What did we learn from BrightonSEO 2016?

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From analysing data in order to improving your SERPs with SEO to using psychology to devise your content strategy, last weekend’s BrightonSEO had it covered. We take a look at the best bits from the online stream provided by Authoritas.com.

Future Proof

‘How And Why Ux Must Be Front And Centre to Your Technical Strategy’. Nichola Stott, Md Founder And Entrepreneur, TheMediaFlow.

Nichola’s presentation began by underlining some of the key differences in attitudes towards user experience from both Generation Z and Millenials. Some of the key discrepancies between the two included:
  • Millenials use 3 devices; Generation Z use 5
  • Millenials use social media although Generation Z prefer private messaging & Snapchat
  • Young adults spend between 11 and 25% less time on content
The key takeaway from this was that Generation Z are primarily concerned with getting to the object of their desires quickly when they are on a website, whether that is buying a product or reading a piece of content. Nichola went on to underline the importance of acting upon creating relevant user experiences due to the fact that 40% of all consumers will be this generation by 2020. Some of the key areas in which the talk underlined where businesses can react to ensure they are not left behind included:
  1. Be faster - Use Critical Path Analysis (CPA) tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights to make Front End website improvements. Installing modules on servers such as Apache will help content writers optimise for speed and performance, without having to be trained extensively on improving page speed.
  2. Be on all devices -Due to the fact that consumers consume a number of digital experiences across a multitude of devices, it is vital that search marketers identify the best methods to deliver these experiences across these digital platforms. Shopping is one of the most popular activities on smartphones with Generation Z so offering .an e-Commerce experience with a simple customer journey is of crucial importance. With the launch of Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project in October 2015, delivering a mobile-friendly experience that prioritises resource loading is going to increase in importance for content marketers. There are a number of plugins available to deliver AMP content including the WordPress development AMP plugin and Yoast.
  3. Give the audience what they want - Satisfying the search intent is the end goal when it comes to Generation Z, so when it comes to delivering content, ensure the end result is the same across your social channels as well as your website. To put this more in to perspective, Nichola gave the example of Buzzfeed where 75% of their content views do not come from their website with 27% coming through Facebook Instant Video and 21% through Snapchat. Although having a website that is technically sound is still important from a content perspective, embracing other channels to publish content such as Facebook Canvas will become more and more important in the near future.
[caption id="attachment_3770" align="aligncenter" width="900"]Featured Snippets, STAT Search STAT Search Analytics' research highlighted the websites with the most featured snippets.[/caption]

‘Stat Search Analytics – Unlock insights and data to give companies a competitive edge in SERPs’. Rob Bucci, Founder & Ceo, Stat Search Analytics.

This talk focused on the rise of featured snippets and the valuable opportunity that they provide to drive organic traffic and improve conversion rate, for sites that are capable of getting them. Stat Search Analytics conducted research in to snippets across 1,000,000 SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and were able to derive the following:
  • Types of Snippets included Paragraph (81.95% of total); Bulleted/Numbered Lists (10.77% of total); Tailored (7.28%)
  • 27.58% of snippets had images
  • More than 70% of snippets came from positions other than the 1st position
  • The higher the search volume, the more prevalent featured snippets were likely to be for those SERPs
Rob provided a number of tips which search marketers can use to analyse their content in order to take advantage of featured snippets including:
  • Analyse your keyword opportunities - What are people searching for to reach your site? How many of these queries feature on the 1st SERP?
  • Create strategic new content targeted at snippets - Create content that you believe will positively impact the user experience through incorporating keywords that are known to trigger results.
  • Implement Q&A Formatting - Take advantage of pages with great organic performance and incorporate question and answer formatting.


‘Ranking Factors Reloaded – Why Content Is Your Key To Success’. Markus Tober, Founder Of Search Metrics.

During his presentation, Markus explained what he believes to be an ongoing transformation in the way SEO works. The days of placing keywords within on-page elements to hopefully improve rankings is an outdated method, with a focus on user intention; content quality and experience now of greater importance to the user and search engines. The relevance of traditional SEO ranking factors were also discussed in the context of three industries including Finance, Health and Commerce. Despite backlinks still playing an important part in SEO for E-Commerce websites, Markus believes that as app indexing becomes more and more prevalent in SERPs, the weighting given to links by Google will start to decrease. For example, Markus cited research that discovered app integration for search queries with at least 1 app showing in the SERP or an app pack was 10.9% in Finance; 3.0% in Health and 10.3% in E-Commerce. Whether the results from this research will be applicable across a number of industries remains to be seen.

‘Epic PR fails and what we can learn from them’. Catherine Warrilow, Managing Director, Seriously PR

As Digital PR becomes more of a force in the world of SEO, the importance of having a structured PR strategy that is consistent with the rest of your digital activities cannot be underestimated. Catherine’s talk referred to case studies such as ASDA’s signs of a mum survey and Bic’s pink pens campaign for International Women’s Day, whilst giving tips on how to avoid such ‘PR Fails’. Catherine reinforced the need for PR campaigns to be simple and have a purpose, such as increasing website traffic or social engagement, as these campaigns are often the most effective. Having an action plan in place when things go wrong is vital as well as ensuring you have a team in place to respond efficiently to feedback on social media. Google sent out manual penalities to a number of bloggers earlier this month for providing links in returns for free product reviews. Catherine underlined the importance of search marketers keeping in contact with bloggers to ensure that they are aware of the implications of not following Google’s guidelines. The presentation also reinforced the need for SEOs and PRs maintaining the relationship with the blogger after the first blog post has gone live, to expand the reach of their audience.

