opportunity for you to own the top of the funnel and those informational queries by being in the most authoritative spot on the search which is at the top in those featured snippets.
OK. Thank you. Finally, how do you foresee the evolution of featured snippets on Google?
That’s a really hard question to answer because I don't have a crystal ball.
I'll leave the hardest until the end.
It’s just that Google is somewhat unpredictable. What I see is that featured snippets will roll onto more different types of queries and as long as people are interacting with them and there’s value there, Google will continue to promote more featured snippets. In terms of what they will do, a year, two years from now, it’s impossible to say.
So wait and see I guess.
That’s right. Wait and see.
Hello! We're streaming live from the Brighton SEO, from the SEMrush stand and I have with me one of our speakers at the event today, James Perrot, the strategy director at Zazzle media. HI James!
So first of all, a lot has been written and said about on site optimization, but there are a lot of misconceptions on this topic. Which do you think is the most harmful one?
The most harmful on site factor, is definitely the quality of content, so making sure that you have really relevant content that is both structured in the right way and written in the right way as well. So having a nice structure piece of content. Think of it as like a news article, with nice headers and then you structure that succinctly as well with nice snippets of answers. It depends on the type of content as well because you don't just want a small snippet of answer if it's a really in depth topic, so that has to be right as well. So for me that is definitely to most misconceived that needs doing right.
Yeah, OK. We used to think that mistakes were the usual reason of failure. Talking about on page optimization over optimization can be bad for the website as well. What are the most common over optimization mistakes?
Yeah, definitely. I think a lot of people think that if you want to rank for a specific keyword then you should just spam it throughout your content or consistently mention it throughout your piece of content. That is definitely wrong. You know, mentioning it once or twice is OK, but anything more than that is just there for SEO purposes.
Too much over kill.
That's it, that's it. If you’re really a natural piece of content about product, you don't want that product name just spammed left right and center. Mentioning it naturally just once or twice is fine, because if you do over optimize yourself as well, Google will come down on you as well for that.
With Panda and other algorithm signals that they have, so be really careful. It's really important to make sure your content is optimized enough. Not over the top.
So they monitor you if you’re going for the over kill with it.
Definitely. You know we've seen it with websites before where people are just trying to spam the hell out of it and it just doesn't work anymore. It perhaps wouldn't completely kill you, like send you off of Google completely, but it will definitely stop you from getting into the top positions.
It's something to be careful of.
And after on page optimization, after that part's over, what would be the next step in order to get the traffic that you want?
OK, so the natural next step would be to build your audience. So you've got your website, it's optimized perfectly, you're really happy with it, the next thing is actually get your audience to your website. Obviously you already set up correctly, but now that will be more off page factors, so getting some links into your site via great content. You might write a really awesome piece of content and give it to a blogger, you might give it to a news site for a really cool story, and then what will do for you is give you a link back to your website and start to build up your authority. What that means is the more authoritative your site it, the better chance it has of ranking highly in Google. For that, that happening will then bring your audience because obviously, the higher up you are on Google, the more visitors you're going to get.
OK, but then you still need to get the visitors there with other means.
OK. So it's a bit of a chicken and an egg scenario isn't it?
OK. Summing up, what are the five main pillars of on-site optimization in 2016?
OK, I think the first one is definitely knowing what key words your targeting, and making sure that you're being realistic as well. If you're a small company trying to go for a huge term, it's probably not the best ones to go for. You need to be realistic with your market, how big you are, things like that. So definitely selecting the right key words is number one.
Number two is probably making sure your content is set up correctly, so this isn't the actual content itself, it's just make sure the structure is correct, so making sure your letter titles are done correctly, your header tags, all these technical points.
The third point would be making sure that actually your content is written in a great way. If you’re not a great content writer yourself, there's loads of freelancers available to these days that you can get really cheaply and you know, they're professionals, so you give them a topic, they'll do their research and they'll create that content for you. Making sure you've got the content is definitely number three
Number four, be making sure that you've got stuff like technical on site factors so things like canonical tags set up correctly. That is Google’s device of seeing what a natural piece of content is, so if you're ripping a piece of content from another site, you would chronicle back to that site because you're almost telling Google this isn't my content, this is theirs, and alternatively if it is your content, point that to yourself. So that would be number four.
And then number five is making sure that you can properly measure your on site performance, so having things like Google analytic, Google web master tools, all of this set up correctly so you can actually monitor your performance. I think Google analytic would be really cool to have a look around your user engagement metrics, so stuff like bounce ray, are your users bouncing from your site? Do they not like your content? Things like that. Web master tools is great for seeing if there's any on page technical factors wrong. It's sort of like Google's dashboard to see what is wrong with your website. So yeah, that would be my five pillars.
I have with me now Lisa Myers, the CEO and Owner Verve Search. She's also speaking today at the event, so we're lucky enough to catch a chat with her beforehand. So Lisa, you used to say, "Think big," and I know for you that doesn't mean think more about links or better ROI. What is your concept of thinking big?
I'm really big on actually taking things into mindset rather than thinking big in terms of size. You really need to think big in terms of visualizing and having vision for what you want to achieve. So, at Verve our main kind of underlying source of why we do really well, especially when it comes to link development and generating great campaigns is it's all about mindset and how we look at what we want to achieve. Instead of thinking, "Oh, I'm going to go for all the small bloggers on all the small sites," we think the biggest possible size that we want to target, and we find a way of targeting them because that is where the authority lies, and I really think if you want to achieve the best possible results you really need to go as big as possible. For me that is more about how you think as a person. That's a personal thing, it's not a group thing. You can't just say, "All of you, now think big." And we all think, "Guess what, that's a modical." You really need to develop people as people. And everyone is different.
Absolutely. It's all about being individuals and understanding how can I get the best out of a person. How can I make them reach bigger? So big for me, might be different than big for you. So you have to have them stretching in what can you achieve and find a way of developing people into the way that they can reach bigger. If that makes sense.
OK. So reach big in their way of thinking big.
Absolutely. And also then continue stretching. What you find for example with athletes is that athletes will have a goal in mind and then you set yourself a goal of let's say you're a ski jumper and you want to jump 200 meters and that's your goal. What happens when you reach that goal, is that you’re stuck. You’re like, "I've done it now." What's really important is that you have to keep on going. You have to keep on stretching, and keep on visualizing. So, at Verve, for example, we every year create our little vision boards where we create things like what we want to achieve. We kind of do that all the time when it comes to campaigns and generating coverage for our clients. What is the thing that we want to achieve, what is it we can visualize? By just simply really thinking about that, and holding on to the thought that this is where I want to get, I want to get a link from BBC or I want a link from Google. The more that you think that, the more your brain creates structures of creativity which allows you to come up with solutions to get that link from BBC or from Google.
To get what you want?
Exactly. But you have to have that goal or that vision in the first place, because if you don't, those creativity kind of spurts of light bulb moments don't actually happen.
So it's the power of visualization will then bring forth the vision to achieving your goal.
Exactly, I know that sounds super cheesy '80's stuff, but it really really works.
If it works, then it works.
Because we've had those links, we had two links from BBC last month, and this is an SEO agency. So yeah, I think that's a good achievement.
On the visualization boards, do you make them physically or do you do them online?
No, physically. This is the web thing. I'm a big digital online person, but unless you can [toss] something or create something, there's a big connection between doing something physically and creativity. So at Verve we have this big bowl full of Lego, it looks like a kiddies corner. The idea with that was then we do brain storming, to do something with your hands, to build a structure while your thinking, trying to connect your physical self with your mind self and connecting those things constantly is really important. The boards are all physical. We all have a little board in our office, and you stick different things on that board. It could your personal things as well. It's not just related to work because it's illogical to think that we are people differently from work than we are at home. It's still the same hope and dreams, you know what I mean?
Yeah, wow! How does this sort of thing affect your work as a content and PR specialist? This thinking big and the visualizing?
Well, it affects us really well. Last year we won 3 awards at the UK social awards and,
And European social awards, so it directly affects our actual results. We're still a relatively small agency. You know what they say about goldfish? They grow to the size of their environment?
The important thing is don't get stuck in that fish bowl. You need to then move to the next, right? Verve is now in that state of growth now, the jumping to the next fish bowl. That's totally random.
I like it, I think it works. Go for your next fish bowl.
So talking about that and going beyond and thinking outside of the box, each of your successful PR campaigns, do you have any metrics beyond the traditional?
Yeah, absolutely. I think there's very little traditional about us I think. We have our own way of measuring value in terms of links, which is to do with getting together loads of different metrics and getting something valuable to the clients, like how those impact rankings, being able to analyze that. I think it's really important as SEO's, we're not a PR agency or even a content marketing agency. We are primarily an SEO agency, and I think what makes an SEO is that hybrid mind of creative and marketing thinking and technical and analysis thinking. The measurement of what we do is extremely important to us and our client. That's why we continue doing what we're doing and it's not awareness campaign.
OK. Thank you. Finally, what would be your advice on changing a mindset? We talked about visualizing, but are there any other ways on how to start thinking big, leading the way in marketing as you have done.
