Is this the Retail Apocalypse? No! So, stop blaming Millennials for stores closing

Napoleon famously didn’t see the British as a threat because, in his words, we are “nation of shopkeepers.” And it’s safe to say that we do love shopping.

So why are big brands like Toys-R-Us, Maplin, BHS, and New Look being forced to close stores?

The media seems to consistently blame one major culprit: Millennials. However, millennials are not to blame for the fall of these big retail brands. And here’s how I know.

Millennials shop in actual stores

Millennials prefer real life stores! I thought the opposite when I started my research for this piece but it’s true! Crazy right?

Not when you think about.

Millennials grew up with Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram, so they have had ample opportunity to shop online. But as we can see from the Forbes study cited above, their behaviour is not much different from that of other, older consumers.

It seems millennials like the way stores allow us to try before we buy, pick up a bargain, browse similar items, or, scarily enough, just buy something outright!

SEO Visibility for retail sector

Figure 1: Struggling UK retailers vs Amazon.co.uk

Why the high street is getting quiet

Only 3 of the top 20 retailers in the UK are not bricks and mortar stores and (if you don’t include Amazon), the other two store-less retailers don’t appear until the teens.

So why are big high street brands disappearing?

Amazon is one of the key reasons that physical shops are on the decline (see figure 1).

Between 2010 and 2017, Amazon’s sales increased from £11.3bn to £56bn. Half of all US households are now on Amazon Prime, and Amazon’s UK sales smashed the £6 billion mark last year!

But in truth, there’s more to the story than just Amazon’s dynasty.

Online shopping is extremely convenient for consumers, and traditional retailers can’t keep up. One thing in the economy rings true: to succeed in business, you must adapt – or you die! Sadly, it seems many companies are not willing to adapt (See Figure 2).

Graph showing the visibility of the UK’s top 4 retailers

Figure 2. Graph showing the visibility of the UK’s top 4 retailers

Why does online have the edge on store fronts?

Whether we’re shopping for cupcakes, flowers, or a honeymoon in Greece, the Internet has changed how we decide what to buy. There are many factors at play that have made online shopping a more favourable route for consumers:

  • Location, location, location? Not for ecommerce

Shops usually do the bulk of their business in the area the store is located, but this isn’t the case with e-commerce. Customers from one corner of the world can easily order almost anything from anywhere with the few clicks, making it easy and convenient to shop from your screen.

  • Gain new customers with SEO

Stores rely on traditional advertising, branding, and repeat visits to build a customer base. While online stores also rely on these aspects, a huge amount of their traffic comes from search engines.

While it doesn’t look good for business if you’re standing outside your store trying to herd people in, that’s pretty much what Google does for e-commerce. Consumers start by Googling what they want and, based on how high up in the SERPs it is, clicking on a site that they might eventually make a purchase form.

  • Lower costs

In most cases, running an e-commerce website is cheaper than operating a physical store, and these savings can be (and are often are) passed on to customers. An e-commerce site doesn’t need instore staff, it doesn’t need to own and manage a physical store front, and marketing is mainly dependant on SEO, pay-per-click, and social media traffic which is cheaper than the traditional advertising that physical stores often also have to invest in.

  • Knowledge is power

There’s a limit to how much merchandise you can display in store and how much information employees can retain for customers enquires. But there’s virtually no limit to what e-commerce websites can stock and say about their products! An online platform allows for endless possibilities in terms of what (and how) products are sold.

  • Targeted marketing

Using customer’s data, e-commerce sites can access a lot of information and use it to connect with customers. For example, if you are searching for something on Amazon, you will see listings of similar products and they’ll also email you to keep you updated on the latest products that you may like.

It’s great, but it’s not perfect: The challenges of e-commerce

If done right, e-commerce will help your business to grow. But if you mess it up, it can have a negative effect. These are the top 3 mistakes companies make on their e-commerce websites:

  1. Low quality content

When Google released the Panda algorithm, quality content became a top priority for any site. This is easy to fix – for example, product pages need to be more than pages with a photo and blurbs about a product.

Amazon, for example, features customer product reviews, photos, and videos. You also can’t just use the same, generic descriptions provided by the manufacturer. To increase your SEO rankings, you need to have custom product descriptions – Vue do this extremely well. (Yes, this is one of our case studies, but can you think of a better example?!).

  1. Poor technical SEO

I have clients coming to me all the time saying “Dan, we need you to build links.” “Dan, we need content.” “Dan, we need PPC.”

First question: Do you clean up your house before inviting people over… Of course you do! So why don’t you make sure your site is in a fit state before you start outreaching with digital marketing?

If you don’t get your technical SEO right, none of your hard work will index and you’ve just flushed away all that budget spent on outreach. Make some nice clean URLs, add detailed breadcrumbs, make the journey from viewing to purchasing as simple and as straightforward as possible, speed up your page loading times, and, for the love of Rick, make sure you’re on HTTPS!

