Key Takeaways from BrightonSEO – Autumn 2018 Edition

Last updated on Wednesday, October 3, 2018

If you didn’t attend BrightonSEO, or missed some of the speakers you wanted to hear – don’t worry, we got you covered!

We have gathered the most important takeaways from the September 2018 edition of BrightonSEO. We also included the slides from most of the speakers, so you can see their presentations here too. Enjoy!

We hope you are enjoying the Google Grump grumpy t-shirts and had a lot of fun at BrightonSEO!

With almost 80 speakers on 7 tracks, BrightonSEO covered many important topics within search marketing:

Ross Tavendale – Data Journalism: A practical guide to winning big links

Ross talked about how to use data journalism as a tactic to win links in the biggest publications in the world. He explained his framework and methodology that allows you to come up with great on brand ideas.

Why are we doing this again? Because the data say so!

Ross went through his campaign Research, Angles and headlines to Pitch (RAP sheet), and where to get the data to make objective decisions. There are 3 data sources that can be used to tell a story: private data from analytics, public data from government databases and potential data from surveys.
Ross Tavendale - BrightonSEO, September 2018

In our methodology, the content finds the audience.

Meaning that, when you know your audience inside out, your content will definitely find them.

Stacey talked about creating content for link acquisition and how to best go about it. She focused on explaining how to secure links even before you have produced your content.

Before going into content production you need to validate your idea, and have a list of well-researched medias and journalists who are already interested in your story. This will help you improve your ideas and secure interest.

Understanding audience is everything. Misunderstanding audience of your target publication is a common reason your content doesn’t get published. Study media kits to learn about their audience, as it is dangerous to make assumptions, and use the findings in your pitch emails. Make sure to pitch the most relevant department of the publication.
Stacey MacNaught - BrightonSEO, September 2018

Technical SEO

Barry Adams – Technical SEO in the real world

Barry talked about the benefits of a good Information Architecture; why it is important and how it goes beyond site’s navigation. He gave examples of good IA that help websites perform better in search.

Faster website = more pages crawled by Google in the same amount of time. Reduce the volume of internal redirects to preserve link value.

He recommends reading The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine

Another lesson that Barry shared, is to put schema markup in the head section of the page’s HTML source if you want rich snippets in Google.

Helen Pollitt – Technical SEO Audit Top Tips for Beginners

Helen gave a rundown of Technical SEO audit tips. She went through the tips of what tools to use and how to crawl your site, and what to pay attention to in Google Search Console. She also gave tips how to optimize page speed and encouraged using Google Tag Manager.

Don’t forget to:

Check the speed for desktop and mobile.

Set a crawler to crawl sub-domains.

Check your site for HTTP resources.

Don’t block JS and CSS.

No Flash for a mobile site.

Dominic Woodman – If You Take One Thing from Technical SEO… Learn How to Debug

Dominic talked about the importance of debugging. Debugging is a specific kind of problem-solving. Break down, re-create and test to solve your problem.

Marketing problems are often hard only because there is so much complex language. Write as if you won’t come back to it for 2 months. In the future you will appreciate it. A problem you can’t consistently re-create is a problem you can’t test and solve. If you’re seeing in-consistent problems, they’re best spotted in logs.
Dominic Woodman - BrightonSEO, September 2018

Take your problem and break it into chunks that you can individually test.

Site Speed

Fili Wiese – Accelerate: Page Speed Optimization Tips

Fili gave tons of page speed optimization tips in his speech. He also ran a training session on Thursday: Advanced Technical On-Page SEO Training Course.

Fili shared unique insights and lot of practical hands-on tips, ideas, strategy-considerations, options and tactics on how to make your website super fast for the mobile-first world, including implementing AMP, optimizing HTML and many others. His speech was as packed with tips as the auditorium itself.
Fili Wiese - BrightonSEO, September 2018


Rand Fishkin – The Future of SEO is on the SERP

Rand focused on the changing search landscape, and how Google is making it more difficult to win in SEO and social channels compared to previous years.

Rand covered the ways to get a strong ROI from search investments:

Focus on your brand

Control your branded SERP reputation management

Influence the publishers listed in featured snippets

Invest in ON-SERP SEO

Rand pointed out that Google cares about itself, not about anyone else. “It’s never been more difficult to earn organic traffic and it’s never been more important”.

Before the event Rand Fishkin asked on his Twitter if people have observed that tweets containing links have less visibility on page, because Rand has noticed that simple tweets (without the link) perform much better, meaning that they have higher engagement, reach and more impressions.

