SearchLove London 2012 | Day Two at The Congress Centre

Following on from Shelley’s previous post, we hear from day two of SearchLove as it happens in this retrospective live round up post of all the session speakers and topics of the day.


So, it’s day two here at The Congress Centre and there’s a few weary heads from last night’s after party [and free bar!] but there’s no rest for the search savvy! We have a whole host of awesome speakers lined up for you today as well as some new faces to the SearchLove circuit. Not only that but there’s also another very special event happening today too with Distilled’s almost victorious [c’mon people it was close!] Will Critchlow celebrating his birthday here at SearchLove London. Duncan has promised a suitably celebratory sing along and cake...Will remains unseen.

Don’t forget you can catch up on all the live feedback over on our Twitter page [@distilled] using the #SearchLove.  

David Mihm – “The Need to Know of Local SEO”: 

First up, he is known as perhaps the best local SEO practitioner in the industry so we are pretty excited for him to join us - David Mihm with all you need to know of Local SEO and his annual Local Search Ranking Factors study is the canonical resource on the subject. He’ll be covering all the latest in Local including recent algorithmic changes, Google+ Local, data correction techniques, analytics tips and how to drill down on keyword research in specific geographic markets.

Let’s get down to the numbers; did you know 30% of all searches are local? That’s a huge chunk of searches to show users are looking for local information but where has local come from and how has it evolved? Well, pre-Jan 08 [the good old days] was much like everything else. However fast forward to Jan 09, a year later, and Google rolled out a brand new interface;the 10 packs for generic queries.These results are coming from a totally different silo. Now we see the blending of the organic silo and the local silo blended. 

This year saw the arrival of the Venice update, maybe the most underestimated update of late. The arrival of Venice suggests a much stronger influence of general search into local searches.

Now, Google wants to show everything they know on those primary search results. As Wil Reynolds mentioned yesterday, in light of the recent Google algo changes, if you’re doing everything right - you’d just rise to the top. In addition to these local results, we’re also seeing localised organic results start to pop up thanks to Venice. Far more blended results - two to one ration, in fact and far more organic influence. 

The local algorithm itself has evolved; before we could see the use of title tags plus links as well as citations and the location data and reviews. Now, with Google+ Local, we have to work blended links into this and also consider social signals.

So how will these aspects play into ranking when it comes to Google+ Local?

Ultimately, Google has to associate your page to a local site in order for Google to link your business to a site. Equally, businesses should have a title tag and, if you are a local business, your name, address and phone contact should be listed in the HTML. Create a KML file setting the locations where your business operates from. Use Geocite map generator to upload this file to your server and register in webmaster local. Schema allows you to mark up your address information and confirm to Google, yes this is where my business is located; it’s almost like a coded business card. 

If you’re a business operating from multiple locations then all your stores need to be crawlable through their individual sites therefore they will require unique page locators. Submit individual location to G+ for each of your stores. 

Links in Local

The over under on decent non spam, non directory links a typical SMB is likely to have is 3.6. 

You don’t need links to compete in local search. A few good links can go a long way in local. 
Every local, national business with a location needs at least one amazing link or citation. This goes a long way in local. This can help to build towards your location prominence score and authority as a site as well as a brand.

Ask the experts.

Work to source a number of links from locally relevant domains, these are the things that Google can associate as very authoritative. These links could be gained from a number of places; a handful of guest posts on local blogs, current articles that are relevant to a local community, links from local colleges and dot orgs. Locally scented links can go a long way for small businesses online. For a larger corporation, leverage internal linking, your corporate blog and social channels through Meetups and conferences. These events have a lot of activity on social in an around your community and so they will also help your business rankings. 

Citations and Location data.

A citation is pretty much any mention of your business name, address or phone number or any combination of these three; it’s your online thumbprint.The more popular your business looks, the higher your business will rank. Why? The more places that your business is “cited”, the easier it is for the Googlebot to find your business which makes it easier for them to list your site within the SERPs.

The UK Local Search Ecosystem 

Four primary data providers in the UK: 

  • Local Data Companies
  • 118 information
  • Companies house
  • Touchlocal.com

These guys send the data out to a number of secondary websites and that’s where Google comes along to scrapes these links. Make sure your ‘online thumbprint’ is accurate and present on all of these sites. In fact, the Post Office offers a service now where businesses can go and register a change of address. Google subscribes to this list of updated contact so that they know their index is current. But, of course, every country has its own ecosystem when it comes to local search. 

Citations need to be consistent on your site. Finding niche citations can be a differentiating factor especially for SMBs by approaching local blogs and .orgs in order to outreach links is a scalable technique to use for local establishments to get your businesses on their sites for that citation or link. Don’t forget to mind your existing links. A protip for larger companies would be to get links for all your current job listings out on different outreach sites.bonus tip for larger companies job listings.

Be sure to search for your business on Google Maps and to see if they’re are any duplicate listings. Two listings could lead to split reviews and a lower ranking for your site. Work to create a strong Mapmaker account [only in the US currently] a tool that allows any user to come on and add a location - this can also work to consolidate those duplicate listings. Finally, clean up your data and reclaim any out of date information so the index recognises that those pages are associated with your business. 

Reviews.

Reviews are becoming increasingly important particularly when it comes to local but don’t let the G+ interface change how you feel. Reviews on +Local are slightly more important but site diversity should still be considered. Sentiment is something that certainly ties in with this, the idea of sentiment to a review and by seeking mentions from those power reviewers [i.e a yelp reviewer, for instance] When it comes to local, three of the five factors that are most helpful for ranking are the reviews. 

There’s certainly a sense of quality authority when it comes to structured citations but it’s also important in terms of quantity too, to have native reviews appear on Google. Reviews are now being rated at the G+ level and thanks to this, local reviews will always appear at the top of the search. 

OK, but how do I work to get these reviews?

Work to pull in both structured reviews as well as articles and citations. Segment your customers with Gmail addresses and reach out to those but also, consider the ease of submitting a review for people who don’t have a Gmail account. Yahoo is a great example of this making submitting a review for the everyday user really accessible - anyone can go in and review and hit submit on the web. Make sure that when it comes to asking for feedback on your site that there is as little friction as possible when they go on the site to submit their reviews. 

