Springtime in Brighton can mean only one thing. That’s right, it’s the first BrightonSEO of the year.
A couple of us went down this Spring to soak up some sunshine, SEO tips and all-round geekiness. It rained, but all was not lost – we picked up some eye-opening SEO insights, met some old friends in the industry, spent some quality time with a client and left with a list of new connections (not to mention swag – so much swag!).
In between browsing exhibitor stands, totally owning the competition on MarioKart and Street Fighter II, trying to make sense of the piano-playing Gorilla in the foyer and dodging the token man in a T-Rex suit, we did manage to make it into a few of the the talks. In particular, it was great to see Aleyda Solis and Gregg Gifford speaking again after recently seeing them at Search Camp 2017.
I won’t go into loads of detail, but here are a few of the key points we took away on the two main topics that were discussed by all the speakers throughout the day.
Mobile-first indexing is nothing new. It’s been the talk of the SEO industry for some time. However, like most people, we had a lot of questions around the specifics of how it would roll out, the deadlines, best practices and where the opportunities lay for optimisation.
Here’s the top-line answers we got confirmed form various experts (including Google’s own John Mueller):
- Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool is rubbish. Don’t trust it. You need to do full manual mobile audits (UX, content and code) to be safe.
- Whereas content hidden on page-load (in tabs or behind accordions) was previously downgraded, there is now no punishment or negative impact of using tabs and accordions. After all, these UX features improve mobile experiences and therefore shouldn’t be discouraged. This did come with a warning from John Mueller though… don’t take advantage and start keyword-stuffing or filling tabs with spam, otherwise Google will just take our toys away and downgrade the content again! Also be aware that tab/accordion content which only loads in via js will require another round trip to load and will therefore slow down the crawl and page load speed, affecting SEO negatively in a different way.
- Google still crawls in a cookie-free environment, so crawl with no cookies and test incognito.
- Google renders 16,000 px. Infinite scroll is therefore usually not indexable. Pagination is still best, but be sure to set canonicals and rel next/prev properly.
- Be conscious of the effects of burger menus for navigation as they require another click to get to key pages.
- Expect to see crawl rates increase with mobile-first indexing. Your server will need to be able to handle the extra load!
- Google is indexing mobile and desktop concurrently now. They aim to have a full mobile index by mid-June to July. There will also be an ‘official rollout’, where there are likely to be algorithmic changes to the way that index will be processed.
We heard a lot of the same stuff that we have come to expect at these conferences – don’t be spammy, look for quality and relevance, and just generally be awesome and the links will come. In reality, we all know that’s easier said than done on a small budget. We did pick up a few tips and tricks to find, acquire and maintain really high quality links. Again, without going into too much detail:
- Some marketers were saying they were getting good results from content constructed around FOI requests, ensuring unique value and info.
- Journorequests and bloggerequests are still excellent ways to pick up link opportunities.
- Events listings are an underused area for link acquisition.
- Gregg Gifford did a great job of reminding everyone about the finer points of local SEO link-building. I’d give you a transcript, but I’d have to censor so much bad language that it probably wouldn’t make sense (haha).
- The growing importance of wiki links and high-trust/authority sites was stressed with specific regards to position zero rankings and voice search.
Thanks to the organisers, sponsors and exhibitors for another fantastic event.
We can’t wait until next time!