Day 2 of #SAScon 2013 – Top Tips and Takeaways

Day 2 of #SAScon 2013 – Top Tips and Takeaways

8th June 2013

After an action packed day at yesterday at SAScon today we have another three State of Search bloggers in attendance to capture all the highlights from day 2.

In the same format as day 1 this post summarises the top tips and takeaways from all the sessions that we attended throughout the day.

The Bloggers

The three bloggers covering day one of SAScon are:

Claire is a Director for SEO PR Training and Waves PR. You can connect with her on Twitter or Google+

Marcus is the Social Media Executive at Venture Harbour. You can connect with him on Twitter or Google+

Day 2 SAScon Sessions

Increasing Site Engagement

In this session, moderated by Neil Hardy from MidCounties Co-Operative, Lee Duddell shared his insights on best practices when it comes to user-experience and user testing. The session then broke into a panel discussion with Rich Quick (Arnold Clark), David Tutin (Expedia) and Darren Jamieson (EngageWeb).

Speakers: Lee Duddell – WhatUsersDo, Rich Quick – Arnold Clark, David Tutin – Expedia and Darren Jamieson – EngageWeb

  1.  In a survey conducted by Econsultancy and WhatUsersDo, 78% of respondents (out of 1,400 brands & agencies) said that they were committed to delivering the best user experience. However, 62% of organisations surveyed said that they based most of their design decisions on hunches and guesswork.
  2. One of the challenges with user experience is that it’s often not specifically owned by anyone. Lee mentioned that in one case study where he worked with an established fashion brand, it was the chairman’s wife who made the final decision on which UX design changes went through (as a result of no one being in charge of that decision).
  3. 67% of users start a purchase journey on a smartphone and finish on a computer. This is mainly because checking out on a mobile device is hard and users typically want the full experience (even when using a well-optimised mobile site). Lee mentioned that this is particularly true for fashion sites where customers want to see high-res images of the products they’re buying.
  4. Your returns policy is incredibly important for conversions, especially in certain countries (e.g. Germany). Make sure it’s easy to find and easy to use.
  5. Users hate carousel images. 32% of users find them annoying, and most of the rest ignore them. Use tools like ClickTale, CrazyEgg, and Silverback to understand what your users are doing.

Content Outreach – Getting it Right

Speakers: Bas van den Beld – State of Search, Kevin Gibbons – Blueglass, Lisa Myers – Verve Search

photo speakers at SASconWhat is it? Marketing of content: publishing things that match your brand. It’s a step in the right direction for SEO. Everything is so integrated that we have to move from SEO to digital.

What skills do you need? Great writing skills, creativity and technical expertise. Recruiting now needs to change: mindset, reliance, and a determined attitude are vital.

What’s the change? Link building has changed. SEO’s are paying for links that now need to be removed. The amount of content being created needs to increase, and any link building needs to be defensible. It’s harder work, it’s time consuming, it’s harder, but it works. SEO is a by-product, rather than the end game.

Content curation. We all need to be more agile, and respond to issues. Kevin Gibbons talked about a high quality image being incredibly valuable. Lisa Myers talked about the need to have high quality staff to ensure that you can be both fast AND maintain

Target influencers for targeted traffic. The outreach takes time. Sometimes going to the target ‘site’ you need to create the content for them. Being in the right company is vital – you can be the best writer, but if you’re surrounded by spam, it’s wasted effort.

Being topical works, but if you are constantly chasing the news, you’ll have to work really hard to maintain.

SEO professionals need to understand client/brand/industry so that you can create timely, relevant, content. Leaving a footprint is hard.

Audience is important: if you need somewhere to start, Bas Van den Beld suggests starting with a mind map. You will have to get to know the client and their background to find the stories that count. You also need to understand their industry, so that you can plan content, and start building reputation in the areas you need.

An understanding of how people search is important: what problem are they looking to solve?

