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The Advanced Search Conference 2019

The Advanced Search Conference held in London, struck us as a little different to any other search conference. This was completely brand-led, jam-packed with 26 Heads and Directors of SEO all speaking in one day! All the seasoned SEO bods came from far and wide, making up a glorious mix of companies like Google, Just Eat, Shop Direct and Telegraph Media Group, to name a few.

Here at Reckless, we are big on brands and all things search (organic and paid). So, we thought we would give you our view on our favourite topics on the Advanced Search Conference agenda.


Key Takeaways include:
· Don’t turn a blind eye to mobile – mobile accounts for 2/3 of all web traffic
· Has your website switched to mobile-first indexing? Find out with Google Search Console
· If you have a mobile and responsive website running in parallel, make sure you optimise for mobile correctly. Ensure the same information is available and check canonicals, metadata and internal links. These should all be the same
· Mobile-first indexing has little or no impact on responsive websites
· Less text on mobile is ok – Google understands
· Create content for the right time and device
· Keep testing – check your engagement metrics such as dwell time, bounce rate and ensure you split data by device
· Check competitors site speed if they are ranking above your website
· Ensure your organic and paid search teams collaborate and share data to form profitable campaigns
· Do customer research for international SEO and understand your customer’s language
· Country-coded Top Level Domains can be an expensive approach for international SEO
· Parameter URLs send the weakest signals to search engines
· Remember your audience’s language and dialect when optimising content for international SEO
· Inform search engines which country you are targeting with URL, popular search engine rules, geo/language tags, keyword research, localised content, mobile-first & desktop UX and social engagement


The Detail 

Optimising Mobile Search & Mobile Page Speed For Improved Mobile-First Rankings, Boosted Visibility & Better User Experiences

Speaker: Alina Ghost, SEO Manager, Amara
Twitter: @mrsalinaghost
Website: www.amara.com
Credit: www.aghost.co.uk

First up was Alina Ghost with a presentation fit for bigger screens – a truly engaging and entertaining talk to say the least. We really loved how she worked the fiction theme through her presentation on mobile-first!

These were the main topics Alina covered:

1 – Mobile-first Indexing
2 – Best Practice for Mobile SEO
3 – Top Tips for Mobile Optimisation

Open Your Eyes to Mobile-first Indexing

“Mobile is 2/3 of all traffic!” Alina made great a point at the very start of her talk, stating no-one can turn a blind eye to mobile in the realms of search – or anything digital for that matter. High-five Alina, we couldn’t agree more!  If you are burying your head in the sand and ignoring mobile in 2019, you are leaving money on the table.
Don’t do it, embrace the change! Ch ch ch changes…

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53% of mobile site visitors leave after 3 seconds of loads time

79% of shoppers who have trouble with performance won’t return

7% drop in conversions due to 1 second delay in load time


Has your site switched to mobile-first indexing?

When mobile-first indexing was initially rolled out last year, everyone was in a little bit of a panic. Has my site switched to mobile-first indexing? How do I know if my site has actually switched? Alina points out that you needn’t suffer in the woes of the unknown. You can simply check in your Google Search Console account and see if your website is on the smartphone bot’s radar.

“Check your log files or Search Console: use ‘URL inspection’ tool – if it was crawled by Google Smartphone then it’s a mobile crawler and user agent.”

To show you this in action, we headed straight over to Google Search Console and inspected our home page URL.

We can clearly see our site is being crawled by Google’s smartphone bot and our page has passed the mobile-friendly test. You can also see the date this page was last crawled by Google.

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Mobile Site vs Responsive

Alina reassures responsive website owners that mobile-first indexing has little or no effect and, fortunately, avoids the harsh mobile-first scrutiny of the Google gods. However, if you run a mobile-only and desktop site in parallel, you should start worrying… Hit the panic button now!

Keep Your Content the Same Across Devices

“Both sites to have the same information”

If you are running two device-specific websites, (mobile and desktop), then you should check both sites are showing the same information. Internal links, structured data, metadata and canonicals should all be the same.

Optimise for Mobile Today

“Don’t wait for the fog to pass, do it now.”

Is less text ok on mobile?

Google understands that mobile sites have less text, but this is where responsive design truly shines. Alina says it’s fine to have less text on mobile but make sure you still consider user intent. Say what it is on the tin. If it’s a recipe, add the word recipe. If it’s a review, then add the word review.

Keep paragraphs short and to the point to cater for lower attention spans on mobile devices. Include direct questions and answers as this helps with readability and aids voice assistants.

“Develop for mobile not desktop: there’s a time and a place for
consumption of your content & product buying.
What does the user want and at what time?”

