SEO: London Bloggers’ Meetup

 Extended platform on corner of building

In search of the cutting edge.

Another great evening of insight with the London Bloggers Meetup on 11th September 2014. My key takeaway was that if you really focus on developing and publishing uniquely insightful content on a blog that is well built and loads quickly then you are getting the most important bit SEO right. But check out my notes to see if you agree.

SEO doesn’t matter … except

Yiannis Pelakanos of Klaxon said SEO doesn’t matter. That’s because all that Google (Bing and Yahoo) are interested in is ‘shared users’. Some 95% of Google’s $50 billion revenue in 2013 came from adverts.

What really matters is the speed at which your blog loads and the user experience. If you take more than 4 seconds to load you lose about 45% of your visitors. And if you attract the wrong audience and they leave your website unsatisfied then you will have a problem with pogo-sticking! If it happens a lot then your ranking drops.

The only way to get to grips with user experience is by using Google Analytics. Measure and analyse traffic to your blog and see what bounces and what sticks. You need to understand your audience and how well you connect with them; a bounce rate less than 60% and you are doing quite well.

According to Yiannis, links used to matter but in the last year there has been a shift towards ‘authority’ and ‘trust’.  Today it is all about the quality and authority of your content. You rank higher if your content is good and the BBC, universities and government links to it. Check out Yiannis’ post on the Three Cs of SEO.

No magic … just engagement

Charlotte Gunnell from Metro.co.uk said that bloggers are an asset to the Metro and to journalists. Her top tip for improving SEO was to think about users and how to engage them and ranking will follow, ‘no magic’!   Links are not dead but they have to be good to enhance SE rankings.

The more people that bloggers reach (and then link back to the blog), the more ‘visited’ it will become. Best advice: think long term, enjoy yourself (because it can be a bit of a slog) and really know your stuff because that is why users visit, recommend and return to blogs.

Charlotte suggested that ‘everything comes from your obsession’. Always have something to say (more content = authority = ranking) and become a real specialist: ‘go niche and then the niche of the niche’ to find something where you are the undisputed master.

Have conversations and generate comments. Be passionate and make people agree or disagree. ‘Don’t be afraid of negative feedback’. Engage with your community because it translates into shares, and follow up with contacts and people following with a view to guest posts.

Getting the exposure of the bigger sights can give your blog the authority you are looking for. Some tips: be newsworthy, produce fantastic headlines, be polite, roll with the punches, and don’t be afraid to go into detail.

Here’s some useful links Charlotte shared:

www.topsy.com: Search all the tweets since 2006. Topsy makes products to search, analyse and draw insights from conversations and trends on the public social websites.

www.keywordtool.io: Keyword Tool is a free online keyword research instrument that uses Google Autocomplete to generate hundreds of relevant long-tail keywords.

www.moz.com: Good blog on search engine optimization.

SE Roundtable: Authoritative place for latest on Google and SEO … pretty technical.

Kate Toon is a writer, copy writer and SEO guru. This is her personal blog www.katetoon.com/ and this is the office www.katetooncopywriter.com.au/

Search Engine Land for the latest on SEO trends

Good questions deserve chocolate

Judith Lewis of SEO Chicks and decabitt stressed the importance of blog architecture, content, and popularity/links in enhancing blog rankings. Links of course depend on where they come from. Title tags are less important but still significant.

Sadly, early on in Judith’s talk the mention of exquisite chocolate bars for those that asked good questions seems to have triggered a migraine with the results that within a few minutes I was no longer able to see the screen or my paper and had to pack up and leave.

The last I heard was ‘2 key words per page’, and ‘2 pages per key word’. If I remember correctly the point was not to overburden one page with too many key words and not to repeat the same key word on all pages. It’s not helpful when you, the user, or Google wants to find something.

London Bloggers Tech Update

Speakers at London Bloggers Tech Edition

Speakers at the London Bloggers Tech Edition, from left to right: Andy Bargery (host and event organiser), John Read (Sesquey), Judith Lewis (Search Engine Chicks), Matt Russell (WebHostingBuzz) and Yiannis Pelekanos (freelance developer and guru).