Incorporate feedback into everyday process.

Remember a power review is rated far more helpful than others so try and tap into that Yelp elite. Build a relationship with these active reviewer. Check out your competitors too and seek out the powerful and contributing local reviewers. You can then work to create a list of these relevant influencers. You can find these types of reviewers for a particular market using Followerwonk to find these. Once you have this list, you can then start to build these people into your TweetDeck in order to stay current and target them on an individual basis for feedback on your brand. 

Equally, Followerwonk or Topsy is the perfect tool to identify your competitors and work out who is following them and to work out if there is any overlap. Who are the popular twitter accounts in your area? Build a relationship with these people to get a review.

All businesses should set up a Google+ page. Using Find People on Plus, a huge directory of people and businesses currently on G+, you can identify these active users in your areas. Going forward for local, it’s these reviews that are going to be so much more important than actual reviews. But Google+ does have a filter so make sure you are asking active reviewers to leave comments on your site so these citations look genuine. 

Initially when signing up to G+ in the past there were categories. Today it’s a little more difficult with Google+ as it doesn’t provide this information anymore. Google is now looking to use anchor text, reviews and mentions to get a sense of you and your company therefore category mentions are going to play a far less prominent role in ranking than it did a few years back. 

Keyword Research and Analytics

Although AdWords is the go to tool for keywords, there aren’t enough searches when it comes to product AND location. Through Google Suggest, you can try looking for related searches to expand your G+ keyword list. Also, Google Trends can help to give you a relevant sense of what the popularity of those terms are within the SERPs. 

Once you have a strong list of popular and highly searched keywords, you can then work to build up the list within Excel alongside the relevance of the search within specific towns. 
It’s good to use mobile search results as proxy as this is going to give you a sense of the most popular terms being searched ‘on the go’. Also, consider your form completions too and what words people are using when they try and contact you through your feedback pages. 

Using Google Analytics for Local

Take a look in GA at which towns are leading to the most completions in sales. How many people are hitting your store location page and from what specific towns? What are your sites most popular search items in different locations? You can also sign up to be the first to assess your rankings using the Rank Tracker tool that Darren Shaw is currently working on. 

Centroid Bias/Competitive Market

How do you work to overcome Centroid Bias? Well, the primary factor is the distant from a searcher. The results are often purely based on location based to the city centre; so, for example, if you are searching in London for a hotel, Google is likely to show you results linking to central London rather than a far broader range of results but now Google is showing searches relevant to where the user is at the time through their mobile. 

It’s important to pay attention to those that rank well within the city but also to look out for the sites ranking out of the centroid; this is an impressive feat so how have they managed it? In this case, a high customer review number from authoritative sites [ from someone like say, Tripadvisor] can mean that your site is propelled much higher in the listings. Look at competitors for you and your site through Open Site Explorer and pay attention to outliers in other markets in your vertical. 

The Bottom Line

Local SEO [Location/verification/citations]  +Traditional SEO [website/content/title tags]  + Social Media [authority/reach/velocity] = Blended local search for the future

Richard Baxter – “How we Build Links at SEOgadget”: 

Sick of hearing about the guest posting, make infographics and beg for links methodology? Well, Richard is too. SEOGadget’s founder steps up as today’s second speaker and offers some incredible insight when it comes to finding your target market, approaching them and building those links. His mantra? Optimise everything.

SEO is about as close to real marketing than it has ever been. With this in mind, guest posting doesn’t constitute real marketing. It doesn’t add any real value. It doesn’t build on your brand. It’s not just about search either; you can optimise everything. Consider your site as an entitey all of which could be earning you links - the about us page, to the email sign up page to the contact page. Work through this list of pages and optimise your site. 

OK, so we’re link earning. 

There’s pages on your site that could be earning you links - building custom 404 error pages to establish your brand. Why not reach out to your community with branded T shirts to say thank you. Try to add value to every point of contact not just for your clients. By giving away these things free because it gives you the platform to talk to these people on a day to day basis.

Doing Real Company Stuff
Build your brand and your email list to bring your community to your events. Create a video about who you are, what you do and explaining your role to help potential customers identify with you and what your company has to offer. Build on your existing relationships; do you have partners that you can link to on your site, or software that you can leverage over on a Partners Page on site? Give away your platforms for free; SEOgadget API tool is now processing 7,000 requests a week. 

Audience targeting. Who is your audience? 

Turning SEO Link Building into SEO audience targeting with twitter profiling to get your content in front of your targeted audience. 

You need to get your product in front of these people. So you have a great product but it’s needs to be marketed well in order to be seen. Why not experiment with the idea of branching out to new people, influential personas in your sphere. What influences them? Where are they located? Who are the industry thought leaders that they are influenced by? 

Through Tweet Archivist, you can work out what these people are sharing and consequently, through Followerwonk, work to compartmentalise the authorities of top influencers of the figureheads certain people are following. Within Followerwonk, you can then work to target particular groups in order to find common areas. 

Search for other marketing directors and bios or profiles of other London based marketing directors. These are in industries that you can target. These are the brands and influencers in our industry that you can work with to build on your outreach. 

Now we know there is an influential group in our targeted marketing audience, you can look to see what stuff are they sharing and work to put your content onto those places. This way you can get in front of these people entirely organically. By downloading the data for each one of those influencers twitter profiles, you are able to load the information into Excel in order to see the date, the tweet, the location and any link that might be mentioned. Now, this is the best part. 

Extract that shortened URL using Unshort URL and take each domain from that list. These are the sites that we now know we need to be putting our content in order to get this in front of our targeted market. So, if you look at the domains that have been shared in volume, these are going to be your first point of call. With this data, you’ve now got a targeted outreach plan. 

Now for the really targeted outreach. 

