• 22 Oct

    The Changing World of SEO & 7 Tips to Stay Ahead

    Last night I had the pleasure of speaking at the first Optimise Oxford alongside Ned Poulter and Jono Alderson. Below are the slides that I presented along with a brief summary of it.

    SEO isn’t dead, it’s evolving!

    For several years we have been hearing that SEO is dead, and I do get a little fed up of it. SEO isn’t dying, it’s evolving. It’s growing up, we are becoming a more mature industry that is looking for long term growth, not short term results that lead to failure.

    89 major algorithm updates in 4 years

    Since the start of 2011 Google has released 89 major updates to it’s algorithm with the aim of improving the results provided to the user. These updates include the following:

    Panda

    First released in February 2011, there has been over 29 recorded updates to the Panda algorithm. The initial update affected 12% of english speaking search queries worldwide, and led to well known brands suffering.

    Panda cracked down on websites with thin content, content farms and high ad-to-content ratio. Businesses such as eHow were hugely effected, taking traffic levels down to 10s of thousands from 100s of thousands.

    Penguin

    First hit in April 2012, the Penguin update aimed at reducing many spam factors and affected an estimated 3.1% of English queries.
    Those websites that were keyword stuffing, participating in link schemes, cloaking and had lots of duplicate content were penalised.
    During this time, people also started to receive manual link notifications through Google Webmaster Tools (now Google Search Console). If you received these messages you were either going to be or were handed a manual penalty.

    Hummingbird

    The first major rewrite of Google’s algorithm since ‘Caffeine’, Hummingbird was created to provided more meaning behind the search queries.

    This change allowed more focus on understanding the billions of pages that are currently indexed through data markup and the expanded knowledge graph.

    Pigeon

    The Pigeon update focussed on looking at more useful, relevant and accurate search results.

    This update bought the local ranking factors more in line with the traditional ranking factors. However, this update has made significant changes to the maps, location parameters and the local pack.

    Mobile

    First announced in February, #Mobilegeddon launched on the 21st April 2015. With Google putting more emphasis on mobile users, the new mobile index put more weight on those websites that were mobile friendly.

    This shouldn’t have been a major surprise to the majority of us, with over 2 billion smart phones used globally.
    Although marketed as a huge change for the industry, the results were significantly lower than expected with only 4% of change recorded.

    7 tips to stay ahead

    Think like a brand

    Regardless of the size of your business, you are a brand. So start thinking like one.
    This can be done in a number of different ways including:

    • Dominating page one of brand searches
    • Encourage online reviews
    • Register social media profiles
    • Look after local search

    Understand your audience

    If you don’t know your audience type, then how can you market to them?
    Using a mixture of surveys, persona information, social media and keyword research, you should be able to get a good understanding of who they are, and what they like.

    Once you know this you can start to create marketing decisions based on user information.

    Create content for each stage of the buying cycle

    Content is an important part of any marketing plan. One key aspect from a search perspective is the user lands on the correct page for the search query that they have entered.

    Although not easy, this can be done by understanding the intent behind the search and producing the correct content asset for that search. At White, we utilise the user journey flow below to identify the correct piece of content for each stage of the buying cycle.

    This provides an easy to reference guide to what content is required based on the user’s intent.

    Optimise Presentation Oct 15 17 - Slides7

    Think about mobile

    Mobile is more important than ever, and should be considered a must for your business. Although conversion continues to be higher through desktop, mobiles are a huge part of the research stage and are being used on the commute to work and in the evenings.

    To check whether your website complies to the mobile requirements set out by Google, please visit the mobile friendly tool they have provided.

    Invest in the marketing mix, not just SEO

    It’s key that you supplement your SEO efforts with alternative marketing initiatives. You may create some really great content for your SEO campaign, but to get the very best results you should market it across all channels.

    Methods such as email are still considered one of the best forms of marketing if you can get it right. Due to platforms such as MailChimp, email marketing has become an easy, yet cheap way of engaging with your audience.

