BrightonSEO April 2017: 18 Industry Experts Share Their Favourite Talks and Why [UPDATED]
Bigger and better than ever, BrightonSEO returned to Brighton Centre on the Thursday 6th and Friday 7th April 2017. Despite it being my fifth time attending BrightonSEO, it was my first time speaking, and was certainly the best event yet! Sadly though, I missed out on many of the sessions, but luckily I’ve been able to catch up with most of them!
There was so many great talks throughout the day, it’s hard to know where to start when playing catching up, so we’ve made it a little easier for you. 18 industry experts share their favourite talks from the conference, and why…
Neil Whitehead, Brand manager at Impey Showers Ltd
I’m faced with the a recognisable dilemma, that being, a write up on the latest BrightonSEO. This was my seventh.
Not a hardened veteran as such, nor a hardened SEO, but I did glance over towards the Dome and recall previous light bulb moments that absolutely made me do my job differently and better. Dave Trott delivered a masterclass in lateral thinking, last year, as did Rory Sutherland just last week. Those are the moments when you want your CEO sat next to you and you can feel a little smug.
— George Sklavounos (@jorjevio) April 7, 2017
The rise of structured data from Raj at Yext was a perhaps the most impressive opener I’ve seen. Highlighting just how fast the search landscape is moving and indeed just how the best in SEO/marketing/design can never stand still. (we’re all in this together). Children will drive this industry faster than we can imagine. I found myself exploring the concept of what happens when the traditional ‘website’ is a thing of the past.
Technical takeaways are always in great supply at BrightonSEO, Tom Bennet expertly unpicked Google Tag manager to show its analytical power. Answer box ranking techniques from Adrian Phipps kicked off a superb pm session which I’m sure had many scribbling/typing furiously and secretly hoping their own competition weren’t hearing.
My own desire to blog more was encouraged by the prolific Sam Charles. Here’s to that! Although impossible to attend every session, BrightonSEO is continually relevant and should certainly be in your training budget. If you don’t manage to scramble a free ticket, the prices are still well under budget. Roll on September.
Emily Fedorowycz, SEO Executive at http://www.brightdesign.co.uk
My favourite talks were two sessions giving a whole host of quick wins and immediately actionable techniques. So rather than a whole load of bumph, I’d like to give you some of the quick wins I loved the most:
The first speaker I’d like to thank was Roxana Stingu from 123 Media who gave some excellent technical fixes, to help with site speed. Some of them were:
- Use small images; remove EXIF data from images and compress them (to point where quality isn’t lost but it’s as small as it can be)
- Do image compressions before you upload them to WordPress
- Only use Base 64 for modcons and other small things
- Use real buttons coded into the CSS effects versus pictures that have to load
- Clean up your database and your WordPress dashboard – everything leaves a trace and everything takes up space! Delete database comments, post revisions (once your post is live), unused tags and unused plugins – don’t just deactivate them. Once you’ve deleted these on the front end, delete all traces of from the database.
- Use a validator to check your AMP pages are valid to drastically increase speed
- Leverage static browser caching vs. dynamic to shave off server response time
- Vet the plugins you install: Roxana noted that “every plugin comes with a cost, and that cost is your websites’ speed”
— The Joyful Web (@the_joyful_web) April 7, 2017
Laura Louise, the Head of Search at Rice Media had some more content and link based quick wins, focusing on free tools that we all use nearly everyday such as Search Console and Analytics:
- Update content: In Search Console, look at the Crawl Internal Errors section for content opportunities, then reuse/revamp old content, see which blogs get traffic and tailor others to this
- If you’ve migrated, check internal linking is working and up to date
- Prioritise your pages with internal linking. Navigate to Search Traffic tab and then Internal Links. If the priority pages aren’t at the top of this list increase the internal links to that page to show Google the page is a key page on your site.
- Use schema mark up where possible, or data highlighting in Search Console as a backup.
- In Search Analytics check out the Pages report look at top performing posts/pages and underperforming ones. Optimise the latter to match the former, or create more content similar to high-performing pages. Compare mobile and desktop, differences in CTR, as well as any other metrics or dimensions that can help you optimise content for your client.
