BrightonSEO: Lessons Learnt About Keywords and Rankings

BrightonSEO: Lessons Learnt About Keywords and Rankings

6th May 2014

State of Digital has summarised tips and takeaways on keywords and rankings.  We covered four great speakers on the day, Rob Bucci, Adrian DurowTim Grice and Lukasz Zelezny.

Lesson 1: Have a Localised SEO Strategy

Rob Bucci spoke about short tail and geo-modified keywords and the reality in the SERPs.  The key lesson from Rob was to ensure all companies have a localised SEO approach as every search is localized even if you may not reaslise it. Rob based his findings on a case study of research of one of the largest auto insurance companies in the United States, called GEICO.

  • Local analysis (especially of the bigger players in the market) can expose great opportunities where smaller organisations can gain a competitive advantage.
  •  It is important to understand the local market and the different language customers use. For example in the US, customers will be looking for “car rental”, whereas in the UK, they will be searching for “car hire”.
  • Query structure matters (eg prefixes, suffixes, stop words) , it is not the same city by city, state by state, country by country
  • Use Google’s keyword planner for search volumes for different locations to make sure your site is optimised for all search queries
  • You can do all this research on your own – you just need a partner who can provide the data

Rob Bucci

Full details of the study and the results can be found in Rob’s presentation on slideshare.

Lesson 2: Think About Eyeballs, Not Necessarily Keywords for Your Site

Adrian tested three hypotheses with the help of Southampton Solent University and said it was more important to understand what and where your customers were looking  instead of just fixating on keywords.

The three hypotheses:

1.Domains get more attention than other elements of a standard search listing

This was correct, from the results. If launching a new domain, it is also important to look at the search landscape.  look also at design of the listing.

2.  Search listings with authorship mark up are more powerful in attracting attention

This hypothesis was correct but they did not have as high impact as they thought. Authorship listing viewings made up 59% of total listing viewings for the term “mobile site or responsive design”.  However, authorship listing viewings made up only 14 % of total listing viewings for the the term “which car color is best”.

3. Search listings with keywords at start of listing title get more attention that those keywords in the middle or end of listing title

This was true, although some names such as Zazzle got a lot of attention (even though this is not a keyword) because of the way it looked and sounded.

Other interesting take aways from the research

  • Award winning/world class get attention
  • Reviews for gadgets got attention
  • Numbers in titles attracted readers and click throughs

Future work that may come off the back of this initial research

  • Cross analyse click data
  • More SERP component testing
  • There could be a model for optimal CTR?

It was an interesting presentation which showed that the position a company is ranking for does not necessarily guarantee more clicks. Details of the study with Southampton Solent University  which showed be found on slideshare.

Lesson 3: Focus on Increasing Relevant Content on the Page to Engage Users

Tim kicked off the presentation by stating what we are all aware of – “That SEOs are obsessed with signals”.  We don’t know all of them, but we want to know the ones that work.  Tim does not believe links are dead. But he does believe other signals are becoming as important.

The SEO Tool Kit below has been turned on its head last 2 years

  • Find relevant keywords
  • Add keywords to content
  • Build links
  • Anchor text

Before people were more concerned with getting traffic by any means possible and then worrying about engagement.

Now, it is important to not only optimise content and links but to engage traffic that is on the site.  If this does not happen, that site will lose its rankings. The search algorithm looks at who is hitting a website and then what the customers are doing next.  Is the site  serving that user? Are they giving them the information they need?

Most Panda issues can be solved through better content. Tim said it is important for websites to research who they are trying to engage.  Look at the most viewed pages and the bounce rate. Find out what their customer want by looking at forums, blogs, reviews.Carry out surveys to find out what customers want.  What is a company NOT doing to serve their customers. There is audience reporting in GA to help can understand the users hitting a website.

Tim said it is important to focus on building quality pages with information for the users.  People may not be ready to buy a product/service yet, therefore it is important they have all the information they need to be able to make that decision.  Provoke engagement with customers, what is going to make them search for a brand on line?

The presentation finished with a point we should all do in : “2014 – the year of building better websites.”

Tim Grice

Lesson 4: Track Your Keywords to Focus on the Big Winners

Lukasz Zelezny gave an interesting presentation at BrightonSEO where he encouraged the audience to track your keyword positions like a boss.  Keywords are still very important and by getting the right data you can focus your SEO efforts on those keywords that have the most new traffic potential with the least amount of SERP movement.

How to get the right keyword data:

  • Historical keyword data in Google Analytics
  • Searchmetrics & SEMrush to analyse keywords & competitor info
  • PPC data
  • Google Webmaster Tools search queries data

Use as many tools as possible and ensure they all have the 4 metrics: keyword, rank, URL, and search volume. Filter keywords to first page ranks only. Then forecast traffic potential on SERP CTR, search volume & rankings:

  • Traffic index = (search volume / 2) * CTR
  • Optimal traffic index (1st place ranks)
  • Compare current vs optimal traffic indeces to show biggest potential keywords

Ensure you filter out keywords with limited click potential, such as 3rd party brand names

Lukazs Zelezny’s presentation is available on slideshare.

Speaker bios:

Rob Bucci – @STATrobSince 2009, STAT has equipped SEO experts with massive-scale, real-time search data in markets and locations across the globe—all backed up by one-on-one expert service. That’s how they’ve become the data partner of choice for some of the world’s largest online brands and SEO agencies. When Rob isn’t tackling big-data challenges in data mining and analytics he will falling down a ski hill, splashing in the ocean, or taking cookies out of the oven.

Adrian Durow – @adriandurow: Adrian is a Conversion Rate Optimiser, is the founder of The ConversionArium Ltd, and has been happily (and successfully) increasing performance metrics for sites and apps for 10 years. Adrian has managed many CRO programmes for startups to large multinationals. He has also managed SEO teams and campaigns, and has developed a deep understanding of search-to-conversion psychology.

Tim Grice – @Tim_GriceTim is the Director of Search for Digital Marketing Agency Branded3, responsible for overseeing and growing SEO, Social, Content & Paid Search Channels. Tim leads the search strategy for global brands and is a regular contributor to industry leading blogs and conferences.

Lukas Zelezny – @LukaszZeleznyLukasz Zelezny is the head of organic acquisition at where leading his team, he is responsible for the brand’s organic visibility, conversion rate, traffic and engagement. Lukasz is a hands-on person, he spends lots of his time keeping up to date with the changes in the technology of online marketing.


Written By
Jo Juliana Turnbull is the organiser of Search London and the founder of SEO Jo Blogs, which provides practical advice and tips for those in SEO.
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