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Blog Events

Live @ The Inbounder, London

Today I am at the The Inbounder, London, live blogging the second instalment of a world tour that takes the conference setup by Gianluca Fiorelli, across the globe to Madrid, New York and Milan.

There are some great speakers on show today including:

Through the out the day I will be updating this post to bring you the key points of each talk, and the slides when they become available.

Tom Anthony – 3 New Techniques for the Modern Age of SEO

Tom Anythony talking about 3 New Techniques for the Modern Age of SEO – Image Courtesy of Kristen Baird @kristenbaird91
  • Best practice SEO doesn’t always fit every client, and you need to focus more on split testing.
  • Basic tests showed adding alt tags doesn’t necessarily have an impact on results
  • SEO split testing is different to traditional CRO A/B testing is user oriented. You basically put them in to separate buckets
    • You are unable to do this with SEO due to potential cloaking issues
  • Machine learning did as much in 2 months of working with Google Translate, as 200 engineers over the previous 10 years
  • Is content on category pages any good? Tests by ODN suggests that it had positive impact on one website, but a different website had a negative impact. This backs up the point that each website is different, and best practices doesn’t always work for all.
  • Does Google crawling Javascript have issues? Implementing a having a CSS fallback on Javascript enabled pages led to a 6.2% uplift in organic traffic.
  • Title Tag Test: Exact match search queries within the title tags saw and 8% negative impact. You’d expect this as what a user would enter in to the search is the question, and the results should be an answer.
  • Adding structured data to category pages provided an increase in 11% organic traffic for an eCommerce client.
  • SEO Reasons for using Machine Learning
    • ML Search Algo: we need ML to unravel it
    • IPAs, Apps, Smart Watches: too much data
    • Competitive Advantage: better insights, sooner
  • “Learn to drive, not to build the engine” when it comes to learning about Machine Learning. “If anyone asks you to learn ML then punch them in the face.”
  • Understand what categories Machine Learning can do for you.
  • FUTURE THINKING: Businesses are starting to think more towards a hub & spoke model with APIs being used to create their ecosystem.
  • What does this mean for SEOs? Invest in centralised analytics, to ensure you can plugin any type of channel/metric

Kelvin Newman

Why Podcasting is the missing Piece n Your Inbound Strategy & How to Excel in Audio Content

Kelvin Newman trying to convince us about podcasting – Image courtesy of Steven Howe @stevenhowe
  • Why should you do podcasting? Well.. there are more people interested in podcasts than you’d imagine.
    • 24% of Americans listen to podcasts across the US
    • 14% increase growth year-on-year
    • 40% growth over the past two year.
    • More than half of all podcast listeners generally listen to 3 or 4 podcasts per week
    • Over a 5th of podcasters listen to six or more podcasts a week
  • Better to create a podcast that is shorter, but have more podcasts per month as frequency is important. This is due to 85% of podcasters listening to the majority of the entire feature, but having shorter but more will enable this to improve.
  • What do you need to create a good podcast.
    • Microphones
    • Interesting people
    • Stuff to talk about
  • You first 10 podcasts will be terrible, don’t be self conscious about it. You want to launch with a number of podcasts as they are more of a feed process than you’d expect.
  • Having a podcast with multiple people allows for you to have a conversation/debate which is a lot more useful to the user.
  • Finding podcasters within your industry and offering your time to get a spot on them, is a much better opportunity for you than guest posting.
  • To get your podcast out there, you need to produce a feed. These are two of the most basic options that you can do today.
    • The Serious Simple Podcasting – WordPress Plugin
    • Use your usual webhost
  • The main place to submit your podcast is to iTunes. It is worth getting your artwork right in multiple formats so that you will look great if you get on the feature list.

 

Olga Andrienko

User psychology and social media: Triggers that drive conversion

Olga Adrienko User psychology and social media: Triggers that drive conversion – Image Courtesy of Jon Myers @jondmyers
  • Research your competition and identify where you’re better than anybody else
  • Focus on these strengths and you’ll be unbeatable
  • Use RivalIQ to see how brands positioned themselves, and then used LinkedIn to identify the people behind the profiles. See how they react, engage and post.
  • 4 components of a good social media presence are:
    • Creativity
    • Freedom
    • Budget
    • Responsibility
  • You can do anything, but not everything. Use tools such as BuzzSumo / aHrefs to find out where different content types are being shared. If it is in one place, then just market there and not everywhere.
  • Be diverse in your feed, add visuals, tag people and celebrate your fans/followers.
  • Social Media posts with Screenshots that show data highlighted has the biggest impact for SEMrush.
  • Employees are you biggest asset. Ask them to share content or tag a few people below the brand’s target.
  • Fonts is an understate part of social media. Fonts speak a lot louder than we think they do.
  • Typefaces have personality. Typography – visual summary of your copy.
  • There are four ways that you can repurpose content such as user generated content, creating a recap post, create checklists and images for quotes to be share on your social media channels.
  • Having amazing content on social media is not enough, you need to network with your audience.
  • User TweetBinder to get all tweets for the event that you are at. Export to Excel, filter users by authority and engage with them afterwards
  • Use social media to listen to conversations, and respond with relevant information.
  • People are ready to buy products and services they see on social. Instagram ads work!
  • Embed your social media on to your website. People trust you, not social media.
  • Amplify your reach, by asking your audience to share when they have registered for your activities/bought your product.
  • Make all of your responses personal. Use the persons first name and not “you” or just the user handle.

Hannah Smith

Going down the rabbit hole – Chaos, Curiosity and Creativity

Hannah talk “Going down the rabbit hole – Chaos, Curiosity and Creativity” – Image Courtesy of Omi Sido @omisido

 

Hannahs’ talk was incredibly useful, but also really quick as she had ~240 slides so I have only managed to get a few key points written down. However, I do have the slides below which I recommend that you take a look at.

  • Find something that you love and build upon them to build something new.
  • Hannah recommends a book called “Steal like an artist” by Austin Kleon
  • Stealing can be bad, especially if you steal the graphics and do not adding anything new for the user. Steal responsibly
  • Figure out where you want to get coverage (5-10 sites), and see what content gets the most share.
  • Try to figure our why people share the content and not what they share.
  • Talk to human beings who care about the product, as if you don’t understand your audience, they will not understand your content.
  • We are all creative, it’s just that nobody talks about how hard it is to do.

