The event that started in a room above a pub has come a hell of a long way. Thousands were queueing up well before the doors opened. Our day kicked off in Auditorium One with three sessions on Content Marketing.
Ross Tavendale from Pitchbox began with an insightful recount of its first large retainer of $50K generating zero links. The reason? The ideation sessions were too subjective. This led to them re-looking at the ideation framework and focus on data-led campaigns. The advice being that you need to ask the question: ‘Why are we doing this?’ Because the data said so. A simple and yet highly accurate statement.
Millennial attention through social media
Sarah Bradley was up next and gave insight into how brands can gain millennials attention through social media. These included being more personal, authentic and creating social responsibility infused content. Her view is that millennials are crying out for brands to ‘get to know them’. They respond to a ‘just ask us’ approach so focus on community management and give them the opportunity to influence the content. If you want to take it a step further, Bradley suggested handing over the reins to your social media or search for a week to the very people who you are selling to as a viable experiment.
Test. Analyze. Repeat.
Heading to Auditorium Two, I found a packed room with every chair and every centimeter of space taken by an audience truly engaged with the content on offer. JP Sherman from Redhat made the claim that ‘knowledge graphs are fun’. While this might be a stretch too far, the data does show that they perform. He gave the sage advice to measure the end results and then track it back. Test. Analyze. Repeat. If it fails, Test. Analyze. Repeat. Until it stops failing. Sound advice.
If the main stages drew in large crowds, the syndicate rooms were actually where the content became more detailed and educational. As CEO of Tug Nick Beck said: “The auditorium speakers might be pay to play but they do deliver solid sessions. However, the real insights come from the smaller stages where the focus is on delivering content which is detailed and educational. The undeniable fact is that BrightonSEO is still the place to be!”
Reported most useful SEO tools
The man who is famous for wearing an orange suit and writing ‘Spaghetti Code’ Christoph Cemper, gave a detailed list of the most useful SEO tools including:
- Google Search Console – see real rankings; see real DTR; get link data; combine link data
- Google Analytics – combine GA with Google search console; collect historical data
- Google Tag Manager – speed and tracking
- Keyword tool.io – comprehensive keyword database
- Keyword tracker.io – SEOmonitor.com. No fancy stuff
- XENU – errors; broken links; unlimited; free
- Screaming Frog – real free for up to 500 URLs
- Site bulb
- Yoast SEO – supports word press
- JSON -LD Tester –
- Structured Data Testing Tool
- HREF LANG Checker – free tool; make sure HREF language link to the right pages and check the ref of those
- JS – CSS Beautifier
- Link Clump
- User Agent Switcher – see cloaked stuff
- Keywords Everywhere – chrome extension; search volume; CPC; competitor
- Link Redirect Trace
- LRT Link Checker Extension
- LRT SEO Toolbar – shows SERP numbers; experts; SERP sorting; domain metrics and keyword rankings
- LRT Power Trust
SEO is about trust
Checklists were a common theme throughout BrightonSEO and Alex Rapallo, Digital Marketing Manager at Barclays Corporate Banking, summed it up: “The atmosphere here has a great social vibe without the expected corporate element. The content has been more checklist base this year and this lends itself to delivering more digestible takeaways to take back to the workplace. One of the overriding takeaways is that SEO is about trust. If you rank well in SEO, your brand is perceived as a more trustful company.”
Amazon SEO tools
Prabhat Shah from DaytoDayeBay gave another checklist session on Amazon SEO tools and why Amazon SEO matters. In fact, throughout the day, Amazon showed why it deserves it’s place in the trioply, as it was referenced more frequently throughout the event and eclipsed Google which was notably absent from the discussions and speaker content.
- Sonar – helps find the keywords that people search in keywords. See product relevancy visually; identify most searched keywords; show competitors
- Sellics – helps manage PPC campaigns on Amazon; what no of product is ranking; which page you’re ranking on; gets a list of converting and non-converting keywords
- Splitly – A/B testing for images, keywords, titles, and hidden keywords
- Helium IO Magnet
- Keyword tool. Io
- Amzdatastudio – helps to find out the keywords that are ranking other peoples’ products
- Amazon KW Index Checker – finds out if a particular keyword is ranking your product or not; bulk upload and search volume
- Jungle Scout – estimated bid price
- Misspelling Checker
This educationally led session was one of many during the event. David Stubbings, Senior Content Manager at Guinness World Records said:
“It’s about learning and getting an understanding of technical solutions that will benefit our SEO. I had an expectation that BrightonSEO would be more tech focused this year, What I have found is that it has provided more practical learning and has encouraged me to think differently.
SEO is more important than ever and one of the key reasons for this is voice activation, of which SEO has an obvious advantage in capitalizing.”
Future views of SEO and SERPs
The livener before lunch was the enigmatic Grant Simmons, VP at homes.com who stole the show with an interactive session on SEO toolbelt which will vanquish Google SERPs. From his claim that those who work in SEO are question engineers to his advice that success will come from questioning not why your competitor is above you, but what you are missing that is ranking you below them. Compare and contrast on each aspect from the snippet to the image to the title tag and improve on each area. If the juice isn’t worth the squeeze, don’t waste time on it. Filter and focus on what is important to your business.
The afternoon may not have had as many stand out sessions but there were plenty that provided future views of SEO and practical nuggets. Three sessions covered SERPs with the most interesting approach coming from Patrick Reinhart with Indexation, Cannibalization, Experimentation, Oh My! Oh my indeed as his views were strong and well presented. This session was one of many that were of a high standard.
Interactive content: harder for Google to cannibalize and more valuable to the user
Rand Fishkin closed the event with bullish statements such as “The harder a tactic becomes the more of a competitive advantage it gives us”. It seems like Rand’s relationship with Google has soured somewhat, and he definitely let that come across in his talk!
Fishkin presented a view that Google is ranking google-hosted sites more highly (sites where you can scroll through the site without ever having to leave the search engine results page). Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are now following suit – e.g. ranking blogs hosted on LinkedIn more highly than those hosted elsewhere. The intention of which is, of course, to keep you on that site, rather than directing you away. Fishkin did give some advice on how to respond.
Leverage every scrap of traffic google still sends to your site, use clickthrough rate estimates in keyword research, shift content marketing to keywords Google is less likely to cannibalize – longtail.
And the best advice of all is to “interactive content is the way to do content marketing in the future” – harder for Google to cannibalize and more valuable to the user.
“The harder this gets, the better we do.”
While Rand doesn’t like the way it’s going – he doesn’t think it’s right or ethical, he thinks it’s monopolizing – but “we live in the real world”. It is in this world that he offers solutions on what you can do to combat Google cannibalizing your SEO; control what appears for your brand – monitor the SERPs and Influence the publishers to get listed on other more highly ranking websites.
Rand is a short-term pessimist but a long-term optimist: “the harder this gets the better we do” and BrightonSEO was certainly the place where optimism was rife.
Veronica Irons, Head of Digital at Guinness World Records adds: “There are misconceptions about an event dedicated to SEO that it will be boring. The reality is that BrightonSEO is far from that. The quality of sessions has been exceptional and appeal to all disciplines. Ultimately, SEO is definitely something you can’t ignore.”
Not only is SEO something you can’t ignore. BrightonSEO is an event that cannot and should not be ignored. Until next year Brighton!
Neil Goddard is Head of SEO at Tug