I decided to start the day off with the Snippets and Schema stream in Auditorium 1. I was on the lookout for tips and tricks to gain extra visibility in SERPs, and was looking forward to seeing Izzi Smith’s talk in particular, who I saw at the last BrightonSEO.
Izzi’s talk focused on the positive benefits that can be gained from enriched SERP features and how you can get meaningful traffic as a result. Izzi clarified the types of enriched SERP features you should be aiming for, and the types of queries that are best suited to driving meaningful clicks.
A key highlight for me was learning about tactics for improving featured snippet images using Google Search Console.
Emily’s talk focused on her journey to secure featured snippets for her clients and the pitfalls and disappointments she faced along the way. From realising how fickle Google is with regard to who it rewards, to having her targeted featured snippets removed by Google, the talk was a really refreshing and critical look at this SERP feature.
Kenichi’s talk focused on the basics of structured data and schema and how it can be used to enrich search results. While the subject was familiar to me and I can’t say I learned anything, it was nice to have my knowledge confirmed by one of Japan’s top SEOs.
My day at Brighton SEO began in the Syndicate 3&4 room. There have been times in my job where things haven’t gone according to plan or we've had to re-think the approach. So I was super keen to hear the thoughts of Kat Kynes from Pole Star Digital.
After lunch, I headed to Meeting Room 1. Link Building is also a big part of Digital PR so Oliver Brett’s talk was really insightful as was our very own Becky Simms’ talk about Gamification.
Kat’s talk really struck a chord with me. I’ve been to many conferences now where you always hear about the amazing achievements agencies have had with their creative campaigns. But really what many fail to mention are the ones which don’t go so well. So it was really refreshing to listen to Kat talk so openly about her experiences of a campaign which went a little wrong and the tactics she used to turn it around.
The idea was great. Kat conducted a survey for a high profile company which did come back with some brilliant results. Unfortunately, though she decided to write around 8 press releases based on those results and send them out to many, many publications. Kat admitted she didn’t stay focused and spread the campaign to thinly. No publications were picking up the campaign and (like many of us!) she became deflated. However, in this talk, she told us how she resurrected the campaign by almost starting again and re-grouping. Thankfully this worked and she managed to get many links and coverage from top tier press (Oh and an industry award!)
My key takeaway from this talk was to remind myself to never give up!
My key takeaway from this talk was that it’s okay to spin the truth… a little! As a former journalist it’s in my blood to make sure everything I write is accurate and true. However Oliver’s talk reminded me that it’s okay to make things up a little to get results for your client. He spoke about his experiences of creating many viral news stories that got great exposure for a client with little budget. For example, he came up with the idea to create a solar powered LED panelled t-shirt for a client around the World Cup in Russia which allowed people to support England inside the stadiums but switched to the opponents flag so they stayed safe on their way home after the match. The client didn’t have these t-shirts - it was made up - but it got coverage in top tier press!
I wanted to sit in on Becky’s talk to hear first hand how she tells everyone about the great work the team at Reflect Digital do surrounding Gamification and how brands should embrace this modern form of marketing. My key takeaway from this was how awesome Reflect Digital is at delivering results for a client from coming up with the ideas for these interactive games to then outreaching them and getting those all important links!
I started my day off in the Ecommerce stream of talks in the ‘Syndicate 1&2’ room. As most of my clients historically and currently are ecommerce websites, I’m always looking for ways to improve, and things that can be transferred to a client website.
Link Building is something that these days require a creative mind, and so I was glad to pick up some decent advice from Oliver Brett’s talk later in the day.
Faye’s talk highlighted various ways to improve ecommerce conversion rates, from basics such as asking for customers to review products, through to things which can be overlooked in a user’s experience of a website - such as over-personalisation.
A good example was provided where the HP website displayed a banner for a new movie on their home page, but upon navigating to a laptops category, the home page would then display a laptops banner - not ideal if the customer changes their mind and clicks back because they’ve thought about it and now want to see the offer they were originally shown. It showed how personalisation can be great if used intelligently, but how easy it is to over-do it.
