Is SEO Dead? (LOL)

30 Mar 2017

Posted by Anna Doyle

packed out room in Edinburgh for the BIMA/Caliber breakfast captured by gawr-jus

Caliber brought together a mighty panel to discuss the current and future role of SEO. Presenting to a packed out room in Edinburgh, the conversation was lively and varied and was often anchored on two key themes:

1) Cultural shift can affect the decisions we make and the way we operate

2) Robust research and a strong knowledge of your market should be at the heart of your decisions and processes.

Unique insights delivered from:

Martin Reed, Head of SEO, Caliber Interactive

William Wallace, Head of SEO at Toolstop (formerly Head of SEO at Trespass)

Blair Walker, Head of Search, Tesco Bank

Calum Shepherd, Consultant at Lloyds Banking Group

Stephen Emerson, Head of Digital at The Scotsman

The panel was opened by and moderated by Patrick O’Neill, Client Services Director at Caliber and they covered off the SEO debate in 4 tranches: Links; Content; User Experience; and the SERP landscape. Picking up on the issue of cultural shift Patrick opened with some pretty big palm face moments, not least Clifford Stoll’s 1995 comment identifying the internet as “its a fad”.

The dangers of links was covered in detail and led to much debate, all agreeing they must be anchored in good content (what is good content?). The days of dodgy links are over – SEO is shifting from villains to heroes and good user experience is key.

This led to challenges of content: how to create good content for your market while establishing keyword density requirements (on this Martin was clear this is not a numbers game but establishing a thought out intelligent approach to what is needed – there is no magic number). Blair and Calum were keen to point out that from a financial services angle content also must be carefully written so as not to provide content that could be deemed as advice, whereas other retailers had less risky parameters to work within.

The discussion around user experience launched with the issue of conversion rate optimisation (CRO) vs user experience. The talk was all around good user experience and dominated by download speed. The faster the better, you snooze you lose.

Finally the panel turned its attention to the SERP landscape. Two key angles came out here:

- How deep are your pockets for PPC?

- Pick your battles

Ultimately the debate returned to strong customer data to set your strategy. Log and use the questions your clients are asking. Don’t spend time guessing what you think they want to know, use all the data at your disposal to create content around what you do know and this will help drive your SEO strategy.

Each panelist was asked to very briefly summarise what they thought was key for a strong SEO strategy:

Stephen: quality and content are key. Be ideas driven and always look to stand out

William: agility and the ability to make changes quickly

Blair: SEO is a facet of many peoples’ roles and should not sit as a function in isolation

Calum: think “device agnostic” – no screen, just voice

Martin: echoing Blair, SEO should be shared. User experience is key.

A big thanks to Caliber for bringing together a great panel of experts and running such a thought provoking breakfast session. Another great BIMA breakfast.

Next Edinburgh meet up is #ThirstdayEdin - Delving into Data on 6th April. Sponsored by our good friends at Lynchpin.

Anna Doyle
Posted by Anna Doyle

A member of the BIMA Team since 2012, Anna‘s time is focused on the day-to-day operations of BIMA, building BIMA communities across regions and disciplines and, best of all, spending time with BIMA members to learn more about their business challenges and aspirations. Based in Glasgow, Anna is also responsible for delivering member services and support for BIMA Scotland. Everyday offers a new insight. Previous experience includes 4 years in the BBC Arabic Service newsroom, heading up a pan-BBC World Service change management programme, and working in a diverse range of industries from financial derivatives trading, petroleum engineering and spring manufacturing.

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