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I, me, Social Sarah (@SarahMBradley) attended SES London with client, MajesticSEO and Dixon Jones (@Dixon_Jones) and what a brilliantly full 2 days I had. The setting could not have been better, nestled in the centre of Westminster between Big Ben and the Abbey I ran around taking pictures for the first 10 minutes. Check it:

QEII Conference Centre, right next to Big Ben

I am aware this is a super-long write up so I’d recommend using the scroll feature, finding the title of a conference you like the look of and gorging yourself on some inside tips and cracking takeaways before Tweeting it to all of your friends and making yourself a cup of tea.

 

Future Forward – Shifts in Digital Revolution

Self-described ‘beardy, long-haired’ Dave Coplin (@dcoplin) kicked off the presentation in his usual bouncy manner talking to us about 2013 Search as the Gateway to the Customer. The way we connect all our services and bring them back around the User again is integral to success this year’ whether this be the implementation of stronger mobile strategies or simply writing better content, 2013 is all about how our Customers do things, rather than how they find things.

I loved Dave’s ‘Web’ analogies: The Web of Knowledge, Web of People, Web of Places and Web of the World all makes perfect sense – how can you tap into the Web of Knowledge without tapping into the Web of People? How can you even begin to get a tentative hold on the Web of the World, without first getting to grips with the web of Places? Dave expressed how important it is to look beyond our traditional metrics, beyond everything we have learnt about digital marketing and understand who our customers are, where they are when they are being who they are and who they are when they are around other people. Still with me here?

Context is key; who you are changes depending on time of life, who we are with at the decision making point, what we care about and why that is and what products are placed in front of us at these particular times that fulfil our need are the ones we trust and buy. That is true personalisation.

Link Building in a Post Penguin World

This particular talk piqued my interest due to our success in this area and a panel with Kevin Gibbons (@Kevgibbo) and Paul Madden (@PaulDavidMadden) looked really great.  Kevin made some really interesting observations about the Google gap; Link Building existed before Google and therefore traditional Links will always be relevant, however the quality of these Links is now closing the Google gap making it easier for Google to assess and penalise those sites who are simply there to manipulate the algorithm rather than provide Users with something useful.

Kevin & Paul alike told us not to give up on Link Building yet but our approach must be more integrated with Social and Search; having spent the best part of 6 weeks brainstorming, working and reworking our collaborative strategies at Receptional it was really useful to hear our ideas confirmed and enhanced during SES.

The metrics of site quality should shift to include:

1.       The amount of RSS subscribers and social buzz

2.       Average number of social shares per post and average number of links per post

3.       What is our anchor text distribution like

4.       What is our Link Volume vs our Referral Traffic

5.       Is the site linking to other sites that are relevant to us

Using these additional metrics, we can compare ourselves with competitors, adjust our anchor text to incorporate phrases and words that Customers are typing into their search bar when looking for our products. Additionally, we can use MajesticSEO tools to establish which sites are doing things right and try to replicate it – sounds like a Link Building Post Penguinsimple idea and shouldn’t be taken in the literal sense of course – but as a general rule, why not look at their backlink profile to see why Google loves them so much? It can’t hurt!

A key takeaway for me was this: Did you know that Google logs whenever anchor text is first seen? If you ask to use the Disavow tool using Google, they will know about it; ultimately Paul and Kevin advised to check out the backlink profiles of our Clients, good and bad, and start to tighten them up.

 

Creative Content Marketing – Winning Hearts, Minds and Wallets

With ‘content’ ringing in my ears, I headed over to Track 2 for Lee Odden’s (@LeeOdden) talk which pretty much confirmed Kevin and Paul’s theory that Google wants more content. However, don’t mistake this for a new strategy of churning out content for contents’ sake; the content will be useless if not teamed with this simple ingredient: relevancy.Creative Content

Content creates demand, demand for things that Customers may never of heard of before! Now that’s powerful. It reminded me of something Bas Van De Beld (@basvandebeld) said at ISS London a few months back about the importance of finding the right Authority to provide your content too before you can even hope it can be talked about. After all, content might be brilliantly constructed, but it won’t be worth anything if it isn’t being shared, Liked, chatted about over tea with your Mum.

Lee spoke about how lucrative a link can be if brokered naturally simply because someone loves your stuff and wants to link to it; a simple concept but totally worth investing in great content creators if this is the return!

It is important to know what kind of content our Customers want and care about whether this is image-rich, white paper style (hey, some people love white papers okay?) infographics, or one-liners and present it to them in such a way that they cannot possibly not share it because they love it so much.

