A life in search – and why Google needs a regular tickle…

Jamie Riddell recently entered the ‘third act’ of his career. If it’s anything like the first two, it won’t be short on drama. Riddell joined the latest GeekMeet, Piper’s popular roundtable of ecommerce minds, to impart some lessons learned from ‘a life in search’.
 
In 1999, he co-founded Cheeze, the UK’s first digital direct marketing agency. Cheeze built its own search tracking model, SETA (Search Engine Tracking to Acquisition) long before Google Analytics had entered the arena, gaining a number of clients, notably in the travel sector.
 
Act two involved Riddell setting up Birdsong Analytics, which became the world’s largest ‘Pay as you Go’ Social Media Analytics platform. Need the profile of a certain US President’s millions of Twitter followers? BirdSong could help. All was going well until the Cambridge Analytica scandal which put a permanent spanner in BirdSong’s business model.
 
Last year he stepped into act three with Escaping Gravity, a consultancy which provides a ‘virtual team’ of experts to clients seeking to drive their brands’ SEO. Having spent two decades in the industry, he offered GeekMeet his tips on how to utilise search without wasting a fortune.
 
‘Focusing on the right metrics’ may sound obvious, said Riddell, but is too often neglected. Soft metrics such as domain authority and clicks are important but hard metrics (transactions and conversion rates) will drive sales. Retaining a ‘razor sharp focus on what matters is the route to the top of Google’.
 
Understanding the results format is also essential. ‘Depending on the search request, Google can display at least seven different types of result,’ he said. ‘It’s vital to identify which type (e.g. text, video, location or rich snippets) is relevant to your content.’
 
And despite our ever-decreasing online attention span, content itself is still king. 1,000-1,500 words is the optimum length and ideally it should be posted directly on product pages rather than relegated to blogs.
 
Speed too is crucial as Google will not rank slow loading sites. Optimising sites for meta data, rich snippets and schema will also give brands the best chance of attaining those coveted high-profile positions.
 
And, as with many things in life, consistency is key. Riddell advises finding a reason to update sites at least daily ‘to give Google a regular tickle’. Even search engines these days need some love and attention.

‘Focusing on the right metrics’ may sound obvious, said Riddell, but is too often neglected. Soft metrics such as domain authority and clicks are important but hard metrics (transactions and conversion rates) will drive sales. Retaining a ‘razor sharp focus on what matters is the route to the top of Google’.

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