In the dynamic world of SEO, best practices are constantly changing—it’s essential to continuously revise and reanalyse your approach to stay up-to-date and relevant. And that’s what the SearchLove conference aims to do: help people understand and leverage the latest SEO changes and trends to grow presence and prominence online.

Some of us at The Egg were fortunate enough to attend the SearchLove London 2018 conference, where we learned some exciting industry insights and powered up our skills to bring back even better service to our clients. Here, we discuss our top 3 takeaways from this year’s SearchLove.

Key Takeaway 1: Avoid tunnel vision when looking at ranking factors in a SERP

Tom Capper — ‘The Two-Tiered SERP: Ranking for the Most Competitive Terms’

Tom Capper introduced us to the idea of the two-tiered SERP. His research found that SERPs can be reviewed in two separate halves: the top half and the bottom half.

The bottom half (6-10) returns search results that are determined by commonly known ranking factors, such as domain authority (DA) and backlinks. The top half (1-5), however, surprisingly shows results with a low DA and backlink correlation.

What does this mean for us digital marketers?

His study concludes that links are less important for pages that rank in position 1 to 5 for a keyword. Instead, we should focus on metrics that are tied to Google’s own KPIs. Google wants people to click on a result fast, and they want you to be happy with the result you click on—meaning that you stay on the page. Therefore, we can improve 2 metrics:

Reduce the ‘pogo stick’ rate

Pogo sticking is when a user clicks on a search result and very quickly clicks back to the search results page to click on a different result. This is different from the bounce rate, which is the percentage of visitors who visit a single page on a site.

To reduce pogo sticking, you need your page to give your users what they want: content that is in-depth and matches meta data, a fast page load speed, and general user-friendliness (no pop ups, no auto-play videos, etc.).

Reducing the time to first interaction with the SERP

Taking efforts to improve brand awareness, for example through paid search or cross-platform marketing, can help decrease the time to SERP interaction.
You should also optimize your meta data to entice searchers to click on your search result.

Backlinks impact neither of these factors. While backlinks are still an important building stone in the foundation of SEO, we need to shift our mindset to focus on Google’s KPIs, which ties to the user experience (UX) in search.

Key Takeaway 2: Investing in information architecture will increase conversions

Jamie Alberico — ‘Creating Effective Ecommerce Information Architecture’

Ensuring a great user experience continues to be a growing a priority for SEOs in 2018. Jamie Alberico taught us that your site’s information architecture (IA) is a key area for UX optimization, and that a good IA even makes SEO easier.

Your site’s IA should overlap with your business goals and user intent. A good IA adapts and grows with your users, who are on your site to fulfil a mission.

Here are 7 powerful tips that can help you create a more user-friendly IA and improve your ecommerce site’s overall performance:

Treat your navigational menu as a map

An accurate, complete map, to be exact. It is better to use a wide navigation rather than a deep navigation, as you cannot expect users to find pages deeply buried on your site.

Craft recognizable landscapes

Users are familiar with the classic navigation format (category > product listing > product detail), so stick with this to provide a consistent experience. However, you can always improve on this classic format, for example by adding extra functionalities, such as categorising products per application.

Ensure strong, relevant interlinking between pages

Help users make informed decisions and get to products fast by linking to relevant pages, such as supporting blog content, videos, and educational content.

Use bread crumbs on your pages

Bread crumbs answer three critical questions for users: 1) Where am I? 2) Where can I go? 3) Where have I been?

Match the placement of your content to user intent

Important content should be above the fold. This includes CTAs, images, and sales or offers.

Match autosuggest in your site’s search to indexable pages

The autosuggest can be linked to Product List Pages (PLP) and Product Detail Pages (PDP). This provides a better UX as it helps users easily find what they’re looking for. It also prevents the creation of generic internal site search result pages, which are usually not helpful. This is worth your efforts, as users who search on your site search are more likely to convert.

Consolidate all product variations in one page

Ensure user-friendliness by creating one main page for every product, despite a product coming in multiple variations, such as different colours and sizes.

Kay Takeaway 3: Do not blindly set up redirects for discontinued product pages

Luke Carthy — ‘How to Nail SEO for Discontinued Products’

While we commonly think to permanently redirect discontinued product pages, Luke Carthy teaches us otherwise. He argues that redirects should be avoided where possible, as redirects are often not to pages that your users are looking for.

Keeping your discontinued product pages alive is a better alternative to 301 redirects for several reasons:

  • It provides a better user experience, as you can use the page to recommend an upgraded, similar, or related product.
  • At the same time, you can keep the content around the product and your reviews, which is important as demand usually continues long after a product has discontinued. People still search for these products and want to know what they’re all about.
  • Finally, you also do not have to deal with backlink reclamation when keeping a discontinued product page live.

A few things to keep in mind when taking Luke’s approach:

Set your rules around how long you want to keep the discontinued product page up

This depends on several factors, such as your business objectives.

Exclude discontinued product pages from your site’s internal search

This needs to be done on the backend of your site through the content management system or implemented by your developers.

Engage your visitors as soon as they enter the page

What should they buy instead? What’s the alternative to this outdated product?

Ensure to exclude your discontinued products from your PPC activities

This is especially important if you run product listing ads or use business data feeds for PPC. Exclude discontinued products from your feeds so you won’t waste market budget on products that are no longer available.

While this article only highlighted 3 of our personal takeaways, SearchLove London 2018 saw many other great speakers that taught us other valuable insights. We’re excited to apply these takeaways to our work and look forward to next year’s SearchLove.