Posted 19 April 2012

ionSearch – Advanced Search Marketing Conference – Part 1

ionSearch – Advanced Search Marketing Conference – Part 1

It may have been pouring with rain in Leeds on Wednesday, but it didn’t stop search marketers from the UK and further afield descending on The Carriageworks for a full day of insight, discussion and debate.

Those who were local to the conference, or stayed in Leeds overnight, could take advantage of a free breakfast, but others such as myself had to take a 7:36am train from Manchester Piccadilly to arrive in time for the main event!

Once I’d collected my delegate pass and guide, I was ready to settle down for the first session of the morning in the expert panel suite: SEO Content Strategies.

The panel was manned by representatives from Home James, Cornwall SEO and Razorfish. The main points brought to our attention were:

  • Don’t push out content for contents sake; do it for a reason
  • Build a content calendar, initially top level and then split it down to niches
  • Find out what your user actually wants; research your audience before you create content
  • Creative content can be effective for hitting people further down the conversion path
  • “The way to get links on merit is to understand how people work.” – Lyndon Antcliff
  • People tweet quickly after seeing something that affects them, making twitter a good way to find potential link relationships
  • People are more likely to share and link to those in their community (i.e. SEO)
  • “As an industry we have over engineered links and content. Natural traction is what search engines are looking for.” – Dave Harling
  • Put the time into relationship building and you’ll find the distribution process a lot easier

After this session, I headed to the main auditorium for Tom Anthony’s session on How Authorship and Google+ Will Affect Linkbuilding. Here’s what he had to say:

  • Links are still a massive part of the algorithm but social signals are increasing
  • When looking at link profiles, Google can suffer false positives. Therefore they are unable to get rid of all spammy networks
  • However they are happy to sacrifice a few innocent white hats in order to serve better results in general
  • In February, Google turned off a link based signal they’d used for several years
  • Google started to send out Webmaster Tools emails to get SEOs; this is a signal that there will be further rollouts in line with the above (i.e. “link panda”)
  • People should think about getting links from authors, not just a website
  • Need to think about “who are we getting links from not where we are getting them from”
  • Author Crawler tool on SEOmoz can show who is linking to you; use the “contributes to” field to see where else they write, potentially on a site that is more authoritative.

After a short break of tea, coffee and plenty of double chocolate chip muffins, Tim Grice took the stage for his session, Link-Building in Competitive Industries. The main takeaways from this session included:

  • Reduce the percentage of anchor text links if you have over-optimised on particular phrases; actively change your link profile ASAP
  • Paid link profiles can look unnatural; those who buy links can have particular profiles that stand out from their competitors
  • Vary anchor text across all keyword and mix in brand variations for good measure
  • Use searchmetrics for finding the most shared content
  • On tweets: “we don’t believe they act the same way as links, but are catalysts.”
  • Infographics are often over used but if they are done right they can be good for results; make sure to research your audience first though
  • Fresh content is more efficient over time for increasing presence in SERPs; text links from blog rolls may work initially but seem to drop away fairly quickly too
  • “Links have to be justified in order to look natural”

In summary: remove unnatural links, address anchor text balance, focus on being link worthy, great sites generate shares as well as links, processes to focus on quality and natural signals

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