 

Nichola Stott

9 Things We’re checking for a Mobile First Index

Nichola giving her talk “9 Things We’re checking for a Mobile First Index” – Image Courtesy of Henko Labs @henkolab
  • Nichola thinks this is the biggest single step change within our industry over the 20 years since Google.
  • Nichola thinks the index change will be in June 2018
  • This is the single biggest opportunity to get ahead of your competitors, who are generally already behind the curve.
    • 1. Check mobile agent/client handling – Make no assumptions, but check sample in a device lab. Have multiple mobile devices on hand to check mobile responsiveness
      • If it the website is responsive you have little to do, but do take a look at GA to check out behavioural analysis, commercial analysis, speed, UX content and journey.
    • 2. Speed/HTTP2
      • HTTP / 1.1
        • Head of line – resources
        • Priority queue – ‘educated’ guess
        • Queue held on client
        • Keep-alive – stated
      • HTTP / 2
        • Prioritised by type & context
        • Browser to server
        • Keep-alive enabled by default
    • 3. Speed / Front End Optimisation
      • Image optimisation is a biggest step change drivers in speed change
      • Use image spriting to help improve image optimising
    • 4. Tag Handling
      • Conduct a tag audit to analyse and compare any issues, provide recommendations to fix.
      • Use GTM to take tags out of inline code helps improve page speed.
    • 5. Structured Data
      • 20% of mobile searches are voice search
    • 6. Service Workers
      • Seek to solve biggest problem – no connectivity
      • Replacement to AppCache
      • Browser runs in the background
    • 7. URL Hierarchy / Ecosystem
      • Don’t rely on alternate /canonical to infer hreflang.
    • 8. Content Experience
      • Higher bounce rate on mobile, but it is difficult to compare between mobile and desktop.
      • Use words efficiently, whilst using natural language.
    • 9. Journey Experience
      • What is the point of the page.
      • Simple UX review and scoring system for top revenue driving landing pages / templates if wide-ranging ecommerce.
      • Use a scoring system to easily understand which pages or templates are working and which needs work.

Jono Alderson

Accelerate Mobile – Beyond AMP!

Jono Alderson talking about Accelerate Mobile – Beyond AMP! – Image Courtesy of Nichola Stott @nicholastott
  • Start to think about speed as a competitive advantage rather than a technical challenge, you can start to get some real good data.
  • Jono recommends that you read Barry Adams BrightonSEO presentation as a good resource to get started. https://www.slideshare.net/Badams/are-accelerated-mobile-pages-really-worth-it-google-amp-case-studies
  • For the most part, you are giving up the control of your own content even though there are lots of positives for moving to AMP.
  • Infrastructure & Network Optimisation
    • HTTPs and HTTP2 is the future of the way internet works. You will need to adopt it at some point, and from Jan 2018 Chrome will mark you down as insecure
    • HTTPs isn’t a binary thing. There are complexities that the the different SSL certificates bring and you need to be aware of what yours work.
    • HSTS – A better version of HTTPS – Check out hstspreload.org which will check your setup. This is for those that are committing to HTTPs.
    • Check out Fille Wisse awesome guide on HTTPS – online.marketing/guide/https
    • If you have adopted HTTPs but not HTTP2 then you have made your website slower. You need to do both to make them work better. You can only use HTTP2 if you have HTTPs. It is an easy thing to setup, speak to your Dev team as it takes 10mins.
  • Connection & Data Transfer
    • Images are the easiest win when speeding up your site.
    • Test CSS3 (draw dots rather than have images) vs images vs sprites vs encoding vs inlining
    • SRCSET is the only solution for managing image sizes/resolutions – More here
    • You can also use <picture> to support multiple formats
    • You can turn your basic images into data using base64-image.de – Please bare in mind that this may not be cached by the browsers on every page. There is always cons to the pros.
    • Using sprites has a bigger impact than using HTTPs / HTTP2, but can be a pain to manage.
    • WebP is a better format of JPG & PNG combined. More info can be found here. This is not very popular at the moment, but is becoming so. There is a fall back for those browsers that do not support WebP, just edit your HTaccess.
    • Better management of common errors – Make sure any 404s, old files are redirected as the server will still try to load them regardless.
  • Measurement
    • There is no metric for things such as ‘Speed’,  tools such as Google PageInsights, Pingdom, WebPageTest, are all nonsense. None of them actually test the speed of your website.
    • Look at New Relic & Server Density to help with speed measurement.

At this point Jono was told that he had 2 minutes left, so went into overdrive. Check out the slides from this point on.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t adopt AMP, but you should read their documentation and understand the trade-offs.

 

Kirsty Hulse

Content Marketing: How to work less and win more!

Kirsty Hulse “Content Marketing: How to work less and win more!” – Image Courtesy of Alison Parcell @AlisonParcell
  • Lesson 1: Find the absolute easiest route to the results you want
  • I believe that we need to start investing less in content marketing
  • Use the Hero, Hub, Hygiene model for your content marketing strategy
  • Things that help Kirsty with getting ideas
    • Change your environment – Go for a walk around the park
    • Keep a notepad by your bed
    • Use reddit for ideation
    • Already have ideas when you brainstorm
  • Avoid Idea Dilution – Pitch something insane but make sure you have some buy in from journalists and be on brand.
    • Pitch ideas in threes as you can get people to pick the one you want.
  • Use Pollfish for creating survey data for any data driven content. Keep the angle of the content piece light if you are using survey data, don’t target high focussed content as journalists no longer use it anymore.
  • Check out Amazon new releases as they are likely to be authors that are likely to be launching a book. Get in touch to see if they are interested in collaborating.
  • Partner with other companies – Come together as a group (SEOs) to help each other get the most from the outreach.
  • Don’t just give journalists a story, give them the data to support their story.

Russell McAthy

Using machine learning to forecast future sales, the SEO way!

Russell McAthy “Using machine learning to forecast future sales, the SEO way!” Image Courtesy of Mike Gracia @mikegracia_
  • All marketing will be a combination of programmatic, creative and data & analytics.
  • The biggest issues for SEOs is not Google, but ourselves and the inability to showcase success. SEOs need to talk about revenue & margin.
  • SEOs should be talking about CPAs as we all cost money, so we need to show return.
  • The more fluffy the content being created, the more the CPA is.
  • Getting Started in GA
    • Add goal values to each of the goals that you have setup, regardless of what it is. They are nominal values but comparative to each other.

Hannah Thorpe

Content Marketing for Watching Paint Dry!

Hanna Thorpe “Content Marketing for Watching Paint Dry!” – Image Courtesy of The Inbounder @TheInbounder
  • The majority of products that you work with a just not that interesting, but that doesn’t mean that the brand can’t be exciting.
  • We still make excuses for not writing content, but as an agency we still want to make money and therefore need to work in all sectors.
  • Why are you making content?
    • The metrics can be anything Traffic / Leads / Brand Reputation but they need to be agreed and bought into by all the team.
  • Know the audience
    • Who – Who are they, where do they spend their time, when are they searching.
    • What – What do they want, why are they searching, what will help them decide.
    • Use Yougov profile Lite to get some good data based on the governments data set. You can find it here.
    • Use Bloomberry to find a list of questions and answers for the search term/topic that you have entered.
    • Consider time to consume, platform being used, device and location.
  • Understand the use case
    • Sometimes buying is an experience
  • Don’t try to hard
    • If you are trend jacking, you should probably not.
    • Alliteration, Puns & Rhymes = No.

“The future’s bright the future is orange rugs”

Gianluca Fiorelli

The Alphabet of Google and what we have to expect next in search.

