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Brighton SEO Spring 2022: Highlights from the Event

27/04/2022
A 7 minute read

Five of the Evolved team attended the Brighton SEO spring event with members representing all of the SEO Team along with our Head of SEO, Ryan Ogilvie. The team went to the incredible talks and Q&A sessions as well as visited the exhibitions, met some of their industry colleagues, and kept their eyes peeled for SEO celebrities (yes, it’s a thing!) like Google’s John Mueller.

To sum things up, each of our attendees has pulled together their key highlights from the event, so if you missed the Brighton SEO Spring 2022 event and want to catch up (or know which talks to access online), this is the post for you. 

Ellie Morgan and Steph Holmes from our Digital PR team

First up, we have Ellie Morgan, Digital PR Consultant:

Maciej Wroblewski – Implement Digital PR into your SEO strategy before it’s too late

This was my first talk at the conference and it was a great start to the 2 days. Maciej set the tone for the growing Digital PR world by explaining that 79% of SEOs now consider digital PR to be a key part of their SEO strategy. This showed how quickly the industry is moving and that if you are one of the remaining 21%, you need to move quickly to keep up. 

He explained that of those that have Digital PR in their SEO strategy, 70% do it for backlinks, 52% for increasing brand awareness, and only 26% said media mentions are important (citations). He talked about how he felt mentions (citations) will be gaining more value in future in ranking factors. 

Alex Hickson – How to go viral on a budget

My next talk was Alex Hickson’s on how he went viral on a budget. Alex went into detail about how he pushed his homemade product, ‘The 2020 scent candle’, to press on his own with his Digital PR knowledge. He explained that we as PRs need to think about the emotion we want to evoke from our audience with our pitches because it is a story.

He also talked about trend cycles. We can utilise the free tools out there, such as Google Trends, to find when our products are talked about the most, and then plan to release our product pr campaigns a month or two before his spike.

Another great tip was to uncover your target audience by using Google Analytics to identify the demographic profile of visitors, as well as social media platforms to see gender, location, age and so on.

Rebecca Moss – ‘Product, Service and Category Page Links (and how to get them)’

This was a really insightful talk uncovering how we as PRs can get more topically relevant links. This is something we are very clued up on at Evolved, so it was really interesting to see how other PR agencies are doing this.

To step away from homepage links we need to push priority page links by using the following formula: Trend + expert comment and/or data. Rebecca said that 56% of the links they build with this formula are directed towards product/service or category pages rather than the homepage.

She said we as PRs need to understand the difference between priority landing pages and keywords vs. blogs that make a good story. If a page is good for a PR story, it doesn’t always mean it’s good for generating leads, especially if it’s not a popular page with your client’s audience.

She said, “Audience first not link first”. If the page is of interest to your target audience you are going to generate more traffic and therefore conversions with your link, which after all is always going to be the client’s aim. This is when link numbers are no longer the priority, but the relevancy and strength of the link. Rebecca claimed, “30 links to a page allowed traffic to increase 2404%.”

Steph Holmes and Cade Whitfield (Technical SEO Consultant)

Next, we have Digital PR Consultant, Steph Holmes:

Maddie Davis: Using Digital PR strategies to widen your target audience

Before there was a mad dash for the train we got to hear another three digital PR talks, the first of those was from Maddie, doing her first talk. I was interested in how she was using the audience to define which campaigns she was doing; she used an example of the motoring sector and how she went about finding their demographic and what campaigns and target publications would suit this, this piqued my interest due to our Automotive clients and I’m always looking for new ways we could come up with ideas in this sector.

She used the below to define where her target audience is, so she could use this before ideation.

  • Demographics: Household and location
  • Scenarios: Where they find themselves in
  • Attitudes – Outlook on life, ethics, culture etc. 
  • Behaviours – What do they do

Having a specific demographic that is aligned with the clients, means targeting publications they want to achieve links on, while also providing niche, relevant SEO value as the backlinks are where their target audience would read. 

Aaron Rudman- Hawkins: The uncomfortable  truth about link building 

This was an interesting talk to listen to from a Digital PR perspective, as one of the opening lines was that for the majority of us “digital PR and link building just isn’t working”. As someone who works in PR, I was immediately interested in why it wasn’t working and how others were feeling in the industry. Aaron pointed out the vast amount of PR agencies, as well as in-house teams, are all targeting the same journalists, and with heightened client demands and link targets to keep to, loose ideas were being outreached to just keep clients happy.

