BrightonSEO Round Up: iPhone users have more sex, Brighton SEO has more Steves
I had the pleasure of going to Brighton SEO 2011 on Friday, along with a few of my Fresh Egg colleagues. Firstly I would like to take this opportunity to thank Kelvin Newman for organising the event. I would also like to say thank you to all the speakers for sharing their knowledge with the rest of us.
There are some great Brighton SEO stats, for example, 45% of attendees are from Brighton, 30% are female and 3% were called Steve. We also learnt that iPhone users have more sex!
Overall I found the experience great although working in social media, I found some of the topics were a bit over my head (Pandas have fur where I'm from!) so I would agree with Stephen Jones when he said, "it was interesting to see a range of topics presented, although it quite possibly requires a separation of basic and advanced SEO techniques."
Our very own Dara Fitzgerald was also speaking in the afternoon about Google Analytics, which went down very well. Although he swears he's not biased, Ryan Ogilvie says this was his favourite presentation of the day!
As you are probably aware, this year Brighton SEO sold out in an incredible 26 minutes, so if you are one of the people who missed it or you want to recap, here is a summary of the day:
Google Panda Case Study: Review Centre
Jonathan works at Review Centre which was affected by Panda earlier on this year, he spoke about how they tried to combat the effects Panda had.
Although Review Centre was hit, surprisingly its forum pages weren't, this would indicate that user generated content is not as highly weighted as previously thought.
In order to rectify the damage caused by Panda, Review Centre took the following steps:
- Redesigned their website
- Reduced the amount of AdSense above the page fold
- Placed more content above the page fold
- Noindexed weaker content
- Removed duplicate content.
Unfortunately none of this saw a positive result.
After comparing Review Centre with Tripadvisor, who were hardly affected, Jonathan believes the reason the two sites were affected so differently is that Review Centre is not a recognisable brand, meaning that brand equity could be the reason.
Building a Private Blog Network
John spoke of the benefits of building a private blog network. He explained it could add value for clients, has the potential for monetisation, and you have the intellectual property, as you are creating content for your own network rather than supplying content for other peoples’ sites.
John also said it was important to get new domains, install wordpress for easy management of all your different sites, as well as to always use original content (never spin or scrape), and get links; don't just link within the network, as that will leave a footprint.
Other tips were:
- Only use .co.uk and org.uk
- Use different hosting
- Use various IPs
- Mix up server names
- Use pro themes to make your sites look more real.
Dave aka SharkSEO shared his experience with linkbait. This is what he recommended:
- Use a news angle for leverage
- Focus on communities
- Be quick otherwise you could get less ROI
- Fail fast (that way you can move on to the next project quickly)
- Use social bookmarking sites to promote
- React quickly - Chartbeat has real time analytics.
Dr Social Love
James works for publishers Bauer Media, who are responsible for FHM, Heat and Grazia amongst other magazines. Social media is becoming a great engagement tool for publishers as well as driving traffic to the sites.
James's tips for getting 'Likes' and comments on Facebook are to ask questions, post games, and poll as well as being clear as to what you want your audience to do i.e. tell us what you think/share this link with your friends.
James then explained one of their recent strategies to grow their FHM Facebook page. Following an underwear shoot with Will's mum from The Inbetweeners, FHM got in contact with The Inbetweeners Facebook page (following 3.3million) and asked them to promote the image to their fans. The results were:
- 1 million news feed impressions
- 60 tweets
- 35,000 UK referrals from Facebook to FHM
- 7000 additional likes.
We also liked his phrase 'social spurts' to explain peaks in your traffic sources from social sites.
Choosing & Implementing Friendly URLs for Ecommerce
Erika, who works for lingerie site, Boux Avenue.
She explained her experiences of negotiating with developers to get a SEO-friendly site built.
She stressed it was important to:
- Understand the developers’ challenges
- Demonstrate why you need what you’re asking for
- Work together to solve problems
How to win at SEO with Duplicate Content: Featuring Pippa Middleton’s Arse
Malcom Cole explained how he managed can get multiple entries for Pippa Middleton’s bum in the SERPs for a short period at the height of its power.
Firstly you have to find what's big in the news, then publish a blog post (make sure it is wordpress) front loaded with keywords for the chosen topic. To get it indexed more quickly tweet it out and ask others to.
