On Thursday, the Shorthose digital team made their way down to the south coast along with 3,500 other digital enthusiasts for the biannual search-marketing conference, BrightonSEO.
The night before the main event, DeepCrawl organised a karaoke pre-party. If you thought a group of digital marketers were going to be shy when it came to getting in front of the mic, you would be 100% wrong. Apparently singing and SEO goes hand in hand, and pretty much everyone who took the stage nailed it.
The next morning, we headed along to the Brighton Centre feeling refreshed and ready to hear from some of SEO’s brightest voices. Our plan was to divide and conquer; with six different sessions running at any one time through the day, there was a lot to take in. We always want to provide our clients with the best service we can, so we were keen to hear about what’s new. Read on for our four main takeaways.
Content isn’t one size fits all
One of the first talks we went along to was Marcus Tober’s ‘Content for the Moments That Matter’.
While best practices might involve markup, longer word counts and multimedia, Marcus spoke about how important it was to know your niche, and tailor your content accordingly. Different ranking factors should be considered based on your industry, and what people are actually looking for when they search your terms. A video might be perfect for the fitness industry, Schema is invariable in the top-ranking recipe pages, and divorce content will be long form and factual, a video is just not appropriate here.
Just as you’d change the tone used based on your audience when you write, you should adapt your SEO plans based on your industry.
Mobile first matters (officially)
It is more common to browse via a mobile device than it is a desktop computer. Google are now officially rolling out mobile first indexing. You will get a notification via Search Console once your site has been migrated but, interestingly, not one of the 600 plus SEOs in the room had seen this yet. This means mobile optimisation is more important than ever before. For the last year and a half, we’ve known that mobile first indexing was coming, so it shouldn’t be a surprise. That said, a number of sites still don’t use best practices.
Ideally, your site should be fully responsive, meaning everything scales for optimal user experience depending on the device. You’ll use the same URL, and there won’t be any content that can’t be accessed on mobile. If you’re not already prepared for mobile indexing, then your search ranking could be negatively impacted by the change (and the reverse is true if your site is amazing on mobile and your competition’s is terrible). If you haven’t already, it’s time to fully audit your site, making sure that it renders correctly on all screen sizes. Compare structural performance indicators such as follow links, average load times, duplicate tags and average word lengths. If you have an older site which isn’t ready, it might be time for a rebuild.
Cleaning up your content
One of the themes we noticed across several different talks was the importance of auditing and cleaning up your content. Crawls are finite, and by filling your site with content which isn’t useful or engaging (or worse still, isn’t unique) you are wasting your crawl quota. It’s never been easier to make content, but it’s never been harder to gain attention for it.
Making use of canonicals, correct HTTP status codes and reviewing all your content to make sure it’s not duplicate will make your site stronger. Using synonyms and changing the odd sentence won’t be worth your time; you might as well write something fresh. It might feel painful to prune articles from your site, but it is necessary. Work through every page logically; tools like copyscape.com can help identify where text has been used in the same order.
Local links matter
Greg Gifford’s talks are always excellent, and this year’s session on granular link building was no different. The focus was local links with real-world value and how to obtain them, rather than spending huge amounts of time and resource trying to gain a strong profile of high authority follow links.
Sponsorships, offering space for meet-up groups, and giving exclusive discounts can all be great ways to gain a local link profile, and it’s something businesses of any size can do. Think about your contacts in and out of work; they’re all possibilities. Sometimes you’ll just need a quick chat with your contacts.