And that’s how i found my way to #medienbc, the event’s hashtag.
In yesterday’s case, the Medien-Barcamp organizers had access to the rooms of SRF, the Swiss public radio and TV station, in Zürich.
It’s not my first barcamp. I’ve attended many and even presented topics at some. Yesterday I was in listening mode.
Here’s a brief recap of the talks that I attended:
First, I attended a talk by Markus on Voice User Interfaces. He provided an excellent intro to the rise of voice. He says many new jobs are being created in this space. And I made a mental note to look up SSML.
Fabian and David invited us to discuss how to get more “old” people engaged on social media. The discussion covered a lot of ground:
The decline in journalistic quality,
The change in speed,
The fact that today journalists have access to less proofreading, fact checking and editorial staff than ever,
Questions like do users want to see and interact with company content on Facebook (apparently yes, 1 attendee described how a Facebook ad influenced her decision to buy).
Next, I listened to Vincenzo talk about the challenges and learnings of setting up an email newsletter for a small regional newspaper. A very honest and useful talk. His newspaper uses a tool called Revue, by a Dutch startup, cos it’s even simpler than Mailchimp.
I peeked into the session on no-budget video production. I would like to learn more about this.
I listened to a talk on analytics. Not new for me, but I was curious to see SimilarWeb. It looks a lot like SEMRush.
We looked at the stats for Nau.ch that had just announced it is now making a profit. The stats showed Nau.ch is investing in organic search. Markus recommended that journalists do keyword research for their articles. I would think that is obvious by now.
In the last session of the day, I got valuable advice on how to prepare to speak in front of audience or take part in an interview. In my own words:
Stand firmly. Before you start presenting, assure yourself that you are standing firmly on the ground and that it will not disappear beneath you.
Find ways to relax and stand in an open, welcoming position, e.g. take deep breaths of air, yawn, make funny faces, turn into a loud and noisy monster shortly before your gig.
Remind yourself that you are valuable, e.g. imagine you were given a really expensive diamond worth more than 100 thousand CHF and walk thru the busy train station in Bern.
Prepare and know the content of your presentation. If you know your topic well, you will be persuasive.
It’s about your attitude and posture.
Thank you to the organisers and participants for an enjoyable and fulfilling event. Good food, awesome location, great speakers. I like barcamp sessions cos we can leave out the sales speak and dig deeper. I feel excited and encouraged.
There are so many beautiful poppies this year. I captured some impressions on Flickr. It must be the additional rain that causes poppies to bloom. The field next to Fondation Beyeler is red with flowers.
Much like how today I’d take 10 email subscribers to my newsletter over 1,000 Facebook “likes,” I think in the future, we’d all much rather have 10 Google searches for our brand name than 1,000 Google searches for phrases on which we’re trying to both rank and compete for a click against Google themselves.
Here are my slides from my recent Women in Digital talk in Basel. I made them “resource-full” with lots of background links.
The session was interactive from the start. Lots of questions throughout. Wow. I think the topic hit a nerve.
SEO for small business websites
How do you get found in an increasingly busy and complex online search market? Are you a small business owner looking to get started with SEO? Already got a site up but the traffic is low? In my presentation I discussed key requirements for a web presence and how to stay focussed.
Be nimble, fast, smart – use your smallness as an advantage
“Small businesses can compete with large companies if they keep in mind that search engine optimization is a marathon, not a sprint.”
1) Learn the basics of SEO
Read “Intro to SEO” guidelines (MOZ, Backlinko, Google)
Take an online course
2) Do your marketing homework!
What segment are you trying to reach?
Who is your potential client?
What is your core message?
How would you present your services/products in a telephone call/face-to-face meeting?
What kind of words does your potential client use when referring to your services/products?
The other thing to watch out for is that your small business website follows best practises.
If you are using a content management system, make sure the site is fast. Try to reduce CMS bloat as much as possible.
Check that each piece of content is accessible via only one URL.
Duplicate content issues may arise when Google can access the same piece of content via multiple URLs. Without one clear version, pages will compete with one another unnecessarily.
In developer’s eyes, a page is unique if it has a unique ID in the website’s database, while for search engines the URL is a unique identifier. A developer should be reminded that each piece of content should be accessed via only one URL.
Plan your site structure. Decide on languages and regions.
Question 2: What are the top 3 mistakes that I have to avoid?
My answer: There’s lots of things that can go wrong.
Avoid vague, sprawling websites with lots of sub-menus and thin content, especially if you are a small company. Put your client at the center, instead of your product/department/company achievements. Always ask yourself what search query does my site want to answer, what is the purpose, what keyphrases do my clients use.
Not filling in the page title and meta description tags with a useful summary of your web page. The page title is the first part of your web page that web visitors see in the search engine result pages and it influences your SEO. Yet, very often you see “homepage”. The meta description helps web visitors decide to click on a link or not. On-page SEO is easier to influence and change.
Get the basics up and running. Unstable, flaky web hosting or a broken user experience will hurt your web reputation. And make SEO harder.
Question 3: Is SEO and web design totally connected, or can I outsource this to separate providers?
My answer: Web design and SEO are connected by the words usability and user experience. Google looks at engagement metrics. If web visitors land on your web page and leave after a split second, despite having good SEO content, then it might be due to your web design. You don’t need to assign design and development to the same provider. The times when designers wanted to use Adobe Flash for their designs are thankfully over. If your website design follows common web design patterns, you’ll be fine. Make sure the fonts are easy to read on different devices
Question 4: How do I select an SEO provider?