Key takeways from Lee’s talk were this: Tell a story. Sounds a simple method yes, but not so easy to excecute effectively. We don’t want to talk at our customers using the traditional marketing words and phrases any more, Customers are past this. They want to know we are listening to them when they say what it is they want. We need to know what is important to them, personally, before we can even think about trying to sell them something.

It’s important to remember that we aren’t just targeting our Customers who Convert with our content; if we have created something that is truly innovative and great, someone who may never buy our product may share it with someone who will because they are impressed with it.

As a Social nut – I loved this talk as it’s easy to see the potential a Brand can have when they are supported by truly innovative and relevant content. I expect a few of my Clients will be getting an email over the next few weeks reiterating the same!

Keyword Modelling Analysis

Aaah keywords, aren’t they great? Next up after Lee’s talk for me was Bill Hunt (@BillHunt) rocking the moustache as well as the stage.

The few digs as Social Media people (boo!) aside, Bill’s talk was really great as it gave us a better idea on how to structure our analysis including what factors to take into consideration.

It’s important to look at the Customer’s buying cycle and asses the drop off points, what did they ask for in the first place and what are the purchase cycle phrases they used along the way. These factors, combined with extensive product grouping into keyword segments, sentiments and other buying cycle modifiers provide Digital Marketers with stronger ideas for our campaign strategies.

Again, the word of the day ‘Content’ cropped up, including the importance of a collaborative Search, Paid, Link and Social approach centred around keyword qualifiers. Understanding what people want is integral to Conversion – it sounds so simple when put like that but so easy to over complicate when we are trying to work out what our customer wants!

How to Earn Visibility & Links Through Killer Content Strategies

Max Brockbank (@BigInSEO) and Kevin Gibbons (this guy was everwhere!) were up next. Reiterating much of what I had heard that day really helped to confirm that the conclusions I had made about content were correct – Google factors in more signals than ever before. Not giving up on Links but realising the power of Social Signals will mean your campaign really takes off – if we can convince our Clients to change their minds about Links that is!

It’s Quality vs Quantity in 2013 and it’s our job to ensure our Clients are aware of this. One link from a top Influencer, both Social Medialy (that’s a word) and Traditionally, is much more powerful than brokering hundreds of smaller links. Spending the same time on that one, great Link will assist the Client so much more in the long-run, but many will find the transition hard. Educating our Clients and improving our Link strategies will send Google signals they simply can’t ignore. Preferably the ‘We are Great’ kind.

Maximising Realtime Marketing Opportunities – Day 2 and I’m Feeling Groovy

After the definite and crackling energy of Day 1, I was curious if this would follow in Day 2.

Kicking off the day was Oliver Snoddy (@olisnoddy) from Twitter UK, talking about the marketing opportunities of this platform. While the presentation was pretty much a Twitter 101 and kept referring to how great it was, I genuine think that that is fair enough considering the return we can all gain through the information it provides us with.

Twitter is, in case you weren’t aware, the transferral of information, constantly updated and real-time. We can use it to learn what our customers care about, when they talk about certain things, who they are with and where they are. Hashtags and ‘@’ conversations are aggregated stories, utilised by brands all over the world.

Oliver made a cracking point about real-time response and its effectiveness; if you’re on the ball, you can make one comment tell a story in the right moment that is just as important to your Brand as your overall Digital Marketing strategy.

While measuring the revenue from Twitter engagement is a masterful art form that many of us haven’t quite managed yet; the click through rate, social shares, engagement, trends and people simply getting involved in the conversation undoubtedly all add to Conversion rate and WOM marketing we so avidly crave.

Analyse the Searcher Workflow from Intent through Engagement to Conversion

Jon Quiton (@jonquinton1) and Crispin Sheridan (@CrispinSheridan) looked after us for this talk on search workflow. Jon spoke about the meaning of the questions customers ask and how they are important when attempting to understand what it is that made them want to look for a certain product, and more importantly, what will encourage them to buy.

Crispin spoke about the metrics Marketers need to adopt and monitor as well as comparing the successes of both paid and natural search results to establish variable and common factors for future campaigns. Dynamic landing pages might seem an obvious, but their relevance is so crucial; if consumer’s drop off as soon as they hit your homepage, you’re doing something wrong. Monitoring every avenue of the consumer cycle will ensure that you can tweak, adjust and improve your Customer’s experience leading to more Conversions.

Although I didn’t manage attend the rest of the conference due to the Expo, it was still a brilliant opportunity to talk to and meet leading influencers from the industry. All in all, I’d recommend SES events to all number of people as I feel so much of it is applicable to everyone in Digital.

Thanks everyone!

Sarah Bradley sups tea before taking on the Conferences