Search Elite 2017 – Event Recap

This is a guest post written by Sam Marsden. Sam is Technical SEO Executive at DeepCrawl and contributor to the SEO community. Sam also blogs at deepcrawl.com/blog.


The inaugural Search Elite conference took place on Tuesday 10th May 2017 and featured eight of the best speakers in search marketing. Get all the key points from each of the speakers’ talks in with our event recap below.

Bas van den Beld & Daniel Rötting – How to make Digital Marketing work in your organisation. A case study revealing a unique approach to marketing!

Talk Summary

Bas and Dan kicked off Search Elite with a talk that explained better ways for marketers and organizations to keep up with and thrive in a fast-changing digital industry. Bas and Dan’s presentation covered the importance of co-creation, not following marketing trends and keeping long term purpose and strategy in mind when carrying out daily marketing activities.

Slides: 

Quote:

Talk Notes:

  • Success in marketing is achieved when you combine different people’s ideas together. Combine what you want to say, with what people are interested in to achieve relevance.
      • Combine different angles of thinking e.g. knowledge of marketing with understanding of people
      • Let people work from their strengths
      • Trust people, as trust fosters creativity
  • Many marketers either adopt old-fashioned tactics or mistakenly jump on the bandwagon with new trends.
      • Creating cool start-up spaces – Doesn’t result in inspiration as inspiration should be what results in the space. It does mean you might get swings (or hammocks) though!
      • Content is king – Marketers often end up making a lot of irrelevant content e.g. putting out content for the sake of it
    1. You need to connect the dots, bringing together all content, combining knowledge and behaviour. Know where you’re going before creating content.
      • A lot of marketers struggle to focus on what they’re doing. This makes it harder for them to produce quality
      • It’s important to look beyond the day-to-day and look at where you are headed. If the roadmap is clearly communicated (and not just once!), it’s easier to follow and inspire/inform the team’s work consistently (and not as a one-off)
  • Know the purpose of the company and align talents of people in your team
    • Make mission statements ambitious – Why are you special? Not simply an About Us page
  1. In an agency, you want to create a sense of co-creation – working together, rather than telling client strategy or tactics.
    • Make it simple – Mind mapping is an excellent way to make things clearer to a client
    • Make clients do the work – get them involved, rather than simply providing a solution
    • Don’t start from zero – Utilise what the client already has
    • Don’t tell the client how they are seen – Make them experience it for themselves (e.g. give them examples of customer feedback of experience with their brand).
  2. Don’t create teams for political reasons, e.g. don’t include the token decision-maker or analyst from the Sales team, when you need the creative content writer from the marketing team.

Make it simple – Who really needs to be involved? Limitations are not always a bad thing! Stick to who is crucial and keep everyone’s to do’s clear and based on their specific talent

David Iwanow – Automate or Die

Talk Summary

David’s insightful talk provided many practical ways SEOs can be more efficient with their time by automating tasks. SEOs should put in place automated ways of identifying site issues, monitoring site traffic, crawling your site regularly, keeping an eye on competitors and third parties. Recommended tools include DeepCrawl (naturally!), Tineye, AWR Cloud and SEMrush.

Slides:

Talk Notes:

  • Be more efficient by automating repetitive tasks in SEO
      • Task to automate include: monitoring images (use TinEye), malware monitoring, crawling your site (use DeepCrawl), tracking SEO, HTML changes, setting up Analytics alerts
  • Old behaviour must change and automation can help
      • Avoid taking days to notice issues
      • You might miss dips in traffic because you’re not tracking anything
      • You don’t always know when something’s been fixed on client site
      • Being proactive can be seen as a waste of resources e.g. checking manually analytics when everything is working
      • Migrations might fail, Analytics may break, code may break – automated alerting can help you to quickly find out what’s wrong
      • Malware might pop up at times – Google Safe Browsing API to constantly check site
      • Use the ‘Schedule’ function when setting up a crawl so you can ‘set it and forget it’, this way you always have fresh crawl data ready for you. It’s worth setting these at non-peak times or even over a weekend so you have full insights first thing on Monday morning to work with.
      • AWRCloud – monitoring
      • SEMRush – site audit dashboards, track crawl ability, top-level analysis (primary pages), send issues to Trello
  • Automation can help you track changes on a site
      • DeepCrawl – fixing bugs (e.g. assigning tasks like 404 pages to your devs within the Task Manager with deadlines etc), identifying patterns (like the Duplicate Clusters report), and trends (e.g. increases in reports like Broken Pages with Backlinks Driving Traffic)
      • SEMRush – backlink audit email, site audit email, HTTPS check-ups, top level statistics
      • Changedetection.com, visualping.io – Track HTML changes
  • Automation can be used for competitor analysis
      • Majestic backlink dashboards – Identifying competitor trends
  • Google Analytics
        • Intelligence event alerts e.g. if traffic drops by 25% send an alert – scalable
        • Content groupings – define page types once
    1. Domain tools – Monitor for changes to DNS, domain registration monitoring, automated brand monitoring, domain monitoring (email alerts if domain registration changes or becomes available, DNS changes).
  • What pages should you monitor?
    • Ecom checkout pages, admin content getting traffic (because it shouldn’t!), search result pages, login pages should always work, error pages should resolve in 404, product listing pages
  1. Monitor important third parties e.g. live chat
  2. Zapier – Send alerts direct to devs via platforms like Slack and automate mundane tasks
  3. Set up conditional alerts e.g. if page size =< 100kb send alert, as page might be broken
  4. Export Search Console information into sheets on weekly basis (this way you can look back at data from months ago to problem solve and identify patterns, as GSC only shows 90 days worth otherwise).
  5. Visualise search data with Tableau – organic vs. paid, GSC data, YoY changes
    • Google Data Studio = More cost effective solution!

Sam Noble – Using paid media insights to uncover who your audience really is

Talk Summary

Audience data is invaluable. Sam Noble’s talk focused on how you can leverage paid media platforms, such as Facebook, AdWords, LinkedIn and Pinterest, for insights into your audience even if you aren’t running paid media campaigns.

Slides:

Quote: 

Talk notes

  • Most businesses are not using the audience data which is now available to them
  • You should be working harder to increase volume and conversion rate at the same time
      • 1-2% is the average website conversion rate (what!?)
      • What are you doing with 98% of traffic which isn’t converting?
  • Uncover who your audience are
      • Get pixels added for all platforms to gain audience insights. When facebook pixels are added (for example) you’ll quickly learn what persona groups are interested in which content on your site
      • Make sure you update your privacy policy. People need to know (legally) about your cookies!
      • Build lookalike audiences
  • Enable Google Analytics demographics and affinity categories. Can use this to start building personas of who your customer base is
  • Audience data may differ by channel e.g. Interests between Paid and Facebook channels
  • Use AdWords to see what type of content your audience is interested in and what they’re in the market for
  • Many sites are not collecting information from Facebook with pixels on the site – interests, purchase behaviour, lifestyle insights. You don’t have to be doing PPC to get these insights for free!
  • Segment visitors in Facebook using custom audiences
  • Upload your CRM database to various platforms to get customer data (need minimum of 1,000) – Pinterest, AdWords, LinkedIn, Facebook
  • Can use Wifi sign in data, e-receipts if you have this information (e.g. restaurants)
  • Can’t market to these people but can gain insights which will allow you to target lookalike audiences
  • Personas help visualize the audience you’re trying to reach – Xtensio, Hubspot
  • Can take insights and apply to all marketing campaigns
  • TV adverts – What do people like watching?
  • Games consoles – Might advertise to Xbox players if there’s an audience interest
  • Content marketing – Tailoring content to demographics
  • Direct Mail is not dead and needs proper targeting

Russell McAthy – Which channels are more likely to convert your browsers into buyers?

Talk Summary: Russell’s focused on the need for SEOs to better communicate success and ROI. The talk covered attribution solutions from including assigning a value to micro-conversions in Google Analytics to using machine learning based algorithms to calculate the financial value of different channels in different customer journeys.