  • No links + No trust = No customers

Now this is hard, but it’s 100% worth your investment. Whether it’s through content, influencer marketing, discount sites, or review sites, you need links. Why? Because links increase site traffic, give your site legitimacy, and provide a great place for your customers to access content that they can’t find anywhere else!

Marrying e-commerce and the high street

In short, high street stores are dying off because people have no reason to go to them. How do you fix this? Give people a reason to go!

We can’t dictate the way the world works, and the world wants e-commerce. However, you can focus on transforming your in-store experience so that it’s worth the journey.

Make your store more engaging, and you’ll increase footfall and sales. Inject digital into the physical shopping experience, and you’re on your way to getting ahead of the curve – check it out at Adobe Summit 2016 for inspiration.

Apple is one brand that has a famously popular in-store experience – here’s why:

  • It brings the digital world into its stores

Apple knows that most of the world is online and most of that population shop online. By having features such as the ability make Genius Bar appointments online, Apple is blending the in-store experience with digital capabilities.

  • It offers a seamless customer experience

Whether you’re shopping online or in store, you know what an Apple product looks like, and Apple stores look like Apple products! It is so good at branding, their storefronts don’t even need a logo.

  • It knows that knowledge is power

You can’t buy an Apple product from an Apple Store while uninformed (believe me, I’ve tried). You basically have no choice but to try out products in store, and you benefit from the human element as the store specialists are armed with iPads and computers everywhere you turn. Apple makes sure you know how good the product you’re buying is!

To conclude: Don’t shy away from digital

It’s not just Apple who have adapted to the modern consumer – other brands are taking notice. At Yext’s Explorer conference, Jaguar Land Rover said it is using Land Rover experience days to sell Land Rovers, and that each Jaguar showroom is going to have a classic car for its customers to see and feel. Argos, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco are finally starting to think about in store experience as well!

If there’s one key takeaway from this post, it’s don’t treat digital commerce as an enemy – treat it as a support structure that helps you drive sales on all channels.

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How to factor trust into your link building strategy (without ripping it up and starting again)

How to factor trust into your link building strategy (without ripping it up and starting again)

Back in April Bill Slawski covered a patent apparently updating PageRank, the calculation Google originally used to rank its results (and still a major feature of the algorithm as far as we know). Bill notes that the update bears a strong resemblance to the TrustRank patent grated to Yahoo! in 2004…as did the previous continuation patent, granted in 2006.

The MozTrust metric did a great job of illustrating what Yahoo! tried to do with TrustRank:

We determine MozTrust by calculating link “distance” between a given page and a “seed” site — a specific, known trust source (website) on the Internet. Think of this like six degrees of separation: The closer you are linked to a trusted website, the more trust you have.

How MozTrust worksUsing both MozTrust and Majestic’s equivalent TrustFlow metric to assess offsite factors we recently found that trust generally correlated better with ranking improvements than relevance – though we’ve had a strong indication of this for a while and it seems likely that Google has been using some variant of “TrustRank” to value pages for at least a decade (again, see Bill’s previous post). Moz’ Domain Authority metric is effectively a combination of MozRank (a proxy for PageRank) and MozTrust…so to use that metric to illustrate what seems to be happening: MozRank (authority) should be a slightly less significant aspect of Domain Authority, with MozTrust taking greater importance. We’ve always been more fond of the MozTrust metric than Domain Authority because it’s harder to game – we’re taking Moz’ interpretation of which sites are considered trustworthy, but the crawler can easily determine whether a site has links from those sites or not (and trusted sites are much less likely to be added to a disavow file, which skews Domain Authority massively).

The patent Bill wrote about, titled “Producing a ranking for pages using distances in a web-link graph”, references many of the central components of MozTrust and shows how the distance (i.e. number of linking “hops”) between a seed site and your website will be factored in when Google calculates search rankings. As with most patents it isn’t clear whether the exact techniques outlined are in use (or when they came into use), but there are strong indications that the “TrustRank” patent is, or should be.

Why using trusted “seed” sites makes sense

There’s a reason it’s called the web: linking chains aren’t linear and no two websites’ link profiles look the same.

Link graph SEO by the SeaHow the link graph looks when trusted seed pages are separated from non-seed pages.

PageRank “flows” through paid and earned links equally. Anchor text also seems to be equally applicable to paid and earned links. It’s likely that devalued links – backlinks from sites Google has determined to be selling links or spammy in some other way – do not pass less PageRank and the effects of anchor text are not “switched off”. Rather, Google decides to simply not trust those sites anymore.

