It’s safe to say that BrightonSEO hosted yet another mind-blowing and invaluable conference this month with a strong line up of speakers and a full day of back-to-back presentations. With some fun extras like mini-golf, giant deck chairs, a real-life iron throne and of course, free beer, it’s hard to imagine how they’re going to top the next one in September.
Although we were sad to go our separate ways on the day to attend all the different talks, we came away with a ton of insightful learnings and knowledge, which are summarised in this handy blog. Maybe we’ll invent a time machine for next time so we can attend them all.
Don’t want to read all of it? Skip to the bits you need here:
- Morning Sessions: Snippets and Schema, Site Speed and Russia and China
- Mid-Morning Sessions: Onsite, SERPs and Crawl Management
- Afternoon Sessions: Competitor Research, Content Marketing, Tech SEO and Internationalisation
- Late Afternoon Sessions: Future of Search, Onsite SEO, Online PR and SEO Automation
- Keynote Session
Snippets and Schema
Everyone in the world of SEO is talking about structured data, schema markup and featured snippets. With Google constantly evolving and updating their algorithms, there’s a growing demand to make full use of its snippets and features, in order to give your searchers a richer experience. This will, in turn, drive more relevant traffic and uplift user engagement.
Structured data, commonly known as schema, can be added to your HTML to help Google and other search engines read, understand and represent your content more accurately. This means it’s better for users as they will get more relevant results. If you implement structured data, your pages may become eligible to be shown with an enhanced appearance in Google search results.
Speaker: Izzi Smith, Sixt Car Hire
Speaker: Emily Potter, Distilled Ltd.
Speaker: Kenichi Suzuki, Faber Company Inc.
User experience (UX) is quickly becoming vital for SEO and to gain prime visibility on Google’s search results, site speed should be one of your main focuses. You could have the most engaging and relevant content in all the land, but if it’s on a slow website, then you won’t reach that #1 spot on Google. The best practice to aim for is a 3 second load time and it’s clear that most sites are missing this mark.
So how do you speed your site up? There are many ways, but just a few are:
- Strip out content you don’t need or that doesn’t offer any value
- Don’t use large imagery
- Optimise existing imagery
- Build serverless applications
We also learnt about Lighthouse, which is a tool that runs audits on site accessibility, performance, search optimisation and speed. It highlights any areas for improvement and gives you a handy list of recommendations!
Speaker: Rachel Costello, DeepCrawl
Speaker: Polly Pospelova, Delete Agency
Russia and China
If you and your company need to be visible in international markets, you need to keep your eyes peeled for the tools that the country uses.
For example, there’s a huge opportunity in China with the amount of highly populated megacities and the younger part the population being immensely digitised. They use a social media app called ‘WeChat’, which is used for messaging as well as paying bills, sharing content, listening to music and playing games. With all these functionalities, it would be silly not to get on board with WeChat marketing.
Meanwhile, in Russia, they offer a huge untapped market with 76% of the population using the internet (giving you an audience of 109 million) for an average of 6.5 hours a day – yes please! What is interesting here as well is that unlike the UK, most users are on desktop (68% to give you a stat) rather than mobile. This is because Yandex, their most popular search engine, hasn’t been given access to Android phones.
Talk: Embrace WeChat Marketing
Speaker: Christina Xu, China Marketing Corp
Speaker: Anna Milburn, Webcertain
Your own website can be the most valuable tool for increasing your rankings. How? Internal links of course! We learnt that to get the most out of them, you need to use ‘money phrases’ rather than ‘branded phrases’, because they’re generic terms people actually search for so just give them what they want.
Sitemaps are another crucial element to getting your website ranked. A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos and other files on your site and the relationships between them. Search engines read this file to crawl your site more intelligently as it’s your way of telling them which parts of your website are most important.
Finally, closing content gaps and optimising existing content rather than creating new content is another sure way to secure high rankings. It’s important to think of search intent when optimising existing content and extract real search volume from Google Adwords.
Speaker: Razvan Gavrilas, cognitiveSEO
SEO has the potential to be at the centre of all decision making, but digital marketers often feel that too much time is being wasted cleaning up everyone’s mess.
