My monthly ritual of attending the Melbourne SEO Meetup was alive and well - despite missing the usual Saijo George news recap - with a social media themed event; featuring an introduction to Google+ and LinkedIn advanced techniques.
For the first time in a while, I arrived early on to the event to catch the latter half of Chris' introduction to SEO presentation.
Chris does this presentation every meetup and does an outstanding job demystifying search engine optimisation for those newcomers who wish to dip their toe in it.
This consistent approach help bridge the knowledge gap between attendees and is one of the main reasons which there is always such high audience engagement at this event - in direct comparison to other Meetups, I would place the audience nurturing of the Melbourne SEO event up there with any regular Meetup.
From what I was able to catch, Chris demonstrated the usefulness of Google Search Operators in measuring your website, using the Google Webmaster Tools to check the health of a website, a brief introduction to Google Analytics and Adwords as well as various third-party tools such as Moz Open Site Explorer, Majestic SEO, Ahrefs and SEM Rush.
As this talk is intended for new attendees, there was a lot of audience engagement - with Chris patiently and expertly answering any question that came his way.
I was also able to chime-in by pointing out that SEM Rush's database is only updated on a monthly basis - to further illustrate that many of these tools are observational in nature and the provided analysis is merely an aggregation of these observations.
After a short break, we began the meat of the meetup with the Monthly News Round-up - with the very capable Peter Mead filling in Saijo George's shoes.
- Instagram Carousel Ads was one of the early topics, showcasing the ever expanding feature set of one of the highest performing social media platforms out there.
- Facebook Introduce Anonymous Login as a convenient way for people to log in to application without sharing their personal data. This has been a long time coming and will likely improve engagement rates for first time users.
- Google Compares Auto Insurance showcases Google leveraging their massive sphere of influence to gain ground on the price comparison market - this time in auto insurance.
- Doorway Pages was one of the biggest SEO news of the month, where Google had announced that it was going to target doorway pages designed to game SERPS. In classic Google style, their description of Doorway Pages was ambiguous at best - describing three of more techniques - and I tried my best clarifying it on the Webmaster Stack exchange.
- April 21st Mobile Update is still the big news in upcoming updates in the world of SEO.
I was able to chime-in that it was announced that the mobile-update with be on a page-by-page basis and runs in 'real time' - whatever that means.
- Mystery February 5th update based on Algoroo still seems mysterious, but one member of the audience chimed in that they believed it may be a precursor to a mobile-update for Google AU.
Not in the news that did occur in March was the New Scientist report on Google's recent paper explaining the idea of a facts based search algorithm. The system showcases further investment on the Knowledge Graph as major factors of SEO relevance.
Peter did great in engaging the audience with the news round-up in Saijo's absence and there was great audience participation for some of the more interesting items.
Melinda has been a Google Partner for six years - specialising in Adwords, Analytics and Google Plus as well as providing management and training for these services.
Google+ is a social layer over all Google Platforms - Gmail, YouTube, Drive etc.
Your profile is your identity and Melinda points out the Google+ is not dead - making an amusing "Shake it off" reference.
[Google Plus is] the digital identity that you're displaying to the world - +Martin Shervington
So what exactly makes Google+ special?
With Google+, you get quality connections and engagement.
Recently, Copyblogger wrote about why they deleted their Facebook page.
A fascinating insight was their Google+ page had less followers than their 38,000 Facebook page 'likes', but significantly had better engagement than their paltry Facebook numbers.
With the circles feature on Google+, the process is also easy to see only updates you choose - making the browsing process more interesting.
The visuals are stunning - with no in-stream ads - and with keyword functionality to 'snap' to previous/next posts the user experience is second to none.
One major benefit of maintaining a healthy Google+ network is to leverage the full potential of private search.
Private Search is a special additional weighting of search engine results for those in your Google+ network and their authored websites.
This is the default setting for logged-in users to see different search engine results based not only on your Google+ setting but also innumerable other behaviour patterns associated to you, as an individual.
Melinda showcased some examples for the term 'Link Building Tools' featuring Peter Mead's presentation on slideshare on the topic ranking highly - in multiple instances - for the keyword.
Other notes for Private Search include:
- Sharing in Private Search: When your Google+ posts get reshared, they can appear in search results.