    Build for long term growth, not short term

    People continue to want results now! That is the world that we live in, but we need to educate stakeholders that consistent and long term growth is a better way of building a business, than instant short term returns.

    This means creating the right strategy, employing the right people, building and engaging with the right audience. This all takes time, but it will pay off with long term success, and not falling foul of search engine guidelines.

    By Daniel Bianchini Events SEO
  • 20 Aug

    International SEO: 5 Basic SEO Issues You Should be Considering

    The number of businesses that now ship or trade in multiple countries is growing by the day. No longer is it just the large corporations that have the ability to ship their products at competitive rates and increase their returns.

    Although many have increased their international revenue streams, the majority of brands large and small neglect to think of implementing basic SEO best practice for internatioanlisation.

    Below I have provided 5 basic SEO issues that you should be considering when it comes to international SEO.

    Choose the right URL Structure

    Determining which URL structure to use is a big decision, and should be a business decision rather than solely an SEO decision.

    There are three different options when it comes to choosing the URL structure and they all have different pros and cons.

    Sub-domain

    With search engines treating sub-domains as new entities, any sub-domain will be treated as a separate website. This would mean that you need to build the authority across each new sub-domain.

    Examples:
    uk.domain.com
    de.domain.com
    es.domain.com

    Sub-folder

    Sub-folders is my preferred method, and one that is used widely throughout the world. Sub-folders allow you to use the power of the existing domain and filters through to the country specific versions. A great example of this being used is Apple.com

    Examples:
    http://www.apple.com/es/
    http://www.apple.com/uk/
    http://www.apple.com/de/

    ccTLD

    If you have the right infrastructure and you have ALL the domains for the markets you are currently operating in, as well as the ones you want to move into, this can be a good fit. With the ccTLD route, you are providing the search engine with the biggest hint that it is local to the specific region, whilst the above doesn’t provide that. A great of example of this being used is Amazon.

    Examples:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/
    http://www.amazon.es/
    http://www.amazon.de/

    Any of the above will work, which is why it becomes a business decision as much as an SEO one.

    Localise the language

    If you are marketing to multiple countries it is essential that you are either translating the content or at the very minimum you are using local language.

    The more specific you are to your target audience, the better the search engines will understand who you appeal to; showing the correct sites to the correct audiences at all times.

    A good example is the UK and the US where both countries speak English, however there are obvious spelling differences.

    Examples (UK then US):

    • Colour & Color
    • Specialise & Specialize
    • Tyre & Tire

    Alongside the obvious spelling differences, the search terms that are used also differ. One that we commonly come across is holiday (UK) vs vacation (US). These changes make a huge difference to both users and search engines, and should be a priority.

    This can also be extended to the UX of the website with different countries being accustomed to different options, specifically throughout the payment gateway.

    I was listening to a talk at UX Oxford recently where the presenter was telling us how credit cards are not commonly used in Germany. She proceeded to say that by split testing, they found that removal of the credit card option from the German payment gateway actually increased conversion. They were being specific to the audience.

    When you are creating a website that targets multiple languages and regions, you need to ensure that it is as targeted to the audience as possible.

    Use the Href Lang tag

    When having the same content across multiple countries, you are more likely to have an issue with duplicate content and potentially having the incorrect region visible in the search engines.

    To reduce the potential for this, search engines have adopted the Href Lang tag to allow webmasters to give them an indication of target audience.

    You can implement the tag in three ways:

    • HTML link element in header
    • HTTP Header
    • Sitemap

    More information about how to implement Href Lang can be found here.

    Other resources for Href Lang include:

    Separate Countries within the Search Console

    I am assuming that you are already using Google’s Search Console, but have you created a profile for each country location?

    Creating a new profile for each separate country will allow you to become more granular with your targeting and understanding of the performance.

    To do this, you will need to create a new property and include the regional URL as shown below.

    search-console

    Split your XML Sitemaps by Country

    XML Sitemaps are a basic SEO requirement for any website and should be seen as even more important for websites that have an international presence.

    The big difference for international websites is that you need to split the XML sitemaps by country or region. This will allow you to then submit to the correct profile within Search Console.

