6 Takeaways from the 2018 Learn Inbound Conference

6 years ago

Our teams at Aira are incredibly fortunate enough to attend and speak at some of the most prestigious SEO and digital marketing events around the world.

It’s at events such as Learn Inbound where we’re able to take away more than a conference hangover. Instead, we end our two days with so much actionable advice for both ourselves and our clients.

This year Aira’s co-founder, Paddy Moogan, was speaking at the event alongside a long list of established digital marketing professionals, and what I like to call SEOlebrities…

Key takeaways from Learn Inbound 2018

During this article, I’m going to take you through some of the most actionable takeaways from the 2018 Learn Inbound conference.


Optimising for voice search with Aleyda Solis

There’s no hiding around the fact that voice search is something that is hot on client’s lips right now, and many of them want to know how they can be found for voice search queries.

Fortunately, Aleyda was on hand to provide us all with some actionable advice to consider. So how can you feature in voice search results?

SERPs (search engine results pages) have changed dramatically over the years. And the introduction of featured snippets has had a huge impact on click-through rates and organic traffic for a number of sites.

The easiest and the most effective way to get found for voice search queries is to ensure that your site is ranking in ‘position 0’, or the featured snippet position. Voice search results often use the featured snippets to provide answers to a variety of search queries.

What type of queries should you target?

Aleyda was very quick to explain, and provide some great data on the types of searches people complete using a smart assistant or speaker.

Image courtesy of Dave Keegan Photography

Here are some of the queries you should consider targeting for voice search results:

  • ‘How to’ searches for tutorials and guides
  • ‘What does’ searches for assistance and educating
  • ‘When is’ searches for event based sites

A full list of queries that Google Home and other smart speakers can respond to can be found here.

Optimising your content for voice

There are a few things that you can be doing to optimise your content for voice search results. These may include following the basic on-page optimisation fundamentals as you would for any webpage, as well as:

  • Using headings to correctly structure your content
  • Consider using headings instead of traditional HTML lists within your content
  • If you’re based in the US, it’s worth investigating speakable schema markup

You can find Aleyda’s slides from the conference here.

Technical SEO in the real world with Barry Adams

Barry Adams is a well known technical SEO expert and has spoken at numerous conferences and events around the world. During his talk at Learn Inbound, he was able to provide us with some technical seo ‘tips’ to consider implementing on our sites.

Get schema markup correctly implemented

With the SERPs changing so much, as SEOs and digital marketers we need to get the most out of our organic rankings. A great way to do that is through correctly implementing schema markup where it's relevant.

You may have seen something like this in search results:

Example of schema markupSchema markup, such as reviews shown above, can become hugely important for click-through rates (CTR) and making your organic result more appealing to users, standing out in front of your competitors.

You can find a list of the different schema markups available here on

Be careful when adding schema markup

During Barry’s talk, he was able to share an example of a badly implemented piece of schema markup which resulted in nothing changing within the organic SERPs.

Here is his original code when he added the markup to the site:

Barry Adams bad schema example

The schema was initially placed within the <body> tag on the site. As a result, the markup was not able to show in the SERPs.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution, and one that takes a matter of minutes:

When adding schema to your site, ensure that the code is placed within the <head> section so Googlebot can understand the markup and show it in search results. Oliver Mason wrote a really interesting post about breaking the <head> here.

You can find Barry’s slides from the conference here.

The future of SEO with Britney Muller

Britney Muller is a Senior SEO Scientist for Moz and is well known within the SEO industry through numerous case studies, articles and more recently the Whiteboard Friday’s posted on the Moz blog.

She was able to provide a number of insights as to what the future of SEO could be for both digital marketers and users. Here are some of the most actionable points from her recent talk at Learn Inbound.

Featured snippets are KING

Featured snippets have a major effect on clicks and our actions within organic search results. As you can see from this graphic from Ahrefs:

Image source:

There is also an added bonus to gaining featured snippet positions, not just increased clicks. As Aleyda discussed, voice search is becoming more and more frequent. And how do smart speakers get the information to pass onto users?

Featured snippets!

How to optimise for featured snippets

Britney ran through a number of very simple things that you can do to ensure that you’re in the best possible position to appear for a featured snippet opportunity.