Yeah. I think the main thing is it all starts with yourself. It's like what Michael Jackson said, "It all starts with the man in the mirror," and actually that is a really good way to start. Again, it sounds really cheesy but you have to really believe it yourself. The main thing is developing yourself and the belief of what you can achieve and really sticking with what you feel passionate about, because that's when you start building confidence, and what comes with confidence is you can then smash your targets. You have to really look yourself in the eye and say "I can do this." The difference between someone who's really successful and someone who struggles is that for the successful person, they don't give a shit whether 100 people around them say they can't do it. What matters is they think they can. That is what you need to get to. Once you get to that, you can do anything.
Wow. Well, that certainly is some inspiring advice there from Lisa on thinking big. I guess lots of things to take away from there but mainly to get behind yourself.
Obviously everybody knows Google as a search engine somewhere to market your products. What is there apart from Google? What would you recommend? What do you work with?
Google is obviously a big market share in most countries. I think when you look at in the last couple of years; Bing has certainly been taking market share away, right? They did a deal with AOL so they now serve the results on AOL. They did a deal with Firefox so they serve the results from Firefox. I think in some countries they’re up to 20% market share so definitely Bing should be on the radar on that respect. I think the other one that is quite interesting is Yahoo! They have a Yahoo Gemini which is they kind of uncouple the relationship that they had with Bing, they are now serving up their own traffic on mobile and they also have search properties as well. Yahoo Gemini is probably the one I think most people wouldn’t even think about but it’s something that is worth looking at.
You think it’s quite up-and-coming?
Yes, I definitely think so.
In terms of the cyber ads, what do you think, again Google recently removed them, what do you think the impact of that has been or will be on marketers?
I think it’s quite interesting but obviously the day they announced it, everyone thought the world had ended. In all honesty like Google are engineering company, they are constantly tinkering with things and they wouldn’t have introduced this if they hadn’t done their research to work out that it was going to be no way detrimental to users. Obviously, they wanted to kind of ensure their revenue would maintain at a level it should do. I think really what they’re done is they try to make it so that it’s a universal experience on both desktop and on mobile. Obviously you don’t have sidebar ads on mobiles because it’s just all in one flow and that just gives you a consistent experience. I think also on desktops where this time it has actually open up the way for shopping ads. More and more people are doing shopping online and the shopping ads is probably the area where I see Google probably going to get the biggest amount of growth.
Well some predictions for the future there from Jim, thank you. How have you enjoyed the event on being here?
Brighton SEO is one of the things, obviously I do PPC and people say, “Why are you going to an SEO event?” I think there’s something for everyone here. Some great speakers, some great networking opportunities, you caщn get pickups for your education and for me I think it’s certainly, I don’t live that far from here so to be able to come down is good. It can be brutal walking around a lot, talking to people but I really love it and Calvin put on a really good show.
Hi Jan! We are streaming live from the SEMrush stand at Brighton SEO 2016, and I have with me now Jan-Williem Bobbink, the owner of Not provided.EU.
So tell me, what were the basic concepts of machine learning and why is machine learning better for users?
So, machine learning is quite complicated, just a quick disclaim, I'm not an engineer, so normally if you go into machine learning you do like university degree of like three or four years. It's quite complicated science what you're actually talking about. Machine learning, to over simplify it is actually having machines think for you, so instead of we do the thinking, machines will do the thinking for us, to solve problems. There are basically two mainstreams of machinery, one is actually the process where we actually know what we want to achieve, so we already know what we want to get out of the data. Let's say we have the housing prices of the last 50 years. We can use that data to actually predict the house prices for the upcoming years based on historic data, then we already know what we're looking for and that's the prices for the upcoming years.
The other type of machine learning which is really advanced in what, it's where Google is making progress a lot and what we actually see in our daily life, is more like the robotics. It's machine learning where we don't know what we can expect. We just put in a lot of data and then the machine will actually figure out what the machine can do with the data. One of the things Google is doing is having machine learning algorithms to play games without telling them the rules. If you look to YouTube and search for Google playing games for example, you would see a lot videos that the machine is trying to play a game, but of course it doesn't know where to start. There are no rules transferred in the machine. The funny thing is, within the first 1,000 or 100,000 tries, the machine is losing within 10 seconds every time, so for a lot of games it's really funny to see how the machine deals with actually exploring the rules of the game, the limits of the games, and that's the most interesting part.
For a second part of the question, considering machine learning from an SEO perspective, one of the things is from Google's perspective, so searches are using machine learning to actually make the results better. It's something that we have to deal with. Traditionally SEO was a set number of factors that actually influenced the results, but with machine learning it can be different results for every type of query, for every type of user, for every type of unique location around the world. There instead of having dedicated factors for every keyword, we now have to look into why are certain websites ranked for specific key words in a specific time, in a specific location. So basically we need more data to actually understand why it is a website is ranking. That makes it more challenging for us as SEO’s to actually understand why or why not a client is ranking.
The other thing is I use machine learning basically to help understand the data I get from my clients to optimize my processes. So let's say I have fairly big clients that have huge numbers of keywords, or lots of links. Let's say I have a website with 1 million links, and I want to make sure there are no spamming links in it. I use machine learning to do the first shifting so I have API's that actually understand the content of the page. They can give me the topic back. Let's say I have a client that sells shoes, then I can use the algorithms to actually see which links are old place and websites that wrote about shoes, but I also want to know all the spamming links. Maybe I want to get all the links that wrote about Fiaga, so I know that those spamming links. The first shifting can be easily done with IM machine learning. For me it's actually making my work more easy and quicker, especially if I have a lot of data I can work it.
Thank you! It's been fascinating. And what major SEO aspect will machine learning entirely change?
Yeah, so basically it was something I just told you. Instead of having a set number of factors, it can be different for every different market, client and keyword. For us in our daily work, we need different tools. because the traditional tools will just give us the rankings, will just tell us that we don't have a title element or we don't have a met ascription or our internal linking is wrong. With machine learning it could actually be if the whole top 10 has a spamming link profile or doesn't have title element, Google thinks that for that keyword, having no title element will actually be the best thing to rank, because that's what the data is telling Google's machines. I think for Google right now that's the biggest risk of launching it to the full scale.
Right now they launch it on the back end. If they are happy with the results, they put it to the front. That's what they do with Rank Brain but in the future they will want to of course to have the lines and the algorithms and actually that's quiet tricky because, especially with the spamming issues like poker or gambling, there is a risk that the roll thinks, or the machine behind Google will think that spamming links is a good thing. Google will make the next step and make sure that that doesn't happen, that they are in control basically of what the machine is out putting to the users. It's something we as SEO's should monitor and will be probably the next big thing that Google will announce, that they were able to control the machine and make sure that the results still keep clean as possible.
Talking of Rank Brain, do you think that Rank Brain will be the most important Google ranking signal in the future?
I don't consider Rank Brain actually as a ranking factor. The problem I have with current landscape of SEO, people are writing about Rank Brain as being a ranking factor, but I don't think it's a ranking factor. Rank Brain is all about interpreting what a user actually wants. If a user types in quiet a complicated query, there's Rank Brain coming in and making sure that Google can translate as something for which they actually have results in the data base. Rank Brain is actually used for all the query’s that Google has never seen before, so there is no historic data to base the decisions on. That's where Rank Brain comes in and looks to for example the closest, nearest result that matches with the intent of the user. The next step of course, because Rank Brain is not only about interpreting query’s it's also the technology to actually understand language and that makes it more powerful and can be more applicable to much more than just getting the concept of queries. That will be probably the next step that they will use the same technology for different purposes. Especially I can see Google coming up with a new spam algorithm for links based on the same type of technology, so that will be an interesting time.
Very interesting. And what advantages can SEO's get using HTTP2?
This is a completely different topic, but basically http is a protocol between your browser on your phone or on your desktop or wherever, and a server where a website or an app is hosted at. Between those two, there's always a connection to be made, and the http protocol is actually a set of rules, how does connections work. Http2 is basically an improved version, which takes away a few limitations of the old system. So http is basically the oldest thing of the internet as we know it,
They finally agreed upon, because every browser needs to understand the update. From an SEO perspective http2 is actually making websites faster, so one of the things we currently have with http is we have a limit of a number of files you can download simultaneously. So what you need, if you have 100 files on a website, it can download eight equally at the same moment, then the other 90 have to wait until those 8 are loaded. With http2, you can actually instantly load the files at once. So there's a huge number of time that you can actually win. The other thing is normally a server and a browser has to communicate, there's so many information exchanged. With the old protocol, every package of information was needed for every individual file. Now it can actually group that information into one package of data. If you have a heavy loading website with lots of images, videos, social media buttons, instead of having multiple connections, it's all summarized into one package. So it makes the web much more fast.
So it completely speeds things up?
Yeah. What are your favorite tools for testing your website performance?