    For me, there are two ways that you can split the XML Sitemap. The first is to create a single sitemap index that contains the sitemaps for each of your countries. The second, and my preferred method is to create a sitemap index for each country. This way you can be granular with your sitemaps down to product, service or article level. This method will allow you to more accurately identify where any possible indexing gaps are.

    That’s it! What basic SEO issues are you considering when you look into international SEO? I’d love to hear your comments either below or over on twitter @danielbianchini.

    By Daniel Bianchini SEO
  • 17 Apr

    RIMC 2015 Key Takeaways

    Today Daniel Bianchini will be live blogging and tweeting from the RIMC conference over in Iceland. To make things easier we have organised the sessions by topic so that you can click on the internal anchor below.

    RIMC2015

    We will be updating throughout the day, although we are one hour behind the UK.

    Content & Social

    Speaker: Theo Cooper – Untold Agency – Emotional landscapes: the importance of storytelling and content in the travel industry

    A lot of lip service is currently being paid to storytelling in marketing but it’s time for the marketing world to put its money where its mouth is. Charting a course through a diverse set of reference points including personal experience, ancient history and the latest statistics this is about looking for the emotional heart of storytelling in an increasingly data driven world.

    • Story telling isn’t new, it has always been here, it has just become more of a buzzword.
    • Tell relevant, emotional stories.
    • We have been blind sided by technology – Story telling is catching up.
    • The medium doesn’t replace the message.
    • Stories are how we communicate, it’s not content.
    • A combination of technology and emotion is how you tell a story. It’s not always just about twitter or facebook.
    • “Agencies say they want funny, but they don’t pick up the phne to me..” – Jimmy Carr. If you want a great joke get a comedian, if you want a great story hire a story teller.
    • Build trust by being authoriative, using the best story tellers and resources.
    • Content that works online is those that teach, which is seen across all verticals.
    • Show don’t tell, render it visible and catch the essence of the story.
    • Use your content to create experiences, not just describe.
    • Take your time. Content strategy doesn’t happen overnight.
    • A genuine content strategy looks beyond just the product, but encompasses what works. It takes time, and you need to get buy in from those brands.
    • Don’t try to be too descriptive, and lose the story that you are telling.
    • Brands are not being bold enough to make content strategy work.
    • If the data is telling you the story, then don’t fight it.

    Twitter: @untoldagency

    Takin Kroop recorded this video with Theo Cooper.

    Interview with Theo Cooper from Untold AgencyWe had a chance to talk with Theo Cooper from Untold Agency at RIMC – Reykjavik Internet Marketing Conference. See what he has to say about storytelling here!

    Posted by Fanbooster on Friday, 17 April 2015

     

    Speakers: Meri Sørgaard & Kim Herlung – SMFB Engine – The consumer’s decision is always on!

    It is all about engaging the right people, for the right reasons, at the right time with relevant content and never loosing eyesight’s of the KPI’s that you set.
    During this session, we want to illustrate that creativity is a force multiplier in a digital world. It is contagious; it communicates and yields fantastic results

    • Provide the right content at the right time, in the right place.
    • You should be “Think[ing] less like an advertiser and more like a publisher”
    • “Every customer is different, every working relations need to be tailor made”
    • Communication, cooperation, dedication and appreciation ensure the client gets what they need from the campaign.
    • “Unique process for every single costomer requires equal interest fomr all sides”
    • Success is not always about a number, but hitting the business objectives

     

    Twitter: @smfbengine

     

    Speaker: Emma Lundgren – Unruly – The ten commandments of social video

    Want to hit that social sweet spot? Follow the ten commandments of social video! Unruly guides you through the do’s and don’ts of content creation, distribution and helps you navigate through the digital djungle.

    • 22.6% of all views are on YouTube, but there is a further 70%+ that is not utilised
    • %of videos continue to increase on YouTube, but views are on the decline
    • Unruly has been monitoring social video shares since 2006 monitoring 1.3 trillion video views
    • Focus on emotions not creative devices.
    • Brands are so in love with their own content that they just want to get it out there.
    • In 2013, 25% of all shares occured in the first three days, however, in 2014 it had risen to 42%.
    • The best day to launch your video is on a Wednesday.