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO encourages us to think about linking in the context of voting for sites we approve of: in this scenario nobody is prevented from casting their ballot but votes that have been paid for are thrown out for fraud and never counted. This will sometimes go undiscovered for months (even years), but once found out, that site’s vote will never be counted again…regardless of whether future votes are unbiased with money.

TrustRank MozTrust illustrationI’d strongly recommend considering (and writing down) your policies around building links on sites that you suspect of selling links – this will save you time in the long run. Consider adding some steps to your QA process:

  1. Use Bing’s linkfromdomain: search operator (e.g. linkfromdomain:moz.com) to see every website your link target already links to. Are there brands linked to that don’t seem to fit the theme of the website? A few quick site: searches will show you how natural those posts actually are.
  2. Read the 10 most recent posts at a minimum. You’re looking for anchor text that doesn’t seem like it should be there; mentions of brands where a competitor could easily be substituted (e.g. credit card providers like company name); and disclaimers (sponsored post, guest post, advertorial post, in collaboration/partnership with). Put the site on a list not to contact in future if any of these show up.
  3. Keep your do not contact list in a separate tab to your hitlist and use VLOOKUP to make sure you’re not contacting someone you previously decided not to. We’ve turned this into a Chrome extension to save time: when we visit a website we know if we’ve previously worked with a journalist or blogger using the site, who contacted them (and therefore who already has a relationship) and what the content was about – or if we’ve decided not to work with the site (or added it to a client’s disavow file).

If you’ve made contact with a site owner for the first time; they’ve shown interest in the brand and/or content you’d like them to talk about; but now they’re asking for payment…should you walk away? Not necessarily. This call should be made on a case by case basis because – assuming you followed a QA process to identify the site and it appeared natural enough in the first place – simply because you don’t want to waste time. Again, this is where a written process or policy comes in handy: your reply should say that it’s against your company’s policy to buy links (and therefore you couldn’t do it even if you wanted to) but also highlight Google’s policy on link selling. No brand ever wants to be outed for buying links since that often leads to manual actions; but no blogger wants to be outed for selling them either because that will ultimately destroy their source of income (that doesn’t mean your reply should sound threatening!). In my experience around 1 link in 5 gets placed for free where payment was initially asked for – I’ll walk away from the other four and place the site on a do not contact list.

Private Blog Networks (PBNs) are gaining in popularity once again because they work – but it’s no coincidence that most of the rhetoric still concerns how to keep them hidden. Between 2012 and 2014 it was pretty usual that links from a PBN to your website uncovered by Google’s Webspam team would result in a manual action or algorithmic penalty…it’s since become more likely that those links will just stop counting (become “devalued”) and your rankings will fall over time. That’s not to say that manual actions are unheard of in 2018 but it’s 100% clear that some brands are getting away with it.

Although Google has previously claimed that it doesn’t use data from disavow files uploaded to Google Search Console to determine rankings, it would provide a way to crowdsource large numbers of seed sites. From the patent’s abstract:

Generally, it is desirable to use a large number of seed pages to accommodate the different languages and a wide range of fields which are contained in the fast growing web contents. Unfortunately, this variation of PageRank requires solving the entire system for each seed separately. Hence, as the number of seed pages increases, the complexity of computation increases linearly, thereby limiting the number of seeds that can be practically used.

Through the disavow links tool Google has access to lists of websites that SEOs don’t think are trustworthy (often because they paid for links from those sites). As Marie Haynes pointed out last year, Penguin is not a machine learning algorithm – but it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Google is using machine learning to determine which sites can be trusted from disavow file data.

How this changes our link acquisition tactics

Any updates Google makes to its algorithms shouldn’t affect the actual process of outreach: we’re still talking to humans and link building is about relationships and mutual benefit (and a completely different kind of trust).

Trust GIF GiphyWhat should change is how we choose our targets.

Links that benefit us most come from seed sites (or sites with links from seed sites). We obviously don’t really know which websites Google trusts but there’s a good chance that websites with a high MozTrust score are trusted by Google too – and they’re more likely to be linked to from trusted seed sites, even if they don’t fall into that category themselves.

Metrics aside, it should be pretty obvious which websites are the most trusted on the web – they tend to be universities and government organisations (and the SEO industry has been clear that .gov and .edu links are more valuable for a long time); plus national and international press and sites with extremely high readerships…that doesn’t mean that highly trafficked sites with contributors frequently offering to sell links (Forbes, Huffington Post etc.) are well trusted – they probably aren’t.

Other link targets that should definitely be at the top of your priority list are any publishing sites which compete with your own website in search results – tech companies absolutely want links from techcrunch.com, not just because they’re relevant, but because they’re clearly trusted enough to rank competitively for terms we also want to rank for. The patent “Producing a ranking for pages using distances in a web-link graph patent” also references the importance in diversity of themes covered by seed sites – links from trusted sites outside of your industry or country are still likely to pass a significant amount of trust and therefore benefit your search rankings.

