Top 5 Takeaways: Pubcon, Las Vegas 2017

By Naeem Dollie | Conference

Nov 17
Pubcon las Vegas conference

Google is using structured data markup to find more (creative) ways of displaying results within the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

In the second week of November I attended Pubcon in Las Vegas, one of the biggest (if not the biggest) digital marketing conferences in the world. There are hundreds of sessions to choose from, which cover the very latest news and industry knowledge in areas such as  SEO, PPC, social media and more.

digital marketing conference venue

The conference hosted a wide range of leading industry expert speakers, including keynote speakers from Google such as Gary Illyes, a webmaster trends analyst dedicated to creating a better search experience for users.

Pubcon conference speakers

The conference runs for one full week, and during that time I listened and learned from the masters in every field. We created a resource with all the top digital marketing tips for 2018 by industry experts from around the world.

Relaying everything that was spoken about would take much longer than you or I have to spare, but I thought I’d share my top 5 takeaways from my Pubcon 2017 experience.

Top 5 Takeaways from Pubcon 2017, Las Vegas:

1) Be prepared for the Mobile First Index update

If you’re reading this, you should know what the mobile first update is. If you do not have a mobile first optimised website, I suggest you get onto it right away! Google hasn’t yet put a timeline on when it will be fully rolled out, but they have started testing with various websites.

If you have a responsive website, you have nothing to worry about. However, if you have a separate mobile website, there are a few things you need to ensure. Here are 5 steps to a mobile first website.

man holding a phone

2) Use structured data to mark up as much as you can

I’ve come across many digital marketers who know what structured data is, but they don’t understand the true impact it could have on their search results.

After one of the keynote sessions, Anthony and I managed to catch Gary Illyes outside the hall. Asking him what his top tip for 2018 is, he said to “focus a lot more on structured data” and markup as much as we can (where relevant).

The more Google understands your website, the better they can rank it within their search results. Schema.org is a great resource for marking up your data.

Photo of Gary illyes

3) AMPs are worth having, despite not being a ranking factor

Accelerated Mobile Pages is one of those things where some digital marketers turn a blind eye. Some don’t believe it’s worth the effort, as it doesn’t have a direct impact on rankings, and some believe they’re only for news/blog pages (which is untrue).

A poll revealed that more than 50% of users are likely to click on an accelerated mobile page. I mean, why not? They’re lightning fast and (should) provide users with the information they’re looking for.

There are no drawbacks to having AMPs, and benefits include increased clickthrough rate, increased engagement rates, lower bounce rates, improvement in website conversions and more. It used to be a stripped down version of your website; but now you can make your AMPs look the same as your original pages.

AMP pages

(image by 9t05Google.com)

4) Start optimising for voice search and AI

Voice search is on the rise – but you know that, right? 20% of searches on Google’s mobile app on Android devices are voice searches. I, personally, only use voice search when using my mobile. ComScore estimates that by 2020, 50% of searches will be by voice. Here are some more interesting facts about voice search.

So, how does one optimise for voice search? Especially with Google pulling information from third party websites to answer questions, and trying to keep users within their ecosystem.

A voice search query typically contains one of the Five W’s, an entity, and some sort of local intent (‘near me’, suburb name, city name etc.). In order to rank for voice searches, you need to have optimised for each of those elements.

Structured markup can be used to optimise for the Five W’s, keyword research and optimisation for the entity (by understanding the audience and the language they use) and local search optimisation for local intent.

Another tip: If you’re already appearing in one of Google’s answer boxes for a search query, ensure that it’s long enough so that users need to click through to find out more.

artificial intelligence

5) Remove all friction from your website

Nothing’s worse than (after much research, consideration and selection), having difficulty at the checkout or payment section of a website. This is one of the most common friction/pain points of a website. Google’s new online payment method makes it so much easier for users to make an online payment.

When a user hits your website, half the work is done. The other half is satisfying the user’s intent, as quickly and easily as possible. Any sort of friction could cause that user to leave your website and never return.

Here are some friction points to avoid:

  • Long checkout process
  • Poor conversion forms
  • Too many (unrequired) overwhelming form fields
  • Required sign in (where heavy security isn’t needed)
  • Auto logout
  • Unnecessary captchas
  • Broken call to action buttons or links
  • Slow load speeds
  • Annoying pop ups
  • Content that’s hard to consume
  • Lack of trust signals

These are just some of the friction points that could turn users away from your website. One of the best ways to identify friction points on your website is to ask friends and family to use use it, and observe how they use the website.

Pay with Google

For some website types, it’s best to eliminate choice friction. For example, pre-populated form fields, default checked checkboxes etc.

Amazon is a great example of a website with very little (to no) friction points. They make it so easy to purchase on their website.

To conclude:

  • We’re living in a mobile first world and need to be prepared for Google’s update.
  • Use structured data to mark up as much as you can on your website, where relevant.
  • Even though AMP’s have no ranking benefit, they drive valuable clickthroughs.
  • Voice search is on the rise and we need to start optimising for it.
  • Users will flee your website if there’s friction, so remove the friction.

We’re in an industry that’s forever evolving and changing, which is why I love it so much. Staying on top of the latest industry news and trends is imperative.

My experience at Pubcon, Las Vegas was fantastic! I’ve learnt so much from the keynotes, sessions, one-on-one chats with speakers and networking with other attendees from around the world.

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