     

    Twitter: @unrulyco

     

    Speaker: Takin Kroop – The New Customer Journey

    With the emergence of the social networks, businesses are now possible to talk and interact with their target group on a new level. Takin Kroop will take us through how the Facebook has changed the customer journey – and how you can leverage it to make it work for you.

    • Organic reach on Facebook is down to 2%
    • We check facebook on average 14 times a day
    • Great content will still prevail even though you will have to pay a little for it.
    • Let your data define your audience, not your CMO
    • Landing pages are now relevant more than ever, as you need to send your ads to something.
    • Pixelate your life, but don’t be an Adhole!
    • Don’t overanalyse things. Do more of what works.

    twitter: @takinkroop

    Speaker: Alex Moss – FireCask – Search track The Other Side of Optimisation – Internal Productivity & Efficiency

    Whilst some talks at RIMC will focus on SEO strategy itself, any project is hindered without the correct management. My presentation will focus on how to best use online tools in order to manage your client or in-house projects in a more efficient and collaborative manner. As well as this, improving your own businesses’ productivity will produce better quality work within shorter timescales.

    • Everyone in general is on a device all the time. Whether it be a phone, laptop and/or smart watch
    • Always being on means that you build relationships and a community.
    • Use @feedly to control noise pollution, but use RSS Bot and Squirt.io to help you read quicker.
    • For leads, you can use Salesforce or Capsule, but Gmail and Chrome is much easier!
    • Use Mighty Text to send text messages directly from your inbox
    • Use mail track app to track email delivery like What’s App
    • Remember the Milk is a great tool for keeping your to-do list organised.
    • Use Rapportive to get more information about the person you’re emailing  & Boomerang for automation of email.
    • Use Slack to improve internal communication. It is easy to create channels, private groups, and to manage.
    • You could use Excel for Project management but Alex recommends either Trello or Wrike.
    • For transfer large files you should be using We Transfer or Infinit.
    • To manage your code better use Sublime Text, BitBucket and SourceTree from Atlassian

    Alex’s slides are below, where all the tools he mentioned are.

    Twitter: @alexmoss

    Michael added unroll.me as a tool that combines all your newsletters into one and provides a single email at the end of each day.

     

    Speaker: Sante Achille – Achille – Structured Data: Using Schema.org Markup To Take your Website to the Next Level

    Learn how to markup correctly any website using schema and go far beyond traditional Rich Snippets. See real life examples in a number of fields (travel,
    legal, the arts) and how content (not only items) can be marked up and offer to search engines detailed information on structure and shed light on semantic interconnections. Gain strategic insights and key takeaways on how to implement schema markup within an existing design and avoid “breaking it”.

    • Entities can interact with other entities, which then means they can become linked. By telling a search engine what these entities are, it can become even more powerful.
    • You should be using microdata to provide the search engines with more of an understanding of what the page is communicating.
    • Use Schema.org to find the right mark-up for your business
    • You can test your implementation using Google’s testing tool https://developers.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/
    • Make sure you are constantly testing your data types.
    • Use schema-creator.org to have build your mark-up.

    Twitter: @sjachille

    Speaker: Peter Handley – theMediaFlow – Stay on Top of your Tech SEO

    Peter Handley, Director of theMediaFlow, will be letting you into the trade secrets of technical brilliance at RIMC 2015 to help you master the ability to drive traffic and conversions. His talk will give an insight into all the top tools and tips you need from start to finish to keep the technical SEO of your website optimal

    • Technical audits are not the last time you should be checking the technical aspects of your SEO.
    • Use ScreamingFrog when crawling websites.
    • Make sure that page integrity is maintained. If you have broken links, then fix it. If you have internal redirects, then update your links.
    • Check your duplicate content through www. vs non-www, forwards slash vs non-forward slash. Use copyscape.
    • You should be checking GWT regularly and actioning any issues identified.
    • For checking pagespeed use Pingdom, Web Page Test and Google Pagespeed Insights.
    • If you are taking your site down for maintenance then make sure you return a 503 status code.


    twitter: @ismepete

    Speakers: Tejal Patel & Collette Easton – Microsoft/Linkdex – Consumer Status: Complicated!

