BrightonSEO Breakdown - Part 1
Last week some of our SEO team traveled to Brighton, for the twice yearly SEO conference, BrightonSEO. Once again, the event proved an enormous success with informative talks which featured industry veterans and even some SEO celebrities. Below is a round up of key takeaways which will come in 2-parts.
Content Strategy - Serena Samways-Dalton
How to create value led content for your ‘ecosystem’
Google values ecosystems more now than ever before but the importance of well connected content is still largely overlooked. Pi Datametrics’ John Brasington describes an ecosystem as a pathway that leads customers on a journey of seamlessly integrated content.
He expressed that content creators should be masters of their subject category and be able to tell a story that spans several pages and covers several topics. This is what Brasington referred to as ‘contextual optimisation’.
Contextual optimisation can be simplified into a 2-step process which ultimately allows the creator to understand and optimise their ecosystem. Firstly, content should be categorised by themes to establish which pieces conflict with each other, which pieces are neutral and which are complimentary. Step 2 involves researching competitor content and completing with the complimentary results. Following this, the creator is then able to connect pieces of the story (where, when, why, what, who) to form an ecosystem. Ultimately, a perfectly curated content ecosystem is a key driver in increasing the visibility of a brand, in addition to increasing revenue. Creating an ecosystem for content is as important as keywords, positions, design and UX.
How sexy design can leverage SEO
Talk by Meg Fenn on how to use stunning design to leverage SEO leads me on to my second point. Like well connected content, beautiful design can also often be overlooked and referred to as an unnecessary ‘flowery’ extra. This could not be further than the truth. SEO, UX and UI are equally important as both design and layout influence rankings, in addition to this, if content looks sexy it’s more likely to be shared, it’s not rocket science. We are all human and websites should be optimised for humans, for example, an emotional element must be present in order to encourage interaction and to spike interest. The use of colour, thoughtfully selected typefaces, copy and imagery are all key in evoking different emotions. Further to this, websites must be designed for trust - lightning quick, shit hot and optimised and consistent across all devices.
Serps - Dorothea Facchini
SEO without Traffic
Is the brand a ranking factor? According to Hannah Thorpe, it is.
However, if we rank high, it does not mean that we will get high traffic. For example, with answer boxes, users find their answers immediately and won’t click on your website to find out more.
We cannot solely rely on search volumes, we actually need to understand the customers’ journey, in what moment of the buying process are (browsing, about to convert, and so on) and what type of content they want to consume. Therefore, a piece of content for an answer box should be structured so the main point appears at the top, followed by examples that further expand the main point and conclude with the answer to the query. This way, the users will have to click on the page to find out the answer to their query.
For a table answer, the table within the page should not have more than 5 columns so it fits in the answer box. While, for a list answer, the content should contain bullet points with short points and no double spacing.
To measure user-centred content, the best way is to look at average position versus CTR; this way it is possible to see how keywords rank high against how many times users click on to the page. If average position is stable, but CTR has gone up, it means that something is changing with the engines or users are becoming more familiar to the brand. Another way to measure user-centred content is to look into Google Search Console for brand mentions versus product search volume.
To conclude, Hannah Thorpe stresses the fact that keywords do not equal rankings; rankings do not equal traffic and traffic does not equal conversions. Therefore, content needs to be simplified and marked up to be able to rank high.
Practical Insights into Winning Featured Snippets
For Izzi Smith, featured snippets mean that more traffic is driven to the site, followed by more conversions and brand awareness. There are a few steps to follow in order to have better chances in getting featured snippets on top of the results, such as:
Identify the right queries
42% of queries are always questions (use questions modifiers) – ‘why do we get hangovers?’
18% of queries use prepositions – ‘beers without calories’
23% of queries are comparisons – ‘best hangover cures’
Evaluate our current rankings
In Google Analytics’ Search Console (Acquisition – Search Console – Queries) we can check queries that start with prepositions and questions, like ‘How, Why, Like’.
Evaluate our potential rankings
We can use the website answerthepublic.com, ask our sales and customer service teams about questions that our clients ask for and ask the users via forums and feedback forms.
Assess the query intent
Is the query transactional, informational or navigational? This way, we can guess what the users’ intents are.
Focus on keywords with click-through-intent
Should a landing page be holistic or specific? They should be holistic if we want to use an existing page that has strong equity. In that case, we should make sure to use clear headers and sub sections when there are different topics in the page, e.g. FAQs. Landing pages should be specific if the query has reasonable search volume that needs to be explained in detail and could have some other related content linked to it.
We should endeavour to make sure to not create a landing page with 1 question and 1 answer, as it’s less likely to be picked up for any featured snippets.
What can be picked up as worthy content for a featured snippet is something factual, with supporting data and sources, written for humans and avoiding any keywords density.
Other helpful hints are as follows:
Paragraphs should be 40-60 words long
For prepositions & comparison snippets, list articles with clear headers
For how-tos, use HTML <ol><ul> lists
Try to bulk out lists, so the answer box will give a partial answer to the user who will be forced to click on the page to get a full answer