October was a busy month for the Quadra office, whilst Joe and Leo were off at StripeCon, I was on my way to SearchLove, a tri-annual event run by Distilled for digital marketers held in Boston, London and San Diego. Distilled are a reknowned digital marketing agency based in London, and as so many of the speakers wrote blogs on my "essential reading" list, I jumped at the chance to attend the conference.
Boston and San Diego seemed a bit far for a 2 day event, so I booked a ticket and headed for London. The conference itself was held at The Brewery, and with the attendees ranging from freelance content writers to heads of SEO agencies across the world, it was an ideal opportunity for me to get to speak to other digital marketers and discuss the constantly changing world of SEO.
The conference was split into two days, with nine 45 minute talks spaced throughout the day. Unlike Stripecon, SearchLove did not focus on a single subject, and so over the course of the two days I was treated to presentations from the leading minds in SEO, PPC, content strategy, ecommerce optimisation, analytics and social media (I have compiled a full list of speakers and presentations - check the bottom of this post for direct links to the presentations).
The first day was kicked off by Tom Anthony of Distilled, who gave a presentation on the fundamental changes within search engine optimisation, as search results begin to focus less on the words that a user has searched for and more on the intention of the search (meaning that Google is able to tell whether a user searching for "Bears tickets" is trying to buy tickets to go to the zoo or watch baseball in Chicago"). Tom also demonstrated Google's compound query builder, which takes previous searches into account when deciding which content should be shown (which in turn means that specialised content that is focused on a specific point is more likely to be shown than general content that gives a wider view of the subject). Compound queries allow searches such as "how tall is it" to be qualified by a previous search such as "when was the great wall of china built?".
During lunch, topic tables were set up and a few of the Distilled staff lead discussions on their chosen areas of expertise. I went to the talk on user reviews within search - as user created content becomes more prevalent, ensuring that the reviews are shown to prospective users. Working for a digital agency like Quadra, the ways that I had thought about review content were different from others, and as my group included a wine wholesaler, the owner of a chain of music stores and a marketer from a major pharmaceuticals firm, the conversation ran through everything from verifying reviews (and removing users who are just looking to tank your ratings) to displaying reviews from multiple locations - so lots to think about!
The quality of presentations remained high throughout the day, and whilst many of the presentations dealt with issues that are often the subject of discussion within the SEO world, each presentation approached the issues from a different angle and provided further insight into the problems (and solutions) that many SEOs deal with on a daily basis. Casie Gillette delivered a solid presentation on PR tools and tactics, Wil Reynolds gave an explosive talk on supplementing organic search using paid social media and adwords (an area that I have particular interest in, working with both PPC and SEO for many of our clients), and Ian Laurie nailed the age old question of “how much optimisation do we need to do?” with his “Distance from Perfect” algorithm. The day was rounded off with the “Let’s Get Real” presentation, with all 17 speakers taking to the stage to give insider tips and tricks for everything from optimising site content to attracting users more efficiently - if you’re a member of DistilledU, you can see the video in their gallery.
After the first day’s talks had finished, it was time to head to the Distilled afterparty (sponsored very kindly by the team over at Moz - Thanks guys!). The afterparty provided a unique opportunity to be able to talk about SEO in a social setting - there aren’t many places in Jersey that I can sit and discuss Google algorithm updates over a beer! Once everyone had finished swapping twitter handles and optimisation tips, the conversation began to shift towards the talks that were scheduled for the following day.
The second day followed a similar format, with Aleyda Solis starting the day with a presentation on growth opportunities within search analytics - an area that Quadra pride themselves on when building SEO strategies and PPC campaigns. Daniel Gilbert gave a fantastic talk on PPC and SEO as a combined power (mostly because he compared SEOs to Superman, and who doesn’t love being compared to a superhero?), and Lisa Myers followed with a presentation about link building and content distribution using the techniques of a 50s Ad Exec.
After lunch, Rand Fishkin of Moz took to the stage to talk about Search Ranking Factors in 2015. For the many people who aren’t familiar with Rand or with Moz, they are somewhat of an authority within the SEO world. Every year, Moz do extensive research to break down the Google algorithm to find out which factors (such as metadata, rich text markup and backlink profiles) are causing sites to perform well in search. For an SEO, this data is worth it’s weight in gold, as it takes the guesswork out of optimisation, allowing us to create successful strategies more quickly.
