What we learnt at BrightonSEO: Part 2

With Part 1 out of the way, it’s time to get down to the good stuff that we live and breathe – SEO & UX.

How To Use Chrome Puppeteer to Fake Googlebot & Monitor Your Site, Tom Pool

Really great to listen to Tom’s enthusiasm for this topic and it has given me dozens of ideas of how to use this and have already begun working on it with our tech guys.

Taking a headless Chrome browser and using it to “fake” Googlebot is a really clever idea that allows you to not only monitor your own site but any site you want.

An obvious starting point is to automate checks of your clients and their competitors sites so to be able to give regular and consistent guidance on changes your competitors have made and overlay that with organic performance for actionable suggestions.

The more Google makes it difficult for programs to scrape it’s SERPs the more this sort of stuff will come to the fore and be common place across SEO Teams.

View the slides here

How To Trim JS, CSS & External Stuff To Slim Down & Speed Up Your Site, Chris Simmance

I’ve worked alongside Chris very closely in the past at Optus Digital, and he’s someone I consider a good friend. I also witnessed the inception of Under2 and got to see a lot of the brilliant work that Chris, Shane and the rest of the team can produce first hand. I was very excited to hear this talk!

Key Points:

  1. The internet is very slow and it is getting slower because of the increase in users and current infrastructure. The strain will only increase because of the IoT and we need to build better for the sake of the internet and its users (us!).
  2. Cue a hilarious video about “How the internet works”. You can watch this on his slides here.
  3. CNN has a really slow site compared to the BBC (featured a few times in other talks too, sort it out CNN!) because of their background resources, ads and trackers.
  4. Off-site resources can be the root of most speed problems.
  5. Bloated assets like CSS (unused CSS) are also not considered enough. Test your site to see what visual elements are being loaded but not being used by the page.
  6. Images can be the biggest site speed pain. Use Base64 encoding, next gen formats and compression to get the best out of them.
  7. Stop using so many trackers if possible. Don’t use plugins if you can help it.
  8. Use caching, look into varnish on your server and make sure you are running the latest PHP version (a lot of people are running the old, end of life version 5.6)
  9. Apache and Nginx servers are generally better for speed optimisation than an IIS server.
  10. Use a good front end framework.

How to use Programmatic to drive search results internationally, Gemma Houghton

I headed to the International stage to hear from Webcertain’s Marketing Director, Gemma Houghton. Gemma’s talk provided an insightful overview of Programmatic Advertising, looking at how you can optimise your campaigns to drive search results.

Gemma started off by explaining that Programmatic Advertising is an automated marketing method, based on real time bidding on advertising inventory, targeting specific customers in a specific context. According to Gemma it’s the preferred method of display advertising, targeting people instead of placements, devices and platforms. One of the many benefits is that you can run all campaigns across all platforms from one place and it’s great for reaching audiences at scale.

Here’s what I learnt:

  1. Programmatic helps us do our jobs better! It’s great for driving efficacy as you can automate activity which takes manual work away so you can focus on other things.
  2. We need to be thinking about audiences vs keywords – Gemma stresses that keywords do still matter but with Programmatic you aren’t focusing on specific things people are searching for, you’re looking at the bigger picture focusing on things that will capture people’s attention.
  3. Are the robots coming? Gemma highlights that this is a genuine concern for marketers in the industry but she reassured us that the robots in fact aren’t coming and we very much still need people. People still need to put it all together in order to tell the machines what to do and we need to be monitoring the campaign and keeping an eye on things to ensure campaigns are effective as possible.
  4. Creative, creative, creative! Gemma says that the creative of your campaign is SO important but often gets overlooked. You always need to be thinking about the banners you use in your campaigns as they are the way you represent your brand and they are what will draw people into your campaign, they need to look good and appeal to the user.
  5. When looking at international campaigns it’s important to consider culture, the imagery needs to represent the country your campaign is targeting. Make sure you’re using images that mean something to the people your ads are aimed at, so your ad doesn’t get ignored.
  6. Frequency capping – Is your ad being seen by the same people, on multiple sites? Gemma ended her talk by highlighting that you don’t want your ad to be everywhere as this can alienate people, targeting the same people with the same messaging.

Why UX is SEO’s Best Friend, Michelle Wilding-Baker and Luke Hay

The talk was split in two, with Michelle kicking us off from an SEO POV and Luke backing her up from a UX standpoint.

Michelle started her talk by outlining that, with Search becoming ever more user focused, it’s important to outline what it is users want – which can be summarised as follows:

  1. Fast Site & Page loads
  2. Relevant Content – meet User’s intent
  3. Optimised for all devices

We should focus on User Optimisation and not Search Engine Optimisation, as providing the best content for our User’s will enable us to rank better organically.  Reaching rank #1 isn’t the hard bit anymore, maintaining it is, which can be combated by not only providing the best content but also by providing the smoothest user journey.

Luke supported this with 3 main takeaways:

  1. Conversion Persuaders & Blockers
  2. User Research & User Testing
  3. Embed a User Centred Culture

Luke advised all SEO Specialists to work closer with UX, Data & Dev Specialists and to focus on the  key blockers of  slow page loads, negative price perceptions, poor usability, and too much or wrong information as the reverse are key persuaders for conversion.

Both speakers highlighted the importance of conversions, with Michelle even claiming that “traffic in isolation is just vanity”, what we need to understand is the ‘why’ determine what users care about. This is done by setting up clear conversion goals and user testing properly on real users to understand what they want to get out of their search.

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