My first blog post for Kwasi Studios is finally here and it comes off the back of the best digital marketing conference I have ever been to! (Technically the best and worst as it was my first conference, but that’s beside the point!)
Big Digital Adelaide was a jam-packed two day event that had sessions ranging from Google’s Gary Illyes talking about hreflang tag implementation to the “Ale of a Time” boys giving us the lowdown on their successful craft beer podcast. It’s safe to say Big Digital had something for everyone. Here’s a wrap of my favourite sessions from day 1 and 2.
Not knowing what to expect, I grabbed myself a seat and strapped myself in for what would be a rewarding couple of days. The Adelaide Science Exchange was absolutely buzzing and ready to see the speakers hit the stage. Enter approachable bad-ass Melanie Spring.
Melanie Spring – Rock Your Superheroes
Melanie Spring, Brand Strategist & Chief Inspiration Officer at Sisarina, was the first keynote speaker for the day. Fortunately her superhero entrance was way more graceful than this guy.
Here are my main takeaways from Melanie’s uplifting presentation.
- The current system for hiring is broken!
- CVs are becoming more redundant by the day (and people who write them could be next!).
- On average, it costs employers $26,000 to hire and train a successful employee.
- Employers need to hire with a heavy focus on choosing someone who fits the culture and brand.
- When hiring, job descriptions need to be fun and represent the values of the business. Get creative with this process!
- Employers need to hire purely based on the employee’s ability to do the job.
- A business needs to be more than just casual Fridays, casual every day is the way of the future.
- Despite living in the online world, 80% of talk about our brand is offline.
- Brand is not built on internal talk, rather what external sources say about the business. Run a survey to find out what people are saying.
- Everyone needs to find their awesome and wear it!
- A workplace should inspire and be a happy place to be around.
- Everyone should look forward to Monday morning just as much as Friday afternoon.
- Most importantly, ROCK YOUR SUPERHEROES!
The Big Digital Audience was also treated to a few interesting facts.
- If Melanie could be any Disney character, she would be the Little Mermaid.
- The team down at Snowys Outdoors would love to have Russel Coight as their brand’s spokesperson.
- Melanie is an extremely fast walker, so good luck keeping up.
After being filled with inspiration it was time for the crowd to choose their path. You could stay put and learn a little about organic search, or you could head upstairs and get your fix of paid search. Personally, I stayed right where I was as Kwasi Studios’ very own Head Honcho was about to hit the stage.
Woj Kwasi – Customer Is King, Content Is Queen
With a big crowd still in the Organic room, Woj was the perfect follow-up for Melanie’s uplifting start. Having not seen Woj’s presentation before, I was eager to see what he had come up with. He did not disappoint! With a mixture of humour and cold hard facts, Woj demonstrated why customers are truly kings. These were my main takeaways:
- Being number 1 in search engines isn’t the be all and end all.
- Users must be numero uno when making decisions about a website.
- Website design should never be set in stone, rather it should evolve with the user.
- There’s a simple process to follow: Test, Measure, Learn & Build.
- Selling at every point of the buyer’s journey is like trying to get married on the first date (Woj is famous around the Kwasi Studios office for analogies like these, ask him to explain Google Tag manager some time. It involves KFC).
- Make things obvious. Follow the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) and WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) principles.
- Content needs to be mapped to each stage of the user journey.
- And lastly, we were told loud and clear: Drop the internal lingo and think about the user!
Woj also suggested some handy tools anyone can use to track user behaviour on a website. Try not to be scared by the obscure names and check these out:
Woj has made his presentation available for all to see. How kind of him!
Dan Petrovic – Where Do Links Come From
They say good things come in threes and this was exactly the case. Melanie and Woj had twitter blowing up and it wasn’t going to stop there with Dan Petrovic from DEJAN SEO hitting the stage. He was about to drop some knowledge on all things links, and here it is:
- Google suggests that sites should no-follow sponsorship links.
- BUT, according to Dan, Google nofollows their own nofollow rule. See for yourself by checking the external links for google.research.com.
- Be ahead of current news and trends and base content around this.
- Use reddit’s rising and controversial topics to see what the hot stories are before big press gets a hold of them.
- Put simply, external links are the result of all the awesome stuff you do.
- Produce links that are hard to replicate by competitors. Be the news source!
- 32% of people think links are for marketing, advertising and monetary purposes.
- Paid visibility can be a great way to produce organic links.
- Use Google Surveys to find out what people want.
- Check out your website’s server log files. It can be a sneaky way to check what links are coming your way before they have even been published!
- Links that are easy to get, are easy to get, by anyone.
The last point really rammed home that we need to think more about “Link Earning” rather than “Link Building”. Here are some slightly off topic takeaways that may make us Adelaideans sad:
- Dan’s business was one of the first sponsors of MarsOne.
- Dan capitalised on conspiracy theorists and optimised, built links and ranked number 1 for coordinates on Mars.