So, decide who you are targeting? Identify the influencer intersect? What are those people sharing and that’s where you’ll find your next piece of content. It’s just your ability to work with the data. Another handy tool to use once you’ve started building your followers is Commun.it. Commun.it helps work out new followers to your account and helps you decide whether you want to follow them back too. Your community is growing into your target audience. 

GEO targeted mentions = Links

It’s simple enough to build an Infographic simply by using the data already available on sites. As long as you’re really adding value to the audience then it doesn’t really matter what your content looks like. EcoBait - if you can produce something substantial in the Eco Bait area for example, then people go wild for it. People love good news and a nice story and it works to increase your mentions.

Link Reclamation.

Keep your SEO team reclaiming links from all your shared content and infographics - earning links, getting mentions, that’s link reclamation. Work out where images have come from on sites using the Reverse Image Search Google tool. When something goes viral you can use this for a long time to get those links back. If you have success with some infographic, own your content and find these links. Learn how to get that data quicker though the SEOgadget data gatherer; find those sites mentioning you but not linking back to you and regain that link juice.

Sometimes it’s about working smarter. Challenge yourselves and build more tools. 

The SEOgadget competition finder [powered by Mozscape] ultimately like Open Site Explorer but in Excel, this tool can help you find high value, low competition keywords and you can work to fetch a list of your competitor’s most valuable links too!

Content development - ways to attract links to earn links to our site. 

How can I earn these links when that page sucks? You have to optimise everything. Choose the keyword and review all the content in that SERP then you can start to devise your strategy. Remember to track where you are sending links out to and that way you can reclaim these and might even get some free software from it.  If you feature a brand or a company on your site, get on the phone to the person and mention the number of links you have sent through to them. It’s a case of monitoring links and building relationships with those we are outreaching too. 

Ultimately, we’re all about influence, audience, outreach and spread. 

1. Identify your target segments. 
2. Find out who influences them
3. Be there! 

Lauren Vaccarello – “Conversion Tracking & Online/Offline Attribution”: 

A long time advocate of integrating online and offline marketing efforts to gain a clearer picture of what’s driving ROI, Lauren, Sr. Director of Online Marketing at Salesforce follows up our morning break of bacon sandwiches with her own methodology to improve attribution and conversion tracking as well as increasing your ROI.

Bridging the gap between online and offline 

First: Bridge the gap between digital and physical. Then: Use Attribution Modeling to better invest budget. What is the value of each marketing touch? Are some worth more than others? Build a business account to make more money off your leads. When it comes to building this account, of course, B2B is different to E Commerce. We need to think differently. The reason B2B is really different is that it’s a decision from a committee. How do use your online marketing plan to influence this group and work out how these tactics will help to grow your business?

There’s definitely less relevance when it comes to sign up forms or making money from form completes. In reality, a form complete doesn’t mean somebody got your product so you need to work to optimise your campaigns from the form to the sale. Work to combine your online and offline data. Work out what your highest ROI keywords are and then work to prioritize these leads with your sales team. This way you can optimise marketing for leads, pipelines and, above all, for actual revenue.  

So, how should you start optimising your online marketing campaigns for revenue? By integrating your online with offline through customer relationship management. CRM works as the connector between your website and the physical world. Make sure you are passing on all your traffic sources through your CRM; what keyword they might have searched for in order to find you, etc.

Create Tracking Codes and quantify the dollar value of your SEO programme

You can build these through a Campaign tabs over at Salesforce [there is a custom field for online marketing] From this data you can then work out how many of those people became leads, how many people turn to sales and track revenue back to individual campaigns.

So, how does this work for paid channels? Every single keyword, every email and every link needs a tracking ID so you can start to see the influence of your search and advertising campaigns and how much certain keywords are generating for you and your site. What about for organic channels? You can’t put a tracking code on any organic URL. Then,  if you can get the referral keyword, that’s how we start to get ROI from the SERPs. SEO is completely online but it does lead to sales offline. How does the value of the brand correlate to your SEO programmes not in terms of traffic or clicks but revenue at the end of the day. And, it works for social channels too! Add these unique identifiers to all of your tweets, facebook posts, YouTube videos and work out how many leads are coming directly from your social platforms. Then you can work to report and optimise content that drives leads, opportunities and pipeline moving forward. 

OK, so now what?

Build dashboards on comparative points and start building this into your lead scoring programme. If you are running paid marketing, bid management tools automate! Work with your sales team and make sure they have easy access to all of this campaign data. With shared goals, your campaigns will convert far better. Don’t forget that you can do all you want online to optimise the number of form completes on your site but no one else is going to call these people and change the lead to sale conversion. Marketing and sales, therfore, need to come together to help increase the overall performance in your company.

Let’s talk about attribution modelling

Your time to sale is going to vary - if you have a costly product, it might take longer to sell/pitch/market. So, what type of attribution modeling are you using?

There are four different marketing touches:

  • First touch: [what brought them to your page i.e. they clicked on paid search] the ROI credit goes to SEM
  • Last touch: [What they did right before the sale closes] in this case, the ROI credit goes to SEO
  • All touch: In this scenario, every single touch gets full credit - at least you’re splitting up all the credit over email, event, SEO, SEM...etc
  • Weighted all touch: With a weighted all touch not all touches are created equal. Someone who comes through on SEM is not the same thing as someone clicking on an organic search result so, for example, email will get a little less credit.

Let’s see how this works

Score the responses on three different attributes - the title, the offer and the deal attribute. With these three different deals you can work out the overall SEM influence for your different marketing approaches through this influence model. 

How is this really weighted? 

Once you have a larger span of marketing touches, it might not be as valuable to receive a dozen emails to someone attending an actual event so you need to evaluate all these factors and start weighing it. Just pick one of these models and continue to use it.

Wrapping it all up:

  • Data integration is hot
  • Use offline data to optimise online campaigns
  • Look at all marketing touches to determine ROI

Rinse and repeat!

Dave Peiris – “The Unexpected Value of Creating Things”: 

A long-time favourite of the Distilled team is SharkSEO, and this year we are lucky enough to welcome him to London. When you create things that people find interesting or useful you can often get benefits you didn’t expect, including high value links, opportunities for press and a better known brand. Drawing on his experiences of creating searchga.me  and HackerBuddy.com, Dave shows you how to create useful content and how to get the most value out of it.