- Re-use high performing content from the Top Pages report in other media forms such as newsletters, email shots, ads or new content campaigns
I hope some of these quick wins work for you and help you get some nice, swift results! If you want to know some more quick wins, tips and trick, check out the Brighton SEO Takeaways post coming soon at our Bright Design website!
I hugely enjoyed all the sessions I attended, as I do every year. However top of the tables for this year’s talks for me were Alex Lever’s “How partnerships and sponsorships can help your search marketing” and, of course, Sam Charles’ “How to Build High-Quality Links Without Spending Money”. Alex’s was hugely insightful as I feel she presented a really different strategy to a lot of the other talks, and stayed away from the highly technical practises that a lot of the other talks indulge in (great for PR and Outreach types, as we often leave the very specialist tasks to our teammates!)
— Melissa Jones (@MellyJ3) April 7, 2017
Sam’s talk was also really enjoyable and I felt I learnt more in her talk than all of the others, as being both a blogger and PR myself, I totally agreed everything she said and really appreciated that she was able to provide insights from both parties. The tactics she proposed to gain links without spending any money were really thoughtful and addressed the needs of both bloggers and PR/outreach specialists alike, and I just generally found her really engaging and easy to listen to.
My favourite talk at BrightonSEO was without doubt they keynote from Rory Sutherland. As witty and amusing as it was informative and actionable; it was the perfect way to end another stellar event. His views about how by the very virtue of “optimisation” we are neglecting many other areas that are important to the customer and therefore should be to online marketers, we’re really interesting. This is of course unavoidable but will certainly help me to ensure that we look beyond pure optimisation a lot more here at Banc.
‘You don’t always have to change the reality, change perception. That’s innovation.’ Marketing lessons from Rory Sutherland at #BrightonSEO
— 90 Digital (@90DigitalAgency) April 7, 2017
Other than Rory, I though the link building session in the main auditorium that preceded him was really interesting particularly Christoph Cemper’s putting to bed of the rumours around the lack of need for a disavow file following real-time Penguin.
Charlie Williams, SEO Manager at Screaming Frog
This BrightonSEO was one of the best I’ve attended (and I’m up to double-figures in times I’ve been).
The quality and variety of talks was the equivalent of many paid conferences. And chatting with the speakers before and after the event, the effort and passion was clear.
I’d like to give a shout to a couple of talks. The first was on branding being the only future ranking signal by Malcolm Slade.
Malcolm told me previously that he only wanted to speak when he had something new to bring to the table. His insight into how closely brand signals, represented by branded search volume, correlated with visibility was just that. Turns out that for head commercial terms, branding (or Google’s version of what makes a trusted brand) is hugely valuable.
I also got to hear Teddie Cowell from Mediacom from a front row seat as he spoke in the same session as me. His talk on post-purchase data, especially reviews and how they impact user behaviour, conversions and your ability to target different parts of the buying cycle was fascinating.
Packed with stats, examples, and guidance on how to get more reviews, Teddie was dropping some serious inspiration.
You can also catch up on Charlie’s slides on ‘Shop it like it’s hot – Ecommerce content that’s worth a damn’ below:
Sean Butcher, Head of SEO at Blue Array
My favourite talk from the day was Philip Gamble’s from Found – who covered Technical SEO Beyond the Audit. This is a really important, yet often forgotten about subject – huge amounts of effort go into website auditing, but checking up on progress once the recommendations have been implemented will often be forgotten about. Yet we’re in a results based business, so surely the post-audit work is just as, if not even more important!
Philip also delivered his points in a very clear, concise way and it was easy to follow his talk – particularly impressive given he was in one of the sessions labelled as ‘hardcore’ that day.
— Sean Butcher (@SeanButcher) April 10, 2017
Matthis Duarte, SEO Consultant and Digital Strategist
I had a very rewarding time at the Brighton SEO event this year thanks to amazing speakers and attendees.
Actually, my favorite talks were “AI and structured Data: How Voice Search Raises the Stakes for businesses” by Raj Nijjer and the Keynote by Rory Shuterland. These talks had in common that they were about the evolutions of Search and the future(s) of Digital Marketing.