Gianluca Fiorelli “The Alphabet of Google and what we have to expect next in search. “Image Courtesy of Steven Howe @stevenhowe
  • If you categorise all the blog post on the Google’s Webmaster Blog from May 2016 – January 2017, they are all about Mobile.  This is because we are now talking about it. Since then its been about spam and safe browsing.
  • The patents & papers from Google are related to personalised search & content.
  • Natural language processing includes Rhetoric, Entity Search, Context and Personalised Search.
  • Google is buying companies that focus on Images, Video Influencers, App Link Sharing, AI Chatbots, Vocal Search, VR and Machine Learning. This gives us an idea of where they are going.
  • Google are starting to use tags in Image Search to enable you to filter within the search.

  • Do you keyword research and always remember the entities.
  • Look at GBoard as a new source of traffic. You can do a search whilst you are texting and share a link with other people.
  • Do not reduce your SEO strategy to focus on Google Suggest.
  • Star Wars does a really good job with architectural SEO and structured data which leads to the knowledge graph using their data and not Wikipedia.
  • Use safecont.com, an machine learning based platform that helps with you content and ranking.
  • Hypothesis for Machine Learning training set for internal linking optimisation
  • Use Algorithmia to create content such as meta descriptions for large websites that can be created in an automated way.

And that’s a wrap! It’s been a great day of presentations at The Inbounder, London. I hope that you found this roundup useful, and I look forward to attending the next one.

Categories
Blog Events

Search Elite – The New Search Conference

As the digital marketing conference season gets into full swing, you have probably purchased your tickets for the standard conferences already, but there is a new kid on the block – Search Elite.

Having attracted some of the best speakers in digital marketing, founders Craig Rayner and Jackie Bissell are looking to do something a little different to the conferences of old.

Speaking to Jackie about SearchElite, she was passionated about wanting to be different to what is currently going being offered by other conferences.

Jackie continued by saying “If I am taking time to visit a conference the key things I want to take from it are knowledge sharing, learning and networking.  Search Elite has been programmed to offer all of them.  To be able to spend a day with the experts in SEO/SEM discuss, make contacts and keep in touch with important changes within your industry are crucial to your job.”

This same passion ran through the conversations I had with some of the speakers I managed to talk to. They were also generous enough to answer a few questions about the first Search Elite and what attendees can expect from their presentations.

You can use the navigational links below to skip to certain speakers if you prefer:

Gerry White

How excited are you about speaking at the first Search Elite, and what are you expecting?

SearchElite has such a formidable lineup, it was a little daunting when I saw the rest of the speakers, knowing most of the personally I know this is going to be amazing, I know that I am going to be making so many notes, I love great conferences and this looks to be one of the best of 2017, so to be within this speaker selection is quite an honour.

Apart from your own talk, who are you most looking forward to seeing at Search Elite?

That is a hard one, I have seen Russel and Jono talk a lot, and typically make a point of going to see them, Judith is legendary, but I think I am going to have to say Jim Banks, my reasoning is simply that I haven’t actually heard him talk before but have read much of what he has written and his knowledge and experience is (and I hate to use the word twice) legendary.

Without giving too much away, what can attendees expect from your presentation?

When I first got into the wonderful world of SEO, websites were (or at least the ones I worked on) were fairly simple, table based layouts and simple images, the best way to show where we were vs where we are today is to watch the video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLlGopyXT_g . Today most of my clients are built on ever more complicated platforms which to get something in takes months to get something in, often by the time it is ready I will be want to change the original specs “scope creep”, because SEO has changed something new has appeared … Imagine being able to test something quickly in SEO before you ask developers to build it, imagine every time a developer says – no you can’t do that, you can ‘hack it in’.

So if I can hack in something that has SEO impact, is this a good thing, should I be trusted with this much power? Should everyone who has this access? Is your website as safe as you think it is, is the workflow as robust as it needs to be, and why the developers are looking terrified when I can demonstrate to them that I can just hack it on. If I can put a Konami Code onto TakeItOffline.co.uk in ten minutes, I can record every keystroke you make, with GDPR this is something that should rightfully terrify your IT team.

Critically three points, you can do awesome stuff with GTM, you probably shouldn’t be using it as a CMS and finally you should probably be aware of who else has access to this backdoor to your website.

What do you think is the biggest barrier for marketeers moving further towards GTM?

GTM isn’t as simple as most people would expect it to be and despite the messaging from Google and advocacy from people like myself, users still need a basic understanding of tags, JavaScript and the web to really get the most from it. This isn’t necessarily, I am grateful that people who have a good technical understanding should still be involved in deployment to a commercial website (if only to preserve security, https and making sure that users privacy isn’t compromised). Google have recently introduced workspaces and with publishing rights already there, it does feel like they are making strides in the right direction.

For most websites, a couple of days training can certain start to get you a long way with GTM, but as I say I think this is something that should have a technical pair of eyes.

Any tags that should be being implemented via GTM that are not?

A lot of what I am talking about is almost a last resort hack, or alternatively a way of testing something that would otherwise be costly. GTM is not a CMS, it is a JavaScript injector – so if there is a better way of doing something, I talk about doing it this way as a way of testing something before I try and get too many developers on the task.

My personal blog site has hacks layered on hacks, with a side portion of code, this isn’t how commercial sites should operate (it is probably not how my blog should work) but if you aren’t testing it somewhere you aren’t learning.

Many CRO tags modify the on page content, which if done using GTM often will result in the user seeing this content before the tag has managed to fire – this causes an odd flash, or if the content is of a different size, content can jump around the page, resulting in users clicking in the wrong location. I have also seen an increase in people blocking JavaScript, this is through plugins such as Ghostery, so nothing critical to a conversion.

One thing I have noticed increasingly is a lack of awareness of the tags deployed through GTM, theses should be audited regularly, are they still in use, are they up to date (if you are sending hits to a domain or worse executing JavaScript from an unknown source, you could be setting you and your users up for a world of issues).

The future of analytics is increasingly managed by tag management and this will open the doors for increasingly interesting CRO hacks and tools to be deployed…

David Iwanow

How excited are you about speaking at the first Search Elite, and what are you expecting?

I’m always excited to speak at new and upcoming events as there is often a lot of energy from the audience and there is not the usual roster of speakers. I love several of the existing conferences but I’ve found for growing my industry networks and finding new and interesting people to follow on Twitter new conference are often a better option if I have a limited budget for conferences. The other aspect which I like about Search Elite is that the ticket price makes the conference attractive to a larger range of folks who might not be able to spend £1-2k on tickets.

Apart from your own talk, who are you most looking forward to seeing at Search Elite and why?

I’d say Gerry White who is speaking on the topic of “using and abusing GTM” which is certainly a very interesting way to implement some SEO hacks with limited development support to test before rolling them out. Also interested to see what Jono Alderson who is speaking on AMP which is certainly something that is gaining traction for sites as a quick way to significantly increase the page load times along with some bonuses such as visibility in the Google AMP results widget. There are also some great speakers that always bring plenty of energy to stage such as Sam Noble and Judith Lewis that you have to ensure you catch their session.

Without giving too much away, what can attendees expect from your presentation?

