Falling for Search Love London 2014
By Marion Hirtzig - Head of Digital Marketing.
The 2014 edition of Search Love London took place at The Brewery on 27th and 28th October. Although this wasn't my first Digital Marketing conference (I went to SES London and Brighton SEO earlier this year), this was my first Search Love - and it was brilliant: two days of talks from knowledgeable experts - not to mention “stars”, such as Moz's Rand Fishkin and Annie Cushing (Annielytics). Search Love was also a fantastic opportunity to network and exchange views and best practices with fellow marketers. Despite the strong competitiveness of Digital Marketing, we are quite lucky to have a very friendly community, with people happy to share their experiences with each other. The speakers talked about so many things that it would be too long to tell you everything, but here is what I’ll remember most:
Brand building has never been more important
Brands were are the heart of many talks at this year's Search Love. What we're doing, pushing websites forward in SEO and digital/social marketing, is actually building brands. In order to do so, we need to try and leave a lasting impression on customers by delighting them and offering them content that will allow them to define themselves by sharing it. Indeed, according to Distilled’s Content Strategist Hannah Smith, people tend to share content to look good, to appear knowledgeable, or more generally to give a specific impression of themselves to their followers. This is why brands need to work towards offering customers what they want and need, at the right time. Google is giving brands more importance too, with their spam fighting – which makes it harder to rank without a brand – and with the Pigeon algorithm, which is likely to hit the UK very soon and will make local brands rank higher in local search.
We need to rethink content
Creating useful, uniquely valuable content
Content is still primordial in digital marketing, and in 2014 content marketing accounted for 70% of investment for brands, however, we need to think more broadly, and offer customers what they want to fit their search intent. As Wil Reynolds from SEER Interactive said, one question to ask ourselves is “would anyone miss that content if it were taken offline?”, and with 95% of content not being interacted with, we generally know the answer (one of the reasons for this could be because although people are content addicts, supply has surpassed demand). In such a context, we need to create sustainable content that has unique value. We can take ideas from what has been done before, but we must give it something specific that only we can provide. Content can take the form of text, images or videos, and it is good to know that interactive content does better than images, which themselves fare better than plain text. Even in terms of credibility, videos win. Indeed, a video testimonial is generally 25% more credible than text – where text testimonials can easily be faked, videos are much trickier to manipulate, and are therefore more credible.
Brand marketing vs. content marketing
When creating content we also need to keep in mind that great content is not the same as brand content, as for instance some brilliant videos can be shared and liked by a large audience, but the brand itself will not be particularly remembered. This is why it is good to find a voice and a message which resonates with our targeted audience and will be immediately recognisable (such as Nike’s commercials or Moz’s White Board Friday videos). One last thought on content is that once we have great content, we shouldn’t be afraid of paying to promote it and make it reach further than it would organically – and if it’s a video, the best is to pay per share more than per view.
Keywords vs topics
Keywords still matter, but we also need to expand our keyword search to include searcher intent and topic association. Similarly, we need to think on a domain level more than on a page level, using keywords and topics all over a website to consolidate them instead of sticking to one set of keywords per page.
Mobile is cannibalising desktop: thinking mobile first
We all know that mobile is the future but it’s becoming increasingly obvious, and Google have even already started to prioritise mobile whenever they create something – which is why we need to do the same when we create anything, be it content (text, images and videos) or even email marketing. There are quite a few caveats however with mobile becoming bigger, such as the typically lower conversion rates on mobile devices, and the trickiness of analysing user behaviour across several devices, with 90% of people using multiple devices sequentially, i.e. browsing a website on a mobile or tablet before finally buying on desktop. This is actually why Annie Cushing is very wary of Google Analytics metrics related to sessions and users, since they don’t take into account cross devices. In order to keep track of people across multiple devices, you can ask them to log in, but it doesn’t always produce reliable data anyway - not everyone logs into a website at every visit. This being said, Apps do tend to solve this tracking problem thanks to the unique user ID everyone has, making it more reliable than cookies, but not every website has an App.
Local search and mobile search are one and the same, and while we need to make sure our websites are mobile-friendly, we also need to be ready for the roll-out of the Pigeon algorithm update. Pigeon hasn't arrived in the UK yet, Rand Fishkin had us check: he asked everyone to do a search for a hairdresser ranked in 4th position locally and go to their website. In the US, with Pigeon, this would have made said website rank first in local results, but in London it didn't change anything. We have the experience from our US colleagues to start understanding Pigeon and how to make the most of it. Local brands will generally grow bigger in local search – except for estate agents who for some reason have had little luck with this update – and directories will rank better too. This means that if you want to rank locally with a small brand, you can also piggy-back higher-ranking directories, by optimising your listings on websites such as Yelp.
Knowledge cards aren’t news, but they are getting bigger, giving people answers without them needing to visit a website. This means that we need to adjust our mind-set to “pre-website” conversions, and be ready to see fewer visits if questions are answered directly by Google on their search result pages.
There are many other tips given at Search Love that I would like to share, such as the importance to use data to tell a story instead of just giving metrics, or the fact that 47% of customers expect a page to lead in less than 1.9 seconds. I could have also mentioned the need to optimise and create dedicated landing pages for marketing purposes with a low attention ratio so as to encourage visitors to convert, instead of showing them too many distractions. However, since all good things have to end, I will stop here and encourage you to go to Search Love next year and see for yourself. One particularity of this Digital Marketing conference is to offer only one talk at a time, which means that you don’t have to feel sorry you missed anything, and you get to see how far-reaching and varied Digital Marketing is. If you’re like me, you’ll love it!