Last week, Yardies Austin and Caitlin headed to BrightonSEO, one of the most loved events on the SEO conference circuit. It no doubt lived up to this expectation, with thousands of people arriving on the South Coast for the event. Our reporters share their experience of attending a large digital marketing conference for the first time and bring you their key learnings from the event.
“It was obvious upon arrival that we were surrounded by people with a real passion for their field. While making our way to the venue, we stumbled upon a piece of graffiti reading ‘SEO will never die.’ While this initially sounded a bit ominous, it became clear that the message of the conference was focused on the continued relevance of SEO.”
Content – Austin Shields (Digital PR & Content Executive)
The conference kicked off with a series of talks around content, all of which offered up some great insights.
Marcus Tober from Searchmetrics discussed the need to tailor content depending on your niche. For example, top ranking pages in the fitness sphere include videos because people getting fit want to do, not read. Compare this to content on divorce, which should consist of serious and structured long text.
Content specialisation was a theme running into Eleni Cashell’s talk on duplication. Editor of the Hotcourses Group, Cashell surprised us with the fact the 29% of the internet is made up of duplicated content. Her personal account of the “worst year of her life”, spent overhauling the content on the Hotcourses website, was an interesting example of how to successfully manage a large-scale content campaign.
- Social sharing is going down; 50% of content gets a maximum of 4 shares
- Content gets even fewer backlinks; 70% gets zero links
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, as Rayson was adamant that SEO will become increasingly important with the decline of social.
Link building – Caitlin Hardie (Digital PR & Content Executive)
Next up, we took our seats in the auditorium for a few talks on the art of link building. Greg Gifford emphasised the advantage of local link-building. Greg argued that gaining links based on partnerships that you have on a personal or company level brings a ‘real-world’ value that goes beyond SEO. Although local links can be hard to reverse-engineer due to many SEO tools classifying them as low-quality, local links are based on unique, personal relationships which makes them harder for competitors to replicate.
We were particularly taken by Marie Turner from Amara, who took to the stage to reinforce that our link building strategies should revolve around the needs of our clients’ customers. This may seem an obvious point, but offering value to users inevitably yields high-authority links that can often be so difficult to attain. Content and link building teams must work closely throughout each stage for campaigns to be successful.
A really interesting example provided by Marie was a clever move made by women’s clothing retailer Missguided, which created a ‘Jeans and a nice top’ section on its site after its customers asked for it on social media. The praise Missguided has received from this move has been overwhelmingly positive – a great example of how delivering something that’s of value to your users can really pay off.
Influencer marketing – Caitlin
With an increasing amount of brands looking to work with influencers, we wanted to brush up on our knowledge of this side of things. Hannah Butcher from Melt Content gave a comprehensive rundown of what bloggers expect from brands, as well as and the dos and don’ts of creating positive relationships and collaborations. Influencers are becoming increasingly savvy and it’s important for agencies to do the same.
Perfecting the tone and style of outreach emails is key for getting influencers’ attention and making sure both parties agree about what they’re getting out of the relationship. Above all, it’s key to remember that influencers have an extensive and loyal following, so if they feel disappointed by a relationship with a brand, they may well feel compelled to let their online community know about it.
Keyword research – Austin
One of the most practical sessions of the day came from Stephan Spencer, who spoke about the ‘perfect keyword strategy’. After whipping up the crowd with free books and some shameless self-promotion, Spencer shared his advice on conducting successful keyword research.
The right keywords, according to Spencer, are popular, relevant and attainable. Using the wrong keywords is a dangerous path. He illustrated this point with the example of a company that became fixated with using the term ‘home loan’ rather than ‘mortgage’. Don’t be surprised if this kind of strategy doesn’t increase sales.
Developing personas can help you to better understand your searchers. Spencer gave an interesting account of an athletic clothing company that placed photos of ideal customers next to individual lockers. Staff were encouraged to adorn the lockers with items that defined the character of these consumers.
For the rest of the talk, Spencer gave a run-through of useful search tools such as Soovle and Ubersuggest. As newcomers to the industry, this kind of practical knowledge is great to take back to the office.
Keynote – Both
We finished the day by cracking open our free beer (should be included in goodie bags everywhere) and settling in for the keynote slot – a live Google webmasters hangout with SEO consultant Aleyda Solis and Google spokesman John Mueller.
In addition to some conversation around mobile-first indexing, Mueller answered questions from the audience on a variety of topics. We learned that he is a fan of the disavow tool, which can help you eradicate harmful links. Google doesn’t view this as an admission of guilt, but rather as a technical tool that allows you to take care of issues yourself.
The session ended with Mueller telling the crowd that SEO will continue to be relevant, regardless of an AI-shaped future. So the phrase ‘SEO will never die’ rang true as we headed for the last flight back to Edinburgh.
Thanks for having us BrightonSEO, we’ll be back!