Aaron has searched for PR jobs across the country where there were over 3,000 PR roles going. With the extra demand for PR roles and client expectations, he outlined how content can play a vital role, and not relying solely on outreach for your strategies.

Aaron started by analysing link profiles of the top three competitors of all his clients, and saw not many of them had the top tier 1 coverage you’d expect to see, but instead had the usual directories and lower DA sites. He highlighted for the dozen of links that they saw for tier 1 sites, that there had been a lot of resources but into achieving those few links. 

Aaron mentioned the link reality for clients  – As they’d done this to avoid wasting time and budget, looked and what clients needed most and what would add the most value. 

One of the things I took away from this is he said “Highly relevant links are rare, don’t beat yourself up when you don’t get one.” I think this just reminded me to celebrate our wins, and not take for granted some of the fantastic links we get, as they are relevant, super niche links are hard and it’s acceptable to say that.

While PR seems to be working for us as a strategy for our clients it was mind-opening to see how a content-led approach could be more beneficial for clients rather than a full SEO strategy. Aaron said he’d built fewer than 10 links to clients in 15 months, and that the content approach they’d used meant links were coming in naturally due to focused keywords and optimised pages. We have amazing content writers at Evolved so it was nice to get a perspective from their side of things on how content strategies also play a part in the whole process. 

David Atkinson, Ryan Ogilvie and Steph Holmes

Up next is David Atkinson from our Content team with his pick of the conference:

How they teach you to be creative at Google – Max Hoppy

One of the key talks I attended was by Max Hoppy, the Co-Founder of Bind, who shared what he learned when he went on a creativity workshop whilst working at Google.

The atmosphere is everything for creativity

From survey results, Max revealed that most people say they come up with their ideas when exercising, showering, or walking the dog rather than at their computer whilst being distracted by emails, messages, etc.

He went on to say when attending the Google seminar on creativity, he and his team were taken away from the stresses of work to a farm, adding that a busy brain isn’t a creative brain.

He finished by saying that atmosphere is everything for creativity and this should be considered when brainstorming new ideas.

This resonated with me and highlighted the importance of setting specific time aside for ideation, away from everyday work distractions.

Use the three Rs

Max’s talk focused on using the three Rs for creativity: related words, revolution and random links:

Related worlds – Think about what is at the core of your challenge or problem, about where the problem has been solved before and then jump into that world and look for creative solutions.

He used the example of Speedo, which wanted to create a product to help swimmers move faster in the water. They thought about sharks and found out that the skin was built up of layered scales and replicated this for swimwear, creating a “shark suit”. It worked so well that the suits were later banned in competitive swimming.

Revolution

  • Make a list of all the rules for your challenge
  • Pick one rule and break it
  • Use the revolution as a stimulus to think differently.

Max gave the example of KPMG, a professional services network, who reviewed their waiting rooms moving from a professional waiting room with copies of the Financial Times. They decided to swap out the FT for the latest copy of The Beano and added sweets to show they’re a company who don’t take themselves too seriously.

Random links – take something completely random – think about your problem – force the things to connect.

The example given was for an American retailer called Abt which sells electronics. They forced a connection to Las Vegas and have taken to travelling there for decor inspiration and have turned their shop into a little version of the iconic desert city with fountains, bright lights, sweet shops and more to draw people in and compete against the likes of Amazon.

Separate expansive and reductive thought

Max finished his talk with his golden rule for creativity: to separate expansive and reductive thought.

He advised it’s best to start off with more people, thinking of ideas that aren’t limited by what you’re able to actually do. Then, the following day, reduce the number of people for the reductive side. This helps to avoid stifling creativity.

Recently promoted to Technical SEO Consultant, Cade Whitfield shares his Brighton SEO learnings.

Kara Thurkettle – ‘Search in the Metaverse’

Having a keen interest in all things virtual including crypto-currency, NFTs, digital collectables and more this was certainly a talk I looked forward to and Kara definitely didn’t disappoint. 

With the curiosity of the metaverse constantly growing and Organisations like Google, Facebook and Microsoft investing millions into ongoing projects and funds to support their efforts in virtual and augmented reality, there is no doubt that this topic will be a gamechanger for all things SEO.

