I’ve just returned from this year’s brilliant SearchLove event. Here are some of my top tips and takeouts from the speakers.
The Modern SEO’s Toolkit – Will Critchlow, Distilled
Will talked about SEO tools, how to make them and how to use them.
Learn about new technology, or you will lose out to people who do.
- You should be building your own stuff. Widgets, APIs etc.
- Understand the language that your media is written in.
- You don’t have to be a developer to be an SEO, but a certain amount of knowledge helps.
- SEOs should be using wireframing tools like Balsamic.
“Gamification: the art of getting everyone else to do your work for you” Richard Baxter, SEO Gadget
SEOGadget’s Richard Baxter on implementing game mechanics into your website.
Gamification is a great way to incentivise users to carry out the activities which are beneficial to the growth of your business.
- Build users a leaderboard to people show where they rank on the system. Give them something to aim for.
- LinkedIn – Encourage you to complete your profile pages by giving % completeness. Encourages users to take ownership over their profiles. The more engaged and committed they are to their profiles, the more likely they are to return.
- Create Signups/Sales with loss aversion – Here is something, you have to register to claim it.
- If someone adds something to basket but doesn’t check out, give them a time sensitive voucher code to coax them into purchasing.
- Build a Q&A system to create content that serves long tail “how do I…” search queries.
Dribbbble.com – A closed community where people upload shots of their design. These are then reviewed by other members of the community.
Lockerz – Offers rewards for uploading content.
StackOverflow – A site where developers can ask questions to fellow developers and get ranked on the responses.
GetGlue.com – Checkin-based program, connect with products and services, and share these with your friends.
“Outreach: is it all about hustle?” Rob Ousbey, Distilled
Rob heads up Distilled’s outreach team and discussed some key tactics for link acquisition.
Don’t send out generic emails, build relationships first. Follow them on Twitter, retweet them, comment on their blog.
- Use the ‘allintitle:keyword blog’ search query to identify potential blog targets.
- A lot of people are reluctant to link to commercial content, give them something else to link to.
- Pitching stories to journalists gets you known. Even if they don’t run with your first story, they are likely to come back to you for a quote when they have something relevant to you.
Followerwonk – Allows you to identify influential Twitterers based subjects.
“Your content strategy is part of your link building strategy” Wil Reynolds, Seer
US SEO veteran Wil Reynolds talked at length about content strategy.
Social is not having as big an impact on SERPs as people think
- Use bit.ly/iplookup to find all of your client’s web properties and utilise them.
- Use Google Suggest and Google Product Suggest for content inspiration.
- Use ‘special advertising section’ search query to find opportunities for high quality advertorials on newspaper sites.
Topsy – A great tool for finding influential Twitterers
“The past, present and future of link bait” Hannah Smith, Distilled
Distilled’s resident linkbait expert on the evolution of linkbaiting through the years.
Linkbaiting is easy if you’re not commercial right? Wrong. You can do linkbaiting for any site, in almost any vertical.
- Have a genuine USP and really great content, the links will take care of themselves.
- Make sure content is shareable on tablets, smartphones etc.
- Start small, test the water and demonstrate ROI to get buy-in from all stakeholders.
Oyster.com – A site that has invested heavily in best-in-class content.
“What does a CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) expert bookmark?” Stephen Pavlovich – Conversion Factory
Some brilliant insight into actionable changes to your site that can drive an increase in conversion rates.
Make a habit of noting down things that are innovative and interesting online with Evernote.
- Give voucher codes to basket abandoners to win them back.
- Add a USP to a call to action on the site. Dialaflight have done this well with the “Calls answered LIVE in 5 seconds” strapline below their phone number.
- Admit to your faults but then turn them into a benefit. Sunshine.co.uk have replaced their phone number with a link to a page that explains why they don’t have a call centre. The plus side is that this helps them to reduce costs which they pass on to customers.
- Don’t limit yourself to online, look to print advertising for inspiration, particularly when it comes to copy.
Evernote – A tool for grabbing and archiving screenshots.
“How brands should do SEO” Martin MacDonald OMD
OMD’s Martin McDonald talked about the emergence of ‘big brand SEO’ and warned of the gradual shift away from Google’s “Do no evil” policy, as the search giant goes public and becomes increasingly commercial.
SEO in the future needs to develop as part of the whole marketing mix. We need to move away from tricks, because they will stop working. For us to start getting taken seriously, we need to do things properly.
- Build some buzz. Intel’s Museum of Me, a great example. Helped Intel to grow their Facebook ‘like’count.
- Develop brand evangelists and reward them with incentives.
Takethislollipop.com – Discussed at length by Martin, and others at SearchLove.
Bit.ly/kwpetition – Martin’s campaign to stop Google from limiting access to keyword data.
“Social media: Are you keeping up with the Joneses?” Joanna Lord, SEOMoz
The first lady of SEO on checking out the competition and developing actions from this.
Spending money on social requires buy in. If companies are spending money on Facebook advertising and have dedicated landing pages for social campaigns they are likely to be a force to be reckoned with.