- Personal Contacts in Search: The right hand side of the search engine results page can include your Google+ contacts (and Gmail contacts, in general). This is valuable real estate you can control with a strong Google+ following.
Melinda shared some tips on how to gather a following on Google+. Whilst her advice was extensive, it covers mainly a lot of generic social media tactics such as engaging with people, being active and sharing quality content.
Specifically for Google+, the unique attributes where events, which Melinda chose not to discuss (probably a 201 topic) and communities.
I asked specifically about how to invite people to Google+ communties. Private Communities are a great lead nurturing tool and I have observed this in action both for Facebook and Google+.
Buried under the left navigation was the option to invite people to a community - which I found interesting. I was also curious about whether you could invite an email list to a community, but that was beyond the scope of the discussion.
Unique to Google+ is the Google My Business page. This is key for Local Search Engine Optimisation in order to establish your business entity to a physical location, have an address and solicit reviews from your loyal customers.
One thing I wished that Melinda did cover was using Google+ Hangouts. I have never used Hangouts before but like many people I know it is a unique value proposition of the social network. Wanting to understand how Hangouts, YouTube and Google+ can interact with one another would have been helpful.
Overall it was a good presentation, though I had hoped that features like communities and events would have been covered more extensively as they really help differentiate Google+ from the rest of the noise of social media.
That said, after the presentation I was inspired to rekindle my Google+ activities so it clearly achieved the desired effect.
I was initially turned off the social network due to the extreme difficulty involved in merging Google+ accounts.
Though nowadays new Gmail addresses have to option to omit Google+ creation, this wasn't always a case which had led to 'ghost' profiles created for multiple email accounts.
Update: Sue has published the video of the event. I have embedded it below.
Sue's topic was more of a 'framework' on how to achieve organic traffic success for your LinkedIn profile.
Beginning her presentation, what really caught my eye was an effective opt-in technique used by Sue:
Text your name, email address and 'SEO' in order to get the slides + other goodies.
I knew we were in for a good talk with an effective lead generation technique used from the onset.
Sue kicked things off talking about LinkedIn in general:
- Odds are, LinkedIn will be the first result when you Google your name
- 70% of hiring managers will Google your name
- 90% of all jobs aren't advertised
- If your LinkedIn profile is complete, you are 7 times more likely to appear in search.
Common hang ups that Sue addresses for LinkedIn tire kickers are:
- "There's no privacy..." - LinkedIn is a representation of your past history. If you are willing to share it with a prospective employer, you should share it with the world.
- "I don't know who to connect too..." - Connecting with people depends on the purpose. You'll be surprised by the sphere of influence within the people you know directly.
- "I don't have the time..." - Do a simple cost/benefits analysis. If there is value with generating leads/prospects through LinkedIn, 15 minutes a week wouldn't kill you.
- "It's too costly..." - Sue does this professionally; she has used a free account for years. Unless you are a recruiter, it is highly unlikely that you will need the premium version of LinkedIn.
- "But I can't write..." - Use dot point summaries. People are busy and appreciate someone who can get to the point.
- "But I'm scared of computers..." - Not relevant for this audience, but we live in a digital world now.
- "I am worried about my English..." - Sue recommends that if this is a concern, get your profile proof read.
After dropping these points in a fast and furious manner, Sue got into the meat of her presentation: how you can get value from LinkedIn.
A simple formula for what Sue describes as success in LinkedIn is defined by the following values:
- Be Active: You should be getting 100+ views per month for your LinkedIn profile. I am currently at around a third of this.
- Be recommended: Having over six recommendations on your profile will help build trust in your areas of expertise.
- Ensure your skills are up to scratch: Sue believes that each skill listed on your profile should be at least 20 (!).
I personally believe this value is excessive, but there are some tips I've read on specialising your skills.
By listing only 5 skills you are able to 'herd' your connections and simplify the endorsement patters. Speaking from personal experience, this is so that your connections don't give you +9 in Actionscript.
In order to maintain your data, on LinkedIn and off, it would be wise to export your profile as a PDF document. Performing this task ritually in 90 intervals allows you to gather historical insights and revert to previous content in the event you wish to pivot from a recent change.
Sue also recommends that you regularly export your connections. You contacts can be exported into a CSV file which you should import into your CRM of choice in order to be on top of your various connections.
