What we learned from Brighton SEO 2018
Mike - Stream: Personal Development
The Brighton SEO September 2018 edition was a special occasion as our very own Helen Pollitt took to the stage. It was great to see a Reflect Digital talk at Brighton SEO - long may it continue.
So what did we learn? Apart from the learning that DeepCrawl offer some excellent giveaways (t-shirts and beer are always a winner), there were some great takeaways from the ‘Personal Development’ trio of talks. This section sounded promising, as the ‘personal’ side of digital marketing hadn’t been covered as a topic in any previous Brighton SEO talks I’d been to. I was interested to learn some techniques for thriving in the fast-paced industry we’re in. Whilst this content wasn’t exactly what was covered in these talks, there were still some great takeaways.
First talk: Why failure should be an option for all of us? - Arianne Donogue
Arianne spoke candidly about the struggles she has faced on the road to a great career as a digital marketer. She addressed the need to take risks and fail frequently to learn the lessons from that failure. This talk was great for anyone just starting out in digital marketing or in any career for that fact. For those of us that have been in digital marketing for a while, there were some great lessons that we can apply to our work.
- There is always space to try new things. SEO is always changing and whilst core strategies remain the same, if you don’t change and adapt to updates and new features, you’ll be left behind. When it comes to trying new things, you may feel reluctant at first. It’s easy to get stuck in the mindset of ‘this is how I’ve always done things’ however, we should never stop trying to improve and refine our practices, or even set our own ‘best practice.’
- Persistence is key. It’s common in SEO to fall upon ‘hard times’ in a particular project when it’s not all record months and great ROI. Fluctuation is an expected part of every SEO project and something I’ve experienced in every SEO project I’ve worked on to date. Persistence to stick through the tough times is key to a favourable outcome in the long term.
Second talk: Keeping your wits while working in Digital marketing? - Steve Hammer
- Steve highlighted the dangers of our industry when it comes to mental health. He spoke openly about his struggles after winning a search award for the best agency. This shows that even if you’re successful, you can suffer from mental health issues. Steve has set up a private online community dedicated to helping the industry share and support each other.
- We work hard - We’re in a high-pressure industry, with deadlines constantly looming. It’s easy to fall into a burnout situation, especially for entrepreneurs. Work-life balance is crucial. This week Reflect Digital starts a 4-day workweek designed to give us a better work-life balance so this message is a timely one.
- Take care of yourself so you can take care of your clients - yes, on the face of it, we work for money, however, if we dig deeper we actually work in service to our clients. Our aim is to help our clients enhance their businesses and in turn, their lives. Not looking after your mental or physical health is doing a disservice to our clients so there is no shame in taking time to work on these aspects of our lives. When we’re not at our best health, we can’t produce our best work!
Third talk: How to build an e-commerce business off SEO? - Ricky Whiting
As a ‘side hustle’ evangelist, this was the most interesting talk of the session. Ricky talked us through his journey of having the idea to create a small online store run from the third bedroom of his house, all the way through to its now global success. Ricky talked us through the practical steps he took to building an SEO friendly e-commerce store to rank well in an underdeveloped niche. As well as Itty Bitty Boutique, he now runs a digital agency aimed at helping business in the local area to grow their online visibility.
- The ‘Minimal viable product’ is enough to get going - sometimes we concern ourselves with perfection. Ricky’s talk highlighted that we don’t have to have the finished article ready before it ‘works’. We don’t have to have it all figured out and ‘invest big’ when starting a new campaign, blog post, outreach strategy or online business. You just need to get something live and prove the concept before you go all out. Sometimes just starting and working it out / refining the project as you go along is the best strategy to overcome decision paralysis.
- The Internet opens doors and endless possibilities to provide value to more people. This business was set up as Ricky was still working full time. This just highlighted that there is always an opportunity to serve a wide number of people, even if you’re not physically present.
Frankie - SERP Stream
As my first BrightonSEO, it was great to get an opportunity to learn from some leading practitioners in the industry - plus pick up some freebies!
As a newbie, it was so difficult picking my streams for the day, and while some talks sadly didn’t live up to their promise, the SERP stream definitely delivered.
