Having been in SEO for over 3 years now, attending a conference was long overdue. Thankfully, we won some tickets to Brighton SEO and so I headed there with Liberty colleagues Andrew (@Andrew_Isidoro / @SEOFoSho) and Ceri.
While Andrew tweeted like a madman (this tweet sums it up well!), I made a ton of notes, equalling 1,000 words – good fun on an iPad, let me tell you…!
Anyway, here are my top 10 takeaways from the event:
1. Bing: Social is a “strong signal” for content
Talk: Panel – Ask the Engines with Pierre Far, Dave Coplin, Martin McDonald, Rishi Lakhani & Tony Goldstone
Straight from the horse’s mouth – Bing’s Director of Search Dave Coplin explained that social is used as a ranking signal in Bing. He even specified that they definitely take Facebook and Twitter into account, and those whose efforts are “bloody good” will be rewarded with better rankings.
2. ISO DateTime gives search engines context to dates
Talk: Microformats & SEO – Glenn Jones, @glennjones
I’m still fairly new to the head-scratching-inducing world of schema.org and rich snippets, but I thought it was cool that “ISO DateTime” can give context to dates that search engines will understand. With so many ways to write a date (17th Apr 2012, 17/04/12, 2012-04-17, and so on), it can be used to clarify a date in one standard format. It can even be used when a date isn’t actually written, but a date is still suggested (e.g. “next Tuesday”).
Glenn’s slides can be found here. See slide 17 for more info.
3. What info to include when reporting on online PR
Talk: How you can get BIG links from BIG media sites – Lexi Mills, @leximills
Lexi’s talk was by far my favourite at the event. In terms of reporting on online PR efforts, one should consider including:
- Domain Authority of the site (not PageRank of the page: the article/content will be brand new on the site – as a brand new page – and therefore PageRank will be low (n/a) for that page to begin with, so for that reason, DA is a more sensible metric to use),
- Whether the link is dofollow or nofollow,
- Whether the link is an image or text,
- The anchor text of the link.
I think the same easily applies to guest blogging as well.
Another gem from Lexi. Keep an eye on the above hashtags for an opportunity to strike.
My tip: Want to filter it by industry? Add a keyword after each one, e.g. #journorequest fashion. You could have one (or a few) per client/site.
5. Tell clients their month-average ranking as well as/instead of their current ranking
Talk: Maximizing your SEO Agencies – James Owen, @jamesoSEO
It’s happened to all of us… When we give our client their end-of-month report, they’ve performed consistently well all month, and then Sod’s Law strikes and on the 29th or 30th they’ll drop a few places. We give them their current rank and they wonder it’s been like that the whole time…
In those situations, it might also be worth including their average ranking over the month, so that you can say “yes, it is nth right now, but look at where it was before…!” Especially handy if it’s a temporary dip.
6. Say “Did I explain that clearly?” instead of “Did that make sense?” or “Did you get that?”
Talk: Sell the Sizzle, Not The Search: Tactics for Appeasing Marketing Directors – Chelsea Blacker, @ChelseaBlacker
This is very timely for me. I’ve been meaning to write a post about sales/networking tips for non-sales people, and although Chelsea’s talk was applied to Marketing Directors and others within an organisation, I think it applies to any/all environments involving laymen.
After exploding someone’s head with overly-technical information, I’ll often say something like “do you know what I mean?”, which might leave the listener feeling a little silly (albeit unintentionally). However “did I explain that clearly?” is a softer approach and – chances are – I probably didn’t explain it clearly, so more accurate, too.
For me personally, this has been one of the most valuable takeaways of the event. Thank you Chelsea!
7. Use competitor downtime to your advantage…
Talk: Enterprise SEO Titties (was that a typo or the actual title of the event in the end?!) – Tony King, @ToastedTeacake
All’s fair in love, war and search…
We all know that competitors bid on each others’ brand terms using PPC (especially big brands), in an attempt to cheekily pinch each other’s traffic before it reaches the site. But Tony made a very good point – if you notice that one of your main competitors is experiencing website downtime, increase your bids on those terms. That’s the time to strike, offering yourself as a (functioning) alternative to frustrated customers who could use you instead of waiting for their usual port-of-call website to get themselves sorted and fixed…
It’s cheeky as hell (although brilliant, mind you), but hey – they’d probably do it to you, too!