So there should hopefully be some fairly actionable items that people could actually start to setup during my presentation if they wanted to…. but much of it is starting to encourage people to think more along the lines of capturing everything so you can do the analysis later if you need. There is a lot of basics you can setup today after reading this post if you really wanted to such as create custom alerts in Google Analytics if you don’t have the time or resources to check your Google Analytics account daily. Same thing around measuring the load time of your website, you made those recommendations to your developers last year to improve the platforms performance metrics but did it work, if you had of been tracking this you would have a years worth of data to measure the change.

How important do you think automation is going to be for marketeers, and how can they implement them easily?

Automation is key to doing a number of tasks that are time consuming or prone to data entry errors such as reporting. No-one likes to do monthly reporting as that’s wasted time, a SEOs time is better spent on analysis of the data and making recommendations for the upcoming months… think more about making actions based on data than just puking up Google Analytics data into an email. There is a lot of manual and repetitive tasks that most SEOs likely do daily, weekly or monthly but the best advice I ever received was from Brad Geddes of Certified Knowledge that said his team works to automate anything their team does manually more than once. So I’m not talking about the full automation of SEO such as your page titles need to have this keyword to rank that some platforms offer. My idea is more so along the lines of you have 30% of your page titles under-optimised and of those page titles that are under-optimised they are now receiving less traffic than optimised page titles, and this change to the code happened on the 3rd March which was linked to a platform release that broke a template.

Bas van den Beld

How excited are you about speaking at the first Search Elite, and what are you expecting?

I’m very excited to be speaking at the first Search Elite! When Jackie and Craig first told me about the plans, I knew they were on to something good. They don’t just want to create a new search conference. They really want to make a difference.

Apart from your own talk, who are you most looking forward to seeing at Search Elite?

They are all friends of mine, so I am looking forward to seeing them all :-). But if I have to choose one, it’s David Iwanow’s talk on “Automate or die”. I’ve been looking into a lot of automation recently, so am very interested in learning more about it.

Without giving too much away, what can attendees expect from your presentation?

I’m very excited about my talk. For many reasons. For one, I’m not doing it alone! I’ve been working on a great project the past year together with Daniel, who is a coach, a facilitator of change processes. Together we worked with a big Dutch Insurance company to get their staff to a higher level. It wasn’t just about sending knowledge. It was about embedding the knowledge in the organisation. I can only say: it was revolutionary!
I wrote about it here: http://www.stateofdigital.com/train-staff-job-get-real-results/
I’m bringing Daniel to London to join me on stage to talk about this. It will be awesome.

Digital Marketing is key to so many organisations, but there are many that fail at implementing it correctly. How can these businesses, big or small move ensure they start to implement things correctly?

What a coincidence, it’s what I will be talking about at the event! ;-).
Let me highlight a few things that I feel are most important:

  • Firstly, you can’t do anything without buy-in from C-level. Support from management is crucial.
  • Secondly it’s hugely important to know and agree on what you are trying to accomplish. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

For more, come see my talk 🙂

Samantha Noble

How excited are you about speaking at the first Search Elite, and what are you expecting?

I am really looking forward to being part of the first event. The team behind Search Elite have worked so hard to make sure they have a great mix of speakers from varied disciplines so that the audience all walk away with lots of great insights and actionable takeaways.

Apart from your own talk, who are you most looking forward to seeing at Search Elite?

Honestly, I am looking forward to seeing everyone talk. Every single person on the speaker line up are friends of mine and I love watching them speak. I always learn something from each and every one of them and the event in May will be no different based on the topics they are covering.

Without giving too much away, what can attendees expect from your presentation?

I am splitting the talk into two parts. The first part is going to look at what information we can obtain about our audiences through making use of the paid media platforms. The second part is going to show you a load of different tips and techniques for using the audience data to really enhance your paid media campaigns.

With in-house teams in particular focusing more on understanding their audience to deliver more targeted marketing campaigns. What are the biggest challenges facing them when it comes to data gathering?

Understanding where to start and actually what to do with the information once they have it. There are so many platforms packed with loads of different reports but until you understand the opportunities there are, it makes it super hard to know where to begin. I am hopeful that my session will help them to understand what needs to be done.

Jim Banks

How excited are you about speaking at the first Search Elite, and what are you expecting?

I am truly honoured to be invited to speak at the inaugural Search Elite, I am sure in years to come this will become a staple in the “search education” calendar. Getting a new event off the ground is not easy. I expect the event to be sold out and for attendees to leave with some amazing actionable takeaways to justify the time and expense out of their busy schedules

Apart from your own talk, who are you most looking forward to seeing at Search Elite?

I’ve seen all the other speakers (apart from Gerry) speak before. They are always really entertaining and informative. I’m also excited to have the all speakers Q & A after my session. Judith is always great to watch, there is usually chocolate involved.

Without giving too much away, what can attendees expect from your presentation?

I’m a huge fan of people leaving with actionable things. Given that I am the last speaker standing between the attendees and the bar, I think I owe it to them to make it good. I’ve seen a lot of advertisers, many of them big brand names, doing incredibly stupid things. I’m going to be naming and shaming a few of them, in the spirit of educating the audience. As much as I like social amplification, I think some of my presentation I will want under Chatham House rules, so no tweets, no shares. So that, plus a few good stories from the paid media trenches.

When it comes to paid media, most focus on Adwords. What platforms other than Adwords are providing customers with the best return?

It’s really important that advertisers join the dots. None of the visitors they get spend all their time on one platform, so knowing where they move to and how you can continue the conversation is important. Adwords is not just one product, it’s many, so YouTube, Remarketing, Shopping, Display all play a part. Bing is always a bit of a secret weapon for our clients, and if it bought correctly you can also get decent returns from Yahoo Gemini, but it’s a bit of a tight rope. For advertisers that are online retailers / ecommerce, then Amazon is also a platform/channel that yields great results. Amazon have actually become one of the biggest advertisers on Google Adwords basically doing arbitrage, which means you get extra amplification from Amazon spend. Most importantly, buy a ticket, I’ve not even scratched the surface and with 40 minutes to speak I aim to cover a lot of ground.

Judith Lewis

How excited are you about speaking at the first Search Elite, and what are you expecting?

I’m very excited about speaking at the first Search Elite because I’ll be a part of a very new and exciting search conference featuring some of the finest minds in the industry. I travel and speak at conferences all over the world but London is the home to some of the greatest search minds in the world and so I expect to be wow’d by the information in the talks.

Apart from your own talk, who are you most looking forward to seeing at Search Elite?

Probably Jim Banks. I think his session is extremely interesting and could be quite surprising for a lot of people in the audience. But I think the whole day looks pretty strong with a lot of interesting speakers all coming together to lend their expertise to the subject.

Without giving too much away, what can attendees expect from your presentation?

I wanted to do a session that covers some of the more neglected stuff. No one talks about the importance of some of the more advanced but to me still basic stuff. I realise crawl budget, minification and competitor audits aren’t sexy but I’m bring back the sexy in SEO… I know there’s no “sexy” in SEO but there should be 😉 My session is going to look at a bit of why social and search are important together, why you need to monitor the competition, and how I#39;ve been working with clients to make things work better.

With SEO constantly changing, what do you see as a must do to move the needle tor 2017, especially in a tough industry such as travel & tourism?

