SMX London 2015, the biggest search conference in the EMEA region, had many interesting sessions and panel discussions at this year’s edition that took place in May (full agenda here). The key themes revolved around user- and various audience–centered approaches, as well as the relationship between social media and various innovations for both tech platforms and content. A strong emphasis was also put on data analytics and measurement, as well as future-proofing SEO strategies to prepare for what’s coming next.
AUDIENCE-CENTERED SEO APPROACH
Many SMX presentations addressed the fact that users and their behaviors are increasingly at the center of search engine algorithms and ranking factors. This occurs as Google and other search engines constantly look for ways to improve the user experience. Search marketers therefore need to understand their own audience first and then create a great user experience, supported by truly unique and useful content across all devices and platforms.
MOBILE SEO AND ADAPTING SEO TO NEW PLATFORMS
Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead at Google, opened SMX with Google’s vision on Mobile Search and presented a strong case for why optimizing for a mobile user experience is key to a strong mobile strategy.
Beyond mobile devices, some presentations looked into the future possibilities of SEO for wearable computers and connected household appliances as well. On both mobile and other platforms, the main assets covered were mobile-friendly sites, apps, Google Now and voice search – all of which search marketers have to consider when developing new mobile optimization strategies.
SOCIAL MEDIA SIGNALS FOR SEO
Social media plays a vital role in augmenting SEO strategies today. Why? Social signals count for much more in the search algorithm mix now than they did a few years ago. This is something that the search giants have not officially confirmed. Despite this, it is generally agreed upon by the industry that there is a positive correlation. Mark Mitchell, Senior Director – Client Services at BrightEdge, pointed out that we see the concurrence of better social and search integration and higher rankings all the time, using advanced search visibility and content performance tracking data platforms.
Integrating social and SEO marketing is therefore very important for both brands and agencies. As Bas van den Beld, Chief Editor at State of Digital, pointed out in his story-driven presentation, search and social work much better together than separately. He declared that social audiences would be much more open to endorse and amplify our content if we, as marketers, start thinking about understanding their needs and develop useful and relevant content for them.
CONTENT FOR USERS AND SEARCH ENGINES
While the first day focused on the importance of content designed for users, the second day’s conversations addressed content on a more technical level, discussing the topic of structured data.
Structured data relies on tagging website content to assist search engines with the semantic indexation of content – essentially helping engines make sense of both code and content in a structured way. Search engines love this type of data and reward sites for using it. JSON-LD, a new version of rich snippets, will pave the way for the next generation of the web as Richard Baxter, founder and CEO of Builtvisible, pointed out.
THE BEST TECH TO USE
For SEO specialists around the world, the decision on what technology to use to track, monitor and optimize performance has never been more difficult. Kelvin Newman, the Founder and MD of Rough Agenda, has shed some light on a helpful process of navigating the forest of SEO tools and platforms and anything in between, in order to select the best ones for any SEO program.
MEET THE SEARCH ENGINES
As part of a panel discussion, SMX invited representatives from both Bing (Vincent Wehren) and Google (Maile Ohye) to highlight various hot trends and key issues that SEOs are currently facing. Both Malie and Vincent answered the question, “Why search engines are so secretive and hide things from SEOs who are trying to work with them?”. They agreed that it is a catch 22 position, which neither Google nor Bing enjoys. They were hopeful that this may change for the better in the next few years with the aid of technology.
In summary, SMX London has provided a valuable forum this year for agencies, clients, technology platforms and search engines to meet and discuss key trends, strategies and tactics as well as to connect, share experiences and network with each other.
We, at Resolution, look forward to applying what we learned and taking our SEO offering to the next level, where it is more integrated with other marketing channels. This will help increase the focus on improving our processes and strategies to help our clients improve their organic presence and business performance.