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SES London 2013 – Day Three

Day Three at SES

I made a flying visit to the morning of Day Three at SES London 2013. Here’s what I picked up from the experience of my first ever SEO conference (besides the free coffee….)

The talk that I attended, ‘Breaking Down the Borders: International and Multilingual SEO’ was given by Andy Headington and Mikkel deMib Svendsen, discussing the key themes of conducting successful cross-country and cross-continental online business and SEO. The main point – repeatedly hammered home throughout the talk – is remembering the importance of localisation for each country of business and its top level domain, in order to maximise customer potential and ROI in that country. It might seem obvious that one country’s language will differ from another, but have you considered that its customs, laws and culture will also play a massive role in the needs and expectations of your potential audience?

 

How to Butter Up Your Potential Audience

The importance of localisation over blanket content across your individual country domains is immeasurable – content that is perfectly acceptable in one country may take on a whole different meaning in light of another. An example given at the talk was of one unnamed Danish company who produced advertising on a standard lighter, used by millions the world over. However, when presenting this advertising idea to their branch in Norway, the Norwegian team were horrified, seeing it instead as an unsellable association between their brand and the glorification of smoking.

The point was also brought home further by emphasising the linguistic differences even between two countries that appear to share a language. A great example of this is the UK and the US, who on the surface would be assumed to be speaking the same language, yet this assumption can lead to costly mistakes when considering local meanings. For example, the widely used British term ‘Merry Christmas!’ can sometimes be considered offensive in the US on religious terms and instead, the public is encouraged to use the term ‘Happy Holidays!’. This is a difference that is potentially responsible for alienating large portions of your target audience if not picked up upon.

The considerations regarding your country-specific domain when setting up each individual website or page were also discussed at great length. The three options with their pros and cons were suggested as follows:

Country specific directory: www.yourwebsite.dk

-          A country specific domain is personal and makes the customer feel included.

-         It can give a small boost to rankings in local search engines, for example using yourwebsite.dk will rank better when using google.dk

-          However, the negative side of this is that you’ll need to link build separately for each country’s domain, which can be time consuming and costly.

Country subdomains: dk.yourwebsite.com

-          These effectively hold the same pros and cons as country specific directories but a subdomain may potentially hold less SEO power link wise.

Country directories: yourwebsite.com.dk

-          A directory is easier for link building as it’s still part of the core .com domain

-          However, this diminishes the localisation and can make the customer feel less valued.

 

How to Keep Them There

Once you’ve drawn your target audience into clicking through and visiting your site or business, it is imperative that localisation also takes into account your on-page visuals. Instead of blanket offering one layout, consider the differences between each country – for example, an ecommerce site must consider each area’s individual formatting of delivery addresses and postcodes. Even Amazon – a global giant – has fallen into this trap, previously alienating entire countries from purchasing their products by being unable to enter their addresses successfully into Amazon’s ‘standard issue’ forms.

The websites’ appearance itself is also a point of consideration. Similarly to the different cultural meanings of certain words and their unintentionally negative impact, colours can experience this same trouble. As an example, most western countries would agree that the colour white is synonymous with purity and innocence. However, when transferring this to eastern countries, this is not the case and instead the colour is indicative of death, mourning and funerals – not something you would want your brand to be associated with (unless you’re doing SEO for a funeral parlour…).

What’s more, you need to consider that customers from each country will have different needs and expectations and that these can be indicative to the design of your page. An example given was one of price: a US customer may like to see the price of an item in large lettering, whereas more conservative countries would prefer if it were hidden or, at the very least, not a focal point.

 

Who Rules the World?

It might be easy to assume given their giant status in Europe and the US, but Google is not necessarily the search engine king in every country. In Russia, Yandex is a major player and the little-known-to-the-West search engine Badu actually ranks 4th in the world.

Search Engine World Market Share

In addition to this, it is worth remembering that even when using Google, country specific domains will have differences with regards to their algorithm. The US will always receive algorithm updates first, followed by UK and spreading across the rest of Europe. This means that something such as the Venice update (more on this later!) may not necessarily be as useful for one country’s SEO as another’s.

It is also important to remember that while each country has its own language, you need to think beyond the borders on this: think by language not by country! By this I mean that within each country, there will be a multitude of languages spoken and the standard may not necessarily be the best fit for your website – for example, a website in Singapore may find that the most effective language to use is English or the English-based creole Singlish.

 

A few key side notes were also revisited….

HREFLANG tag

The Panda updates implemented by Google have heightened the damaging nature of duplicate content. Further to this, simply block translating on-page content can be problematic and unnatural to a native reader. This is where the HREFLANG tag comes into play, telling Google’s crawlers what language your site is using and therefore who your target audience is, easily implemented into your HTML.