Jan: I basically use the API of WebPageTest.org. It's an open source piece of software, it's quiet interesting the data that you can back, and there's an API so you can actually automate it, and it's free. It's gives you back a lot of data, but I always try to combine two, so there's Google PageSpeed Insight, which is built like Google. They are multiple auto tools, so I always try to combine it. I do want to tell people that you always have to look to why is a website this slow and not only look at the results you are getting back from the tools. Sometimes there are conflicting advices that they say you have to limit the of CSS or JS files, and the other advice is you actually have to split up the CSS to make it faster loading. There are some things that you really need to understand before you can actually optimize it, and you shouldn't really focus on getting the highest points out of those tools because sometimes you get points by removing something that makes the website slower, but you get points in tools for Google, so it doesn't always sense. I would advice really spending budget and effort on making your website really fast, and get someone on board that actually knows some stuff about optimizing a website instead of relying on tools.
Well good tips. Thank you!
We have with us Gregg Gifford, the Director of Search and Social at DealerOn and Greg has come all the way from Dallas, Texas just for Brighton SEO, welcome.
Thanks for having me.
Thanks for coming to talk to us. Just to jump in, what are specific ranking factors in local SEO?
There are actually a ton of specific ranking factors for local SEO and it's actually a different algorithm from the standard organic algorithm. The factors that apply are completely separate even though there's a little bit of overlap. The most important thing to do is to check out the 2015 local search ranking factors study by Moz that came out in October. It lists exactly which factors matter the most and by weight so you know which factors are more important to concentrate on.
Do you identify any as being the most important of those factors?
For sure the absolute most important thing is content which is important in any way but with content and local, you have to have the local signals there. Title tags, H1 headings, Meta descriptions, image all tags, actual content, you've got to have the right location key words or neighbourhood keywords if you are going that narrow in your focus throughout your content and throughout your sites to be able to rank for those races.
Thank you. When starting local SEO, what should you begin with, in your opinion?
The first thing you want to do is a quick audit of your site and see where your major pinpoints are because you either going to have a problem with your content that needs to be fixed, you going to need to address your link profile or you’re going to need to look at your citations and a lot of the time it ends up in citations problems that businesses have. Citations, for those of you that don't know are mentions of business name address and phone number. That can be in a structured format on a directory site or it could be in an unstructured format in a blog post or news article. When businesses move because they upgrade to a larger location, they don't realise they need to go change this information so overtime you have businesses with a really messy profile with three or four addresses or if they use call tracking, that completely wrecks local SEO and they’ll have multiple tracking numbers. If you go pull a list of your citations for your business, you’ll see all of these different variations. That's really bad for SEO. That's usually a really big starting point for whenever you're starting a local campaign.
What are the major local on page SEO factors?
On page pretty much in order of importance you need to have your location information in your title tag, you need to have your location information in your H1 heading, you need your location information in your content, you need it in the image ALT tags, you need it in the URL if you have the ability to type the URL, if you’re watching this and you’re like, “Wow, that’s genius, I need to go change it right now,” make sure you go set up 301 redirects before you do those changes or you’re going to screw yourself with the link side of things. It's also important to have an embedded Google map either on the homepage of your site or on your contact page. That's pretty much it for all the really important on page stuff.
That's a lot to take in there but very useful, really detailed. Do you think that the cultural aspect is also important for local SEO?
Cultural not so much because you don’t have to worry about the cultural impact like you do with international because with local you're only dealing with that specific area. Unless you’re international agency that’s doing local for people in different countries, you're only going to work in one country and you pretty much understand. You do have some idiosyncrasies when you’re moving from a rural area to really urban area. It's not really a cultural thing but it's just the differences in the ways that people use the internet, people use search for that specific vertical that you’re doing the site for people may look for things differently out in the country compared to what they’re going to be in the city. You have to scale your content differently based on where the location is.
Be aware of the differences. What marketing tactics should you use to earn local links?
Wow, this one could go forever.
Go on, go forever.
Let’s see. If you go to ‘bit.ly’ so b-i-t dot l-y/local-link-ideas, that will take you to a post that I wrote on search engine land that explains a lot of different ideas for local link building tactics but the things that we do the most is we talk to our customers and we say, “Hey look, what are the relationships that you already have in place?” because a local business is typically involved within the community and has been there for a long time and they don't ever take the extra step to build a link out of those relationships. We talked to them who do you know, who do you go to church with? Who do you play basketball with? Who do you play sport with? Who do you live next door to and find the relationships that you have and you can mine those relationships for links.
The businesses because they’re involved in the community or doing charity events or they’re involved with their church or they are doing things with their local schools and again those are things that are very easy to get local links from but people never take that extra step. Then we interview our clients and say what things do you do in the community? How is your business involved? What sort of community services you do and then we can mine that for links. Local events are another really good thing. You can host events at your place of business or be a sponsor for someone that has events and that’s the great place. I could go on and on there are so many things especially when it's local, there are a lot of little things that you could do there, very easy. It's much easier to build links for a local business than it is for big enterprises.
Very good tip there to finish on with that answer. Finally, can you name SEO techniques that have the highest impact on your local ratings?
This can depend to whether you're looking at there’s the map searches in local and then there's the organic searches in local and the factors if you look at the top 10 factors between those two it’s actually different factors because it's different algorithms. If you're in a really competitive market the top 10 difference makers are different from those factors. Honestly, the best thing to do is go check out the 2015 local search ranking local factor study by Moz, look into the page that has the graph and the information and then a couple of explanations and then right below that, it has the top factors affecting local, the top factors affecting mat searchers and then the top factors for competitive markets, most of it is going to come to links, citations, and content signals.
A wonderfully detailed answer, thank you so much. Lots of knowledge and tips there.
At last years event you were talking about user testing. Is your topic this year related to it and are you still researching it?
Absolutely yes. We've been quite a big fan of usability UX for quite a while now. When we started out as agency we started out as a design and development agency. We've done that since about 13 years ago, so it's trying to find a way to incorporate that into SEO. We think it fits pretty well. When I was doing my talk last year it was much more around how to see whether users are having problems and trying to make it much easier for people to get where they wanted to go. The kind of talk around it this year is a little bit different because it's much more about optimizing all of the parts of an SEO campaign, so whether that's link building, campaign or content, how can we optimize that a little differently to make sure it's easier for users as well.
Great! In your speech, are you going to share tips for increasing your conversion rates?
Absolutely. Especially when it comes to link building as well. I think it should be quite process driven. It's fair enough to say that it used to be a lot easier to build links and wasn't a lot of a too intensive process, now it's very much a case of trying to find the right people but also knowing how to reach out to them and increase conversions that way. But also put the right kind of content on external publications, put the right kind of content on your website to make sure that you are not only attracting traffic from a relative audience, but when the audience gets to you, it's not too salesy, but it's easy enough to find a way into the website and be able to convert if they wanted to.
OK. So what would be the main trick that works for any kind of landing page or a blog post?
I think the main trick, if you could call it a trick I suppose, is definitely to make sure that you are aware where the users are coming from. Obviously the kind of people that come from certain social media referrals are going to have different requirements than the sort of people that are going to come from a PR link equally different from a BBC line in text. It's definitely about making sure that firstly a page is optimized in a way that it's mainly geared towards your primary audience, the people who are going to see it the most, but has those alternative versions. Whether that's on the same page AB testing and that sort of thing to make sure that you have an alternative four different types of people from different places.
OK. Thank you. Can you share some thoughts on the role of UX and UI in increasing the conversion rate?
Yeah, absolutely. So I think when it comes to UI there's a guy called Chris Constance who works at Sky, and this is something that's always played on my mind a little bit. I'm not a designer at all. I'm terrible with all sorts of visuals, but Chris says that you can't design a users experience. You can only manage it. I think when you apply that to search, when you're applying that to a conversion rate as well. It's not necessarily changing things just in a test to make sure that things convert as well as they possibly can. It’s about trying to understand where users are wanting to go in the website and trying to facilitate that the best that you possibly can. The actual design itself, the key aspect of it is to make it easier for people to find the content on the page, and find the right kind of content that they're looking for, and not just a great big call to action and no more information than that.
OK. What UX or UI basics should SEO's and marketers keep in mind when working on a new blog post or landing page?
I think the absolute rule of thumb is always have the next best action. Whenever anyone is reading any kind of content you're doing, it's not necessarily a case of what you should do is write at the bottom of that page, insert a link that says get in touch , contact us now or that sort of thing. It's not necessarily what people want to do. The key thing is to make sure that you're understanding what people who are on the page would probably want to see. It's probably something like more content, but giving them the option to do something else. Whenever you are structuring content for a blog or something like that, the really key things are to make sure that you've got the option to see more posts by this author, see more post on this topic, to comment if they want to, to tweet or share the link if they want to, maybe subscribe, but give the people a wide range of different actions that they could take. Make it clear what you think their next best action should be. Is it that they should go to the landing page or is it that they should read this article next that's going to help them on their journey?
Very helpful response. One final question. What is the impact of a good copy writer on a conversion?
