05 September 2016

10 things we learned from #BrightonSEO 2016

After a huge recommendation of our colleague Herman, who went to BrightonSEO last year, my colleague Lien and I were eager to know what the fuss was all about.

Roel van der Linden
Roel van der Linden
Operations manager

Even though we’re not specialised in SEO. Luckily the agenda covered a broad range of topics, so it’s definitely suited for more people than just SEO experts. Lien & I tried each time to choose a different topic and here is what we’ve learned:


1. It has one of the best locations we’ve seen so far 


The Brighton centre, where the event was hosted, is located next to Brighton beach and very close to the famous Brighton pier. Although I wasn’t always fond of the venue itself (some of the rooms were too small and not very practical), this view definitely made us forget about that tiny detail.


2. Voice search is definitely the future

We’ve heard it before and you’ll probably hear it a couple of more times this year. When we speak of search, people immediately think about search engines like Google & Bing. While those still matter, new types of search are on the rise and will become more and more important in the future. 

Tom Anthony spoke about it in his presentation called “Emerging types of Search” and Kirsty Hulse mentioned the rise of intelligent personal assistants in her presentation called “Why we need to stop avoiding content personalisation”.

Search devices will become more ubiquitous leading to more searches and new types of search #ambientsearch #brightonseo

Roel van der Linden (@roel_vdl) 2 september 2016

3. Local search was clearly present

One of the topics you couldn’t avoid during the entire event, was local search

Location is a huge search filter and a lot of websites seem to forget about that. David Whatley mentioned in his presentation ("The bridge between on and offline retail") that it’s definitely not only important for ecommerce sites; your company only needs a physical address.



4. There are no best practices to SEO

As an online marketer, both potential employers and clients will often test you on your knowledge of SEO best practices. Consequently every online marketer’s response is affirmative, but Stephen Kenwright (doubted this fact).

Off course every SEO pro knows that hard work, technical knowledge and good content are keys to get the best out of SEO, but this is not easy when the average SEO specialist has to wait 6 months to get their highly priority change sorted out.


Sometimes best practices are not enough and you have to cope with the fact that this should be adapted to how the web changes and how each situation is unique. To get a full overview, I really recommend going through Steven’s presentation which he kindly provided online as well:

5. Don't listen to all the search myths you hear about


Laura Hogan gave a presentation on what she believes are myths in terms of search:

  • On-site exact match no longer works,
  • Keyword research is a waste of time
  • Only target high volume keywords
  • Meta descriptions have no value
  • URLs don’t need keywords or hierarchy


Even though sometimes keyword research can be exhaustive and boring, or focusing on the short tail traffic seems to give you the fastest results, Lara emphasized on thinking outside the box and strongly denied the myths mentioned above.


Just before Laura, Yigit Konur talked about ways to make the best out of your keyword research - since Google Keyword planner’s information can be limited - and use other tools as well, such as Moz’s keyword explorer or Yigit strongly recommended using multiple sources and combine all data to get the best insights.


6. Content needs to be timely relevant…


Martijn Scheijbeler (make sure you never spell his name wrong!) from The Next Web talked about how they do not use a content calendar, because they can’t predict what they will be writing about the next day. 

When they wrote a blogpost about PokemonGO, they were one of the first which resolved in more than 40.000 page views and more than 2000 shares.

7. …but don’t always tie your content directly to current events

Paddy Moogan warned us about the risks of one-hit wonders, because they die as quickly as the event is over. When you know that a certain event is coming up (for instance “National Proposal Day”), make sure to make relevant content that can be used in terms of the event, but not only for that event.

In that case, it has a large life span and even can be reused for other purposes. Reusing your content was also something he emphasised. Not only literally, but also by translating your content into different languages.


8. There are still new things to learn about Facebook advertising…

My colleague Lien teaches people about social advertising and wasn’t sure Greg Gilfford’s presentation about “How to be a Facebook Advert Superhero” would tell her something she hadn’t heard or read already. 

But BrightonSEO is a magical place where anything can happen, even finding a new way to use Facebook custom audiences:

Greg is a big fan of the “F” word (Facebook, duh) and gave a perfect overview of the best ways to use Facebook advertising in a way you can tick the boxes in order to get the best results out of your next Facebook campaign.


9. …and also about Google Shopping

Although we’ve already seen a lot of presentations about optimising your Google product feed, Rob Watson still managed to show some interesting examples of how they used custom labels, did A/B tests with custom titles (rewrite them in your feed!) and used alternative landing pages (thanks to the AdWords redirect). 

Definitely watch his presentation if this is something that interests you.

10. A conference can be non-commercial

Something that was really noticeable at BrightonSEO, was the fact that all the speakers barely talked about the company they work for, which was very refreshing.

Along with that, all the speakers talked about very personal cases, so actually drawn from their own experiences instead of talking about the Uber’s and AirBnB’s of the world.

All the presentations were very straightforward and offered tips and tricks that you can put into practice right away.


11. Full livestream + replay (yes, we know we said 10)

Bonus point 11. A quality YouTube livestream. Why don't all marketing conferences have one of those?


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