Slides:


Talk notes

  • Three critical words: Accountable, Actionable, Success
  • Accountable – Growing importance for marketers to be accountable with increased with increased amount of data
  • Actionable data – Common problem is that reports and meetings don’t result in actions
      • Success – Biggest issue with SEO is how we talk about success. Increased traffic is not success. Revenue and ROI is. Easy to communicate this with email and PPC
    1. Focus on the middle funnel – people who will convert in two weeks. Too much effort is focused on the top and bottom of funnel (when the bottom of the funnel is going to purchase anyway)
    2. Blended CPA is a waste of time – Mixes together visitors from all areas of the funnel into average CPA
    3. Remove bounce rate from conversion rate in Analytics and Adobe – Look at people who are engaging with the site. You want to know who is converting of the people that are engaged in your site, as well as how much revenue is being driven from each page of your site (push high-value pages, optimise unsuccessful ones!). This also helps make the case for your blog, e.g. if your blog pages have high conversion rates – it’s easier for you to pitch allocating more resources to it (insert, content is king or my blog matters meme here!), equally isolate which pages are killing your conversion journey
    4. Track micro conversions – key part of understanding who will convert in two weeks
  • Need to combine a volume metric (traffic) with a calculated metric (conversions)
  • Assign comparison values between micro conversions in Google Analytics – don’t make them financial values
  1. Visitors go through multiple channels before they buy – We need an understanding of the value of each step in the funnel, taking into account channel and stage in journey
    • Machine learning is needed to understand this at very granular levels. Can take into account many dimensions e.g. day of the week
    • Machine learning can forecast the likelihood of converting in non-converting journeys
    • Can then inform buying profiles and remarketing efforts, spending more on visitors with a higher probability of converting
    • Can assign financial value to specific pages using attribution software
  2. Anyone using Analytics should read Direct Traffic is Dark Traffic.

Jono Alderson – Unlocking performance – beyond AMP

Talk summary

Jono’s ram-packed talk centred on a broader toolkit that SEO and dev teams can call upon to improve site speed and performance beyond implementing AMP, including switching to HTTP/2, image optimisation and Progressive Web Apps.

Slides:

Quote: 

Talk notes

  • AMP is an attempt to improve mobile experience by Google.
    1. AMP is problematic when showing information which is frequently updated and vulnerable to showing outdated versions of site content
      • When using AMP you’re entering an ecosystem where you hand over control of what content is shown e.g. you should seriously consider and not make the switch willy nilly
      • You can create your own AMP ecosystem as the landscape is changing, we’re seeing more and more options appear e.g. Cloudflare
  • Implement changes as part of a broader toolkit to improve site performance
    1. HTTPS isn’t binary – Qualys SSL labs – Check site for grading
  • Pay more for your SSL certificate as it will be closer to the source (this is well documented)
  • Your site is slower for not using HTTP/2. HTTP/2 is the future of the web, and can reduce load time by half!!
      • Requires you to stop doing things you did for HTTP/1 like hostname sharing, resource combination.
  • For devices, build for mobile-first and build up from min-width
  • For media/images, consider using secret, WebP (best parts of JPG and PNG) and sprite sheets
  • Google Pagespeed insights doesn’t analyse speed of page, and GA speed can be easily skewed
      • Does load time feel fast/slow? This is key as pages that feel faster offer a better user experience (which in turn is likely to affect rankings)
      • Look for speed bottlenecks – Best tools are Chrome waterfall, New Relic
  • Can look at using preload, pre connect, prefetch etc.
  • Investigate Progressive Web Apps as an extension of AMP – the next evolution of apps?
  • Lighthouse – new and useful tool for site performance.
  1. Essential Reading

Judith Lewis: “Turbo-Charged SEO – When You’ve Done It All This Comes Next

Talk summary

Judith’s entertaining and chocolate-filled presentation covered a number of marketing strategies to turbocharge your business with a focus on the travel and tourism industry, including 3D keyword mapping and some technical SEO tips

Slides: [Not going to be published online.]

