Taken early at the event – it was a lot busier than this!
Another day, another conference! This time I was travelling a little bit closer to home, taking a quick 15 minute journey into the city centre for SASCon Mini, a sample-sized morsel of the bigger SASCon that takes place in the summer.
The overriding theme of the event was local and mobile SEO and was meticulously covered in the two talks I attended (unfortunately I had to leave early so missed the post-coffee break Q&A and final talk by Clare Valoti, mobile director of Weve).
A brief opening presentation by Ben McKay, Head of Organic Performance at moneysupermarket.com (the sponsors of the event), gave some interesting insights into the workings of moneysupermarket.com’s digital strategy, the most interesting of which was that they’ve dissolved their SEO and formed a larger, all-encompassing digital marketing team.
Apps, Web Apps, Responsive – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
Guy Levine, CEO of Return on Digital took to the podium with a presentation on ‘Digital Marketing for Mobile Devices’. A key tenet of Guy’s speech was preaching mobilisation of a site over miniaturization. Apps, therefore, were defined as the ‘ugly’ of mobile SEO, with massive development costs, strong competition on a platform you don’t control and no ability to carry out traditional SEO.
Web apps fared slightly better, although having to develop an entirely separate SEO strategy and potential duplicate content issues make it less appealing than responsive web design, which is undoubtedly the good of mobile SEO. One site, one strategy – simple!
SEO for Mobile Devices
Guy expressed some interesting ideas regarding SEO for mobile devices, a sometimes overlooked area of the field. His thoughts on keyword research were particularly interesting with broader and less ‘long tail’ keywords coming into play on mobile devices. SEOs are also competing with (or using to their advantage!) ‘auto complete’ for key mobile search terms, as well as Google localising results based on location.
Siri also provides somewhat of a conundrum for SEOs, as Guy speculated on Apple eventually bypassing Google for search and the advent incredibly long tail search terms based on speech.
Content still plays a vital part in a mobile SEO strategy but must be presented in a different manner, as Guy explained. Short bursts of information for ‘mobile moments’ (such as whipping out your phone at the bus stop), a streamlined experience and strong calls to action (Guy was especially keen to emphasise ‘click to call’) are all vital for the mobile experience. As is accommodating for, ahem, fat fingers by making buttons large enough…
Local Search: How To Dominate in 2013
Next up was Andy Headington, Head of Marketing and co-founder of Adido, with the boldly-titled ‘How To Dominate Local Search in 2013’. A bold title Andy can back up with evidence, however, as he deconstructed a campaign his team put together for a car dealership that did indeed ‘dominate’ the SERPs.
Andy produced some interesting statistics that put the importance of local SEO in some context, including the fact that 30% of ALL searches have a local intent. Also interesting was the fact that blended searches with maps and Places listings take the top spot in 2 out of 3 searches. Andy also explained how Google’s Venice algorithm update, overshadowed somewhat by Panda and Penguin, has changed the game, changing general searches into localised ones.
What Stays The Same? What Changes?
So, how does one go about dominating local search in 2013? A lot of things, according to Andy, will stay the same. On-page optimisation will still be as important as ever, while NAPs – that’s name, address and postcode citations – should still be considered essential. Reviews, too, play a big part in local search – they’re one of the biggest drivers in local listings so it’s a good idea to encourage customers to leave you a review.
Building a local brand is also vital. Google, as most of us are already aware, loves nothing more than a good brand so working at building your brand beyond your own site with reviews, PR, advertising and blogger outreach should be a key part of any good local SEO campaign.
The biggest change in 2013 will be the impact of G+, with Author Rank playing a big part. Maintaining and regularly updating a Google+ local page will be crucial to a local search strategy, with Andy speculating that G+ pages will become a sort of interactive Yell. Rich Snippets and marking up key local data and reviews will also factor strongly in local search domination.
Reviews will be even more important in 2013, with Google potentially pulling review data from beyond it’s own review base on G+ and Places. Blogger outreach, therefore, will become crucial – although, to be honest, it’s crucial in most search campaigns already! Andy also talked about focusing on a local ‘dream link’ – so a university, a well established local brand and so on.
Unfortunately my afternoon ended there, but there was a lot to take away from the conference regarding what are bound to become two incredibly important areas of SEO. You can find all the slides from the presentations at SAScon Mini over at the SAScon site.