— Adido (@adido) April 7, 2017
Long gone was the time when people were looking for product/company information only on a brand website They now search on various channels such as social media platforms, YouTube, review listings and forums before making their decision.
As SEO experts, I believe that our job is to increase our clients’ online visibility by implementing a global digital marketing strategy which will include all these platforms (not only Google). Indeed, we should focus on producing added value experiences and content for the internauts by answering their problems through a qualitative SEO approach rather than being obsessed by Google and the technical aspects.
As Rory Shuterland showed us during his keynote, Psychology and Marketing basics should be way more used in SEO strategies. Indeed, at the end of the day it’s a physical person that is going to convert, not Googlebot. That’s why SEO should be part of a more global digital marketing strategy.
Last but not least, I strongly believe that emotion is the future of SEO and Digital Marketing.
Greg Gifford’s Advanced Local SEO Tips To Help You Murder Your Competitors stole the stage at this BrightonSEO, in my opinion. His talks are always fast and exciting, but also rammed with useful information. Even if you hated SEO (although you are probably at the wrong conference if you do) you will be entertained by the many movie references in Greg’s talks. This time he was going for a horror movie theme, full of gore, humour and an impressive 99 film references to work out.
I love that Greg provides so many tangible takeaways and plenty of links to further reading if we wanted to know more. Helpful tips covered managing client expectations, looking at the effect of Google’s Possum update and he gave us insight into the very recent 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors report. All this, as well as heaps of solid local search strategy to put you ahead of the crowd.
SEO Consultant, Craig Campbell www.craigcampbellseo.co.uk
I’ve been doing SEO for many years this was my first trip to BrightonSEO, not sure why I’ve not attended before but I got there in the end. In the lead up to BrightonSEO, I had seen a number of people mention Greg Gifford and what a great speaker he was, so I decided to go along and see for myself and I wasn’t disappointed.
I thought that the talk was funny and well-delivered but most importantly Greg was providing actionable advice on what to do. In most cases I feel that is missing from many talks; people want to know “how to do it”, so to see that being delivered was exactly what I was looking for from an information point.
Obviously there was fun there too and that for me made Greg stand out from the crowd. There was a number of other good talks, I obviously didn’t catch them all, but for me providing entertainment and actionable tips provides value overall at an event like BrightonSEO, as many of the people there are novices and want to learn.
“There is so much you can do with Local Awareness Ads. Run them on competitor locations and at local events” – Greg Gifford #BrightonSEO
— Red Hot Penny (@RedHotPennyHQ) September 2, 2016
Fernando Angulo, Head of International Partnerships at SEMrush Inc
Greg Gifford – Advanced Local SEO Tips to help you murder your competitors. No doubt it has been a great Brighton, and the talk that has contributed most to me in terms of knowledge and which I found more entertaining was the one of Greg Gifford on Advanced Local SEO Tips to help you murder your competitor.
During the first part of his presentation, Greg talked about which Local Ranking Factors changed as a result of Possum – the most recent Google’s algorithms update on local search results and how we can face them. And at the second part, he showed the major local search ranking factors out there: Link signals, content signals, citation signals and GMB signals (Google my Bussiness), review signals. He talks about the necessity to be more creative on Local Facebook ads as a very good practice at the end of his speech.
Greg is a great speaker indeed, but the combination of interesting content and gore slides (every picture in his slides was a different horror movie screen from the past 50 years) was a complete success.
SEMrush have put together a super useful deck on BrightonSEO April 2017 takeaways, check it out here:
My favourite session at BrightonSEO was by far the Site Clinics with Fili Wiese, Aleyda Solis, and Dawn Anderson.
You experience how colleagues approach a website audit, and that can give you some useful food for thought.
— Aleyda Solís (@aleyda) April 7, 2017
With Fili Wiese, it was especially exciting when he said with a little smile on his face that one of the websites they audited was hacked. For him, it was a perfect example of how easily something could go wrong. But of course, it wasn’t that pleasant for the attendee especially because his SEO was not around. You could almost hear how the face of the poor guy dropped.
