As avid readers of the Banc Blog will have seen last Thursday, our SEO Manager Charlie Whitworth and his trusty sidekick, Business Development Manager Richard Yarwood, descended on Brighton for the town’s ever popular bi-annual SEO Conference. Read our highlights of the latest instalment of the south coast’s most coveted marketing event…
There aren’t many reasons to like September. The start of Manchester’s 10 month long rainy season, the end of the cricket season and premature murmurs of Christmas usually make this a pretty miserable time of the year for me, this is however remedied at least slightly by my favourite search conference, BrightonSEO.
This autumn’s event was jam packed with fascinating speakers and whilst it was impossible to attend them all, Richard and I did our utmost to attend the best that the conference had to offer.
In a bid to avoid the countless lists of #BrightonSEO slide decks flying around the Twittersphere, I have highlighted the key takeaways from this year’s gathering and exactly what you can glean from these for your business.
If you read our advanced SEO techniques article last month, this is a theme you will be very familiar and it seems we are not alone in our views on this issue. Content cannibalisation is rife on the web these days and if your site was hit by the undefined update at the start of the year, then this could well be part of the problem.
Strategiq’s Chris Green presented a comprehensive look at how you can stop your content from tucking into itself and reiterated many of the points we have been making to our clients all year. In summary, Chris explained;
• Cannibal content is effectively web pages talking about the same thing which are therefore diluting or even compromising your traffic for these terms.
• This isn’t really duplicate content but more several pages talking about the same theme or topic.
• Monitor your individual URLs using your SEO software of choice to analyse fluctuations.
• Utilise all of the SEO tools at your disposal to identify causes of wins and losses.
• Employ tactics such as internal linking, canonical tags and your content marketing strategy to let Google know your authoritative page for every phrase and/or theme.
• If you think you are experiencing problems as a result of cannibalisation, perform a full site content audit. Look at your site’s structure as well as the aforementioned signals.
• Something we are big on here at Banc Media, is effective keyword targeting (this is not keyword rich content or stuffing!) Identify all your primary and secondary themes and ensure these are present but not manipulated on each relevant page. Utilise intelligent keyword mapping across your site and cannibalisation should never be an issue.
Chris’s was an excellent talk on one of our favourite subjects and this is something well worth taking a look at if you think you may be covering the same topic more than once across your website.
Content Marketing & Social
Again, with content marketing very close to Banc Media hearts, we thought it only right to check out what Tecmark’s Stacey MacNaught had to say on the matter. All agencies think their content is great and in the majority of cases this will be very true, but there’s really no point if we are not complementing this with a great social outreach plan. This talk was focused around social content but many of the principles applied to content marketing in general.
The key takeaways from Stacey’s talk (for which the slides can be found above) were:
• Know your demographic. Without doing some research on your audience, you will have no idea how and where to share it in order to get the best engagement, whether this be on social media or elsewhere.
• Similarly, finding the most relevant influencers can be key. Once you have conducted your all-important audience research, find out who influences this and ensure your high quality content makes it in front of them. There will be major and minor influencers so be sure to do thorough research on these, as this could be the difference between a mediocre and a mega piece of content marketing.
• Don’t underestimate the importance of a superb (or “cracking” as Stacey put it) headline. These can also make or break your social content.
• Find out why people share certain pieces of content, especially in the industry you are writing for. This can help you to ensure you have all the right calls to action and triggers in your content.
• Do not be afraid to consider paid search and paid social content discovery as well as bread and butter tactics such as classic on page SEO and even PPC campaigns. You will find this to be very cheap for specific content terms as opposed to your usual generics and can help your content to be found.
So, if you are sick of creating great content only to find it unloved, Stacey’s points could well help you to shape your social and content marketing campaigns.
Reverse Engineering Content
Aira’s Paddy Moogan’s talk was on a similar subject to Stacey’s but as one of my favourite SEOs and influencers over the years we attended anyway and the session actually covered some interesting alternative angles. In contrast to myself, Paddy is an SEO geek who has fallen into content as a result of the industry as opposed to the other way around, which has led him to reverse engineer a lot of his content to see where the wins are. The results are pretty interesting:
What we took from the session;
• Content marketing doesn’t just stop at brainstorming, choosing an idea, designing the concept, publishing and outreach. Unfortunately, it’s just not that easy.
• In depth research into your content that has performed versus the stuff that hasn’t can be priceless. The likelihood is that there isn’t much difference quality wise, but there will be themes and triggers and of course the good old demographic research I have already mentioned.
• BuzzSumo can be the Holy Grail for content marketers and SEOs alike. See what your competitors are doing and what is performing well, ask yourself why. There will be trends there.