Venice update

The importance of the Venice update – Google’s algorithm that offers localisation of search results – was also touched upon. As an example, the Venice update means that searching ‘accountants’ will automatically localise and subsequently prioritise the accountants in your area in the highest ranking results. This is beneficial even for a global company, as it will be much easier to rank highly in a number of localised searches as opposed to one national search. To truly benefit from this, however, your company needs to implement a local page or website for each specific area, including local title tags and meta descriptions. This also needs to extend to on-page content which won’t be beneficial if it is simply duplicated with interchanging place names. A number of suggestions were made to combat this, including localised reviews of your website and company or via guest posting on local sites.

 

And that’s what I learned from my morning session at Day Three of SES! For more of the indispensable Verve perspective, you can check out our very own Sachinda Jayatilleke’s take on SES Day One here and Matt Lindley’s review of SES Day Two here.

SES London 2013 – Day One

Day One of SES London 2013 has successfully ended and offered valuable insights on Social Media, Content Marketing and Data Analysis.

During my first ever attendance at SES, I was able to experience great talks, meet people from different markets and companies; and last but not least enjoy the awesome drinks and refreshments. ;)

Smart? Phone? Really, this device is dumb!

Back to the event … the Morning Keynote by Dave Coplin was a great starter to a bright and wonderful day. It was an entertaining talk discussing the paradox of the role of technology in our modern society for consumers and brands/ companies. However, both parties perceive this fact differently. To us consumers technology already has been integrated to our everyday love, whereas for companies the focus increases on the modern technology. Hence, B2C companies should ask themselves this subtle question, when they provide a service or a new product: ‘What do your customers want? – JUST ASK THEM!’ So easy and yet so true as many would try to find different strategies or research into previous data. Forget that, be human and just ask your fan base this question. You’ll be stunned about the response!

IMG_1693

Morning Keynote

Right after the great Expo Hall opened officially with stands from different companies offering SEO/ Content/ PPC services/tools from all over the world, such as Linkdex or Brightedge .

And it’s finally time for the first talk I have attended:

First Session: Beyond Engagement: Harnessing the Power of Social Media

Krista Neher began with a great introduction into Social Media and explaining the importance of social engagement and increasing social proof through more likes, shares or retweets.

Perfect balance of customer engagement (social interactions – like, comment, retweets) and brand value is vital for a successful and monetary social campaign – For instance, a brand about dogs has a great interaction with its Facebook community on their page, sharing several photos of dogs. Although many people find those dogs really cute and like the pictures, not everyone knows actually what that company does. This is a good example of the lack of brand value, besides their high social interaction.

Social Media is not a great way for selling a product online – A social media plan shows you that social media will drive awareness and interest (maybe desire) of costumers, in order to the ultimate goal of purchasing the product/ service.

Social Proof: If they like it, I like it … – It is proven that 80% of people are more likely to like a page based on a friend’s suggestion. This is the case on Facebook under the recommended pages section. Hence, it will be vital to get more visibility on the second level connection and appearing on that ‘recommended page’. This will automatically generate more traffic and increase the trust of this brand. Imagine, if your friend liked a brand on Facebook and this interaction is exposed on your Newsfeed. A normal reaction would be to check that page out, because it seems trustworthy as your friend liked it. So friends AND friends of friends will turn into high influencers in Social Media.

Heather Healy presented a case study of their client ‘Maxinutrition’ and their different social approaches to engage customers.

Four Keys to Successful Engagement:

o Ask people what they want? (What kind of interaction?)
o Plan ahead, but be spontaneous and expect the unexpected, such as replying to tweets in a sudden
o Show your customers real passion and showcase other people’s (big influencers) passion

Social Media Tools:

o Experian Hitwise provides you all the sites people have visited before and after your site, in order to determine, what your customer might want.
o Followerwonk helps you explore and grow your social graph, in terms of finding interesting analytics and follower segmentation from your Twitter profile.
o ManageFlitter gives you precise Twitter analytics and finds you relevant people to connect with.

Second Session: Creative Content Marketing: Winning Hearts, Minds and Wallets

Lee Oden managed to hold an outstanding speech about content marketing and how it has been increasing since last year. Moreover, in the future creative content marketing will generate more money, hence this is why people have begun to increase their budgets for content. The key will be to create valuable and interesting content

Content + Social Media – One major aspect will be to receive more and more social shares on your content. Lee showed a really nice ‘Content Marketing Maturity Model’ on how content writers are changing. Old school writers will still write their boring and useless article and try to place it, which is all visualized by a guy just standing in the model. However, at the end of the model the guy starts to walk and subsequently to jog. This shows the change of content writing – Content Marketing isn’t about throwing a bunch of blog posts each month; it’s about architecting a story and narrative.

