On Friday 20 July, Salad Social went to the “SEO & Analytics: Unlocking the Mystery” event – held at our River City Labs home. This particular talk session was in our calendars for some time, as we thought it would be wasteful to pass up such a marvellous opportunity to learn more about search engine optimisation and web analytics.
Presented by webconsulting guru Andy Henderson – web designer for 18 years, SEO consultant for nine and workshop trainer for an incredible 25 – and chief veteran web designer/developer and dotcom survivor Jon Whitehead, the two-and-a-half-hour event was split into two segments: “SEO in 30 minutes” and “SEO Tactics & Strategies”.
A web designer for 18 years, SEO consultant for nine and workshop trainer for an incredible 25, Andy presided over the first part – the analytics session, which turned out to be a treasure trove of knowledge for online entrepreneurs willing to learn more about making their businesses tick on the web. Bringing the focus on the very first part of a web search, he pointed out that keywords are critical in locating your site and that anyone willing to improve their rankings, traffic and conversion needs to follow three crucial steps:
- Don’t just guess – create a list
- Review at least annually
- Take into account all necessities: domain name, site structure, category, page titles, post titles, tags, headings, captions, image names and image alt tags.
Having touched on the fact 94% of Australians use Google as a primary search engine, Andy expanded on the search engine process (crawl, index, rank) and explained two major Google algorithm updates that happened in the past 18 months: PANDA (Feb 2011) and PENGUIN (Apr 2012). The “content is king” postulate also got a nod, with Andy outlining how your content should be: unique, keyword-focused, educational, informative and – if one must desire – funny, controversial and shocking for maximum impact.
After Andy finished his address with a brief tribute to webmasters’ go-to platform WordPress, Jon took over and we got transported to the mysterious land of Google Analytics – where objectives are called Goals, prospects come from search and referral, macros generate leads, sales, subscriptions and organic campaigns perform best.
Speaking with expert authority, Jon explained that keywords that convert generate good traffic (eg 20 a is higher-than average conversion rate, while a rate score of 100 means 100% conversion) and named three main reasons why prospects bounce: no call-to-action, wrong information and slow pages.
During Jon’s presentation, the less technical-minded attendees like ourselves got an opportunity to learn about testing software such as Unbounce and Optimizely, mobile app analytics (including beta) and call tracking. Things, however, got a lot more technical when Andy joined Jon in examining some sample source code and then analysing the RCL homepage and giving layout and content-related suggestions. The increasingly-popular TagCrowd – a cheeky way of creating a tag cloud by pasting content or website URL and hitting ‘visualise’ – got described as a “dirty”, but nonetheless effective method by the speakers.
Saving some crucial info for last, Andy outlined the pros & cons of a number of sites including international student tuition payment platform Cohortpay, noting that even a model city directory site like My247 still contained unnecessary amounts of whitespace, and expanded further on Google Adwords and Google keyword search before bringing the session to an end.