Businesses have a lot to gain when it comes to side projects, building and creating things that are useful for others. If you’ve built a relationship with a side project before, keep those relationship going - its gets easier the more things you have built. You do face two big challenges though - you want to earn really awesome links but also the ones that your competitors can’t just go out and get too. 

Some examples of successful side projects from brands 

Freckles built their side project - Every Time Zone - and gained 752 links. Through their side project they have set up an advert linking to the main company domain. And, because it’s super useful and it has a purpose, people are linking to it. 

With all the recent algo updates, SEOmoz found a problem and built something to help with that, Mozcast; beautiful design and really useful, it’s a tool that people who will probably want to buy SEOmoz’s tools will find useful and shows that they are continuing to still build decent ones! 

For the Web Dev among us, Pingdom Tools have built this tool to work out if you’re site is down. If yes, they will ping you straight away and work to check the general load time of your site. This tool  brought the brand 1,774 links from people finding that project useful and also caught the eye of some key influencers too, Smashing MagazineSEOmozYoast

Tips for Building Side Projects. 

What would your audience find useful? Find a problem that your target audience have and work out how to solve it. Once you’ve figured out what you want to build that’s when you start to put together your email list. 

Put up a landing page detailing what you’re planning to build and leave a signup form for people who want to hear about it’s launch. You can now work to drive traffic to that page and, if no one puts their email in there, maybe you’re not solving the right problem. Maybe it isn’t the right solution. Maybe you should look into building something else? 

On a more positive note, lots of people put their details in [hooray] so that when you finally go live with the product, those people that sign up can help make the launch go more smoothly.

Start with a prototype

Above all, you want to get something out of the door so that you can start getting feedback, particularly when you’re not as invested in the project just yet and you’re less emotional to feedback or criticism. It’s all about speed and this means you have much more time to improve and adapt. It’s pretty much the way that start ups work but its something big businesses are doing too. Take a look at Yahoo: 

“If a new product cannot be shipped in 6 months, yahoo will no longer bother”, Marissa Mayer

Speed up development. 

OK, so you want to ship something fast? You can use ThemeForest to get pre packaged themes for your project design. Remember, this is just for the prototype but if it’s successful then you can get the designer in. Nothing kills a creative project that a large group of people. Believe me, nothing good has ever been designed good by committee.  Keep it to a small team - don’t loop people in who don’t need to be involved straight away, just do one thing really well. 

Launch it 

Work to get some great press mentions for the launch of your new project. No, you don’t need that for your product to be successful or to put out something useful and value out there but you can get some insanely good links from it. The press loves a story, some kind of angle so try and write the article first. This forces you to find the angle for the story and should make it easier to pitch. 

BUT don’t neglect the little guys, the smaller tech blogs because sometimes that’s where the big guys get their stories. Ignore famous journalists. Some journalists will just be inundated. Who has more time to read your email? 

Make writing about you and your product easy. Take a look at Lockitron. These guys have a press page on their company’s product site detailing the background on the company and is everything you need for a journalist to do a write up on a company. 

Don’t get discouraged. 

If you don’t get covered or if you launch and people are not keen. This doesn’t mean your product isn’t useful - why not change the story and pitch again or promote new features? Hipmunk offer an awesome service that is so useful and innovative and that no other flight site is offering right now. The guys over at the company went on to launch Hipmunk for business; a monthly subscription assistance which allows you to book lots of flights for co workers. Initially though, there was no bite. Sure, it was useful but there was no story to it. So, when they launched it they rolled out ‘spite’.

Projects can be small. 

You don’t have to just work on these big coding projects, it can just be a blog post but it has to be useful and actionable. Build something for journalists if you can 
like the folks over at downforeveryoneorjustme which gained them tons of links. Do your developers have a tech blog? Dropbox offer a tech blog element to their site which developers find cool, they find it useful. Mailchimp offers a whole host of guides and resources and, even if you don’t use MailChimp, there are links that can help you.Think about what you can do for your customers that can be useful. 

Find out who your audience is and find a problem and solve it; build a brand and really strong links. 

Lisa Myers – “International SEO – One Size doesn’t Fit All”: 

Lisa, the CEO of Verve Search and Founder of the famous SEO-Chicks blog, joins our London lineup today to talk about how to create a truly international targeted SEO strategy. Want to know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to geo targeting and implementing link development campaigns in other countries, well listen up! 

There are an estimated 8.26 billion web pages in existence so clearly, we need to help search engines figure out what country you are targeting. Unfortunately, search engines don’t just know the geographical location of all web pages. They get this information by Geo Targeting and by making sure your website is indexed in the right places. 

Country Specific TLDs such as co.uk, .de and .fr. 

If you have an office in the relevant country and it is a growing business, ccTLDs are recommended especially if you have a marketing budget in those countries [or in house capabilities] But, of course, take each example and make the best decision for that. Some big brands just run through one main domain with sub domains. 

So, when should subfolders be used?

When it comes to informational sites or something like e Consultancy, sub folders should be used from the original .com page. That way you can use this link authority to rank in all of these countries individually. Technically, its a middle road between ccTLDs and sub folders but not ideal. Sub domains are easy to implement and can have separate hosting but don’t benefit in whole of the link authority of the main domain. 

Webmaster tools 

For non geo specific TLD like .com, .net, .info etc, you can set your target country in Webmaster Tools. Just head to settings and choose the country of your domain but don’t restrict yourself. Only set this to a specific country if you definitely don’t want traffic from others. 

“23% of sites have the wrong geo targeting settings”, John Mueller, Google

Create multiple sitemaps

Create seperate sitemaps for different folders on the same domain, i.e site.com/fr . Then you can submit to webmaster tools and set the geo targeting settings. If you have different translated pages for different sites, these probably won’t be ranking anywhere but by using this approach you can still rank but keep your target different indexes. It won’t make your site rank higher but it will help you get index in the right place. 