I see the travel and tourism industry as being two different beasts in a sense. Having just finished speaking at the International Wine Tourism Conference I met so many tour operators who really were not visible online and who relied on other ways to get clients. On the other side of the coin I net a number who had their SEO game well set. I spoke about strategy and the future but also attended a number of talks. I feel that oddly social is not being appropriately integrated into an overall digital marketing approach and I feel that in the quest for links, it’s being left behind. I also often see a lot of fundamental technical mistakes. There’s a lot about the Travel & Tourism vertical I’d like to see change. It isn’t just about comparison sites – a lot of the industry is about promoting a destination and getting there is only a small part of the puzzle. Moving the needle is going to mean taking a step back and reconsidering your strategy and looking at a fully integrated digital marketing approach, instead of overweighting to PPC or SEO.

 

Jono Alderson

How excited are you about speaking at the first Search Elite, and what are you expecting?

I’m really looking forward to it. There’s a really strong set of speakers, and I really like the agenda – the topics cover pretty much everything end-to-end, so I’m hoping to level up in a whole bunch of areas. This is the kind of lineup I’d want to attend to see, so it’s a privilege to be part of the mix.

Apart from your own talk, who are you most looking forward to seeing at Search Elite?

So hard to pick! If I had to choose, it’d have to be Gerry’s session on hacking SEO with WordPress and GTM – we’ve had a lot of pub talks about the kinds of things you can (but probably shouldn’t) do, so it’ll be really fun to see what he’s been up to. I like the sweet spot between SEO, Analytics and Tech, and this should tick all the boxes.

Without giving too much away, what can attendees expect from your presentation?

Some technical performance tips and tricks which you can try yourself, or use to beat up your developers. From database design to CSS flow optimisation, it’s going to get a bit geeky…

Though mobile first has been a focus for search engines for a while now, do you feel that enough companies and/or marketeers are giving it enough thought and why?

I think that many brands are treating it as just-another-thing that they have to think about, and aren’t really ready or equipped for. They still have broken websites, poor users experiences, slow pages, mountains of 404 errors, etc – and now we’re asking them to be multi-device, too!? In many cases, I think that the challenge is less of a technical one, and more about building a compelling business case which gets attention, sponsorship, and resource. Challenges with multi-device tracking and attribution make that hard, and obviously, most businesses have multiple (often competing) priorities with finite budget… Hopefully, Russell’s talk on multi-channel data might give people ammunition!


It certainly sounds like the conference is going to be great, with lots of actions to takeaway. I am certainly looking forward to attending and learning as much as possible from this group.

If you havent’ registered yet, but you are interested then you should definitely come along. I am able to provide you with a 10% discount code when using “danielbianchini10” during registration.

I look forward to seeing you all there, and if you are attending do come and say hi!

Categories
Blog Presentations

3 Tactics to Futureproof SEO in 2016 & beyond

This evening I had the pleasure of presenting on a Linkdex SEONow webinar alongside Chris Hart and Danny Goodwin.

The topic of the session was SEO insights for 2016, following on from the blog post that I contributed to back in late December.

Below are the slides that I presented to a great audience, followed by some good discussion with Chris and Danny. I have also included the video of the webinar at the top of the page.


On upload to Slideshare it seems as if some of the slides have become blurred. If you would like them, get in touch direct.

FULL WRITE UP TO COME SOON

Audience Questions:

Q: Personal assistants – is it just relevant for B2C or also for B2B?

Dan: I think this very much depends on your audience. However, unless there is considerable cost associated to your implementation why wouldn’t you do it? As more people use personal assistants (it’s growing) and search using mobile, the smarter this applications will become and start to automate what you see. As I mentioned in the presentation, I never actually set the app to being in any of the content shown, but it was based on my search preferences across all my devices. This does require you to be signed into Google, or other but when are you not?

Q: Is Google clever enough to know my site is responsive via a fluid layout (i.e., I don’t have a dedicated mobile site)? Is that OK?

Dan: Yes. There are three ways that Google has indicated that they see mobile websites, and I would suggest that this fits within the responsive category although I am speculating based on the question. The three formats that Google have provided are shown below:

  • Responsive design <— Google recommended
  • Dynamic Serving
  • Separate URL (m.)

To help determine whether Google classes your website as mobile-friendly, you can check the following tools:

Q: What about keywords, what are the changes around keyword usage and optimization? How to look at keyword organic traffic in the semantic search era? How to optimize for semantic search?

Dan: You should be optimizing around topics and not just individual keywords. Similar to how in AdWords you would build a list of keywords for a particular ad group. This set of keywords then allow you to create content around a topic that provides your user with more detailed information. These topics should then be used as part of your content strategy, which will identify which content should be used at each stage of the buying cycle

Q: Backlinks – which are the best practices about link building and using anchor text in 2016?

Dan: You want to increase the number of backinks your website gets? Build great content or digital assets that are worth linking to.

(For a more detailed discussion about links, listen to the webinar.)

Q: You mentioned schemas for search engines. Can you explain a little further?

Dan: Search engines read content on the pages, but it doesn’t necessarily give any context as what it is. The Hummingbird update and schema has helped search engines to get more clarity to what is being displayed. Schemas for search engines can be used in multiple different ways HTML5 & JSON-LD just two that I mentioned, and are snippets of code that surround specific parts of your website content.

A very simple example would be pricing. You’d wrap the price of your product in schema, which will be picked up by search engines and likely displayed within the search engine result pages.

There are many resources on schema, but the two that I always point to are:

If you’re looking for information or testing tools on implementation, then I would recommend the following:

Q: Does Google use as ranking signal – when visitors keep coming back to your website?

Dan: On an ongoing basis? Then I would say no. However, if a sudden surge of people were searching for a specific website using a certain query then I’d expect and have seen a short term increase in rankings for that website.

I have seen some experiments that Rand over at Moz has conducted where he has sent a lot of social traffic to a certain search phrase and then select a specific website. This has then seen an increase in position for that term, although on a very temporary basis.

Q: About AMP pages, we have LTE as standard offer so we have fast connection in here Vienna, anyway connections are getting faster and faster so why do we need AMP? As I understand AMP will look like page from ’90s.

Dan: Google will continue to provide resources to improve websites as part of their mission to improve the web. This doesn’t however mean that it is something that you need to implement if you think that your website speed is good enough.

Michael King has written a very good post on improving site speed by using one piece of code

Q: Do you have any optimization tips for industries that are very competitive, but quite conservative and regulated when it comes to their content?

Dan: If you do decide to go down building a content platform for your brand, understand that it takes time to gain traction. Put everything that you have into and you keep going so that it is a success. It’s easy to get down about the traction you are gaining, but just keep going!

This Econsultancy post provides some information on ideas for the finance industry.

Q: One of my clients has a blog post that’s gotten more traffic than others, and I want to reuse it. Is it accurate that Google doesn’t like content that looks like a copy/repeat of something else? So if I make a few changes to update it, does that mean I should delete the previous (original) post so it doesn’t look like a copy?