My answer: Ask lots of questions. Be wary if they promise too much. Discuss your business goals.
What process are you going to use to accomplish my business goals, and why do you use those particular processes?
What is your communication and reporting process? How often? What metrics do you report on? How do those match up to the business goals?
What do you do when things aren’t working?
Question 5: How regular should I, or my provider, work actively on the SEO to keep the good results? Or: what is my decay-time?
My answer: It depends on the purpose of your website. If you are building a webshop or an e-commerce app, you will need to invest a lot more energy, time, resources, and money than if you are a consultant for a service that is highly in demand.
As a newcomer, you’ll need to build a web reputation.
If I’m building a consultancy business, I’d start off with blocking off 2 SEO time-slots per week. A typical, regular SEO content activity is for instance
writing a new blog post and promoting it within my community
re-visiting a core service page to add a new paragraph
Question 6: Should I do SEO in every language of my website?
My answer: Yes. Without adequate SEO keyphrase analysis, the translation doesn’t perform well. After translation, you should check and adjust headings and tags to match your primary and related keyphrases.
Question 7: Is SEO scalable? Meaning: if I have set up my SEO properly, that with every added search word, I have proportionally more results? Or do I have diminishing returns, every time I add a search word, or content improvement? Where do I reach the optimum in money and effect?
My answer: If you’ve built a good web reputation and found the topics that your clients are interested in, it will get easier. Please note: SEO is a mid-term or long-term investment. There’s a risk that Google will change its algorithm and something that worked 6 months ago may no longer work now. Google is investing heavily into artificial intelligence and in some ways this will level the playing field. I would focus on finding the topics and questions that your clients are looking for. Build a website that helps clients get their jobs done.
Question 8: How do I measure success with SEO? Proof that it works!
My answer: This is the huge benefit of digital marketing. It is measurable. Before starting any SEO project, decide on your measure of success and discuss in detail with your SEO provider.
Again, consider your business goals: What’s the purpose of your website? Do you want to get more contact form submissions? More downloads? More shopping cart submissions? Measure a conversion rate that is important for your business success.
I would avoid vanity goals like “more traffic”.
Question 9: What are the content activities I should do that help with better SEO results? Like: weekly blog publication, news items, reposting other people’s content”¦ etc?
My answer: Blogging is a good way to get started and to find what resonates and what doesn’t. If you have relevant news or if you are attending an event, I would also share these. I’ve moved away from “content curation” (= reposting other people’s content) for B2B purposes. Curating content is time consuming. If you see a piece of content that fits, I would quote it but try to write my own version. Consider other content types such as interviews, videos, audio podcasts. And build good pillar pages on your core topics.
And once you have created good content, give it as much promotion as your budget and resources allow.
In my experience this is where many B2B companies can improve. Often the PDFs don’t contain any useful titles or descriptions. Sometimes they show the draft infos. In many companies, PDFs aren’t reviewed by the SEO team. Very often managers don’t want to go back to the DTP team. Yet another change request.
Solution? Raise awareness from the start.
Is this a PDF that will be hosted online?
Do you want web visitors to find it?
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to provide some free consulting on how I would start SEO for a new B2B services or products company.
Here are my notes:
#Sandra’s advice on how to start
There are different kinds of web visitors. Try to find groups and segments, and the info that they are looking for.
Investors / stakeholders
Learn as much as you can about your web visitors, clients and potential clients.
What are their interests?
What do they read?
What are their work goals? What do they need to achieve?
What are trends and changes affecting the industry?
What are the challenges?
How do clients select a product/service?
What are the painpoints?
What happens when a project fails?
How long is the evaluation time before a product/service is purchased?
Build a persona description for each important web visitor group. This will help you create web pages and blog posts tailored to this type of web visitor.
Interview clients (if you are allowed to) and client-facing staff (if you are not).
Analyse the websites of competitors.
Remember, products and services that achieve a similar solution to yours are also competitors. I encountered technology companies that argued there’s no competition for their new service. Many times they ignored substitutes.
#Factors influencing SEO (cross-clicks, anchor texts?)
Remember that Google is looking at many additional factors. It measures engagement.
Think in topics.
Consider search intent. Are search words informational or transactional? Always check the SERPs to see what kind of results display.
Voice search is changing how keyword research has been done in the past couple of years. Expect more 3-word phrases, more questions, more variants as people search by speaking to Cortana, Alexa, and Google Voice Search.
Content should be “useful” for your clients, help them achieve their work goals faster, educate them.
Who cares if you are the world leader? Can you solve my business problem? Are you a reliable provider? This is more relevant to me.
Next, I joined a discussion on digital education. Difficult to summarize in a couple of words. Apparently, even in 2017, there are tonnes of teachers that don’t use digital resources and apps in their teaching plans. At the same time, many students are distracted by very elaborate, leading edge, commercial apps. Educational software publishers could benefit from UX methodology and agile processes. And one attendee suggested UX designers should consider enter the teaching profession.
Then, there was a session on virtual reality. One hololens and 120 attendees. And very shaky videos as we watched people try out the headset. Conclusion: User interaction is not quite there yet. The hand gestures are quite difficult to learn, it seems.
I felt this session shows what is happening. Enthusiasts, gamers, early adopters are embracing virtual reality, augmented reality faster than ever before. While at the same time the digital divide is increasing (c.f. educational system). Many of us, normal folks, will be consumers of elaborate marketing and manipulation machines that we don’t know how to program.
One thing to note is: voice control will become more widespread.