Copywriting is huge. It's really interesting because when you're looking at testing and we do a lot of CRO with optimizing particularity but with other platforms as well and people kind of think of CRO as just changing the color of buttons, and it's not. The key thing really is what is that button actually asking someone to do? That for us is copy. Having to write words, being able to be accessed by users click on that button. It's not just that button is the only thing on the page. You know your copy writer has to be able to direct people up and down the page with the kind of content that they are writing and make sure that people are ready to click a button when they get there, they're suitably engaged, the copies obviously succinct in good language, in good English and they are definitely interested in the same call to action as the kind of copy that they've actually been reading.
First of all, what is the best strategy for the link building in 2016 for now?
I think from my point of view and I do a lot of link building, probably 75% of what I do is link building these days. From my point of view a good strategy for link building is to have a solid, single point of interest on your blog or site that you can then link build to. Something interesting, a research piece, an informational piece, white paper, something that actually will legitimise the artificial link building strategy that you're putting into play. I do think having that single point of focus, that one thing that you can really push and will legitimise your increased link building will help you hide your links that you’re artificially building in amongst the noise of also legitimate link building. Traditional PR, as well as paid organic link building, need to work together. You need to have a dual strategy in both organic, traditional, let’s say PR and paid link building.
Thank you. That’s a very helpful answer. How have content marketing and social media change link building strategies?
For me, content is King and Queen so to speak. Content is super important as I said, you have to have a single point of focus and the content is the focus but I’m going to sound like a terrible black hat out here, the way I use social media is to do an initial push for at least a day maybe two days while I’m waiting for the paid links to go live, so some of my paid link prospects don’t go live almost immediately within less than 24 hours our whole blog post go live. If I push it out to social media, and get the page, I’m going to sound terrible, social media page stepped away so that all my people on paid social media have the initial push and then get the paid blog post and content production done. What it looks like is a much more organic link building strategy so social helps me make it look organic.
I sound like a terrible black hat!
No, you’re not, not at all. Bad backlink profile is one of the most common reasons of Google’s penalty, what would be our tips on back link audit?
Backlink audits, I love the guys at Kerboo because that for me, it's so easy at Kerboo from the point of view of a back link audit, you need to have the data but once you have the data, they actually do a really good job of telling you what's good, what's bad, what’s suspect but not quite bad, what’s legitimately bad and what’s actually good that you might not know. They are amazing at actually identifying people like me that have done bad back link building or good back link building but still in a couple of years you might get caught for it. Kerboo absolutely my recommendation.
Thank you a good little tip there. Do you think that back links will be one of the main ranking factors for a long-term?
That's a tough one. Google is trying very hard to remove back links from their algorithm because it's too easily gamed. Obviously I've just told you I'm gaming all the time and I'm not going to name my clients, obviously we’re gaming it all the time. A version of algorithm doesn't include links is actually crap. What I'm trying to do is shift the emphasis into other places so yes back links are important right now, it will continue to be important but I think 18 months what we’re going to see is that shift from over emphasis on back link profile to other metrics. Social is so easy to game, fiverr.com. Seriously I have got trips all over the world based on fiverr.com traffic and fiverr.com social amplification. It looks good to the PR's but I know I’ve paid $5 plus the processing fee to get what looks like a really good amplification on stuff. Maybe I shouldn't have said that. Busted myself but it's too easy to game right now and until the algorithm catches up with how easy it is to game we’re really going to see over on links, social, I can game the hell out of it much more easily than I can game links.
Other than social, what factors do you think can gain more strength and have more power than back links?
That's an interesting one. What else on the internet that’s actually going to give us validity. Citations are a really important one and I think the human edited webpages where the webpages are specifically checked and edited, especially news, but not just the traditional news outlet are going to become more important. A citation without a link is actually going to become a factor that is going to maybe gain a little bit, but not as much as links. Links will be King and Queen and Ace and Jack and 10 and everything. A full house for a long time. I think that the increase in validity of particular sites and their citations more links from those sites will gain an importance but outside of the Internet and the interconnectedness of all things on the web, it's going to be extremely difficult to find other ranking metrics that don’t rely on outside influences, demonstrating to a search engine not just Google but , you know, Bing exists, as does others search engines – Yandex, for example, is one of my favourites.
I think it's going to be very difficult to break our reliance on other factors, other sites, landing credibility at our site. I think that human edited, human audited website will become much more important but it’s still going to be either citation or link. It's going to be hard to break that addiction to interconnectedness and a look outside of your own website.
Thank you so much for sharing your massive knowledge with us and taking the time to speak with us.
Well, thank you very much for having me. Hopefully, just remember kids don’t be too much of a black cat if you don’t know what you’re doing because it’ll burn you in the butt in the end. Trust the professionals.
Leonardo, I used to hear that SEO is not a rocket science. Working on such a huge website as Booking.com it might be tough. Does SEO become a rocket science on such a big project?
I don't think that SEO is really rocket science. Not even if you work for a big website. I think what is different is the approach. Essentially, when you work on a small website, you usually focus on few landing pages, or you try to target only a few keywords. You have one, two, five competitors that you want to analyse and you want to beat. Whereas when you work for such a massive website, you can’t optimise one single page any longer or you can’t focus on a bunch of keywords or look only a few competitors. Essentially you have a competitor in every market. That doesn't mean that SEO becomes a rocket science but it requires a different approach which means you have to be more structured essentially. I would say that the data is probably your best friend.
The advantage of working for such a big website is that you get access to so many information, so much data that it can help you make your business decisions and also relies whether you’re going direction or not pretty fast. Whether you're optimising a landing page or all you’re essentially looking at new opportunities I think you have to take a decision based on the data. With the data you can actually see and track your performance. You can really see if you're going in the right direction and gaining business shares. I don't think that the SEO basic per se that the tactic really changed but it is really much more about the structure and also talking about prioritizing for instance, you need to be really good. It's not about what I know it works or it's not what my team knows it works for SEO. It’s actually finding out as quickly as possible whether what we think might work actually does. We looked a lot about how the consumers react to our experiments, to our tests and also how do we impact Google when we implement changes? We need to learn fast and there's a lot you can get from the data.
What have you found is your biggest challenge within this?
I think related to that is capability. You get access to a lot of data but essentially you're also optimising a website in 40 plus languages. You have over a million of products to optimise for, hundred thousand destinations.
That's a lot.
Yeah, it’s a lot. Making sure that whatever you want to test, whatever you want to implement is killable because otherwise it's impossible to roll out.
Speaking of impossible, every big project is impossible without good management. Can you share with us some experience on how to set up a workflow in order to achieve great results?
I don't think it's just about the workflow. I think a lot is about the culture. For instance, what we do at Booking we’re really invest a lot in educating everybody around the importance of SEO, about search. It's impossible when you work in a company with over a thousand people that play with the cords or they create content, to police them or to make sure they work in an SEO friendly way.
You can't micromanage them.
No, absolutely. It’s impossible. I don't want my team to be perceived as a police team but we’re doing that a lot. This week we had an internal training for around 50 people and we really tell them what SEO is and we make them aware about the importance of the role. A lot of people might think that it’s purely a backend, but in reality, whether you write content, whether you prove conversion, whether you localise the website or there’s so many people within the company that can have an impact whether positive or negative for SEO. We really make sure that they’re aware of that and the funny thing that once they realised that, they actually become an ambassador, you actually give them another reason to like their job. The other thing I would say on the workflow is, this is very typical of Booking, we want to make sure that we fail fast. I think we need to have the right balance between small storage, small tasks, and big projects. I don't want my team to work on projects for six months and then find out that it doesn't work. We basically wasted six months of time. Actually we need to be very quick on implementing stuff, test it and see whether it works or not.
Thank you. On Quora, we found a question. Why Booking.com is so good at SEO and there are four different points of view on this. What would be yours?
Interesting. I didn't know about that Quora post first of all. Good catch. I'll read it this morning. I think there's a part of truth in all the answers. I think one guy mentioned the importance of brand, of course, Booking.com is a strong brand. Somebody else mentioned that we didn't hire link builders but we actually hire true professional and we tried to retain them which is the case. I think the company is turf of playground for people there a great culture and also somebody else was commenting about the fact that we don’t do SEO at all. What I would say, my take on this is we keep the customer at the centre of what we do. To give an example, in my team, we don't put anything live before having tested what the impact is on consumers. We really test everything. We are not even allowed to actually roll out a change and put it live without knowing what the impact on the customer is. If you focus on that, you actually make a good product for the customers. The customer will like it, you will build the brand and I think it's really like a virtual cycle. We call it the SEO fly wheel. All these elements together then they actually accelerate your success.
The SEO fly wheel.
Focus on the customer, ultimately.
Absolutely. Sure you need to create compelling content, make sure that the customers find what they expect on your website once they click on your results. Are we delivering what they expect from us? Do we deliver that in the right way, its ease of use for instance? Can they get to the product that they want to book, the property they want to stay and a few steps? Also I’d say, engage with them. We don't put SEO as the main thing that that’s probably what the article was referring to. We only do stuff for SEO which a lot of companies still do. We do stuff for customers and as a result of that, we do pretty good with SEO.
