My 3 Key Takeaways from WTSFest 2022
In February, I had the pleasure of attending the third annual Women in Tech SEO Fest in London. I met some amazing people and learned a lot about the many facets of SEO, and it was just nice to be in a room full of like-minded women all wanting to better themselves and their craft.
If you’ve not heard of it before, Women in Tech SEO is a global community founded by the brilliant Areej Abuali. It’s aimed at women who specialise in SEO and want to empower and inspire each other in an inclusive way that helps build their network and benefit their careers.
I’ve been a member of the Slack group for about a year now and I’ve learned so much from so many great SEOs on there, so attending WTSFest and having a day where I could just meet people and learn first-hand was incredibly inspiring.
I came back to the office full of ideas and a newfound appreciation for the industry, so I wanted to share my top three key takeaways and pearls of wisdom that can be applied to nearly all businesses to take your SEO and digital marketing to the next level.
Competitor Analysis is fundamental for growth
“If you’re already the best at one of the three pillars of SEO, you won’t move the needle by furthering that advantage” – Lidia Infante
This may be an obvious one but it’s something that many businesses don’t always realise or invest much time in beyond identifying their competitors and leaving it at that. To really enable growth and stay one step ahead of the competition, you need to not only identify your competitors, but you also need to benchmark yourself against them, get under the skin of their digital strategy and reverse engineer it.
Lidia Infante gave an excellent talk about how to do this, breaking it down by the three core pillars of SEO:
- Brand authority (aka links)
She explained how by using tools like SEMrush and just good old Googling, you can get a good idea of your competitors’ strategies to better understand where they’re focusing and where you need to focus to beat them.
For content, you can benchmark yourself against your competitors using some of the following metrics:
- Number of keywords ranking in the top 20
- Number of URLs ranking
- Estimated traffic percentage: branded traffic, non-branded traffic and product traffic for ecommerce brands
- Keyword gap analysis
For brand authority and links, you want to be benchmarking yourself using the following metrics:
- Total number of referring domains
- Total number of backlinks
- Link gap analysis (who’s linking to your competitors but not to you)
- Link growth over 6 or 12 months – this will highlight which of your competitors are actively doing outreach
For technical benchmarking, you should be looking at the following:
- Percentage of ‘good’ URLs in your Core Web Vitals report (found in Google Search Console)
- Page speed scores on both desktop and mobile
All of the above will help you determine where your website performs against the competitors and crucially, which of your competitors are doubling down on their digital marketing efforts. This will allow you to identify which areas you need to work on to get on par with and ahead of the competition, and how to take your business forward by focusing on the areas that need your attention to really move the needle.
👉 Lidia’s full slideshow can be found here.
Profile pages are a gold mine of opportunity
“This strategy is useful for pretty much any business and any budget” – Crystal Carter
Nearly every site has one, a page dedicated to ‘meet the team’ with an image of each employee, a synopsis about them, their credentials, awards, favourite film and links to their social media. Profile pages are one of those areas of a site that’s created and then usually forgotten about once each team member has had their photo taken and likely rewritten their bio numerous times.
In other words, they’re rarely considered ‘key pages’ on a site, but what if we said that actually, these pages hold a lot of potential and can do wonders when optimised correctly? This is exactly what Crystal Carter discussed in her talk ‘Entity HQ: Harnessing High Impact Profile Pages’ and it was by far my biggest lightbulb moment of the day!
Many professional services have a senior team that is generally well-known in their industry and interestingly, many of these people get searched for a lot. The beauty of profile pages that Crystal highlighted is that they already have a lot of the great things going for them that we SEOs love:
- Primary keyword aka the person’s name frequently mentioned throughout the page
- Unique image aka the profile picture
- Internal links to key pages like service pages, product pages, location pages
- Conversions and CTAs through their email address and phone number
- Schema – there are over 150 properties related ‘person’ schema than can be leveraged on these pages
All of the above, when implemented correctly, can add massive value to your site as it clearly demonstrates to Google that you’re providing unique, highly-relevant, good-quality content to users and better still, these pages will likely convert well owing to the nature of these pages and the keywords they rank for.