- According to one of Dan’s surveys, Adelaide is best known for the term “Boring”.
- Dan left his very expensive tickets to the exclusive MarsOne party on stage at Big Digital.
— Woj Kwasi (@WojKwasi) June 7, 2016
Let’s pack our bags Woj, I’m coming with you!
After sneaking over to my new favourite place Do Duck In Cafe just across from the conference, I grabbed myself a juicy bacon and egg sandwich and hustled back to catch Casey Meraz talk all things local SEO.
Casey Meraz – Local Search In The Land of #Oz
Being the local SEO genius he is, I was very keen to catch a glimpse of what he had to say. It was great to see that here at Kwasi Studios we are implementing most of these practices, but there was still plenty to take away. Here are the main points:
- Ads are now displaying in local search packets.
- Ranking in the 3 pack for both mobile and desktop is absolutely essential to local success.
- DO NOT SPAM. Like Liam Neeson in Taken, Google will find you, and they will kill you. Not really, but they will ban you if you spam them, so don’t do it.
- Avoid virtual offices at all costs. Try to have a physical mailing address.
- Where possible, try not to share addresses with another businesses.
- Make sure you complete 100% of your profile information on Google My Business.
- Add ALL the relevant categories in Google My Business.
- Do not create duplicate listings. Ever.
- Send positive signals to Google to show you are in fact real.
- Build those citations! Get your business listed on authoritative directories.
- Sniff out those old/incorrect listings and update or remove them.
- Whitespark and Bright Local are terrific tools that will help you achieve citation success.
- Build those links. Links do matter and they can help with local.
- Ensure your local schema is intact.
- Go out of your way to get reviews.
- Take no shortcuts, be the best, and make your site better than anyone else’s.
- Sometimes it’s okay to be a snitch. Report poor/spammy listings.
Here’s Casey in action! Shout out to Kwasi Studios own Karthik killing it on the mic.
— Kwasi Studios (@KwasiStudios) June 7, 2016
Keynote – I’m Gary Illyes, Ask Me Anything
Day 1 was coming to a close and everyone was beginning to turn their attention to the networking event planned for after hours, but there was just one thing left to do, grill Gary. A variety of topics were covered, so the list below is a combination of all the different topics:
- The word count of a piece of content is irrelevant, the usefulness of it is what really matters.
- User generated content is okay, as long as it is high quality.
- The date on a post does not matter.
- What’s the advantage of AMP: Pages are generally 10 x faster and can be accessed at this speed from any location.
- Google is looking to expand AMP capabilities to serve all types of content.
- This may be no surprise but page speed is very important.
- 302 redirects may in fact pass link equity, Google will figure out what type of redirect you are trying to implement.
- Google does not factor in what TLD you use, but there are ranking boosts for local extensions (.com.au) in local search engines.
- We don’t all need to make an app, only if there is a purpose.
- Rank Brain is the third most important ranking factor.
- Read content out loud. If it sounds natural, rank brain = happy.
- Where possible we should all move our sites to https.
- Penguin coming soon. Panda slow roll out. No more was said.
With Gary’s Q&A coming to an end, that spelt the end of day 1. Those lucky enough to be attending the networking event made their way to the Cooper’s Ale House, who coincidentally use a .pub TLD, which we just learned does not positively or negatively affect rankings.
Many thanks to Moz for sponsoring the night. I was ecstatic to meet so many experts and industry leaders, and tap their brains for all the information I could. It was a great night, and let’s just say I took full advantage of Moz’s generosity.
Day 2 came along in the blink of an eye and I must say I don’t think I was the only one feeling a few cents short of a dollar. That didn’t matter though, there was no time for that as we had another huge day to dive into. I grabbed myself a bacon and egg sandwich from Do Duck In and soldiered on.
James Norquay – 20 Content Marketing Tactics To Make Your Business Blog Go BOOM!
After doing some top secret behind the scenes work (sorting out name tags), I was able to catch my first session for the day. James Norquay, consulting director at Prosperity Media had some handy content marketing tactics that everyone should be utilising. I was still mentally sorting name tags, so here’s 15/20:
- Interview someone really interesting and who has a large following.
- Send out a gift to influencers then create content around this.
- Utilise April fools day. It’s the one day a year you get to create something a little edgy.
- Remove and fix old pieces of content on your website.
- Run competitions!
- Produce a quiz to engage and entertain your audience.
- Just like Dan said, run surveys and present your findings.
- Remember to politely ask influencers to share your content.
- Build a relationship with these influencers.
- Build creative web applications. Like this one which tells you how much coffee it would take to make you kick the bucket.
- Make sure to produce weekly blog roundups for your industry.
- Utilise Slideshare!
- Use SEM Rush to stalk your competitors and get content ideas.
- Ensure all posts are marked up for social media.
- Plan all your content at the start of the year!
If anyone was wondering, it would take 92.3 cups of coffee to put me 6 feet under. Considering I’m not a huge coffee drinker, I think I’m safe.
