It originally started with only a few people in a pub talking about the jobs they found interesting, and now Brighton SEO has now grown into one of the largest events on the SEO calendar with over 2,000 attendees, a plethora of expert speakers, and hundreds of actionable SEO tips to be shared.
At GPMD, this is one of our favourite events and so we took the whole team up to make the most of it. In the post below, we have documented our 8 top tips to help you get a flavour of this brilliant event and apply SEO best-practice to your site.
1. Pre-Build FAQ Content For Social Outreach
via Sharon Flaherty from Confused.com
Research frequently asked questions in your niche (using tools such as Followerwonk) and then build content which answers them. You can then use this content to provide creative and engaging answers as part of your social outreach, if you’ve done your research correctly then such answers are far more likely to get links and be shared throughout your target niche.
2. Technical SEO to Try – Prerender, Powermapper, & Grepping
via Rich Falconer, LBi
Prerender is a meta tag which downloads and fully renders the file or page you request and holds it until clicked, this improves page speed which is an important ranking factor.
<link rel=”prerender” href=”http://example.com/index.html”>
However Rich was keen to stress that you shouldn’t overuse this technique. To identify certain pages on your site you should start with, you can use the Visitor Flow in Google Analytics to see the biggest bounces and exits and aim to reduce these rates first.
You can also mix up your crawling by using Powermapper which provides a great alternative to industry standard crawlers like Screaming frog. This tool is highly visual (as pictured above) and provides several brilliant presentation templates for use internally or with clients.
“Grepping” allows you to use RegEx to pull trends and identify problems from your crawl data. To start grepping, run a crawl on your site (or the site of a link prospect), save the files, then install grepWin and search for potential issues and opportunities such as:
- 404s or other error pages
- Anchor text & keyword saturation (aim for less than 40% non-brand anchors)
- Pagination with Rel=”next” Rel=”prev”
- Authorship with Rel=”author”
- Schema.org markup
In a comical real life example, Rich highlighted that whilst crawling and grepping the Daily Mail site, he found that 40% of its pages contains the word “immigrant”. These tools can find all types of data stories, some more useful than others, but the key tip is that grepping allows you to save and run these text searches across multiple crawls and spot opportunities for both onsite and prospecting optimisations.
3. Use Big Data to Predict the Future
via Dixon Jones from Majestic SEO
In a particularly interesting talk, Dixon explained how you can position your content (and therefore brand) at the top of news feeds and topical search results by using data to glean likely events.
Nowadays social and user-generated platforms can often break news stories way before mass media sites do, so you can use this knowledge to ensure that you set up various alerts for specific stories and then position your brand at the top of trending results. For instance, celebrity deaths and weddings are often hinted at first on social media, so you can set up Twitter alerts and start creating content as soon as you get a hint. You can also scan social platforms and scrape Wikipedia for any changes so that you can preempt news sites and create engaging content before anyone else has time.
Another easy way to create newsworthy stories from data is to scrape download sites or social media platforms to see how many of your clients’s products (or related products) have been downloaded or engaged with i.e. "Widget X reaches 100 downloads/followers". These make great news stories and you can easily preempt them (i.e. at 91 downloads/followers), to start creating content in advance.
4. Don’t Ignore Internal Search
via Alan Ferguson - Central Bedfordshire Council
Internal search can often be ignored but Alan argued that by making a few optimisations you can significantly improve the user experience and conversion of your site.
Firstly, look at the most popular internal search terms and ensure that you add these phrases to your information architecture. For instance you may find that one of your top searches is “Blue Widget”, and one solution may be to include this term in your navigation or sidebar.
Secondly, you should ensure that each of these popular searches leads to the right page. If they don’t then edit the target page so that they do i.e. ensure that the search phrase is included sufficiently and test until it does.
You can find more tips and best practice for internal search from Louis Rosenfeld’s Search Analytics.