Hreflang attribute

This is the new way of saying ‘It’s the translated page, innit’ or ‘it’s supposed to be indexed in this country’. What is it? The hreflang attribute is a way of telling search engines this is a different language version of the same page. The bigger issue here is when you are working on a variety of different sites and you can then face problems with duplicate content. Surely there’s a way to differentiate for different audiences? Well, you can use this tool . Translate only the template of your page and keep the main content in a single language for the site, overall. 

Guides on Hreflang 

The Hreflang can be implemented as a HTML link element in the header [this must be implemented within both URLs] or by implementing hreflang using sitemaps- this is the recommended way. For larger sites, definitely use the sitemap version: Sitemap provides additional instructions to the search engine when it crawls your site, locating where all the various international sites are set up. 

Issues 

Implementing the hreflang attribute within the search results hasn’t change the title in meta, it only changed the URL. Well, the content isn’t different enough for it to warrant the title of the URL that it is giving. If the content is largely similar, Google doesn’t change the title and meta info. Yes, this is stupid. So, you still need to have content that is unique. 

Hreflang+Canonical = confused

In most cases there is no need to use these two attributes in conjunction with each other for geotargeting purposes. If anything, it can lead to your site being worse off than before. Try not to get lost in this loop! 

Language - target differently.

We’re all searching but we all have our own cultures and backgrounds. If you want traffic from Germany, you have to be speak the language - ‘Ihre Sprache sprechen’. Funnily enough, the search engines believe that a site that has content in German might also be targeting Germany. Don’t use the big brands as a guide, take Nike for example. Searching for the brand in Google Norway and when you go to their site, they are using IP detection so that the .com redirects to the sub domain .no but there are problems with this approach for Nike. 

IP Detections/Redirect

There are several big issues with IP detection but mainly the problem is that bots usually crawl from a US IP so, therefore, might never see your content. Instead, maybe use a javascript overlay that detects IP addresses and requests users select to visit the site of the relevant countries. This then makes for a better user experience and less drop on your site traffic. After all, Norway is one of the smallest country in Europe, their searches aren’t big but if you’re missing out on 720 in Norway, how much traffic from elsewhere are you missing?

Don’t use Google translate. 

Don’t directly translate. If you do one thing when you do International marketing SEO and you have a budget, you should have one national speaker on your SEO team who works on this content. Having links from other sites in the language [and ccLTD] that you are wanting to rank is hugely important. 

MUSTs

  • Native speaking people that get SEO and most importantly write well. Content is most important.
  • A good project management tool.
  • Great SEO tool [Verve Search use SEOmozLinkdex and Majestic]
  • Streamlined reportings on links; reporting, doing the task, have a common approach between all these.

Markets are different and, therefore, link dev methods that work in Scandinavia might not work in the UK. Get your content outreach people also to blog on clients websites - this will double the chance of your content getting placed.

Takeaways for International SEO strategy:

  • ccTLDs for geotargeting
  • Possibly implementing hreflang
  • Local categorisation

Paul Madden – “Building an Outsourced & Automated Infrastructure from Scratch”: 

Paul needs little introduction. He has a long history of designing, then removing himself from systems that continue to provide value for him and his clients long after he has left them. Want to pick up a toolset to make any task an automated powerhouse? Paul talks us through his processes and shows you how to turn them into scalable and repeatable systems. Huzzah.

Outsourcing and Automation

What sort of things can we do to outsource and automate safely? The place to get started is research and data collection. So, if we start off with the data collection game - SEO is increasingly a data business, an ideal place to start automation and outsourcing. 

Every business starts with a process and every automated system has a robust manual process. Definite this process into logical steps and then you can start to build them into a logical workflow; stage by stage in very fine detail. Deskill it and make it simple. 

HR sucks. 

When it comes to hiring people, head over to oDesk. Here you can post a job opening and prepare for the email onslaught. So you’re looking for a Web Researcher; just simply state the experience needed and English requirements and that’s it. That’s all that’s needed. Hire fast. 
Fire fast and above all, don’t rely on the avatar. 

[Here Paul shows us two sets of people who turn out to be both the top ten Automica staff members as well as the top ten FBI terrorists...but which column would you hire?]

Define teams for each stage. Each of these teams don’t need to know the ultimate purpose. Look for people who have the best communication skills. Provide the team leader with what you need and create a hierarchy. You know, something like this [in actual fact, this is the Mafia family tree ...]

Once you have the data coming in, you can now set some Key Performance Indicators. What’s the quality of the data? How much of this is duplicates? Are we seeing any trends?  Set up an automation as soon as this system is settled. Run it from the numbers, thanks to those KPIs. As your data builds - mind that data set to get more and more information from these figures. This is the additional info that you can then give to clients in order to sell more. 

Data sources 

So here are some ways in which we can supplement what we’re doing with further efficiencies we’ve designed. Firstly, automate parts to improve your efficiency, tools such as Authority LabsBing Search API and RoboWhois which is a data site that stores everyones whois information. Alchemy API is another great tool that uses language analysis and raw categorisation. 
By using this kind of automation, your workforce can work much leaner and more efficiently. 

To sum up -

  • Create a hierarchy to remove yourself.
  • Look for opps in the data to make more subteams
  • Introduce automation over the manual processes

Phil Nottingham – “The Building Blocks of Great Video”: 

Covering content strategy and the production process from inception to launch; Distilled’s Phil Nottingham took to the stage this afternoon to highlight the key creative and technical tactics. Whether your budget is in the hundreds or hundreds of thousands, Phil’s got the key elements to help you win the internet with video.

First up, a real life case study: 

Lawyers from Raleigh, North Carolina Kurtz and Blum invested in video earlier in the year. They spend $4000 on 53 different “talking head” videos for their website.  These guys don’t need a massive presence, they just need their customers to find them. Rich snippets that are indexed have lead to an increase in rankings, sales, telephone calls and organic traffic going up by 14% in two months. 

OK so how to go about creating content with video strategies. 