Quote: “Rankings are useless if CTRs are really low”

Notes:

  • Understand your audience and who you’re targeting
  • Create personas – demographics, attitudinal/think & feel
      • Are you targeting audience in the right places?
      • What insights can we gain from the tools available?
  • Look for opportunities in Search Console – Search monitor holds on to this data beyond 90 days
      • Gives an idea of what you’re ranking for (average position) and what is seen (impressions). Are you optimising for these terms?
  • Don’t overlook Bing for insights – it accounts for 20% of UK search traffic!
  • Use SEMRush to find opportunities including what you and competitors aren’t ranking for
  • Remember that SEMRush doesn’t have data for all keywords so don’t rely on data to be perfect
  1. 3D keyword mapping – Export data from SEMRush into Excel. You need 3 things: search volume, keyword and keyword competitiveness. Change to =log() in Excel, and select scatter graph
    • This visualises how easy/difficult it will be for you to rank for a term based on search volume and keyword competitiveness
  2. Look at CTR and impression share as an indicator of success, not rankings. What use are rankings if nobody is clicking through or searching for it?
  3. Fix technical issues on your site (using DeepCrawl) eliminate duplicate content, bespoke titles and descriptions for critical pages, fix 404s

Gerry White – Using and abusing GTM, WordPress and other tools to ‘hack’ SEO onto enterprise sites

Talk Summary

Gerry’s presentation provided ways to use Google Tag Manager to implement SEO changes in larger organisations where initiatives are otherwise slow to be implemented

Slides:

Talk Notes

  • Google Tag Manager Tips
  • Put Konami code on your site for easter egg compilation posts, and dinosaurs!
  • Make sure your tags have useful descriptions
  • Use GTM to add in useful things when hitting a 404 page
  • Bulk fix title tags
  • A/B test products by splitting them into groups
  • Use LSON JD to enter further information on GTM e.g. event information
  • Can use GTM to insert rel canonical tags
  • Only give admin access to people who know what they’re doing

Jim Banks – Don’t waste money buying traffic

Talk Summary

Wrapping up the inaugural Search Elite conference, Jim’s useful presentation on cost-effective paid search tactics including using value track parameters,  Facebook Analytics, Bing Ads and excessive labelling

Slides: TBC

Talk Notes

  • Use value track parameters
  • Go beyond standard parameters e.g. source. Used on AdWords, GDN, Google Shopping
  • Can be physical location, position in paid search, keyword, placements
    1. Facebook analytics is a gold mine
      • RT conversion data
      • Axiom can give more insight into data you have
      • Install Facebook Pixel
  • Check that Audiences, Auto-targets and Labs are set up in Google Analytics
    1. Use event-based targeting for remarketing e.g. scrolled X% of page, viewed X% of video
      • Make use of exclusions in remarketing efforts e.g. exclude customers who have already bought
  • Label excessively in AdWords – can create unorthodox groupings (e.g. manage popular products in a more aggressive way), site agnostic
  1. Use Facebook Pixel Helper to investigate competitor sites and find out how sophisticated their tagging and tracking is
  2. Use dynamic search ads (DSA) when strapped for time, in discovery mode or have robust keyword structure
  3. Bing is phenomenal – Don’t mirror what you do on Google on Bing (import from Google, leave settings the same etc.) as have a different audience. Now have more than 20% market share
  4. Use Adwords Conversion Tracking for attribution tracking

Congratulations to Craig Rayner and the Search Elite team on organising a superb conference. we wish you every success for Conversion Elite!

Get Free Speaking Tips and Insights!

Are you looking to become a better presenter NOW? Every week we send out an exclusive tip and insights to those that want to. Unique content about speaking, pitching and persuasion. Leave your name and e-mail and get the exclusive tips and insights!

About State of Digital Guest Contributor

This post was written by an author who is not a regular contributor to State of Digital. See all the other regular State of Digital authors here. Opinions expressed in the article are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of State of Digital.