At Chatter, we're always looking for new ways to improve the services we can provide to our clients. With that in mind, myself and a few of the Chatterinos headed down to the Search Leeds 2019 conference to try and soak in as much marketing and tech info as we could. Speakers from all sorts of backgrounds came and shared as much technical wizardry, industry top tips and know-how as they could, whilst we sat there making notes that can now only be recognised as the scribblings of mad men. Stick around whilst I decode our notes and recap some of the best take aways from the day...
How science can help you have better ideas
Starting the day off in style was Kirsty Hulse on the main stage, talking about what science has taught us about being creative and why that's more important than ever in marketing.
MRI scans show when evaluating brands, consumers primarily use emotions, rather than information, and we need creativity to incite emotion. Using Starbucks as an example, Kirsty showed us how consumers can buy into an idea or a lifestyle, over the product itself (I agree Kirsty, the coffee ain't all that). Another fascinating point was how there is supposedly no neurological difference between a creative person and a non-creative person, something a lot of us will find hard to believe after telling ourselves for so long that we're "not a creative thinker". The only barrier that exists is the one we put in front of ourselves.
You can find Kirsty on Twitter for further reading, and she's pretty funny too.
All things mobile, optimise or fail
Second on the main stage was Jon Myers, with a straight to the point talk about the shift Google is making to mobile-first indexing and why optimising your site for that, along with mobile SERPs (search engine results pages), is a life or death proposition for a business's online presence.
Since Google announced mobile-first indexing in 2016, they have been trying it out on sites across the web, but as of July 1st 2019, any newly built sites will be indexed mobile-first as standard. With this in mind, it's crucial that sites on mobile are given as much attention (if not more) when building, writing content and performing SEO. Google have a tool to let you test your site to see if it's mobile friendly according to their indexing bots.
Follow Jon on Twitter for more on the subject.
The butterfly effect in SEO
Certainly the most colourful character we managed to catch at Search Leeds, Lukasz Zelezny had our full attention at his talk, providing 5 simple and effective SEO actions you can apply straight away to boost SEO performance, traffic and revenue.
- Gather data from Google Search Console and see which keywords are already ranking well, focus SEO efforts on those
Keyword Magic Tool
- Using the SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool, find what's being searched relative to what you're trying to rank for. Look for high volume, low difficulty (how hard it will be to get a top ranking spot for keyword/phrase) and focus on those.
- Using a keyword mention tool like Google Alerts or Brand24, recognise where your brand or name is being mentioned, and try and turn that mention into a link to your site to boost authority and ranking of your site. If someone's happy enough to write about you they'll usually be fine with turning that into a link.
Links and social profiles
- Similarly to the last point about mentions, look for occurrences where your social profiles are being linked to instead of your site that you want to improve ranking on. Ask politely if they could link to your site instead, as otherwise we're just doing free SEO for LinkedIn and Twitter!
- Where you can, consider moving content that belongs on a subdomain to a directory on your main domain instead. Google sees subdomains as a separate entity when indexing, so both domain and subdomain will have their own links and SEO factors fighting for good ranking. Moving the subdomain onto the main domain allows for the combination of those links and other SEO ranking factors, making for a greater ranking.
These are just some of the main take aways from Lukaszs talk, so check out his website for more SEO goodies.
How to hack rankings with page speed optimisation
A more dev-heavy talk than the rest (to my delight), Polly Pospelova talked about how your websites page speed deserves your attention now more than ever, and how to optimise it to boost your page rankings and enhance the user experience of your site.
Something that's close to home with me (being a front-end developer and all), Polly discussed how her team drastically improved page speed on their site. Using the Google Lighthouse tool to audit their site, they identified what needed to be done to optimise their site for todays standards. They started with implemented lazy-loading, which tells the browser only to load images when they're about to come into view, saving seconds of time and data on the initial page load. She also discussed source-sets in images, where an image can provide a specific sized version of it for different screen sizes, so a huge desktop version of an image isn't being used on mobile devices where sizes are drastically different. Also mentioned was HTTP/2, which has been around for a few years now but given how it's supported by most major browsers now, is being adopted much more widely. It's an improved version of the last, HTTP/1, and lets us bundle requests together at the same time instead of the traditional waterfall of requests, where one request has to wait for the last one to finish.
There's certainly more to be said on the topic, so check out Pollys article here.
Be sure to run a Lighthouse speed test on this web page too, as I, like Pollys team spent a long time making our site as performant as possible.
UX & marketing, a Tinder match made in heaven
A beautifully presented talk by Jill Quick, who used her years in the industry balancing somewhere in between the two to show how UX and marketing can benefit from working together. Using empathy maps and her Consumer Cross-Stitch Model, the fusions between the two were laid out brilliantly.
Jill provided new ways to look at customers and their needs by saying goodbye to the old fashioned customer personas and hello to empathy maps (I've recently been to another talk about empathy, which seems like a hot topic right now). Empathy maps focus on things such as a customers influences and environment, rather than the typical behaviour tags like 'problem solver' and 'multi-tasker'.
For more info on Jill's talk, click here.
Though the digital team did split up to try and see as many talks as possible, we unfortunately couldn't catch 'em all. Regardless, we had a great day at Search Leeds 2019 and we hope you enjoyed reading about our favourite take-aways from the day.
For more information on the event, you can read the organisers after-thoughts and view the slides here.