On the 8th of February, Artefact was present at Friends of Search 2018 in Amsterdam as one of its official partners. A dedicated team of both organic (SEO) and paid search professionals from our Dutch office joined the variety of presentations given by the international top of experts within the search field.
This 5th edition of the search congress was marked as the best of edition and some of the key take-aways during the day included machine learning, the impact of (big) data on search marketing and how we should focus on ranking factors. Microsoft’s Engineer and Technical Evangelist James Whittaker kicked-off this theme perfectly in the first presentation of the day:
Engineer and Technical Evangelist | Microsoft
From the various presentations given during the event, we’ve selected 3 highlights you can start using today in order to get your SEO strategy ready for the future of search.
1. Use big data tooling to drive your SEO strategy (Wil Reynolds of Seer Interactive)
Even in 2018, a lot of SEO professionals and the companies they work for, still consider keyword rankings as their main KPI to focus on. Wil Reynolds, Founder & Director of Digital Strategy of Seer Interactive, rightly points out that rankings are just the beginning and you should not get fooled into thinking you’re winning because you got a top ranking.
Of course, a top ranking is great, but ask yourself whether or not your website really is answering the user’s question you’d like to rank for, or in other words: is it worth chasing this specific keyword? According to Reynolds you can acquire these kinds of insights by collecting more data (more than just keywords with high search volumes), combining this data and subsequently analyzing it in a big data program.
For example: by doing old school keyword research, you might end up with a whole set of potentially interesting keywords for your main product page. Additional AdWords data, such as clickthrough rates, can help you make better decisions.
Tip: work together with the different departments within your company, collect all the available data (for example, AdWords, Google Analytics, Google Search Console and Usability insights) and start using a big data tool such as Power BI to bring all the data together and to drive your decisions based on hard data.
2. Structured data is king (Barry Adams of Polemic Digital)
One of the common themes on this year’s Friends of Search was the ever fading boundaries between different platforms and devices and a more centralized (cloud) focused approach of search marketing as a whole. Inevitably there was a lot of talk about structured data. Websites that have structured data implemented have their data organized in a more efficient way, which enables search engines to display this data in more creative ways.
According to Barry Adams, founder of Polemic Digital, in the old world of search the main focus was keywords. In the current and future world of search, the focus shifts towards things. And Structured Data enables search engines to understand things and their relationships to one another. When you have Structured Data in place, this allows search engines to show rich snippets in their SERPs, such as product information & pricing, reviews & ratings and your website’s breadcrumbs. Besides that, it enables search engines to show complete knowledge panels including your company’s contact information, logo and social media profiles.
While there are (still) multiple ways to implement Structured Data on your website, Adams points out to use JSON-LD as the preferred vocabulary to do so. Google recommends using this syntax as well.
Tip: if you don’t want to be all too dependent on the resources of your web development team, you can also use Google Tag Manager in order to implement structured data.
3. Forget general ranking factors and focus on your niche instead (Marcus Tober of Searchmetrics)
As an SEO professional it is easy to get lost in the huge number of factors search engines use to measure websites in order to rank them. There’s a lot of speculation which ranking factors are most important on a general basis, but we tend to forget to focus on what our websites are really about. According to Searchmetrics’ founder Marcus Tober we shouldn’t blindly follow these general trends. It is much more rewarding to focus on your businesses’ niche and your user’s intentions instead. What works for one type of business, doesn’t necessary apply to the other. For example: an instructional video is a big plus for a webpage with fitness instructions, but much less important for a webshop selling phone accessories.
Tober compared general vs niche ranking factors in a beautiful metaphor of an all-inclusive beach overcrowded by people (general) to a prestine private beach resort (niche). Question: where do you prefer to be? Let’s just take a step back and ask yourself: do I really need to include more words on my page? Is that video implementation really necessary to rank higher? Or: should we consider migrating to https top priority right now?
Tip: check and compare the first 10 organic search results for your most important keywords and analyse which factors seem important for the top-ranking websites.
At Artefact we are all about combining the various professions and data together and leverage the input in order for your business to reach your goals. You can find more information about our SEO and content marketing service here. If you have any questions or want to discuss the possibilities for your company, let us know and we will connect you with one of our SEO consultants.