BrightonSEO Roundup - Part Two
Following on from our previous blog post, here are our key takeaways from this months BrightonSEO event.
Omi Sido - Beyond the Basics of Website Migration: Tried, Tested & Successful
Omi Sido kicked off his talk on site migration stating that ‘website migration is one of those rare moments where you can educate your SEO team on all aspects of SEO’. A lot of people working in SEO, according to Omi, only talk about content. As he carried on, he said that content is king, but every king needs a castle (referred to the website). Website migration is also one of those rare moments where you can explain what SEO is to every single department of your company, especially development and content, so they can help achieve all SEO goals in the future. Therefore, to be successful, it is needed a cross-functional migration.
Should the SEO consultant be in charge of the overall migration? According to Omi, SEO consultants should concentrate on SEO tasks with an SEO plan that has minimum 4 SEO sections: the SEO migration plan (checklist), the content migration plan that you build with your content team, the development migration plan that you build with your development team and timeline, crucial especially for e-commerce (as you have to make sure that the website works properly in peak times).
Many SEOs and speaker talk about migration as a 2-stage process. Your SEO plan should have minimum 3 stages: pre-migration, launch, post-launch diagnostics and monitoring (the more time you spend in the pre-migration stage, the more successful it is). Also, 99% of all the SEO checks that are done in the pre-migration stage, should be done anyway on a monthly basis.
During the pre-migration stage, a full crawl of the website should be done, in order to spot all orphan pages that are linked from nowhere. These have to be identified at this stage in order not to migrate these harmful pages to the new platform. Also, a 301 mapping should be carried, before migrating, as this would be the best chance to ‘clean’ the website from expired pages, or pages without equivalents. Make sure that developers are instructed properly because if they are not, they will redirect the pages to irrelevant sections on the website or to the homepage. Even if some might state that this is the best way to preserve the SEO value, Google will start treating these 301 redirects to irrelevant sections as soft 404 and later on, they will un-index (de-index) them, leaving the SEO value behind.
- Check GA tracking is implemented and collecting data on all pages.
- Check that all redirects are working properly and 301 moved permanently.
- Crawl URLs from the old site to check 301 redirects match up as expected.
- Check robots.txt is up to date.
- If the domain has changed, notify search engines.
- ‘Fetch as Google’ in Google Search Console and ‘Submit URLs’ in Webmaster Tools.
- Run a crawl of the new website and check for errors.
- Keep existing XML sitemaps online for a least 2-3 weeks.
- Compare the load speed of top 1000 key pages from old website.
Emily McLaren - Site Migration: Avoiding Sticky Situations
Emily McLaren has given us a few examples and common mistakes that companies have done during website migrations.
- To create redirect hops: redirects introduce additional delays before the page can be loaded, therefore avoid landing page redirects.
- To forget updating internal links following any URL changes.
- To not resolve duplicate content, especially on e-commerce website. This would lead to cannibalization and two website competing on search results and impact on ranking.
- To Overlook NAP data (name, address, phone number), consistency in that data is a local ranking factor, inconsistency is a negative ranking factor, so do update on google business profile and google citations.
- Ambiguous HREFLANG values, like pages that don’t exist or have wrong incorrect regional code. This would impact on the bounce rate and traffic.
- To have a misleading schema markup. Make sure it is up to date and that follows the guidelines.
- Make sure XML sitemap is up to date.
Then Emily continued onto ways to innovate a website and marketing strategy, and about future predictions and radical changes that are ahead of us.
Sam Auchterlonie, Skyscanner - How to hack your SERPS using a lean approach
We all already have ideas that we believe that work that we are trying to sell into our boss or our clients but so often we get blocked.
Sam moved in-house thinking she would be fine to sell in her ideas, but still hits a brick wall when she wants to get people to help her. So she wants to share how she gets past that brick wall and get ideas out into the world. Here are her top tips:
1. Speak the language of the business
Obviously because we work in SEO we all want there to be more organic traffic, more sessions, more visibility. But try and understand what the most important metric is for the business. That metric might not be the one that’s most obvious. A client may care more about something like newsletter sign-ups. At Skyscanner, they care that they get a lot of people using their apps and visiting their website; but they also care that you come back. Their most important metric is how to get a customer back.
Understanding this main metric, digging deep and asking questions of your clients to try and understand what it may be will really help you sell in your ideas. Your ideas may not need to change, but the way that you try to sell it has to.
2. Developers need our help
Your developers are probably incredibly busy. If we understand what they’re trying to achieve, we can help sell in our own ideas. Showing to your development team, ‘here is the thing that will work’, not just ideas or things that would be nice to have. So think lean. Think small. Why start big? Why do we need to start making changes to thousands of pages to make an impact? Do something small. Ask yourself this about every idea that you have: “How can we learn more quickly what works, and discard what doesn’t?”
Which part of your idea is actually going to work, and which part won’t make the impact? How can you tell what is the small thing that is going to make the impact; that small thing that your clients, or your developers, need to do. The easiest way to find out is to experiment.
Take your idea and boil it down to the smallest measurable metric that you can experiment to prove that it is this metric that is going to make the difference. Sam suggests this model:
Build something small. The shortest path to validate your idea. Measure it. Does it work, does it not? Did it make an impact? Nine times out of ten it probably won’t, so learn from that and re-do it, until your lean something that works. When you have an idea, don’t just focus on the big picture. Try to focus on the smallest thing that you can learn from so you can then put that into your product.
“If you are not embarrassed with version one of your work – you have waited too long.” – Eric Reis, entrepreneur
When Rand Fishkin started Whiteboard Fridays, all of the comments on his first video were about the video quality (wish was poor). Did that put him off? He knew this was a good idea so he continued to experiment with what did work, he continued to pivot, and now Whiteboard Fridays are wildly successful.
The point is: clients don’t need something ground-breaking every five minutes. What they need is proof that your ideas are right, so give them that – give them the metric that will make the difference.
This might sound a bit vague, so Sam uses a few examples from the travel vertical. When you start to think about where you want to go on holiday you are going to have some questions, what can you do there, what can you see? We know that people search for this in their thousands, multiplied for every destination, multiplied by every language. It’s a huge opportunity to answer these questions – but this will never happen as it is too ambitious an idea.
Instead, why not test one destination? If you can prove the impact you can make on one destination, you can sell in the rest.
Or can you do it even smaller. Can you achieve your result using what you already have? A new landing page need not be the answer. Most travel sites will already have a page for a destination, so what happens if you add in relevant content? Why not start with something that you can do today, at your desk, and discover the metrics that will make a difference to sell in big ideas tomorrow. Once you discover one this one, small metric is, you can sell it into developers and clients because there is now no part of this metric that doesn’t help the big idea – as you’ve discovered through the build, measure, learn approach. Think lean, smart small with every single idea.
So there you have it, we learnt so much at this years event that we had to split it into two blog posts. Thanks for having us BrightonSEO, we are already looking forward to the September event!
Written by Olivia Stone, James Tremain, Artiom Enkov, Dorothea Facchini and Jack Reid.