BrightonSEO September 2019 Top Conference Talk Takeaways

12 September 2019

Posted in: BSEO

What did we learn at BrightonSEO 2019? TOO DAMN MUCH TO PUT INTO ONE BLOG POST.

Nevertheless, we have rounded up some useful insights across all the talks from September 2019’s edition of BrightonSEO. Read ’em and weep with joy at your newfound SEO knowledge.

Remarket smarter by rethinking audiences and conversions

Amy Bishop’s talk on Data-Driven Remarketing Strategies & Tactics for Every Business had plenty of actionable tips on remarketing.

We especially liked her hands-on advice that every business can implement – no fancy tools or agency needed.

  • Remarket based on page depth (conversion rate might go up after a certain page depth)
  • Enable audience reports to see long-term campaign effects
  • Build audiences following non-conversion events to see which ones lead to revenue and value them accordingly
  • Try to avoid spending money targeting people who are likely to buy regardless.

Link to slides here.

Google Shopping is popular with users… but we’re waiting on data

Kirk Williams’s wittily titled talk I Don’t Know How to Run Shopping Ads, and at This Point I’m Too Afraid to Ask highlighted the popularity and importance of Google Shopping and other smart shopping engines.

Ecommerce brands need to be investing in smart shopping (big time). It’s already really popular with users across the search landscape, and there’s a very low barrier to entry when it comes to clicking through thanks to the great UX.

Google now serves an average product price, and you can have your bid adjust automatically. Bidding on a product is tricky, because you don’t often know the searcher intent. However, there are ways to cater your approach to funnel position.

Smart shopping is getting bigger, but it doesn’t offer that much data (yet).

PowerShell’s Invoke-WebRequest is your new (SEO) best friend

Mike’s talk (slides here) was PACKED with hands-on advice to help SEOs automate and improve their work. Mike introduced us to PowerShell: with an open-source .net based shell, it can be easily run off any Windows machine.

Invoke-WebRequest allows you to retrieve things from websites. It splits everything into object types (links, images, etc.). For example, you could create a word cloud using anchor text (weighted by use frequency).

PowerShell can also run a specified operation for every URL from an imported XML file.Invoke-RestMethod also lets you draw from the Rest API. The use cases go on…

Structured data opportunities: 30 types and counting

We love a ‘what’s new’ talk! Thanks to Charlie Norledge for such a brilliant and insightful look at the current structured data landscape. Here are some cool things you need to know:

  •  Google has launched 30 pieces of structured data thus far, e.g. event, job, FAQ (sadly, Google isn’t always showing FAQs)
  • Trainline is doing structured data very well, so check them out
  • The “How to” category is new, but it hasn’t been used much thus far. Another new category: movie
  • Make sure your structured data carries through to AMP versions
  • Breadcrumb structured data is getting automatically marked up, but there’s still value in setting it manually (e.g. for language issues)
  • Try to avoid overlapping structured data fields (you won’t get an aggregate review and an FAQ box, for instance).

More info on his slides here.

Mental health in digital: it could be an imposter syndrome problem

Amy McManus’s talk was something a bit different. Amy kindly lifted the lid on her own experiences of working in digital with imposter syndrome, whilst also commenting on the state of mental health in the industry as a whole.

It’s an important issue that we should all be talking about, especially with many high-profile founder suicides in the news.

Mental health for digital agencies is reported to be the same as people who work for the medical and law industry.

So why are we so stressed? Amy narrowed it down to a few potential contributing factors:

  • The high percentage of young people employed in digital
  • Long and continuous screen time (and stressful screen time, not fun scrolling for cat videos)
  • Social media perfection and the pressures of the #hustle mentality
  • Our industry is constantly changing: lack of stability.

Definitely some food for thought…

Here are some things we can do to fight the stress:

  • Implement personal growth chats
  • NO late nights (working long hours = shit work)
  • No holiday emails
  • Work at 80% capacity.

Seasonal content is reasonable content

BrightonSEO speaker veteran, Stacey MacNaught, had some good pointers on how brands can create better content for links when budgets are tight. One major lesson learned is to do though analysis of when journalists are covering certain topics.

Being in-tune with seasonality and awareness days (and offering something new around that topic: be wary of overused formats like infographics), will help your content get links.

Meltwater and Google Trends are good tools for spotting and analysing ‘topic peaks’.

Videos sweeten the deals with journos

We all know that journalists are swimming through a tide of PR emails (circa 600 a day). Carrie Rose is a pro at pitching to journalists and had some insider info on how to get coverage.

  • Videos are increasingly essential. For example, The Sun, always has video content in its stories. A video over 30 seconds long will help the publication generate revenue (most videos are about 60 seconds long)
  • Help the journalist by sourcing royalty-free images and music
  • Style your pitch email subject line like a headline (be publication-specific and mirror their in-house style)
  • Want to get a link? T&Cs pages will often get linked to…

Owned and shared goals for PR & SEO

Laura Hampton’s talk on getting the most from digital PR inspired us to think about how we can deepen our understanding of what clients want and need.

We like the idea of having owned and shared goals to help clarify roles and responsibilities pre and post-campaign.

  • Owned goals that are down to digital PR/link builders: link quality and number
  • Shared goals that both client and the agency share: ranking and traffic improvements.

