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SAScon day 2 round-up

by Gemma Tomlinson


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Day two of the Search, Analytics and Social Conference (SAScon) started with a cup of tea with plenty of sugar and talking with some industry leaders.

There were a number of sessions related to social media and technical SEO, with the opening keynote session on ‘Mobile, big data and the cloud’ by Cindy Krum of MobileMoxie.

This session touched upon data mining and how companies such as Zillow are sharing different bits of data to provide one outcome. Windows Azure was mentioned and how it is being used as an open cloud platform allowing people to manage applications across a global network of MS managed datacentres.

There are a number of data frameworks that can store and process data sets and two that were mentioned were Hadoop and Cassandra.

When I left this opening session all I had stuck in in my head was it’s all about ‘mining, merging, sharing and storing’, a bit like one of those annoying songs you can’t get out of your head when you start work on a Monday morning. Last year I said it was all about the cloud this year I’m saying it’s all about big data and mobile.

The next session was with Judith Lewis, a talented digital specialist, who spoke about bloggers VS PRs VS SEOs. According to Judith, who is a blogger herself, to get bloggers to write for you effectively you need to provide them with an incentive, constructive feedback and lots of collaboration.

Judith also explained that to help with SEO we should all help guide and direct freelance writers and always ask them for a non-exact match anchor text when writing.

Final thoughts were that we need to bring together bloggers/PRs and SEO people collaboratively to achieve good reading which can be found by search engines.

Next up was ‘It’s not all about Google’ with Barry Adams, Irishwonder and Nichola Stoot; all digital specialists. This session was controversial for me as this covered black hat techniques and why spam is good, which is contentious. I disagreed with some of the content because I am a white hat follower and not one for breaking the rules. Black hat tactics eventually catch up with everyone and eventually result in penalties for your site. However a valid point made by IrishWonder made a lot of sense, she suggested there are still a lot of grey areas particularly with Googles definition of ‘Spam’ and loopholes which I agreed with.

The afternoon keynote session was by Andy Thompson, Head of digital, at Iceland Foods. Andy spoke about all their new and exciting projects and touched upon Iceland’s mission to change poor public brand perception by using social media and Malcolm Walker, the MD and face of the business. This sounded like an exciting company to watch to see how they will use digital techniques to achieve their goals.

The final session was about technical SEO by speakers from Mog Media, TheMediaFlow and Firecask. This session was excellent as the speakers answered technical questions with very good responses. This was an open debate therefore I have provided takeaways below.


– Use social structured data and open graph object – in other words make sure you use social meta tags for Twitter, G+, Pinterest and Facebook. For those of us that use WordPress the Yoast plugin will help address this, for those who don’t creating a template will work

– Companies that use multilingual sites should use the tag rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” which will help Google serve the most appropriate version of the site according to the region/country – Aledya offer a generator which can be used

– Don’t buy anything from theme park as they are spammy and make sure you do a base 64 check

– If you use WordPress you can check if you are using clean plugins and themes by looking in the repository

– If you have a search function it is advised not to put this in the index as it can create errors and duplication in web master tools

– If you have an eCommerce site with pagination it is advised to use the rel canonical next and previous tag and to have a view all page

– Listen to Rishi Lakhani

– Lock down and password protect your dev site

– Add Disallow: /search/ and /*?s= to the robots.txt file

– To test forms you can use

– Check Google tags by using a Chrome extension called tag assistant

– The TV ecosystem will be part of the big data drive

– When building a website start with the mobile version first – Sky have adopted this method

– Guest blogging is bad for SEO

– Infographics are a poor technique for link building

– You can check to see if your site is down by using a tool called Pingdom

– You can perform a schema test by using

– Listen to Jeff Coughlan founder of Matmi

– The best user experience is when you get feedback i.e. Nintendo/PS and XBOX started this by introducing rumble joypads

– RFID (Radio-frequency identification) is being considered in the next iPhone

– Wearable technology will play a part of controlling technology in the future e.g. Rings, watches and glasses

My favourite takeaways from SAScon

– Jeff Coughlan summed up using the simplest ideas are still the best – with the introduction of smart televisions we now have the ability to control them using voice and motion, yet we still use the remote control ‘simple yet so effective’

– Technology + content + collaboration helps create a 360 degree touch point

– If you put a plus at the end of a bitly link you can see performance stats for that page

– Bloggers use secret closed Facebook groups to talk to one another

– It’s all about sharing and caring in the cloud with the strapline ‘mine, merge, share and store’

by Gemma Tomlinson on 13/06/2014

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