Last week, our digital team were excited to travel to Brighton for the big SEO conference - named, as expected, BrightonSEO. As it says on the official website, this is "a huge, twice-yearly search marketing conference and training event".
As digital marketing and SEO are both constantly evolving, keeping up to date on the latest news, trends, techniques, and best practices is vital to ensure we're offering our clients the very best possible service.
The team split their time between content and technical areas, and have come back to the office with pages and pages of notes, heads full of ideas, and inboxes full of demos and trials of new and exciting software.
Here's what they're most excited about...
The future (or present) of SEO
Greg Gifford spoke about this topic, cramming a lot into his talk! We've only captured a little of it here, but there were plenty of actionable insights to take away, including:
- High quality traffic is even more important for Google to rank pages. So we don’t have to focus our strategy on increasing the number of sessions, we need to find the balance between the amount of traffic and quality of this traffic.
- Don't be obsessed with generating unique content. We need to concentrate our efforts in delivery the best answer for popular/good questions.
- Voice Search is now a reality. Pages like FAQs or blog articles are essentials for a Voice Search SEO strategy.
- Local SEO will be the key to success: Local content in websites that operate locally is a must. You can generate local content in many ways, such as case studies, news, reviews, video…
- Boost your Google My Business Page: This listing provides key information quickly for searchers, which can help them to find a business and decide on a visit. Opening hours, popular times to visit, maps, posts, reviews… all make it more likely that searchers will visit the website/store.
You don't have to have huge budgets
The 'budget/cost-effective' SEO stream was particularly interesting. We work with a lot of start-ups and scale-ups, and we're always looking for ways to make budgets stretch further. So the three talks in this stream were especially useful.
- Think outside the box
- Look for niches
- Use automation
- Try local SEO and image search optimisation
- Links can come from non-link-building activities
- PR pitches should be timed for when journalists are talking about those topics
Helen Pollitt talked us through gap analysis to identify strengths, weaknesses, gaps, and areas of excellence, to help guide and direct future activity.
Image search optimisation was a particularly interesting area she covered, because so few businesses are doing it. Sure, it might not be the biggest indicator of high intent (that depends on the industry), but it's a great way to get seen in more places, and get more share of the Google SERPs.
Human Psychology is vital to marketing
As marketers, we need to understand how humans behave - that's a given. But how much do we really pay attention to how our words and content affect people? Google mimics humans better than ever before, so we absolutely have to include the human element in our work.
- Content should be 'audience-first'
- Use visual, auditory and kinaesthetic language
- Include emotion - even logical decisions are influenced by emotion
Kenda Macdonald used a great analogy for understanding the way our brains process information - Minions (those yellow guys from Despicable Me). They're effectively the gatekeepers of our attention. They're the automatic processes that sort out what we can skip over and what needs conscious thought.
If we can't catch the attention of these gatekeepers, our content and marketing gets auto-discarded. So, we need to be thinking about how to cut through the noise to get our content flagged up for conscious review.
A single piece of content isn't enough
Even with the best efforts, not everything takes off. Which can be frustrating, especially when you've put a lot of work into a piece of content. When it doesn't really get much traction, it can be pretty demoralising.
Which is why supporting content is so important. Most digital marketers know how important it is to have pillar content and supporting items, to indicate a level of expertise and knowledge to search. But Alex Jones (not that one) emphasised the need for additional content as a way to ensure that pillar content continues to get reinforced - one of those supporting pieces might make the difference between the main content being noticed and not.
The key point here was not to make your pillar content then scrabble around thinking up extra bits and pieces to support it. It's about making those supporting pieces part of your ideation process - making a web of content from the beginning. That way, you can work on different, but related, content that hits different platforms. You want to get onto Owned, Earned, Paid, and Shared - and the best way to do that is with content geared to each platform individually, but all relating back to and supporting your pillar.
The importance of product pages
If you have an eCommerce website, the individual product pages are extremely important. Let's face it, the product page is where you would expect most consumers to decide on a purchase, which makes it the one of the most important pages.Product pages can improve organic search rankings, especially if your eCommerce includes branded products. Plus, people are much more likely to share an individual product page than a homepage. Having an attractive product page encourages people to share with their friends.
Alexandre Sigoigne shared some useful tips:
- Page speed: A good loading page speed is something we must be aware of for an optimised product page.
- The images are becoming more important: 78% of buyers prefer images of the product in situation rather than traditional ones, according to a study by Myposeo.
- Use more than one CTA: The main CTA button should tell visitors to buy the product. But if someone doesn't want to take that action, they should be presented with a clear alternative, like another CTA for “Contact us”.
- Generate customer confidence: Product pages that include reviews have 58% higher conversion rate than those don’t have reviews.
- Cross-selling strategy: By presenting products which are related to the displayed one, you can suggest items that customers can be interested. Doing this your business can increase the average purchase value considerably.
- Make product pages more informational: Google now is giving more importance to informational pages, like blog articles. This is an indicative that we need to improve the quality of the information displayed in the product page, and include media elements like images, video, etc.
- Don’t miss the “low searches” keywords. Sometimes we assume the lower number of searches the lower number of conversions, but sometimes there are some keywords with low level of traffic but high conversion rate.
Why customer reviews are so important
Collecting reviews about the products or services your business provides gives valuable feedback from the customers and users, not only improving SEO ranking but giving new customers confidence. Ben Barker's session went into the ins and outs of how important reviews are for modern businesses on the web.
- Help to get new key messages: Customer reviews are a good opportunity to get new key messages that we wouldn’t have considered before.
- Feedback from clients let us to improve: The reviews and feedback from our customers and users are good insights to improve our business or website.
- Increase the conversion rate: 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review.
- Improve the information about the product or service: The customers can give information about the product that might be missed in the description.
- Make our site more real: The presence of other users or buyers with their names and sometimes picture makes our site more real, generating more confidence to the user.
- Essential for Google Shopping Campaigns: Getting reviews are completely essential if the site is an eCommerce and has a Google Shopping campaign. Having reviews the site can display rich snippet on Google Shopping, which studies have shown this increase click-through rates (CTR) by 677% and drive 20-40% more traffic than product links without them.
- Reviews generate more reviews: When a business has already received online reviews, it encourages other visitors to leave their own feedback.
- Hat tip to Alejandro Mateu for his input after a LOT of note taking during the conference!