We’re exploring the future of search. Our team of search experts have been attending one of the UK’s biggest search marketing conferences to determine where their industry is heading.

Over the course of the next two days, they will be bringing you the latest tips and trends in search that you can apply to your business.

Day one has brought us everything from SEO for e-commerce, accessibility within content design and will AI take over our jobs? Which will be followed by some opinions by wider members of the Altair team.

Maximise Your E-commerce Offering

Product listing could be a huge benefit to your e-commerce site; however, you need to be doing this correctly. It’s typically identified that your product landing pages will drive 60% of your traffic and of course most of your revenue. You need define your one template that is worth optimising, and typically this tends to be the best way you can lay out your product page.

Tip 1: Split your template into blocks to optimise, categorising by content, internal linking, and tech

But where do you even start with optimisation? It is recommended that you start in the following areas

  • Heading markup
  • Product description
  • Mobile view
  • Your hidden content
  • Thin content

Tip 2: Product Filters are a huge SEO win, if you can optimise it correctly

There is a massive opportunity with utilising the keywords within your product filters. You may say to yourself, dress isn’t exactly an appropriate keyword for my business. You’re correct. It’s too broad. Any filters which have keywords that could be too broad to reach, de-index those.

Instead, you need to focus on optimising the filters that are your highest converting and most clicked on. Speak to your CRO, your Data team, your marketing team, or your agency (hopefully that’s us). They will be able to tell you where to start optimising.

Once you’ve identified this you can make your most opportunistic keywords indexable. These tend to be item terms listed by colour or texture but follow the data to know what works best for you. These keywords should pretty much go against what you know in terms of finding keywords with volume. Instead focus on what your customers care about.

Tip 3: Focusing on your product landing pages will only help you see results if you’re not ignoring other tech fundamentals

Areej AbuAli who gave the talk on unlocking the hidden potential of product listing pages, told us how she put all the above practices in place but ignored the core basics of tech as she was so fixated on making this change, that when she applied the changes, nothing happened. You need a technically sound site before you can go making any other fancy technical changes, so keep technical best practice at your sites core.

Following Areej’s talk, Luke Carthy gave a talk on ‘perfecting faceted navigation for SEO and sales growth’.

A very SEO way of saying, make sure your structure is technically sound too. Faceted nav essentially creates a ton of rubbish .txt code and makes everything so much more difficult for search engines to crawl your site effectively. A lot of the time either nothing gets indexed, or everything gets indexed.

Tip 4: Be selective when choosing the right facet

There is a way you can select the right facet so Google can rank a specific category along with a facet combo, so it is indexing the right filters, much as Areej discussed in the earlier talk. In an ideal world should only be used to granularity to your listings.

It was recommended by Luke to use subfolders however either parameters or subfolders work well, you just need to keep this consistent across your site and have a template structure.

Tip 5: Limit your filters

As a ground rule, you shouldn’t allow more than one filter option to be selected from the same filter group. Try to split this out to be as clear as possible.

Optimise Your Content Design & Marketing

Design is a vital element missed in many companies and there are many tips and tricks you need to know to make your design and content the best it can possibly be. In our agency, we have members of the content team with at least 7 years of design experience, so this is something we like to apply where we can.

Tip 6: Don’t be afraid of white space

A talk by Margaret MacArthur on decluttering your design taught us the white space can be an extremely effective design element. Many companies mess up their designs by filling the white space with as much clutter as they can, when it is completely unnecessary.  The best designs are the simple ones, and these are the ones which we see in advertising which convert sales the best.

White space helps to convey a message and get your message across as clear as possible. It also helps us to determine what type of brand you are, just from design. For example, media outlets will completely fill their white space with as many articles as possible and advertisements. You don’t need to know who the outlet is to know what they do and this is all purely based on design. Luxury brands will tend to have as much white space as possible with imagery tactically placed to subtle call to action buttons.

Tip 7: Apply the correct use of white space when considering who you’re delivering your content to

For example, if you’re working on a pitching document, the brand or client doesn’t want to read, they want to listen and it also means they will digest what you’re saying more, so avoid heavy text slides. Another example is when pitching to journalists, infographics can be an effective way to convey information but try and make them readable and simple.

Tip 8: You need to optimise your content to make it accessible for those with disabilities

Ellen Cole opened our eyes to the world of accessibility, with a survey from WebAim stating 84% of their disabled correspondents mentioned that they struggle accessing organisations social media channels.

So, what can we do to help this?

Clear alt text visual descriptions help text readers to determine what an image is showing. Most social media platforms have them but are not an option for scheduling content so bare this in mind when creating content to post that you will have to go back in and add in the alt text.

