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2018 European Search Conference: What We Learned

Becky Ryder

Posted in Events


Hosted in Liverpool on 22nd June, the European Search Conference was an event not to be missed for anyone in the business of search marketing, with a packed schedule of talks from agencies and in-house brands.

It was an incredibly informative and inspiring day, hearing from other leading professionals about their experiences, learnings and predictions for the search landscape, so we thought we’d share some of our highlights.

Find all the updates on Twitter through the #EuSearchCon tag.

SEO Guide to Web Migrations, by Aleyda Solis

As technologies become more advanced, migrations are becoming more in demand to get websites up to date. Aleyda spoke about the best practices and went into detail on great processes to achieving a smooth migration.

There are different types of migration that have different goals and therefore will have different processes.

There are still websites getting up to speed with the HTTPS protocol, which is becoming more important every year. Switching to HTTPS is a straight-forward process. However, if the information architecture of a site is changing then this is a bigger deal.

Migrations can be great opportunities for growth, giving you the chance to fix navigational and structural issues. However, all migrations can still have a negative impact on visibility, especially if not prepared for.

Aleyda shared the following process with us:

  1. Crawl the site to understand which and how many URLs will be changing
  2. Get the traffic data along with the query data to pinpoint the most important pages
  3. Audit the on-page contents to see what elements need to stay to reduce risk to visibility
  4. Outline what will be changing on the pages due to new technologies or optimising improvements
  5. Avoid missing an opportunity by searching for orphaned pages
  6. Create a redirect plan where every old URL is pointing to a new one, even if there is no relevant page
  7. Always use a testing site to make sure everything is working before going live
  8. Once live, crawl your site again to ensure all old URLs redirect
  9. Submit new xml sitemaps to search engine webmaster tools
  10. Monitor the performance of the website for the next week to pick up issues

But what if the migration has been conducted before the SEO impact was taken into consideration?

Not to worry, Aleyda had us covered. We simply reverse the process and find the pages that were performing and now are not. Do the pages exist? Are old URLs redirecting? What has changed on-page?

Answering these questions will get you on the road to fixing the issue.

Social Media Tactics to Implement Tonight, by Lukasz Zelezny

In Lukasz Zelezny’s 20-minute talk he shared some useful tips to help with your social media presence. His insights covered a range of topics, including gaining more links through social media, building connections through topical research, engaging with your audience and scheduling your content ahead of the game.


Brand tracking

Always stay on track of your brand. Communication is important for your social reach, which could land you with a couple more pieces of coverage and more sales than you think. Lukasz recommends using Brand24 to track your brand. There is a fee for this tool, but it could be worth it with the results you collate – you are able to track keywords and access the number of mentions / likes / shares / comments in the given time frame.

Link building tactics

Using the Brand24 tool can help with your link-building tactics. By searching for your Twitter handle you can view who is mentioning you in tweets and even search across Google to view sites who have mentioned you without including a link. It also helps you to view a social media channel’s reach/domain authority to understand if it’s worth linking to.

Topic research

Lukasz advised using Buzzsumo for researching topical content. By searching for the related keyword, this tool will pull in all the blogs written containing that information. It also provides information on social shares, total page engagements, number of links, etc. to determine whether you want to post this content yourself and to keep an eye on your own content to see if you have been mentioned anywhere without gaining a linking.

Engage big fishes

If you can interact with influencers, brands with a large following or even just big brands in general, this will allow you to jump on their interaction, giving you a little bit of the limelight. For example, if you spot an opportunity to start a conversation on Twitter to speak to other, this can then gain traction for your profile. Remember to always use a hashtag for more reach.

Working with data

Whatever work you are doing on social needs to be reported on to show its effectiveness. Lukasz suggest using the Sotrender platform, which gives insights via a dashboard report. It’s a great way to assess relevant accounts and influencers, while also providing general tips which can influence the future direction of your campaign.