Ultimately we want to evidence the trust these seed sites have in our websites. Though there’s still a strong argument for a diverse link profile, we’ve found results have been best when we keep returning to the well and getting multiple links from a site we’re confident is trusted. This has always made sense from an efficiency point of view: if we’ve built a relationship with a journalist who writes for TechCrunch, for example, it’s more likely that she will continue to cover our brand/feature our content – it’s usually easier to get a second, third or fourth link from techcrunch.com than it is to get the first.

In reality there’s no way to know whether Google trusts a website – and how much. What’s clear now more than ever is that trust has a significant bearing on whether a site will rank or not. Considering this in our strategies using the information available has been paying dividends for a while.

I’d love to know what you think – is trust a core component in your link acquisition? Tweet me.

Introducing adwordsR: How to get Adwords data from the API using R

R has many uses, a particular highlight being its simple integration with various APIs, such as the Google Analytics API. These simple API integrations usually rely on packages, and integration into the Google Adwords API is no different. We have built our own R package for interacting with the Adwords API: adwordsR.

How does the adwordsR package work?

The current version of the adwordsR package (0.3.1) has three basic components: Google authentication via OAUTH2, reporting, and SOAP requests.

  • Google Authentication

This has effectively two parts: generating the access token and refreshing the access token. All the user has to do is try and load their token. This will either generate the access token if it does not exist in their work directory, or load the existing acess token.

Users must have their client ID, client secret, and Adwords Developer token handy and enter them when prompted.

  • Reporting

This accesses the reporting service from the Adwords API. It works by building the AWQL query, and then sending it to the API. The response is then a CSV text file which is cleaned into the requested format.

  • SOAP Requests

This is for accessing all parts of the API that are not reporting. The package allows you to choose the service that you want to access and then builds an XML file for you. The XML file is sent to the API and an XML response is returned.

Unfortunately, the XML response is not cleaned on its response, however we do highly recommend the XML package as this can parse an XML file into a list. We do plan to integrate XML parsing functionality into future versions.

A diagram of the workflow of retrieving Adwords data using adwordsR is found below.

How to access Adwords API using adwordsR

Why did we build the adwordsR package

Before the adwordsR package, we had raw R code in our processes and applications that didn’t make the code particularly elegant, or we needed to copy the functions from elsewhere when we wanted to reuse it.

Yes, we could have stored the functions in a file, and called those source files, but this is basically how a package works – so why not build it properly?

The advantage of building the functions into a package is that we now have clean code that is much easier to maintain, which saves us a world of time when we want to upgrade any of our toolkit.

Will it make my life easier?

If you use R and Adwords, this package will make it much easier to get data from the API through a robust process, rather than just exporting files and data from the Adwords interface.

If you’ve already used the RAdwords package, the main points of interest are for parts of the Adwords API that are not easily accessible using R. You can easily get a list of all of your clients that are child to your parent’s MCC account using the ManagedCustomerService, or search volumes using the TargetingIdeaService, like we see below.

tmep

Why did we not want to rely on the RAdwords package?

The current RAdwords package is great – we’ve learnt a great deal from this package and incorporated a lot of its concepts into our package. But unfortunately, RAdwords was lacking for our requirements and did not offer us is the ability to interact with other sections of the Adwords API, such as the Managed Customer Service, which was a necessity.

Our package aims to integrate multiple services within the Adwords API into one package. Currently, the package is limited to Reporting, the Managed Customer Service, and the Targeting Idea Service. However, we plan to integrate more services into the package.

Why did we not build on the RAdwords package instead of building an entirely new package?

Before building the package, we had our R code hardcoded into our processes. The sections of the code that did not rely on the RAdwords package were hardcoded and the functions that were built were declared within the session.

They did not come from the RAdwords package, and for ease of use we decided to build these into a package. We then decided to incorporate the workflow of the RAdwords package into our own package so that two packages did not have to be loaded within the process.

By using this approach, it was an opportunity to revamp our existing adwordsR code and the RAdwords code. As such, we do recognise the author of the RAdwords package, Johannes Burkhardt, to be a large contributor of the adwordsR package, as this package would not exist without the existence of the RAdwords package.

Where can I access and install the package?

There are multiple places that you can get the package, and all it takes is a line of R code, depending on your preferred method.

I present two methods here of acquiring the package: CRAN and CRAN Github. All you need to do is copy and paste either of the following pieces of code and run them on your installed R version

  1. CRAN:

install.packages(“adwordsR”)

  1. Github:
    1. devtools::install_github(“cran/adwordsR”)

Alternatively, contact us for a tarball of the package.

Let us know how you’ve been using the adwordsR package!