5. Issues-Based Content Gets Links & Engagement
via Sharon Flaherty from Confused.com
Create videos and articles on controversial and newsworthy topics that surround your niche. Don’t just create the same kinds of content but think about every issue that your audience might be interested in or affected by. Sharon highlighted a video created by Confused.com to illustrate the willingness of strangers to let a clearly intoxicated man get into his car (as above). This video aims to encourage people not to do the same with their friends and family and emphasises the danger of drink driving. This video received numerous likes and shares, and helped align the Confused brand with important issues that people care about.
Not every company you work with will have the most linkable or engaging product/service, but every brand in the world can be related to issues that matter and that will always give you strong options for content.
6. Are you suffering from Negative SEO?
via Julia Logan from ContentMango
Negative SEO has unfortunately become more commonplace since Google’s Penguin and it has now become too easy to buy 10,000 “bad links” and point them to your competitors. So how do you know if you’re being attacked?
Firstly, it’s always good to check that it’s not actually a self-inflicted penalty so here’s a list of checks:
- Check for duplicate content
- Setup & fix robots.txt (check errors with an expert)
- Check the security of your plugins
- Check your link profile for violations of Google’s Penguin
Secondly, keep a frequent watch on your anchor text and look out for a sudden surge of incoming links or an inexplicable drop in rankings (to do so, you can use tools such as Open Site Explorer and Advanced Web Rankings).
Thirdly, for Wordpress users, Julia shared three crucial rules to add to the robots.txt of your WP blog. These rules help reduce the likelihood of you inadvertently duplicating content and thus getting penalized in a manner similar to Negative SEO:
- Disallow: /wp-admin
- Disallow: /wp-includes
- Disallow: /search/
If you’ve tried all of these and it still looks like you’ve got a problem, then the chances are you’ve been hit by a Negative SEO campaign and it’s time to get professional help. Many agencies specialize in SEO recovery and it’s worth investing as it can be a costly process in the wrong hands.
7. Starting an International SEO Campaign
via Aleyda Solis from SEER Interactive
Getting into International SEO should not be taken lightly, but once again it can be a move well worth making: it can literally double your target market in a matter of months. Here are a few steps to take when starting out:
Firstly, decide how much time and resource you can put behind this, obviously the more you do the higher the return. At the minimum this could simply mean translating a few landing pages, but at the other end this could mean running and marketing an entirely separate site, so be realistic on your resources right from the start.
Secondly, check to see who your competitors are in that country and what their main keywords are. Different cultures will have different search behaviours, for instance many non-English speaking users will use English phrases because they think it will glean the best results. Spend significant resource researching the search-behaviour of your target culture, (you can use Google’s Keyword Tool to find the CTR of a phrase from specific locations but there’s no substitution for asking native speakers).
Thirdly, is your offering cross-nation or nation specific? Use the research above to work out whether you should be targeting a culture or a language. In other words, are you targeting all Spanish speaking countries, or just Mexico? The answer to these questions will decide your content strategy.
Fourthly, use auto-detection of the country by IP but always give people the choice to navigate to their local site. Therefore use auto-detect to add a link to your site for those users, instead of auto-redirecting them: this can cause frustration and ultimately bounces.
Fifth and finally, identify local leaders using tools such as Social Crawlytics and Followerwonk and target them for local link building and social campaigns.
8. Gamble on Big Content for Link Building
via Hannah Smith from Distilled
It’s a gamble but creating complex and well-researched content can pay dividends and will future proof your link-profile, as Google inevitably tightens the algorithmic net. Hannah recommends spending around 40 hours on a piece of content not including outreach, so it’s clear just how big a risk this kind of content is. Nevertheless the ROI can be immense, Distilled have found the success rate to be twice as effective, to increase organic traffic by 45%, and noticeably increase conversion.
To achieve this, it’s worth making sure of the following checks:
- Content needs to support brand positioning (for engagement but also more likely to get signoff)
- Evergreen content is far less risky than topical/seasonal content
- Use your best idea first, but have plenty more ideas in your back pocket
- Set benchmarks for success before launch
- Don’t believe the hype – great content doesn’t get links by itself. Big content opens doors, but it doesn’t do all the work