If your company implements Search Presence Intelligence (SPI), then you’ll be using bigger data that is readily available and is more representative to what your customer is searching, shining a light on demand, behaviour and the marketplace in general.
This places a special emphasis on staying away from jargon and actually thinking about what your customer is looking for when naming a product. SEO can work and benefit every team if understood and used correctly.
Just to add to the arm-long list of ranking factors is UX. Search engines demand that you give users the best online experience as possible so if you tick that box, then you’ll get to the top of search results.
Here are a few tips:
- Meet user needs
- Optimise speed, relevancy and results
- Build for all devices
- Think about user intent
- Be aware of Google algorithm changes
- Test, test, test!
Speaker: Stephan Bajaio, Conductor
This topic was interesting as the talks highlighted the importance of restructuring websites to improve indexability. Indexing is the process of adding crawled pages to the search engine index and it’s our job to ensure that websites are structured in a logical way so that crawlers or robots can index what we want.
Some clear takeaways include:
- Have clear, user-defined categories, menus and navigation breadcrumbs
- User best practice footers with high-level sitemap structure
- Use canonical tags
- Implement XML sitemaps
- Include internal linking
- Fix any 404s and ensure appropriate redirects are in place
- Tackle site structure and technical issues first, before any other strategy commences
Speaker: Areej AbuAli, Verve Search
Speaker: Anders Riise Koch, Datawords
Speaker: Robin Eisenberg, Botify
It’s of no surprise to digital marketers that to win the SEO game, you need to beat the competition. This involves being a stalker and constantly keeping an eye on what content they’re publishing. No matter the size of your business, there will always be others who are doing interesting and valuable things that satisfy your common customer’s needs that you’ve not thought of.
In addition to doing keyword research, it’s also important to check out page and content types your competitors are using and then match this to search intent to establish how to persuade your users to click on your result rather than theirs.
Speaker: Lana Burgess, Lana Burgess Ltd.
Speaker: Alexandre Sigoigne, Myposeo
A type of content that people don’t often think about are podcasts, which are currently booming within the marketing industry. They provide a vital channel for brands to connect with consumers straight through their ears, who are then more likely to buy your product or service.
This brings us nicely onto brand voice, which will help you communicate your organisational personality to your audience. With so much competition out there, it’s your brand’s voice that will set you apart and that’s when you will start to see your SEO efforts paying off.
Speaker: Corinne Card, Full Story Media
Speaker: Bethany Joy, Bethany Joy
Speaker: Shannon McGuirk, Aira Digital
Anyone can take inspiration from fake news to create content that brings great exposure to their business and has the potential to go viral. It’s all about attracting attention and gaining hyperlinks, which can be done by doing things, such as launching fake products and then just watching as the uproar takes place. However, there are things to consider carefully, such as making sure your client trusts you and making the news as authentic as possible. Finally and above all, make it funny!
58% of people also said that online marketing has no influence on their buying habits, but introducing games into your marketing just may grab their attention. However, for this to be effective, it needs to be part of a well planned digital strategy, link-worthy and suited to your target audience. In addition, you must identify and consider various campaign goals, such as data collection, before starting to develop your game.
Speaker: Oliver Brett, Screaming Frog
Speaker: Sam Morton, Click Intelligence
Speaker: Becky Simms, Reflect Digital
What the hell is Chrome Puppeteer? That was our first thought!
It’s one for developers and technical SEO experts, but basically, it’s a node library that provides high-level APIs to control headless Chrome (Chrome without a user interface), meaning you can operate it directly through your machine’s command line. It’s not for the faint-hearted!
Chrome Puppeteer can be installed on your server so it can be provided with a list of URLs to work through and render how they would appear in Google – magic!
Speaker: Nils De Moor, Woorank
Speaker: Tom Pool, BlueArray
Speaker: Mike Osolinski, Edit
Being a full-service digital marketing agency with international clients, we were excited about this talk. The guest speakers highlighted the importance of translation, duplicate content, keyword mapping and technical fixes.