Where does video fit in the world of SEO? What can you do? There are two main problems with video in SEO. Firstly, content marketing - post panda, post penguin - this can work to bring value to the clients and to your business. Secondly, there is a strong tendency to assume that video simply equals great content. Actually, video is like image or text; it’s a media form. If you can develop and market it, then you’ll get those great links.

Common practise [this sucks]: We want good content, so we need to do a video.
Good practise: We need more content to improve X - what’s the best format? If it is video, then make a video.

So, is video right for you?

Would this content lost something if it were just text and image? Could content be presented as a blog post? Is video adding anything in this instance? Is an element of kineticism important? Could you not tell this story in another way? 

An obvious example of when video is the right type of content are Blendtec’s Will It Blend campaign. If you were to write about putting an iPhone in a blender, it would make a terrible blog post - that’s where the line between OK video and exceptional video lies. It’s not about going viral. It’s about brand awareness. As a real company, viral isn’t important. It’s about getting your name out there. You can, with your SEO skills, get all of this with some good video content. You can drive more traffic from search with rich snippets (this is particularly useful for ecommerce). 

Remember to embed the video on the page that you want to rank. 

Rich snippets will not be effective when the video is on a separate link. Make sure you host the video on your own server or with WisitaVimeoVzaar or Brightcove. There’s a great resource on blog hosting and embedding for video over at SEOmoz. Don’t upload rich snippets to YouTube. If your video is popular on YouTube then some of the ranking will go back to Youtube - you’d do better to make your site the canonical resource. 

If you’re self hosting, you want to make sure your content is exported with HD resolution, but isn’t so huge as to cripple your server bandwidth. Exporting at 720p and with a bitrate of between 2-3mbps is normally a good way to go. iFrame embeds also struggle to get indexed by Google, so either use the html5

Video XML Sitemaps are the best way to show Google the metadata about your video - specifically the Title, length and thumbnail image. You need to submit a video sitemap in order to define which Thumbnail image Google will use to display your video in the search engine results pages. Submit a video sitemap in Google webmaster tools, or just reference it in the robots.txt file.

Or simply use this handy video sitemap generator that Phil created which will allow you to quickly create a sitemap for up to 5 videos.

Do videos help conversions? 

When you’re doing rich snippets, you want thumbnails to report to the pages and products you want to rank for; Appliances Online are a great example of effective product videos. A user who watches an Appliances Online video is twice as likely to convert; that’s a 100% higher conversion rate if you watch a video. These video’s bridge the gap between initial interest and conversion. In the video, the consultant delivers empathy, hard facts and details that are relatable and are going to help us, the customer. Those videos pay for themselves in a couple of days. 

When it comes to video quality, don’t worry about the amazing camera - good lights and a lapel microphone are more important and you can do some fantastic animations without paying a lot for those either. Remember to include transcripts on the page as these transcripts are then indexable by Google. You can rank for the long tail stuff through this voice over. When it comes to eCommerce sites, it’s important to provide unique and relevant text for product pages. Typically, tons of brands and shopping sites will reuse the manufacturers descriptions of products which leads to duplicate content issues for that site. 

If you don’t have a presence on YouTube at all, do you really have an SEO strategy? 

You need to be able to optimise for YouTube too. YouTube is like inbound TV; it’s also a social network but you need to identify the kind of content that’s going to work on that platform, like this IPS video about their LG Monitors. 

It’s a creative story that is attached to the brand. It’s funny, it’s interesting and is an example of how you can build brand brand interest through YouTube.

The best ways to improve your rankings on YouTube:

  • Include keyword in the filename .i.e. ‘keyword, keyword, brand.mov’
  • Include a Closed Caption transcript file.
  • Make sure your post is keyword stuffed - optimise title, description and tags as per traditional SEO
  • Include naked URL link in meta description - the YouTube Keyword Tool does give you a rough indication of keyword search volume
  • Get links, views and shares!

NB: Measure the user engagements of your videos, not the views. This can be done by looking at audience retention on YouTube Analytics. Toward the end of the video are people rewinding, tuning out or watching it again? 

Failure looks like TL: DW - too long didn’t watch.

In order to achieve a lower bounce rate, keep strings/idents short. Focus on the quality of your audio too, nothing makes people bounce more than poor sound. Remember, if you’re going to put it your video on YouTube, put it everywhere. Your goal is branding, after all. For a quick route to social proof, you can buy views in order to make your video look more authoritative too.

This graph is taken from the Distilled Guide to Online Video Marketing shows the role of video as a page type and works to show how rich pages correlate with lots of links and social shares from embeddable content. 

A great case study of how to make video content useful and engaging is the Wordpress for small businesses from Simply Business which teaches you how to get up and running on Wordpress with tons of video resources and how to guides embedded within this actionable chart. Plus, Simply Business generated 114 linking root domains thanks to this piece of rich content. There’s exciting new platforms for video too with the new integrations of HTML 5JQuery and Mozilla Popcorn which can work to make an entire page interactive through video. Don’t forget to make sure that all of this awesome content links back to your site though and not your hosting platform - sadly, this was the case for this incredible video made for the Stuxnet virus and it only takes one click to change these settings!

Restrict visibility on the hosting domain, your video can be loaded up on here but should be hidden from Vimeo or all the links go there. The only exception to this, would be when building custom YouTube Playlists in order to curate all the best content and that is only available on your site. You need no budget to do that and it’s free links.

You need a strong page to get a rich snippet for the video. 

Not getting any referrals because links are going back to YouTube? Make your video private, then it’s going to show up as an error. Go to those sites who have embedded your video on to theirs and give them the new embed code for your video. By outreaching to everyone who has already linked to you from YouTube, you can easily get this link juice back. 