Dan: Many different ways that this can be handled. I’d suggest that you check out the webinar for more in-depth responses but in short:

  • Republishing isn’t an issue if it’s valid and useful.
  • If you copy it to another URL then you’d want to implement canonical tags.
  • When creating content think about whether it can be used again, will it be evergreen. Then you can really think about the URLs that you are using.
  • Check the webinar. 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the presentation in the comments below or as usual over on twitter @danielbianchini.

Categories
Blog Events

New search adventures for 2016 – The 2nd Optimise Oxford

Tonight was the second Optimise Oxford down at the St Aldates tavern with three excellent talks from Stephen Kenwright, Sean Butcher and Katie Bennett.

Unfortunately I was unable to make the event this evening but followed on Twitter, and was lucky enough to see the slides prior to the night.

Stephen Kenwright – Link Metrics that Matter

Stephen hasn’t put his slides up online yet, but wrote a post about Link Metrics that Matter over on the Branded3 website. Here he talks about the current use of Moz and Majestic metrics, and how TrustRank maybe a better way of measuring links.

1. Trust is as important as PageRank
2. Multiple links from the same website shows trust
3. I want more links from people who already link.

Below is Stephen delivering his talk captured by White.net.

 

Sean Butcher – Google rich answers, why they can no longer be ignored

Sean’s presentation talks about Google’s Rich Answers and shows data from a study performed by Eric Enge of Stone Temple. He also created his own study of 200 How, What, Where and Why queries which is really interesting. Take a look at his slides below.

 

As with Stephen above, the team over at White.net managed to capture Sean in action and posted it on Twitter below.

 

Katie Bennett – Why your digital strategy needs user personas

The White.net team managed to catch Katie rocking the stage in the video below!

 

Following online was difficult, but it seemed to be another great event and one that will continue to flourish here in Oxford.

Some images from Twitter

There was plenty of conversation on twitter and I managed to borrow some images taken by @UELukeT, @OptimsieMeetup and @whitedotnet.

Hopefully I can make the next one, and see you all there too! To stay up to date on when the next event is, head over to Twitter and follow @optimisemeetup, sign up on the meetup page or sign up for my newsletter below!

Categories
Blog Presentations

Outreach Digital – The Changing World of SEO

Last night I was invited to present at the Outreach Digital event held at WeWork in Soho. During my talk I discussed the changing world of SEO and how recent alogirthm changes have had a major affect on the landscape and how we conduct our work. From here I provided 7 tips that helped those looking to stay out of harms way and build longterm organic growth for their business.

It was a lot of fun, with a great audience. I hope to be able to speak there in the future. If you couldn’t make it, then please see the slides below.

If you liked the presentation and want to stay in touch, please sign-up for my newsletter!

If anyone has any more photos from the event I would love for you to send them to me so that I can feature them below. You can send them to me[@]danielbianchini[.]co[.]uk

Categories
Blog Presentations

The Changing World of SEO & 7 Tips to Stay Ahead

This post was first featured on White.net

Last night I had the pleasure of speaking at the first Optimise Oxford alongside Ned Poulter and Jono Alderson. Below are the slides that I presented along with a brief summary of it.

SEO isn’t dead, it’s evolving!

For several years we have been hearing that SEO is dead, and I do get a little fed up of it. SEO isn’t dying, it’s evolving. It’s growing up, we are becoming a more mature industry that is looking for long term growth, not short term results that lead to failure.

89 major algorithm updates in 4 years

Since the start of 2011 Google has released 89 major updates to it’s algorithm with the aim of improving the results provided to the user. These updates include the following:

Panda

First released in February 2011, there has been over 29 recorded updates to the Panda algorithm. The initial update affected 12% of english speaking search queries worldwide, and led to well known brands suffering.

Panda cracked down on websites with thin content, content farms and high ad-to-content ratio. Businesses such as eHow were hugely effected, taking traffic levels down to 10s of thousands from 100s of thousands.

Penguin

First hit in April 2012, the Penguin update aimed at reducing many spam factors and affected an estimated 3.1% of English queries.
Those websites that were keyword stuffing, participating in link schemes, cloaking and had lots of duplicate content were penalised.
During this time, people also started to receive manual link notifications through Google Webmaster Tools (now Google Search Console). If you received these messages you were either going to be or were handed a manual penalty.

Hummingbird

The first major rewrite of Google’s algorithm since ‘Caffeine’, Hummingbird was created to provided more meaning behind the search queries.

This change allowed more focus on understanding the billions of pages that are currently indexed through data markup and the expanded knowledge graph.

Pigeon

The Pigeon update focussed on looking at more useful, relevant and accurate search results.

This update bought the local ranking factors more in line with the traditional ranking factors. However, this update has made significant changes to the maps, location parameters and the local pack.

Mobile

First announced in February, #Mobilegeddon launched on the 21st April 2015. With Google putting more emphasis on mobile users, the new mobile index put more weight on those websites that were mobile friendly.

This shouldn’t have been a major surprise to the majority of us, with over 2 billion smart phones used globally.
Although marketed as a huge change for the industry, the results were significantly lower than expected with only 4% of change recorded.

7 tips to stay ahead

Think like a brand

Regardless of the size of your business, you are a brand. So start thinking like one.
This can be done in a number of different ways including:

  • Dominating page one of brand searches
  • Encourage online reviews
  • Register social media profiles
  • Look after local search

Understand your audience

If you don’t know your audience type, then how can you market to them?
Using a mixture of surveys, persona information, social media and keyword research, you should be able to get a good understanding of who they are, and what they like.

Once you know this you can start to create marketing decisions based on user information.

Create content for each stage of the buying cycle

Content is an important part of any marketing plan. One key aspect from a search perspective is the user lands on the correct page for the search query that they have entered.

Although not easy, this can be done by understanding the intent behind the search and producing the correct content asset for that search. At White, we utilise the user journey flow below to identify the correct piece of content for each stage of the buying cycle.

This provides an easy to reference guide to what content is required based on the user’s intent.

Optimise Presentation Oct 15 17 - Slides7

Think about mobile

Mobile is more important than ever, and should be considered a must for your business. Although conversion continues to be higher through desktop, mobiles are a huge part of the research stage and are being used on the commute to work and in the evenings.

To check whether your website complies to the mobile requirements set out by Google, please visit the mobile friendly tool they have provided.

Invest in the marketing mix, not just SEO

It’s key that you supplement your SEO efforts with alternative marketing initiatives. You may create some really great content for your SEO campaign, but to get the very best results you should market it across all channels.

Methods such as email are still considered one of the best forms of marketing if you can get it right. Due to platforms such as MailChimp, email marketing has become an easy, yet cheap way of engaging with your audience.

Build for long term growth, not short term

People continue to want results now! That is the world that we live in, but we need to educate stakeholders that consistent and long term growth is a better way of building a business, than instant short term returns.

This means creating the right strategy, employing the right people, building and engaging with the right audience. This all takes time, but it will pay off with long term success, and not falling foul of search engine guidelines.