During his keynote at Brighton he concluded that all posts, which include links on LinkedIn and Twitter (and on Facebook likely too) give less visibility. Therefore it’s better to include link under the post in first comment to get higher visibility.
Rand Fishkin - BrightonSEO, September 2018

Question and Answer Session with Rand Fishkin

With the raise of smart speakers what are your thoughts on voice search, and what effect will it have on an SEO do you think?

I think smart speakers are an additive to search rather than a cannibalistic one. I don’t think we will see this big shift of keyword demand away from phones and desktop, devices, laptops, browsers. I suspect that most of the queries that we will do on all of these types of devices are going be unique. There are maybe a few areas like weather or sports score that Google is already doing an instant answer. I don’t see a massive risks there. I also suspect that in long term there will be some opportunities for organic or paid forms of sponsorship to get your brands into this.
Rand Fishkin- Q&A during BrightonSEO, September 2018

Google AMP – Is it just another fad or is is another feature?

I think a year ago I would have said it’s a future and right now I feel like it might be a fad. It might be more like Google Plus than like mobile search. A lot of publishers are rebelling against the user experience control. Implementing AMP is nearly as challenging as making your own very fast mobile website, and I think it could be a fad. I am hopeful that it is because I think Google controlling the web with AMP is not a good thing.

What is your advice for any SEO professionals for the next year, and what do you think it will be in 5 years time?

5 years is a very long time. Google's rate of change is not nearly as fast as it was let's say in 2001 or 2005 or even 2010. My suspicion is that we will see a continuation of transformation we see today. Google is trying to answer more queries themselves, breaking into more vertical themselves, cannibalizing a lot of search opportunities, especially for high commercial intent or easy to answer information queries. That means marketers need to be much smarter and more targeted with their keyword targeting and keyword research. Choosing words and phrases that Google can’t instantly answer and can’t cannibalize and can’t take away from them. I think it will mean a lot more SEO's focus on content marketing, focus on brand demand generation. So more people look for your brand and it will be a lot more folks trying to figuring out ways to drive additional kind of traffic not just SEO.

Izzi Smith – Practical Insights into Winning Featured Snippets

Izzi told us why she loves featured snippets and why we should too. The reasons why she loves them are because they are just cool: they bring more traffic, more conversions, brand awareness, mobile voice search.
Izzi Smith - BrightonSEO, September 2018

It’s crucial to identify the right queries and evaluate your current rankings as well as your potential rankings (via GSC in Google Analytics). Talk to you customer support and sales teams to see what questions they get asked and research using tools like Answer the Public. Asses the query intent and focus on keywords with click-through intent.

Provide the perfect content that is worthy for featured snippets: factual with supporting data and sources, written for humans and please ignore keyword density! Remember to structure your content: the best paragraph length is 40-60 words, list articles with clear headers, and bulk out your lists (this will increase click-through-intent on featured snippets). Prove your expertise by providing additional, useful content and referring links from trusted sources. Optimize your images so they are topic relevant, smaller than 600px and compressed.

And it’s simple as that: Izzy showed how these steps increased sessions and bookings for Sixt’s website.
Izzi Smith - BrightonSEO, September 2018

Eloi Casali – SEO in big media agencies

What big agencies have learned from SEO

Eloi outlined three SEO practices that are impacting other channels massively and what big agencies have learned from SEO. Eloi said that users won’t have to visit websites anymore and also refers to Rand Fishin’s “No click searches”.

Analysing the data in order to understand how SEO affects big marketing campaigns and how marketing campaigns affect SEO in three core topics:

Surfacing content on the SERP and its impact on PPC.

The key to talking about speed optimisation.

Voice: a framework to estimate the volume of effort to place on voice in your search strategy.

One of his 3 take outs? Don’t invest without a proof. No one does.

Hannah Thorpe – SEO without traffic

In Hannah opinion (as well as Rand Fishkin’s – from Q&A at BrightonSEO) we live in a “brand demand generation”. Brand is a ranking factor, which you should definitely focus on to be few steps ahead of the competitors. Your brand should be easily searched, useful, known and linked to.
Hannah Thorpe - BrightonSEO, September 2018

Even Google has to know your brand. It’s important to make people think about your brand, talk about it, search for it and finally choose it. Google needs to see that you’re preferred brand, how you stand out comparing to your competitors, and why customers choose you.

Looking what your competitors are doing is very important

We don’t really know what will happen with SEO in a few years. We know it will change, and we know it will be different but not how.

SEO is in its infancy.

Google as search engine is only 19 years old and as far as we know Google’s algorithm uses Machine Learning which understands synonyms – meaning that Google also understand related searches!

