WordCamp Kuala Lumpur 2017

WordCamp Kuala Lumpur 2017 was just concluded recently. It was my first WordCamp and also the first WordCamp in Malaysia after seven years. It was held at the Royale Chulan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, a gorgeous hotel in the Bukit Bintang area.

So how was the WordCamp? Read on further after the break as I break my WordCamp Kuala Lumpur 2017 into various sections. This includes how my experience went, the pros, the cons and finally, the conclusion.

The WordCamp Kuala Lumpur 2017 Experience

It was a pleasant surprise when I found out we were getting some awesome swag from our WordCamp sponsors. Having attended other tech meetups like the KL Ruby Brigade, Laratalks and KL JavaScript, the most I received were stickers and t-shirts. Hence when Sam Suresh announced that we had swag from JetPack, I had to go early.

The roads were clear on that Saturday morning, ensuring I arrived early. But parking was confusing as the hotel’s signboard indicated it was an hourly rate, while the WordCamp Kuala Lumpur website said it was a fixed fee.

I found a few familiar faces and many unfamiliar faces at the event. Some were mini-celebrities in their own right, including people like Liew Cheon Fong (LiewCF), David Wang (ClickWP) and Jerry Low (of WebHostingSecrets). I even had a long chat about business and WordPress with Matthew Knighton of Divi Framework. Matt is coming up with some interesting products for the enterprise-level clients of his.

My Takeaway From WordCamp Kuala Lumpur

Cherry Sireetorn Prommawin from Google Search
Cherry Sireetorn Prommawin from Google Search

My biggest takeaway came from Cherry Prommawin. (And the second biggest came from David Wang‘s talk on speeding up WordPress). Cherry works for Google Search Asia-Pacific and held us spellbound with the knowledge of how we could rank well in Search Engine Results. During her presentation, she gave us the following guidelines to focus on for 2018.

  1. Search console
  2. HTTPS
  3. Mobile-friendly
  4. Speed, speed, speed (Yes, she said it three times!)
  5. Stay safe from hacking

These are the key metrics that we should focus on, she said. We should always look at the search console to find errors and correct them. HTTPS is crucial today, not just for security but the speed boost that comes from the HTTP/2 standard.

Speed is crucial for any website to rank well in this modern time and age. Thus with HTTPS, you not only get security but also a better ranking signal from Google. Having said that, images are a major speed culprit, causing increased page weight that affects search engine results. The easiest way to fix this would be to use an image compression app or service. Over here at WPStarters, we swear by ShortPixel, the best image compression service in WordPress. Our ShortPixel review will be out next.

Finally, we need to stay safe from hacking. A hacked website causes Google to remove us from the search engine results. Nevertheless, I had to fix a number of hacked sites over the years as the owners neglected to update them regularly. Plus, they don’t have backups.

If your site matters to you and generates constant revenue to your business, talk to us about some maintenance plan. Our rates are affordable.

Other Google SEO Advice from Cherry

Cherry was easily the most swamped speaker of the day. We asked her many questions and boy, talking to her was insightful though she couldn’t share the secret two hundred Google signals that we were dying to know.

Here is some advice that I remembered her answering.

1) Should we use a content spinner to auto-generate new content? Or can we rephrase content from other sites and just rephrase them to a third-party perspective?

No, spinning and rephrasing content will get your site permanently penalized

2) Would she be interested to consult some startup?

No, doing so will force her to divulge secrets that could get her sacked. If we have any questions, go to Google Webmasters’ Channel and ask there.

3) Are there any shortcuts we can take to rank well?

There are no shortcuts. Basically, we need to create valuable, engaging content that will draw readers naturally. Don’t focus on keyword stuffing, but create value for our site visitors.

4) Is mobile search crucial?

Yes, mobile search is a major ranking signal for 2018. Please make sure that your site is mobile-friendly and responsive.

5) Do we need schema?

Yes, please make sure we have schema installed to get better search engine results.

WordCamp Kuala Lumpur: What I liked

WordCamp Kuala Lumpur 2017 participants
WordCamp Kuala Lumpur 2017 participants

It has been awhile since our last WordCamp in Malaysia. What I liked about WordCamp Kuala Lumpur 2017 was the meeting up of many WordPress professionals and users. It is interesting to hear how others use WordPress as well as meeting up some hardcore WordPress users.

WordCamp Kuala Lumpur: What could be improved

While it was great meeting so many WordPress professionals and users, perhaps we could have vetted the speakers more. Unlike WordCamp USA, some of our speakers gave wrong advice which is detrimental to the crowd that didn’t understand WordPress well.

WordCamp Kuala Lumpur: The Conclusion

Overall, I learned a fair bit at the Malaysian WordCamp. Though we didn’t have Matt Mullenweg (unlike WordCamp Bali 2016), Automattic and WooCommerce still sponsored our venue and our swag. Can’t wait to attend one of the larger WordCamps in the future.

Thank you, Automattic, Sam Suresh and the rest of the organizing team for WordCamp Kuala Lumpur 2017!

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Leo Koo
I run a small agency building and maintaining turnkey and bespoke WordPress sites. I also review WordPress plugins and digital marketing tools while running this site and the WPStarters Facebook Group. Do swing by and say hi :)
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