Information Retrieval – Where next for Search

On this panel, moderated by Neil Walker from Quaero Media, Bas Van Den Beld, Patrick Altoft, and Nick Garner discussed where search is headed in the next five years.

Speakers: Bas Van Den Beld (State of Search), Patrick Altoft (Branded3), and Nick Garner (SearchWorks)

  1. Nick Garner raised the point that SEO is becoming more PR based in two ways. On the one hand webmasters and SEOs have to become better at being persuasive and building relationships. At the same time, Google are using more PR tactics (especially via Webmaster Tools) to invoke fear in webmasters to conform to their agenda. Bas countered a point that if you’re a good digital marketer and you stick with a non-Google focused strategy, then you’ll win in the long-run.
  2. Patrick mentioned that over the past six months Google has devalued 80% of links. You need to be building links that you’d be proud to show Matt Cutts in five years time. Nick mentioned that over the next five years he thinks that brand reputation and perception will play a larger role in the consideration phases – and the brands who build a positive perception will win.
  3. In five years time, Google will become better at ranking the best sites at the top of the search results. Bas made a good point that perhaps there may not be a ‘best’ site, but instead a ‘right’ site, and Google will become better at delivering the right site.
  4. From a paid search perspective, it was mentioned that the effectiveness of bidding on long-tail keywords is supposedly decreasing, as Google is pushing advertisers towards the more-competitive head-of-tail keywords (which drive more revenue for Google).
  5. Google is really focusing on improving search on mobile and tablet at the moment. Nick Garner made the point that there is no such thing as mobile SEO – you have mobile optimised design, and SEO. Bas agreed that you don’t need to do ‘mobile SEO’, you just need to be relevant on a mobile or tablet device, as you would on a desktop.

Keynote Talk: Let’s get Phygital

Speaker: Jeff Coghlan – Matmi

What’s “Phygital”? According to Jeff Coghlan, CEO of Matmi, it’s a cross between digital and the physical World.

1. Games and computing are now part of the physical World, because of the devices we carry with us. We are now thinking about integrated devices (second screen technology), about touch instead of the mouse. And the devices we carry are multipurpose, and no longer fixed. Think Google Glass.

2. Google Glass: there are real privacy issues, and Glass can film (a problem for the film industry). There’s also an issue with face recognition that has had to be taken out of the product because of the privacy issues.

3. The computer is dead. Single purpose devices are dead. PCs will not be top choice for accessing the Internet for home use. Smartphone use is growing fast and their penetration is increasing. Wireless is becoming ubiquitous.

4. Media is converging (consider where we can watch TV, for example, and Smart TV) as well as the devices. Sony is great example:  they’ve been losing fast to Apple, and their new direction is interconnected.

5. The technology is here to allow us to interact with our environment – marketers have to be able to reach their consumers in the place and on the device of their choice.

6. Tech giants will be replaced. The High Street must change. Digital could make it fun again.

7. Examples Used :

  • the Tesco example in Asia of scanning things of shelves to have them  delivered later.
  • A gaming competition located in an airport which offered the reward of an upgrade.
  • Alton Towers (Merlin): the launch of a new ride, to entertain people whilst queuing: The Smiler Game helps build the excitement of going onto a ride. As an extension they allowed Sun readers to get a 3D version if they scanned the picture, and to incentivise repeat sales/reward people who queue for more than four hours.
  • Burberry’s store allows you to interact with their clothes.

8. QR codes are very last year!
9. Consumers really need to be made aware of privacy issues, and there’s a real need for consumer education.  Coghlan’s own work doesn’t rely on identity.
10. In summary, I was left with the big message that augmented reality and gamification, even with a smattering of big data, is about to get very real for commerce.

Multi-Channel Marketing

This session, moderated by Richard Gregory (Latitude), was themed around multichannel marketing and tracking user activity across multiple devices, locations, and in-store / online.

