Last Friday, three members of our SEO team attended Brighton SEO, a conference bringing together members of the community from around the country. Throughout the day, we all attended a number of different talks from a variety of speakers, discussing a range of topics.Here, we’ve put together a “highlights package” of sorts; each of us have focused on one of the Brighton SEO talks we attended, and explained what it could mean for our work moving forward. Penny has focused on SEO fundamentals, Chloe has discussed local link building, and I’ve spoken about the rise of voice search in the industry.
Penny: Danny Richman on SEO Fundamentals
As SEOs, we like to make technical modifications. We like to delve deep into a website, expertly crafting the most appropriate, targeted content and consistently analysing any ranking fluctuations. However, as Danny Richman explained at September’s Brighton SEO, in order for a user to land on those perfectly optimised pages on your website, they must be enticing enough from the very beginning.
It’s natural to assume that when we’re optimising a website, we’re going to spend a whole lot of time looking at its pages and ranking positions, rather than Googling those pages and analysing how they appear in the SERPS. But isn’t that where the user journey starts? I know from experience that I’ll look out for attention-grabbing snippets and phrases that I believe answer my query or need in the SERPS, rather than simply click on the number one listing regardless.
As succinctly stated by Danny Richman, “we need to do a lot less search engine optimisation and a lot more user optimisation”, particularly when a web page is ranking on page one.
There are multiple small tweaks you can make in order to help boost your click-through and conversion rates.
Identify the User’s End Goal
Let’s think for a second, if you’re searching for a cat collar, what do you really want – something to keep your cat safe, right? As Theodore Levitt from Harvard put it “people don’t buy a quarter inch drill – they want a quarter inch hole.” By identifying the user’s end goal, we’re much more able to target them at the beginning of their search query, ensuring they click through to all of the other neatly optimised content that not only targets specific keywords, but also appeals to the user’s personal needs.
It’s all well and good knowing how to identify a user’s end goal, but how do you translate that onto the SERPS? How do you say, “hey, I know what you’re looking for, and I can help better than all the others you see before you”? You do that by utilising the two tools every individual will lay their eyes on when they find your website in the results pages: the SEO title and the meta description.
We so often view a website purely from an SEO perspective, making it easy to forget the mindset of the individual that is browsing online. Danny’s talk really helps you get into the mindset of the search engine user, which he explained with four questions:
- Will this help me achieve my end goal?
- Do they seem credible?
- Why should I choose them over others?
- What will I see when I click through to this page?
The rise of the internet and all of our modern, savvy gadgets has made us much lazier, but also seemingly a lot busier. It would seem that, unless you know what you are likely to see when you click through to a web page, the chances are you won’t want to waste a few seconds of loading time and scrolling to find out.
Where to Begin?
Before you delve right into the back end of your website and begin changing the descriptive text, make sure you know the areas that are best to target. You need to look for URLs that have the most impressions, but the lowest number of click-through rates; it is here that you can make the greatest difference with such amendments.
Of course, Danny Richman has many years of industry experience and was able to back up his talk with an impressive range of data he had accumulated from various tests A/B tests. From these case studies, it was clear to see that simply stating what you do, who your company is or explaining your service is just not enough.
If I’m searching for “business finance”, the chances are that I already know what that is and I really don’t need a meta description to tell me. However, what I do need a meta description to do, is to provide me with information that helps me realise why this company is the one that can fulfil my needs – those will be the businesses that I’ll click through to.
Once you reach page one of Google, you can almost guarantee that your company will be spotted by your target audience. This is where it becomes paramount that you begin optimising for those eyes and not just the search engine. Such tweaks are easy to make and, as Danny states, do not require brand advertising, link building, new content, keyword research or technical modifications, but their impact can be great.
Chloe: Greg Gifford on Local Link Building
I’ve spoken before about Greg Gifford and his stupendous local SEO talks at Brighton SEO. I’ve even touched before on what he has to say about local link building, so forgive me if this subject matter seems somewhat repetitive. There were many brilliant talks at this September’s Brighton SEO, but – as has often been the case – Greg’s simply stood out among the rest for me. Greg gets local SEO in a way that few others do; he can delve into the subject in a way that offers so much clarity that it leaves you frustrated as to why you hadn’t already seen it so clearly yourself.
To stop myself from further waxing lyrical about Greg Gifford, let’s get into the nitty gritty of what he had to say about local link building at Brighton SEO 2017.
DA Does Not Matter
Greg has said this before, but it’s a point worth repeating. For local link building in SEO, domain authority does not matter. Instead, relevancy is the key factor. Is the link to your business from another local business, or charity, or institution? That makes it a highly relevant link, which makes it worth a lot in Google’s eyes, regardless of the domain authority.