The rest of the afternoon was equally interesting, with highlights including Tamara Gielen’s talk on email marketing and Larry Kim’s “top 10 Facebook and Twitter advertising hacks of all time”. Sadly, I had to leave to catch my flight before the end of Phil Nottingham’s talk on Social Video Strategy, however the slideshare is available below.
Overall, I really enjoyed SearchLove London 2015 - I had the chance to speak to SEOs from across the world, was able to listen to some world-class talks and Distilled were excellent hosts (with special thanks going to Hannah Smith of Distilled for doing an excellent job as the event’s emcee). I would encourage anyone with an interest in digital marketing to go to SearchLove, even if you aren’t familiar with Search Engine Optimisation. Check out the slideshares below if you’re still not convinced, my personal recommendations are Daniel Gilbert’s talk “PPC and SEO: Better Together” and Wil Reynold’s talk “Using Paid Social and Adwords to Drive Rankings and Shares” (however all of the slideshares are well worth watching!)
|Tom Anthony||New Paradigms: Five Fundamental Changes in Search’||Search is undergoing dramatic changes taking it away from the paradigm of keywords and the focus on websites, towards conversational search and app indexes. Tom will examine the trends and discuss five new paradigms he believes are fundamentally changing the way search works: compound queries, implicit search signals, user signals as a ranking factor, the move from keywords to intents, and the drive towards data driven search.|
|Will Critchlow||‘Practical Advice for the Future of Search’||Having seen the changes from Google and observed the changes in our own behaviour, you may now be trying to figure out what to do differently to prepare for the future. Will has you covered, from making the most of new ranking factors and understanding what place apps and deep linking have in your plans, to creating content for mobile. This session will focus on the real-world changes you should be making right now to your web presence and campaigns.|
|Talia Wolf||‘Unlocking the Missing Link to CRO: Emotional Targeting’||Imagine being able to truly understand your customer on an emotional level and translate that knowledge into revenue. Take your optimisation tactics to the next level and learn everything you need to know to tap into your customer's emotional triggers and unlock the missing link to increasing your revenues.|
|Aaron Friedman||‘Google's Predictable Content Preference’||Getting your site to rank is obviously important. But what about the rest of the search result? Google has a preference towards certain types of content that it would even entertain showing in a search result for your brand. In order to make the most of this, content marketing has to extend outside your fully controlled domains. The best places to extend into depend on the vertical you are in. Aaron will be using this knowledge to look at ways to create sustainable content marketing campaigns that actually work for the client.|
|Casie Gillette||‘21 Must-Have PR Tools and Tactics’||Public relations and SEO have been overlapping for some time, especially when it comes to link building. But there’s so much more! In this session, Casie will look at PR strategies, tactics and tools, and outline how you can make them part of your overall SEO strategy. See real life examples, discover new tools, and leave with actionable tactics to take back to your team.|
|Jono Alderson||‘Searching Higher Up the Funnel’||Consumer search behaviour is complex. You perform multiple searches on multiple devices over multiple days, where everything you see and experience influences your brand preference and purchase decisions. Traditional funnel analysis and marketing models do a poor job of managing this ecosystem. We need to rethink the way we talk about, measure and manage SEO if we want to win big, and we need to move fast; some of the world's biggest companies are already beating us to it.|
|Vicke Cheung||‘Designing Creative Content: The Method Behind the Madness’||The feeling you get from finally coming up with a workable idea is one of lightness and relief. That is, until you realise that’s just half the battle; the arduous journey of deciding on an execution still lies ahead. This is as much about what story you want to tell, as it is about visual design. Vicke’s session will delve behind the scenes of actual case studies and projects, and take you through the journey of going from intangible ideas to polished products.|
|Wil Reynolds||‘Using Paid Social and Adwords to Drive Rankings and Shares’||Wil and his team spent four weeks promoting one asset using nothing but Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and AdWords. They were able to get rankings without links, outreach, or any other type of promotion. Hear what Wil learnt from his successes and failures, and walk away with a new perspective on paying to promote your content to audiences.|