It is good. You are good with SEO, but it also means being better than your competitors. What would be your pro tips on competitor intelligence?
I think my tip on competitor intelligence is that a lot of people focus on seeing why your competitors are doing better than you. Where are they doing a great job? Essentially they try to replicate that. My tip will also be on spot what weaknesses do they have? Why are they doing a good job? That can be an area of opportunity for you. You can actually probably gain more exposure where they’re weak rather than where they’re already doing a great job. The second one a lot of people they start with which keywords are actually my competitors winning over me? They really focus a lot on the keyword and then they try to copy what their competitors doing. I think true you can look at the keyword and see where they’re doing a better job than you do but you need to think outside the box and try to be creative, find ways to attract customers, I’ll give you some example, come up with a different title tag, have a different landing page. Don’t just focus on the keyword but actually on the experience that comes after that. Don't just copy, try to be different.
Thank you so much. There’s some brilliant knowledge there. Finally, I have to ask why the T-shirt? Why are you wearing the T-shirt?
Not because I want to sell rooms. Actually because we have quite some positions open right now at Booking, we are looking for an SEO product owner. We have position put it on LinkedIn and in the shop team, the manager, all our visibility on meta comparison website. Check it out, working at Booking.com. A lot of positions, we need talent, we need people that are excited to join us.
Wonderful, thank you so much.
First of all what do you think about the collaboration of inbound and outbound marketing?
I think there is a sort of myth about inbound and outbound as to really conflicting strategy and tactics considering inbound is a good one and outbound is like television or radio being the bad bad marketing way doing marketing. Actually it's not so because we tend to forget one thing that for normal people, just for you or for me, it really doesn't exist a difference between offline and online.
For us marketing is marketing. As we were saying that using inbound marketing as a way to potentiate all of the different digital channels like SEO, SEM, content marketing, email marketing and so on. Using outbound, so traditional channel like television or radio that will display on the screen. With digital, we are maybe able to create something even stronger which alternatively is the so-called transmedia marketing which is creating and using all the potential touch points with your public in order to create conversation and create rank positioning within the audiences. For instance, just think about the quite mainstream now, a user of e-Beacons. E-beacons is substantially something that can merge the online touch point with an offline presence of your public to bring your public inside your personal store, museum everything. This is a good example now with the limitation between inbound and outbound maybe something of the past.
OK. Thank you. Is inbound marketing really cheaper than a traditional one?
It's cheaper, surely it's cheaper if we consider a few things. The big spenders in marketing is a television spot surely is really expensive if we have the same price of putting your television advertisement before the news you can create an additional marketing campaign substantially. Just considering the big number yes, an inbound marketing campaign is surely cheaper than an outbound. What is not becoming so true is that what was a big difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing before you were saying there wasn't really a way to measure exactly the impact of outbound marketing because you had some magics like Nielsen metrics or something like this but they weren't really precise.
Instead, with digital marketing, so inbound marketing for instance you can really-really measure the effect of your company. Now this difference, how data are retrieved, engagement data also for the outbound, is really-really bad, so you can really measure them. Regarding the cost yes. It’s simple local file or normal inbound marketing campaign is surely cheaper. If you want to go to big number or really big impact then inbound marketing is going to be costly. It’s not cheaper doesn’t mean it’s for free. We should consider that maybe it's not a good term for inbound marketing.
Maybe to look at it a different way. Is it very time-consuming inbound? Is it hard to cover all the marketing channels?
Gianluca: I think it's all a question of priorities, especially when it comes to small business. Maybe what is missing is something before you are deciding what kind of marketing channel you want to use. The first thing you have understand especially in the case of small businesses is to understand how to create a good business plan. If you consider you are doing a business plan and you consider that your priority can be research marketing, local SEO, maybe you could start just thinking about that and put all your money on that type of channel. However, if we think how reality is, in reality every company is already working on all the channels, is already doing SEO, is already doing his social media, he’s already doing some sort of content marketing, always have done email marketing because inbound marketing was the first thing in business worth doing. So why don't you create a strategy able to make these channels work together. This is inbound marketing. You are not going to substantially to spend more or to spend more time, you are going to spend better time that you've already spending.
So it's more quality?
It might be more quantity but get quality on it?
Yes. Maybe it's not really the same as more quantity, maybe it's the same quantity but you get better work.
Can you please tell us more about your Google experience?
Sure I was with the Google search quality team for seven years and it has been obviously a hugely rewarding and very beneficial experience for what I'm doing these days which is SEO consulting. As we meet together with my business partner, Fili Wiese, as we help our clients under the breath of SearchBrothers.com to put their side, best foot forward in order to rank to their full capacity, to their full potential in Google search. We obviously put the spam fighters cap on. We utilise our experience. We are also a hugely data driven company. We utilise as much data as we can get while we work with clients. Most importantly, actually server logs. I think this is one of your questions but I’ll let you do the questioning.
You go ahead that's fine. Do you think that any of Google algo is harder to recover from? The algorithms?
I suppose it is quite possible to recover from Panda rather easily while conducting an SEO audit. You crawl a website, you try to understand how it's interacting with search engines and you can actually make a judgement call saying, “Oh right. This is a large site however there is a lot of pages that are content linked. There isn't much content around it. This may be a Panda issue.” With Penguin it’s slightly different because it's all about back links. It takes a little bit more time to build a large back link profile. If it happens to be a large one it takes more time. In that sense it might take longer. I wouldn't say it's necessarily more difficult. The real challenge really is a combination. If manual spam action maybe combined with algorithms that are Panda or Penguin and that actually happens sometimes. The good news is you can always recover. It's just a matter of how much resources and how much time needs to be put into recovering the website.
Thank you. In your opinion which of Google changes in the couple of last years will have the biggest impact on industry in the long term?
It's always hard to kind of anticipate what's going to be the future and it's so easy to be wrong on that I suppose. I rather stick to the things that we surely can predict what's going to be of impact for sites and for users and I think Google will remain very much focused on user experience. In that sense I do believe that sites that cater to their audience and will end up performing over time constantly. Google is moving more and more towards proving the answer straight away. Google OneBox is being one example where you type in a rather obscure, rare query and you get the answer straight away. No need to go to a website anymore. I think this is one trend that manifests what I was talking about. Google Drive to provide for users but it's also a challenge because sites may end up receiving lesser traffic. It is something we have to work with. However focusing on users is the one thing that I am firmly convinced will help for sites to be successful going forward. There’s no question about that.
In the same sort of area are there any trends or recent changes which you think have maybe been overlooked or they deserve more attention?
I do. Absolutely. It’s striking to me how many websites, how many businesses out there completely neglect their server logs and don’t treat them for what they are. They are really a treasure trove. Having you server logs at hand if need allows you for analysing for how a website interacts with search engines and an awful lots of sites for an awful lot of times, even large sites, overwrite them after a week or a month instead of saving those on the off chance they will be needed. Recently more and more awareness has been created around that and I do have to say it is really a great opportunity for sites to maintain their server logs and utilise them. This is an opportunity that is lost on a lot of businesses out there. I don't think it's a new trend. It's something that’s coming to people’s awareness nowadays.
Hi we are streaming live and we've now got Fili Wiese from Search Brothers here. Welcome.
Thank you for coming to talk to us. First of all, what would be a biggest SEO myth or just an outdated technique but people still believe in?
One of the biggest myths that is still going around and it's unbelievable that after so many years it's still going around is AdWords. AdWords has any impact on Google search, organic search that is. The second one that I’ll just add there as well primarily just because we got that question this morning: does the manual website team or any other team within Google for that matter read my Gmail? Read my Google Docs and stuff like that. In my experience the answer is absolutely not. That's one of the biggest myths I would say there [is]. AdWords also its searches and sales are completely separated in a way that they have different functions, they do different things.
And vice versa, is there a small thing that SEOs forget about which could lead to dramatic mistakes?
Yes there is, actually, that's a very good question. One of the things that I often find that websites forget to do, even websites that tend to be experienced, is that they don't use breadcrumbs. If they do use breadcrumbs, they forget to structure them so they don't use email. The other thing is and that’s something with the SEO that might not be as familiar with is that scheme of the structure breadcrumbs for Google basically were updated last year, the preference for Google from RDFa to Schema of the dark. I see a lot of SEOs still use the RDFa vocabulary now. At the moment that's not a problem but we never know when Google will stop using it as they have said the other one is preferred now. That's a simple thing. Breadcrumbs are important for Google because they help Google better understand the internal hierarchy of the website. This is one of the little things that can have a massive impact.
Thank you. Google is constantly changing for marketers and website owners sometimes it can be hard to keep all the changes in mind. Can you give any top updates or recently announced changes that marketers should really keep an eye on?
Yes. When we are looking at recent updates you have to keep in mind things change all the time. If you really want to stay up on top of the game, one of the key elements you want to focus on is user experience, user experience marketing, user signals; they are really key long term as well as short term. In addition to that, you want to make sure that your website can be crawled, if your website can't be crawled it can't be ranked, it can't be indexed, it can’t be served to the user. Really you want to focus on on-page as much as, actually probably more than, off-page. Off-page is important for outreach, for branding purposes to get people to your website absolutely, but you have more control over the on-page factors. If you look at most of the algorithms that Google as well as Bing for example are implementing and changes they're implementing, a lot of that is focused on improving the user experience. That’s the part I will focus on.