Relevancy Does Not Matter
‘But Chloe’, I hear you cry, clutching at your computer screen, ‘you just said…’ Yes I know, I just said that link relevance is worth a lot in Google’s eyes. What I mean here is that the traditional idea of what makes a link relevant for Google does not apply in local SEO. If you’re link building nationally, you want to make sure that the business linking to yours is in a similar industry and that it’s users would be genuinely interested in your content. In local link building, however, sheer proximity MAKES it relevant. You have a link going to your computer company from a local school? Different industries? But you’re both in Northampton? Congrats, that makes it relevant.
Your Online Presence Does Not Matter
I know, I hear you, you can take your hands off your computer screen. Of course your online presence matters, but in local SEO, your real-world presence matters a whole lot more – especially with local link building. Are you friendly with the business across the street? Meet up at the local pub with them on a Friday afternoon? Boom, link building opportunity. Do you attend business meetups in your area? Boom, link building opportunity. Do you get a coffee every morning from that same artizan place on the corner that honestly truly does do the best cappuccino that has ever existed? You’d better believe it – that’s a link building opportunity. With local link building for SEO, good, old fashioned, real-world relationships are still your best method. If you’re not already taking part in your local community and supporting other local businesses, now is a good time to start; watch those links roll in (with a friendly nudge from your local SEO agency).
For more local SEO insights from Greg Gifford, take a look at the DealerOn blog which, regardless of what it could teach you, has actual videos of Greg chatting away about the industry. Whether you’re looking to learn about local SEO or not, his fast-paced insights and (frankly bewildering) tattoo choices will be enough to keep you entertained for hours, tricking you into learning something along the way.
Alex: Saeley Jnr Johnson on the Rise of Voice Search
At the end of Saeley Jnr Johnson’s Brighton SEO talk, a question was put to the room: “how many of you use voice control on your phones on a weekly basis?” In response, around 60% of the room raised their hands. “Okay, so how many of you have optimised for voice search in your SEO work?” This time, about 10% responded positively.
Many of the talks I attended at Brighton SEO made a point of emphasising the importance of finding relative “gaps” in the market. That is to say, rather than focusing on what we already know to be successful, we should strive to identify what will be so, before it has arrived. That way, there’s the best possibility of capitalising on trends. On the evidence of the aforementioned test, we might have found another niche to explore. Granted, the pool of people in attendance was both select and relatively small. There wasn’t much demographic variation, and it’s not like hundreds of thousands of people had a chance to respond. That being said, the fact that there was such a notable discrepancy definitely reveals something.
Bridging the gap
Saeley Jnr Johnson began his talk by highlighting the need to bridge the gap between consumers and brands; that’s where the SEO or marketing agency comes in. It’s our job to help one connect with the other. In a world where more and more people are seemingly using voice search in their day-to-day lives, this method of searching is becoming a crucial consideration. He went on to explain how voice search brought the consumer and the brand closer together. Developing voice software that matches a brand is, seemingly, where the future of the technology lies, bringing the brand one step closer to their targeted consumers.
To provide you with another rather targeted case study, my Dad’s fed up with his phone’s keyboard at the moment; he’s grumbling about the letters being too small. As a result, he spent Saturday afternoon providing me with football updates using voice recognition. My Dad would be the first to admit that he’s not the most “tech-savvy” of consumers, but he found voice control easier to use than the other option: texting. Again, I realise that this is a very specific example, but herein lies the key to the significance of this point. Voice search is designed to be easy and to be natural, and search engines are trying to reflect that. As an agency, it’s certainly something worth bearing in mind.
While voice search is still relatively new and untapped, isn’t that the point? Those who failed to recognise the significance of mobile search have been left behind, and the same could well happen here. Voice searches aren’t widespread yet, but that looks almost certain to change. If we’re going to stay ahead, and continue to capitalise on potential opportunities, then we need to adapt for voice technology.
Clearly, all three of the talks we attended at Brighton SEO attribute a significant amount of importance to one thing: the user. Yeah, I know, change the record, right? While the importance of user intent has been spoken about by SEOs again, and again, and again, that’s no coincidence. Clearly, the consideration is essential to our success in the SEO industry, and we’d do well to remember that. The fact that so many experts continue to go on about the importance of user can only mean one thing – that it is, in fact, absolutely essential.
It’s also essential that we stay ahead as digital marketers and SEO specialists. By attending events such as Brighton SEO, we’re able to learn from genuine experts and discuss our ideas with others in the industry. The SEO industry isn’t one that you can simply learn, because it’s constantly changing. Only by hearing from other experienced people can we hope to remain as adaptable as we need to be.
Here at Active Internet Marketing (UK), we’re constantly striving to stay ahead of the game. Our team is made up of talented SEO specialists, all who know what it takes to succeed in the industry. If you’d like to hear more about what we can do for your business, call us on 0800 772 0650 or fill out our online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!