Ultimately, video as SEO has three core values:

  • Brand awareness
  • Links and Social Shares
  • Conversions and rich snippets

Patrick McKenzie – “Eating CRO: Real World Case Studies for 20 ~100% Increases in Revenue”: 

Making the epic journey from Japan is owner of software company Kalzumeus and former engineer, Patrick McKenzie. Patrick talks us through his uncomfortable manner when engaging with the opposite sex and opens with an anecdote for explaining CRO to his wife - ‘well, by asking one woman to marry me and her saying yes, gives me a 100% conversion rate for the proposal..’ but for a man shy of entertaining, his session is a hit with this afternoon’s crowd as he shares the lessons he’s learned, CRO case studies and offers actionable advice on how to create scalable systems, to boot. Let’s get started! 

Don’t think of CRO as we changed one button, it;s looking at web pages rather than holistically looking at your relationships. It can help you test hypothesis as to why people are buying or why are people not buying. The simplest way round this? 

Fix that which is broken.

Consider if there are any obvious usability issues with your website. When it comes to signups, you want your audience to get into a software trial as quickly as possible so make the free trial sign up button very clear. Equally, make sure your site has a clear call to action. Consider the pricing page for your product - make sure the costs are clear; what is this costing me per month? If you know you have elements with your site that aren’t user friendly, fix these particularly if internally, you all have a sense of knowing what’s bad on site but haven’t had time, make this a priority! Ideally, you should have someone responsible for the websites performance. Focus with the user’s first five minutes of engagement with your site. 

Roughly 40-60% of trial users will never come back a second time.

Take something like FogBugz first run experience. This site is a bugs tracking software so not overly compelling. 50% of customers never came back only 20% users are activating. So, what can they do to make more users happy? Your site should work to guide your user through the experience. You want to offer them something that can improve their life. Work to create a three minute tour showing off five major features. Give the user complete control; invite their team into the software. If others are using it within the company, you users are far more likely to stick. 

Help to guide people’s purchasing decision. 

When users come on to your site to purchase a product, don’t throw them into the deep end - show them what’s good about your product and how this is suited to their solution. If you have a social component, explicitly ask for referrals from their colleagues and friends once they’ve followed through a sale. 

Also, work to help those people actually using the software and pay you money to do so. 
Where are your weaknesses here? Is it within your companies contact list? How functionable is their account dashboard? Consider the placement of calls to action - it’s often unclear for people on how to proceed if the ‘Next Step’ button is below the fold. 

Highlight of Funnel Optimization

Small improvements can get to business changing figures pretty quickly so it’s important to look into the numbers. This is only really possible by taking a deep dive into the funnel data. Start measuring your funnell success. Try KissMetrics for the really important stuff. 

When it comes to optimising this, there are two funnels to start with:

  • The core use of the produce
  • The core use of whatever is separating you from their credit card details. [Perhaps the shopping page is not optimised despite this being the main revenue generating pathway]

Remember that your customers do not live on your website

The website is not the be all and end all of your relationships with a customer. They might be looking in advance of an actual need of the product or they might not be the buyer internally so ry to get in a longer relationship with them. A great example of building this relationship comes from the folks over at WPEngine who offer high end blog hosting. They offered their customers a free incentive through a landing page on their site in order to contact them in the future. By offering users a free scan to their site, WPEngine have built a relationship that allows them to contact these users again in the future. They have built brand credibility rather. Now, they can work on closer engagement with their built up audience through email campaigns and introduce new products and tools to them in the future. 

Email campaigns are your trusted advisor in this field so drip marketing through email to these users offering through signups to new offers and providing them with something actionable. Most importantly though, when you do get a happy customer through a sale or a transaction, always ask the customer for a testimonial. 

Do you charge people on a recurring basis ? Can you work out some benefits for loyal customers? Perhaps, a one time offer if they switch to annual billing rather than monthly. This can happen in all but three sentences. A total implementation time of around 30 minutes but can bring you and your brand a 20% rise in gross revenue. 

Don’t make it hard to buy from you.

Server Density monitors your server and can tell you when your website is down. If you’re asking customers for details about themselves at the checkout, pick sensible that you know your customers will fit into and offer several different discounts models. You shouldn’t be scared to do A/B testing with prices either, this is very very common in many industries.

Biological fact: people’s faces are more interesting to humans than almost anything else. 

Guide testimonials in the direction you want to get and make these more credible using photos. If you think your customers are going to have ROI doubt on the pricing page - add a testimonial here from a former user/client along with a photo. Work these images across your pages, onto your team page, your partners.

“Trends in Search” with Richard Baxter, Justin Briggs, Will Critchlow and Lisa Myers

A moderated session to round-up the two days. Our panel of experts will discuss the latest news, updates and predictions from the world of search. Moderated by Duncan Morris, the goal of this session is to open up the conversation about new developments between some of the speakers and to send the audience home with their mindset on the future of search.

First up, Google’s new announcement of the Disavow Links Tool which allows people to simply “delete” spammy backlinks but what do our panel think? Does ‘disavow’ provide the answer to the backlink profile problem?

Will Critchlow: For me, using disavow is almost like adding a no follow link to your site.

Justin Briggs: And, what does a no follow even mean?

Will Critchlow: I’d have suspicions that there are no follows that do count. There’s three reasons for having them. It could be saying ‘we did this thing a while ago’ or there’s the PR thing; they changed the phrasing that it is unlikely to affect your site and that not provided is a privacy thing. The third thing is the data play - our suspicion is that its not feeding directly in. It would make rankings worse but it wouldn’t just kill everything. I think the key question is, what kind of link does a webmaster feel guilty about? If they can determine that algo then that’s really something. 

What would you need to see in order to go ahead and disavow those links?

Richard Baxter: The warning from Google Webmasters. We have multiple Google accounts; we are redirecting from a secure version of the site but it was the secure one that was getting the inbound links not the dot com. 

WC: I don’t have any intention of disavowing those links if specific ranks drop for specific keywords then maybe but I’d rather just write it on a blog post.

RB: I’ve worked with clients who’ve been penalised with this, of course.

WC: No matter how clean your link building is, most agencies get to do it and the experience is typically painful. We used to recommend G Docs and spreadsheets. 

RB: Knowing how it works would be wicked.

Lisa Myers: You still have to do a re-inclusion request which seems to be a little bit odd.

