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Searchlove Conference Live Blog – Day 1

by Pete Wailes on October 29, 2012

Vintage Panorama by ~Oryctes~


Arrived and sat down as it started.

Not provided now at a max of 65%, looks like quite a lot are 40%+ from own data. Over 500 updates in 2012.

Most are small, some aren’t.

Panda & kicked sites with crap links and crap content. Same theory going back with all big updates back to Florida.

Focus on #RC.

Focus on content, not “SEO”.

On average, we own 9.7 devices.

Currently 1 billion devices worldwide. Next five years will see consumption devices vastly outstrip production device.

41% of BBC Olympics coverage is already mobile. Shifting 700,000 DVD loads of information a day. 166 years of content per day.

Mobile, and video on mobile especially is growing hugely.

50% watch TV with a second screen active (laptop, mobile, tablet).

Session 1 – Live Site Reviews

Site 1 – Firebrand

Dozen tlds, should we consolidate?

Spreading thin is bad – focus on the key markets, rather than everything in one go. Worry about doing a great job first, rather than going for everything. Less important is where they go, more important is return on the time invested.

Site doesn’t really tell the user what they do. Make sure messaging gets over what you do instantly. Homepage, about page etc. Cater to users who aren’t coming in from brand.

Claim local listings. When Google try and work out your brand, it sucks. Claim to avoid irrelevancy.

Make sure heavily landed on pages have CTAs – if there’s no CTA, there’s not going to be any conversions.

Make sure your goal end-points (forms, ecommerce etc) require the absolute minimum possible – get the goal completed first, get marketing data later.

If you’re going to have localised domain names, make sure that you actually translate the content – don’t simply host your English content everywhere. It’s better to not have anything than to end up spamming yourself with duplicate content.

Look at ways to differentiate – lots of websites in the industry have really bad design, so you could look at using great design to stand out.

If you’re cheap, put up prices. Paywalling or hiding prices behind registration leads people to think that you’re expensive.

Make sure you cater to mobile.

Take care of site structure and information architecture. Look at your less competitive keywords, and look at easy ways to target those with targeted landing pages for more specialised phrases.

If you’re working in a heavily information based industry, look for ways to use your blog to put out some of that information, to build audience, trust and credibility. Look at doing something big every 6 weeks or so. Also look at video content using rich snippets to get easy traffic.

Take content that works, translate it, take the proof that it works and take it out to other people in exchange for mentions.

Site 2 – Kopi

Site is coffee by subscription. It’s a new concept for people, so make sure that the message gets over really really fast. If people don’t get what you do, and why to use you on the page that they land on, you might not get them completing the goals that you want.

Make sure KPIs are clear and easy to use.

Take care about how to present benefits and objections. Look at surveying people to find out what their concerns are, on site. Also look at using emails you’ve collected and email people to ask them what worried them or caused concern whilst they were signing up. Then feature the counters to those objections on the main landing pages, to accentuate your USPs.

Make sure that you 301, not 302-ing, to make sure you get all your link-juice flowing right.

Where possible, try and avoid un-necessary subdomains.

Make sure your navigation is clear and easy to understand. Use standard naming conventions across the website so people don’t get confused as to where they are and what they’re meant to be doing there.

Lots of people love coffee. Giveaways are great, social promotion is super-important. Taking it to the next level though starts looking at clever ways to do stuff – look at running mornings for tech bloggers, freelancers, other people likely to link who’ll love your stuff.

Make sure that you target the right phrases – having great DA is fine, but you need to rank for the things that are useful for your business. Also, look at finding people who love what your product is, and targeting them specifically.

Look in Ubersuggest for things tangentially related to your business. Find people who have similar, complimentary businesses to partner with.

If people look for something plus location, look at creating the map of where you can find whatever it is. Look for indicators for interests. If there’s a large body of people searching for stuff that’s really easy to rank for, target it – just make sure you hunt for it as that’s not going to easy to find.

Push the story, rather than the product, where your product isn’t actually that interesting, per se. If you’re selling coffee, sell the story of your coffee, rather than the coffee. If you’re doing something that is basically selling expertise, look at marketing that expertise widely, as that’ll attract links and notice. People like, and thus link to passion.