Categories
Blog Presentations

11 Actionable SEO Tips and Tricks You Can Use Today!

Categories
Blog Events

SMX London – Chris Sherman Interview

This post was originally published on White.net

This week I had the opportunity to interview Chris Sherman, Founding Editor of SearchEngineLand.com about the upcoming SMX London event. During the interview, Chris gives his insight on the event, the agenda and his thoughts on the search industry in 2015.

If you are interested in going to SMX London and you want some discount, then you are in luck. The lovely people at SMX have provided us with a 15% discount code when signing up by simply add WHITESMX at the registration page.

The below is a transcript of the interview recording.

Daniel Bianchini (DB):Hello Chris, thanks for taking the time to speak to me.

Chris Sherman: Sure.

DB: Really looking forward to SMX coming up in May. So I just really wanted to get some of your thoughts about a couple of key points that I sent across, if that’s okay?

CS: Sure. It sounds great.

DB: So the first one is, obviously, SMX is back in London. What can we expect from this year’s conference? Is there any surprises you can let the audience in on?

CS: I don’t think we’re gonna have any surprises. The real advantage that I think we have in running SMX in London in May is that it comes right between our SMX West and our SMX Advanced show.

During the process of planning the show, we get to not only see what’s new, what’s happening and so on in San Jose at SMX West, but we’re also thinking forward to what we’re gonna run at SMX Advanced in Seattle.

So in my mind, SMX London gets the best of both worlds. We kind of distill the content that we think is really, really useful from both of those shows, and of course it’s not entirely U.S. based approach. We try to look at what’s happening in the U.K., what’s happening in Europe and so on. But we really do get a lot of advantages from having the timing right when it is.

DB:I was at SMX Advanced in Seattle last year. I was lucky enough to manage to come across and I really enjoyed it.

So how do you think the content there differs with the content that you have over in the U.K.? Like you said, you try and get the best of both worlds. But is there a difference?

CS: Yeah. There is a difference. I mean, with SMX London, as with most of the rest of our SMX shows, we try to have a balance between advanced and intermediate content. We really don’t do a whole lot of basic content anymore because we feel that most people who are coming to the shows do have the basics already down.

So it’s gonna be a nice broad range of topics that we’re covering. We do have some of the same sessions that we are running at SMX Advanced running in London. So people who are experienced will have the advantage of getting that content.

There will be different speakers. That’s the nice thing about London is we tend to have more U.K. and European based speakers, so we get a different perspective, but we still get that great content that we really get at SMX events.

DB:That’s interesting. Obviously you have been coming to the U.K. for quite awhile now. How do you think the content has changed throughout time?

CS: Oh, it has been fascinating. I’ve actually been involved in programming search conferences for over 15 years now. When we first started doing them it was just so, so basic. We were only interested in what’s your search engine ranking and how many hits does a page get, and so on.

It was simple stuff. Over time it has involved to be this incredibly complex, very rich sort of process. I mean, when we first started doing it there were no ads, for example. I mean, it was all just organic search. Now we have ads. We’ve got mobile. We have so many things. Social media.

It’s just become this incredibly rich and fascinating sort of process that we have to get involved with and it changes constantly. So to keep up with it, it’s really a full time job.

DB:Do you think there’s been any trends that have stayed consistent or has it completely flipped?

CS: Well, it’s interesting, because when people ask this question I always have consistently, for the past 15 years had pretty much the same response. The content and the way that you actually get stuff out to people is very consistent. You still have to have great content. You have compelling ads. All that kind of stuff.

Yet many people say, “Well, wait a minute. Isn’t there some secret sauce? Isn’t there some brand new formula that we have to be paying attention to and so on?”

Yes, there is, there are. Things change constantly. But in that constant change if you don’t have the good content, if you don’t have the compelling advertising and so on, you don’t have any chance. That’s something that we continue to focus on at the conferences.

DB:We’ve all seen the change in the content over the years. Agencies generally tend to come to these type of events a lot more than in-house members, is sort of the way I see things. Why should those in house people come along to SMX London, rather than just follow it on blogs and Twitter?

CS: Well, I think you’ve seen live blogging. You have seen tweets and so on. That kind of stuff is great. It’s really good to kind of dip your foot, so to speak, into the flow of what’s going on. But you really don’t get the context that you get when you’re at the event itself. You don’t get the nuances of actually watching speakers, seeing their body language, in many cases. Getting the subtle nuances that come through when you hear an actual full conversation or presentation.

There are little things like that. But then also at the event itself, a huge part of it is the networking with the other attendees so that you can see a presentation, you have a break, blog and actually discuss what you’ve just heard with other people who are there.

The opportunity to exchange tips, exchange ideas, and that whole learning process, you can’t get that if you just do it by reading live blogs or on Twitter. So I think that’s a very, very compelling reason for people to actually attend the event itself.

DB:I’m very much an advocate of those, just to network and then making sure they speak to people after the show or straight after the presentation to make sure that they can clarify any points they were a bit concerned about.

So the next section I’m taking a look at the agenda and I wanted to just talk about that, if that’s okay.

CS: Sure.

DB: keyword research is a huge part of search marketing, both organic and paid. With the removal of the keyword data, obviously, and the focus starting to move towards the user, how do you think this changes the way we look at keyword research?

CS: Well, I think keyword research is and will always be very important. I mean, that’s fundamentally the way search engines work regardless of the improvements and the algorithms and so on. You’re basically taking a string of words and trying to match that to content on the web.

Until we really get full AI based voice search, that’s not gonna change very much. What’s changed is that the search engines are going beyond just the simple strings of keywords and they’re actually looking at content. They are looking at more semantic intent.Also intent. That’s the key word. What is the person really trying to accomplish when they’re using a search engine?

So I think the search engines are looking at much more of a behavior that’s going on and trying to help people understand beyond what the simple words that are being typed in. What is it that we can do to really solve this person’s problem or satisfy their information need?

So I think from the standpoint of somebody doing SEO, keyword research has to become much more about what are the different personas? What are the needs, and how can we create content that’s gonna be really rich that will help satisfy these needs?

So the keywords, again, I think they’re fundamentally important, but it’s much more than that, the way that search engines work these days.

DB:With keyword research comes content and that’s become a huge, huge topic since the changes Google made over the last few years.With content moving on to be a bit more creative, a bit more visual. What’s the best piece of content you have come across and why, or several?

CS: It will probably sound trite, but I’ll say Shakespeare. It goes back hundreds of years, but there’s a reason that Shakespeare was relevant in his time and still is now. I mean, it’s just absolutely amazing stuff that this guy wrote.

I think to be more contemporary, there’s stuff that I see being created every day. To your point, it really is all about creativity. But again, going back to what we were talking about earlier, I think again, compelling content is something that satisfies a need. I think if people really wrap their heads around that concept, creating that kind of compelling content becomes much easier.

It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. It could be something as simple as, where can I find the best tool for this task that I’m trying to provide. Even mundane things like that, you can create very, very compelling stuff if you get creative and really try and help the person that has that need.

DB: Grand. So, just taking another step in a different direction, there’s also a panel this year, which is great. Past panels involving employees for search engines have generally become quite heated, which is obviously great. I really enjoyed the SMX Advanced one last year with Matt Cutts.

