At the end of every conference comes the onslaught of obligatory summary posts of the top takeaways from the day. You can learn about all the best speakers, who had the most creative slides and catch some great summaries of the more intricate details of the presentations. But this time I thought I’d write something ...
It was time once again for one of my favourite conferences with ThinkVisibility 7, and Nichola and I took the mammoth trek on a road trip to represent for southern England. Before I get started with my round up I do want to thank Dom and his ace team for putting on yet another cracking event. The highlights from the sessions I attended are below:
SEO for Ecommmerce, Barry Adams from Pierce Communications
The day kicked off for me watching Barry's tips for ecommerce SEO. This is something I've done quite a lot of over the years and there were some really good ideas on enhancing what I'm already doing here.
Below are a few of the main highlights:
Focus on where the money is. The keywords bringing the greatest revenue aren't always the ones that bring you the most traffic, so focus on the money first.
Use site search tracking in GA for ideas on potential keyword targets.
Make sure you structure your site properly with appropriate internal linking anchors. Don't forget the breadcrumbs!
Use easy and intuitive faceted navigation using appropriate SEO focused facets. Use URL parameters to block facets that have less SEO value. Be careful of duplicate content though.
Get delivery information on all product pages - don't make users click through to a specific page, taking them away from product and reducing chances of sale.
Don't 404 your out of stock items. 301 them if they go permanently to retain that value.
Product reviews - use schema (I love rich snippets!)
Link building efforts should be focused to category pages where possible
Great way to kick off the day, and I was really glad to have met Barry finally after a long time talking online. You can find his SEO for Ecommerce slides in full over on slideshare.
Link building with Swiss Toni, Jon Quinton from SEOgadget
Our next session was off to see our good friend Jon's ThinkVisibility debut. Jon showed us lots of funky tricks to help identify good link opportunities as quickly as possible, using all sorts of data sources and pulling them all in to excel.
My main highlights here were:
'Link building can be like making love to a beautiful woman'
Use google docs to scrape link prospects and pull in metrics to assess potential targets authority.
Use SEO tools for excel (I've been meaning to check this out for a while) to pull in page rank and social metrics
Make link prospects offers they can't refuse.
Only use really good content - its not an area to scrimp on costs for poorly written articles.
Cheap content is a false economy (so true!)
Well done Jon - great presentation, and I'll look forward to seeing some more from you in the future. You can see Jon's post and slides over on Link Building Lessons from Swiss Toni at SEOgadget.
Website analytics - 60% of the time it works every time, Anna Lewis from Koozai
Anna is another good friend who I was really looking forward to see speak. Anna clearly has some good ways to use analytics - helping to find the right kind of numbers from it, as well as finding them faster.
She rightly talked about making sure that data you use and present to clients needs to have both context and authority.
Determine the right metrics for customers and create custom reports to look at the factors as simply as possible.
Use APIs to speed up these processes and to ensure you don't rely on sampled data. Either learn to code, copy and paste or outsource this work.
Not provided traffic - look at landing pages of this traffic to gain better intelligence as to what might have brought visitors there.
With multi touch attribution, set up custom channels to review data more accurately. You can see Anna's presentation and slides over on the Koozai blog.
25 Useful Tips on Wordpress, Dan Harrison from WP Doctors
Another session I'd been looking forward to, I was really torn here as to whether to watch this or go see Carla Marshall from Sorbet Digital presenting in video SEO. Nichola went off to watch that one, so I'm hoping she'll share her insights once we've recovered from the weekends exertions.
Back to Wordpress, Dan whizzed through his tips for Wordpress (I reckon he could have done 50 but needed Q&A time too). I really liked the shirt he had made for the event:
Fortunately ahead of the event I talked him out of a ninja themed shirt!
Anyway, on to the content. Dan highlighted the ways on speeding up Wordpress using caching and assorted other techniques, shared tips for encouraging social sharing and ways to set it up properly in the first place. I thought the CTA buttons looked interesting and Dan showed us lots of ideas for using gravity forms.
Saying Stuff Is Dead... Is Dead, James Carson from Bauer Media
This was possibly my favourite session of the day but was also the one I took the least notes on. It was fun and engaging (I loved the 'Steve Jobs IS dead' joke ;-)).
This presentation looked at how most things that are written about as being dead, actually aren't. SEO, Email, Facebook; none of these things are dead!
Great stuff from James! James has his slides up on his blog already too.
From URL to Result, Pierre Far from Google
It looked at indexing of the Internet, and looked at the process of how this happened (this wasn't to do with the described 'magic' of how rankings were determined, however).
I was intrigued that there had been a new smartphone Googlebot thrown out into the wild recently, and Pierre encouraged us all to setup email forwarding on Webmaster Tools messages, as they are sending more than ever now (I didn't really know this existed, so will go and hunt for this).
I was also particularly fascinated to learn that crawl budgets are not set for 'sites' but are instead budgeted by servers. Google call this host load, and do it this way to minimise the chance of breaking a server, but still looking at as many URLs as possible.
I've not found any links to this presentation, so let me know if you find a copy available somewhere.
There is a real family, community oriented feel to this conference that many others could learn from and it's always great to meet up with a set of like minded peers again, as well as meeting a bunch of other old friends for the first time.
This time around there was once again a great selection of speakers, although with an emphasis on letting some fairly new speakers get up and show us their stuff. It was a great opportunity to see some folks delivering different angles on things than I'd seen in the past, and I'm hoping to take some inspiration from them and try and dip my toe into having another go at doing some speaking if I can get an opportunity at some stage this year.
It was another fantastic event all round, as they have been every time I've trekked up to Leeds for ThinkVisibility. Where else would you see a bouncy castle in a casino?
There are lots of interesting pictures from the event over on Flickr.
Thanks again to Dom and the team for having us and I hope to see you all again in September, if not before!