WTSFest 2024 Recap: 3 Oncrawlers share their experience

March 14, 2024 - 10  min reading time - by Oncrawl Team
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The 2024 edition of the Women in Tech SEO Festival serendipitously lined up with International Women’s Day and took place in London last week: marking the fifth year that Areej AbuAli and the talented WTS team have organized this event.

The conference, which was held at the Broadgate Business Centre, has become a mainstay in the tech SEO community as it provides an opportunity for like-minded individuals to come together and learn about SEO and share their expertise and experiences. In addition to a full-day conference, the event also includes a number of satellite events that provide a great space in which to grow your network.

Over the course of the day, ten conferences were divided into four different sessions: Analyze, Advance, Innovate and Empower. Three Oncrawlers attended the event this year and we each came away with something different. Instead of providing a recap of the whole conference, we instead wanted to share our individual highlights, so take a look below.

Sara’s Experience

Sara Borghi, Senior SEO Strategist

This was my second year attending the Women in Tech SEO festival and, though I didn’t think it possible, the event was even better the second time around. As a Senior SEO Strategist, I was looking forward to learning and getting inspired by some fabulous women in the industry and taking away some insights I can use in my daily work.

The main takeaways, for me, came from three speeches:

First was the talk by Grace Frohlich in which she discussed the importance of search integration between SEO and PPC, highlighting the benefits of holistic search for sustainable growth. She identified challenges such as lack of knowledge about each other’s work, difficulty in collaboration, and demonstrating the benefits of integration.

I found it really helpful that Grace provided a playbook for integration. She emphasized steps like understanding the PPC team’s initiatives, sharing high-performing keywords, aligning roadmaps, and creating unified strategies to increase revenue and brand awareness.

Additionally, she suggested requesting Google Ads data, conducting landing page tests, and she emphasized the importance of regular communication and data sharing between teams for successful integration. It gave me a lot to think about in regards to how I can apply such thinking when dealing with clients.

Next, in her talk about “Turning Clicks into Revenue: A Video-Centric Ecommerce Strategy”, Stevy Liakopoulou highlighted the benefits of leveraging video-centric strategies for e-commerce success, citing their effectiveness in boosting conversion rates, average order values, and attracting new customers.

She discussed various challenges such as video production costs and optimization hurdles, while also predicting the continued prominence of short-form and vertical videos, shoppable videos, livestream shopping, and simplified video production methods. It wasn’t necessarily something on my radar before, but she made me think it definitely should be.

Finally, Emma Russell shared some stats related to consumer trends and intentions for 2024 in her talk, “The Future of E-commerce” that included:

  • Increased search for deals and promotions.
  • A growing preference for online marketplaces.
  • A continued desire for free delivery.

Despite concerns about rising costs, consumers intend to spend on travel and other categories, particularly high-income consumers.

Emma Russell_WTSFest 2024

Emma Russell at the WTSFest 2024 in London

To address these trends, Emma suggested that businesses should focus on indexing deeper to meet user searches, prioritize the long tail to attract buyers, and optimize for modern e-commerce by aligning content with user intent, targeting relevant searches, and treating landing pages as both entry points and guides.

Additionally, avoiding overcategorization, emphasizing reviews, and transparently disclosing eco-friendliness are crucial strategies for success. I think these were great tips that will definitely prove useful with my e-commerce clients.

What tips, advice or practice will I apply in real-life?

The content of the speeches provided me with multiple insights that I will be able to use to enrich my relationships with my clients and to adopt a more holistic and strategic approach to the challenges they will present to me. In particular, I will feel more confident in providing suggestions on:

  • Improving website accessibility to ensure inclusivity for all users.
  • How to create user-centric search experiences.
  • Addressing bias in AI from the outset when using AI.
  • Adapting to evolving consumer trends and intentions by optimizing your e-commerce strategy.
  • Incorporating videos into their e-commerce strategy to increase engagement and conversion rates.

My event highlight

It’s hard to pick one because everything was great and the whole event ran so smoothly. I really appreciated the attention to detail and the variety of topics covered in the various speeches.

A very special moment for me was the Search ‘n Stuff dinner organized by Yagmur Simsek as it helped to get to know some other participants before the event and to learn more about how each of us handles our work and our respective SEO verticals, clients and challenges.

I came away from the event feeling grateful and very motivated.

Pauline’s Experience

Pauline Pouzou, Senior Technical SEO

Although all 10 conferences touched on interesting SEO themes, the top three talks that stood out for me were:

Grace Frohlich’s talk on “Search Integration: How to Reunite SEO & PPC”.  Much like Sara, I found the talk really interesting; I’m a firm believer that search and PPC go hand-in-hand. She shared a great combined dashboard as a resource that demonstrates the importance of a holistic approach to SEO. The dashboard promotes a unified strategy which reunites SEO and PPC.

Grace Frolich_WTSFest 2024

Grace Frolich at the WTSFest 2024 in London

Joyann Boyce’s talk on “Starting with Bias in AI Might be the Solution” made a great point that I thought was a relevant takeaway: AI is not inclusive. Currently, AI is influenced by society and our societal systems that promote bias about gender or skin color. Now that we have recognized it exists, there are steps we can, and should, take to help AI do better.

During Rasida Begum’s talk on “Linking Technical Fixes to Performance Milestones”, the key point that stood out for me was the fact that you need to be able to quantify SEO. If you can estimate the revenue you can lose if the technical issues are not fixed, then you’ll be able to get better buy-in and support.