Speaker: Damian Hanson – Oneiota

  1.  There weren’t many takeaways from Damian’s talk as it was basically an overview of the different products on Oneiota’s website. The SmartPod (in-store online kiosks) looked interesting and apparently increased incremental revenue for retail stores by 3-5%.
  2. Retailers need to have a good proposition for why customers should buy in-store. Even if you aren’t prepared to price-match online offers, it may be worth having wifi in-store, enabling customers to price check, and then deliver a proposition for why they should buy from you. Otherwise customers will likely go home and do it anyway.

Speaker: Darran Herbert – Latitude

  1. The benefits of getting attribution right are tremendous. According to a survey, 54% of marketers carry out attribution. Of those 54%, 89% said it had a positive impact. The main barriers to successful attribution are 1) disparate tools, 2) resource issues, and 3) internal politics.
  2. 54% of marketers said that there is no such thing as a perfect attribution model.
  3. Google Analytics, DoubleClick, MediaPlex and Adobe SiteCatalyst are the most popular tracking tools for multi-channel tracking. For tag management, Darren recommended TagMan and DC Storm.
  4. The future of Google Analytics is Universal Analytics (still in beta). Universal Analytics enables offline integration and will be able to track data from virtually any digital device (digital turnstiles, coffee machines, game consoles etc). At the moment Universal Analytics will co-exist alongside Google Analytics.
  5. Understand your requirements before choosing your analytics solution.


Penguin 2.0: Experts in Assessment

Speakers: Patrick Altoft (Branded3), Paul Madden (LinkRisk), Nick Garner (SearchWorks)

  1. Penguin 1.0 was a really obvious penalty that applied to your whole site if Google found unnatural anchor text patterns pointing to your site. Penguin 2.0 wasn’t like this. Operationally, according to Paul Madden there isn’t much difference between the two updates, but perhaps Penguin 2.0 is more of an ongoing update rather than a single hit update.
  2. Since 22nd November 2012 Google has devalued millions of links.
  3. It usually takes 3-5 reconsideration requests before Google remove your penalty.
  4. The challenge around Penguin 2.0 is that if you drop down in the rankings it can be uncertain as to whether that’s because your links have been devalued and you need to build more, or because you’ve got too many bad links and you need to remove them. The only way you can know which way to go is to collect more data.
  5. Patrick Altoft pointed out that he’s seen websites that have been successful in their reconsideration requests just by disavowing links (no links had to be manually removed).


Searching for Talent

This panel, moderated by Alex Moss, discussed different tactics for finding and hiring the right talent.

Speakers: Alex Moss – 3 Door Digital, Jake Langwith – Stone Carter & David Edmunson Bird – MMU

  1. There are very few people in digital marketing with a professional qualification in the digital marketing industry. Most digital marketers come from IT, PR, and various other backgrounds.
  2. David mentioned that MMU have more placement opportunities at agencies than students willing to go on them. Only one third of students were willing to go on a work placement – despite the fact that most job adverts are now looking for ‘degree + experience’.
  3. As an employer trying to hire graduates, you need to understand the academic year and plan in advance. In MMU’s case, out of 90 students on the digital marketing comms module, by the end of the course there were only three who didn’t have jobs.
  4. Best place to find really amazing content writers is from GumTree – tip from Lisa Myers (Verve Search). Lisa also mentioned that if you title the job ad ‘SEO’ you’ll scare good talent off and only get a few applications, but if you title it ‘content writer’ you’ll get a lot of great writers. David echoed this by pointing out that by including the word ‘digital’ in a course or job opportunity title it deters people from enrolling or applying because they perceive it as harder and more technical.
  5. LinkedIn is the best tool for finding experienced talent. Using advanced search, search for people within a 10-mile radius of your office (unless you’re based in central London) and find people who have mentioned keywords like ‘SEO’ or ‘Social Media’ on their profile.


Written By
Claire Thompson has has 15 years PR experience and runs Waves PR, which she founded. She has great taste in wine and lousy taste in music. The two are not unconnected!
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