That is what I love about site clinics. You never know what to expect. We all live in our bubbles, so it is good to take a sneak peek outside. Other SEOs are focusing on different aspects of SEO. I am sure that in the evening everyone in this session checked if their websites got hacked. For this alone, the whole session was worth it.
We published the key takeaways from the Site Clinics session on the LinkResearchTools blog alongside other takeaways from a bunch of interesting BrightonSEO sessions.
Alice Reeves, Owner of The Joyful Web
One of my top talks from the day was by Laura Hogan, Head of Search at Ricemedia, who spoke about using Google Search Console for quick SEO wins.
As a social media and content marketer, I thought Laura’s talk was packed with brilliant, practical tips for using a tool that not many social and content practitioners are overly familiar with such as: identifying crawl errors (errors hide opportunities!), checking priority pages have the most internal links pointing to them, ensuring data highlighting has been implemented to stand the best chance of your content taking up more SERP space, and using the Pages Report to find your top-performing pages which can inform future content topics and structure.
The top tip for me – which is so simple yet so easily overlooked – was if old content is still performing well, check to see whether it needs updating, then re-share it across your social channels. Making improvements to high-performing old content is a terrific way to see fast results. Laura was passionate and engaging which made her incredibly easy to listen to – plus, the slides were packed with the cutest dog pictures which is always a sure-fire way to hold my attention.
Chris Green, Head of Marketing at StrategiQ
There was plenty of food for thought coming away from BrightonSEO this April, but for me the stand out talk advice came from Samantha Auchterlonie of Skyscanner. Sam really did a great job of helping us understand how she pitched changes/new ideas into the team – which is so key to getting things done!
— SEMrush (@semrush) April 7, 2017
By speaking the company language (i.e. appeal to what others find important) and adopting a growth hacking approach to change is how she manages to keep things moving. Sam helped us to understand that the perfect option won’t always be doable, so finding the minimum viable solution to test and validate is key to securing further time and budget.
This is a key lesson for agency and inhouse staff alike and one so often missed! If I could pick one piece of advice that’d make the difference between success and failure it would be this..
Chris Tahmasaby, Managing Partner, ICAAL
Choosing my favourite talk at Brighton SEO this year is challenging because there were so many good speakers on such a wide range of important topics. As ever, there wasn’t enough time to see absolutely everything, therefore choosing the most appropriate seminars was crucial. Fortunately we came with a big team from @ICAAL_UK and therefore had somebody from each department going to the most relevant talk for them and then sharing the main points with the rest of the group afterwards.
‘Ask the target question in the title and answer it in the first 100 words to make it to the Answer Box’ – Adrian Phipps #BrightonSEO
— SEMrush (@semrush) April 7, 2017
For me, I was very interested in current and future trends regarding link building, local SEO, the rise in voice search and the effects of an increasingly ‘fragmented search market’. Therefore, I would have to pick the following 3 great speakers: Greg Gifford and his thoroughly entertaining delivery of super local SEO facts and tactics; Sam Charles for presenting her coordinated approach to reaching out to bloggers and Adrian Phipps for an extremely interesting and concise methodology on taking advantage of position ‘0’ and the ‘answer boxes’ in the SERPS.
Oyin Bamgbose, Account Director at ResponseTap
My favourite talk was by Al Wightman, the CEO of So What Analytics. He spoke about Google Data Studio, its benefits over Google Analytics and how he believes GDS will takeover as the go to reporting platform in the next 6 months!
When you consider how widely used Google Analytics is, it’s a bold statement to make. However, Google Data Studio is free and user friendly. It allows for easier and more powerful reports.
Following Al’s talk, the ResponseTap development team have already begun scoping out an integration with the GDS platform so we can pass through our “phone call” analytics data.
Great talk, I look forward to seeing him again next year!
Jennifer Hoffman, Marketing Director Linkdex/ScribbleLive
Just when you didn’t think BrightonSEO couldn’t get any better, Kelvin went and outdid himself yet again. There were more tracks and speakers than ever before, however for me the highlight of the day came from Sam Noble, Director of Strategy at Koozai who kicked off the Future of Paid session to a packed house.
