LondonSEO Meetup – September 2022 roundup
September’s edition of LondonSEO went off without a hitch recently, bringing SEO’s in from far and wide!
Located in Shoreditch, our good friends at Wise (formerly TransferWise) provided the venue, supplying the perfect melting pot for SEO professionals from all around to network and listen to the talks. A huge thanks from ourselves to the entire Wise team for all the hard work they put in to ensure the event ran as smoothly as possible.
Hosted by Greg, SEO Manager at Blue Array, the event opened up with some networking before we welcomed our four speakers to the stage. Our speakers for the evening were:
- Paige Hobart – SEO Manager at Unily, who joined us to speak about “Content Mapping for SEO”
- Jake Evans – SEO Executive at Blue Array, discussed “Learning how to learn – the key to frictionless communication”
- Reina Hanada – SEO Specialist at Wise, covering “Cutting through the noise with data”
- Durary Pretorious – Co-founder and CRO of Viaduct Generation ran through “Better together: building a strong agency and brand relationship”
Here’s what we learned…
Content Mapping for SEO
“Stop making content for content’s sake!” echoed through the room as Paige took the stage first. Running through how she sees content (being both everything and nothing) along with how you can use content mapping in SEO, Paige breaks content down on websites into:
- Individual Products – Individual products all need at least one dedicated URL, sometimes multiple for colour and size variations
- Categories – Category pages are great for driving organic or paid traffic from generic search like “red stiletto heels”
- Evergreen Guides & Resources – Genuinely helpful content for your users or your community. This content should ideally be evergreen & could rank for terms like “caring for faux leather shoes”
- Timely Expert Opinion – This content is your opportunity to have an opinion & really demonstrate your expertise in your industry
Content and the customer conversion funnel
Paige breaks down content into 3 core areas, hero, hook and hygiene, with each piece applying to different areas of the conversion funnel (as shown above).
Looking at this closely, we can see hygiene content sits at the bottom of the funnel, providing users the opportunity to purchase and has a purely transactional intent.
Hook on the other hand features your typical articles and guides, designed to funnel people into that transactional mindset, providing them with opportunities to move down to those lower, converting pages.
Finally, hero content, Paige says, doesn’t even necessarily have to sit on the website (in fact, it rarely does!) and instead are big statement pieces and marketing campaigns that bring peoples attention to the site in the first place
A few key takeaways that we’ll be thinking about from Paige’s talk are:
- Making content for content’s sake often times has an actively negative impact on our overall marketing goals (always ask yourself “why am I creating this content?”)
- Redefine how you look at content using the hook, hygiene and hero approach
- Give your content genuine KPI’s
Learning how to Learn – The Key to Frictionless Communication
Next up on stage was Jake Evans (that’s me!) discussing learning how to learn being the key to frictionless communication. The talk centred around the concept of the VARK learning model and how we don’t always pay attention to how we are communicating, instead getting caught up more so in the details of what is being said.
Jake went onto discuss the 4 learning styles that make up the VARK learning model, these being:
- Visual – People who learn through viewing graphics and charts
- Auditory – People who learn through meetings, calls and presentations
- Reading – People who learn through the written word
- Kinesthetic – People who learn by actively participating in an activity or ‘learning through doing’
Providing examples throughout each learning style, Jake then provides instances where this communication can be the leading cause of issues if not taken into consideration.
As a visual learner, it might not work to your advantage to have things explained to you or have emails constantly filling up your inbox. As an auditory learner, you might look at graphs or charts and they go completely over your head, these are the aspects of communication we have to take into consideration.
A few stats presented in the talk were:
- 66% of people have a multimodal (more than one) preference
- The most common single preference is Kinesthetic
- 3% of people are able to learn through any of the learning styles with no issue
A few key actions to take away from this talk:
- Make sure to pick up on not just what people are asking, but how they are asking
- Pay attention to where you, your colleagues and clients lie on the VARK model and adapt the way in which you communicate accordingly (summary emails, graphs/charts, meetings, letting them assess work themselves)
Cutting through the noise in SEO with data
Our third speaker kicking off our second batch of talks was Reina Hanada, discussing how to cut through the noise in SEO with data – something I think we can all agree seems a daunting topic.
Reina flew out the gates with some seriously impressive statistics about Wise (the company she works for), detailing they had over 6 million indexed pages, 10 million organic visits and 12 million customers, definitely a lot of data to work through!
The goal of the talk was to get us all to the position of being able to confidently tell people a given circumstance is “Statistically significant” through the use of some surprisingly simple systems.
What is causal impact?
The first tool Reina discussed was causal impact, effectively, causal impact comes into play when you have had a shake up in your usual data, say an algorithm update has negatively or positively impacted your site.
Causal impact is a process that assesses all the factors of a dataset and will return whether a given event is the true reason for these changes (was it the algorithm update or general site changes that caused the change in traffic?)