Site 3 – Superdry

Look at product descriptions – make sure they reflect your brand and actually sell your product. Look at sites like ModCloth & Rapha, who are amazing for this sort of content.

Make sure you feature your reviews well too, and work to garner them. That way, people get great consumer trust. Try and feature reviews from users who are likely to be like your average users too.

If you work in an industry where your images are going to be scraped, then email people who have taken your sites and ask them for credit for the content. Don’t go legal with it. Make sure that they know that there’s something in it from them – tweet about them, email about them. That way, they’re more likely to link back and credit you.

Make sure you highlight benefits that counter objections – if price is going to be a concern, make sure that people know your prices are good for example.

In shopping baskets, don’t make people register for purchase. Let people check out as guest, then get the registration after.

Where you’ve got more than one PayPal option, make sure that both options are always available.

Make sure your design caters to all users so that people can always know where they are and what to do.

Make sure you doing get parameterised category pages indexed for different sorting and number of results pages.

Also, on product pages make sure that the URL works on the actual URL, rather than the wrong URL & the right ID. This can be fixed with either forcing lookups on the whole URL, or using rel canonical to force content straight through to the right place.

Session 2 – Justin Briggs: From Agency to in-House

It’s good that people are starting to push doing RCS. Panda/Penguin designed to target stuff that wasn’t RCS.

Understand, if you’re an agency, that getting stuff done in a real company is hard. Focus on getting stuff done as a consultant – your job is to actually effect change, rather than produce reports.

Users will leave your site at some point. So make sure you’ve got a way to make them come back some time. Look at solving problems in the stages of information gathering and competitor analysis, so there’s a reason for people to come back and engage with your site again.

Take content that works well in one language, translate it in to other languages and put it up on your geolocalised domains/areas of your site.

Product recommendations from user history are awesome.

Make sure you don’t clone content or cannibalise keywords through having multiple versions of your products – look at having a single URL, canonical URL or some other method of combining content in to one single version, and pushing the different options on the page.

Find content that’s already worked, get in touch with those people, and leverage their knowledge, skills and network to push what you need for links & traffic. Temporal events work really well to scale that leverage.

Get buy-in from people who can promote your standout content way before your produce it, so that it’s absolutely certain that it’s going to go huge when you launch it.

95% of linkbait and content promotion is the promotion bit, not the content bit. Content is easy to produce, but pushing content takes time to build relationships, and talk to people who actually care about what you’re producing.

Look at how you can totally go miles beyond the normal SEO stuff and in to real marketing, which then builds huge value and relationships that you can leverage later on.

Look at ways you can turn credentials into contacts and information, to produce links. Interviews are killer for this.

If you create something that’s amazing for people, they really aren’t going to care about giving you a link. Make it so good that they won’t even consider saying no.

When bigger people cover stuff, put them in touch with the creators, give them all the assets – do everything you can possibly think of to scale that to make it huge, and get them to re-cover it.

Just create stuff that’s amazing and that people will talk about. Average is easy and ignored. Really, really care about what you do and don’t release it until it’s fantastic.

Often, the things that build links that matter are down to relationships that you have, so build relationships that matter.

Take your marketing offline. It’s awesome and often works far better than just online. It’s also a much better way to build relationships with people. Give them stuff, help them out, be nice to people. It’s good, and karma will pay back.

Make sure you have a landing page for your big stuff. Not having one means that you can’t get people linking to you. But they will link to other places. Not having the content that people talk about on your website means that you’re only ever going to miss out on those links and traffic.

People like stuff that’s fun, to make sure that you keep doing stuff that’s fun, so that people love your brand and like you.

Don’t do stuff that looks like or feels like spam – do stuff that’s amazing, because it’s amazing and you want to be amazing. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. Spend the time to do the quality. Link earning beats link spamming or link buying.

Be good to your community and fans. They can give you lots of feedback on what you’re doing right and what you’re not doing so well, so that you can fix the stuff that’s not going great, and push the stuff that’s doing awesomely.

Look for opportunities to do stuff that’s awesome for your customers. They’ll talk about it, socially promote it etc. But do it because you really want to be nice to your customers.