In her talk, Sam covered off how to drive customer loyalty and advocacy through paid media, shifting the mindset away from the idea that paid media is only about acquiring new customers.
— Samantha Noble (@SamJaneNoble) April 10, 2017
She spoke about creating loyalty schemes with dedicated landing pages and discounts for customers, leverage RLSA to avoid showing ads for new customers to your existing ones, and the greatest thing since sliced bread, Lookalike / Actalike audiences, use these to segment and target offers.
I’m a firm believer that your customers are your greatest sales tool, keeping them engaged with your brand is crucial and Sam provided tons of new ways brands can achieve this through paid media.
Like many SEOs, I’m always looking for ways to overcome some of the difficulties we face when it comes to link building. Personally, I believe we’re coming to a time in the industry where our link building approach should be like that of a complete marketing strategy and I set off to Brighton SEO with a keen interest to find some tangible insights on ways of achieving just that.
‘Creating a Show-Stopping Distribution Plan’ by Julia Ogden from Zazzle Media was particularly valuable to me and I took home some good learnings. From Julia’s talk I realised there are several cost-effective techniques I can use to fulfil SEO objectives in achieving authoritative links.
Some of the key ideas I particularly liked were: using surveys to generate a PR hook, creating supporting content and, creating infographics with an angle that appeals to the users you’re targeting- to name few.
Julia also presented a 4-step validation checklist, used to determine whether the concept is worth pursuing:
- Do we have a hook?
- Do we have unique data?
- Does it provoke an emotional response?
- Does it tell a story?
I for one will be cross referencing future campaign ideas with this list, to have a stronger idea of how well future campaigns will be received.
That’s a rap
Site Visibility collated each of the speakers slides so that you can catch up on anything you missed or simply relive the day all over again! They’ve added them in order of the schedule on the day to help you easily find the slides you need.
The guys over at Authoritas have also filmed the event so if you want to watch the full video of each of the talks on the main stage (Auditorium 1) you can do so here or if you’d like to watch them seperately, we’ve also added the video links to each of the speakers on the main stage below.
Raj Nijjer – AI and Structured Data: How Voice Search Raises the Stakes for Businesses – Watch the video here Purna Virji – Keywordless Searches: How Your Camera is the New Search Box – Watch the video here Will Cecil – Developing an enterprise level SEO data strategy – challenges and experiences from the frontline – Watch the video here
Auditorium 2 – Search & Data
Tom Capper – Links & Rankings: The Story in the Data Neil Lawrence – Lies, Damned Lies and Big Data Claudia Higgins – Getting the most out of the SEO data you can get for free Malcolm Slade – Brand: The Only Future Ranking Factor
Syndicate Halls 1&2 – AI & Machine Learning
Shaona Ghosh – Machine Learning and AI algorithms Thomas Nowotny – Bio-inspired computing and control Neill Horie – SEO & Artificial Intelligence Optimisation
Syndicate Halls 3&4 – Fundamentals
Lotty Chudley – Persuading Consumers to Part with Their Cash: Tips & Tricks for Conversion Laura Hogan – Utilising Search Console for SEO Quick Wins Roxana Stingu – WordPress optimisation beyond the Yoast plug-in
Restaurant Stage – Biddable
Susana Valverde Solano – How to choose where we invest our media spend Marco Volpe – How to create your own dynamic remarketing – Watch the video here Sam Vandermark – Looking beyond paid search for better biddable results
Meeting Room 1A – Mobile
Robin Fry – Lessons that non-game app promoters can learn from the mobile game industry Thomas Petit – A/B testing your app store listings Daniel Rowles – Mobile first indexing – what it means to you in practice
Meeting Room 1B – Ecommerce Success
Mid Morning Sessions
Marcus Tober – Why SEO and Content Marketing must always be data-driven – Watch the video here Tom Benett – Measuring Content Success with GTM – Watch the video here Julia Ogden – The 8 Step Checklist for Creating a Show Stopping Distribution Plan – Watch the video here
