What We Learned at the 2018 European Search Conference
Since our Warrington office is basically up the road, we thought it'd be rude not to have some form of Latitude attendance at the first ever European Search Conference - hosted in the wonderful city of Liverpool.
Convenience aside though, we were genuinely excited to listen to what some of the search industries leading professionals had to say about a wide variety of relevant topics - and we certainly didn't go home disappointed.
As a result, we decided as a team that it would be wise to scribble down the notes of our favourite talks throughout the day.
Anyway, it turns out, when we attend events like these - we all like to write A LOT of notes.
So we thought - why not publish them on the Latitude blog so we can access them forever?
And, it might be useful to those of you that missed out on attending the conference for whatever reason.
In which case, you're welcome.
First up was...
Aleyda Solis on The SEO Guide to Website Migrations
“The weather is better here than in Madrid”, said Aleyda – who wasn’t the only one enjoying the glorious Liverpool sunshine on the day.
Her talk was centred on best practices and some next level tips to execute a smooth website migration … no matter what type of migration “adventure” you may face.
For the purists, this was a dream talk – rich in detail and expert-level advice.
We tried our best to keep up and capture the main points in the following list – but if you want the real deal, give @aleyda a shout on Twitter.
Migrations are Important Opportunities
- Use migrations as an opportunity for growth, it’s a time to fit in other structural changes or bigger projects you want to make. You should see a positive change in visibility over time, you are after all improving the site.
- Scope/level of change depends on the type of migration and the end goal. A UX redesign with no URL change is still a migration and can still have a negative impact on visibility, so should be prepared for in the same way.
A Guide to Planning Your Migration
- Crawl the site to get the scope of URLs which will change.
- Audit pages to find out what is important to them (things influencing rankings). This will tell you what you need to keep and what areas you need to improve.
- Establish what needs to change on the page (technical & content) or what change will be forced on the page due to the migration type.
- “Bridge” pages can be useful for branding changes. www.newbrand.com/oldbrand
- Crawl site to get a list of URLs you need to migrate over, ensure you collect orphaned pages ect.
- Get the traffic and query data for the URLs
- Use the data above to map the old URLs to the new structure. The data above allows you to pick a new page which is relevant to the rankings for the old one.
- Make sure every old URL is assigned somewhere. Even if there is no truly relevant new page.
- Test this before it goes live, manually validate the changes.
- Crawl the old URL list to ensure you are getting the correct result for these pages.
- Audit the new locations, this will ensure the new pages do not have technical issues.
- Track the new locations before you put the changes live, so you have data from launch.
- With HTTPS migrations, ensure certificate is set up correctly for all domains and sub-domains.
A Guide to Executing Your Migration
- Crawl again. Old URLs should resolve to new pages. New URLs should be working correctly. No issues with the robots file, canonicals ect.
- Submit your new sitemap, or new domains to Google when you know everything is working correctly.
- Use a site monitoring tool to watch the site in the weeks after launch. This will alert you if any changes occur on the page.
A Guide to Validating Your Migration
- Compare old and new performance in Google Search Console to ensure you are not experiencing severe drop offs. Check rankings of your top terms, CTR and the pages which are ranking. Are they the pages you expect?
- Use other ranking tools to evaluate performance. Old pages should drop off as new pages are established. Investigate areas where rankings have dropped off. Is this an issue with a specific page or group of pages?
- Most importantly check traffic/conversion data is consistent.
Obviously, we haven’t captured everything from Aleyda’s detailed guidance here but this hopefully gives you the gist on her exemplary approach to any kind of migration adventure. And we’re big fans of her Lord of The Rings themed slides here at Latitude.
Lukasz Zeleny on Social Media Tactics You Should Use Tonight
By his own admission, Lukasz is usually the SEO guy … but this time he focused entirely on social media, sharing lessons from his own success largely via Twitter.
Alongside his hilarious anecdotes from his personal life, we found the most interesting aspect of his talk to be how he uses social as a potential link building avenue.
Using Social for Link Building
A lot of Lukasz’ tips came with a recommended tool. And he spent most of his time praising Brand24 – which he uses to track mentions of Uswitch in work … and his own name.
The tool basically “listens” for any mention of the terms you input, and lets you know when those terms are mentioned on the internet.
He pointed out that, when interviewed for a podcast as a member of the Uswitch team, this detail was mentioned the synopsis of the show.
He then got in touch with the show runners to politely ask if there was any chance of a link via the Uswitch mention.
Simple. Reasonable. And, most importantly, one more potential link than he had before.