What tips, advice or practice will I apply in real-life?

I have to choose Grace Frohlich’s conference as the one that will be the most applicable for my specific day-to-day work. PPC is a topic that’s not only interesting, but often forgotten in regards to SEO strategies.

She made an interesting parallel that compares SEO and PPC to twins (and the movie The Parent Trap): although individuals, they should not be separated. Based on what I’ve seen in my past experience, I can only agree with her. I used to manage both PPC and SEO, and if you want to drive your ROI, you’ll have to:

  • Work with the PPC team and/or the global traffic manager.
  • Understand all they spend, including the keyword PPC and all the opportunities which Google Ads allow you to see high performing keywords and the best audiences.
  • Share data: you should have strong links with the PPC team to share your data and also acquire the data they have.
  • Use shared dashboards.
  • Align your roadmaps.

I think this is a topic that has not been highlighted enough in other SEO events I’ve attended, so I was grateful to see it addressed here at the WTSFest.

Additionally, I like to know that I can use multiple types of data with Oncrawl. I encourage my clients to use Oncrawl for technical SEO, but also to cross-analyse data with PPC. This way, you can highlight more opportunities and priorities for the best keywords.

My event highlight

It’s hard to choose just one, but I have to say Joyann’s conference really stood out for me. She showed us that AI is completely biased and as we start to use it more and more in our work, it’s an important fact to keep in mind.

Joyann’s metaphor taught us that we’ll have to treat AI like a puppy that was trained by someone else; it’s our responsibility to continue to train it until it behaves better.

Danielle’s Experience

Danielle Escaro, Content Marketing Manager

This was my first WTSFest and I found the event was informative, inclusive and provided a great opportunity to get away from my day-to-day routine and get inspired. Relatively new to the SEO industry, the more technical aspects of the work can often be intimidating. However, any apprehension I had quickly subsided because I found that the mix of talks provided something for everyone, regardless of position or experience.

I have nothing but glowing feedback about the event, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll try to choose my top three takeaways (as difficult as that may be).

In talking about “Technical SEO for Improved Accessibility”, Billie Geena Hyde addressed the important, but often overlooked issue of accessibility. She expressed that while accessibility is a right, there are still over 96% of the world’s top one million web pages that are not accessible. Although it may not seem obvious, a lot of accessibility best practices align with SEO practices and there are a lot of things we can implement to improve accessibility.

Billie Geena shared a few suggestions including:

  • Checking what your pages look like without JavaScript enabled and making sure navigation functions work properly.
  • Concentrating on user experience by doing  CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift) checks.
  • Optimizing images.
  • Verifying color contrast, page design and content readability.

I also thought Emma Russell’s talk shared some really interesting insights, particularly on how consumer behavior is evolving in the wake of Covid-19, a number of economic crises and other external factors. Although the outlook may seem dim, it’s important to remember that people are still spending, but spending less and the traditional purchasing funnel looks a lot different.

Search patterns are all over the place and we, as search marketing professionals, will need to start indexing deeper to cater to the modern search patterns.

Veruska Anconitano’s talk addressed “The Future of User-Centric Search Experiences” and she did a great job of pointing out that understanding language is essential to understanding search intent.

She explained that taking the time to understand how languages have evolved is critical to understanding the evolution of search. Her presentation also cited the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis which essentially concludes that the differences in language structure cause people to view words differently and that ultimately shapes search and user intent.

What tips, advice or practice will I apply in real-life?

As a content marketer, I was particularly interested in Joyann’s talk about AI and bias. AI has been very present in the SEO and content scope for the past year and although it can be useful in some circumstances, I still tend to tread with caution.

Joyann Boyce_WTSFest 2024 London

Joyann Boyce at the WTSFest 2024 in London

Joyann touched on a great point that I hadn’t quite been able to articulate in regards to why I was wary to use the tool in a more substantial way. She explained that generative AI is combatting the change we want to make or see because bias is always at play.

However, she went on to clarify that even though the bias exists, we can use it wisely. We need to start with the bias in mind and train AI to do the opposite.

I thought that was a great and useful tip I can implement on a regular basis if I turn to Chat-GPT or Genesis for any future prompts.

My event highlight

All of the WTSFest conferences were interesting, well thought out and delivered in engaging ways, but the highlight of the event, for me, were the satellite activities.

The pre-event walking tour and the Search ‘n Stuff Networking Dinner helped ease newcomers into the fold and gave us the opportunity to discuss our various career paths, our new ventures and the difficulties and successes we’ve encountered.

The post conference reception provided an informal environment for connecting with other community members and particularly meeting all the virtual connections I’ve made in the past few years, but hadn’t yet met in person.

Overall, with the conference and the surrounding networking events, there was a lot to take in and learn, but it was a great way to spend International Women’s Day.

Oncrawlers_WTSFest 2024

Final thoughts

The WTSFest brought together 400+ industry experts to discuss the topics that are shaping the SEO industry. We’re happy to be part of the initiative and watch as the community grows and evolves.

We wanted to share just a few of our thoughts and takeaways, but would be happy to hear from others about your experiences. Feel free to share with us on social media.

With Oncrawl, we help you collect, organize, and understand the right data in SEO. Our blog shares helpful news and best practices in the technical SEO domain.
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