Set in the quirky backdrop of The Brewery in London, SearchLove 2019 was an event not to be missed by any serious digital marketeer. With talks spread over 2 days from speakers across the globe (including hello, Rand Fishkin, the Moz founder himself) we had the pleasure of attending as the event celebrated its 10th year. As a single track event we were saved with the dilemma of picking between talks meaning the event ran seamlessly with minimal fuss.
There were SO many great speakers with a mixture of backgrounds from agency/in-house to passionate keyword researchers and log-file loving technical SEOs. I’d love to share everything with you but with some presentations exceeding 400 slides (yikes) I’ve hand-picked some of my top learnings from the day. Distilled Founder, Will Critchlow, summed up the main learning of the event perfectly – we’re all constantly learning how SEO works and adapting to these changes, and if it wasn’t for these events, we wouldn’t evolve our strategies at the same rate.
Day 1 – All you can E-A-T
Day 1 started with Marie Haynes discussing practice tips for E-A-T. No sadly this isn’t an SEO buffet, but E-A-T is an acronym for Expertise, Authority and Trust. You may have heard of the Google Medic update which hit your-money-or-your-life sites in August 2018. Marie reminded us that Danny Sullivan from Google had already announced E-A-T is a ranking factor, but the real nugget here was a tip to check your organic traffic since 22 August 2019; if there’s a drop it’s likely due to low quality links. And how do you overcome that? Disavow your low quality links!Greg Gifford’s talk in the afternoon had enough movie references in for every week of the year. Despite his super-fast-paced presenting style, he captivated me enough to rediscover my appetite for local SEO. He shared some really great tips but there were two things that stood out to me:
If you’re a company that has a physical storefront, you must ensure your content is about your business and the local area. This might sound obvious but really think about it. If you’re publishing the same-old cr*p as everyone else in your space, then you don’t have anything that’s your differentiator. Why will search engines rank you higher than your competitors?
On Google My Business, your primary category carries the most weight and that you should add UTM tracking to your website link. The GMB attribution is a bit rubbish, so any juicy clicks you get from GMB will not show up in Analytics and often gets classed as direct! Greg also shared a fantastic little tool for simulating mobile search results. And a bonus tip (told you I really liked this talk) if an answer on GMB Q&As gets 3+ upvotes then it will appear in your panel, cool huh?
Day 2 – Data, data, data
Day 2 kicked off with SEO hero, Rand Fishkin. (I’m pleased I managed to hold back the fact I made a website about him when I was 23 as an SEO test, but hey I’ve just written it on the internet now. I don’t own the domain now; you can’t find it). Rand’s talk focused on the search landscape in 2019 and he delved into some interesting thoughts. The main takeaway here was that SEO is heading towards zero-click searches. This is when search queries don’t result in a click, which is the case with more than half of searches already. So your SEO moving forwards needs to include strategic tactics for on-SERP zero-click SEO.
Jill Quick's talk was simply brilliant, not only were her slides beautifully colourful but she talked about one of my favourite things – data! Her talk focused on Google Analytics and Google Data Studio. I’m fond of a Google Analytics custom segment and Jill uncovered a few clever hacks to ensure you’re looking at the right data; firstly, ensuring segments incorporate user-based rather than session-based data. Secondly noting that in GDS, some of the data may be sampled so won’t be based on 100% of sessions. There was a great tie-in to case statements (god I wish we’d had longer to go through this too) and I smiled as my colleague has already created an awesome report using these. You go Glen Coco!
The day rounded off with Stacey MacNaught talking about the fascinating concept of search intent. I’ve seen her speak before and she covers complex topics in an easy to understand way. Stacey discussed how search intent can be split into 3 categories; navigational, information and transactional (alongside ambiguous). Whilst this might be obvious, what really resonated here was that you need to categorise your keyword list into these three groups, to then establish what type of page should rank based on the keyword grouping. An informational search query shouldn’t be targeted with an ecommerce product page ranking as an example.
Thanks to Distilled for hosting such a great event, the format, speakers and food/drinks were all spot on! I’m not a huge fan of networking but I love SEO conferences like these where everyone is on the same page. Plus, there was a fun game machine in the breakout area. We’ll see you next year.
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