Throughout the whole day, there was definitely a strong emphasis on SERPs being the future of SEO. With more information and answers being provided to users on SERPs than ever before, speakers throughout the whole day stressed the need to optimise for SERP visibility. The SERP stream tackled this head-on.
SEO Without Traffic - Hannah Thorpe
Kicking off the stream was Hannah Thorpe from Found, speaking on how SEOs need to drive awareness, specifically brand awareness in SERPs, and how best to achieve visibility.
Hannah had some really strong takeaways from her talk. This included suggesting SEOs think higher up the funnel, simplify content, use structured data, think about why they deserve to rank, and finally urging SEO's to always be user-centric.
Practical Insights into Winning Featured Snippets - Izzi Smith
Next was Izzi Smith from Sixt rent a car, who spoke specifically on how to win prized featured snippets. This was a practical talk, with advice on how to structure content to maximise the possibility of winning a featured snippet.
Izzi identified featured snippet gold - queries that have both transactional and informational intent. Further to this, she stressed the importance of targeting queries with a high click-through intent, the difference between holistic and specific landing pages and when to use them.
One valuable takeaway was how SEOs might look structure articles to target different types of featured snippets, a structure I’ll definitely take a closer look at as it applies to my own clients.
Indexation, Cannibalization, Experimentation, Oh My! - Patrick Reinhart
Aside from our own Helen Pollitt, Patrick’s talk was my favourite of the day. It was engaging and entertaining, touching on his own experiences and experiments with indexing and cannibalization for his clients at Conductor.
Patrick’s talk was very focused on the subjects of indexation and cannibalization, and he asked SEOs to look more closely at these elements to improve organic visibility. His examples were convincing and really showed the impact best practice indexing and cannibalization can have on organic performance.
Donna - Content Strategy
It’s that time again, twice a year we at Reflect Digital attend the ever-brilliant Brighton SEO event that takes place in the heart of Brighton. And yet again, Kelvin Newman smashed it with the talks that took place across the 7 stages in the venue, including our very own Head of SEO, Helen Pollitt.
I, unfortunately, didn’t get to see Helen in all her glory on the stage at 10 am as I attended the Content Marketing section in Auditorium 1 followed closely by Content Strategy.
The Content Strategy section discussed the following:
- Data Journalism: A practical guide to winning big links by Ross Tavendale @rtavs,
- Getting Millennials’ Attention on Social Media by Sarah Bradley @sarahmbradley,
- How to Use Live Video in Content Marketing by Bobbi Brant @bobbibrant.
This section proved to be highly informative and useful with some practical tips, information and up to date advice for everyone that attended.
A word we have been hearing a lot of lately is the term ‘Millennials.’ By now we should all know who is categorised under this terminality and understand that it can be a great target audience for many businesses today.
Sarah Bradley’s presentation on Getting Millennial’s Attention on Social Media discussed a variety of ways in which businesses could target this demographic. As a general rule, millennials are reliant on technology with a love for apps and social media, therefore if your business fails to use social media well and to its full advantage, this demographic may not take you seriously.
In addition to this, attention spans of millennials whilst using technology are limited and they can be very impatient with pages loading, therefore, it is extremely important to note that desktop websites, mobile sites and apps load quickly, efficiently and correctly to avoid losing a potential client or sale. Millennials tend to know exactly what they want and want it fairly quickly.
Strong content is key, particularly on social media. It is all too easy to provide information on social media platforms that are either irrelevant or pointless for the audience. Begin to understand your audience and tailor social posts, updates and information to your audience in order to get a better response to posts or ads.
Areas of interest for millennials are race, gender and income equality. This demographic are sophisticated decision makes who want important changes to be made towards equality for the future. This includes positive mental health, a celebration of differences, change-focused and diets such as the rise in adopting a vegan diet and making positive changes towards the environment.
Gone are the days of accepting the unwritten rules society deems acceptable. Millennials are driven, excited and use technology to support positive changes. As you can tell this was a very insightful discussion and it is worth taking a look at the slides on Slideshare and listening to the audio recording of the talk.