Top five SEO takeaways from SearchLeeds

The first SearchLeeds event is in the books and Xpand was there with other SEO industry experts to discuss the latest and future trends in Search Marketing. This is what we took away from the conference.

The first SearchLeeds event is in the books and Xpand was there with other SEO industry experts to discuss the latest and future trends in Search Marketing.

The high-quality speakers at the event covered a variety of topics, ranging from SEO to Pay Per Click (PPC) and content marketing. Here are our top takeaways from the day.

Voice search will be everywhere and it’s not going away!

Cortana Personal Assistant For Voice Search

The age of the personal assistant is here. Assistants such as Siri or Cortana have changed the nature of searching for information on the web. Google recognised this back in 2013 with the release of the Hummingbird algorithm update, which helped them to understand “conversational search” and the meaning behind words.

In his presentation, James Murray from Bing revealed that personal assistants are likely to be built into the Internet of Things, with Bing already including Cortana in Microsoft products. Windows 10, Office and Skype will all have Cortana built in, streamlining the whole searching process.

“Proactive Search” will also be big, meaning that personal assistants will be able to provide information that you might need, without you ever asking for it. Personal assistants would be able to provide traffic reports before you set off for a meeting and or weather updates.

Voice search isn’t going away either, with 50% of searches predicted to come from voice search by the year 2020.

Takeaway: Search is becoming more than the 10 blue links in search results. Optimise for voice search by humanising content. Use conversational phrases rather than focussing solely on a rigid set of keywords.

Stop “Best Practice” And Start Doing.

The best talk of the day came from Stephen Kenwright. His presentation on why SEO best practice isn’t always the optimal course of action was both entertaining and informative.

His point was that there isn’t a bible of best practice for SEO and that best practice doesn’t work all of the time. It changes as the web changes so it isn’t always valid.

To highlight this he showed an example for the search term “When do the clocks go back?” The Daily mirror followed SEO best practice by including in-depth content, calls to action and relevant headings and subheadings. This page ranked fifth at the time. The Government’s website didn’t follow best practice and yet ranked first.

Search result snippet for the term "When The Clocks Go Back."

The main difference between the two was that the Government website actually answered the question.

Takeaway: Reinvent SEO best practice by trying new things and seeing what works for you.

Local Search Will Be Huge.

Local search results map pack

Stephen went on to add that local search isn’t as big now as it’s going to be in the future. 50% of local searchers end up in-store within a day, and with the increased use of mobile devices, access to location data and “near me” type searches, local search will be the future SEO battleground for a lot of businesses.

Takeaway: Make sure you’re already optimising for local SEO. You won’t regret it.

On-page SEO matters. It’s not just content and links.

Matthew Barby from Hubspot spoke about how there’s more to life than great content and he’s right! Matt spoke about how user experience and website architecture can have a massive impact on your search rankings. The example he showed was that by fixing issues with the structure of Hubspot’s blog, he was able to improve organic search traffic by 16%.

Takeaway: Is your website holding you back? Fixing on-site issues can have a massive impact on your rankings and is something you can control.

Consolidate content through redirects.

SearchLeeds Tweets - Consolidate your content with redirects

Another of Matt’s tips was to consolidate content to earn more traffic. The example given was where you have two similar pieces of content ranking for the same keyword. By redirecting one page into the other you could boost the rankings of the remaining page, increasing traffic to your website.

Takeaway: Use redirects or canonical tags to avoid diluting your traffic.

SearchLeeds was a resounding success and we can’t wait to go back next year! If you have any questions about SEO then get in touch with one of our experienced team.

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