Top marketers and SEOs discussed and debated the latest SEO trends and Google updates to be considered for 2019 - all in just one day in London, February 13th.
In 2019, SEO tends to have gotten a little more technical, since factors such as page speed and ease of crawlability are increasingly correlated with high website traffic and improved search performance.
Besides user and search intent driven content, Google is now aiming more than ever to increase user satisfaction by making websites easier to access, faster and more secure.
On February 13th, 2019, the Museum of London Docklands was quite crowded, but not just with the history passionates, but with a big bunch of savvy marketers and technical SEOs attending the first ever edition of the Advanced Search Conference.
Brand-side professionals gathered to discuss recent updates and programs relevant to search marketing, and bring forth key actionable insights on which digital agencies should focus on in the coming year.
The Advanced Web Ranking team was there to attend and grab 7 of the hottest SEO takeaways for 2019, from the Advanced SEO Conference.
1. Content Marketing and UX should have a common goal
Content marketing takes one big leap this year, and becomes a strategy required to be backed by user experience.
Kevin Gibbons, awarded as the Search Personality of 2018, CEO and Co-founder at Re:signal claimed that the 3 big pillows of content marketing are:
Strategy - Forming a clear plan on how you can hit your goals
Creativity - Producing content that stands out & has a newsworthy hook
Promotion - Digital PR outreach to get publishers excited
Moreover, Kevin urges website owners to keep in mind the “content marketing strategy, not campaign”, to be entirely focused on user behaviour and journey, as well as making things as easy as possible.
On a similar note, David Freeman, Global Head of SEO at Treatwell, brought real world-advice for tapping into audience and creating organic content, to maximize consumer experience.
Create your content based around intent rather than the search query as consumer intent, not query, powers today's search results - David Freeman, Global Head of SEO,Treatwell
Another take-home advice was that “It’s no use having a perfectly-optimized site if no one wants to stay there!” Leveraging customer data to increase shareability with content which speaks to your audience is ideal from a content marketing point of view, and it also has an enhanced UX factor.
Even though it increases website visibility, reaching the “position 0” in SERPs can also have a downside, according to Em North, Search Marketing Manager at P&O Cruises, to not drive that much traffic after all.
Sites are struggling to rank for featured snippets, but less traffic than expected is received, since Google is actually offering the answer to the searcher’s question inside the snippet, making the user less engaged to click and access the landing page.
Biren Ahmad, of Premier Inn, also talked about the advantages of optimizing and going after the coveted Featured Snippet SERP listings.
In his presentation, Biren stressed about the benefits of “targeting commercial keywords with non-commercial content pages” and then walking visitors up the sales funnel and to the commercial pages in a natural manner.
2. Optimize for Mobile and enable AMPs
Google’s Head of Digital UX, Alessandra Alari, presentation began stating that “Almost 70% of the UK population is now live on mobile” and “53% of consumers will leave a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load”.
This clearly states that mobile search is the future, not by itself, but also factoring in enhanced page speed factors.
Speed is a ranking factor, AMP is NOT a ranking factor - Alessandra Alari Head of Digital UX and Large Customer Sales at Google
Mobile optimization was also tackled by Alina Ghost, SEO Manager at Amara, who packed a great set of tips in an original presentation:
Use less content on mobile pages. Allow users to reveal more text using “Read more” patterns
Adjust the schema markup for easy search engine crawling
Constantly use page speed checkers and correct any page loading issues
Measure progress along the way
3. Optimize for voice search
Nick Wilsdon, Search Product Owner at Vodafone, approached one of the hottest topics of 2019 - voice search, and what are the tangible business benefits of being voice-search optimized, offering realistic strategies to prepare for the future. Coming down to the user intent, “voice search users ask questions, and it should be the website content to position itself as the answer”, according to Nick.
Content writing should be perfected so that it is indexed as first result on voice search. Marketers should not be afraid to welcome the emerging AI revolution that’s set to take over the marketing world in 2019.
The presentation summary included voice app devices popularity, usage coverage and voice queries structure tips.
4. Merge strategies for SEO with PPC
Tom Mansell brought together two core digital strategies which used to work independently, not that long ago: SEO and PPC. The Head of SEO at Croud claimed that “now, more than ever, it’s vital to use both channels in harmony to drive effective results from the search strategy”.
As they’re sharing a common goal, the “conflict between the two teams and strategies should be minimized and budget and reporting should become an integrated part”.
Following one of the questions from the audience, Tom also confirmed that pushing more funds into PPC can lead to seeing less organic traffic, as more traffic is assigned to direct search. However, this can only be discovered when the two teams work together and share a common goal: increasing the website's traffic and visibility.
5. Focus on targeting local searches
Alina Ghost from Amara mentioned that “near me” searches have increased with 130% since last year, thus confirming that local search is more and more important to users, and therefore to Google.
Regardless if it’s about local listings using Google myBusiness or providing locally relevant page content, local SEO is the key to business visibility in search.
6. Start owning technical optimization to improve page speed
Optimizing for AMP results and working with progressive web apps to instantly deliver page content is essential for serving UX on Mobile, according to Alessandra Alari, from Google.
53% of consumers will leave a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load - Alessandra Alari, Google
7. Constantly test and measure your SEO Performance
Vertical Leap presented an interesting case study on Data Science and SEO, aiming to identify actionable insights driven from a raw perspective.
According to George Karapalidis, Head of Data at Vertical Leap, data science has one mindset: hindsight -> insight -> foresight. And while Google Analytics and Search Console offer the data required for analysis, only working with one is inefficient. You need both sources, combined, to help you paint the full picture:
A good option to report on SEO performance and visibility would include, according to George, information such as:
Sessions, Transactions, Revenue - from Google Analytics
Page, Keyword Query, Clicks, Impressions, CTR, Avg. Position, SERP - from Google Search Console
Click % , Estimated Transactions, Estimated Revenue, Estimated Sessions - estimates, calculated independently
To predict a future increase in revenue, estimate the revenue a query generated in the past - George Karapalidis, Head of Data at Vertical Leap
That's a wrap
These are our top-picks from the conference, hope you've enjoyed the read and found some thought-provoking ideas. Would be glad to hear your take on this, so please join the conversation in the comments below.
Iulia Lacriceanu is leading the Tech'n'Pay Support team at Advanced Web Ranking. With a background in Online Marketing, she is still always up to date with the latest news in the quick evolving world of SEO. She thinks that truly understanding the core concept and target audience's needs is fundamental in developing outstanding software, capable of solving industry problems and figuring out solutions. That and that time is never enough, it's just a matter of priorities!
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