What are you hoping to hear from the search engines representatives this year during the Meet a Search Engine session?

CS: Well it’s gonna be very interesting. The search engines, we’re really lucky to have them at the event. It’s great to have representation from Google, from Bing. In past years we’ve actually had Baidu, we’ve had Yandex, we’ve had other search engines.

It’s always difficult to know because they have an interest in, obviously, engaging with their customers, which is really what the SEO community is in a large degree. But they also have competitive issues. So it’s almost like a dance trying to get them to reveal interesting things and sometimes it does get heated, as you said. Other times it’s more, “Well, come on. We’re really trying to draw you out.”

I don’t honestly know what we’re gonna hear this year. Sometimes it’s very, very interesting. Very deep and, “Wow, this is really gonna change my life as a search marketer.” Other times it’s, “Well, things are just sort of business as usual.”

But it’s my job as moderator of that session to really do the probing and really trying to get at them. Quite honestly, I don’t know yet how I’m going to approach that. But it’s definitely something that I’m gonna have fun with and really try to see what we can come up with in that session.

DB: I’m really looking forward to that. I’m quite interested to see how you’re gonna get some, extrainformation out of them, shall we say. When you talk about search, social media is never far form the discussion.

CS: Right.

DB: How do you feel that search and social is best used together, and whether it is essential to every business?

CS: Well, it’s a good question. We’re actually running an entire track on search and social. One of the things that’s actually emerging as a theme is that search and social, I think until quite recently, have been thought of as very, very different species, almost, in marketing. But, in fact, they’re [inaudible 00:11:36] and they can amplify the effects, one or the other.

In the past we’ve kind of focused on that as well. Do this on Facebook or Twitter. Then you might have this kind of impact on your search results and drive traffic and so on. But that was always kind of done in an almost ad hoc way. I think what we’re seeing emerging now is people really analytically looking at how do we make these two things work together?

What are the tools that we have? What are the sort of reports, the metrics, the things that we can measure and conclusively prove that, hey, this is the way you should really be approaching this. Then how can we take that amplification effect and really magnify it so that we’re not just having a really effective search campaign, we’re not just having a really effective social campaign, but we’re seeing ripple effects based on what we’re doing with both that really, really compound the overall effect of both sides of the equation, if you will.

So I think we’re gonna see a lot of people talking about, here are the real techniques. Here are the real analytics. It’s gonna be very tangible and real information rather than we just have a gut clench that this is gonna work.

DB: Okay. Thank you very much for that. Just take a little step away from SMX and the agenda. I wanted to just talk about the industry a little bit. So in 2014 it continued to be a year of change in the search industry. Any reports on what Google specifically has up their sleeve this year, and whether we’ll see any other animals begin with the name P?

CS: It’s a really good question because again, as I said I’ve been watching the search space for well over 15 years. Every year, in my mind, has been a year of significant change. It continues to just astonish me how things keep evolving and keep progressing.

I think we’re not gonna see the kind of dramatic changes that we have in the past few years with the various algorithms, with the knowledge graph and so on. But what we’re starting to see, and I notice this literally almost every day when I’m using Google now, is I think that AI within Google has become so good that the AI itself is actually starting to make changes to how Google works.

Google will not talk about this. They will not publicly admit it. They acknowledge that they’re using AI and so on, but I think, as much as what Google is planning in terms of the change to their algorithms, the improvements that they’re making and so on, I think there’s a subtler change going on. The software itself has actually reached a stage where it’s improving on its own.

I have no proof of this. I have no way to substantiate it. It’s just more that I have been using Google since it started in 1998. My sense is that I’m seeing changes that I haven’t seen before, and I don’t really know what to make of them other than, well, maybe the AI really is here. So I think that’s gonna be an interesting thing to watch going forward. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m wrong. But that’s my sense.

DB: I’d be very interesting to keep an eye on that, like you said, and seeing how that goes. So we’re just going to talk about this year specifically. What do you think will be the biggest trend in 2015, and what do you think practitioners such as myself will be doing a lot more of in the search marketing campaigns during 2015?

CS: Well, I hate to say it because it’s kind of a cliche but I think mobile. I mean, this is the year, if not already, where people are active more on mobile devices than they are on desktop, and not just mobile devices itself, but voice. I think voice is becoming a huge thing. It’s gonna be very interesting to see. I’m not entirely clear yet what the implications are in terms of how you have to alter your SEO efforts. Obviously, the ads are different. There’s in app stuff that is starting to emerge that is very interesting, that’s very different. Both Google and Bing are surfacing things from within apps. So I think mobile is gonna be probably the thing that most people are gonna be focusing a lot more on this year than they have in the past.

DB: That’s very interesting. I think, obviously a lot has come out over the recent weeks. Google’s recent announcement of mobile and the ranking factors. So, mobile is definitely something I would agree is gonna be huge this year, if not last year as well.

If you have to choose one, and I know this is putting you on the spot a little bit. What do you think is currently the most influential important ranking factor signal?

CS: That’s a really good question, too. I think we’ve actually moved beyond what’s the most important one? Obviously in the past it was links. I mean, you could argue a good case right now that it’s content, but there’s no good definition of what is quality content, and so on.

I don’t know. Again, depending on whose studies you look at, there are anywhere from several hundred to several thousand ranking signals that come into play. My sense with that is that depends entirely on the type of site that you have, the content that you’re providing, or what you’re trying to accomplish with your marketing.

So the ranking factors are gonna vary. If you’re local, obviously it’s gonna be some local signals that are gonna come into play. If you’re a retailer it’s gonna be process and all that kind of stuff. So I don’t think there is any one overall kind of signal anymore in the past that links were. I think it’s probably also gonna become much more diluted, if you will. We’re gonna have many, many more signals. They are gonna be starting to be used in very more complex and nuanced ways.

So I think that’s good for searchers. It’s gonna make our jobs as search marketers quite a bit more challenging to try and understand. Okay again, it’s getting back into the head of the searcher, because I think that’s what the search engines are trying to do themselves in terms of understanding, what can we do to make the best possible experience for the people that are using this?

DB: And finally. How would you compare the strength of search marketers in the U.K. to those offered out of the U.S.A.?

CS: I would put them on a par. This is interesting because in the past, quite honestly, when we would program the conferences I would kind of gauge. Features that we rolled out in the U.S. and they wouldn’t come to the U.K. for a year or two or three years later.

But I think that’s changed. Everything is pretty much equal now around the world. Maybe a little less so in some other parts of the world. But definitely in the U.K. it’s absolute parity with the U.S. We program our shows with that in mind. We don’t think there’s any difference at all. So we’re trying to bring absolutely the best quality programming, the best speakers that we possibly can to the U.K. shows just like we do in the United States.

DB: Great. Well, thank you for taking the time to speak to me. I’m really looking forward to SMX in May.

CS: That’s great.

DB: I look forward to seeing you then.

CS: Sounds good. Thank you, Dan.

DB: Thank you very much, Chris.

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Blog Presentations

4 steps to building a data-driven strategy [Presentation]

This post was originally published on White.net

On Monday 24th November, I gave a presentation on building a data-driven strategy at White Exchange.