Last week, three members of the Vertical Measures team attended PubCon, a yearly event where all the latest news on SEO, Social Media and Online Marketing is shared and discussed. Below are some of the more interesting or controversial things that were said by speakers across the various events, and while we may not agree with everything, it might get you thinking about your campaign and where you want to take it.
- Utilize video and images to target universal search and get more page 1 real estate. Submit both image and video sitemaps to search engines.
- When your rankings jump onto page one for a couple of days, this is the audition period – ensure you have good CTR and low bounce rates.
- End user data, gathered via the Google toolbar or query data, is considered in the ranking algorithm, so ensure good user experience.
- A short URL in the SERPs will get twice as many clicks, which a long URL leads to 2.5 times more clicks for the link below.
- Don’t chase algorithums, but ask ‘What would I do if it were my search engine’?
- Don’t target single word keywords. Aside from the low ROI they are used less frequently due to their ambiguous nature. As more words are included the volume decreases, but conversions increase.
- People search in plural keywords, but buy in singular.
- Put misspellings of keywords in your meta keywords so they are still included on a page without making your brand seem unprofessional.
- The .mobi TLD provides no advantage in ranking for mobile searches, but user detection to serve a different website design is best practice.
- Blackhat tactics are like drugs, you might be able to get a quick boost, but in the long term it will only cause problems.
- The long tail is bogus – search is being used more for navigation with brand queries of short length.
- Don’t limit yourself to link reclamation for your own site, but competitors’ sites too. Keep an eye on any bankrupt companies in the industry also.
- Videos and photos posted to your listings can help give your local listing a boost.
- Many have seen it, but this is a great video on the power of social media.
Website Design and Conversion Optimization
- More people scroll to the bottom of websites than a few years ago (up to 15% from 2%), as scroll wheels have become more common. But 76% of clicks are still above the fold, so put a CTA at the top and bottom of each page.
- Flash slide shows show your business cannot prioritize the best service or message to get across for each page. They are also a distraction and take up too much prime real estate.
- From left to right across your navigation, take visitors through an Engagement Continuum, who you are and why they should buy from you.
- A user can keep 7 things in their short-term memory, design navigation with this in mind and don’t give too many options. Use the 80:20 rule to promote only the top 20% of categories.
- Make your message more obvious, don’t hide it in text, or bury it in the page. Everyone has A.D.D. online and no one reads paragraph text.
- Keep your numbers specific – e.g ‘2 million users’, not ‘millions of users’ to appear more real and tangible.
- Borrow trust from other sources by listing any publications or associations you have with well-known brands. The right hand column is ideal for these trust indicators.
- Test your pages using both qualitative and quantities data, using both Analytics and feedback from user experiences.
- Never let your IT department write copy, keep an eye on error pages, 404s, thank you pages and search result pages.
- Every page can be a landing page, so needs to be designed for conversions. Find the non-converting, high traffic pages and start from there.
- You have 50 milliseconds to give a first impression of your site, which is crucial in the buying decision, so your site needs to look professional. Layout will have a greater affect on conversions than content.
- Too many homepages have too many options, keep it to one CTA with easy navigation. Too many options mean users make no choice at all.
- Page speed is important for users and search engines alike, 49% of rural city visitors are still on dial up connections and page speed is going to become more and more important in future algorithms.
- Conversion rates mean nothing without a traffic source.
- HIPPO = Highest paid persons opinion. Don’t let the boss pick the design – test it!
- Don’t just test, but have a strategic plan and hypothesis based on your target audience and their buying behavior to ensure marketing insight from the results.
- Websites are made to sell, not win design awards – ‘slick isn’t sticky’.
- Automate your analytics to focus on strategy, not tactics. Ignore any averages, as well as pageviews or bounce rates – you want people to find information quickly!
- It doesn’t matter if you want to do social media, people are talking about you anyway! Listening to passive conversations about you is the most honest feedback you will ever get
- Companies think they are giving up control by encouraging social media participation, but the illusion of control was just ignorance by large brands.
- When tweeting you ARE the company, there are no departments.
- Use social media to work above Google and keep people away from search. If they know you and trust you, they won’t search for others.
- When Google crawls Social Media data, they are listening to your customers, and what they say about you.
- Forums are unsexy social media, but still important and have large audiences.
- People want to give feedback – make it easy for them.
Future of Search
- Mobile search is the largest growing sector of search, and HTML5 is set to replace mobile applications.
- PC search and 10 blue links will diminish in importance in the coming years.
- If search is the past, prediction and suggestion will be the future.
- Don’t optimize pages for algorithms, but optimize the brand itself for search. Give your customers what they want and make your business stand out, to help your site stand out in the rankings.
- Microformats are going to become more important to provide information to searchers before they visit your site.
- HTML5 will help crawlers better under websites and their layout of content and navigation. Ensure your website is compliant.