On Friday 12th April, we headed down to Brighton for one of our favourite search marketing events of the year, Brighton SEO! If you weren’t lucky enough to attend this year then don’t worry, here’s all you need to know:
Site speed is still a key factor for SEO in terms of improving indexability, crawling and more importantly UX. Although as an industry we are moving along, there are still quite a few improvements that can be made to make the internet a better and more user-friendly place for everybody.
The average speed index across the majority of industries is poor and well under what is to be expected, not anywhere near “best practice”.
A shocking stat that users who receive a negative mobile experience are 62% less likely to make a future purchase from the same website, sends a harrowing message to all webmasters.
When considering site speed we all need to be aware that mobile phones aren’t created equal. All improvements should be geared towards the less powerful phones as a fast website on a slow phone will only mean that it will be faster on a fast phone.
Resource prefetching is another performance enhancing technique. We can use it to tell the browser which assets the user might need in the future. By leveraging Google Analytics data and machine learning, Guess.js is able to determine which pages a user is most likely to navigate to from the current page and preload those resources.
Lighthouse is an open source, automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. It has audits for:
More importantly, the tool is continually updated. This means that just because you have optimised your site, it doesn’t mean your finished. Polly highlights this where a 100 score simply dropped to 56 over the course of a few months.
Big brands and regular site owners alike are struggling to keep up with the recommended performance of sites by Google. As tools like Lighthouse are continually updated, focussing on your page speed and site performance should not be seen as just a one-off task if you want to keep up with the pace.
Below are some of the top things recommended by Polly to help keep your scores high (for now at least):
HTTP/2 – Implement it! A great analogy was used where HTTP is like runners in a relay; HTTP/2 allows all the runners to start at the same time. In essence, your site will load faster.
Image Quality – Images remain one of the biggest offenders in site speed issues. Next generation image formats are the way forward here, examples being WebP and progressive JPEGs. A point to note when using formats like WebP, is you should always have a fallback to a regular image format as it only works on the Chrome browser (check your Analytics for how many people visit your site from other browsers).
Only load what you need – Use lazy loading on your site so only what’s viewable to the user on screen is loaded. This creates the perception that the page is fully loaded much quicker, as long as it’s interactive at this stage!
The common theme of site speed this year was on managing a user’s perception of site speed, rather than a site’s actual speed.
Talk summary: You’ve signed on a new client and everything is great for the first few months. Then suddenly, things take a downward turn and the client starts to have concerns they didn’t initially have, they start expecting results immediately or they question what their money is being spent on. Sound familiar? In Heather’s talk, she identified the common issues faced when onboarding a new client and how we can overcome these.
Key takeaways: Slow down to speed up. Signing on a new client is exciting but it can be easy to jump straight into the work without a thorough onboarding process. Take a step back in the first few weeks to identify your client’s needs and expectations.
To make sure the onboarding process runs smoothly and you don’t encounter issues later on, Heather introduced us to the idea of ‘Immersion Workshops’, a two-day crash course between the stakeholder and the organic search team to better understand:
You can find a sample of the Immersion Workshop here: https://vmlyr.docsend.com/view/j5pkgri
Talk summary: Gareth Simpson discusses how artificial intelligence can be used to support our outreach efforts. He suggests that while AI can help the overall data collection of an outreach campaign and can improve efficiencies, AI should not completely take over. Human interaction is still vital for gaining links from bloggers and journalists.
Key takeaways: There should always be a careful balance between human interaction and AI involvement in outreach. AI should not compromise human relationships.
It is useful to use advanced AI technologies to filter out higher quality websites. This can make your agency much more efficient in gaining links because the heavy lifting of listing quality opportunities is done for you in minutes, so you can focus on the communication side of outreach.
Gareth believes that the current state of outreach is not strategic enough. He wants agencies to put in place a clear and numerically lead strategy plan with realistic end results. Not only does this keep the goals of outreach planned out, it can keep the team motivated in their outreach pursuits.
Empathy is now a key component in an outreach email. Recognising the opportunity’s values and problems then you can craft a more effective email. Not appearing like a link building robot would resonate better with an opportunity whose website is their main source of income. They obviously care highly for it so you should show the same appreciation. This is more likely to gain links and meaningful relationships, which will be beneficial in the long term.
Talk summary: As the user experience of your website provides more and more ranking signals it’s now vitally important that your site works for your users, as well as for Google. This talk covered the key areas where improving your UX will positively impact your SEO.
Key takeaways: We must maximise the experience of the users on our websites. To do this one crucial activity is quantitative keyword research to fully understand what our audience search for at each stage of the buying cycle, when they searched for it and on what device. Doing so helps answer users key questions, when we need to answer them by and for what device we should be prioritising.
3 Main Points:
Do you have any highlights from the conference? We’d love to know! Tweet us at @iThinkMediaUK or let us know in the comments below.