(Reina’s very own drawings of what this looks like!).
The example she used was around a migration over to a new landing page template that Wise implemented, after doing this they saw a drop off in organic traffic (was this due to the new template?).
But Reina was unphased, using causal impact, she could assess the dataset objectively to find out if the migration to the new landing page was the true reason behind the drops.
After some very complicated calculations took place, it was proven that… yes, sadly the migration was to blame for the drop in visits. At least now they have assessed all possibilities and can confidently say that this is “statistically significant”.
For those interested in utilising the causal impact python package, here are a few details:
But causal impact wasn’t the only secret weapon Reina had in her toolkit, she also taught us all a bit about another python package she uses called Prophet.
What is Prophet?
Prophet is a way to measure trends over time instead of measuring a single change on a single date like causal impact.
Here is the example Reina put together:
As Wise is a company that transfers money to different currencies, the traffic ebbs and flows with the whims of the currency market, i.e. if a currency gains or decreases in value, so too will the search traffic.
So when a particular set of pages on Wise’s site starts dropping in traffic, is this because of poor SEO performance or is the demand simply not there anymore, Prophet is here to give you a statistically significant answer to this.
Effectively, what we are seeing here is without the impact of the fluctuations of the USD, we can see Wise is actually growing.
However when factoring it in, you can see Wise is actually stagnating indicating that Wise may be growing, but it is moreso to do with demand than it is genuine SEO performance (aka, it won’t last!).
For those interested in knowing a bit more about Prophet, here are some details:
If we scratch the surface of Reina’s talk, here are some of the key takeaways:
- Causal impact and Prophet are both incredibly powerful tools when used correctly to be sure of what is happening to your traffic
- Remember when analysing data to use common sense + a pinch of pessimism to ensure you aren’t getting too excited about temporary trends
Better together: creating a strong brand and agency relationship
Our final speaker of the night was Duray Pretorious, talking to us about creating a strong brand and agency relationship and how you might go about doing that.
Duray started the talk with a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to selling your services:
- Do – Be aware of what you’re selling, SEO is a tricky business and not having a good understanding of the intricacies of the products/services you are selling can lead to miscommunication and ultimately, failed relationships
- Do – Show your sales team some compassion. Selling a service like SEO where results aren’t guaranteed, it’s expensive and you can’t provide accurate forecasts is a tough job, show a little compassion to those on the ground floor trying to push sales through the door
- Don’t – Don’t overpromise, one of the core issues Duray highlighted was the amount of overpromising and under delivering in the industry, where it should be the other way around
- Don’t – Stop incentivising your salespeople on the wrong KPIs, whilst traffic is nice, it is very difficult to count on as a guarantee when it comes to selling to a potential client, make sure your sales staff are aware of exactly what it is you are able to do for a client
What can agencies be doing better?
One of the big takeaways from the talk was to ‘show your palms’, this is the act of putting your cards on the table and being completely transparent and honest with clients.
The last thing any client wants is to feel like their agency isn’t aligning with their internal team, nobody benefits from keeping things close to your chest so be open. If you make mistakes or try a method that doesn’t work, make sure to report this to the client, they will appreciate your honesty.
Another point Duray mentions is for agencies to act as an in-house team, this means to celebrate the wins and help build back up from the losses, you are a team now!
It is almost too easy for us to distance ourselves from clients and their sites but we want to make sure our clients know we are in it through thick and thin, working to put them on top.
What can brands be doing better?
Brands can also be a sticking point in the whole ‘brand-client relationship’, whilst there is a lot the agency can be doing, as Duray puts it, “it takes two to tango”.
The first point would be around keeping briefs transparent and clear, agencies aren’t mind readers and making sure that they know exactly what you want is integral to getting projects over the line.
This requires a lot of open communication on both ends, with the agency able to report back that the brief sent over just makes no sense, we have to be able to build together, and to do that, we have to speak the same language.
The second point Duray made was that brands should look to invest time in their agency, amping up the empathy. SEO is hard, there is no getting around it, sometimes you feel like you are doing everything right and you still get knocked down, you have to trust that your agency is putting in the work and that you will see results.
From an agency perspective, there is nothing worse than months of steady growth only to be hit in the face by an algorithm update out of left field that tanks the traffic, we’ve all been there. When this happens we should be looking to solidify our relationship, not weaken it, some very wise words from Duray on this one.
Honesty, honesty and more honesty – one of the key takeaways from this talk is the importance of being honest, especially in the face of issues or shortfalls when it comes to either the brand or agency side
Invest in empathy on both sides – we are all working towards the same goal, when things don’t go according to plan, it doesn’t help anyone to start pointing fingers
And that’s all from September’s LondonSEO, for all those who came out, we hope you enjoyed the event as much as we enjoy putting it on!
Join us in November for our next in-person event. You can keep up to date with tickets via our Twitter page @LondonSEOMeetup.