Google is constantly changing together with the search industry. We have to take a few things into consideration: what makes up the algorithm, how do we work as SEOs and how results display in the SERPs. What we do know from Hannah is that “Standard SEO Tools struggle to predict more than 15% of ranking positions” and that high rankings do not equal high traffic, which means that we have to be user-centric by understanding the customer’s journey and the exact moment they are in.

Simplify our content and structure your data, use the basic format understandable for everyone, and be clear on what you are trying to provide to users.
Hannah Thorpe, BrightonSEO, September 2018

Patrick Reinhart – Indexation, Cannibalization, Experimentation, Oh My!

Patrick spread his knowledge about 3 main topics:



Patrick Reinhart - BrightonSEO, September 2018

There are a lot of issues which are not allowing search engine to get to the important pages such as duplicated content, technical issues or not a great mobile experience. Patrick pointed out that the real problem is a massive index bloat.

Google can’t get to the important pages because it can’t get through all of the junk.

It’s tricky to find out what is junk and what’s not therefore you have to find what are the issues like:

  • Duplicate pages
  • Paginated pages
  • No canonicals

He recommended an automated way of checking for cannibalization because your site grows and changes.

Don’t compete with yourself and alter your plan to equalize with your clients comfort level.

Greg Gifford – How to use local to rock in mobile and voice search

Greg explained how to use Local SEO to win at mobile searches. Thanks to digital assistants, people are becoming more comfortable with searching by spoken queries. Voice search is changing how users construct their queries – queries are becoming longer, more conversational and long tail queries. Most voice searches happen on mobile devices, and and mobile searches are inherently local. Local SEO is accelerating thanks to mobile and voice searches.

58% users have used voice search to find local business information, so this is why local SEO is crucial when it comes to voice search. Voice search tends to be more informational intent than discovery or purchase intent.

80% of Google Home answers come from featured snippets. To show up in voice results you need to get on featured snippets.

Local SEO is about entity signals.

Local entities are ranked on relevance, prominence, and proximity.

Mobile & AMP

Natalie Mott – AMP Implementation on Non-Standard Content Management Systems

Natalie’s session was about the challenges of implementing AMP with CMSs that do not have an out-of-the-box solution, like EPiServer. She shared practical tips for working with developers on different projects:

There are many misconceptions about AMP and what it can do to improve SEO performance.

Still highly recommended for publishers, and for sites that operate in verticals where the technology has been more routinely adopted, such as insurance.

Certain CMSs do not always make it easy for marketers to improve site speed, therefore there are situations where AMP may be the preferred option to improve site speed on mobile.

Often it is more appropriate to improve site speed through alternative methods than by implementing AMP.
Natalie Mott - BrightonSEO, September 2018

Byron Marr – Using Facebook Funnels to Improve E-Commerce Campaign Targeting

Byron is working mostly with Facebook ad campaigns and at BrightonSEO his speech was about improving the efficiency and return on investment in Facebook advertising campaigns.
Byron Marr - BrightonSEO, September 2018

To put it simply, we could learn from him how to recognize the targeting opportunities through the buyer’s journey and create a customized audience strategy using Facebook analytics channels. It’s important to target users based on their demographics and their interests, finding people similar to your customers with a Lookalike audience. He shared his experience on improving his ad campaigns and saving time by starting with Facebook Analytics and creating a funnel to visualise the conversion path to be able to identify 3 things:

The right person

The right time

The right message

As a result that brings more leads and revenue.

New traffic will also be pushed through the funnel that you’ve set up. As one of the examples on how to implement these ideas in real life he took AccuRanker’s Sponsored InMail message by iEva Zelca – the message contained a short and simple information about the tool and it allowed you to try it out.

So remember to:

Identify new opportunities

Create relevant ads

Measure and optimize

Read more about Facebook Boosted Posts and know the reasons why you shouldn’t do them.

Content Marketing and Strategy

Bobbi Brant – How to Use Live Video in Content Marketing

Bobbi was talking about how to use live videos in content marketing.

It’s very easy to do it ! Anyone can do it and should do it!

Are you wondering why?

78% of online audiences are already watching Facebook Live content and 81% watched more live videos in 2016 than 2015.
Bobbi Brant - BrightonSEO September 2018

90% of Facebook Live viewers say video quality is the most important aspect.

Matt Siltala – Are You a Content Creator, or a Content Documenter?

Key takeaways from Matt where mostly from his clients who are saying to create more content, infographics and videos and of course be active on social media. And that’s all true. The point is that it’s crucial to do this properly and in the right time with exact aim of each of the activities.
Matt Siltala - BrightonSEO, September 2018

On his own example, he said:

I have reasons to follow them because I know what kind of content they gonna deliver me at a certain point in time.