    Users search using a variety of language. Microsoft Mobile have a comprehensive and sophisticated view of this market through the large scale data analysis that Linkdex provides. This aggregated analysis helps Microsoft Mobile understand the most visible pages, people and publishers; the value of each and how much influence each has over those consumer experiences. This session will explore how.

     

    Speaker: Lukasz Zelezny – uSwitch – Making Sense Of Your Analytics

    Failures to interpret data can often create missed opportunities when brands become unable to make well-informed, insight driven actions. This session will show you how to develop best practices for data analysis; utilising analytics strategies and tactics that can better equip your brand to meet business objectives and develop effective future strategic actions.

     

    • The fear of bounce rate & effective visits – you cannot control all keywords you rank for, so can’t control bounce – @ismepete
    • Use effective visits as it represents a real quality of traffic and it’s value
    • Use effiect visits because it reflects on page optimisation
    • Undersatnd your business goals and KPIs before you are able report accurately.

     

    twitter: @lukaszZelezny

     

    Google & Mobile

    Speaker: Gary Illyes – Google – Wearables, Mobile, and the Internet as we Know it

    “When I ask my phone what are the top attractions in Iceland, it talks back to me and amongst others, it suggests the Golden Circle. Driving around I use Google Maps to navigate which also tells me in real time which roads are inaccessible, and when we are at Gullfoss, looking for information about the waterfall I specifically look for results that lead to pages optimised for my mobile device. The internet is changing, it’s changing fast, and you must be prepared.”

    • “Would you leave your home without your mobile phone” – Only one person said yes!
    • Google have been preaching for 7 years to have a mobile optimised website.
    • On the 21st April, Google will be making the biggest update to their algorithm since Panda and Penguin by updating their stance on Mobile.
    • Any pages that are not mobile friendly on the 21st April will be demoted within the SERPs
    • This is a real-time algorithm update and when a change is made, it will be instant once re-crawled.
    • Google will be creating an FAQs for Mobile, but this is not ready yet.

    Twitter: @methode

    Search & Display

    Speaker: Christopher Engman – Vendemore – What is Account Based Marketing and why is it growing so fast?

    Experiences from 100+ Fortune 500 companies in 6 continents How do you combine Account Based Marketing, Marketing Automation and Content Marketing? Which are the top KPIs used to evaluate marketing supporting complex B2B sales?

    • Customer memory is short and unreliable which makes relying on internal selling risky.
    • The customers memory dwindles throughout the sales process.
    • Account based marketing is for those that have long decision proicess – Months to years
    • Account based marketing is for those that have 40 to several hundred stakeholders
    • Account based marketing is for those that have high risk in the decision
    • Companies isolated in media by IP-numbers

     

    Speaker: Russell McAthy – BlueGlass – Buzzwords Suck! Attribution, Performance Reporting and Competitor Analysis under the microscope

    The world of digital business is changing and the ability to understand how consumers are finding, engaging and purchasing from your brand is difficult.
    The digital landscape allows us to track many things – however buzzwords are making things complicated not simpler.
    In this session Russell will discuss a few buzzwords that we come across in a digital marketing world and how to action change in your organisation to make data led decisions. Attribution, Performance Reporting and Competitor/Market Analysis will come under the microscope and you will leave with 3 key takeaways to go back to the office with insights not just data.

    • When you are logged in, you can start to connect your sessions.
    • Attribution gets interesting when you apply it post sale so that you can try and find more of those sales
    • Analytics is never 100% right, you need to use it spot trends
    • The key issue is that people are not asking the right questions, and this is where attribution helps.

    Twitter: @therustybear

    And that’s a wrap. RIMC has been a great day, with some truly great speakers. Hopefully you have found todays live blogging useful.