Key learnings include:
- If you use local translators, Google will read the content as separate entities. It’s important to translate content for SEO, because a keyword in one language may mean something different in another.
- Keyword mapping in any language is important if you are dealing with international clients. For example, keep your core keyword in the centre of your map and spout off different variations in languages to come up with the best-translated alternative.
- Adding local context to content will make it 10x more impactful. If you are talking about a restaurant franchise in Paris, don’t just translate the UK version, talk about its surroundings and what makes it unique to Paris.
Speaker: Valentine Lacour, Webcertain
Speaker: Mauro Cattaneo, Webcertain
Late Afternoon Sessions
Future of Search
With Google’s forever changing algorithm and the constantly evolving digital landscape, the future of search returns endless possibilities.
Voice search is here, but it’s still evolving. The future is about new devices, such as watches, fridges and lights. However, there is currently no way to measure voice search results or your SEO success…yet. Google is probably measuring this in beta in analytics, but haven’t yet given it to users to play with.
On the topic of new devices, Samsung has just patented the smart contact lens, which measures the level of sugar in your teas and sends a notification to your phone for diabetics. Wow.
Speaker: Chris Liversidge, QueryClick
Speaker: Patrick Reinhart, Conductor / WeWork
Google used to consolidate a series of pages into 1 main page, but not anymore. Instead, paginated pages are now indexed separately, meaning that they need unique content, URLs, internal links and more.
It’s important to now get this right in order to improve search rankings because 85% of sites with infinite scroll don’t meet basic search criteria. If you don’t give your multiple pages these essential elements, Google will water down your rankings.
Another key learning is for the e-commerce industry. When you run out of stock of a product, don’t just show a 404 page. Not only does this give your user a rubbish experience, but it also loses link juice, harming your search rankings. Instead, keep the content that’s on the page, display that it’s out of stock and offer your customer a similar alternative. That way, you still get ranked and your customer gets pointed to somewhere else on your site – it’s a win-win situation!
For more tips on how to optimise your online shop, read our guide!
Speaker: Adam Gent, DeepCrawl
Speaker: François Goube, OnCrawl
A huge part of digital PR is getting in contact with the media and pitching your content. But with so much competition out there for a journalist to choose from, how do you stand out from the crowd and make sure that it’s your email pitch they open?
There are a few best practices to follow:
- Don’t use a template and bulk send – they can spot this a mile off!
- Subject line: Tell them exactly what you’re offering
- Adapt to the publication’s tone of voice
- First paragraph – who, what, why, where and when
- Second paragraph – content and methodology
- Include notes for the editors (more info about your company, any awards you’ve won etc – basically hooks you want to mention that isn’t relevant to your content)
- Don’t forget your contact details
- Follow up after a few days
- Include links to more information
- Triple check for spelling and grammar
All of these can be implemented quickly and easily and are super effective! Remember, if your content impresses the reader, it’ll impress the journalist too.
Speaker: Alex Judd, Grayling
Speaker: Chris Lee, Eight Moon
Think Python is just for developers? Think again! The programming language can actually help automate a lot of SEO tasks. For example, you can build code that can reduce the time of analysing crawl data by 66%. What usually takes 1 hour of manual work, Python can do it in 20 minutes, meaning you can get on with other stuff – result!
Another example is something that all digital marketers do: keyword research. It takes you 4 hours to do it. It takes Python 1 hour to do. It’s a no brainer!
Speaker: Sabine Langmann, Pwned by Myself
Speaker: Max Coupland, Type A Media
Speaker: Benjamin Goerler, Ayima
At the end of the day, we were treated to an insightful interview of John Mueller, who is a Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google. We came away with some interesting impressions about how Google operates, such as his team isn’t entirely sure how to gauge its success, CTR isn’t used to adjust individual results (merely to adjust the algorithm overall) and that Google has an internal emergency procedure entertainingly titled ‘OMG!’
With so many talks to attend, BrightonSEO is definitely not something you should go to on your own. We found the day immensely insightful and are excited to implement our learnings to your campaigns. We also want to send out a huge thank you to those who organised the conference and made it such a roaring success. Bring on September!