We’re constantly striving for knowledge and learning experiences at Colewood, as the more we know, the more we can pass on to our digital marketing clients. That’s why we were thrilled to receive an invite from SEMRush to their first-ever user conference. Not only that, but we’d be staying in the historical city of Prague, with its rich cultural history and importance as one of the most visited European cities. We couldn’t say no!
Our team are avid users of SEMRush, which is a website analysis tool for digital marketers. But to simply describe it as that would be a disservice. It offers a range of features, such as competitor analysis, backlink reports and keyword research tools, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We use it for analysis, discovery, and feedback purposes, as we find that it really enhances our ability to produce guidance that’s backed up by data.
SEMRush promoted an exciting lineup of speakers in the run-up to the event, and the venue was heavily featured too. The experts included Stephan Spencer, Co-author of The Art of SEO and Aoife McIlraith from Lionbridge, so we were excited to travel to see what they had to say.
Situated in a vast countryside location, with the river Vltava in full splendour on the journey up the hilly terrain, Farma Michael boasts historic farmland and structures that made it the perfect venue for the event. Imagine a medieval style farm-village and you’re halfway there. Street signs displayed markers for SEO Street and PPC Lane, and food and drink were plentiful throughout the day. To put it simply, we were spoiled.
The talks forwent the usual convention centres and conference rooms, and instead took place in meeting halls, billiard rooms and smaller spaces which promoted the “active participation” that was mentioned in promotional materials for the event. However, it never once felt crowded, with the venue more-than-capable of hosting the 100+ people that were present on the day.
“How Acquisition and Search has Changed in the Age of the Customer.” Now that’s a mouthful of a title. As an analyst on the B2C marketing team at Forrester, Collin is apt at making predictions about the digital landscape, so it’s no surprise that he knows how much it’s changed. He immediately opened with some crucial information, talking about active and passive channels that should be utilised differently in order to attract the attention of the ever-impatient customer.
We all know that data, facts and figures are where the real information is found, so he calmly mentioned that while paid search is still growing year-on-year, a lot of that growth is from emerging markets. Paid search has seen the lowest growth rate in 15 years. This was due, he explained, to several factors.
Existing users were exploring other markets, placing a cap on their paid search budget which slowed growth rates. Amazon, the increasingly larger-than-life shopping behemoth, was launching its own PPC-style services, taking revenue away from other markets. And finally, and most surprisingly to us, voice search is on the rise.
Amazon was a frequent mention in this conference, showing how much customer behaviour has changed. It currently dominates product searches and offers a similar style of ads to the existing portfolio that we’re all used to. It also offers it’s own product range too, which almost forces sellers to buy adverts to ensure they appear at the top. To place the cherry on the cake, Amazon earns the least amount of money from its advertising business, attributing only 4% of its revenue to ads compared to Google’s 85% and Facebook’s 95%! If that doesn’t wake you up, we don’t know what will.
Ranking organically is hard if the content you create isn’t curated and targeted to a specific audience. Oh, and there’s another thing, you need to know your brand. So said Ross Tavendale of Type A Media, who provides SEO consultation services (and a whole lot more, by the sounds of it) for his clients.
He immediately started talking about “Ideation” sessions, which allow him to generate content for audiences that he deems as necessary for his brand or the brand that he’s working on. For example, it’s natural to make assumptions about your audience, but what if you could turn those assumptions into usable content based on the products or services that you’re advertising? Pretty cool huh!
Using platforms that we’re all familiar with, such as Google and Facebook Analytics, he painted a picture of an audience and then asked us to choose a brand and follow the same procedure. We then discussed the ideas in the group, creating a persona and targeting content based on their perceived interests. It was extremely insightful and showed the importance of writing content for a defined audience, rather than just writing content that you hope will gain traction.
While these talks were the highlight of the conference for us, there’s no use in talking about what happened if we don’t use it to improve our SEO, PPC, Email and Social Media services. Staying on the cutting edge of marketing and the platforms available to us is extremely important, and these talks emphasised that fact, highlighting new platforms and alternative analysis tools for us to try.
It also gave us a better insight into the audience research and idea generation processes, allowing us to come up with new ideas and content generation proposals that we’re eager to use. All-in-all, the SEMRush Live 2019 conference was an amazing learning experience in a fantastic location. We can’t wait to hear what they do next!