COntent Marketing Maturity Model

How to Earn Visibility & Links Through Killer Content Strategy

Research global trends – Sites, such as socialmention.com, ubersuggest.com and semrush.com, will provide you with important data, which you can all export to a big CSV file and let it pass through wordle.net, which is a nice data visualization tool. Moreover, your frontline staff will have to interact more with the fan audience, in order to answer questions immediately. Secondly, act like a publisher and ‘borrow’ ideas from magazines, TV or newspapers. The customer journey will have to be reconsidered and should be used to find out better keywords to target and more sociable topics.

Facts Sell – Stories Tell – There are four different types of content, which can be generated:

o Evergreen Content – This type of content will always be time relevant, such as ‘How to’ guides.
o Repurpose Content – This means reusing the topic and generating new content on another platform, For instance, getting an audio script of a YouTube video and turning that into an article.
o Curated Content – Short snippets, such as industry news will have a huge social engagement.
o Co-created Content – This will include getting high quality content by top influencers in that particular market.

Find how to solve problems with creative content – This is where the $$$ lies. The main focus should be on optimizing the consummation and the actual action of buying the product. The latter part you will have to find out how to inspire that ‘action’ feeling. The consummation part discusses which type of content or media people want to read or see. Hence, it is a never ending cycle on creating user experience and providing high quality information.

Brand leadership – It is vital to take a leadership position with your content marketing strategy, as your customers don’t know, what they want. They don’t know that they don’t know. Moreover, standing out to customers and above the competition is the essence to great content marketing.

Winning creative is about results, not awards

Third Session: The Age of Big Data: The Modern Marketer

James Murray kicked off right after lunch and introduced his data tool Experian Hitwise, which can provide you with useful search data of customers. Experian knows 500 things about 49 million people across 24 million households. That’s how accurate it is.

Most searched product during Christmas? – Onesies. This shows that data can always surprise you. 12% of the searches were ‘male onesies’ and the most popular onesies type was a giraffe.

When do people buy contact lenses the most? – Apparently in October during Halloween.

Family travellers are more likely to search for the TV series Dr. Who – You see that there is no shortage of data. However, raw data is useless, until somebody processes that data.

Cognitive Dissonance – Everybody lies in surveys, which is a fact. People do tend to fake answers, in order to make them feel better. What can you do against it? – Get used to it!

Jon Myers then showed how vital it will be in the future to engage with mobile.

1 in 3 clocks in the US paid search will be mobile by the end of this year

1 in 3 searches will have a local intent

Mobile CPC (£0.28) are currently cheaper than desktop CPC (£0.30)

Don’t focus on CTR if you have a product – set optimized revenue!

Last Session: How to Earn Visibility & Links Through Killer Content Strategy

How to Earn Visibility & Links Through Killer Content Strategy

How to Earn Visibility & Links Through Killer Content Strategy

Kevin Gibbons released the big news everyone knew already in the beginning – Old school content without any human or social engagement is totally useless.

Google Signals 2013 – Google will care more if bounce rates are high on landing pages, or decrease the quality of a link if it comes from a directory. Moreover, authority and authorship come more and more into play as well as social signals and your brand reputation.

Educating Clients – One big issue will be to educate your clients on how the strategy has changed from ‘quantity counts’ to ‘quality over quantity’.

Give your audience a reason to talk about your content – Create a creative angle and be passionate about it! This is the essence on why people will share it.

For outreach results you need an audience – You will have to build an audience, which will eventually fulfill the whole potential of a link.

Our proud Head of SEO Max Brockbank used his years long of journalism experience and showed classic comparisons of link building in the modern era and ‘back in the days’ newspapers. It does add up – Link Building is more or less the same as writing a newspaper article. People want to read regularly interesting stories by trusted authors .

People buy stuff, because they read good content about it.

Local angles – It is more and more important to target Google+ local and mobile devices as they are increasing massively.

“rel=author” – Very important signal in the future to outsource trustworthy and good writers.

Search snippet – This is the first point of conversion! You can compare this to the newspaper, which includes the title, headline and a bit of the body. Hence, if your search snippet isn’t informative or exciting, people tend to click much less on that link.

Good writers can be taught, but the best writers are born – The key is to hire good techies, but hiring better writers.

Better links come from better sites – Better sites have better content – Better content comes from better writers

Yes, as you can see the first day had already so much to give. But now I’m out … It was a long day! See you on day two – fresh and ready to go ;) #seslon

*UPDATE*: The most awesome takeaways of Day Two and Day Three by Matt Lindley and Josie Sampson :)