SearchLove Boston 2018: The Great Big Round Up

On June 7th and 8th, we made our annual return to Boston for our east coast edition of SearchLove. This year’s conference moved to a brand new venue, the newly refurbished Revere hotel, situated in the heart of downtown Boston, just a stone throw from Boston Common. 200 attendees, 15 speakers from across the globe, an endless amount of coffee consumed, all on a single track stage.

This post is a quick-fire summary of the knowledge our speakers had to share plus their slides. Their whole sessions will be available with a DistilledU membership in a couple of weeks' time. And if you enjoyed all of that you can sign up for reminders to join us next year!

Will Critchlow - ‘From the Horse’s Mouth: What We Can Learn from Google’s Own Words’

  • Early web spam was fine as long as it didn’t make Google look stupid by flooding the SERPs with low-quality sites. As this spiralled out of control, this forced Google to produce more complex algorithms to protect their reputation.
  • Adsense is one of the most underrated things Google has ever done. It incentivised the creation of a vast amount of long-tail content, but it also created the monster that eventually required Panda to fix it.
  • Where is Google going next? Given their recent purchases, Google is (most likely) coming for the cloud computing space.
  • Facebook is going through many of the learning curves that Google has already experienced, e.g. content spam/fake news.

Ruth Burr Reedy - ‘Scaling JSON-LD Using Google Tag Manager’

  • Google doesn’t always pull knowledge panel information from your website.
  • Both Google and Bing have a very clear understanding of markup implemented using JSON-LD, and it is now their preferred method of implementation.
  • Structured data is a massive driver of voice search.

Samantha Noble - ‘Beyond the Reach of Keyword Targeting: The Evolution of Paid Media’

  • Organic clicks are continuing to shift to paid ads.
  • The number of ad extensions has increased significantly, and they can be used in combination with each other improving CTR, quality score and taking up more space in the SERPs. Naming a few we now have:
    • site links
    • structured snippets
    • call/message
    • location
    • affiliate location
    • price (even if it's free you can put $0)
    • app
    • review
    • promotion
    • previous visits
    • seller/consumer ratings
  • Most search queries now contain four ads at the top of the SERP. But we are now beginning to see four ads at the foot of the SERP as well.
  • We should be thinking about what Google will monetise next. Google Shopping was previously free; now it is only pay to play.
  • 79% of adults online use Facebook. The amount of data Facebook has on us is incredible and allows impressive levels of targeting.
  • Facebook made $40.5 billion in 2017.

Ryan Charles - ‘Newsjacking: How To Add to the Story and Earn Big Links in Real Time’

  • Newsjacking requires agility. Can you build something and ship it within 24 hours for that story?
  • For newsjacking it's best to have a connection to the story, there are varying degrees of connections required to newsjack. Do you have a unique and original angle? You need this in order for it to land with the audience.
  • Reporters have to generate news 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they are on the look-out for a story. HARO... Help a reporter out by adding to their story.
  • If you’re looking to newsjack a story, start local. If you see success, this will create a ripple effect into larger news organizations.

Lisa Schneider - ‘The Ecosystem Effect: How Our Social Voice Boosted Our SEO’

  • Merriam-Webster recognized that they were a well-loved brand with a very sleepy social presence.
  • They have a team of people who are passionate about words and wanted to help people understand language better.
  • They used their own search query data to generate interesting social content by identifying new words that were seeing spikes in search volume.
  • Conversations that are happening in your internal Slack channel might be the next best piece of content you produce.

Casie Gillette - ‘The Power of Data: 15 Keys to a Successful Content Strategy’

  • 2 million blog posts are published every single day and 3 days worth of video is uploaded every minute.
  • Over 90% of your traffic will most likely come from less than 10% of your content. Find new and engaging ways to repurpose this content and distribute it further.
  • 27% of search queries are questions. Make sure you are answering the questions your customers are asking. Answerthepublic.com is a great starting place to find these questions, along with Keyword Tool and BuzzSumo.
  • It’s not new or shiny but we still find clients with site search reporting turned off in Google Analytics. Turn on-site search reporting. It shows what customers are looking for!

Bartosz Góralewicz - ‘JavaScript: Looking Past the Hype When the Dust Finally Settles’

  • The absolute minimum JavaScript testing you should be running is to put your site through the Google mobile-friendly test, and Google Search Console fetch and render to see how Google is handling your JavaScript.
  • JavaScript SEO isn’t just a geeky SEO option anymore. All SEOs need to start understanding this as it is impacting the bottom line of companies across all niches.
  • Indexing of modern JavaScript files continues to be a big challenge for Google.
  • Google is working on a new web rendering service that will most likely be rolled out in 2018. This new WRS will allow them to crawl and index JavaScript better than ever before.