Change the posts and publish on a new url made up of the original url and an additional character, in wordpress. This will automatically 301 the first post to the second post. Tweet the new post and once it has been indexed it will create two entries in Google. This will only work for short-term ranking and if the phrase has not already got many results.
Links – SEO Value vs Client Expectations vs Cost
Neil polled a sample of SEOs and clients to try to ascertain whether the two groups had the same thoughts on what made a good link.
The results were clients don’t usually know what sort of links they want or need. Therefore we must educate them. Neil says that the following is key:
- Be open about your link building activity
- Explain your strategy and why you’re doing it
- Manage your clients expectations
- Sales and traffic are the main objectives for clients, so be sure that your strategy feeds into their objectives.
What Can Social Learn from Mad Men?
Roger from social PR agency, Content and Motion, focused on the similarities between social media and traditional advertising.
His tips were:
- You need a great idea (not necessarily new)
- Use a conversational tone, not a broadcasting one
- Always think like your audience
- Be authentic
- Stories sell.
James Bond: Architecture Critic
This was my personal favourite presentation of the day.
Toby asked us:
“When does the magic of a situation fade? When do we get acclimated to the exceptional? Is this how we get by? Would anything get done if we were constantly gobsmacked? Is this how we survive, how we stay sane? We define a pattern, no matter how exceptional, and acclimate ourselves to it?”
It's hard to explain this presentation if you were not there, but Mark Chalcraft got the gist quite well: "Toby Barnes focused his presentation on attitudes towards the future – the point he powerfully made being that the SEO industry should embrace change rather than resist it."
Mark also said that he thought, "this is what conferences should include more often – thought provoking content that draws on outside experiences to make parallels to SEO. He also gave an impassioned reply during the subsequent Q&A session to some of the presentations earlier in the day, which had focused on negative viewpoints of the Panda algorithm."
My Hack Day Addiction
Who doesn't love a hack day? Dom's talk was about how to run a successful hack day event. Basically you need:
- Massive amounts of WiFi
He also encouraged everyone to learn how to code!
The conference then took on a 20:20 format where each speaker had 20 slides and an allotted time of 20 seconds for each.
How to Pitch SEO
- Make sure you actually want the business before you spend a lot of time and money on a pitch
- Ask lots of questions before you pitch
- Spend time on a tiered forecast (optimistic, neutral, pessimistic)
- Give something away for free – one good idea is worth a million vagaries
- Bring the ‘A Team’, not the sales team
- Consider a performance related fee
- Don’t alienate the in-house team, work together
- Don’t just tell the client what they want to hear.
Keyword Research & Traffic Estimation
Graeme from Site Visibility showed us what he had unearthed about the relative accuracy of the Google Keyword tool, Wordtracker and SEO Book tools when forecasting for SEO.
- Low traffic keywords (i.e. mid and long-tail terms are especially inaccurate via all three tools)
- A co-efficient of 0.25 of whatever the Google Keyword Tool claims looks pretty accurate
- Wordtracker was the most accurate.
Finding Hidden SEO Value with Multi-Channel Funnels
Our very own Dara presented findings explaining why you should use multi-channel funnels in Google Analytics:
- Both last click and first click attribution models fail to tell the real story
- Multi-channel funnels allow you to see which channels assist conversions, the time lag between first visit and conversion, and what your top conversion paths are
- Plus you can create custom channel groupings, which work like advanced segments.
Driving SEO with PPC
Kane presented a case study about how Pay-Per-Click appears to affect organic results. He made a point of saying that PPC spend is definitely not a ranking factor. They found that when they increased PPC spend they saw increased visits from organic keywords too.
Market Research: Informing SEO and Link Development
Rosie, who works at Leapfrogg, shared its process for using customer insight to influence SEO and link building:
- Look at your customers’ media habits, lifestyle etc
- Run focus groups to establish what they read and what their interests are
- Use the qualitative data from the focus groups to survey a larger number of customers
- Use the qualitative data and quantitative data to create customer profiles
- Create content to appeal to these customer profiles
- Build links/partnerships with media titles that these customer profiles read.
Why Settle for Customer Satisfaction
Rae from iCrossing talked about customer satisfaction. Her tips were:
- Be honest with your client and hold your hands up when something has gone wrong
- Be proactive
- Deliver what you’ve promised on time, or be exceptional and deliver it early!
- Have regular reviews
- Celebrate successes with everyone involved.