Time For a Facebook Business Manager Checkup

Facebook Business Manager is an incredibly useful and powerful tool for advertisers. If you’re running Facebook and/or Instagram ads, it’s the command center of all account connections and activities. There’s no doubt it has streamlined various processes and made it much easier to connect employees and accounts.

But that said, who actually knows and understands all the complex ins and outs of Business Manager?

Let’s be honest: very few of us. 

How many of us have scratched our head when a button is inexplicably moved or a layout has been changed without notice? How many have tried to connect our organization into a Business Manager account and ended up super frustrated and needing an adult beverage?

Let’s be honest: many of us.

As a result, most advertisers successfully connect their pages, people, and pixels, and then they’re pretty much afraid to break anything so they don’t go any further. In short, most folks vastly under-utilize this essential tool.

We can do better.

When I built the first Business Manager training course last fall, I interviewed several dozen agencies and consultants about how they actually use it. I asked them to be brutally honest about the hiccups they’ve had, the mistakes they’ve made, and the ongoing issues they run into. My research led to some pretty shocking discoveries, including:

  1. Multiple agencies had every employee listed as an admin of every client Facebook Page and ad account.
  2. Several other agencies had employees utilizing personal profiles to connect into ad accounts via settings, therefore not using Business Manager at all.
  3. My personal favorite! One consultant had hired 34 different “contractors” in Pakistan to do posting on client Facebook pages and once he fired them, he never deleted them as admins of those pages.

It’s time to get serious.

As a Facebook/Instagram advertiser today, it’s a MUST that we keep our Business Manager fully functional and up to date for not only our purposes, but for the purposes of client protection and security as well.

We all need a checkup once in a while. It keeps us healthy. It also ensures the best security on our accounts, something that’s absolutely imperative these days.

So, let’s do this.

If you want to modify almost anything within Business Manager, it has to be done via Business Settings. You can navigate to that area via Business.Facebook.com.

Once you’ve clicked on the blue button in the upper right corner, it’ll bring you into the navigational menu that you can click around in.

Step One: Clean Up Admins and Employees

Within Business Manager, we all have Admins and Employees. These are the fine people we’ve connected into our organization at some point. You can then attach them to ad accounts, pages, and other assets.

1. Admins

It’s important to remember that old employees and admins can always be removed within Business Manager. You can find these within “People” in the upper left hand side of the navigation bar under settings. Anyone that has a small badge to the right of their name is an admin.

Ask yourself: does anyone have a badge who actually shouldn’t?? Admins have a lot of power within your Business Manager, so these should be used very sparingly. I reserve these only for the Business Owners, or those controlling access to the Business Manager.

2. Employees

Your employees are users who’ve been added into the account at some point. They are likely connected to assets, such as pages and ad accounts. But should they be?

Here’s an example: I no longer work with Jackson, so I’d like to remove him. You can do this by clicking in the upper right corner of that employee record and hit “Remove.”

 

You can also review the ad accounts, pages, catalogs, and other assets that person is attached to. If you want to remove them from a particular account, click on the asset and then on the right hand side, click the X on the asset name.

Great work cleaning up your admins and employees!

Interested in learning more about Facebook’s Business Manager? Sign up for our Business Manager training, here!

Step Two: Disconnect Old Ad Accounts and Pages

How much time do you spend getting rid of old ad accounts and pages you’re no longer connected to? If you’re like the dozens of agencies I polled last fall, it’s not much time at all — which can be hugely problematic!

There are different excuses for not taking action and here are some of the most common:

  • Agencies want to stay connected to old accounts and keep tabs on a new agency. (I do not endorse this tactic!)
  • Some agencies frankly don’t know how to do it properly.
  • Then there’s downright laziness, meaning some folks just don’t look at their account list in Business Manager very often.

In order to truly stand out as advertisers, we’ve got to stay on top of everything — which includes cleaning up old accounts and pages — as annoying and time-consuming as that might be.

1. Reviewing Old Ad Accounts

Reviewing your list of ad accounts is actually quite simple. Within Business Settings, you can click on Accounts and review the list under Ad Accounts.

Be sure to look at the accounts themselves. You can also review the people connected, which level of access they have, and then ask yourself if that person really needs access. If you’re an agency, consider if you need to be connected or is it just cluttering up your Business Manager.

If you need to remove yourself or your agency, you can do that by clicking “remove” in the upper right corner.

2. Reviewing Old Pages

The process for reviewing the Facebook pages you’re connected to is similar to ad accounts. You go into Business Settings, click the page you want to remove and select it from the top right corner.

Step Three: Ensure Your Pixels are Perfect

Pixels lead to some of the most frustrating scenarios within Business Manager. But if you share the pixel properly, you can attach it to an ad account, utilize it within Facebook Analytics, and dial-in your dynamic ads. So, it holds a lot of power.

