Starting off the New Year in the best way possible, we had our first Women in Tech SEO meet up for 2020, hosted by the founder Areej Abu Ali at the Zoopla offices in London Bridge. The community, founded by Areej was created to be a supportive network for women to discuss, share and support each other.
This was my first meet-up since joining ROAST in October 2019, I really enjoy the monthly meetups as they constantly extend my personal knowledge, and show me many ways to approach different topics within SEO.
These events are also a great way to connect to people who have worked longer in the industry, and its great to hear them share their experiences and learning curves. The programme of speakers for this latest event featured Helen Pollitt, Rebekah Dune and Naomi Sanderson.
Tech She Can
To shake things up, the first meeting in the new year started a little bit differently. Sandy Lacey-Aberdein from the Talent Acquisition Team at Zoopla spoke to us about the initiative “Tech She Can” which helps to bring more girls and women into the Tech industry. Recruiting women and girls into the tech sector has its problems, due to lack of information about the reality of the industry and roles available, many women don’t consider a career in technology after school or university. The charter’s goal is to show that there are a great deal more job opportunities for women in the STEM industry, than the more obvious paths such as engineering. “Tech She can” wants to re-imagine the job decision process, starting at the root by focusing on enriching the educational sector through lesson plans, offering work experiences and apprenticeships and providing a good overview of the reality of these roles to change their perception.
It shouldn’t be the case that two-thirds of students can name a famous man working in technology rather than naming a woman. Initiatives like “Tech She Can” are helping to close the gender gap in the industry, helping to reinforce the perception that a career in technology is for everyone, male and female.
Helen Pollitt – Tech SEO Horror Stories
Helen has recently started her own SEO consultancy company, bringing with her more than 10 years experience in marketing, specialising in SEO strategy and training. Technical topics can be especially dry and intimidating but Helen delivered her worst SEO experiences from her career in a very funny way and included her approaches to solving them, demonstrating that there is a solution for almost every problem.
Tech SEO Horror Stories
- Website is down for 4-5 times a day for several hours at a time
- Google can’t crawl the site, resulting in the website not being able to be seen in Google’s search results
- Client is not concerned and doesn’t take problem seriously
- Use uptime monitoring to see when website is down and for how long
- Show client the money loss resulted by this problem to take it more seriously
- The website can’t be crawled as it takes more than 15 seconds to load the homepage and has a faceted navigation
- Fix page speed and spider traps to make website crawlable and rank the pages.
Tip from Helen: break technical problems into stages to make it easier to find the solution for every facet, which can help diagnosing the problem as fast and precisely as possible.
- Launching a website without warning, changing the subdirectory address and having no redirects
- Setting up GA/GSC to get analyse traffic
- Crawling site with Googlebot which results in website ranking and causing traffic
- Checking everything which seems to be unordinary
- To optimise ideal guidance it‘s important to build in additional checks and to concentrate on the process to avoid potential risk areas
Importantly, Helen wasn’t alone with her struggles in the Technical SEO field, as a few could relate to her problems and approaches throughout the “TECH SEO Horror Stories Bingo” game which opened a conversation on what could go wrong and how to fix it.
Rebekah Dunne – TALK FAST, DRINK COFFEE, OPTIMISE IMAGES
The second talk was held by Rebekah, a freelance writer who gave an informative Image Optimisation talk combined with Gilmore Girl memes.
First things first, Why should we care about image optimisation?
- As Google advises us to, it helps to keep users engaged and helps with ranking images and breaking up content into pieces
Rebekahs tip: the longer the content, the more pictures you must insert to provide better optimisation.
Rebekah explained a great takeaway approach for better image optimisation as an “espresso version”.
- Choose relevant images, ideally using your own and considering search terms when naming the file as Google reads those
- Don’t stuff alt tags – instead describe the picture including the search terms
- Compress your images
Drawing comparisons with Gilmore Girls, Rebekah also explained how important it is to choose the right file type for the desired area of usage and the optimum results, depending on the preferred browser.
- Illustration/large images —> JPEG
- Preservation of background transparency —> PNG
- Logos/Icons —> SVG
Choosing the optimal file type was only one side of the shiny coin, as it also matters to make pictures responsive for multiple devices to give everyone the best version of your images.
Rebekah also explained that images need the same attention as content, and likewise need to be optimised to get the better results.
Naomi Sanderson – Information Architecture Methodologies
With more than 5 Years of expertise in SEO and digital marketing Naomi Sanderson held a talk about Information Architecture, the bread and butter for good and structured SEO. She spoke about how to tackle an IA task without feeling like throwing the computer out the window and showed different approaches.
Information Architecture Methodologies
Especially as a newbie in the industry, phrases like Information Architecture (IA) can sound quite daunting and intimidating, so it was good that Naomi was explaining everything with her broad knowledge, starting with answering my main question “What is Information Architecture?”
Information Architecture demonstrates how everything is linked together on a website. With in-depth planning processes, sites can be perfectly organised to get users and crawlers easily to the important areas of a site by following a structural hierarchy.
However, before tackling the hierarchy, it‘s good to know why it‘s such an important part of SEO.
- Considering an e-commerce site without structure—> where would products be found?
- Google couldn’t find the website, which results in underperformance and lower ranking
- Crawl Maps —> Visualisation of site structure, understanding hierarchy and seeing No Index or Index pages by colour-coding
In the end Naomi gave different solutions to master a good IA task and to show where common mistakes can be made and how to solve those.
- Mistake 1: only looking at benchmarked keywords for existing pages —> No new targeting and things may not link together
- Mistake 2: organise existing pages —> no improvement without new content
- Mistake 3: only look at direct competitor —> creating a bigger gap between competitors can’t be achieved by looking in close area
- Mistake 4: trying to fit every single keyword found into the new IA which doesn’t work
- Mistake 5: aiming for head terms —> possibility of ranking high for tough competition
- Mistake 6: Forget crawl depth and URL structure —> create subfolders to map its hierarchy out
- Keywords: identify direct competitors, aspirational competitors and ‘informational’ competitors; gathering, categorising and visualising keywords
- Competitors: crawl maps to compare own website with competitor and considering trends
- Bringing it all together: displaying IA with results
Information Architecture needs time and should be taken in stages to get a deep understanding of competitors, own navigation and getting the most out of the keyword research as it can help with long term content creation.
And that was it from the first Women in Tech SEO meet up in 2020!
Huge thanks to Areej for organising and hosting this meet-up at Zoopla. It was really interesting to hear the insightful talks but also getting a tour through the office where we felt very welcomed.
See you in February for the second meet-up, which will be on the February 6th, 2020.
You can register here.