Auditorium 2 – SEO Audits
Anita Valentinova – Power of simple – Python scripts to automated SEO checks Philip Gamble – Technical SEO beyond the initial audit Andreas Voniatis – Boosting SEO audit recommendations with machine learning
Syndicate Halls 1&2 – Site Speed
Mark Edmondson – Supercharging websites with a real-time R API Barry Adams – Preliminary title: Google AMP Case Studies Bastian Grimm – Beyond the bullshit: 3x Hardcore Site Speed Optimization Techniques
Syndicate Halls 3&4 – Insight
Tony Lu – How realtime dashboards can help you make better decisions. Al Wightman – How can Google Data Studio help me? Oyin Bamgbose – Call Intelligence: Eliminate your conversion blind spot
Restaurant Stage – Future of Paid
Samantha Noble – How to use Paid Media to increase the lifetime value of a customer Vikas Arora – Bing is Bigger than you think Sophie Turton – The psychology of language for PPC
Meeting Room 1A
Meeting Room 1B – Mass Content, Mass Opportunity
Sophie Moule – Using Search Data to Inform Business Strategy Graham Macfadyen – Content strategies for digital audience growth David Cox – Needles and haystacks: The challenges of discoverability in academic publishing
Early Afternoon Sessions
Adrian Phipps – How to rank in the answer box – Watch the video here Polly Pospelova – How to take advantage of Google using Usage Metrics for rankings – Watch the video here Sam Auchterlonie – How to hack your SERPs using a lean approach – Watch the video here
Auditorium 2 – Crawl & Indexation
Charlie Whitworth – How To Combat Crawl Bloat & Prune Your Content Effectively Sean Butcher – Inventive and Unusual Uses of the Canonical Tag Janet Plumpton – How to use XPath and CSSPath for eCommerce Websites
Syndicate Halls 1&2 – Local
Greg Gifford – Advanced Local SEO Tips to help you murder your competitors Ronell Smith – Localized Content: Better a Shield Than a Sword Dan Thwaites – Content, Trust and Echo Chambers
Syndicate Halls 3&4 – Ecommerce
Charlie Williams – Shop it like it’s hot: E-commerce content that’s worth a damn Edward Cowell – Untapping the hidden potential of post purchase data and customer advocacy in e-commerce SEO Kristal Ireland – Tech Futures in High Transaction Environments
Restaurant Stage – Paid Search
Meeting Room 1A – Video & VR
Charlotte Davis & Sam Orams – Online video: Maximising ROI for brands Sam Watts – Introduction to VR: Past, Presence and Future
Meeting Room 1B – Agile, Big Brand Strategy
Robin Fishley – Brand Search, Ethics and the Future Hannah Gordon Smith – Tackling complex journeys: single strategy for multi sites Chris Fender – L’Oréal’s Digital Data Opportunity
Late Afternoon Sessions
Alexandra Lever – How partnerships and sponsorships can help your search marketing efforts – Watch the video here Sam Charles – How to Build High-Quality Links Without Spending Money – Watch the video here Christoph Cemper – 5 Years of Google Penguin – Watch the video here
Auditorium 2 – Onsite
Omi Sido – Beyond the Basics of Website Migration: Tried, Tested & Successful – Watch the video here Emily McLaren – Site Migration: Avoiding Sticky Situations Chris Liversidge – Using Google’s Search Console API & Pivot Tables To Supercharge Your Long-Tail SEO
Syndicate Halls 1&2 – Search Quality
Kaspar Szymanski – Google Penalties – Understanding and Dealing with all Google Manual Spam Actions Jennifer Slegg – SEO Insights from Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines for High Ranking Sites Chris Munch – How SEO Bloggers Got a Panda Update Completely Wrong
Syndicate Halls 3&4 – Measurement
Restaurant Stage – Paid Social
Tara West – How to boss Sequential Advertising in Facebook Ned Poulter – Social Media Advertising: Top Tips to Unlocking it’s True Potential Samantha Hearn – Honeypots: How to use social media to boast your AdWords campaigns
Meeting Room 1A – Business
Hannah Butcher – How to survive being an introvert in a LOUD industry Sophie Iredale – Should Search Marketers do more to protect their professional Conduct? Monica Georgieff – Running Marketing like Lean Software Development
Rory Sutherland – Are we creating a culture where it pays to be boring? – Watch the video here