Once the topics are established you can use them in many different options, e.g.:

To gain more leads

Pay attention to what’s going on

Meghan Fenn – Using Stunning Design to Leverage Your SEO

Meg was talking about graphic design, websites, the people behind web projects, UX, collaboration and bridging the gap between SEO and design to create a smoother projects and better websites, which is of course something that we all want.

Communication is the key, but also graphic design is crucial in being able to communicate effectively - it inspired people to take action.
Meghan Fenn - BrightonSEO, September 2018

How you can bridge the gap between design and SEO for a better flow between projects?

The answer involves 3 things:

UI - small things makes a difference and they can have a positive impact

UX - emotions, responses


SEO’s have to optimize for humans to get an emotional connection, a real connection. We should offer a better experience for users, who will then engage and buy and additionally share.

Factors that we should take into consideration

Time on site

Page speed

Bounce rate

It’s crucial to build trust with users and you can do this by using interesting and high-quality photos, increase the speed of your website and mobile friendliness. But only that. Your site should be accessible on all devices, and of course use correct spelling. Even the color of the website is important here. I.e. orange is a warm color, associated with joy and represents creativity, encouragement and fascination.

The devil is in the details and that’s what we should take care of.

Slides from BrightonSEO September 2018 edition

Aiden CarrollIt’s A Stitch Up! Sewing Up Consumer Intent With Keywords

Aleh BarysevichWinning with mobile page speed

Arianne DonoghueWhy Failure Should Be An Option For All Of Us

Alban RenardThe subtleties of Google search in French

Barrie TynemouthOnline Price Tracking and Price Wars

Bobbi BrantHow to Use Live Video in Content Marketing

Briony GunsonEffective Planning for Small to Medium Sized Agencies

Byron Marr – Using Facebook funnels to improve e-commerce campaign targeting

Björn Beth and Svetlana StankovicMake data dreams come true! Bridging the gap between ranking factors and your SEO strategy

Charlie MarchantHow to Get Links for Your Business

Chris Simmance2 Seconds is the New Slow

Christoph Cemper20 free SEO Tools you should be using

Clark BoydHow to Optimize for Visual Search

Daiana DamacusPutting the social in social search engines

Dominic WoodmanIf you take one thing from technical SEO… Learn how to debug

Emily Grossman13 Reasons Why You’re Slow (and what you can start to do about it)

Elli BishopHow to recruit and train a killer PR and Outreach team

Eloi CasaliWhat big agencies have learned from SEO

François Goube – What I learned from crawling 10 billions of Pages and analysing 5 Trillions of log lines

Gareth Hoyle Advanced PPC and Paid Social Tactics

Gianluca FiorelliThe Future of Visual Search

Grant SimmonsThe Batman SEO Toolbelt to Vanquish Google’s SERP

Greg GiffordHow to use local to rock in mobile and voice search

Hannah ThorpeSEO without traffic

Helen PollittTechnical SEO Audit Top Tips for Beginners

Izzi SmithPractical Insights into Winning Epic Featured Snippets

Jack CooperScaling Large E-commerce Catalogues for PPC

John BrasingtonContextual optimisation: How to create value led content for your ecosystem

JP ShermanDelivering Better Onsite Search Results

Kim DeweHow To Automate Key SEO Processes using API’s and Google Sheets

Laura HoganHow To Use Your Competitors For Freeeee Links

Luke SherranVideo Ranking Factors in YouTube

Marie HaynesSuper Practical Nuggets from Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines

Mark ThomasWhy auditing your rel canonical configuration is shrewd move

Max PrinPWA + AMP: The Future of E-Commerce?

Meg FennUsing stunning design to leverage your SEO Brighton SEO

Michael KingSoftware Testing for SEO

Matt SiltalaHow to create the best content in the world

Miracle Inameti-ArchibongWe made our website a progressive web app and why you should too

Prabhat ShahAmazon SEO Tools I wound’t Avoid

Rachel CostelloHow To Tackle Enterprise Sites

Rand FishkinThe Future of SEO is on the SERP

Ross TavendaleData Journalism: A practical guide to winning big links

Sam MarsdenAutomating SEO Reporting With Google Data Studio

Sarah BradleyGetting Student’s Attention on Social Media

Sean ButcherHow to Improve Your Website’s Indexation

Stacey MacNaughtSecuring Your Links Before Producing Your Content

Vicki JakesThe Final 10 Percent

Zanna PupeleSite adaptation for foreign markets – trust signals

In case you missed the previous BrightonSEO in spring, we have also gathered 7 key takeaways from BrightonSEO April 2018 edition here.

For more inspiration from world class speakers, check out our sum-up of the top 10 UnGagged London 2018 speakers in this article.

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