1. Is the pixel shared properly?

The first thing I check on with pixels is if they are shared into the Business Manager properly. If not, this may be why you’ve run into permissions issues in the past.

Check the listing of pixels, under the data sources > pixels area. Are all your pixels showing up here?

If not, you may need to share the pixel into Business Manager. At this stage, it’s important to note a few things:

  1. The person trying to share the pixel has to own it.
  2. You need to share it into the Business Manager that you want to own that pixel. So if this is a client’s pixel, they need to do this within their own Business Manager.

To share, click in the upper left corner and head to Events Manager > Pixels area.

Once there, hit “details” on the pixel, which brings you into the main admin screen.

Then, hit share. This brings you back into the Business Manager pixel area we were at earlier.

2. Are Partners, People, and Ad Accounts Connected Properly?

For each pixel within your Business Manager, you can assign a partner, person, and ad account to that pixel. Review each of these and ensure things are all connected, so you have no more permissions issues. This process also ensures your pixel will work as intended.

Still tons more!

Even for those of us who have been using Business Manager for years, there’s always still tons more to learn. You can always be improving, reviewing, and ensuring security is top notch for your clients.

If this topic interests you and you want to learn more, sign up for my upcoming Business Manager course.

The post Time For a Facebook Business Manager Checkup appeared first on Jon Loomer Digital.

SearchLeeds 2018 – all the slides and what we learned

What is SearchLeeds?

SearchLeeds is the biggest digital marketing conference in the north of England. This year more than 1,500 people joined us at Leeds first direct arena on the 14th June to watch 36 speakers deliver talks about paid and organic search, content marketing, data and digital.

What we learned this year

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

We’re hugely grateful to everyone who gave up their time to speak at SearchLeeds. We received nearly 4x as many speaking pitches as we had slots to fill (and we approached some of our eventual speakers ourselves).

5 speakers delivered their first talks at SearchLeeds this year – including Mayflex’s Luke Carthy who stepped up 3 days before the event – and we want to make sure we get similar numbers of new speakers next year. A third of our speakers had delivered less than 5 talks – we put two of them on the main arena stage and they got some of the best feedback. So we know to programme the tracks on the strength of the talks rather than the experience of the speakers.

This year was the first we had specific themes for each stage: the Search Laboratory Stage returned yet again but exclusively as a paid media and data themed track; this year we also had the SISTRIX Technical SEO Stage. Last year the least attended talks were the PPC focused talks on the main arena stage; this year the PPC talks on the Search Laboratory stage were totally full, with people sitting on the floor (sorry!)

We did plan for an increased attendance (50% bigger third stage, 300% bigger second stage) but they were still both full. We’re looking at potentially taking even bigger spaces in the arena for next year.

It’s pretty clear to us now that the best pitches translate into being the best attended talks and the more detail speakers can give us, the more people end up in their sessions. We’re looking at additional labelling of talks next year so attendees know how advanced a session is and what they can expect to get out of it.

We recorded the talks on the main arena stage – we’re looking into the possibility of live streaming all the talks next year because even though we got attendees from 8 countries we know not everyone can make it.

The slides

Stage One – main arena

St. Ives Chief Digital Officer J Schwan

The Future Doesn’t Exist in Silos

Purna Virji – Bing

Intelligent Search and Intelligent Assistants: Exploring the AI-era of Search

Rob McGowan – Edit

Useless Projects: Where AI Meets Human Creativity

Kirsty Hulse – Manyminds

Content Marketing Tips That Won’t Break the Bank (Or Your Spirit)

Hannah Smith – Verve Search

What Happens When a Werewolf Bites a Goldfish?

Jon Myers – DeepCrawl

The Mobile-First Index: What, Why and Most Importantly When

Kristal Ireland – Virgin Trains East Coast

Will Robots Destroy Us All? Putting the Ethical Debate Back into the Narrative Around the Future of AI

Jasper Bell – AmazeRealise

Retailers – Stop Thinking Store, Start Thinking Story

Lexi Mills – Shift6

Advanced Integrated Influence Strategies and Tactics

Kelvin Newman – Rough Agenda / BrightonSEO

Three Practical (and Inventive) Ways of Pinching Keyword Insight from Your Competitors