- Hang out on your competitors LinkedIn pages. These will show you recent hires, what they are spending their budget on.
- Find and empower the people in your business who love doing social.
- Integrate social EVERYWHERE. Shoedazzle’s welcome email includes a Facebook ‘like’ for their brand page. This is unconventional but successful.
- Embedding of social into videos on product pages can be successful.
- Spend more time on Facebook. Ask questions, elongate conversations by talking to people. Start debates etc.
- Quora is a great tool to measure your share of voice.
“Real world link building case studies” Patrick Altoft – Branded3
Patrick Altoft outlined some real world examples of linkbuilding and how to go about establishing a scalable process.
Don’t start linkbuilding before you improve the site.
- Get automated content ideas from Google analytics – Use Google analytics new ‘questions’ filter to generate ideas for content. Email to your content writers.
- Vary anchor text – don’t just build links with exact match.
- Use Google suggest & keyword tool.
- Don’t just get links from blogs, promote that link aswell via your own, or client’s Twitter account.
- Find sites that will publish a certain story and then re-write the content for the specific blogs that have agreed to publish the story.
- If you see a news story, get a quote from your client and approach blogs/news sites.
- Weekly or monthly columns are a great way to drive links. For clients with authority in a certain sector, this can be really valuable.
- Add images,videos,presentations,graphs, charts to a page on your site. Offer these free, with the proviso that that publisher links back to you.
- Widgets are a great way to build links to sites with product churn.
- Use developers to develop tools with APIs for SEOmoz etc.
- Work out time spent vs. value of link to establish its worth
- Panda recovery is possible by hitting the duplicate content with AJAX to recover rankings.
- Get rid of duplicate content ASAP.
- Competwition – Free to add competitions. Users click the competition links and auto sends out a tweet and follows the brand.
“Making competitor analysis useful” Wiep Knol – linkbuilding.nl
Dutch SEO Wiep discussed how to identify competitors and their links and develop actionable linkbuilding tactics.
Don’t just look at the top 5 SERPs, there are lots of other sites that have potential to rank well
- Look at the metrics that are helping competitors to rank and replicate or improve on.
- Evaluate if it is worth the time/risk to try and replicate.
- Take directory title tags out of OpenSiteExplorer and put into a tag cloud. If the word ‘SEO’ is highlighted, then chances are the link profile is unnatural.
- Create pivot charts with anchor text links. If a high proportion of these are generic, then chances are they are unnatural.
- Don’t focus on exact-match anchor text, you can rank without it.
- Link growth patterns from Majestic are useful.
- Look at quality spread in terms of Page Authority.
- Top 10 anchor texts, will show you what the company’s main focus is vs. the keyword you are looking at.
- Find content inspiration in anchor text.
Personalisation, profiles and privacy – Ciaran Norris, Mindshare
Mindshare’s social media honcho Ciaran Norris on the pitfalls of personalised search and the importance of privacy.
The role of the marketer is to tell people about things they don’t know about, not just remind them about things that they do.
- Be aware of new privacy legislation in every country you operate.
- Don’t focus too much on personalised search, people don’t always necessarily like the same things as their friends.
Hunch.fm – Serves music based on your searching history
The Next Step of Social Integration – Mat Clayton, mixcloud.com
Mixcloud founder Mat Clayton on how to successfully integrate social into your site.
Would people wear t-shirts with your company’s branding? If yes, then you are doing a good job.
- Don’t just focus on distribution of content, focus on consumption and interaction. Don’t just put stuff out there by tweeting, measure reaction and interaction.
- Don’t forget about user experience when generating Facebook content.
- Density is key. The first time people hit a site they need to feel part of a big community, otherwise they won’t return.
- Focus on daily users, not monthly.
- Never use social recommendations as a means of generating clicks.
- Putting faces next to an action makes conversion rates go up massively.
“Big Business SEO” Tom Critchlow, Distilled
Distiller Tom on how to do SEO when playing with the big boys
To make the needle move in a small company you need hustle, in a big company, you need project management.
- Do small scale projects first to demonstrate ROI and get buy in from all stakeholders.
- Invest in improving your page types or building new page types. Start making your pages earn their rankings.
- Understand the organisational chart of the company, what it looks like and what it means for SEO.
- Identify the ‘Content Gap’. Many departments have the ability to create content, but the only link between them is the CEO. Make people responsible for content sign off.
- Think about all of the implications of an SEO project at initial planning phase, what are the signoffs, where are the breaking points? Who is going to be responsible? Do the PR team know about it?
- Any one-off change in a big business is worthless. You have to make sure that there is a process in place that will remain.
- Pitch SEO initiatives in language that non-SEO savvy people can understand.
- Remove content aggressively – Get rid of 404s etc.
- In enterprise, LinkedIn is more relevant and valuable to SEOs than Facebook and Twitter. Use it to tap people up for links.
- Get into bed with Google but be careful. If Google approaches you to be a guinea pig, proceed with caution. Google aren’t working in your best interests…
- Report on Industry movements in your chosen vertical, build industry intelligence on movers and shakers.
Sam Crocker at Stateofsearch has done a cracking job of collating all of the action.