Image Credit: Search Cowboys
Last week, as you probably know, was the Search Engine Strategies conference in London. Personally I found the event very useful and because of the wide-range of topics covered during the 3-days I’ve decided to list some of the nuggets of information I took away, rather than look into this in more detail which is already available from much quicker bloggers than myself anyway!
To be honest I’ve always been reasonably sceptical about the value gained at search conferences in terms of new skills. To a certain extent this was true but even then the presentations were kept interesting and helped to trigger off a few ideas, plus it’s always reassuring to know that you’re doing the right thing! The event is also an excellent opportunity to meet new people within the industry (both agency-side and in-house), offering advice and learning about how they are dealing with similar situations.
So anyway, here’s my recap of key points, tips and tricks picked up during the 3-days:
1. Use Google Website Optimiser to test multiple landing pages. Usertesting.com also recommended.
2. AB testing is normally sufficient and easier to track results than multi-variant testing.
4. Use robots.txt to block search engine spiders from visiting landing page test URL’s.
5. Thoroughly test the buying process, looking for user feedback.
6. Google Analytics credits the last referring conversion, there are Google Analytics hacks to track the first referrer.
7. Conversion attribution is very important to understand why there is an increase in traffic or conversions from branded terms, looking at the marketing activity behind this rather than just crediting the brand as the last converting referral. More on this from Richard later in the week.
8. Use Hitwise data, if available, to find where users are leaving to most frequently. This is in order to identify the users needs and adjust content accordingly.
9. Geo-targeting accuracy up to 80-90% in the UK.
10. £26 billion advertiser spend on paid search last year in the UK.
11. ½ of PPC keywords are branded terms! Really?
12. Brand bidding average cost per click up from 16p to 26p, CTR has gone down.
13. Current court case between Interflora and Marks and Spencer is likely to set trademark bidding benchmark in the UK for future disputes.
14. Agency retainer plus bonus payment scheme is becoming increasingly common.
15. Some brands are not brand bidding, Tesco and HSBC for example.
16. Use video tagged with location to achieve rankings and relevant traffic from search engines, universal search and YouTube.
17. Add business profiles and submit content to local sites such as Yelp, BT Tradespace, Yell.com, Kyte, Trusted Places and BrownBook.
18. 15% of iphone apps are local.
19. Get reviewed by customers on local sites.
20. 25% of all searches include a location when requiring a need.
21. Use images to stand out in Google Maps searches.
22. Less competition for local searches. Plus searchers are closer to buying decision for localised keywords. (Case study showed conversion rate increase from 3.79% to 4.45% when using local keywords).
Social Media / Link Bait
23. 301 redirect affiliate links to single URL, tracking referrer by cookie as opposed to URL.
24. Use Traffic Geiser to submit video to 50+ video portals
25. YouTube is UK’s 2nd biggest search engine with 2.8 billion searches per month.
26. Target niche relevant social media sites for higher quality of traffic as well as the high traffic websites.
27. Use online PR to promote interesting stories to journalists, target Google/Yahoo News and create buzz online.
28. Brainstorm ideas for a news hook, e.g. comical, interesting or bizarre story.
29. Target bloggers as they are more likely to link and deep link to content. Find influential bloggers within an industry to send story too, recommended using Buzz Logic.
30. Highlight willingness to give interviews and further facts in press releases, encouraging journalists to follow-up with a call.
31. Find relevant journalists via industry specific Google News alert searches. Also using Twitter bio searches for job industry, plus there’s many top lists of twitter users around the blogosphere.
32. Create your own script to control ownership of short URL’s which are used frequently on Twitter.
33. Connect with local bloggers and build a network of contacts which may be useful when looking to push a local story online and to attract local media interest.
34. Links should be built as a traffic strategy rather than for SEO value. Targeting sites with high relevancy to add value within a community and generate a buzz/traffic directly from this.
35. Article directories such as Ezine still have value, high-quantity of low-value articles directories are likely to have little or no impact to rankings.
36. Link weight factors include quantity, quality, relevance and anchor text.
37. Link reconfiguration recommended, contacting webmasters to change anchor text or destination of existing links. Most successful when contacting via client email aliases or phoning for high-value links.
38. Interruption marketing, using forums to join relevant discussions and leaving links which can generate targeted traffic. Not so concerned about the low SEO value links created.
