The SearchLove London 2016 Roundup

Another year, another fantastic SearchLove London. The 2016 edition also saw the biggest crowd we’ve ever hosted at a Distilled event, with a little under 400 attendees, speakers and Distillers all under one roof.

The lineup for this year’s event was another highlight, with 16 top-notch digital marketing experts presenting on everything from SEO and PPC, to CRO and the future of RankBrain. So, if you couldn't make it along, or you did, and fancy a quick catch up, I’ve put together the top takeaways from each presentation (and included a few other awesome roundups at the bottom of this post).

Lisa Myers - The Mindset of Successful Outreach

  • To stand out, content doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

  • SEO campaigns aren't measured by print coverage, but you should still aspire to it.

  • When you get to a dead end, find another way - you can recycle the same data with a new angle to get another chance at coverage.

  • Make sure you have the right people - it’s not necessarily about years of experience. Look for grit and passion.

SearchLove London 2016 | Lisa Myers | The Mindset of Successful Outreach from Distilled

Marcus Tober - Why User-Focused Content is the Death of Ranking Factors

  • The future of search is data (science) driven.

  • Evolution of ranking factors: static in the past, flexible in the present, adaptable in the future.

    • Ranking factors are not rigid anymore, they are formless, shapeless and they adapt to the object.

  • It’s about relevance to human AND machine. Today’s challenge for every digital marketer is to uncover specific user intent.

  • With the growth of machine learning, content relevancy will be huge. Traditional best practice SEO tactics will fade out.

  • Action + effort + data = success

Amy Harrison - Stand Out to YOUR crowd: A Framework For Customer-Driven Copywriting

  • Don’t use “cheating copy” - copy that is not exclusive to you. You can recognise it because it’s hanging out on other websites.

  • Where do you find your unique selling points? Customer reviews and testimonials.

  • Don’t use “Umbrella” terms - vague promises, generic descriptions.

    • To solve: qualify - eliminate vagueness in favor of specificity and use the words your customers use.

  • Weave into your copy:

    • 1. Here’s what you may have recognised (symptoms).

    • 2.Here’s why that happens (problem).

    • 3. Here’s how to fix that (cure).

    • 4. This is why it’s good to fix it (contrast).

Dr. Pete Meyers - Tactical Keyword Research in A RankBrain World

  • In 2013, Google brought out voice search in browser - a little later, Hummingbird came out. Hummingbird was in part designed to address very long form queries common to voice search.

  • It doesn’t matter whether your customers are using voice search - Google rewrote the algorithm to address this and therefore it impacts you regardless.

  • Just saying ‘build great concepts’ or ‘target concepts’ isn’t really that helpful. When a person searches, at some point there has to be a query.

  • Target using ‘group entities’ rather than individual keywords.

    • We’re essentially going from keywords → concepts → *keywords*

    • Why not just write for people? We’re aiming for this but we’re not there yet.

Dominic Woodman - How to Get Insight From Your Logs (and Start Using All That Free Google Data)

  • When you visit a site, a bot logs the information about you. These logs usually contain some standard pieces of information including: IP address, timestamp, request type, page requested, protocol, status and user agent. You can do a surprising amount with this data.
  • What can you do with this log data? The 5 main things are: diagnosis of crawling and indexation issues, crawl prioritisation, site health diagnosis, calculating how important Google views various parts of your site and learning how fresh your content is from Google’s POV.
  • You don’t need any programming knowledge to get set-up, it can be done easily with a couple basic tools and about 15 minutes of your time. BigQuery is the best tool to use. Full setup instructions can be found in this really useful article that accompanies the presentation: A Complete Guide to Log Analysis with BigQuery

Larry Kim - 10 CRO Truth Bombs That Will Change Your Approach to CRO

  • CRO often increase quantity of leads rather than quality of leads

  • FB video ads are very cost effective because FB wants to be competitive with Youtube

  • Don’t forget about remarketing.

  • Don’t blindly follow best practice - instead, think about the user experience. Do you need an explicit call to action for example?

Bas van den Beld - The Secrets of Storytelling

  • A story can have a hero and a villain, but you must remember that you, as the brand, are not the hero; you’re the guide. The user is the hero, and the villain is essentially the consequence of not using your product.

  • Focus on the ‘why’. You have to make people care about the ‘why’, before they’ll pay any attention to the ‘how’.

  • Always tell your story from the perspective of the audience. It’s all about empathy, and people will warm to you or your brand very quickly if you show understanding of their culture.

Tom Anthony - SEO Split-Testing: How You Can Run Tests and What We’ve Learned

  • SEOs should, by nature, be good at deciding what page should rank above another. As it turns out, we’re only slightly better than the average layperson and worse than a coin flip. Our instincts, even based on past experience, aren’t as good as we think for this particular task. We need data to help inform our decisions.

  • All CROs run tests, as they know that whenever humans are involved you can’t use ‘best practice’ to get to the best answer. Google is starting to use human factors (use behaviour signals) in the ranking algorithm so now argument is becoming more true for SEO. We need to adjust the testing method, but it can still be done by small and large businesses.

  • To create your own SEO split-test, create two buckets of pages (e.g. your product pages divided into two groups), then make a change to one of those buckets. Finally, analyse which performs better.

Distilled’s Optimisation Delivery Network can help you run SEO split-testing at a much larger scale.

SearchLove London 2016 | Tom Anthony | SEO Split-Testing - How You can Run Tests and what We've Learned from Distilled

Jessica Gioglio - Make Your Marketing Memorable With Visual Storytelling

  • 90% of info transmitted to the brain is visual. Visuals process 60x faster than text alone. The challenge of using visuals is “how do you stand out?”