The checklist for a perfectly optimized page is quite big. Are there any shortcuts?
There are no shortcuts. It is indeed a very long list which is one of the things we often go down to as well. I can say that one of the missed opportunities is that I find most SEOs are not using as well as most website owners is server logs. They’re not using this to the full potential. Just to give you a simple example, if for example you’re using several blocks to crawl a website for on page purposes you try to crawl it as if Googlebot most software will start from the homepage and try to map out the website as it is as it is internally linked.
They may even crawl some of the site map URL, the URLs or Google search analytic URL even though they’re more internally linked. When you do this, you get the idea, you get a good picture of what your website is be crawled as when Googlebot comes. If your problem is you look at your log files, we often find that it’s way more URLS than Google Docs know about then we’re crawling. The question there is, are we taking the right approach by just crawling from the homepage or should we also take the approach of crawling from the backend and look at what Googlebot is crawling because that’s the ratio that we’re competing with in the search results. We do that, we find that actually very important and we find a lot of SEO don’t do that. This is one thing that I would say there.
A very handy tip. Are there any more tips you could give us on work for your management which would help the process of optimization go smoothly.
Utilize all the tools that are out there as many as possible in a nutshell. Don't rely on a single tool, that's just my personal experience. Every tool will give you, they are all slightly differently made so they will all do slightly differently, perform slightly differently, see signals slightly differently, report things back differently. You want to get those differences because that’s where you find the potential issues. Also if all the tools report the same there’s a likely good chance you're actually in a good shape on that one. That's really utilises many tools as possible.
Thank you very much. We’ve had some excellent insights and thank you for imparting your knowledge today.
Hello. We have Amy Merril with us. Hi Amy. Welcome.
Hello. Good morning. Thank you.
Amy, you flew over from Idaho on a 19 hour flight to be here. You must find the event useful and you’re speaking at it, aren’t you?
Yes, so far it’s just been an amazing opportunity even to be here.
Lovely. We’re lucky enough to get a few minutes just to ask you a few questions. First off, can you name the most recent content marketing trends?
Yes, there’s so much going on with content but right now, it’s really exciting because content's moving in such a wonderful direction, more specifically what I mean by that is we’re seeing a switch from being the most prolific in content to taking time to do content rights. That’s been a huge change in our industry to stop the mad rush and just publish and take time to make sure that your users are actually engaging with it. They want to share it and really we’re looking for content that’s a little bit more stable in terms of longevity and shareablity.
What are the most important metrics for measuring content marketing ROI?
Like I mentioned shareability is the big one; awesome tools like BuzzSumo if you’re not very familiar with it to really check out how you’re content's performing, but from a pure social standpoint Twitter, Facebook, and as I learned in the session just recently Snapchat can [show] really great metrics to show how well your content is performing. The user is what matters here. It's less important what the search engine is doing.
Wow, some new areas for Snapchat there, that’s interesting. Who would have thought? Do you think that marketers should repurpose their existing content?
That's such a good question and I feel like the answer is: it depends. In some cases where your content really is on the thin side and it's not doing anything new or different or pushing an industry forward, it could be repurposed but in some cases you might be better off just scrapping it altogether and starting over, creating something that’s a little bit more long form or a video to stay engaged with the current audience and what people are currently interested in.
Do you think it's possible to prolong the lifetime of your content?
Absolutely, yes. There are so many different kind of content. I'll be talking about this in my session later. One of the ways to really extend the shelf life of your content especially if you don't have a ton of resources to be able to put in to it is through evergreen style content. The important thing with evergreen content though is that it's not just something that is general enough to be able to have a shelf life. It also has to still be actionable and meaningful to your audience. There's kind of a fine line you have to walk there. Will voice search influence content creation in the future?
Absolutely and I would argue it currently already is. When you think about the title of for example your content, thinking about it in terms of not just a keyword but more of a keyword topic is going to be really important. What are users actually searching? It’s typically not a single word it’s going to be a phrase. It's not the same as what you would necessarily type in the Google even. It's really putting yourself into the searches shoes and thinking how would someone asks in order to have those contents served up and identifying that with your title.
You think it's going to have a big impact?
Absolutely. I think it's really going to push forward content and the way that people view and find content on the web.
Could you please share your content marketing best practices with us?
I could share so many. I could go on all day with content best practices. But far and away the most important one is taking that SEO person that’s inside of you and setting them to the site just a little bit when you're working on content and really remembering the end user and the person. My background is in journalism and I think it’s really funny the parallels or the lack thereof between SEO and journalistic practices. Journalists never have to remind themselves about the user because it's their job. I was lucky enough to be able to take that with me. When I hear our entire sphere that we’re working constantly reminding themselves of the end user and their intent and what they’re going to find interesting. I can’t help but laugh a little bit to myself because we should be in the mindset where we don't have to remind ourselves where it’s kind of second nature we are always thinking that way. My best practice would be to stop thinking like an SEO for the most part that and remind yourself that you’re human and so is your audience. That’s the biggest takeaway that I can give you.
Maybe don't over think about the users?
Oh my goodness, yes.
Hello. We’re streaming live from the SEMrush stand at Brighton SEO and I have with me Hannah Butcher. Hi Hannah.
Hi. It's nice to meet you.
What are you major tips for building relationships with bloggers, publishers and journalists?
I guess we have to treat each of those like separate entities. I’ve got very different techniques that I would use for blogger outreach then I would do if I was working with the press. One of the things I’ll be talking about in my talk later on today is bloggers aren’t journalists and as industry you’d like to group together when we’re doing outreach. We really have to think that they’ve come from different ways of doing things. Bloggers are really interested in topics and journalists are really interested in their trade as journalism. Bloggers basically they topped it, it’s just to make whatever you’re doing with them really, really targeted and make sure that those actually are really, really good fit between your brand and the blogger and obviously make sure that they want to accept reviews and opportunities with you in the first place that’s a really good place to start.
Make it relevant to bloggers.
Definitely. Highly, highly relevant. A lot of research involved. There’s a lot of time investment that’s involved when you're doing blogger outreach and it's just something that you have to accept and just get over. Obviously, just use tools and things to help you out as well.
In terms of your blogger outreach, do you have any best practices?
Yeah, I think just being really polite is my number one tip.
That's a good tip for life in general.
I’m a blogger myself. I get a lot of outreach emails to myself and some of them are just crazy, either they aren't really relevant, they get my name wrong, it’s in the email address you can't really get it wrong. That's quite frustrating. It's just really, really simple things. Just get the basics right and then let the conversation progress and just build that relationship with them then go forward.
Back to basics and then it will grow from there. That’s a nice simple tip that anyone can work from, it’s good. How do you choose the bloggers that you want to work with?
There's a few different ways. Sometimes you can be quite lucky, you might discover one blogger and then all of a sudden, you’ve come across a whole range of bloggers in that area that you can hit up. I think if you do found one then using tools like follow-on is quite cool because you can just put them in and you can find the ones that are alike within the network and the overlap between them, a really, really easy way. There are loads of blogger databases you can use, obviously just using clever like search functions and because I'm a blogger myself I sort of mingled within the network like the travel blogger community and I’ve done things in the food area as well. Even just using simple hashtags on Twitter just to find people who were talking in certain Twitter chats, really good way to find the people that are really engaged on that topic or on that regular...
Like minded people.
What are the must have tools for blog analytics?
There’s probably a few and I think the number one for me is just going to be Google Analytics and just the way that you sort of track back going forward. Just making sure that you know all of your referees that are coming your site form different blogs, this is really important. For me, I tend to use a lot of back link tools as well so I can see which of the bloggers that I’ve work with have actually linked back to the site, whether they use things like no follow links and whether those links are still alive and what kind of anchor text they used on the site as well.
OK. What are the most common outreach mistakes that can result in ruining relationships with bloggers?
I guess miscommunication is one of the big things. If you haven't set your expectations or you’re asking the blogger to do too much and you’re not giving them a suitable reward that can be quite irritating. I think bloggers can tarnish the industry with the same brush if we’re not paying them for their time or we’re just being quite offensive, we’re demanding things like quickly. I think sometimes we might send out our product for a review and we expect it to be covered straight away, it needs to get up on their site within a day. It's just not going to happen. Bloggers, they have so many things going on, they get so many different outreach emails, you have to realise that there’s other things that they have in their agenda as well. Just being really courteous and just keeping that communication and conversation with them.
Keeping communication, keeping it open, keeping it clear. Some very useful advice there from Hannah. Thank you very much.
Thanks for joining us. You did a speech here today and it was about a very interesting case, you are going to talk about merging two huge websites. Can you share some details with us?
Basically the speech was about the merge of two massive websites which were essentially among the biggest websites in Morocco. It also had difficulties on the merge due to the size of two languages one was French and one was Arabic language. There were also some encoding issues because they don't use the standard characters. I thought it was going to be an interesting speech since it is not the challenge that affects us every day.