'Site Speed for Content Marketers'. Tom Bennet, Senior Consultant, Builtvisible.

Tom further strengthened Nichola’s discussion on the need to be faster and the weighting given to PageSpeed in Google’s search algorithm. As the presence of images increases further on standard web pages, content production teams need to ensure that they stay ahead of the curve when it comes to optimising websites for page speed. This is especially true when it comes to mobile when factors such as screen size and network speed need to be taken in to account. This practical discussion also involved a live audit and optimisation of a web page with tools such as Bootstrap used to put together content and GTMetrix to analyse performance.


[caption id="attachment_3760" align="aligncenter" width="900"]lava search engine Verve Search launched a BETA version of their emotional search engine, Lava, recently.[/caption]

'Why SEO needs to get emotional'. Lisa Myers & James Finlayson, CEO & Founder & Head of Search, Verve Search.

The team from Verve Search discussed the need for the practice of SEO to ‘get emotional’ through their outreach campaigns, citing their work with Expedia on their award-winning, ‘The Battles of Narvik’ and the British Isles Accent Map as good examples. They stated that search marketers can often get too ‘geeky’ when it comes to link development and Google’s algorithm whilst forgetting the need to emotionally invest in organic outreach campaigns by creating content with meaning that helps to get the high-authority links. Verve Search recently launched the beta-version of their emotional search engine, Lava, enabling users to find information on how the media feel about a number of topics through historic sentiment analysis. They believe that it will put ‘objectivity behind what it was emotionally resident and what is not.’

'Marketing to local customers'. Greg Gifford, Director of Search and Social, Dealeron.

One of the most energetic pitches of the day, Greg delivered a number of useful tips on targeting local customers. Whereas traditional SEO consists of optimising both on and off page elements to improve keyword visibility for a website, local SEO goes against a number of traditional rules including obtaining links from local businesses with low domain authority and not being scared of NoFollow links. Greg went on to list a number of ranking factors that matter when it comes to local including:
  • Consistency of structured citations
  • Domain Authority
  • Quality/authority of inbound links
  • Quantity of native Google reviews
  • Quality/authority of inbound links to Google My Business (GMB) page
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR) from Search Results

Content Strategy

'How to build useful audience personas to guide your digital strategy'. Laura Hampton, Digital Marketing Manager, Impression.

This presentation began with the basic premise that having a sound understanding of an audience leads to creating content that persuades them to convert. One way in which businesses can establish a shared language in which to discuss their audience is through the creation of audience personas. Laura discussed a four step process that leads to the creation of an audience persona:
  1. Basic Audience Information - Discovered through asking your client or team, this information includes demographics along with sales insights (new leads/closed sales).
  2. Audience Motivations - What interests your audience? What are their motivations/barriers to making a purchase? This information is identified through customer surveys; keyword research and looking at FAQs.
  3. Topics and Interests - Which topics are your audience discussing and where? Which type(s) of content is available from your competitors? Identifying trending topics on social media and discussion points from conferences/events.
  4. Building Personas - Consolidate basic and motivation segments whilst overlapping audience motivations. Create fictional individuals so you can empathise with the persona.
Along with assembling this in-house information, use tools such as Affinity Audiences in Google Analytics along with YouGov Profiler to start building a profile of your typical audience member. Once you have created your personas, ensure that they are shared with the rest of the company so they can inform your digital strategy.

'Hello my name is blogger. Don't make me mad!'. Hannah Butcher, Digital PR Specialist, White.net.

Hannah's presentation offered an insight in to the relationship between bloggers and PRs & SEOs when it comes to outreach. The polls conducted on Hannah's Twitter profile offer some interesting data to support some of the points made later in the talk. SEO & Blogger Relationship twitter poll 2

Hannah Butcher's Twitter poll on the relationship between PRs & SEOs with bloggers.

From the two polls, Hannah urged search marketers not to think of bloggers as journalists where you rely on them just as an external source to publish your content for the purpose of link building. A number of other key takeaways from Hannah's outreach discussion included:
  • Be transparent with the blogger when it comes to what they should do from an SEO perspective in publishing their content
  • Gain a better understanding of Digital PR and it's role in SEO
  • Think beyond the blogger by knowing their audience


'Creating persuasive content'. Nathalie Nahai, Web Psychologist, International Speaker and Author.

The keynote presentation discussed the purpose of creating and publishing content along with a number of best practices for produce content that connects with audiences on an emotional level that persuades them to take a mutually beneficial action as a result. Nathalie referred to the value of homophily throughout the presentation, as establishing mutual interests with your audience in your content writing can often lead to a level of trust. Through adapting your work to the personalities of your audience, they are more inclined to engage positively through reacting to the content or taking a specific action such as a purchase or sign up. In addition to ensuring engagement through the main content, optimise your headlines by including trigger words and trusted data. The discussion also referred to a number of tools such as computerised text analysis and personality tests to gain an insight in to the values and personality traits of your audience in order to create value through your content.

Contact Us

Were you at BrightonSEO? Which pieces of advice are you going to implement in to your digital strategy? Get in touch via [email protected] or visit our twitter @minttwist and give us your thoughts on the conference.

Published by

Alexis Pratsides