RB: Our most recent positive re-inclusion - its quite an opaque response - after the fact of doing it, we didn’t see any improvements in this domain. The new blog posts on that domain were ranking well. We’ve put these all on new URLs and 410’ed the old pages. It’s just making that stick.

LM: I think the most common misconception with clients is that they think by having bad links, you will be penalised but I think it will just give you a warning. It highlights this to Google Webmasters.

JB: It shouldn’t have a web effect on you. There’s a lot of things we talk about but if you talk about grey or black hat links, we were all still doing it because it still worked. Disavowing the links that you think shouldn’t work could mean there might still be some that are passing value though.

WC: In the early days of disavow, they would call you out and say ‘there’s this other one you didn’t tell us about’. There were loopholes. We’ve had people get in touch with the team asking them to remove links..

JB: There’s a lot of fear and doubt around disavowing links that shouldn’t be there. So clients will go back through asking links to be taken down.

In five years time, do you think disavow will still be around? 

RB: I really hope it won’t still be around; people don’t need it. People have got so good at using ranks from social and real links. We need to trust the democracy of the social web.

LM: Five years time, I don’t think we will be discussing the disavow tool but disavow author - to say, this is a spammer.

WC: You won’t need spammer authorship though because it’s so much easier to detect. The challenges with Twitter is that its easy to automate and there are automated accounts that add value but thats not true of Google as yet. Real people only have one or two accounts.

RB: It’s the connections of G+ that could lead to something though, you might know this person? 

WC: the fact that you see Twitter spam - that’s hard, people get upset. It takes a certain level of confidence to spot a spammer on here. 
RB: There are already arbitrary calculations for followerwonk scores to rate a person too. 

WC: There’s a list of things I would never spam -Adwords would be one of them- it’s your credit card and your business and my google profile. If you ask me to share a link on G+ that’s a higher bar - thats a personal recommendation. It will be way more easier to detect and filter out. Web quality engineers are not the rating people but exposing in webmaster central the links you should disavow. 

Wil Reynolds spoke yesterday about how Google’ used to make liars out of the good guys. Companies could be made to look like liars despite preaching real company shit because they’re being outranked by people just buying those links. With the recent algo changes of Panda and Penguin, would you say this is better now?

JB: It all started with Hacker news, there were techcrunch articles about hacker sites. I wrote a blog post Matt Cutts statement about devaluing infographics. It’s all reactionary; tech people understand that now they have to keep up. I wouldn’t say the search quality has gone up, it seems more like slapping hands.

RB: It’s like the Caffeine update - we’re all working hard to get that new infrastructure out. I suspect that updates like Panda and Penguin are just the outcome of being able to get far more granular but I don’t know if this has been impactable?

WC: Well, OK let’s pitch this. Who’s changed what they do? [audience raise hands] So, I’d say around 60-70% of you. I think its a massive step in the right direction.

How long until we get data from anywhere else that influences rankling?

JB: I think we already do.

WC: I think you’re right, I think tool bar data might be fair play, bounce rate back to the SERPS. If you made a conversion rate change that would help you rank better. As if to say, these kind of pages work better - we’ll rank them better if you have these pages.

RB: I think they are trying to work to a page that has a certain outline. If they see a dwell time thats significantly lower, maybe there’s a filtering effect on that particular keyword so that you could then block all results from that domain.

WC: The big exciting thing about both Panda and Penguin and all these updates, is that it’s more black box. There are things that they don’t know whether or not are a ranking factor. In fact my favourite machine learning anecdote is the one where you try to evolve a computer circuit...

RB: Your favourite machine learning anecdote? Stop, and think about what you’ve just done.

JB: These updates are ultimately ranking everything from original usage. You’ll rank third because two or three give better results and people don’t bounce as much. 

LM: I agree with that. When you get to the first page there’s a lot of movement up and down - the first week you’ll go to number one and that’s where they’re measuring the link through.

JB: They might test to see the happiness of those users as well. 

RB: When you look at Matt Cutt’s definition of percentage of all search queries [nearly 2.4 percent of all English search queries will be affected by this update] and you are popping in and out of first and second place, it feels like Google is watching the number of links. They throw you into a test mode to see how the site responds to that - there’s definitely a pattern.

Well, that’s it for another year, folks! SearchLove London was a huge success and our biggest conference to date so we want to say a big thank you to all those who attended and our awesome speaker line up. We hope that you have enjoyed the two days, made some great new contacts and most importantly, left feeling inspired to implement all of the awesome tips and tricks into your work. 

Hearing all about SearchLove and want to get involved? Well, there’s still time - SearchLove Boston takes place next Monday and Tuesday and there are still a few tickets left, so why not come and join us

Cheri Percy

Cheri Percy

Cheri joined Distilled as a community intern and now heads up the Marketing department in the London office. She has co-ordinated and project managed some of Distilled's biggest content pieces to date and has doubled its social media growth.  When...   read more

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6 Comments

  1. Ken

    Great recap. By the end I had 10 different tabs opened and ready to check out. Please keep these updates coming...

    reply >
  2. ugo

    Great recap guys couple of points though, the link to the ecosystem diagram leads to your gmail login and the link to strong mapmaker I suspect should be going here to google.com/mapmaker
    :)

    Look forward to seeing you all at linklove.

    reply >
  3. Lee Driggers

    Thanks for the awesome recap and taking away the first hour of my morning. Now to spend the next 30 looking at all those new tabs I opened :)

    reply >
  4. Awesome roundup. Do you mind me linking to this equally excellent roundup, that looks at some of the very important, and very scientific data, that this roundup's missed?! http://www.boom-online.co.uk/really-scientific-data-from-searchlove-2012
    I think it's super-vital that everyone should get the chance to see the comparison between the content of this SearchLove and the equally good SearchLove 1999, seeing that most people might have missed it....

    reply >
  5. Fantastic notes, the presentations dont make justice to the content so nice seeing such a good write up. I would recomendant anyone who missed it to keep an eye for the video content to get the little tips that tend to be missed. Look forward to LinkLove and seeing another good set of sessions.

    reply >

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