Reporting isn’t useful – it doesn’t actually produce results that matter. However, talking to people a lot and holding their hands through stuff that happens might. Get the org chart so that you know who to talk to at the company to make stuff happen.

Clients that take an age to get in with – that process means they won’t want to kick you out either.

Session 3 – Guy Levine: Return on Digital

Presentation on marketing for small business and SME. Around £500k+, not many employees. Digital is really hard for these people, because it’s going to become more and more like offline – people with huge budgets are turning up and they can massively outspend you.

Business owners think Porches, not rankings. They want to get the money and see their business grow, not rank well for keyword x or get a report on something. Focus on the ROI; the bottom line not the easy telling people boring stuff that they can’t action.

Panda & penguin stopped normal small budget stuff being easy – article marketing and directories etc are dead.

Small companies will think that you’re their content company, webdev, SEO and everything else.

PPC is easier than SEO. Use it to test, measure, and repeat. ROI for PPC is much simpler. Use it to test stuff before you commit budget to it.

The best content is the stuff people want to read, or they are reading now.

Create stuff that’s already proven to work – don’t try and reinvent the wheel. You’ll scare the pants off people, especially when they’ve only got limited budget to play with.

Hire a student so you can get a discount on Mintel for research. Means you can find interesting stuff and start making content around it.

Use GA – hunt through your keywords in analytics, to find content to answer questioning type phrases.

For research, look at the MSE forums, Yahoo answers, Quora etc.

Wordle + Topsy RSS plus your keywords = data mining magic for topics.

Find competitor top linked content, see who’s linked to it, shared it on social media etc. What else do they talk about/twitter about/share on FB etc…?

Once you’ve got those people, look at activity and followers, to find the people who are actually likely to be able to influence people and push content that you create. Also really good for finding ideas for content to create.

Vocus – put in a niche and tells you people you can contact in that space. Combine with fullcontact to get all their contact details everywhere. Costs about 10k, you can negotiate on this though. Ties in with PRWeb.

Also cool: ResponseSource. Kinda like HARO, but more targeted. £160 per sector.

Make sure you use microformats on your site to build out your results in Google to make listings stand out. Maximise the traffic you’re getting from the listings you’ve got first, then focus on linkbuilding and broadening reach.

Hint – 5 stars doesn’t look real.

Look at using rel publisher and rel author. Can’t get pictures in listings and stars, so make sure you pick the more appropriate one.

You can use ecommerce reports for goal tracking, instead of goal tracking, which makes the data analysis easier and more gives greater depth to reporting and analysis options.

Look at conversion rates by devices, screen sizes, browser etc… Find the ones that don’t convert well and fix. Means you need a dev to be able to fix the site.

Use media buys to build relationships and get links.

Send out a Flip video camera with instructions, pay for shipping, send to customers and ask them to leave a review. Obviously do the asking first, before you send it out.

Realistically if you’ve got less than £1,500 a month, you’re going to need to be doing some of the work yourself – your agency isn’t going to do stunning stuff on a tiny budget.

Session 4 – Mark Johnstone: Beyond Linkbat: First Steps to a Content Strategy

People don’t want linkbait, they want a content strategy.

If you’re going to do linkbait or content, you really, really need to know the subject. Don’t do what you think is interesting, do what that audience thinks is interesting.

What if you’re an agency? You can’t be an expert in everything… Find someone who is. Don’t use the excuse that you don’t know to do stuff that’s rubbish, or not do anything. Find someone who actually is an expert and mine them for information. Experts add credibility and make sure that the subject is something that people are likely to care about it.

Creative process: find something interesting, brainstorm (come to the brainstorm with ideas), debate and discuss ideas, don’t create them in the session. The idea that comes up where the answer isn’t easy to find, or is really interesting; that’s the thing that you create your story about.

All good things start with a question.

If something’s a lot of work to do, it’s probably worth it, because as barrier to entry increases, the competition decreases.

Beer test ideas to make sure that they’re good, and to ensure that you can actually convey the concept that you’re trying to get across. Needs to be real people – persona modelling can’t actually answer this, because it’s actually you answering it, not them.


Is it simple?
Is it interesting?
Is it credible?
Are you using credible data?
Is the content unique & differentiated?
Is it shareable?