Greg Gifford - ‘Zorg's Tips for Utter Domination Through Local SEO’

  • Any business that has a physical location or that serves a certain area needs Local SEO.
  • What works in one vertical or area, won’t necessarily work in yours. You need to constantly be testing.
  • Pay attention to the annual Local Search Ranking Factors
  • When creating content for Local SEO, read it out loud. It should make sense to a human and read naturally.
  • Citations still work. Your business needs to be listed where Google would expect it to be listed.
  • Respond to every single negative review. This can actually turn potentially lost customers around.
  • Link building sucks, but it matters. The secret is to remember to act like a business rather than an SEO. Look for opportunities:
    • Be involved with local meetups
    • Event sponsorships
    • Sports organization sponsorship
    • Work with local charities
    • Local newspapers

David Levin - ‘Social Content Masterclass: Platform Specificity’

  • 500 million people are watching Facebook videos every single day. Things to consider when producing content for Facebook:
    • Video and more video.
    • Consider the length of your video, use sound where suitable and make sure you offer subtitles as an alternative. Design for sound off, delight with sound on.
    • Be relatable.
    • You need to use paid. Facebook organic reach is limited so put money behind your diamond content.
  • Facebook offers a whole range of content options, from Facebook Live to 360 videos to canvas pages.
  • Video content is just as crucial on Instagram. 300 million users use stories each day.

Emily Grossman - ‘The Marketer’s Guide to Performance Optimization

  • Google's Speed Update impacts rankings not indexing. It primarily hurts slow pages and does not provide a boost to fast pages.
  • “There's a difference between optimizing actual site speed and optimizing UX to change a user's perception of site speed.”
  • Use the Webpagetest, Google Lighthouse, GTmetrix and Pingdom to build a simulation of your site speed.
  • Gather scalable user metrics that will help identify your real pain points by using real user metrics. These can be benchmarked using mPulse, New Relic and Google Performance Observer.
  • Improving site speed involves getting everyone on board. That means simplifying KPIs, clarifying the importance of page performance to everyone in the organization, and tying site speed to actual $$$.

Tom Anthony - ‘Hacking Google: what you can learn from ethical vulnerability research’

  • Use social network login URLs to detect users' preferred social networks and if they are logged in or not. Use this information to serve custom social sharing icons or even aggressive discounts if you can see they are logged in to a competitor's site.
  • If you find a security flaw, Google responds pretty quickly. In fact, it took them just 11 minutes to respond to an issue with Google Search Console identified by Tom.
  • Google offers a bug bounty reward system to incentivise hackers and users to report issues.
  • Tom used a flaw in submitting XML sitemaps to have a site with no links ranking for highly competitive transactional terms in just a few days. Disclaimer: Distilled does not condone black hat, and any security flaws were reported to Google.
  • To protect yourself from these types of attack it is recommended to ensure you have no open redirects, have a sitemap with hreflang and media entries, and hide your sitemaps, e.g. LinkedIn.

Chris Savage - ‘The Future of Video is One to One’

  • The future of video is one to one. We’re already living in a world where video content is on the increase, as the cost of producing high-quality footage is on the decrease.
  • Video content is now being used everywhere in the funnel.
  • The latest product from Wista is Soapbox, which allows fast production of high-quality video.
  • Through mobile phones and apps such as SnapChat and Instagram, ordinary people are now producing video content every single day.

Justine Jordan - ‘The State of Email: Insights from 3,000 Marketers’

  • As email marketers, we need to find a balance between our needs and our customer's needs.
  • 57% of humans report spam because they are sent irrelevant emails or too many emails. 43% unsubscribe because the email didn’t work on their mobile device.
  • Your email is the invitation to the party. Make sure your landing page is the party! It isn’t enough to just get users opening your email.
  • To prevent screen-readers reading out your tabled data, add to the table element  role=”presentation”.
  • Make emails easy to unsubscribe from to prevent users adding you to their spam folder.
  • Don’t trick users with misleading email subject lines.

Dewi Nawasari - ‘Optimizing when Google is your competitor.’

  • Google currently holds more than 80% of total search engine share.
  • Google has over 70 products just for consumers.
  • Google conducts their own form of keyword research to decide which vertical to create unique search results for. Recent examples include flights, hotels, things to do and jobs.
  • As a result, Google takes anywhere between 25-70% of the traffic for any of these unique verticals.

Jes Scholz - ‘Looking Beyond Keywords: From Visual Search to New Realities’

  • 74% of consumers say keyword-based searches are not helping them find the products they want.
  • Optimize the quality of your images for image search.
  • Visitors are 2x more likely to convert if you have user-generated content on your site.
  • Augmented reality presents users with the opportunity to try products before they buy.

Images from SearchLove Boston 2018

Further Write-ups

If you want to read more about SearchLove Boston, you should head over to KoMarketing and check out their write up of SearchLove Boston 2018.

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About the author
Tim Allen

Tim Allen

Tim joined Distilled in March 2013 after making a considerable impression upon Duncan and Tom Anthony by wearing a Panda jumper to his interview. Originally moving from Lincolnshire to London to study acting at Reynolds Performing Arts, Tim soon...   read more