For us, one of the most exciting conferences in the year is BrightonSEO, a leading search marketing event. Luckily for us, it happens twice a year, with the next event planned for September 2017.
On Friday, we were lucky enough to take a number of our iThinkMedia team down to the event, to sit in on an array of key talks covering SEO, PPC and content topics from a range of industry speakers from both client side and agencies.
We wanted to share our experiences and learning’s with you, to group together the leading trends and topics that any business should be aware of as we move further into 2017.
With Google updating its algorithm on average 1.64 times per day, you can see how fast search marketing is evolving! Okay, so we can never keep up with Google at that rate, but we can adapt how we work to some of the noticeable changes and as digital marketers this is a must, in order to keep our brands competitive in the digital landscape.
Brand: The Only Future Ranking Factor
SEO in the past used to be so easy to get your brand to page one. Now, the landscape as a whole is finding this more difficult, with many suggesting that Google is playing much more focus on brand factors overall.
- The market is so competitive and saturated that in many cases best practice SEO will get you to page two, but it will be a struggle to cement a place on page one and sustain competitive advantage.
- With Google becoming more human, it now cares about your brand’s perception and the full user experience, both on and off-site.
- Ensure you are working as a whole entity as a brand, not in silo – put it this way, Google doesn’t care if you can’t, but your rankings will suffer as a result if you don’t.
- Brand love should be one of your biggest objectives to work towards and improve. Through increasing this you’ll find more people talking about you, searching for you and citing you, which will only improve your organic rankings overall.
Content Strategy: Shine Light on the Data Darkness
As businesses, we can become so wrapped up in the day-to-day, but actually as few as one third of businesses have a holistic view, aligning what their customers want with the business objectives. In a world where we can churn out content, it is really now about making that content high quality to stand out and resonate with your audience.
- Ensure you are aware who your customers are and their associated pain points through data mining.
- Deliver hero pieces that stand out and answer what your customers are searching for, with a mix of entertaining and informative strands, through an array of content types.
- Ensure you distribute your content properly through a range of owned, earned and paid channels, which if done correctly can provide a halo effect on your brand awareness and perception overall.
- With voice assistants increasing in homes by 140% over the past year, it’s expected by 2020 we’ll see over 50% of searches to be voice search. Given this, we should be considering the way we structure this content to ensure it is picked up by featured snippets where possible.
Local Search Takes Prominence
The local scene in SEO is constantly evolving and Greg Gifford’s talk looked at the latest updates to local ranking and how to get the edge over the competition. The latest Google update for local was Possum, which rolled out in September 2016. We can now see important changes in the local search algorithm:
- Duplicate GMB listings: having more than one listing for your company can seriously impact visibility.
- Multiple categories: in GMB you have the option to select the industry your business operates in. It is important to only select one category that best describes your company to avoid confusion.
- Third party reviews: Google reviews are no longer carrying all the weight. Obtaining reviews from multiple third parties now significantly helps with local SEO campaigns (TrustPilot, Feefo & Booking.com).
- Industry related links: increased weighting (see below).
- Proximity: now the number one local ranking factor (how close your business is to the searcher).
Supercharging Websites with a Real-Time R API
Did you know that every 500 milliseconds delay on your website translates to a 1% loss in revenue? This is according to a study by Google and Bing. Chrome is known for being the fastest browser due to it predicting what the user will click on and preloading before it’s been clicked. We can start doing this in other browsers too:
- Using a programming language called R, it is possible to make a prediction model based on user usage patterns extracted from Google Analytics. Then Open CPU (available on Github) can be used to convert the R into jSON and insert it into Google Tag Manager, from where it will make the request for the chosen page to preload.
- This whole process is fully dynamic and the prediction model is constantly evolving depending on the data in Google Analytics. That’s why there’s no need to worry about how changes to your site layout might impact which web page the algorithm will preload – predictions are done in real time.
Mark Edmonson has created a detailed slideshow here if you’re interested in implementing this.
Learning from the Mobile Gaming Industry
There’s no doubt that the gaming industry is of the most competitive in the app arena. So what tricks can you borrow from this industry to really get the most traction with your app?
Below are some hot tips from gaming app guru Robin Fry:
- Let people try before they buy: offering a portion of the app for free can be beneficial alongside enabling your app to clock more reviews and ratings in the process which will help with SEO.
- Avoid uninstallers: a negative ranking factor that you’ll want to avoid – ensure your app works efficiently, for all devices, offline and economical for battery life.
- Instigate positive reviews: this will act as a positive ranking factor.
- Listen to your customers: having a disconnect between your customers and development teams can result in dissatisfied users and ultimately bad reviews or uninstalls, which will impact your app’s visibility in the Google app store. Look at the user feedback and ensure it is piped directly into your development roadmap.
- Prevent negative reviews: ensure users can contact you directly with any bug issues to avoid negative feedback manifesting in the reviews and ratings of your app.
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Check out our takeaways from BrightonSEO 2016.