Make sure you get the right format for the story – it may mean spending vastly more, but it’s the difference between a great result and a poor one. Even a great idea sucks if presented wrong.

You product is probably boring, but it’s probably hugely interesting in terms of what it does and how it fits into a user’s life.

Once you’ve got an idea, rinse and repeat for different sub-topics for the client. Means you can scale an idea that’s worked.

Don’t think in terms of content strategy – that’s huge and broad. Think campaign strategy, because it’s about scale and it’s focused. Also means that you gain more influence and the company will like you more, because your linkbait is designed to fit around their business. Pick one thing and make it really good and grow from it, rather than pushing out lots and seeing what sticks.

Spend as much time on marketing as on content creation.

Session 5 – All: Let’s Get Real

Redacted. Check back at the end of November to see what happened here.

Session 6 – Wil Reynolds: Chasing Algorithms

Think dirty, act nice. Google has you outnumbered in brains, so don’t try and out-clever them.

Real marketing has been around for a really really long time. However, marketing has started to look different. Looks more like science and deconstruction of algorithms, rather than actual real marketing stuff.

This isn’t how it should be. Real marketing, real digital stuff should be about doing proper RCS, rather than trying to do science.

Your job isn’t to rank people well. It’s to do RCS and marketing.

Links from bad sites can kick you in the ass, even if you’ve got great links.

RCS stuff and social will not save you from stuff that’s really bad. Articles/directories en masse can seriously hit you. Equally linking to sites or being linked to by sites that are dire can get you hit too.

242 changes since April. Thousands of PHDs. You’re not going to reverse engineer this stuff. Really, really not.

242 changes all geared at one thing – rewarding quality. If you’re not trying to go after quality, you’re wasting time.

Spend time on engaging with customers, quality content, doing market research and designing a better site.

Linkbait stops, content & RCS continues. It’s actually, genuinely valuable.

Be careful because affiliates getting hit can hit your revenue. Know enough to be able to talk to your affiliates about good practice and buy out people who do bad stuff, because it’s going to end up hurting you. Then invest in RCS on their site, clean up the backlink profile and you get back the revenue they were generating, plus the cut they were taking.

Think long term. Make it embarrassing for Google not to rank you in the top 10 for what you do. Do RCS, build the best site and business for what you do, so that they can’t ban you.

Think like a marketer, not like an SEO.

RCS will not get hit. Just do it. Stop trying to chase algorithms and do easy stuff. Do the hard thing of RCS. Takes time, but pays and scales nice.

Rel author – CEO as author is not doing RCS. That’s rubbish. Don’t do it sitewide. Google do not intend for you to be able to spam your site with your picture next to everything. Might be doable, but it’s dumb. Just do it right in the first place, and that’ll be good forever. Don’t do bad stuff now in the hope that it’ll be good, because soon you’ll get hit and there’ll be a chunk of traffic gone. Do RCS, and it’s fine.

Look at algo updates that change the way a SERP displays. When they change what Google looks like, you’re stuffed, so fight back. Start going after really good stuff, that pushes your company into being better than everyone elses, so that you’re safe.

Look after stuff that affects the bottom line, not stuff that’s quick and easy.

Session 7 – Heather Healy:Do Social Signals Actually Play a Part in Search Rankings

Communicating with customers through social media builds trust and brand, but doesn’t have direct ROI. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter though. You still have to do it.

Social correlates well with rankings.

Social does not mean number of tweets you put out or likes or anything else that you do. It means actual people liking and commenting on and doing stuff to engage with your site and the content on it.

Link volume correlates really nicely against social interaction. As a result, whilst social might not directly influence rankings, it does indicate link volume, and link volume certainly influences rankings, so if it’s not part of the ranking factors now, it almost certainly will be at some point, and is still something that you need to be doing in the meantime.

The best content resonates with your audience and meets business objectives too. Look at building relationships with people who can push your content too – content on its own does nothing.

To justify ROI, price bands of links, then when you’ve got the links from a campaign, you can compare that to the links you got to get a value for links earned. Also look at building in ROI metrics – revenue, customers acquired and so on.

Other people covering your stuff builds their own traffic and link weight, and they’ll link to you, which means that those links then get better over time.