Tip 9: Hashtags are unreadable unless capitalised

We were surprised to learn that capitalising your hashtags is essential so screen readers can detect them. Otherwise, they sound horrible to the person trying to listen to them.

Instead of #socialmedia try #SocialMedia.

Tip 10: Overuse of emojis can make your text un-readable by screen readers

Emojis are fine to use but try using then rarely and at the end of a sentence where possible.

Is AI taking over our jobs?

Content writers beware as Katie Thompson discusses if AI will take our jobs. This question posed a lot of speculation within our team, and we decided to get our thoughts from two of our directors within the agency.

But before we get into their opinions, what did we learn?

Tip 11: If you’re going to use AI to write you will need to sense check to filter the facts

Although AI technology has gotten smart, it doesn’t have context and is likely to produce false information. Why may this be? Simply because search engines are yet to develop the intelligence to determine what is a fake piece and a real piece of information.

Tip 12: AI doesn’t have personality so it can’t write in the same way a human can, despite it being based on human influence, meaning the humans have the advantage

AIs are basically robots. They don’t have human emotion, human thoughts and particularly empathy. This is where AI writing can faulter and where content writers can give content an edge. 1 point to the humans.

Tip 13: Do not use AI for long form content

If you are looking to use AI to help you write, just know it is not designed to write long form content. Meaning any long form content that you get an AI to produce will not make sense.

Tip 14: Do not write your site in AI

Although Google aren’t quite there yet, they can detect when something seems a bit dodgy. Meaning in the future we can expect that sites written in AI could lead to penalisation later down the line, including ranking drops and authority and trust score drops for your site.

But is AI going to take over our jobs? We’re not so sure. Dan Simms, Senior Paid Social Director says:

“People talk about AI as though it’s a brand-new thing, but the truth is it’s already here and has been used within the Paid media sector for years. Take the Meta ads algorithm for example, one that in some cases works better without any human input into the targeting. Does this make humans redundant? Of course not. To use that very same algorithm as an example, it can provide efficient results but only without context – you still need a human to monitor and affect any campaign to ensure that specific business goals are achieved, and actual business change occurs.

As the world moves on, this is where many of our jobs will move towards. We’ll always need to be there, to be the guardians of things, but must embrace where AI can provide efficiency and timesaving in our jobs and ultimately our lives too.”

Speaking of AI, Danny Richman gave a talk on how to use GPT-3 for keyword research.

Firstly you may be asking yourself, what is GPT-3? It is one of the newest AI technologies, but despite what people have been using for and as mentioned in Katie’s talk, its not for long form content. However, you can use it to your advantage, it can do wonderful things. From filtering out irrelevant keywords to creating images. The possibilities are endless.

Tip 14: If you’re going to use this kind of AI technology then you will need to give it a few examples you know are correct so it can perceive information you want and tone of voice

Giving the tool just a few simple examples can be the make or break to the tool producing a decent piece of content.

Is AI good or bad? It can be both! Paid Search Director, Charlotte Dunne says

“The funny thing about AI is it’s a very much ‘Us vs Them’ scenario for a lot of people – I think as a generation we have been brought up watching too many films about AI taking over and destroying us. However, it can play such an important part in our job roles. AI and automation within Google Ads have helped to reduce my time spent manually assessing elements such as bidding strategies, best versions of ad copy and keyword targeting. This time saved has ultimately left me to learn other elements that I perhaps previously wouldn’t have had the time for – so in a way, did the introduction of AI help to excel my career?

I believe we should be confidently working alongside AI to ensure best practices and solid strategies. Whilst it does seem that each month, Google seems to take something manual off PPCers and put it into an automated format, there’s nothing that will be able to compete with the human element of our jobs. Yes, perhaps at some point AI might run Google Ads by itself, but will it be there to answer the calls of a panicked client who’s watched ROAS drop since last month? We’ve all seen that website that allows the AI to write a “story” for you and how ridiculous they turn out; we can’t expect to allow it to do the same with ad copy. Google also has a track record of insisting you spend more to get better results – without human intervention there, many businesses would be bankrupt by now.

We should embrace AI updates and implementation and learn to work alongside it, whilst bettering ourselves in areas that we previously wouldn’t have had the time for. Clients will always need the human element for explanation and reassurance, so perhaps we focus on analysis and communication and let AI do the rest of the work.”

To throw it back to the question, is AI going to take our jobs? We think you can rest easy knowing it won’t.

And that’s it for day 1. With more to come tomorrow, so keep up to date on our latest blogs and social media content to learn more about the future of search!

By Megan O’Brien
Content & Digital PR Manager