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Check Your Website is Mobile Friendly

Check your site is mobile friendly with: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly

 

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Always Keep Testing

“Check your engagement metrics such as dwell time and bounce rate – split by device! Test test test.”

Alina listed off some useful tools for testing and measuring – we do love a good list at Reckless!

· Google Analytics
· Google Search Console
· Big Query with CRUX data
· Automated Google Analytics Reports
· SEO Monitor
· SEMrush
· Evidon
· Optimizely

Is speed a ranking factor?

If your competitors appear above you when their speed is slower than yours then it’s pretty obvious it’s not the main ranking factor. Here at Reckless, we use numerous tools to test a website’s speed. Why not give your website a run for its money with our recommended tools:

· Pingdom Tool: https://www.pingdom.com/
· GTMetrix Report: https://gtmetrix.com/
· Google Pagespeed Insights: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
· WebPageTest: https://www.webpagetest.org/
· Chrome Developer Tools: https://developers.google.com/web/tools/chrome-devtools/

We thought we would take a look at our homepage again with a little test. Some of these metrics you can take with a pinch of salt but you can also uncover areas worth investigating further.

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Ensuring Your SEM Strategies Complement Rather Than Compete

Speaker: Tom Mansell, Head of SEO, Croud
Twitter: @TomMansell
Website: croud.com

Tom Mansell addresses a real predicament we have come across, and tackled, at Reckless. Often in agencies, Organic and Paid Search are pitted against each other, rather than urged to work closely. Using both channels in harmony is an art in itself and it has helped us drive effective results for our clients time and time again.

Our Organic and Paid Search team are like two peas in a pod! Often collaborating and sharing data to create the most profitable search campaigns possible for our clients. Paid search allows organic to test keyword sets before organic start targeting them, pre-qualifying their worth and ROI with data, not assumptions.

Tom mentions some of the issues when there is a lack of integration amongst paid and organic strategies…

PPC budget is spent where SEO is already performing. When additional PPC listings add marginal value (it’s often not worth the extra expense)

SEO efforts are not focused on spaces where PPC is required to spend excessive amounts when compared to the ROI. This is where SEO could own the space over time

 

International SEO Best Practice

Speaker: Dewi Nawasari, European Head of SEO, Monster
Twitter: @dnawasari
Website: www.monster.co.uk

Dewi Nawasari covers one of our favourite SEO conundrums, International SEO. At Reckless, we have dipped our toes into the ocean of international SEO by developing content and building websites from the ground up with best practices in mind.

The graphic below displays the search engine market share globally (Source: StatCounter, 2018).

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Dewi points out how understanding your audience is even more important when it comes to international SEO. A thorough discovery phase is fundamental and can then be translated into a clear website strategy.

I remember this being covered at Brighton SEO in 2017 as a funny take on languages and dialect. Let’s experiment with the search “suspenders”.

In the UK suspenders are generally known as ladies’ underwear…

However, in the USA suspenders are a completely different product…

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Other examples include:

“Vacation” in American English vs “Holiday” in British English

So when it comes to International SEO, check what your international buyers actually call your product. Localise your content for your audience.

Awesome localised content ideas:
· Popular products
· Best place… Top things…
· Relate to local/national stories and events. For example, ‘Thanksgiving Sale’ or ‘Chinese New Year’
· Relate to local culture
· Expand for another language in the same country

Build and Optimise – Inform Search Engines

Start with the URL: ccTLD vs gTLD

This can get a little technical, but fear not! Dewi clarifies the difference between ccTLD (country-coded Top Level Domain) and gTLD (generic Top Level Domain). She thoroughly covers some technical best practices that ensure the right page is served to the right user in their country.

 

ccTLDgTLD
domain.com (US).com
domain.co.uk.info
domain.fr.gov
.org

 

ccTLD domains send the clearest signals to search engines for country-specific sites and show excellent local offerings by being completely customised to each county. These domains also have a separate domain authority (awesome!). However, there is a downside. This strategy can be expensive to maintain. For example, if your company is global you would potentially need to buy a domain for every single country served.

At Reckless we have built sites with a gTLD and used a country folder structure to optimise for international search.

For example:
Domain.com/en-gb/
Domain.com/fr-fr/

Query parameter structures send the weakest signals to search engines. Dewi also covers international SEO and optimisations with yet another helpful check-list. See below. 

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Building Engagement with Your Brand

We thought it was insightful to find that Indonesia, Philippines, Mexico, India and Brazil have significantly higher levels of social media usage than the US, UK and European countries. This is the kind of insight which would be useful when building and international SEO strategy.


After the day of speakers, we are feeling inspired by all the knowledge bombs!

Watch this space for some of our own experiments or follow us on Twitter where we constantly sprinkle insights and agency life. Have a magical week!