  • There is so much content noise online today, you need to celebrate your brand’s key differentiators to have any chance of standing out. What is your company’s culture? Do you take part in CSR initiatives? What makes you different?

  • Cinemagraphs are mostly static images with one element that moves, such as a still picture of a landscape, with a rippling river. These cinemagraphs  can really drive attention to a focal point without being overpowering.

SearchLove London 2016 | Jessica Gioglio | Make Your Marketing Memorable With Visual Storytelling from Distilled

Bridget Randolph - The Changing Landscape of Mobile Search

  • As mobile technology changes, user behavior changes, Google (and other search engines) respond to user behavior, and search marketers react to Google. We can break the cycle by noticing trends in the tech and user behavior ahead of time.

  • Key themes in recent tech innovations are

    • physical interaction with individuals and environment

    • device- and app-agnostic integration

    • voice recognition and conversational interaction

  • Content has to become more flexible in order to adapt across devices and screens

  • The big question is going to become, “how can be the most useful source from a personal assistant app’s perspective?”

Jes Stiles - What’sAppening With Messenger App Marketing

  • Chatbot marketing is the future of search marketing, and the two will eventually collide and merge. It’s the new internet.

  • Chatbots can be especially helpful if your customers want to interact with your brand when you’re not there. If Sunday is a popular day for interaction, a chatbot can be there even when you can’t.

  • When launching your brand on chat apps, don’t forget to do the all-important chat app optimisation for app search. Update taglines, brand names, descriptions, categories and tags.

SearchLove London 2016 |Jes Stiles | WhatsAppening with Chat App Marketing from Distilled

Rob Bucci - Taking the Top Spot: How to Earn More Featured Snippets

  • There are three main snippet types: paragraph snippets, table snippets, list snippets. Paragraph snippets are the most common type of snippets, because most content is formatted as a paragraph. So remember, the format of your content determines the format of your featured snippet.

  • Keywords matter for snippets, but keywords triggering snippets are changing. More subjective keywords, like best and top, are starting to appear. These can be very high value, so go out and get them before everybody else realises.

  • Google is desperate to get table snippets, and move away from paragraphs. Use this knowledge to research your competitors’ snippets.

SearchLove London 2016 | Rob Bucci | Taking the Top Spot: How to Earn More Featured Snippets de Distilled

Stephen Pavlovich - Habits of Advanced Conversion Optimisers

  • A lot of people see testing as ‘changing button colours’, but it’s actually a huge opportunity to take risks and be more inventive.

  • We can test almost everything, from advertising to content, and from price to product. Plus, we can test at scale. By doubling your testing output, you will double your inventiveness.

  • Testing can be an undo button for our most important decisions. Start with a minimum viable test, then scale in reach and impact.

  • Stop testing based on only on the ‘test concept’. Instead, create a hypothesis with the following framework:

    • ‘We know that quant and qual data. We believe that lever by test concept on area for audience will result in goal. We’ll know by observing KPI for duration.’

Larry Kim - Hacking RankBrain and Other Machine Learning Algorithms

  • Google describes RankBrain as “Query interpretation that changes rank” - but it’s more of a layer on top of Panda, Penguin and the Core Algorithm

  • It works by taking a long-tail query and interpreting it and uses user behavior signals to determine whether it’s done a good job or not.

  • How can SEOs respond? Work to improve CTR of SERPs. Use tactics from paid search to help with this because this is what paid search marketers have known for years.

  • Other key areas to improve: engagement rates, bounce rate, brand affinity (FB ads and GDN)

Lea Pica - Get Their Attention: Extreme Data Viz Makeovers for Maximum Presentation Impact

  • The key to increasing presentation impact is threefold. First, be your audience. Second, use the tools at your disposal wisely. Third, maximise the absorption of data.

  • Death by Powerpoint is a user problem; we aren’t making our presentations compelling enough. Start by getting rid of bullet points, because they expose the info at once and overload the brain.

  • Give your slides much more impact with P.I.C.A (Purpose, Insight, Context, Aesthetics)

    • Purpose: What decision are you trying to inform? And what visualisation tells the story best?

    • Insight: There needs to be a clear distinction between data and insight. Give your chart a Mckinsey title, which immediately displays the key learning from the visualisation

    • Context: Help the user understand the data as quickly and easily as possible.

    • Aesthetics: Put your charts on a detox and reduce the cognitive effort required to read the data. Remove axis lines, recolour to grey shades, and then use a key colour to highlight the most important stories.

Wil Reynolds - Why People Buy: Remembering the People Behind the Clicks

  • SEOs often underestimate, or even forget the power of words. RankBrain and other new algorithms are important, but data means nothing when feelings and emotions take over. In short, go and delight someone.

  • Recognise the difference between outputs and outcomes. A prime example is a test that didn’t improve rankings but dramatically increased CTR. The output of rankings change ‘failed’ but the real outcome was a success - more traffic.

  • “Have you ever sat with a customer while they’ve searched for a solution to their problem and asked them to verbally walk you through their search process and what they’re thinking and feeling?” - Once you hear a customer's frustrations, you won’t forget them.

Humanizing The Serp, One Word at a Time from Wil Reynolds

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About the author
Bridget Randolph

Bridget Randolph

Bridget joined Distilled in November 2012. An American born and bred (originally from a small Virginia town), Bridget came to the UK as a grad student in 2010, and didn't want to leave! In September 2012, she completed an M.Sc. in social...   read more