39. Test dodgy link building tactics on competitors first! Such as buying spammy links from sites such as TNX.
40. Use competitor backlink analysis tools using as Linkscape and Majestic SEO to highlight strong links which can be replicated.
41. Search for industry specific blogs looking for guest bloggers. These provide a link back to your site and can be a good way of improving your own blog coverage by pitching to more popular audiences. Try queries such as “looking for guest blogger”.
42. Target top reviews (e.g. Amazon) to find people who are likely to review your product on several website’s and provide a valuable opinion.
43. Recession tip; find backlinks to companies which have gone bust! Contacting sites who link to what are likely to now be 404 error pages and requesting they now link to your own site instead.
44. Redirect multiple versions of homepage to a single URL, recommended using htaccess.
45. Use htaccess to rewrite long URL’s, aiming for a maximum of 3 subfolders.
46. Use noindex meta tag on print friendly (duplicate) pages
47. Use breadcrumbs for clear navigation and internal linking.
48. Structure a domain like a filing cabinet, organising content within clearly labelled groups.
49. Use robots.txt to block spiders from content which you don’t wish them to crawl and index.
50. Use rel=canonical tag to credit a single URL when duplicate content exists, this is still very new so advice limited at this stage.
52. Reduce code bloat, depends how messy code is but rewriting of code into CSS is a sensible option for code heavy websites.
Blogs & News Feeds
53. Disallow access to archives using robots.txt recommended by Google. Rel=canocial tag will not work here as archives contain repeated content of multiple posts rather than exact duplicate content.
54. Move WordPress sidebar to right-hand-side, ensuring that spiders read key content before sidebar information/navigation. This is proven to make small improvements to search rankings.
55. Use a clear WordPress blog URL structure, such as category/postname.
56. Twitter URL’s could be instantly indexed in Google Blog Search if pinged, this is not currently supported by Twitter.
57. Google Product search is an excellent method of generating traffic and getting listed in organic listings via universal search. Importing possible manually and automatically via CSV and XML. Google Base discussion groups are useful for fixing importing issues.
58. Insert copyright statements to help remove scraper content, consider filing DMCA complaints when scrapers use your content and refuse to remove this.
59. Use images for Google News content to increase CTR’s and prominence. High CTR results are likely to be listed longer too.
60. For Google News inclusion you need an array of frequently updated posts from multiple authors.
61. Look at Google Trends top 100 (listed by % of increase) for ideas of popular time-based search queries.
62. Frequently updated sites should use an auto-generated XML sitemap.
63. Strength of internal linking is undervalued. Take advantage of using keyword rich anchor text when linking to category/key pages.
64. Long-tail/mid-tail keywords are top traffic referring keywords along with branded terms.
65. Page architecture is very important, header tags should be used for structure, not styling.
66. Google heavily using QDF (query deserves freshness) algorithm, bear this in mind when targeting keywords and updating content.
67. Use Google Alerts and Twitter Search to help find what people are saying about your brand online. Also useful for link building as you can find sites who are talking about your brand and request a link where this is not present.
68. Turn negative press into positives – YouTube video of employee messing around gets flipped to “Why this employee didn’t last at Company Name”.
69. Look to secure the top 10-20 positions in Google with positive stories about your brand. This also makes it more difficult for a negative article to breakthrough.
70. Think of Google as your first landing page and try to make brand specific queries as interesting as possible.
Search Industry Standards / Future of Search
71. Intellectual property is commonly owned by agency and transferred on termination of contract. Although this is changing with login/keyword access now owned by clients in many cases.
72. Recommendation engines are more frequently used. Flight search comparison sites such as Dohop.
73. Users heading for Twitter to ask a question before Google. Advantage being twitter provides a quick response which is more personal and trusted than a search engine.
74. Jill Whalen says IT and marketing departments should come together to work more closely in large organisations.
75. Link building heading towards social media promotion, marketing and PR with on-site SEO for technical architecture issues.
76. 301 redirects may not have as much influence in the future. Largely speculation at this stage but anchor text weight has been reduced and canonical tag could be a sign of 301’s becoming less important in Google.
77. Mobile search currently low in competition and prices undervalued, so good time to begin targeting and get ahead of competitors.
Please feel free to add any useful tips you picked up during the conference, or let me know if there’s anything I got wrong – my notes are quite messy! ;)