A Beginner’s Survival Guide
I joined the Reflect Digital team about 3 months before our visit to the country’s biggest SEO conference. My knowledge was limited, but I really wanted to make the most of the day by taking in as much as I could. Initially, I had no idea what to expect, so I’m hoping this guide will help other newbies like myself on their first visit to the event.
What is BrightonSEO?
In short, the day consists of a number of speakers in different rooms, discussing various SEO and PR related topics. Attendees can choose a slot, listen to their talk and ask any questions they feel relevant. Between these talks, visitors have the opportunity to look around stands, where representatives from digital marketing tools and other companies share their knowledge and give out lots of freebies. It’s an opportunity to network but most importantly learn something new.
The event is quite crowded and can seem overwhelming at times given the amount of knowledge you take in, but it’s totally worth it! Listening to industry leaders share their advice is a fantastic learning opportunity for even the most experienced SEOs - so make the most of it.
Tips to benefit from Brighton SEO
- Plan your day in advance. To make the most of your day you should plan in advance. Use the app to set reminders for the events or look online to discover the agenda. This will help the day run smoother and you won’t miss any talks you’re interested in.
- Don’t move talks within sessions. Although this isn’t explicitly mentioned by BrightonSEO, common practice and courtesy are that once you pick a room, you remain in each session until it ends. This is to prevent disruptions and over-crowding of rooms. You might even learn something completely unexpected.
- Get there in plenty of time. The queue can be huge as it approaches 10 am. Therefore, you should try and get there as early as you can to avoid missing any talks. It gives you time to relax, network and gather your thoughts before the long day ahead.
- Make notes. Although the presentations are posted online, along with audio recordings starting this year, it’s important to take notes. It increases your engagement, and you may get inspiration for a new question to ask at the end. For beginners, it’s useful to take note of any terminology you don’t understand so you can research it later.
- Take advantage of the freebies. The stands give the conference a festival vibe where SEO products and tools advertise their services, answer any questions and give out merchandise. You might return to the office with a few t-shirts, a stress ball and several pens, but you’ll also gain some insights into the tools too.
- Be Sociable. It is easy to feel daunted by such a large event, but BrightonSEO is a good time to network with people that can benefit your company, answer any questions, or even help you progress into the next stage in your career.
- Try something new. Visiting a range of speakers throughout the day will allow you to develop your skill set in areas in which you’re unfamiliar. Go to talks that genuinely interest you, not those which you’re expected to go to because you specialise in a particular area. After all, Brighton SEO gives the 3,500 attending the chance to come together and learn something new.
My Personal experience of Brighton SEO speakers
Everyone at Reflect digital decided to visit the areas they were most interested in, and because of this, we managed to attend a diverse range of different talks. I listened to 4 speakers throughout the day- here’s how it went…
10:00 am: Technical SEO
As a newbie to the industry, I decided that this talk would be most useful to me. I was proud to start the day attending ‘Technical SEO Audit Top Tips for Beginners’, presented our Head of SEO Helen Pollitt. She discussed the various technical aspects required to optimise a site. Although I’m not particularly tech-savvy, I learned a lot about how to take advantage of existing tools and using my initiative when facing issues with a site.
Other speakers in the session included Chris Boyd, on ‘How to optimise for visual search’ that discussed the role imagery and visuals will play in future SEO. Images can be optimised by creating original content to contribute to the improvement of site rankings. Charlie Marchant then discussed her company’s link building success tips and tricks by explaining their own in-depth case studies.
11:45 am: SEO Tools
I was really interested in exploring the array of tools available to digital marketers, their costs and value to the industry. This insight into how other companies analyse information is useful in developing a competitive advantage as well as developing my skill set.
The highlight of the session was Grant Simmons, presenting ‘The Batman SEO toolbelt to vanquish Google's SERP’ - his insightful and entertaining address on how to perfect keyword research. His key point was that marketers must consolidate, filter and focus their approach for ultimate success.
14:30 pm: Link building
After a delicious lunch in town, I decided to attend the link building session in the most crowded location of the day. Here, Laura Hogan shared her guidance on what makes successful link building, including taking advantage of broken links, traditional backlink analysis and using reverse image search. The process can be grueling but is ultimately beneficial for a business.
16:10 pm: Migration
This session was the least beneficial to me as a relative beginner. The speakers discussed the technical aspects of a migration and the common mistakes made, using their companies as examples. As I am new to SEO, I found the technical aspect difficult to understand and unsuitable for my knowledge level. My ultimate takeaway from the talk was that migrations are only successful if communication remains consistent within a team.
My key takeaways from Brighton SEO
Attending the event, I realised the importance of networking within the SEO industry. Sharing knowledge and tips doesn’t reduce competitiveness or spoil trade secrets, but rather increases the competitiveness of the industry and inspires SEO professionals to be more creative in their roles.
I also discovered that there’s no correct way to do things in the industry. Despite there being some guidelines, using trial and error in SEO is a lot more commonplace than I initially thought. Focusing my knowledge in more areas like technical SEO and linking building is going to assist me in performing my job, so I’m looking forward to applying the knowledge I’ve learnt at BrightonSEO this year.