Introduction to the Metaverse

Kara started the talk by giving a simple explanation of the metaverse focusing on what a parallel reality actually is, with an emphasis on digital encounters and objects and how its purpose is centred around creating immersive experiences for users. This was followed by more detail surrounding the current metaverses that exist and the problems faced. Traditionally the intentions of the metaverse were to have a single virtual world, however, due to a wide array of competition and variations in technology this is becoming increasingly difficult and provisions will have to be made moving forward to fulfil the original ideology of 100% integration.

How are these technologies impacting search?

This part of the talk is where the bulk of valuable information was held on what the current opportunities are and the potential in search moving forward. Kara started by highlighting the current technology in place and how it’s impacting search right now.

Google Lens

This allows users to literally search what they see, taking an image captured and directing you straight to the relevant product or information. This doesn’t only create focus on presenting multiple accurate images for products but also highlights the importance of image optimisation techniques like keyword-focused alt-text.

AR & VR

Users can now place 3D objects in their own space directly from search meaning simply offering a 3D model of products is vital. Furthermore, this also creates more depth to how we currently view FAQs, PAA and general search queries as questions involving sizing for example can be answered through a virtual representation.

Virtual Shopping 

The fashion industry, in particular, has seen, in my opinion, the most progression from the examples given. Projects such as style.me offer a far more detailed shopping experience taking into account aspects like virtual fitting and sizing which can be the make or break decision when shopping online, in turn offering the potential for marketers to massively reduce return rates.

Why should we care as SEOs?

This section is where I gained the most insight into the potential the Metaverse offers moving forward, not just in my role and work as a tech SEO but also on how much it’s going to change everyday interactions and experiences with the web as we know it. 

User Experience

Instead of the basic user path we know and love, the Metaverse holds a completely new level of search and interaction. Replacing SERPs, we could see the use of virtual shops and businesses that specifically relate to the service or product a user has inquired about, presented to them through VR creating a surreal first-person shopping experience. This combined with personal AI shopping that integrates past searches, purchases and specific sizing results in an interactive and personalised experience.

This completely changes the definition of search and has the potential to almost eliminate the need for manual search and enquiry processes we’ve spent years analysing.

ROI & Conversion Rates

With changes to the way we shop online comes the equal opportunity for how we tackle CRO. From introducing a more physical experience in the metaverse through Web 3.0 comes the opportunity for a more in-depth analysis of physical stimuli and movement, which is a massive step from heatmaps. Obviously, the data in question can only be gathered with permission but it has the potential to completely alter the stance we take on the psychological elements of a user’s shopping experience and tendencies. 

Brand Strategies & Exposure

Kara’s focal point for brand exposure was advertising variations that sculpt a sense of belonging to brands through more aesthetically pleasing interactions in the Metaverse. In-game and in-world adverts now have the opportunity to interact and communicate personally with their target market, putting more emphasis on in-app purchases such as cosmetics. She also called attention to the integration of NFTs into brand techniques with the likes of Nike already taking advantage of this to increase exposure and loyalty. 

One significant take that Kara featured in her talk was the testing and research costs that could be saved through the Metaverse. She suggested that brands can use the metaverse as a marketing tool for new products before release, by allowing users to actively test a product virtually it reduces supply costs and also gives companies further data and feedback on a product before it’s even released. In addition to this, the data from these tests can be used to understand viral activity as well as where improvements can be made internally regarding content changes and the introduction of new landing pages to the current SEO strategy.

To conclude Kara’s talk had it all from the basics of the metaverse to valuable information regarding actual implementation, allowing a depth of knowledge for all levels of understanding. I look forward to reading her whitepapers that follow her talk in the upcoming weeks.  

And finally, we have Ryan Ogilvie, Head of SEO, a seasoned veteran of Brighton SEO and a Brighton local.

I’ve been attending BrightonSEO for many years (I’m old enough to remember the days when it was in a pub!) and have always enjoyed what the event has to offer both from a learning and social side. This April’s event was a reminder of how big our industry is and it was great to see so many new attendees and see all of the insights people were sharing on Twitter.

As we’re currently hiring for the Technical SEO Lead role I used the conference as an opportunity to meet a few potential candidates and discuss the opportunity. I also caught up with a few people that I haven’t seen since before the first lockdown to chat about SEO in 2022 and how different companies are tackling similar challenges in different ways.

 It just goes to show that BrightonSEO offers value beyond the talks that are being delivered during the course of the conference and is one of the key reasons why I try to attend at least once a year!

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