The 2018 Searchmetrics Summit

Alex Barrowclough
By Alex BarrowcloughSEO Manager
5 minutes to read

At the beginning of May we attended the Searchmetrics Summit to hear from top speakers within the industry.

We spent the day discussing a wide range of topics from oft-forgotten tactics to brand new ways of thinking. But without a doubt the main focus was on structured mark up, page speed and of course voice search.

We could spend ages talking about what we learnt and found interesting, but here’s just a summary of the day.

Don’t forget the micro ranking factors

There are hundreds of ranking factors search engines consider when crawling a website. But instead of looking at all of them (we didn’t have the time!) we went on a whistle stop tour of quick wins.

Surprisingly, word count emerged as a prominent quick win. It might sound old hat to talk about it in relation to SEO, but this isn’t about keyword stuffing.

The average content word count has increased steadily over the years, reflecting Google’s recent emphasis on quality content. It can also be attributed to the importance of producing content that demonstrates expertise. So websites need to provide quality, informative content in order to rank for featured snippets and rank zero.

But we also have to consider the type of content that is ranking. It’s all very well conducting the research to identify keyterms but if the execution is wrong then you won’t be able to compete in the rankings.

You combat that by analysing the top ranking content. How is the copy formatted? Does it use bullet points? Is that what is displayed in the featured snippet? If that’s what’s ranking, then swathes of text won’t work.

Old content could also be holding you back. Content that hasn’t had more than 10 visits in the last 18 months should be removed from the site. By trimming the content fat, you will make it easier for bots to crawl your site and will reduce the risk of creating duplicated content. Similarly you won’t cannibalise pages and the most relevant content will be ranked.

Optimising for everything – not just search engines

In 2018, ranking for just organic search is not enough. We now have to consider optimising for everything from featured snippets to apps and voice search.

In 2003, SEO was about reaching your customers based on how they were searching. But now we have to consider the customer journey and their intent when they search. We also have to adapt to the changing behaviour of people and technology.

The SEO industry is constantly talking about a mobile first strategy but we need to consider apps as well as mobile browsing. App usage outstrips mobile browsing and our speaker, Kevin Gibbons, predicted in the future we will all have 15 apps on our phone for 30 niches. A very bold statement!

The key takeaway here though was that while we’re optimising sites for mobile, we should be going one step further to develop an app for our sites. This will help improve the customer experience and ultimately, improve customer retention.

Boosting page speed for mobile indexes

Page speed is a hot topic amongst SEOs in 2018 – especially since Google announced it’s used as a ranking factor. So it made sense that part of the day would focus on this.

Aleyda Solis outlined how page speed is now vital with the rolling out of mobile indexing. She went into detail on how to get the most out of accelerated mobile pages (AMP) and the technical hurdles we need to overcome.

Aleyda identified three different scenarios where AMP is relevant:

  1. If your own mobile speed issues can’t and won’t be fixed in the mid to long term.
  2. If you need to be included in Google’s top stories carousel as soon as possible.
  3. If you’re building a new site and AMP offers the best way to implement your desire functionality, you can use it as a canonical version for your site.

The session went into loads of detail and covered a plethora of technical tips including the importance of responsive design and why you need to include hreflang tags within the code of AMP ages for international versions of your site.

This is just skimming the surface of what we covered, if you’d like to see the full version of Aleyda’s talk – check out her slides here.

The changing nature of featured snippets

Featured snippets are coveted by SEOs and content writers alike. The conference raised some interesting points about how featured snippets are impacting upon how people search.

At the moment, on search engine results page (SERP) SEO is one of the most important trends we need to think about. This is because the vast majority of searches could end on Google’s results without clicking on a website.

The stats for this speak for themselves:

  • Clicks from organic mobile search results have decreased from 58.43% in February 2016 to 38.97% in February 2018.
  • The amount of users who didn’t click a result in 2016 was 41.7%; this is now risen to 61.03%.

The rise in voice search will play a big part in how search results change – by 2020 it’s estimated that 50% of all searches will be by voice. Search queries are now a conversation which is tailored to your answers. So featured snippets and Google answer boxes will play a key part.

So how do we combat this?

To make sure you’re ranking for a featured snippet, ensure your keyword research takes into account popular question based and conversational terms around the industry.

You also need to review the search results by keyword to understand the intent of the searcher and see if there are any featured snippets/people also ask/answer boxes.

Keywords are constantly changing though so you need to review them on a regular basis in order to achieve a rank in the featured snippet, answer box or people also ask.

Schema mark-up can help you highlight key elements, like bits of content that are particularly conversational and voice search friendly, to improve click-through rates.

 

We had a great time at the Searchmetrics Summit and are already putting what we learnt into practice!

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Articles by Alex Barrowclough

Hey I'm Alex! I am an SEO Manager at Enjoy Digital. Love to talk about the ever changing digital industry, focusing on organic and paid search.