A month has passed since a select few members of the SocialB team ventured into the great depths of BrightonSEO, as well as obviously enjoying the pier and some fish and chips on a (very) rainy Brighton day we did manage to make the most of the conference, attending several talks. Since then we have had time to reflect on what we learnt from the conference and what we as an agency have taken away from the conference.
Links, links, links…
Link Building was all the rage at Brighton SEO, with Greg Gifford, Laura Hogan and Marie Turner all giving talks one after the other on different ways of getting different links. Firstly, Greg gave a great talk on local SEO and how we shouldn’t be ignoring local links and start focusing on things like local meetups, sponsorships, clubs and business directories amoungst serval other sources. oh and there were several expletives aimed at infographics…
Laura Hogan was up next and her talk was about how to acquire BIG links for free! (enticing, I know) the main points from Laura’s talk were several ideas to get these big links for free like monitoring brand mentions for unlinked ones, monitoring #journorequests for requests you can action and jump on, Keeping your eye on the news and reacting to events that you could action and gain something from, and using Freedom of Information requests if you think you could write about something newsworthy that would help your brand. she spoke about loads more different ways of getting links and unsurprisingly this talk also featured a hatred to infographics. Lastly was Marie Turner with her talk on link building for e-commerce, it was all about specific tips for building links for e-commerce websites, making sure the campaign was effective and then also reporting on the campaign and being able to keep the momentum going…
The Language of Search
You would think that keyword research would have been done and dusted after a decade of Brighton SEOs, but the way we search is constantly evolving. Stephen Spencer’s talk emphasised that the right keywords need to be 1. Popular, 2. Relevant and 3. Attainable, and you’ll need to continually review your keyword strategy to achieve this.
Anna Corbett highlighted that we’re seeing a worldwide trend of search queries getting longer and more conversational. This could be partly due to the rise in voice search meaning we’re pretty much at the stage of having mini discussions with our smart devices about the things we want to buy, visit and learn about.
While on the surface this could make ranking for keywords more complicated, longer search terms actually present a great opportunity for us – and for search engines – to learn more about the intentions of the searcher. She covered the importance of “intent modifiers”, for example, “why” generally indicates the user wants to learn, not buy, while “cheap” or “best” suggests they’re somewhere in the sales funnel.
When Google shows the “People also ask…” section in search results, that’s another indicator that Google is still trying to learn what exactly the searcher is expecting to find.
The mode of the search also plays a role in telling search engines what information is needed. For instance, a mobile search is more likely to suggest an immediate need, while voice searches often indicate curiosity. Either way, the search results would need to be concise to provide the most value to the searcher.
To make the most of this opportunity, you need to take some time to understand your users and their intents better, by dissecting their search queries and what Google returns for these queries.
There was no shortage of talks on the technical aspects concerned with SEO and one of the standout presentations came from Fili Weisse on the main stage. Fili used to work as an engineer for Google, so when he stands in front of a crowd and explains how to get Google to successfully crawl your website, people listen.
The talk gave an overview of how Google’s search bot crawls websites and what is required for it to discover your pages in the most efficient way. In essence, if Google can’t crawl your website and find the content, you’ve not got much chance of it ranking. Google Bot is a very conservative robot and it doesn’t want to break your website. This means once the crawler hits trouble on your website it either stops or slows down which could mean your website doesn’t get crawled at all, or it doesn’t crawl all of your pages. It is really important to make sure that the crawler is able to access your website and that it can crawl without running into redirect errors or broken pages.
Google will also crawl your website randomly and this may mean not all URLs are crawled at the same time or crawled equally. To help guide the Bot you need to make sure your internal links are optimised and working. Good internal linking will help users navigate your website and also the Google bot.
There’s been a lot of talk recently about migrating to HTTPS and there was an extremely valuable tip for any website that hasn’t yet migrated. According to Fili, migrating your website to HTTPS is one of the rare opportunities your website will have to be completely re-indexed and re-crawled by Google. You should use the opportunity to improve all of your on-site SEO before making the switch.
Finally, think mobile first. If you haven’t got at least mobile-friendly website in 2018, you are light years behind!
Bring on BrightonSEO 2018 part 2!