As experts in web design, naturally we also have to keep up with search engine optimization (SEO) developments and best practice.
This month we attended the three day SEO event, BrightonSEO, which is the industry event to be at. It’s also the world’s largest search marketing conference, featuring visitors and speakers from around the world. For web specialists like us it’s therefore an unmissable event, with a wealth of information, knowledge, experience and top tips on offer.
BrightonSEO 2023 included a keynote Q&A with Google’s John Mueller and talks from SEO and digital marketing experts on subjects ranging from AI to ecommerce, content strategy and copywriting to keyword analysis.
We’ve 10 pages of notes scrawled during more than 30 sessions, and here are some of our highlight nuggets of information and opinion:
Will AI take my job?
- AI is not new. It was around way before colour television – see Alan Turing’s 1950 paper ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence.’ In 1997 IBM’s AI-powered chess playing computer beat reigning chess champion Gary Kasparov. More recently, improved computer storage and processing speeds have allowed AI to play a greater role in our daily lives. Eventually moderation of AI’s advance should be managed through human ethics.
- Use AI (artificial intelligence) content writers like ChatGPT or BARD as inspiration and as time savers. Simply copying and pasting AI-generated content will give you average content at best (and at worst duplicated content, which is bad news for your SEO). As time goes on, AI-generated content will become even more average as more users feed the database with more generic content. AI output can be human emotionless “word salad” as it is, and it’s easy to spot and therefore likely to put off readers. There is an essential need for human editing.
- Equally, don’t worry about the negative impacts of AI – it will probably not take your job. As the economist Richard Baldwin said, “AI won’t take your job, it’s somebody using AI that’ll take your job.” Work with it, not against it!
- ChatGPT and Google’s Bard are good for researching and understanding new topics, but do fact check and employ the human critical thinking that you always should when writing copy.
- We’ll write a full blog post soon on the opportunities and threats posed by AI in web content. It’s a fascinating topic for discussion. Watch this space…
Master your messaging
- Messaging is what you say, copy is how you say it.
- Be aware of Miller’s Law which states that any more than seven messages will overwhelm. On a web page for example, it’s better to focus on one key message than confuse your reader and leave them with no clear message.
- Reconsider using those image/headline rotating ‘sliders’ on your homepage. Will your reader really remember all of those messages?
- What’s in it for me? Highlight the benefits of your product or service, be clear on how it can improve the reader’s life.
- Use language that your intended audience can understand and relate to. This will of course vary according to your industry, product or service.
- Avoid the use of jargon and buzzwords – content should be clear, relevant and differentiated.
Storytelling on a website
- Content is storytelling. That keeps people on a website, and ’emotional urgency’ leads to decision making (for example buying a product or making an enquiry).
- Convey trust through your content’s tone of voice, and create impulsivity, competitiveness and reward. Reward in effect means purchase or action.
- Through your copy, build the world, the problem, the solution. Then show the new world, the results and the call to action.
Writing for the web
- As we’ve always advised our clients, use short bursts of content for easy reading – short sentences, lots of paragraphs and bullet points, broken up by headings and subheadings.
- “If you bury the leads, the leads will not come.”
- Don’t use “click here” for links. This is not new news. “Click here” is of very little use to search engines let alone assistive screen reading software. A link’s text should not be meaningless out of context.
- Back to AI, remember it has social bias – write with a human voice.
Is email marketing dead?
- No! There are 4.5 billion email users and 96% check their email every day. With an up to date email subscriber list you can get the right message to the right people at the right time.
- Messages delivered via social media channels typically disappear or become lost fairly quickly. An email will sit in someone’s inbox until they choose to delete it.
- B2B communication is often more professional and appropriate via email newsletters and messaging.
- Use the power of subscriber segmentation and filters – don’t send a special offer on potatoes to those that have indicated a preference towards apples! Personalize content for relevance.
- Email communication is a two-way street. Invite replies and ask questions to get engagement.
- Respect the user’s inbox. Use an appropriate email subject and content and send at a relevant time of the day.
- Website visits originating from email marketing are higher quality – longer viewing time and more link following – which in turn improves your SEO.
What is E-E-A-T?
- E-E-A-T, or EEAT, is Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness. Web pages with a high level of E-E-A-T are favoured by Google, who see your website as higher quality if you show yourself to tick these boxes.
- It’s not a new quality-ranking system in Google’s search algorithms, though Experience was only added in 2022 (until then it was known as ‘E-A-T’). Evidencing experience in your specialism means your content will be more reliable and less ‘fake news’.
- If you can present yourself or your business as an authority on your subject then again your content will be seen as reliable and trustworthy. In fact, when you convey authoritativeness, expertise and experience then the reader will trust you. Think of the T as the overlapping segment in the E, E, A Venn diagram (and who doesn’t love a Venn diagram?). Trustworthiness is therefore the ultimate goal here – if a reader doesn’t trust what you’re saying then they’re unlikely to engage with you.
- E-E-A-T is especially important for ‘Your Money or Your Life’ (YMYL) content. This means websites that publish content about current events, health, safety, finance and law, or shopping – things that can influence a person’s wellbeing.
- E-E-A-T separates fact from fiction and benefits you in the eyes of the Google overlords. Again, if no-one can find your site then you may as well not have a website at all. And if they do find you, then they need to trust who you are and what you do very quickly.
Is TikTok relevant for business?
- TikTok hit the world in 2017 and now has over 1.5 billion active users globally. It’s still behind the more established social media platforms like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, but usage is rising steadily with users forecast to top 2 billion by 2025.
- But isn’t TikTok only used by young people? No! All age groups are on TikTok and surprisingly around 30% of users are aged 40+. In the UK two-thirds of users are female. As with all social media platforms, know your audience.
- Gen Zs and Millennials are using social media platforms like TikTok to find answers more than Google. Consider adding pre-emptive information articles or answering questions in those communities, using their language and jargon.
- So depending on your line of business, it’s worth considering using TikTok to reach more people and put your products or services in front of them. However, tread carefully when producing content for that platform…
- Don’t bore the user. The average Gen Z’s attention span is 8 seconds. For video content it’s one minute and for ads it’s nearer to one second. According to a recent survey they find video content longer than 1 minute “stressful.” Surprising yes, shocking maybe, but like it or not that’s the world we’re living in. Understand their pain points and keep video content relevant, interesting and punchy. No long intros.
- Post regularly as TikTok content is short-lived, very much in the moment. Be creative. If you’re braving engagement with viral topics then do so within 2-3 days or you may be seen to be out of touch with your audience.
- As with website and blog content generally, gain topical authority, put aside your bias and talk in the language of that community or audience.
If you’d like to discuss any of these topics or learn how we can help you update your website’s SEO and engagement, please get in touch. With access to essential SEO analysis and reporting software we can help your SEO strategy to deliver. There’s no point in having a great website if no-one can find it, right?
Photos from BrightonSEO 2023
Back to E-E-A-T for a moment. So, did we achieve it?
- Experience – we’ve been in the web business since 1999 (24 years and counting!) and Maroon Balloon was born 10 years ago. We live, breathe and sleep websites!
- Expertise – ongoing research and regular learning such as BrightonSEO and implementation evidenced by our website work portfolio.
- Authoritativeness – over 100 websites successfully built, deployed, hosted and managed, across a range of public, private and charitable sector organisations.
- Trustworthiness – this website tells you all about our ethos of transparency, honesty and quality, but that’s up to you to decide!