• Remember that a lot of traffic could be due to an already existing and huge audience, so comparing many pieces of content and taking advantage of Buzzsumo’s CSV function, could help you to highlight some more accurate insight. URL Profiler can then help you to really drill down into the best performing metrics.
• Sticking all the best performing titles into a word cloud can be a great help. This will give you the key themes in an instant. Can help with the aforementioned brainstorming process.
• Long form content, as suggested by SearchMetrics’ latest research, definitely seems to be the way forward.
• Lists, why posts and how-to’s also continue to rule the roost.
• Data. There is loads of it out there for any industry, don’t be afraid to dig into this and use the plethora of (usually free) tools available. If that fails, you can always obtain your own using SurveyMonkey or Google Consumer Surveys.
• Manage your expectations. You will probably not get 5,000 linking domains from your mega content but a sustained and intelligent approach to your content will pay dividends.
• Finally, make sure it looks the part. Don’t let your mega content down with poor visuals but also remember not to overthink this.
Local SEO – A Seriously Awesome Blueprint
Our final highlight was not only one of the most informative but was also the most amusing talk of the event by far, from DealerOn’s Director of Search and Social, Greg Gifford. Having been preceded by Google’s Gary Illyes, one would have thought this was a big ask but Greg’s talk lifted the atmosphere nicely.
With most, if not all SEO agencies, engaging in at least some Local SEO, this was also a very well attended talk and also pretty extensive with an impressive 128 slides. Greg was also keen to impress upon us his achievement of including no less than 112 comedy movie references in his presentation.
Greg also showed no hesitation whatsoever in calling Google out for constantly changing the local SEO rules, even with Mr Illyes sat right in front of him, which went down very well with the crowd.
So, what were the main takeaways from Greg’s talk and how can these be utilised in a successful local SEO campaign?
• There is no miracle pill for SEO.
• Any business with a physical location or that serves customers in a specific area absolutely needs local SEO, don’t be tricked into thinking it is just for small businesses.
• You can use the following link to find out how to perform a quick local SEO audit for your site, or your client’s: bit.ly/quick-local-audit.
• Pay close attention to the Pigeon update and what this meant for local SEO. Especially the different search radius for different queries and the fact that the algorithm now favours directory sites.
• Look up Barnacle SEO – bit.ly/how-to-barnacle
• The goalposts keep changing, much to the chagrin of Greg and as he made quite clear to Gary Illyes. As a result, it is important to read Google My Business Quality Guidelines thoroughly. There are important changes, such as no more descriptor in the business name.
• Choose only the most specific categories that apply to your brand, any evidence of spamming this will be clamped down on. Different departments with their own pages must use unique categories.
• If you are in any doubt, be sure to take a look at Moz’s 2014 Local Search Ranking Factors.
• The old mantra of “Quality content, not quantity” is just as valid for Local SEO as it is other disciplines.
• Make sure your town/city is in your title tag, meta description, URL, H1 tag, alt tags and obviously your content.
• Embed a Google Map from Google My Business, not Google Maps.
• Utilise Schema mark-up on your NAP, on every page you can and optimise your (local) telephone number.
• Make sure you blog regularly and go for local topics that will get traction with your demographic.
• Low DA sites can still be effective for local SEO and citations can help to give you that extra push. But ensure that they are all consistent as incomplete data sends a bad signal to Google.
• You can use Greg’s link worksheet to manage your outreach efforts: bit.ly/super-bad-ass-link-worksheet.
• Use Moz Local Pro and BrightLocal to really push on with your citations and ensuring that they are all consistent. WhiteSpark can really help as well. These tools save you hours of time optimising all your various citations.
• Claiming your Google My Business page is the most important step, consumers are 38% more likely to visit and 29% more likely to consider buying from a business with a complete listing. Upload as many photos as you can as well, as this makes it look more genuine and authoritative.
• Get as many reviews as you can. 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as reviews from friends or family. Set up a reviews page off your domain and link this to your Google My Business page. Google reviews are great too as you get your aggregate rating once you have five or more. Reply to ALL negative reviews.
There you have it, not another list of endless BrightonSEO slides but our top picks from another fantastic event. There were other excellent talks from young Cathan Berragan from Social Chain and even Google themselves but the above is definitely the most useful and actionable advice we got from the conference.
Finally, here is a picture of our very own Richard Yarwood tucking into an SEMRush cupcake after several Gin and Tonics, you’re welcome…
If any of the above is if interest to you and you think your site could do with some SEO love to give your traffic and sales a boost, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Banc Media team.
We are always more than happy to give you some advice on any of your SEO or PPC needs. You can get in touch via phone, social or e-mail using the information below. If you liked this article, why not follow me on Twitter at @WhitworthSEO to keep up to date on all things SEO?
You can also check out our pre-event article here.