The joy of this is that the content on these pages can be highly templated making it super easy to action and apply to all your team pages in a relatively short space of time. Just think, if you have 50 team members all with a well-optimised profile page, that’s 50 new high-quality pages on your site that all add value!
Crystal provides some actionable ways to optimise these pages utilising the points above so I would 100% recommend looking through her slides and thinking about how this could work for your site. You may potentially be sitting on a gold mine!
👉 Crystal’s full slideshow can be found here.
Accessibility cannot be ignored
“We have a duty to not just promote inclusivity for all races, but inclusivity for all abilities by eliminating unnecessary barriers” – Miracle Inameti-Archibong
Accessibility is an area that is too often overlooked by businesses, with many favouring style over substance and by extension, usability. We all know that a site that is not user friendly is detrimental to digital growth and success because users will simply leave, but how many of us really consider disabled users when considering the usability of a site?
Miracle Inameti-Archibong gave a fantastic talk about the accessibility and inclusivity of websites, and how we all need to be better at making websites as accessible as possible. Here are some key stats that Miracle highlighted to show just how important this is and why you should care:
- 14.1 million people in the UK have a disability
- 2 million of those people are living with sight loss
- Disabled people are 50% more likely to face barriers to accessing online services than non-disabled people
- A study by WebAIM showed that of 1 million homepages in the UK, 97.4% of them had detectable accessibility issues
These stats show a massive disconnect between what disabled users need and what websites are giving them, meaning that businesses across the country are potentially losing out on hundreds of thousands of users simply because their website isn’t optimised to accommodate their needs.
Luckily, there are lots of quick wins you can action today to ensure your website is super accessible and inclusive to all:
- Add alt tags to all of your images – I can feel the eye rolls coming my way at this one because we all know that most sites have hundreds of images without alt tags, which means hundreds of images that need updating. It can be laborious but it’s so important to give your website context to the visually impaired so please don’t ignore it. There are some very clever automations out there that you can use to speed up the process for you, but I won’t butcher them with a second-hand explanation so check out Miracle’s slides for links to the best tools and where to find them.
- Avoid low-contrast text – White text on a light background may look cool but for people who are visually impaired, it can be very difficult to read. When working on your site, or even before that during the branding stage, be mindful of contrasting colours and how they might appear to all users. WebAIM has a handy contrast checker tool that you can use to check the colour of your text, links and background to help you assess the readability of your site.
- Name your buttons – Empty buttons are one of the most common accessibility issues, especially with social media icons as many people assume that the Twitter bird is enough for people to know what they’re clicking on. Few people realise that actually, if that button or link is empty, then a person who is visually impaired can’t see that it’s the blue Twitter bird or the Instagram camera. So name your buttons and make sure they’re clear.
- Use a screen reader: The best way to understand how a visually impaired user experiences your site is to experience it yourself. Chrome Vox is a screen reader from Google that is completely free and can be enabled on any site, so you can turn it on and truly experience your site from the perspective of someone who might be visually impaired and then make changes accordingly.
None of these actions are particularly difficult and they can all be implemented relatively easily and quickly on any website.
Accessibility shouldn’t be an afterthought and we should all strive to make websites available and usable for everyone regardless of ability. There’s a whole group of people wanting to engage and buy your products and services, but can’t because your website won’t let them, but now you have no excuse so go and make your website truly accessible for all!
👉Miracle’s full slide show can be found here
Hopefully, you come away from reading this feeling inspired and motivated, with a little bit more knowledge than you had before about how you can take your website to the next level with some very actionable tips.
All of the talks at WTSFest were amazing, these were just my key takeaways (otherwise I’d have written War and Peace), and I highly recommend checking out the slides to get a full sense of the talks as my small synopsis of each definitely won’t have done them justice.
For more tips, tricks and advice, sign-up to The Evergreen Way.