Mike Esordi – Million Dollar Style On a Hundred Dollar Budget
I was very excited to see Mike’s presentation. Having very little talent in the graphic design area I was keen to get a few pointers. Mike didn’t disappoint. Some interesting takeaways were:
- Content with relevant images has 94% more views than content without.
- Branding manuals are essential to keep all designs on brand.
- When building a website, Theme Forest is a great place to find a responsive template.
- Even import a demo theme template and fill out the blanks when creating a site. This will save time and money.
- Everyone should learn a little about colour psychology.
- You should always stick to 2 or 3 typographies max.
- Make the most of filters on your images, but don’t overdo it (unless, you know, that’s your thing).
- Explore different points of view and colours.
- Turn on the “Rule of Thirds” on your phone. This will help to take better shots.
- An odd number of items in a photo is better received than an even number.
- Truly show your emotion through images.
- And above anything else, BE CONSISTENT!
Mike also shared some apps and programs that will help you become a master.
- Adobe Capture CC
- Google Fonts
- What The Font
- Pic Monkey
- And of course, be a master of Photoshop.
Mike also asked the audience to take photos of the presentation and share with him. Clearly I still have some way to go with my photography skills, but after Mike’s presentation, I feel like I’m halfway there!
Chris Burgess – Head Slapping WordPress Security Hacks
Being a heavy user of WordPress, this was one session I was keen to see. Chris Burgess certainly knows his stuff and provided the audience with plenty of security tips everyone could use. Here were the major points:
- First things first, no security system is absolute, but we have to do everything we can to reduce the risk.
- Security is critical for business and marketing operations.
- It is critical to be proactive and not reactive.
- Hackers are motivated by several different things. Economic gain is a common objective.
- WordPress is a popular target: 38% of top sites are run on the platform.
- Faulty plugins, themes and old versions of WordPress can be a gateway for hackers.
- Being hacked is virtually like having your site completely taken offline.
- Google is very cautious of hacked sites. This means a hacked site will lose serious visibility in Google.
- It is important to make constant backups of your site.
- If a site is hacked, always check plugins first.
- Monitor your website’s server logs.
- Regularly check search console for alerts.
- Make sure your site is constantly updated and has the latest version of WordPress.
- Absolutely everyone should be using password management systems.
- 2 factor authentication is a must.
- Use SSL and ensure it is configured correctly.
- Always use SFTP over FTP.
- You should be defending in layers. Do not rely on any one plugin, host or developer to get the job done.
Chris also gave us his favourite plugins to help with security:
I also recommend checking out Chris’s article on the best web hosting providers in Australia. It will certainly help if you are looking for a reliable hosting company here in Australia. Everyone should secure themselves right away, or else hackers will get through just as easy as this guy.
Luke Robertson & Dave Ellis – Cheers To Podcasting!
I had been eyeing off this session since the agenda was released. Luke and Dave run a popular craft beer podcast called “Ale of a Time” and were at Big Digital to tell their story. They provided invaluable tips for anyone looking to start their own podcast.
- Purchase quality gear that will make you sound better than the rest.
- Understand your hosts. Once you have chosen there is no going back.
- Get your head around how iTunes and podcasts work.
- Be your own brand and be committed.
- Interaction with listeners is extremely important. Include them by asking questions, running competitions, or simply replying to their messages on Facebook.
- Continually ask your loyal listeners to review you. This is important.
- The podcast needs to be released at the same time, every week/fortnight. Listeners will get mad if it isn’t.
- Monetising is difficult but can be rewarding.
- Produce an advertising package and promote it to relevant brands.
- Create some merchandise! Everyone loves a hoodie, right?
- Listen to feedback, be consistent, and most importantly, have plenty of fun.
- Don’t eat food and record at the same time. Apparently listeners don’t like the sound of chewing.
I can honestly say that every session I attended over the 2 days provided me with invaluable knowledge. I’d like to give some special mentions to a few additional sessions I very much enjoyed.
- Matt & Liz Raad – Investing In Digital ‘Real-Estate’: I am now obsessed with Flippa and have been continually searching for a site to renovate.
— Kwasi Studios (@KwasiStudios) June 7, 2016
- Dawn Anderson – Talk To The Spider: After Dawn’s in depth presentation I feel like I know all there is to know about those creepy crawlers constantly making their way through the internet.
- Michael Verghios – It’s Paid Search Jim, But Not As We Know It: We travelled into the future to learn about the possibilities of voice search, virtual reality, and robots, and how all of these will affect search. I left feeling a tad scared, but somewhat excited about the possibilities the future holds for us.
Final Wrap Up
Well there you have it. There’s my wrap of my favourite presentations from what I saw at Big Digital Adelaide. A huge congratulations has to go out to all speakers and everyone who organised the event. It was a raging success and I cannot wait for round 2 next year. I would love to hear what your thoughts were, and please try to be nice, this was my first article. Otherwise see you at Big Digital 2017!