And so to day three of SES London 2014. Day three started with a headache, probably as a result of all of the ‘networking’ I did the night before. Determined to move on with the day regardless, here are my notes from the third and final day at SES…
Assess. Diagnose. Fix: How to Become a Leading SEO Mechanic – Andre Alpar & David Naylor
Key takeaway – You need a human to be looking at your links
Andre Alpar and David Naylor delivered one of the highlights of SES London 2014. Alpar opened proceedings by explaining that your website is like an onion. His analogy was in reference to the layers of content your site has but one plucky tweeter highlighted that it also works because your website can sometimes make you cry as well. Well played indeed.
— Tom Griffiths☝ (@TomGriffola) February 13, 2014
Back to the point being made. Alpar explained that your web strategy should split content into three ‘layers’:
- Content for users and internal linking (noindex / follow)
- Content for users, internal linking and SEO (index / follow)
- SEO oriented landing pages (index / follow)
The idea behind Alpar’s thinking is that as a website owner, you should identify content that isn’t any use for a search engine to crawl. By taking this approach you can ensure that search engines crawl more of the important content and less of the content that wastes time.
Next up was David Naylor who focused heavily on links and how they can cause trouble. He explained that unless you are checking your links almost every day you could be missing negative links pointing to your site. Naylor also proposed that links need to be checked by a human (ie. you can’t rely on metrics alone). Naylor explained that if a link pointing to your site is not providing at least some traffic to your site on a quarterly basis you probably don’t want it in your link profile. A case strengthened when you consider the user-flow information Google gets from Chrome users and what links they actually click on.
Naylor also had some tips on tools to use including a new tool called Botify which, among other things, can crawl your website and give you in-depth page speed information for the entire site. Naylor described it as the “tool of the future, without doubt”; high praise indeed.
Driving Business Value with a Social and Content Master Plan – Heather Robinson & Bas van den Beld
Key takeaway – Content and social all about timing (not the first time this has come up at SES!)
This session was another that focused on content and its relationship with social. Heather Robinson was first up and like other speakers from the past two days confirmed that timing really is everything.
Robinson used an example from personal experience to highlight this. Explaining how she published a Facebook status which essentially told her friends she was enjoying a cup of tea, Robinson pointed out that the update had become her most ‘liked’. Robinson conceded that the message itself was of no real use to anyone but what did work was the timing. The message was sent at a time of day when her contacts would have been scrolling through their feeds and as such was in the right place at the right time.
Bas van den Beld was next on stage who had the message that good content marketing is good storytelling. Bas explained how a story need not be a long written piece of content but could come in the form of a simple image. Bas’s other key message was that you should stay away from talking about yourself; instead focus your effort on creating content about others.
Growing Your Business With Winning Mobile Strategies – Matt Brown & Ade Oshineye
Key takeaway – Keep the same user experience across different contexts
This was another session that addressed the ever growing importance of mobile when considering your digital strategy. It was kicked off by Matt Brown who tackled the issue of ‘showrooming’. Showrooming is the act of browsing for products in physical shops before consulting your smartphone to find a better price. It is a practice that has presented obvious problems for shop owners and Matt Brown explored various ways to turn the problem into an advantage. Among the solutions Brown suggested was to offer exclusive deals to users who ‘check-into’ a shop on their mobile; a little thin on the ground in terms of true creativity but an important topic none-the-less.
Next up was Ade Oshineye who is a Developer Advocate at Google. Oshineye gave a talk highlighting the joys of a user experience that remains consistent across different devices and contexts. An example he used was with music service Deezer which allows its users to log-into the service on a computer and then ask the website to begin playing music on a different device. The takeaway was that users will begin expecting digital services to remain consistent across all of their devices and within different contexts. In short this means that mobile is important…but you knew that anyway.
Filthy Linking Rich: Driving the Right Traffic to your Site – Kristjan Mar Hauksson & Paul Madden
Key takeaway – Beware risky links!
The final session of SES 2014 was all to do with links. Kristjan Mar Hauksson started things by putting forward his case for the power of ‘earned links’. Hauksson suggested that links need not be actively built but instead should be the bi-product of a genuinley good piece of marketing. Among his examples Hauksson showed the Vovlo advert starring Jean Claude Van Damme doing the ‘epic splits’. Hauksson explained that the campaign had not been created with the aim of building links but despite that fact it had proven very successful at gaining links (see below).
SES London 2014 was finished off by Paul Madden who described himself as a ‘carbon neutral’ link builder; with recent changes in search he now removes as many links as he builds. Madden spoke from a position of real authority on link building and amongst the advice that was on offer was the need to understand how to spot ‘risky’ links. Madden explained that risky links can be identified in a number of ways including commercial anchor text; he suggested that this could well be something Google looks at when reviewing links.
Madden also suggested that there is the potential for your website to be “guilty by association” if it is connected to bad sites either upstream or downstream. The other key message to come out of the final session at SES London 2014 was the importance of keeping your best content on your own website.
Madden’s talk also contained perhaps the best story from this year’s conference; there is a directory website owner in India who owns hundreds of directory sites. A few years ago his websites would charge $0.50 to add your listing to a directory. Following algorithm changes relating to link quality by Google the website owner now charges $5.00 to remove your website from the directory. A tale that summarises the shape of the industry and highlights just how important it is to approach SEO and link building from a position of care and with an eye for the highest of quality.
A fantastic time was had by all at SES London 2014 and my notebook took a real hit. The general messages coming out of SES this year were that:
- Lots of people are thinking of ways to include social in their digital strategies
- Mobile is important, either accept it or miss out
- Cleaning up bad links is as important (if not more important) as building links
- SEO people can stay out late and still turn up and speak at a conference with authority the next day
This concludes my summary write up of SES week in London, but fear not, my notebook is bulging with blog post ideas so watch this space.