Gavin Hirst - Friday 22nd May 2015

SMX Sydney 2015 – our top 10 highlights

So, the dust has finally settled here at Digital Hothouse Towers a week after getting back from a pretty inspiring week in Sydney at SMX 2015. The conference attracts some of the biggest names from the world of SEO and Search Marketing and this year was no different with Gary Illyes from Google, Dr Pete Myers from Moz and Jeff Preston and William Sears from Disney’s digital marketing team all represented.

With so much to take in over three days, we thought we would serve up our top 10 learnings from the week and follow this up in the next couple of weeks with a more detailed breakdown of what happened and what you can take away for your business. So first up, here’s our little teaser but be sure to check back or follow us on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn so you never miss an update:

1.      10 link SERPs are dead

The first of our learning comes from Dr Pete Meyers of Moz who talked about the future of Google and how a 10 results organic SERP (search engine results page) is a thing of the past. With things like images, knowledge graph, local ‘packs’, news, in-depth, mega videos and more taking up valuable real estate in a SERP, there can be as few as four organic search results displayed so it’s time to look at targeting new elements to ensure maximum visibility for your brand.

2.      Google becomes a content creator

Another interesting insight from Dr Pete was looking at current trends in the US and how these will be rolled out globally. We are seeing in the US now that Google is becoming a content creator and commissioning their own work which now displays in the SERPs – at the moment this is just around specific medical terms in the US but there are other examples such as looking up song lyrics and getting them served out in the SERPs rather than clicking through to a web page.

3.      Links are not dead

Link outreach or link building has been described as a dying element of SEO, however Benj Arriola from Internet Marketing Inc disagrees and so do we. Links are still a vote of credibility, trust and authority and as such, still carry a lot of weight with Google as a ranking factor. What has got to change is the way we acquire links to our sites.

4.      Carry out link outreach before the link exists

Moving on from Benj, Dan Petrovic of Dejan SEO supported this argument and one the most important things Dan talked about was to do with carrying out link outreach before the link exists. Get people to contribute to the content you are creating and then once the content goes live, they are far more likely to link to it and you will have built a relationship in the process.

5.      Penguin penalty prevention

With many sites being hit with a Penguin penalty, the session from Sha Menz of Rmoov was of particular interest to many attending the conference. The biggest thing to take away from this was where to begin with a link audit and for Sha, this was all about assessing the risk and looking at these key elements:

  • High value anchor text
  • Not relevant
  • Manipulative or SEO focussed intent
  • Scaled and repeated

These are all key signs of ‘spammy’ links and should be investigated and removed using the Google Disavowal tool

6.      Page speed to contribute to mobile ranking

A big topic of conversation throughout the 3 days was Google’s mobile friendly algorithm and Gary Illyes from Google was keen to point out that although page load speed does not currently contribute to ranking on mobile devices, it soon will. If a site has a slow page load, it simply cannot be considered mobile friendly. End of story.

7.      Don’t just think about Google when optimising content

William Sears who heads up the Disney Interactive Team talked about the different platforms we should be considering when distributing content from the App stores to Amazon to Apple TV. One area where many companies are currently active is on YouTube and there are some simple ways to optimise your content here that can make a big difference to how that content performs:

  • Optimise the meta data
  • Annotations
  • Thumbnail
  • Description
  • Captioning
  • Transcripts (can be done in different languages)

8.      The future of search – don’t forget about voice search

In an interesting Google Hangout with Belshad Behzadi of Google Switzerland, we looked closely at the ‘OK Google’ function and how this is changing the way people search. Voice search is bringing back to front and centre the importance of the long tail keyword search as it becomes more conversational so there are plenty of opportunities around this for companies to really delve deep into the key phrases you are optimising for. The growth of voice search is going to continue as it gets smarter so it is good to jump on this sooner rather than later.

9.      Monetising your content

A really interesting session from Disney’s William Sears looked at how we need to monetise our content. What content do we currently have that could lead to monetisation opportunities? We need to align our current content or create new content to fill the gap where demand exists for content. If you have strong performing content, is there an opportunity to link back to somewhere where people are going to make a purchase without it being a hard sell?

10.  Dominating the answer box

In another great session from Dr Pete, he looked at all the different elements of a Google SERP that we could be optimising content for and tapping into. One of the most powerful was perhaps the answer box which appears above the organic search results for certain queries. Do you have keywords and phrases that you rank for where an answer box appears at the top of the SERP? Is it a competitor that provides the result in the answer box? If you are not providing the answer, think about the content you can create that answer the question and see if you can push your site to appear within the answer box. Evidence shows that plenty of people are clicking on these boxes so it is just another opportunity for you to gain visibility for your site.

And that wraps up our top 10 tips from SMX Sydney 2015. We have now done a complete run down of all three days at SMX Sydney 2015 and you can check out our reviews below:

SMX Sydney 2015 – Day 1 Review – Mobile Friendly, Answer Boxes, Link building and more

SMX Sydney 2015 – Day 2 Review – OK Google, International SEO and Monetising your content

SMX Sydney 2015 – Day 3 Review – New Organic Opportunities, HTTPS and insider information

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