Talking of challenges, what was the biggest challenge during the migration?
I think the biggest challenge with the migration was not really just the merge of the two websites per se. It was more the fact that SEO as well, their needs were not just purely technical needs but there were also commercial and marketing needs. There were for example moments or periods of time during which for example both the old and the new website had to be kept alive at the same time or for example it was the need of the client to test the new website while still maintaining the old website online. These kind of technical needs and marketing needs are not always accounted for by standard SEO strategies. We have to come up with some creative solutions.
Yes. Speaking of those, can you share with us anything about your step-by-step process?
Basically the first thing we did was two sites that we merged together and the database on the first site would be deported to the second site. Of course, there was a moment to which both sites were live and then we had essentially put up a beta site, which was kept an indexed thing using rel=canonicals and this was the inbetween step. Then there was a final step of the migration which we follow standard direction procedures. The main issue we had was that we also wanted for a certain amount of time to force some users to go from this standard website to the testing website and that is where things started to get to be more complicated but also more interesting.
How much time did the project take?
The whole project took more or less three months from the very beginning to the very end. The hardest part of it was one month, more or less.
The very difficult, at the beginning or at the end?
In the middle.
In the middle? The hard part, the middle part. How many test sites audits did you run?
We did around quite a few tests, of course not on the old website because the old website is going to be abandoned at the end. There was not very much that was worth doing there. We did run a lot of tests on the second site, we did of course crawling test, speed test on the site, we double check for internal duplicated content. They really want it to be extremely optimised, when it’s launched we did not have really much work to do from a technical point of view anymore.
You now have some extensive experience. Can you share any new hacks from this?
What we came up with from this is that we used the technical solution called “first gig free” that Google proposes for example newspapers or other websites that are subscription based. Sort of like users that are not paid subscribers cannot go through and navigate the site normally but only see one page. Essentially we use this solution that is technically made for newspapers for example, we use it for the classified sites as a technical solution to force users to access for example the new site and not being able to actually visit the old site but it was kept live. This was definitely an SEO hack.
Hello, Mel. First off can I ask, isn’t it enough just to be a nice person for building relationships?
Being a nice person is a very good thing in this day and age especially having some empathy. I think in our industry in general professionals feel the need to promote themselves a lot but being nice is a good thing. Where are you going this?
More into social media and personal branding.
Right. OK. I get it.
Is it a relationship for life?
Social media and personal branding, yes. I've just been in the session talking about the future of personal brand, to make it future proof. To me personal branding is the practice of defining what your professional purpose is. Why do you do what you do? What gets you out of bed in the morning beyond to having to pay the bills, pay the mortgage, pay down the car, and all that kind of stuff?
What motivates you here?
Yeah but from a professional point of view and we now have all these tools to our benefit across social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. We also got the search engines as well and my point during my talk was I challenged that however many people, 1500 people that were there this morning to really think about how to make a better impression using social and digital media but really expands and elevates their personal brand. A lot of marketers here at this event, we are all about helping our companies or our agencies or our clients or our brands look the best and be engaging but what about ourselves? What about our careers? What about our wisdom, our expertise? How are we showing up to the party and being more discoverable, shareable, and memorable? That’s really the premise of that.
A bit more visible as an individual?
A bit more visible but being visible for the right things.
In the right way. Being nice, not being nice.
My personal brand, I have what I call a social ratio so 60% of what I talk about is about professional stuff, 40% is personal because I want people to recognise that I do actually have a life outside of work and do I have personality. The whole thing now I'm warming up about what you're talking about being nice is personally I believe that that's a good way to be. There are other people out there in this industry, in the world who define themselves as not necessarily being nice or engaging.
Maybe being a bit ruthless.
Being ruthless, being controversial and that’s their whole branding and their whole management. It’s never going to work for me. I don't think I’ve ever sworn on social media. I don’t get involved really in politics although I live in Seattle right now and the whole Donald Trump thing is freaking me out. I really believe the idea behind us as professionals is we should have a professional purpose and we should be thinking about how to be more discoverable, sharable and memorable.
OK. In that sense, what is your main secret for being memorable?
It’s the combination of thinking about how discoverable you're going to be so use an individual, when someone is going to meet you for a meeting business development or you’re going to meet a new client or something like that. The first thing they’re going to do is probably Google or Bing your name or they’re going to look you up on LinkedIn. What kind of results show up for that? How discoverable is that when someone does have a look at your LinkedIn profile, how impressive is it? Is it just a wasteland of tumbleweeds and no one could really get a good understanding what you're about? The discoverability thing is important but also the shareability. Thinking about what kind of content that you’re sharing, what you’re writing, how you’re updating either in a 140 characters or 1500 words. What kind of way or vehicles are you using different content whether it will be blogs, interviews, videos, to be more shareable and my tip today was to think about your aura, your halo effect, aura being making sure that your content is authentic, it’s useful, it’s relevant and it’s actionable.
OK. Some good keywords and tips there, that's brilliant. One final question before we lose you. What is the role of content marketing in this process?
The role of content marketing is we spend so much of our time creating content in order to make our brands and our clients and the companies that we work for more reachable through the halo effect to this wonderful thing they call content marketing or inbound marketing. It’s not a new thing content marketing. People have been doing it since the dark ages of the Internet. What’s key to it though is that we now have the skills, the tools and the ability with the rise of personal social media whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat now, a lot of people being getting into about.
Snapchat is the big thing now isn’t it? So the kids are doing it.
Yeah. I’m struggling a little bit with it but that is the role of content marketing. What I challenge people today is to really think about was you're doing this for all these companies and these brands, start doing it for yourself.
Brilliant. I think I feel like that's a good finisher so thank you to Mel. Fresh from his talk here which I think I could have done with seeing certainly and I got to talk to you.
There's a book on Amazon, its only 99p because it’s a compilation of a whole of a blog posts, an introduction to personal branding on Amazon 99p or $0.99 if you live in the US. Take a look at that, I'll send you the link to it so that you can find out what I was talking about there. Thank you very much for your time.
First of all, could you tell us why content marketers need to consider performance?
I think the content marketers should consider performance throughout the entire production process. I think that everyone involved in the production process needs to be aware of it because otherwise you won't spot opportunities. It's very easy to hinder the performance of your website quite considerably ruin the user experience if you're not aware of some of the biggest opportunities. As we all know Google has made speed a ranking factor as of 2010. I would argue that it's something which not just developers, as I said everyone involved in the production pipeline needs to know.
Thank you. What challenges can be expected when the site’s speed is integrated into internal processes?
I think one of the biggest challenges which is often overlooked is more of a cultural issue than a technical issue. It's very often the case in both agencies and in-house that performance is seen as something which is the concern of developers and developers alone. Getting it into the state where it's part of your everyday routine, it's something that you consider throughout the pipeline is quite a big issue. I'd say that's probably the biggest hurdle to overcome.
OK. Interesting. What are, in your mind the biggest performance opportunities?
The biggest opportunities particularly for content marketing if you look at the makeup of an average page on the web these days, two-thirds of the weight or size of that page tends to be images and content marketing, given that it's very rich, very visual usually presents even more of an opportunity in that regard. It's often produced outside of a strict projection development pipeline as well. There’s no precautions in place to make sure that images aren’t uploaded in their original source formats. I would say that's the case.
Thank you. Finally, how do you think the growth of mobile impacts the role of site speed?
Mobile has huge implications. Obviously there was the Mobileggedon update last year. Google has made mobile for front concern. When you're dealing with mobile devices, you're dealing with a completely different environment. You’ve got not just different screen sizes but different network capabilities. You’ve got 3G versus broadband. You’ve got different browser feature sets. All of those things affect speed. You need to consider mobile users. You need to give them extra consideration. There's various different ways you can do that. I would say selectively loading resources is a big one. The response of image syntax is great for making sure that users get appropriate image file based on the size of their device but also fonts, you could consider whether mobile users needs your custom fonts and save the extra request by putting that in the media query for example. Yes, it does require special attention I would say.
Tell us first of all a little bit about Majestic. Sum it up in a nutshell.
Just for those that don’t know, Majestic is a special search engine, it's one of the biggest crawlers on the planet but we really map the way in which websites link to each. We just show people all the websites that link to you or websites that link to your competition.
I heard a rumor – didn't you do something in space recently?
We did yes. We’ve just teamed up with an organization called Made In Space and we've taken a 3-D printer that works in zero gravity. It took off from Cape Canaveral and it’s made its way up to the International Space Station. When it's up there one of the things it's going to do is, it’s got some things to fix space stations and stuff. It’s got all that. One of the things it's going to do is print a 3-D visualization on the internet based on its link profiles. We collect link profiles of all the websites and we’ve got a file that shows all the back links of the Internet. It makes a nice 3-D thing. We’re going to see if we can print that space to give you an idea of the Internet and space blending together to give some idea of horizons and how far you can go with unlimited potential. Hopefully we'll get it back here and in November it will land and all being well and we can take it to conferences and let people see it. That will be pretty cool.