Branded3 Strategy Director Stephen Kenwright

Customer-Centric Search: Serving People Better for Competitive Advantage

SISTRIX Technical SEO Stage

Bastian Grimm – Peak Ace

Super Speed Around the Globe

Gerry White – Just Eat

Past, Present and the Future of Mobile

Steve Chambers – Stickyeyes

How Not to F*ck Up a Migration

Dawn Anderson – Move It Marketing

Power from What Lies Beneath: The Iceberg Approach to SEO

Dave Freeman – Treatwell

Creating Knockout On-site Content by Simply Understanding Your Customers

Luke Carthy – Mayflex

How to Optimise the S*** out of Your On-site Search

Rachel Costello – DeepCrawl

Stop Confusing Search Engines with Conflicting Signals

Julia Logan – Irish Wonder

How to Audit Your Site for Security

Oliver Brett – Screaming Frog

Why SEO Wizards Need User Testing Hobbits

Craig Campbell

How to Fix the Most Common SEO Issues Using SEMrush

Search Laboratory Stage

Jill Quick – The Coloring In Department

Track Your Campaigns Like a Bloodhound: Making Your Marketing Work Harder

Branded3 Senior Insights & Analytics Queen Emma Barnes

Analytics Tracking: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Google Tag Manager

Andraz Stalec – Red Orbit

5 False Assumptions About Your Traffic

Hannah McKie – Missguided

PLAs: Small Company or Large, Everyone Has to Start Somewhere

Chris Rowett – Journey Further

Supercharing Google Shopping

Angus Hamilton – Search Laboratory

Enterprise Attribution

Holly Ellwood – Receptional

What’s New in PPC

Matt Holmes – Distrelec

The International Paid Search Playbook

Anu Adegbola – MindSwan

AdWords Script Automation & Pitfalls

John Rowley – Ferrero

Creating a Data-Driven Customer Journey with Personas and Smarter Investment

Elizabeth Clark – Dream Agility

The Future of Shopping

Branded3 & Edit Media Directors Jon Greenhalgh & Sam Wright

How to Deliver Growth in the Most Efficient Way Possible

Please email us any feedback about the event, positive or otherwise – we’re looking for suggestions to make next year even better.
Do you want to speak next year? Let us know. The more detail you can give us around your talk, the more likely people are to like it and the more likely we are to put you on stage!

SearchLeeds 2018: Stage Three Live Blog

10.35

Bad assumptions are bad

We all assume users don’t lie. And they don’t, but sometimes they change their mind. Andraz points out that even though people might search for a specific brand, they might change their mind and actually buy another one.

Assuming user behaviour doesn’t change is a mistake.

10.30

Speaker three is up

5 false assumptions about your traffic
Andraz Stalec
Founder, Red Orbit

Andraž Štalec is the CEO and Co-founder of Red Orbit, the leading digital performance agency in Adriatic region. Data, analytics and performance run through his veins. He is also a European search awards judge, Google certified trainer and a regular speaker at major international digital marketing events.

10.25

World Cup reference incoming

If Ronaldo scores all the goals, you’re not going to sack off the rest of the team are you?

People making contact with you through multiple channels are at risk of being attributed to the last touch point. But that’s not the whole picture.

Paid social is rarely the guy who scores the goal, says Jill. But he was probably the guy who threw the ball in at the beginning. He needs some credit too.

10.25

Naming conventions = good

If you do paid social and don’t tag it, it’s going to go in with all your organic social. Tag with a UTM parameter and you’ll get your own bucket.

Agree on naming conventions for your campaigns, as well. If you don’t, you’ll fragment your data and the client could go in and look and draw completely wrong conclusions.

Don’t assume the client knows how to do all this.

10.15

Tag it. Tag it all!

Everything needs a tag, otherwise GA’s ‘bouncer’ isn’t going to know whether to let that information in, says Jill. If you don’t tag, your paid stuff will get mixed up with your referral stuff. Not good when you’re trying to prove what channels are worthwhile.

There are a lot of cases where you have traffic and you need to know where it’s going.

Go to Channels and add a secondary dimension. Type in the words ‘source’ and ‘medium’. You’ll start to find all sorts of things in there – picking out paid social and email campaigns people probably should have tagged but didn’t.

10.05

‘Google Analytics is a ballache’

Jill promises some easy fixes for tracking campaigns in Google Analytics.

Without data you are just another person with an opinion.

You can’t go to the board without numbers, which is why tracking is so important. Problem is, GA is like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory – not so much with the emotion.

10.00

Back in line with the expected running order

Track campaigns like a bloodhound: How to make your marketing work harder
Jill Quick, Founder
The Coloring in Department

Jill has been working in digital marketing since 2003 and is the Co Founder of The Coloring in Department. A professional digital marketing trainer who has taught thousands of people, across hundreds of companies, ranging from startup founders, SMEs to Fortune 500 Brands. Unfiltered, down to earth, with a goal to explain analytics and digital marketing concepts in a clear and digestible format. She has a knack in creating guided, practical, step-by-step, paint-by-numbers style templates to get you where you need to be, faster.

09.56

You don’t always need access to your client’s site

If you haven’t worked it out, GTM is helpful. It can help you track hyper-specific actions on a site and let you report on them. You’re not limited to landing pages and basic traffic.

