Amid a flotilla of boats and docklands memorabilia, a far-reaching SEO conference last week brought together SEO experts from brands across many industry sectors, to discuss, learn and network on the latest challenges and changes faced by digital SEO professionals at the start of 2019.
Page speeds need to accelerate…
Alina Ghost, SEO Manager at Amara, started off the session of talks with an in-depth consideration of how mobile first is really beginning to impact on website structure – as well as digital performance. She recommended steering away from the more traditional approach of separate desktop and mobile websites to a single “responsive site” that was truly adaptable to all devices.
One new tool in the SEO toolbox is AMP – accelerated mobile pages, these will assist in speeding-up page load times. With mobile searches and near me searches still on the increase, page speed is a key area for investment this year.
This was backed by Google’s Head of Digital User Experience, Alessandra Alari, who confirmed that one in five of all UK purchases are made on mobile devices, and 70% of all internet users are now using mobile.
Alessandra’s message to the SEO community was to ensure all page speeds are no more than three seconds, as the latest statistics show that the average page speeds are still in the region of six seconds!
She confirmed that 53% of consumers are prepared to leave a site after a wait of just three seconds* – this represents a huge loss of potential business!
HTTP Archive Top 1 million sites*
Voice Search is increasing … so do you need to register your brand?
In the battle of Google vs Amazon, Amazon has finally overtaken with 54% of users shopping on Amazon vs. 46% shopping on Google* (*Jumpshot data report 2018).
Combine this with a 130% increase in voice search and it has now become the battle of the home hubs. Voice users are adapting to a clear structure when asking questions and this is a new area that search specialists should be considering.
“ASK” is the opening instruction for 28% of all voice enquiries, while “OPEN” is used 21% of the time.
For brands wanting to create future Voice apps – known as skills – the Amazon Alexa is currently dominating the market with 68% market share in voice searches.
Companies wanting to be registered for voice searches need to first register their brand names as an invocation name – and there will only be one of any given name – so this could be something brands need to do as soon as possible to avoid losing this opportunity.
Indexing in position Zero…
Key advice from Nick Wilsdon, Search Product Owner at Vodafone Group, was to consider how to adapt content to gain greater search exposure. For those brands with bricks and mortar locations, there is an opportunity to improve your indexing and get to the top of local listings.
Featured snippets are often used to provide voice responses to oral questions, so a clean opening paragraph that contains all the key elements to answer typical “NEAR ME” questions could result in your content being indexed as suitable for appearing in a featured snippet.
This snippet gives additional exposure of your brand and content near the top of search pages. Taking a strategic review of your content could allow you to plan alterations to your copy, to enhance your indexing opportunities.
Are your pages worth landing on?
Even if your technical SEO is spot on and you are appearing for all the right keywords, you must give a user a reason to stay! Dwell times and content shareability are key measures of success to assess user interaction and desire to stay. Key advice from David Freeman, Global Head of SEO at Treatwell, is to give more thought to the purpose of content. Will your user gain from it? Will they want to share it with peers and across media? How will it enhance their immediate situation? Reviewing the purpose of a page is as vital as the crawl-ability. Use your data to make sure your content speaks to the user in a way that is constructive and useful to them.
If your content speaks to a user at a personal level, it is more likely to get shared widely and will allow you to gain valuable, credible backlinks. Content of this type shows others who they are by following your brand, engages them in an issue that shows they care about the world or gives them a reason to feel better about themselves.
Does your left hand know what the right one is doing?
So often PPC and SEO are split under separate management, separate teams, even separate agencies and yet the most valuable gains can be made by simply cross-analysing and working your SEO & PPC strategies as one seamless strategy. Tom Mansell, Head of SEO at Croud spoke to delegates about how a joined-up, integrated approach can literally save thousands of pounds. An example of this is where previously both SEO and PPC were competing for the same keywords.
With the fast transition over to mobile and the seamless scrolling from paid listings into organic on a phone, brands have gained inefficiencies in their paid search strategies that can be identified and resolved by analysing keyword data. In the case-study Tom shared, Croud was able to reduce media spend by -70% for certain key terms with only a 1% drop in search traffic. Further efficiencies were made through content optimisation, resulting in a -69% drop in CPCs by knowing which areas of your website need to work harder.
The analysed SEO data could also be used to improve misaligned URLs. By understanding the more relevant, deeper areas of the website, URLs could be refocused resulting in enhanced PPC performance.
For support on SEO issues, or to find out more about Croud, contact us.