That will be a treat.
If it works.
It’s pretty groundbreaking stuff.
There is some risk involved. Let’s be honest; if the inks stops then that’s it.
Further rumors, I’ve heard something about the queen?
That's not a rumor. If you've heard it before yesterday it would have to have been a rumor because we'd have been shot by 007. We won an award. Majestic has won a Queen's Award for Enterprise.
Thank you very much. That’s a fantastic gong from the queen for our business and particularly our sales. The best bit about that for that for me is that myself and the founder Alex, we get to go and see the queen. That's going to be great.
Teaing the queen?
Shaking hands with the queen. That's going to be great. That came out and was announced on her birthday, on her 90th birthday. I think apart from the privilege of being able to do that and for Majestic, I think it's good for the industry as well. It's been a long time for the SEO industry, for the PPC industry, the whole technical side of this digital marketing age to be recognized. I think it's just one thing that’s starting to say, “Hey, this is an industry that is here.” I hope it's good for all of us anyway.
Fantastic. For fans of Majestic, can you give an idea of any updates that are coming up or anything they may be interested in?
We’ve been working on a few things. I’ve got a Twitter client or a Majestic client for Twitter. If you go on iTunes now, we haven’t properly announced it but you can go on there and play with it and type in Majestic client for Twitter or something like that. What it is is it's like Twitter you can go and tweet people and that sort of thing. Also it shows the influence of people based on their trust flow and their flow metrics. You can see, rather than just counting the number followers, which let's face it Fiverrr.com is a great place to create followers. It gives you a new way of seeing people and it’s in the stream. You can then slide in Tinder-style and see this person is influential in computing and this person is influential society and politics and stuff like that and how influential they are. If you want add them to your list for later you can do that. That's a pretty cool tool that we've been working on.
It's exciting. Finally, the event today. What would be your biggest take away? Are there any topics that are trending?
Honestly the biggest take away for me is it's quite relaxing when I don't have to present. I presented a lot of things. I didn't know I was going to be here. That was actually quite nice and it means I can take in a lot more that I normally would. There’s a lot to take in really. There's a lot of really good speakers. I think missing out on the speaking is probably a mistake if you can avoid it but just getting around and seeing as many people as you can is always the best thing to do. The networking is brilliant.
Can you tell us maybe what your winning link research strategy would be?
That’s the thing, it starts with the idea and the understanding that links are important. Links are the most important ranking factor in Google. It starts with that. In some organizations, the perception arises that you would not have to look at links because links can cause a penalty and that doesn’t mean links are bad. You just need the right links. It starts with that understanding; we need to take care of our links and then we need to find the right links. For instance with link research tools, you have a tool in there where you a push a button and find all the healthy and strong links of your competition. This is what you want to go after because if your competition outperforms you on those already. You want to know at least.
It’s not necessarily about the exact pages. What is their strategy? Where are they getting them from? You do all that after hopefully after you got rid of some bad links if you had some. Then you really need to continue to do an analysis because that second misperception is that all links are equal but they’re not. The number of links doesn’t matter and especially not in every industry. You have different rules in data, in finance, in shopping. All of these industries work differently so you want to understand: What is my market in my country in my language for my keywords? This is different. In finance, credit cards work different to bank account for instance. This is what you start with and so that’s not one size fits all. There’s not this simple trick. It starts with all the work, you need to do your homework basically to understand the market and then go after these.
A very detailed and helpful answer. Thank you. In your opinion, what’s big at the moment in SEO in the UK? What’s happening?
What’s happening in the UK right now is basically also very similar to a global fad; that a lot of people focus too much on homepage which means they take care of their conversion, their website speed, everything on the website. That takes away some time from the linking part, from the outreaching part because some people link building doesn’t work anymore, some people say SEO is dead. You know what?
It is dead because these people refer to the link building from 2012 and before. Back then it was really easy to take your credit card, pay a hundred quid and get 500 links. Everyone did it because it worked. This does not work anymore.
That’s outdated and you get yourself into trouble. This is like putting out the question: Should I wash my hair or go to dinner? You don’t do “either-or,” you wash your hair and then go to dinner. It’s content and links and this is what Google also confirmed. It’s a little bit bizarre when you look at the markets and people discussing too many topics of this one area and not the other one. This is basically global. It’s very tough in Germany but I would say the UK has its share too to look after as well.
OK. That was a great answer and a good analogy. I like that. In terms of the event today, you obviously spoke at the event?
What’s your biggest takeaway from it?
The biggest takeaway so far – and this comes from discussions with a lot of people after they talk at our booth here – is that there’s a new generation of marketers coming in. Especially at Brighton SEO we have hundreds of people that are in their first or second year of marketing. This doesn’t mean the things five years ago don’t matter anymore. This constant education and reeducation is something I focus on and think a lot of companies and agencies should focus on as well. This new shiny toy, whatever it is, it was Facebook and it was Twitter; it's great, but you don’t forget about these other things. This is what I like so much about Brighton here because it has a consistent track of people getting educated across. It really stands apart from many other conferences I’ve been too and speak too so I really like Brighton. That’s good news because it’s free for so many people.
I'd like to welcome Erica McGillivray, she is Senior Community Manager at Moz and she’s flown all the way from Seattle to be at the event today so we’re lucky to grab a few minutes with her. Hello and welcome!
Hi, thank you for having me. Hi everyone!
First off, what are your major tips for building relationships with bloggers, publishers and journalists?
I think one thing that gets overlooked a lot is people are doing a lot of influencer targeting, which is fabulous. You want to connect with your most vocal, most powerful possible community members but don't neglect people who are smaller, don't neglect community members who might not have the influencer score you want. Connecting with them can be really amazing for your company overall. The wider your community is the more support you’re going to have but also they could be the people of that the next big thing. Don't mess up.
It’s a good tip. What are your blogger outreach best practices, if you will?
If we’re looking to do outreach usually it’s actually to have people come right on the Moz blog and we kind of have two ways you can do that. We actually let anyone come to our YouMoz blog and submit a post, you just have to create a community account on our site, come and write for us and if [we actually] see someone in the community that we really want, typically we just shoot them an email and be like, “Hey, we think the work you’re doing is really great and here’s what we’re kind of looking for on our blog and here’s what you do, let's see if we can make that happen.”
Yeah, see how you could make it work. Going into more detail, how do you choose the bloggers you want to work with when you start from that, from shooting off that email and seeing how you can work together, are there any more mechanisms you use to make the choice?
I’ve always favored people who are obviously good at writing because that’s important, though we have editors that you can work with obviously and [get] better. We also love working with people who can take feedback. We want you to be the best possible, we want our site to be the best possible, more adaptable and easy you are to deal with, that’s a like A+ in my column.
Good point. Maybe to add to blog analytics, what are your must have tools for this?
Right now we're actually making a switch from GA over to Amateur because we’re hoping to get a lot more rich data. You come back and forth a lot about our blog analytics if visitors or what you want, if it’s social shares, our head of our audience development team, Trevor Klein... he actually came up with what he calls the 'one metric' and he kind of combines a lot of things like how many comments does he get, how many traffic does he get, how many social shares, etc You can also look through them and be like, “Hey, this one performed really well on Twitter, let’s share it some more.”
OK. That's another great tip there. Finally, what are the most common outreach mistakes that can result in ruining your relationships with bloggers?
I think again, focus on not treating people like people, or focusing too much on how influential or authoritative they are... you don’t want to mess [up a] relationship with anyone.
You’re right. It doesn't matter what position and what level they’re coming from. Thank you very much. We had an eye opener there from Erica. Thank you for giving us your time. Happy Brighton SEO!
You started your agency nine years ago and fast forward to now and you're speaking today at Brighton SEO. What made you choose that topic? What are you going to talk about?
My title is very bold. It’s called ‘How to Build the Hell Out of Your Agency.’ I'm going to share some important tips, things that I learned in nine years of running the business from scratch. Things like how to lower the churn rate because the churn rate is like the Holy Grail of growth. We focus a lot now on helping agencies to grow. We took everything that we’ve learn from our agency and we implemented into a software product called SEOmonitor.com and the entire process that we have and we improved over the time we’ve somehow implemented like a software as a service and we’re trying to get the most out of it.
Can you share with us one of those top tips, any secrets? Not to spoil your talk later, of course.
Sure. The issue here is that the churn rate; we think that the churn rate in an agency is directly related only with the performance of the team, like if we’re performing with our campaigns, if we reach our goals for our clients but at the end of the day we realised that it’s more related to the client profile so choosing, selecting the best client that fits our services. It's not about being picky; it's more about being honest and understanding and being responsible for using your sales skills in choosing a customer that will gain a lot of value from your services. For example if we work for a startup, the chances for a startup to succeed are pretty low that’s the statistic. We think that they should validate first their business model, they should find their market[ing] feet and after that they should invest in SEO. When you’re small and you’re a startup, you need to experiment a lot and to find your way. So SEO would not be a good investment in that stage...