Even Santa loves SEO: ThinkVis 2013

Even Santa loves SEO: ThinkVis 2013

2013 marks the fifth birthday for the irrepressible ThinkVisibility (#ThinkVis) conference in Leeds.

Brainchild of Dom Hodgson – blogger, podcaster, SEO guru and sweet shop owner (yes, really) – the conference featured thirteen speakers from the digital world, covering topics including SEO, social media, analytics and content marketing.

Hosted at the Alea Casino, the event was sponsored by Paid On Results, Manual Link Building, MajesticSEO and SEOGadget.

ThinkVis in a Nutshell

This weekend saw the Propeller team heading up t’north to ThinkVis 9 – a conference for web-folk like ourselves to talk about, learn and re-confirm our knowledge of SEO, social media and analytics best practice. Self-proclaimed ‘old dog’ Iain had previously experienced ThinkVisibility back in 2010, and rightly thought it was high-time we all brushed up on the current trends affecting our industry. As ThinkVis virgins, me and Glenn travelled to Leeds with a feeling of excitement (and a slight sense of trepidation) as to what to expect, especially from the ‘surprise’ entertainment.

With twelve talks to choose from, covering a range of topics from attribution models through to social media and SERP optimisation, it was a tough call choosing which presentations to go to. We took the strategy of attending presentations that we thought would directly inform the work that we do with our clients through our conversion rate optimisation and web design and development services. I think we mainly made the right choices, but with some vague presentation titles thrown into the mix it was, at times, a bit of pot luck…

We kicked off the day with James Agate, founder of Skyrocket SEO, and his presentation, ‘Swerving the Guest Blogging Smackdown’. The overarching theme of James’s talk was to stop being a link building hussy (for want of a better word). Act with integrity, always consider your footprint, and don’t feed out rubbish content onto guest-blogging sites of dubious quality.

Google has proven time and again that it is not an idiot, so will spot these cheap and trashy links and punish guest-blogging sites accordingly. So, how do you spot a dodgy guest-blogging site? James recommends avoiding multi-category sites, ones that accept posts from anyone, sites with strict rules about how many links you can include, any that ask for payment, and ad-heavy sites that advertise things totally unrelated to the content of your article and the website as a whole.

Next up was Russell McAthy from Stream:20 and his presentation on Digital Attribution. Despite a few technical difficulties, it was clear that Russell knew his stuff. Attribution models can often be quite daunting, but it’s actually a simple concept which requires some not-so-simple analytics expertise to bring to fruition. Basically, it’s all about analysing information about users on different devices who reach your website through different online and offline marketing channels, and using this information to target them more specifically and effectively.

You can break attribution down into three main types: channels (PPC, Email campaigns etc); screens (phones, interactive TVs etc); and digital to store. Attribution models are important for channel management. By understanding your customers’ route to purchase, you can spread your budget across the different channels in order to optimise conversions. You can also influence buying decisions more effectively by generating content specific to what the user has shown an interest in.

Andy Barr of 10yetis PR agency shared a fascinating piece of international journalism research. He gave us insight into how UK, European and American journalists are currently using social media, and how best to build relationships with them to aid your own SEO strategy. With 82% of participating UK journalists relying on Wikipedia, 75% using Twitter to find and research stories, and 15% using Facebook to research companies, it became clear where we should be paying attention. Andy served us a reminder not to forget about local, niche and trade press, who are often keen for content. By building relationships with these journalists, we can achieve coverage and precious link building for our clients. Andy also came up with the best hashtag of the day, #PRTalksHIT

Pak Hou Cheung of BlueGlass reminded us that quality content always has been, and always will be, King, and that authorship and authenticity will take increasing importance in eyes of Google.

Pete Handley of Media Flow shared his tips and techniques on how to enhance listings with rich snippets. The addition of some simple code really can make all the difference. By adding review star-ratings and an author, your articles can dramatically work their way up the Google listing. Again, this idea of authorship and the importance of authenticity is becoming increasingly vital – with that in mind, if you’re not on there already, get yourself on Google Plus!

http://www.twitter.com/kristalsmile” title=”Follow Kristal Ireland on Twitter” target=”_blank”>Kristal Ireland of Enjoy Digital provided us with the most entertaining talk of the day, mainly because she included videos of ‘hot girls in lycra’. Kristal shared with us the success stories of two innovative companies, Black Milk and Illamasqua, who had both utilised social media to great success, through understanding and appealing to their target demographic. Social media is no longer new or novel, and consumers are becoming increasingly fed up with the incessant marketing messages thrown in their faces. This is particularly relevant to the 16 – 18 age group, who are turning to social media platforms with little or no advertising, such as Tumblr.

Unless brands seriously consider their target audience and how best to appeal to them, they simply won’t make an impact. As a designer, one message that particularly resonated with Glenn was, “don’t let data bleed out creativity.” Let that be a lesson to us all…

At the end of the day, Dom invited everyone to join him at the Linky Wonderland party, where Santa made a guest appearance with gifts for all.

We get the feeling that ThinkVis wouldn’t be ThinkVis without some element of joviality, but, ultimately, the points that were made during the day were valid, insightful and served as a serious reminder that the digital world is constantly changing, and if you don’t keep up with the latest trends, you stand the risk of vanishing into the webiverse.

More ThinkVis Reviews

- Old Dogs and New Tricks by Iain Harper
- Conference Round Up by Anna Lewis
- #thinkvis by Kay Brown
- Burst the Speaking Bubble by Becky Naylor
- A Rundown of #ThinkVis SEO Conference by Ross Tavendale

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