A basic framework to improve your LinkedIn presence was outlined by Sue in a few simple areas:
The primary locations of placing keywords on your profile are:
- Headline: You headline should include your primary keywords as well as secondary keywords, with your location if appropriate. Use related keywords (i.e. UX Design | Website Design | Interaction Design) when relevant and possible.
- Summary: Include multiple variants of keywords in your profile summary in order to maximise visibility. 120 characters is the maximum limit for the headline.
- Current Job Title: Including keywords in your current job title. Never use 'seeking new opportunities in X', as it fails to inspire confidence.
- Past Job Title: Try to include relevant keywords in previous job titles and descriptions, reworking them to suit your current context.
- Education: Include keywords in your Education related to your industry or field.
- Always proof read your spelling
- Use dot points when possible to concisely present relevant information
- For any number less than 10, use the full word i.e. six, not 6
- Be sure to spell out acronyms in conjunction. i.e. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
In order to stand out from the crowd, you have to be unique.
Other editorial technique include:
- Reduce the number of full stops
- Shorten your sentences
- Create white space
- Write out URL's in full for copying/pasting verifications.
It isn't enough to simple fill your profile with content and allow it to stagnate over time.
Being active on LinkedIn often leads to great rewards, with greater profile visibility as well as reciprocation from your network.
Activity hacks you can perform on LinkedIn are:
- Endorse People: Endorsing people is a nice, passive way to get your name out in front of their network - expanding your overall reach.
- Publish a Post: Publishing a post notifies your connections, which helps keep you top-of-mind regarding your audience. Sue also advised that you shouldn't abuse this privilege; reserving posts for high-quality engagement over a 2-4 week routine of publications.
- Make Recommendations: Making a recommendation not only helps increase the likelihood of receiving a recommendation yourself, but also lists you on another person's profile. This is wonderful if you share a target audience with a connection.
- View Other People: Probably the most effective 'passive' technique, viewing a person's profile automatically notifies them of your behaviour. According to Sue, 30% of LinkedIn users will view your profile back.
- Follow a company: LinkedIn recruiters can target you directly if you follow their company, so let yourself be known by actively following and engaging with their presence.
Sue notes that she is not a Premium LinkedIn member herself, but can provide insights for Premium accounts on how best to manage their LinkedIn visibility:
- Send InMails: Being a premium member gives you access to the InMail feature - to ability to cold contact a LinkedIn member. Typical cold email tactics should be used - with the goal of establishing a meaningful relationship via direct outreach.
- You appear higher in Search Results: One of the 'perks' of being a premium LinkedIn member is that you appear higher in the LinkedIn internal search. This could be critical if you are relying on a keyword based strategy.
- Comprehensive Analytics: Premium LinkedIn members have access to greater insights into their account so they may take a data-driven approach in growing the organic reach of their LinkedIn profile.
Some simple personal hacks anyone can do are simple to do:
- Complete your LinkedIn profile: Filling out your past history, education, skills and other profile fields would drastically improve your LinkedIn visibility.
- Explain transferable skills: If your job title is ambiguous or responsibilities unclear to anyone outside of subject matter experts you may explore phrasing these skills in a more varied manner.
- Tell the whole story: In her experience as a recruiter, gaps in work experience are a huge red flag. Recruiters may assume you were in "jail or on drugs", so it is best to explain these gaps in your profile.
- Ask for information or referrals: Touching base with past working relationships are a great way to build your authority on LinkedIn and grow your network.
- Seek a mentor or accountability partner to stay focused: Even just spending 15 minutes a week on LinkedIn could be a difficult task if you fail to make it a habit or do not apply a level of accountability to yourself. Working with another person can help keep you on track and engage consistently.
Sue notes that her company hacks will be posted on LinkedIn as an article and encouraged us all to check it out within the next month.
Overall the presentation was excellent - with a lot of actionable insights and simple tactics ready for immediate implementation for LinkedIn.
This SEO Meetup wasn't in my wheelhouse - social media is important, but I come to this for the nitty-gritty SEO tactics - however both presentation were good and I learned a lot from both presenters.
The next announced meetup involves building content for authority which is something I am quite keen on, so I look forward to the May Meetup.