This month’s London Bloggers Meetup was all about the technology behind blogging. Over the course of a fun-filled 90 minutes, discussions and insights touched on the relative merits of various blogging platforms (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Joomla); optimisation tricks for WordPress; how to find a good hosting solution; SEO (search engine optimisation) basics; plugin options, and much more.

Alan Reynolds , corporate photographer and blogger.

It’s not just about the presenters: I sat next to Alan Tucker, corporate photographer and blogger, and he introduced me to the Galaxy Note, History Pins, and the AMPt community. Thank you Alan!

But before the talks there is much to learn from the person sitting next to you. Alan Tucker (http://www.atphoto.biz) introduced me to the wonders of the Galaxy Note camera with its lovely HD screen and easy to use photo-editing software. He pointed me in the direction of the AMPt Community where mobile photographers, artists and videographers can share work. And there was History Pin at http://www.historypin.com, a global community collaborating around history pins of old pictures to their location so that you can begin to see how an area has changed over the years. I checked out  Tooting Bec Lido in South London and lo and behold a picture of the diving boards from 1906. Thank you Alan.

Notes from the London Bloggers Tech Update

And so to some slightly random notes from the evenings speakers.

John Read from Sesquey.com – WordPress ninja and trainer

Top tips before the Q&A were make sure you update your WordPress site to the latest 3.5.2 version to ensure that it is secure. New WordPress features that are worth checking out included: multiauthor blogging; new posting format like tumblr; easy to use importing to WordPress. John also recommended the 13-14 July WordCamp for those with a WordPress site.

Judith Lewis from SEO Chicks – a chocolate loving SEO guru

Judith’s stream of no bullshit tips for optimising your blog included:

  • Key words are vital … (don’t forget to use the one or two words that actually describe what you are talking about … some people do!)
  • Never forget that links will improve your Google rating
  • Don’t spam
  • Write well and don’t steal work from other sites because Google sees most things and it will downgrade you if it suspects malpractice
  • Use Yoast SEO for WordPress analytics
  • Move from Blogger to WordPress
  • Ignore SEO blogs and just go back to the fundamentals of search optimisation by reading SEO.book com
  • Google+ is important for your blog authorship. WordPress is now integrated with Google+
  • In terms of authorship, Google gives this to the site where the article first appears. This can raise the ranking of that site and if duplicated in another site, lower its rating.
  • Copy can be overoptimised; focus on titles and content but not so much on anchor text.
  • Top tip: put citations next to URLS.
  • Comments on your blog are good for people but worthless in terms of SEO. Not a lot of people know that!

In an effort to push back the tide of Googlism, she also suggested a couple of alternative search engines:

  • Yandex.com is the leading internet company in Russia, operating the most popular search engine and the most visited website.
  • Duck Duck Go: https://duckduckgo.com/ describes itself as a search engine that does not track you and, has more instant answers and less spam/clutter.

Matt Russell from WebHostingBuzz – hosting expert

Matt gave some great advice on web hosting and also treated us to beer so a big thank you goes out to him and his company. Matt reiterated the importance of keeping WordPress up to date to avoid it being hacked. His other tips for choosing and using a hosting service were to find a provider that provided fast support.

He recommended CloudFlare to load-balance your traffic and provide extra safety.Other recommendations to do the same job were Incapsula and Modsecurity. And remember to back-up your website regularly.

Yiannis Pelekanos – freelance  web developer and tech extraordinaire

Looking at the options for blogging, the advice was tumblr for someone who wants to keep it simple and WordPress for someone with a bit more techie know-how and patience.

Joomla versus WordPress: Joomla has a good content management system but is not widely used. Very good for levels of granularity in managing multi-authoring but WordPress gets the vote because with 40 million users you can for the most part put a question into Google and someone out there will have an answer.

Another platform that got a mention was Ghost. According to John Read, ‘ this is a proposed alternative of WordPress with the mission to redefine blogging software.’ You can see more info here: http://www.kickstarte…

Assorted tips

Other topics covered included ‘domain mapping’. The favoured providers were Low Cost NamesNameCheap and Hover. Arvid Lind from Buzzkeep  reckons that GoDaddy provides better long-term savings especially on ‘.coms’. Chocablog was mentioned as an example of how to do the right stuff on Facebook.