    It would be great to hear your thoughts on the above either in the comments or over on twitter @danielbianchini

    Image Credits:

    Featured Image – State of Digital

    By Daniel Bianchini Events
  • 19 Mar

    #SEONOW2015: What does SEO reporting look like in 2015?

    At the start of the year I was asked to participate in Linkdex’s annual SEO Now ebook, alongside a number of industry experts from around the world. The theme for the eBook was around Reporting in 2015, and my section is below.

    SEO Now 2015 eBook Authors

    WHAT DOES SEO REPORTING LOOK LIKE IN 2015?

    In 2015, brands will move further towards an online marketing target, with each channel playing their part in that goal.

    With SEO changing dramatically over the last few years, our reports have to reflect that. These changes have resulted in a move away from ranking positions and the number of links that we have built, to a more content-focussed approach.

    This has led to agency and in-house teams providing training to key stakeholders within businesses, who prefer to see clear deliverables and results which links and rankings provide.

    Although there will be a move to a more integrated marketing report, there has always been a constant in each report: how your activity compares to the KPIs that you have been set.

    Daniel 3

    Which on-site metrics should really matter to brands? Why?

    The on-site metrics that matter most to your brand are generally individual and should be reverse engineered based on the targets you have been set.

    The metrics that you need to use will differ depending on the campaign that you are running. A campaign that is aimed at generating brand awareness (content marketing) is going to have different metrics to a campaign aimed at the conversion end of the funnel.

    With that said, there will always be some metrics that need to be used across any campaign, with the majority leading back to content performance and device.

    Looking at it from an SEO point of view, landing page performance is crucial. What content is generating the most visits from search engines? What is the conversion rate of those pages, or how many of those pages play a part in the conversion funnel?

    If these pages are not playing a part, why not? Are they pages that have the biggest exit percentages, do they have limited time on-page, is the bounce rate too high? By reporting on these figures you will be able to determine how effective these pages are, and whether a campaign needs to be based on improving these pages.

    If there is an off-page element to your campaign, then you need to track brand mentions, whilst cross-referencing any citations/links to your referral traffic. This will provide you with a good understanding of whether the placements that you have generated are working and worth further investment.

    As mentioned above, we are moving to a more mobile-focussed environment, which needs to be reflected in your report. Therefore understanding what each device category is contributing to your campaign, can often provide great insight and determine how further campaigns are crafted.

    Which off-site metrics should really matter to brands? Why?

    Reporting on the number of links that you have generated is gone! You should no longer be building quantity of links but instead generating quality links, and this should be reflected in your report.

    If through your campaign, you have generated coverage within high-quality publications, then you should report it. This also needs to be supported by referral figures that the link/coverage has generated to support the cost of activity.

    Alongside referral traffic from your campagin, you should monitor brand mentions. This is important as it could lead to an increase in direct or social traffic.

    Reporting on the number of links that you have generated is gone! You should no longer be building quantity of links but instead generating quality links, and this should be reflected in your report.

    How to tell the right story?

    Each report that you create needs to be focussed on the KPIs that you have been given. Whether it is an individual campaign that will contribute or on-going work, how does it effect your target?

    The story that you tell will be determined by the campaign you are running. Choosing the right metrics will allow you to bring the campaign alive, by showing the successes and failures of campaign.

    An important factor when telling your story is being honest. If your campaign has not worked, then do not cover it up with meaningless metrics. Explain what happened, the learnings that you have taken away from it and how they will be implemented into the next campaign.

    Daniel 1

    When creating your report, make it visual, easy to understand and straight to the point. Creating complicated reports to tell the story will not only confuse those that are reading it, but will likely bring further questions.

    Finally, more than anything else, make sure that it always relates back to the KPIs.

    If you are interested in reading the full eBook, you can download it from the Linkdex wesbite. I’d be interested in your thoughts on how reporting has changed, and what represents a good SEO report in the comments below or over on twiter @danielbianchini.

    By Daniel Bianchini SEO
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