Social on its own is of little use – it needs to be anchored in something that will generate ROI. Social can generate links, but on it’s own is not going to drive rankings.

Session 8 – Mat Clayton: Marketing Hacks

Users have 3 states – active, inactive and dead.

Use 28 days not 30 days – makes date data easier to mine and visualise.

Use user accounting – registrations, actives, resurrections (users becoming active again after 28 days+), stale (users going inactive for 28 days+) and users dying (unsubscribes and de-registrations).

Doing stuff like this will show you where to focus; on new users or on retaining existing ones.

Your user base is a leaky bucket and a tap – you can patch holes or turn the tap up.

Retention will drive better response than driving new customers for services that can retain people. Some industries can’t, but hey.

Email is a pain to make work as a general thing. Notification emails however are great, when triggered by user actions.

Look at ways to monitor what users do and respond to them based on that data, so you can retarget to your own users. Get them back on the site, doing things they probably want to do, but haven’t figured out that they want to do now.

Facebook notifications (when done right) is insanely effective. If you have less than 17% response, you’ll get canned, so only send to usres that you’re certain will actually click on it.

Getting users on to your mobile device long term is going to deliver huge benefits.

Pull the facebook API in to your app/site so you can target users specifically for their device for an app store. Get insanely targeted with your users.

Tell people to go and rate your app/website/business, give them the link, tell them to rate it 5* etc…

Get users to retain constantly and they’ll start talking about you, and WoM is hugely powerful.

Use unbranded ads with key points in them to test CTR to view expected pull rates before you release anything.

Target new features to specific users and specific types of users so you can see how new things will work in the will.

Log everything, then do data analysis on it to get stupidily useful data on your user. If you can, then build your own analytics. If you can’t, don’t worry, at some point in the future you will be able to.

For cutting edge tech, you’d probably got about a year before you need to have a great mobile product in place because otherwise people won’t use your app.

Session 9 – Will & Rand: Head to Head – Inbound Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

Stuff on a budget means good done cheap. But why would you want to? Seriously?

Also cheap stuff, even when it works, generally won’t work well a second time.

Find what really, really, really matters to your users. Call them on the phone. Pin them down and find out.

If you can’t afford marketing, you aren’t charging enough. Marketing should be a positive ROI activity.

This can explode your market share. Knowing what matters and pitching that to them in an intelligent way works wonders.

If you’re working on a budget, ignore ROI, focus on scalability. The ROI won’t work well, because the spend probably isn’t financial; it’s probably time instead.

Get your customers to become customers, then send a reward, but market using the reward to get them to sign up. Spending customer’s money instead of your own.

Find the people who have what you want, and get it from them in exchange for something that you have. Basic marketing and business 101.

Engage with people genuinely. It’s annoying when you get spammed, so don’t do it. Do really, really cool stuff for people, and they’ll be more inclined to help you out back.

Spend your time earning your customers and their loyalty, rather than spending it on getting new people. Build a loyal, passionate userbase, don’t try and just scale off turning the tap up higher.

Great content = empathy and creativity. And it doesn’t have to be first. Just has to be better and amazing and awesome.

Branding beats links & traffic.

Cocitation beats the heck out of backlinks and anchor text etc…

Be transparent, constantly and consistently.

Rankings are great, but they aren’t everything. Rel author, meta data etc beat #1 any day. Stop tracking rankings. It doesn’t correlate to ROI or traffic metrics. Ignore it.

Look in analytics at traffic and at landing pages to make sure the content that’s being found is what you want. Rel canonical or 301 where needed.

Google has a load of data. They will work everything out. Don’t bother trying to trick them.

Make sure you share repeatedly. Your audience is not watching you all the time, most will miss most of what you do most of the time.

Sharing works best when it’s simple and non-distracting. Think how your messages look.

Share lots of other people’s stuff. Only sharing your own stuff makes you look like an ass.

Real world > virtual world. Real relationships, meeting people for coffee etc beats virtual stuff many times over. Run events to allow your customers to meet you. Builds much better relationships. Makes people love you more. Works for staff/employees too.

Your community is way bigger than your site. Understand where people are and go talkto them there.

Discover customer objections, and fix those things. That’s far better for CRO than changing button colours. Design changes are useful, fixing your product and messaging works better.

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