Using BuzzSumo to Brief Content Creators
Lukasz also celebrated BuzzSumo as a valuable tool to use at the briefing stage in content marketing.
He echoed the same thoughts as our own in-house team who love this tool, when he said he simply enters the subject matter into the search function, selects the most successful articles listed in BuzzSumo, reads them, uncovers the traits of each piece, and shares these traits with his content writer at the briefing stage.
You can see more on how Latitude go about it in our post on content marketing here.
Note: Lukasz warned that the Facebook stats in BuzzSumo can sometimes be misleading as they are often inflated by paid Facebook advertising campaigns.
Using Mentions to Engage “Big Fishes”
Lukasz didn’t claim to have broken new ground with this tip, but he humbly advised us to mention influencers in a Tweet, when you have featured them/their work in your content.
If you’re celebrating their stuff – then they’re more likely to engage with your tweet.
We could mention Lukasz in our Tweet for this post, for example, along with DontPanic and so on.
Using Open Graph Optimisation to Give Your Content the Best Shot at Success
Lukasz wants you to treat open graph with respect. Optimise every element of it to ensure that when your content is shared, by anybody, it is displayed in the best way possible to represent your brand and the work itself.
He recommends using Facebook Developer to test how your open graph looks before going live.
We took from Lukasz that this ought to be considered “standard operating procedure” when publishing content – but is often not treated as such.
Respect the open graph. Noted.
Using Events to Secure a Free Advertising Placement on Twitter
This was interesting. Lukasz once noticed how somebody had tweeted a very engaging piece about an event the day before it happened.
Because it was an engaging tweet – it was featured right at the top of the hashtag feed for the event the next day – when LOADS of people were checking the hashtag.
Lukasz borrowed the method for Brighton SEO in 2017 with some comical Tweets before the event launched, including this:
Using IFTTT to Identify Relevant Journo Requests
A simple formula via the IFTTT (If This Then That) tool helps Lukasz filter out the most relevant Tweets using the #journorequest hashtag.
He gets an email every time that hashtag is used alongside the word “marketing” – as he (rightly) believes he has something to add to the marketing conversation. This way, he’s not sitting there monitoring the #journorequest hashtag – he’s only engaging with it when it promises to be an opportunity for him.
Again, this helps him get more link building opportunities than before – and it’s very little work once the formula is in place.
So, we liked Lukasz – and we liked his tips. He got the audience chuckling before the break and it was a joy to hear him talk on the day.
You can see his full slideshow here.
Tools mentioned by Lukasz:
Fresh web explorer
10 Commandments for De-Mystifying the Creative Process
Vicky Cheung from Distilled ( @VickeKaravan ), shared a behind-the-scenes look into their creative process for creating content for clients.
She started by sharing their general process, which is:
- The Creative Brief
- Outreach & Promotion
Next, she shared deeper insight into how they’ve kept improving their process over the years, and the commandments they follow.
The 10 Commandments:
1. Always Question The Brief
Work with the client to get to the bottom of what they really want out of the creative project.
2. Assemble your A-Team
As a rule, her team have a Creative lead, a copywriter, a designer, a developer and a PR exec.
3. Pair Different People Together
In particular, make sure you have a range of skillsets and personality types.
4. Research, then research some more
They have at least 4 weeks for the ideation stage which includes a lot of research time. They feel research is one of the most important stages (we do too) and they use a range of tools and techniques, from looking at BuzzSumo, to researching data and statistics.
5. Validate, before it’s too late
Along with research, this is also the stage that can make or break a project. Vicky covered a number of techniques for validation including voting and scoring the ideas, sharing with the wider team and running the idea(s) past journalists.
6. People care about people, not numbers
Make sure your project will resonate on an emotional level with users.
7. Never underestimate the power of words
Start with copy, but don’t be afraid to revisit the copy once it has been designed/developed.
8. Minimise risk, maximise output
If you need to, start small and often. This should convince stake holders to put their trust (and budget) in your hands.
9. Plagiarise Yourself
Don’t be afraid to repurpose existing projects you have created.
10. Shout about your stuff
Ideation and production is only half the battle. Reach out to journalists and influencers. Think about creating and providing exclusive content for publications.
It was a talk that had our own creative peeps nodding in agreement, and elbowing their colleagues to say “see, this is why we go on about this stuff all the time”.
It’s a lovely time to be in search marketing, now the creative side of it is being taken so seriously by the majority of good agencies.
If you want to know more about our creative work, there’s a bunch of case studies waiting for you here.
Thanks to Don’t Panic for another great event and see you next year!