The tool also analyses the days you should be publishing on, taking into account factors such as the number of user activities, how many followers you have lost in a week and when your followers are most active. This will give you an overview from different profiles to help gain more traction going forward.


Schedulers such as Hootsuite are great for sharing your posts across your social channels in advance when you are unable to post straight from the platform. By using a scheduler, you can plan your posts in advance to share engaging messages to your audience without having to research every day. This gives you more time to focus on other things.

For example, sharing a post around a national day or event to show awareness even if you’re not attending may help you to communicate at the right time. Always remember to use a hashtag to allow your audience to find your post easier and allow them to engage.

Tools mentioned by Lukasz:

The Ten Commandments to Demystifying the Creative Process, by Vicke Cheung

Communication was key in the talk from Distilled’s Senior Designer Vicke Cheung, which took us through a step-by-step process for getting the best out of your creative team. Of particular importance was a point that will resonate with many agencies – the need to always question the brief. This is crucial to avoid disparities between what clients ask for and what they actually want or need; setting and adhering to a focused KPI is the best way of ensuring that your work achieves what it sets out to do.

At the same time, Vicke advises not to restrict yourself too much in terms of sourcing inspiration. As David Ogilvy said: “Doing research can feel extremely tedious, but there is no substitute for it.”


Make sure you keep the research process as open as possible. Inspiration documents and mind maps will always be invaluable, but don’t forget that lightbulb moment can come from anywhere. Talk to as many people as possible about your idea, in or out of the office – because conversation costs nothing! Once you’ve hit upon your shortlist of ideas, Vicke advises using your instincts to find the best one. Finding a knack for predicting the most successful idea can be as simple as what she terms “The Ooh Effect” – judging everyone’s initial reaction when you pitch it to the team. Always remember: successful content elicits emotion!

It isn’t enough to just have a great idea, though – it also needs to be as shareable and promotable as possible. This is certainly something which we have to consider with every piece of work we do on the Earned Media team here at Return. We always keep in mind that journalists love both exclusive content, and video content. Vicke advises doing little and often, creating smaller pieces to reduce risk and maximise your return. When you have that great idea, don’t be afraid to repeat it for future campaigns! And of course, shout about your successes – share, share and share again, instead of waiting for others to do it first.

The Current Situation for Voice Search and Overcoming Related SEO Challenges, by Dawn Anderson

New technologies are rising at speed and digital marketers need to keep up with the latest. Like all new technologies, there are a lot of challenges and a lack of data to establish best practices.

The way people use technology is changing. Assistive systems are everywhere, from assistive cars to Google Home and mobile phones. This means the locations where people conduct searches, the activities they’re conducting and ultimately the way people are searching are diversifying.

Interest for Google Home and Amazon Alexa has significantly increased over the last year and should be taken seriously as a marketing tactic. Some 56.3 million smart speakers are to be shipped in 2018 worldwide. (Canalys Estimates & Forecasts, Smart Speaker Analysis, December 2017)

Here are some great statistics showing insights on why voice search is soaring in popularity:

(Higher Visibility study in 2000 people – Opportunity sampling)

So how do we optimise for voice search?

Even though Google Search Console still isn’t providing voice search data, from the data we do have it’s clear that we should be maximising on conversation search and conversation action-based targeting.

  • When creating an editorial calendar, mapping the content to the informational needs will outline how diverse your targeting is
  • Keep answers brief and concise
  • Grammar is crucial for voice success. Assisted search is run by algorithms not humans. Therefore, as the machines learn language, it is critical that spelling, pronunciations and grammar are correct
  • Minimise personal pronouns when writing about a person and refer to entities by name
  • Use structured formats such as lists, data feeds and structured data for machines to easily digest
  • Work on building out the knowledge graph

From creative campaigns that win high-authority links to innovative technical work that’ll boost your rankings, Return is always at the cutting edge of digital marketing developments. Find out what we can do for your business today.

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