Alexandra’s talk was nicely backed up with data to prove her points, showing how Black Friday has grown in interest year on year. She provided tips from her own experience of running Black Friday campaigns, such as length of time to run a campaign, percentage of discounts, and what sort of website testing you need to do prior to launching a campaign.
For example, looking at server load, and pre-planning for the eventuality where one of your products or pages takes off and goes viral - you don’t want your website to be slow or down because of server capacity over a Black Friday sales weekend.
Oliver’s talk was my favourite for the day, as it really showed how thinking outside of the box can lead to great exposure for any brand - even a brand with a relatively dull product. For example, he had a client where they had bought in a lot of fake Star Wars merchandise. The coverage they received from how they turned this product into a news story, via some thoughtful photoshop work, was pretty impressive.
The key takeaway I had from this talk was about client communication. Without proper client communication, it’s impossible to come up with the sort of examples in Oliver’s talk without having this beforehand.
Being new to SEO, I found the idea of spending a day listening to experienced, expert SEOs quite exciting. My role at Reflect takes a content focus, so I decided to try out a mix of sessions that would enable me to expand on my knowledge of writing great content for SEO, as well as starting to increase that all-important technical SEO knowledge.
The first stream of talks focused on SERPs and their features - good or bad - and Izzi Smith explored how we can drive meaningful clicks and content interactions, which is something that is absolutely vital to my role. I can write content as much as I like, but if it doesn’t convert, something’s gone wrong.
Next, Emily Potter shared some interesting (and thorough) insights into her personal experiment which tested the effectiveness of the featured snippet, which I found particularly interesting. Emily was a great speaker with some really interesting data and insight into one of our favourite SERP features: as SEOs we’re told to go for the featured snippet, we want position 0 - but do we?
My focus for the afternoon turned to link building, which saw three very different talks - each with a different angle. The first, delivered by Screaming Frog’s Oliver Brett, was both amusing and thought-provoking, despite my initial uncertainty. When I saw that the focus of this talk would be on ‘How to Make Fake News for Links’, I felt initially unsure on whether this was something I could get on board with, but it was an interesting talk which gave me an alternative point of view or approach to link building - and a bit of entertainment.
Next we turned to our very own Becky Simms, who shared how gamification can be integrated into SEO strategy and used to drive backlinks within the media. This is something that I’ve already experienced in my time at Reflect, so I of course understand and advocate using gamification to drive SEO success.
My key takeaway from my first BrightonSEO is that your SEO strategy can and should still be creative - of course there are technical elements, some more complex than others, but ultimately we should be open and able to ‘think outside of the box’ with your SEO strategy, just as you would in other areas of creative marketing.
After the long, early morning drive, it was time for a cup of tea to prepare for the long day ahead. The mid-morning talk was a topic I was particularly unfamiliar with:
Presented by Julie Logan, this talk really opened my eyes when it comes to SEO assumptions. When discussing ‘search engines’ 95% of the time, you can assume an SEO is discussing Google. In actual fact, Bing is still extremely popular in several markets, and not optimising for this search engine is likely to mean that your client is missing out.
Bing matches Google, and often exceeds them in certain circumstances, particularly in accessibility and usability. Bing is also faster than Google. Although it may seem a bit ‘old school’ Bing is still a player that shouldn’t be forgotten.
The second speaker was Steff, who discussed her agency’s research into voice search, and whether content can specifically be created with this in mind. It’s essential that businesses look for opportunities where there is currently no competition, as this is where the real opportunity lies.
As a big advocate for voice search, it’s important to help the development of answer snippets by creating optimised content for this. You can do this through typical optimisations of on-page content, but also by creating 3rd party applications (apps) that takes the users through a journey.
As a regular to the SEO speaking scene, Dom discusses the benefits of blogging content specifically for users, not just targeting search volume phrases. Whether this is a technical guide, a meetup guide or something silly for users to share.
There are plenty of things that you can do to get your content noticed. Keep your content original, post at reasonable times, and create an innovative and creative social media sharing space that users will genuinely want to follow.