Now in its third year, Search Leeds is one of the UK’s biggest digital events, so naturally it’s a big date on our calendar here at 21Digital Agency (especially for me as Search Manager, and Michael Cain, our Head of Development). It’s no secret that the world of technical SEO is constantly evolving at an incredible rate, and Search Leeds is a fantastic opportunity to make sure we’re keeping ourselves at the cutting edge of digital. It’s getting bigger and busier with every passing year, too. This year, Michael and I were amongst 2000 attendees, attending a total of 11 talks throughout the entire day. Here are our key takeaways for 2018!
Here’s something you may not have known: a slow-loading website causes just as much stress as watching a horror film. This was one of Bastian Grimm’s central points in his talk about International Site Speed. Now obviously, improving site speed has always been the first priority of any SEO professional looking to boost their site’s ranking in Google’s SERPs, and Bastian drew particular attention to images. They account for about 62% of the data on any single webpage, so it makes a lot of sense to include them in your first targets for optimisation.
He also highlighted another often quoted statistic: 40% of customers will leave a website if it doesn’t load fully within three seconds. Most SEOs therefore aim to get their site’s loading speed down to at least this window, but realistically, said Bastian, this will be easier for some sites than others. Don’t forget about other aspects of a quality user experience, and don’t view it as at-all-costs sort of goal!
This topic was deftly handed by Steve Chambers from Stickyeyes, in one of the more directly-titled talks: How Not To F**k Up a Migration. In it, he took us through the common pitfalls of site migrations, and how to avoid them. Maintaining organic traffic is obviously a key priority, and there’s a definite art to making sure that a site’s traffic, SEO implementations and links are all kept intact throughout the migration. Steve also emphasised the importance of having a stripped-back process, helping communication between all the different teams involved. This includes both SEO and PPC specialists, technical developers, and copywriters, amongst others.
(Personally, we migrate several sites every month here at 21Digital Agency, and with an all-under-one-roof team all working from within the same studio, I’m pleased to say communication issues aren’t generally a big problem for us!)
As an expert on technical SEO myself, I found the talk on structured data to be incredibly informative. It was masterfully delivered by Fili Wiese, an SEO professional at Search Brothers and a former senior technical lead in the Google Search Quality team. (Quite impressive credentials!)
Over the last few years, he said, Google SERPs have become extremely feature rich – so much so, it’s easy to forget that they weren’t always that way. If you type “digital agency in Blackburn” into Google, for example, it won’t just give you links. It’ll also provide you with telephone numbers, addresses, and even maps to the businesses in question. Adding this sort of structured data to our websites, he said, helps to give Google the context of your website.
Site security is always going to be a concern, no matter your business or industry, and Julia Logan of IrishWonder’s SEO Consulting included a valuable reminder for an issue that might be flying under your radar. It was to do with https and Secure Socket Layer, or SSL, certificates. In short, though they’re important to have for your site, just these measures alone don’t necessarily mean your site is totally secure. It simply means that any data is sent over a secure connection. You’ll recognise these as being very closely related, but not necessarily the same thing! Julia’s talk underlined the importance of cutting no corners when it comes to securing your site against hackers. It’s the sort of thing that could end up being a very costly mistake.
The success of Search Leeds year-on-year just goes to show the sheer scale of the ever-growing social scene in SEO, and we’re dedicated to staying a big part of that here at 21Digital Agency. Steadily larger numbers of attendees gives us a great opportunity to network as we share and absorb new ideas, which we can then use in bespoke, creative campaigns that deliver tangible results on your specific business objectives.
Our SEO service is a key part of our core service offering, and just in the last six months we’ve had some incredible success with several clients. One such client is Skip Hire Network, who saw a record 664% increase in bookings over the space of just twelve months. Read our case study to find out more, or give us a call on 01254 660 560 to see how we can help you make it on the web!