Love the emphasis on quality reporting, user-focused digital PR, and getting more value out of PR. Digital PR can act as a middle ground between SEO, PPC and PR. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Relationships won’t get you coverage, but a great email might…

Alex Cassidy from Verve Search knows his way around an outreach email, so it was great to hear what he had to say about writing a good outreach email that will get journos excited (or at least not hate you).

Rule number one: Relationships don’t mean coverage! Focus on writing a cracking email instead.

Writing something short is hard, so Alex broke it down into these steps that should help you write a killer outreach email:

  • Subject line: don’t mislead or be too clever (stats are good)
  • Lede: short & sweet summary
  • Links: put the link in the email body
  • Angles: signpost your angles and provide sources
  • Quote: provide them/have them ready. Try to pre-empt any questions you might get
  • Methodology: provide an expert opinion and balance your story.

Rule number two: be ready for (and OK with) rejection. You will get lots of responses saying no, it happens.

Internal links are an untapped SEO resource

Christoph Cemper from Link Research Tools is always a great speaker, and his knowledge-packed talk on internal links was no different. Internal links distribute power and trust, so here is how you can improve your internal linking strategy:

  • Don’t let your CMS use the full blog post title as an internal link. Use an optimised phrase instead
  • You can be so much more targeted with internal links
  • Internal links don’t need to be branded. It’s a waste of power. Change branded phrases to money pages
  • Users can get a better understanding of what they’re clicking on from short, unbranded internal links.
  • At least use an alt tag on internal link buttons. Ideally, make them text.

Local searchers buy (and they buy fast)

Antony Robinson reveals the secrets behind a successful local SEO strategy.

Why do you need to love local? Local search often shows the highest purchasing intent. Looking at the ‘near me’ search: most people make a purchase within 24 hours.

  • Reply to people (DMs, messages etc) within an hour irrespective of sentiment (within opening hours)
  • Nurture your citation signals. Make them exactly the same across pages/platforms/sites
  • Social signals aren’t as important, not from an SEO perspective anyway. Google is literally just checking that you have an active Twitter account.

Don’t let stories die

Eleni Cashell made some good points about how to give a press release a longer life span.

Keeping in mind that Google doesn’t like duplicate content and that the average open rate for a press release email is 18%; it can be a tough gig.

Here are some ways to tell better stories and get more out of your media strategy:

  • Use a focus group to better understand your audience and inform your content strategy
  • Don’t let a story die because you didn’t break it. Make a press release unique by adding your spin to it
  • Change the format: videos, interviews, soundbites: these all work
  • Get in the Google News index by putting your news into a specific subfolder
  • Try and get unique images where possible,

Medic update recovery is about expertise and search intent

Steve Haynes was helping us decipher the Medic update that hit a lot of sites hard in 2018.

All about expertise, authority, and building trust in order to succeed in search, countering the negative effects of the Medic update is rarely a quick fix.

Some Medic-friendly content tips:

  • Google tells you that you must meet user intent with high-quality content. So, deliver the correct information in the right format for that specific user intent
  • Don’t make users scroll for the important information. Remove unnecessary paragraphs
  • Hit more informational keywords with content landing pages instead of product pages. Make them useful and valuable
  • Google doesn’t just judge you at the page level. Does your site, in general, include informational content and provide more value than competitors? This is where a good blog will help
  • However, low-quality blog posts are an issue as they trigger the ‘thin content’ alarm bells
  • Google pays attention to reviews as they change the way people use your site and can increase conversions.

Digital PR can be a hard one to quantify

Another great digital PR talk from Fran Griffin focused on the best ways to measure the impact of digital PR coverage and link building. What are we actually hoping to achieve here?

Clients need to buy into the fact that all coverage has its place, including no-follow links.

And remember, good PR isn’t always good SEO, and vice versa.

PR is not the same as advertising and should not be measured in the same way.

Think about:

  • Coverage quality
  • Longevity of the story (can we use it again?)
  • Brand uplift.

The unsung hero of campaigns: supporting content

Alex Jonze’s talk about the importance of supporting content really struck a chord. It’s important to create campaigns that have real impact, and by factoring in supporting content from the ideation phase onwards, your campaign will be stronger and more meaningful.

See you supporting content as your campaign reinforcements. Sometimes supporting content might be reactive and spontaneous, other times it’s about building trust and credibility. Or it could be about highlighting the different facets of the same story.

Liaising with journalists can give you a real feel for the different types of content formats and requirements the media like to see. A question from a journalist can help steer you to create the right kind of supporting content.

Psychology is where it’s at

Becky Simms had some cool and meaningful things to share about the importance of human psychology and emotions when it comes to marketing. In fact, understanding the human psyche and its impulses can help you deliver much more powerful content, campaigns, sales pages, etc.

Some standout advice:

  • Decisions tend to be made emotionally, then rationalised afterwards
  • Google mimics humans better than ever before and understands context. So, we need to spark action from users, not just increase traffic
  • Content needs to be sticky, evoke emotion, and lead to an action
  • Content should be user-centric and selfless
  • Be more descriptive and fun
  • Bring emotion to your content
  • Think about context, not just features
  • Use visual, auditory, and kinesthetic language.

Thanks to all the fabulous speakers for sharing their knowledge with us! 

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