8. Shape your response to emotional highs (and use SEO and PPC accordingly)
Talk: SEO & PPC Working Together in Harmony – Tim, @JellyfishAgency
Use SEO and PPC together, but for different reasons. As PPC can be turned on and off very quickly and ads can be shown at certain times of the day, it can be used to drive people to a website at a time when they might be feeling an “emotional high,” as Tim put it. Don’t just rely on SEO, when PPC could be used to draw in additional traffic that may be more inclined to read/react/buy compared to usual.
EDIT: Sorry, it was Tim who was speaking, not Craig! Cheers to @JellyfishAgency for clarifying!
9. Author Rank could be swayed by industry
Talk: I Believe Authors are the Future – James Carson, @mrjamescarson
James’ talk was interesting – it’s early days for the likes of Author Rank, rel=author, etc., but it’s clear that Google is becoming more and more fixated in this area as time goes on.
James has a theory that in the future, Author Rank could differ by industry. Rather than a well-respected, high-ranking author always ranking well no matter what they publish, Author Rank could be determined by the consistency of what they publish by industry, based on their previous successes. For example, if a famous fashion blogger suddenly blogged about football, it may not necessarily rank well – even if their fashion posts usually do – because it is inconsistent of what they’re known and respected for.
10. Mascots can cause a reaction (but be a distraction)
Talk: I appear to have started a sweetshop (and advertising company) – Dom Hodgson, @Thehodge
Dom easily wins the award for the most entertaining talk of the day (as I’m sure fellow attendeanales reading this will agree…)
Dom originally used a mascot – a “f***ing squirrel,” as he so eloquently put it! – on the first design of his sweet shop website. Although they had a lot of social media mentions revolving around said mascot to begin with (“did that squirrel just f***ing wink at me?!”), showing initial promising signs that his(?) inclusion was a good move, they decided to “kill” the squirrel and eventually removed it from the site. Why? Because an eye-tracking test showed that visitors were distracted by the squirrel, and in some cases it might’ve been such a distraction that it was putting some customers off from buying anything.
I found this fascinating. It just goes to show that even if people say something positive via social, it may not actually be a positive for the website or company.
11./Bonus: Advanced Search String Queries for SEO
Talk: Word from a Sponsor – Analytics SEO, @analyticsseo
Ok, so I lied – I’ve included an 11th takeaway, as while writing this post, I remembered another good takeaway from one of the sponsors – Analytics SEO – who used their ‘sponsor message’ section to share their list of advanced search string queries for SEO.
So that’s it! That’s some of the words from the 1,000-word tome that’s left me with aching fingertips and a low iPad battery…
I’d like to take the opportunity to thank a few people:
- Analytics SEO, who ran the ticket competition and therefore the whole reason I managed to go,
- Kelvin (@kelvinnewman), the event’s organiser, for his help and patience with the infamous ‘ticket confusion’ on Thursday,
- The Brighton SEO blog (I’m assuming Kelvin again?), as I used their list of last-minute Brighton hotels when booking accommodation – a great idea for appropriate, helpful content,
- Emily (@ems_ob), for the catch-up,
- The man who bought me a shot of sambuca because I apologised for accidentally queue-jumping him at the bar at the afterparty. Alcohol + poor memory (generally) = I’ve forgotten your name, but if you tweet me and remind me then I’ll edit this post and link to you as promised. (And before anyone tries pulling a fast one, I’ll know the name when I see it!),
- The magician (@mcrmagic), for blowing my mind to smithereens.
Oh and for anyone reading this who enjoyed the karaoke at the afterparty, I’m the guy who sang the Foo Fighters song. I apologise for the high bits!
EDIT (03/05/12): I thought I’d share this awesome infographic as well…