Here’s what you can be doing:

  1. Target pages that are already ranking on page 1
  2. Review the structure of the content on the page
  3. Don’t forget the fundamental on-page optimisations
  4. Use ‘Question’ schema where applicable and especially on FAQ pages

What are the fundamentals?

Don’t forget to ensure that the following has been covered when optimising content for featured snippet opportunities:

  • Make sure that the content is indexable
  • The quality of the content is to a high standard
  • You’ve written an appealing title and description that contains the keyword
  • The URL structure is correct and easy to understand
  • You’ve written relevant ALT-text for images
  • You’ve used correct headings to structure your content
  • Schema markup is in place

You can find Britney’s slides from the conference here.

What does a good link look like with Paddy Moogan

Paddy was speaking this year and provided digital PR teams, and content creation specialists with a number of ideas for future projects, including how they can identify a good link.

Image courtesy of Dave Keegan Photography

What is the best strategy to use?

Our content marketing team work on a variety of projects and we’ve had ideas that have worked and some that have failed. But the most important takeaway Paddy was able to provide was that you need to identify what works for you, and your business.

What works for one site, or one piece of content, may not necessarily work for another.

Here is an example of the type of content and link building ideas that we use for our clients:

  • Data visualisations - Static graphics, Interactive content & Animation
  • Thought leadership - Guest posting, Reactive commentary & Interviews
  • Tactical - Unlinked brand mentions, Broken link building & Citations

What is the best type of content?

We found that interactive, visual content works best for coverage. Our digital PR specialists work with a number of developers and designers to create ‘evergreen link worthy’ content for our clients.

Here are some of the content types that worked best:

Aira content ideas that workYou can find all of Paddy’s slides from the conference here.

Mobile first indexing with Jon Myers

It’s no secret that Google is switching sites over to mobile first indexing, but what exactly does this mean for webmasters, site owners and us as SEO’s?

Jon Myers was able to provide a clear definition as to what this means and how you can get your website ready, and mobile friendly.

Image courtesy of Dave Keegan Photography

What is mobile first indexing?

Traditionally, Google will crawl, index and rank your website based on the desktop version. However, with the introduction of mobile first indexing, Google will now crawl, index and rank your website based on its mobile version.

Desktop and mobile websites will still coexist, but the mobile version will be prioritised by Google.

How to check your site’s mobile friendliness

You can check how mobile ‘friendly’ your website is by utilising tools developed by Google themselves. Tools such as the Mobile Friendliness tool and the Test My Site tool for page speed.

Things to consider for mobile websites

There are a number of ways you can have a mobile website. The most common being responsive design. However, some websites have separate sites for desktop and mobile.

If this is the case for your website, ensure that any changes you make on your desktop site are then implemented on the mobile version. Here are Jon’s main recommendations for mobile websites:

  • Ensure that any optimised elements are indexable
  • Internal links to mobile URLs need to be visible
  • Be aware of orphaned pages
  • Test your robots.txt file and make sure all important URLs are accessible
  • Check display and mobile friendliness issues
  • Use a mobile-friendly crawler when completing site audits

You can find all of Jon’s slides from the conference here.

Overcoming ‘Imposter Syndrome’ with Tiffany daSilva

Tiffany daSilva is the founder of Flowjo and delivered one of the most inspirational talks I’ve ever seen at a marketing conference.

Imposter Syndrome isn’t something that I was particularly aware of, but it’s certainly something I know about now.

What is imposter syndrome?

For those that don’t know, Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual plays down their accomplishments in the fear of being exposed as a fraud.

Tiffany was able to share her experiences at Learn Inbound and provide anyone that’s currently second-guessing their abilities as a marketing consultant with some great tips and advice on combating Imposter Syndrome.

More importantly, her talk involved the crowd and everyone participated which is a risky manoeuvre at a conference!

Tiffany daSilva Learn Inbound 2018

Image courtesy of Dave Keegan Photography

How can you overcome it?

Here are Tiffany’s six steps to overcoming imposter syndrome and becoming a successful individual:

  • Stop the negative self-talk
  • Identify your villains. These are people or events that provide negative experiences and block them out
  • Set yourself personal expectations
  • Create a bucket list of things you want to achieve
  • Build a crew of people to help support you and each other
  • Visualise your success and go for it

You can find Tiffany’s slides from the conference here.

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