Twice a year it happens, our favourite conference. And there are lots of reasons why it’s our favourite. But to sum it up, it’s relaxed yet totally organised, there’s not a drip of elitism, there’s plenty of humour, plenty of alcohol if you want it, tech charging stations and there’s even gaming, pre-parties and post-event socialising. Wow. The overarching reasons though, is that we learn and it never fails to inspire us and increase our network. These things, alongside a great atmosphere are the warm fuzzy feelings a modern conference should give you, right?
Those of you that have attended our SEO Workshops have no doubt heard us mention Brighton SEO. It’s one of the top flight SEO conferences now, having grown from a small gathering to a 3,500k attendance and the (I believe) 15th edition and I was genuinely excited to introduce Meg to it a few years ago. Founder Kelvin has done a brilliant job of keeping the speaker list within reach of everyone, because it’s open to the best ideas rather than just industry veterans that may not always be the best speakers. I’ve been lucky enough to be a speaker and whilst it scared me, it felt prestigious. I’m not a developer or even an SEO, yet there I was, up on stage, trying to share some of my knowledge. And this happened because a fellow attendee that I had never met before the chat in question, encouraged me to submit an idea. That’s how friendly Brighton SEO is. Plus there’s none of that 9am start business, – of course we’re lucky that we are just down the road from The Brighton Centre – for me it’s school run, drive to Brighton, grab a free tea and head to the right room for 10am; perfect.
So what did I see and what did I learn this time around?
There are up to eight different talks happening at any one time so sometimes it’s hard to choose. I tend to opt for topics that I know a little about but need to improve on or those that will deepen my knowledge or give me new ideas and the latest understanding. And being a marketer, this time the focus of my day was on outreach, digital PR, link building and advanced keyword research. The crossover between PR and search engine optimisation continues to grow.
Evaluating news hooks by looking at: Timeliness, Credibility, Difference, Tension and Prospecting. Shannon McGuirk also spoke about not linking awareness days content 100% because it limits re-use of elements of the story.
Photo Credit @FayeWatt
Sophie Everett spoke about packaging stories for journalists. The main points for me were about distilling the story and really thinking about the reading age. This second point is something I often forget – I think about what the reader might be interested in reading, but not about their actual comprehension of the words used.
Getting top links without a budget: Bobbi Brant gave suggestions of some good free data sources and spoke about creating new data by working with what you have found and combining it with new data. If you’re formulating credible stats yourself, that data is only available from you. She also said remember with outreach, “you are giving, not asking”, that is worth remembering.
Photo Credit @FayeWatt
Advanced keyword research speakers
In this section I learnt about using triggers within keyword research; pre-sales search queries, the things future customers are asking before they start actually shopping. The example of a large appliance failure explained it so well; search queries at this stage are often based around trying to repair the appliance, look for parts, search for warranty information etc. I feel identifying these pre-sales phrases must be trickier for services but it certainly made me start to think about what early stage search queries for marketing and design services might be. It will get me delving a bit deeper on identifying these types of pre-enquiry search phrases.
A second interesting point was about using human labels as starter keyword research phrases, things such as bookworm, geek, teapot, fitness fanatic. That had never occurred to me. I have recommended the Answer The Public keyword tool in our workshops because it is so different and looked to be shaking up the way traditional keyword research was being done. However I did not know it had been developed so close to home and Sophie Coley gave some great examples of how to use the wheels and branches in ways that would greatly expand KPR lists.
My favourite talk in this section was Greg Gifford. And really I could have told you this before the day even started. He is a fountain of knowledge for all things ‘local search’ and really makes the tactics and actions sound so logical and easy. His talks go at a million miles an hour but his American humour and inclusive swearing really is not to be missed. Greg provided a long list of potential local link sources and talked about how these hyper-local links have an underestimated two-way value. Two spreadsheet tool links were also included and I’m sure his “Badass link worksheet” will be a little pot of gold.
The first two speakers in this session were the most valuable for me. Marcelle from Verve Search got me thinking about writing pieces that create an emotional response. Following this, Hannah Bednarova shed some light on how to get journalists to include your links in their pieces. She spoke about creating landing pages with more detail for readers to get further information which in turn results in the link being more likely to get published. Hannah confirmed we have to make stories easy for journalists and the more we do for them in advance, generally the more willing they are to be helpful later on.
The big point in this section though was the realisation for me that data is so key. All of the hugely successful campaigns used as case studies had some impressive data behind them and had taken a very long time to create, by a whole team of people.
He did it – Kelvin and his team got “Gary the Google Guy” on stage this time around and it was interesting to both hear the questions put to Gary Illyes from SEOs and developers around the world and his answers. It’s clearly difficult being a Google representative when Jennifer Slegg asked about areas of change that he wasn’t able to divulge information on yet. But I enjoyed it..it’s not often you get to put a human face to Google, is it?
Photo Credit @Gianps