|Ian Lurie||‘Distance from Perfect: Knowing the Unknowable Algorithm’||Organic search. Pay per click. Facebook. It’s plain to see that internet marketing is full of algorithms. You can't possibly hope to know them all. What you can do is find the common thread and stick to it: ‘Distance from Perfect’ is how you optimise for the unknowable. See examples and tips for using DFP as an optimisation tool.|
|All Speakers||‘Let’s Get Real’||One Rule: no tweeting whilst you hear all of our speakers give-away one awesome tip. The only way to see what is shared is to be there. Followed by our networking party at Amber Bar, sponsored by Moz!|
|Aleyda Solis||‘Unlocking Growth Opportunities with Search Analytics’||Search analytics shouldn't only be focused on tracking and informing about the success of your SEO strategies, but measuring all what impacts your process to discover growth opportunities that will help you make decisions to refine, expand or completely switch your efforts strategically. Learn about the KPIs, the sources, tools, questions and frameworks to turn your search data into profitable actions.|
|Anum Hussain||‘Topics Over Keywords: An SEO-Driven Approach to Content Marketing’||Over the past two years, the discussion of ‘topics over keywords’ has been taking the spotlight in the world of SEO. But this concept didn’t click for the Sidekick content squad at HubSpot until this past summer, when the team set out on a mission to ramp up organic search traffic. In this session, Sidekick’s Senior Growth Marketer Anum Hussain will share the team’s journey, uncovering an SEO-driven approach to content marketing through content creation, experimentation, and analysis.|
|Daniel Gilbert||‘PPC and SEO: Better Together’||It's been a long time since PPC and SEO were friends. Every year they seem to drift further and further apart. Now things are so bad that they barely talk, and when they do they bicker over attribution. Daniel is here to see if we can all just get along, and he’ll be bringing with him a shedload of data and even some fun machine learning tips.|
|Lisa Myers||‘Think Like a 50’s Ad Exec, Execute Like a Geek’||In 2015, the main goal for any SEO is generating highly authoritative and editorially valid links. But how? With so many SEOs jumping on the content marketing bandwagon, you have to stand out, and by using old school ad agency principles merged with more modern PR thinking, you can achieve great results. Lisa will be going through various case studies of successful international creative campaigns, which generated significant link value and a subsequent increase in rankings. In addition, Lisa will also be sharing some innovative techniques and ways of thinking in order to help you achieve the same.|
|Rand Fishkin||‘Search Ranking Factors in 2015: What Data, Opinions, and Testing Reveal’||In this presentation, Rand will cover Moz's recently released search ranking factors correlation data, opinions of the SEO field collected via survey, and the results of some recent tests performed on Google. Together, these will help illustrate how the search giant is ranking things today, and what tactics are working in SEO.|
|Tamara Gielen||Leveraging the Hidden Power of Email Marketing’||Discover which key lifecycle stage-specific campaigns can and should be automated. In this session Tamara will guide us through how to get started with lifecycle email campaigns, by sharing examples and best practices, and of course how to avoid those common pitfalls.|
|Larry Kim||‘The Top 10 Facebook and Twitter Advertising Hacks of All Time’||Learn unusual tips, strategies and processes for getting 10-1000x more value from paid campaigns on Facebook and Twitter, including how to drive exponentially more traffic to your content, and convert 3-5x more of those clicks into leads and sales - using tiny budgets of $50 per campaign. You'll gain critical insights into how the different algorithms really work, including Relevancy Score (Facebook) and Quality Adjusted Bids (Twitter). A must see for content, social media and PPC marketers alike.|
|Phil Nottingham||‘Building a Social Video Strategy’||The world of social video is becoming increasingly convoluted, with Facebook and Twitter having launched native video platforms within the last 12 months, but how should marketers’ approach react to this? Should YouTube be the main platform brands focus on, or should the others now take precedence? Phil will explain how you can work out where to invest, what works and why, and then explain how SEOs and those from a digital background have an inherent advantage in taking ownership of social video strategy.|