You want all these things, but… You can inject HTML/JavaScript even if you don’t have access to your client’s website. Schema Markup is your friend here.

09.47

How much traffic are your blog authors driving?

You guessed it, GTM can help. Create a custom author dimension by creating a data layer variable in GTM. Warning, you might need to ask a dev nicely to help you with some bits on this.

09.44

Some cool things you can do with GTM…

If people can download files or click a phone number, you can track those through Google Tag Manager. You create a trigger that says to send certain information to Google Analytics.

There you go. You can report on something interesting.

09.38

‘Raise your hand’

‘Who’s been at the back of a developer queue before?’ asks Emma. Getting more familiar with Google Tag Manager can help you jump the line.

09.35

Up first…

A small change to the running order. Branded3’s fantastic Emma Barnes is up first.

Analytics Tracking: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love Google Tag Manager
Emma Barnes
Senior Insights and Analytics Analyst, Branded3

Emma Barnes graduated with a degree in Mathematics from the University of Leeds in 2010 and has been working to make websites better for other people ever since. An expert in analytical thinking and processes, Emma brings core quantitative analysis to Branded3’s Insights and CRO team.

09.18

Don’t forget

We have live blogs running on the other two stages as well. Find them on the Branded3 blog.

09.15

Ready?

Getting set up here on Stage 3 at SearchLeeds 2018! Not long until we start. You can catch the highlights from the speakers on Stage Three here throughout the day.

If you’re following the conference online, check out tweets from:

@SearchLeeds
@Branded_3
#searchleeds

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SearchLeeds 2018: Stage Two Live Blog

10:45

Steve discusses offensive and defensive actions you can take to make sure your migration goes as smoothly as possible.

Plan accordingly – ensure there’s the correct resource allocated and everything fits into your wider workload.

Create a checklist beforehand and check it (duh) to stop things from slipping through the net (looking at you, Robot.txt, redirect loop, and log files).

And, an insider tip:

“Never plan a migration on a Friday!”


Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveChambers

10:30

Gerry shared some innovative insight into the channels we should be turning to, including apps, voice search, and augmented reality (remember Pokemon Go? Enough said…)

We now welcome Steve Chambers, SEO Manager at Stickyeyes, who’s going to teach us How not to f**k up a migration.

After all, as many of us know, it’s something that a lot of people f**k up… Steve outlines what you need to do to avoid taking a major hit on organic traffic and outlines common pitfalls – and how to avoid them.


Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveChambers

10:20

Voice search – everyone’s talking about it, but how many of us are actually using it?

And for those who do use it, does it actually work?

Gerry talks about Google Assistant:

“We have to understand what Google is looking for. It isn’t web pages any more – it’s information that users need.”


Follow Gerry on Twitter @dergal

10:15

Apps are where it’s at – both Google Play and Apple have more than 2m available to download.

But a bad user experience on apps will drive people away.

“The level of stress caused by mobile phone delays is actually greater than a horror movie.”


Follow Gerry on Twitter @dergal

10:10

“Most of us today seem to be Nomophobic.”

FYI, Nomophobic – the fear of not having a mobile phone.

(Gerry blames Nokia).


Follow Gerry on Twitter @dergal

10:05

Thank you, Bastian! To summarise: slow site? No more excuses.

We’re now onto our next speaker: Gerry White, Global Technical SEO Lead at Just Eat and of TakeItOffline.co.uk.

Gerry will be discussing The past, the present, and the future of Mobile

We already know about the importance of mobile optimisation – but what about the future of it? Gerry talks about where gaps and opportunities will emerge in mobile, and how you can capitalise on them.


Follow Gerry on Twitter @dergal

09.50

Images make a massive difference – especially on mobile.

62% of web traffic is made up of images.

WebP: Google’s alternative to JPEG, PNG, and GIF – swap it and reap the benefits.

It’s not always a straight trade – play around with different methods (check out Cloudinary).

“80% savings can become very easy.”

Follow  Bastian on Twitter @basgr

09.30

Are you ready for our first speaker of the day on Stage 2?

International site speed: Going for super-speed around the globe

We’re getting ready to welcome Bastian Grimm, Director of Organic Search at Berlin-based ‘all things search’ marketing agency, Peak Ace

He’ll be talking about how to use web performance optimisation to make your website fast – and your users happy. Bastian looks beyond short term solutions and discusses how you can make every precious second count.

Follow along here: https://www.slideshare.net/bastiangrimm/super-speed-around-the-globe-searchleeds-2018?

And find Bastian on Twitter @basgr

09.20

Today is the day! Welcome to SearchLeeds 2018. We’re about to kick off, you’re here with me, Mady Ritzker, live blogging from Stage Two.

If you’re following the conference here online, check out tweets from:

@SearchLeeds
@Branded_3
#searchleeds

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