Key takeaways from Brighton SEO

This month I had the great pleasure of attending the Brighton SEO conference. With tickets selling out in a few minutes earlier this year, the rapidly growing SEO conference has now moved to a bigger venue at The Brighton Centre.  The sole point of the event is for SEOs to meet and get better at their jobs and there aren’t many industries that readily share this kind of detail or insight into what they do and both are invaluable in such a rapidly changing sector. My key takeaways from this years’ SEO event are:

Question Time

By 2020 50% of searches will be voice, this means a massive shift in search behaviour moving from keywords to more targeted questions. As Raj Nijjer highlighted in his talk ‘AI and Structured Data’ ; search results aren’t just ten blue links anymore. Voice search will be powered by the knowledge graph; implementing structured data across websites will be essential.

But company data doesn’t just sit on the company websites, the digital landscape is practically infinite and search engines are going to bring the most relevant results, which may be on Google, Yelp, Facebook.etc . Voicers will filter out results by reviews and locations so reputation management and localised SEO are going to be the staples of voice search optimisation.

Wordless Searches

On the other end of the spectrum we have wordless searches.  As Purna Virji at Bing pointed out in her presentation ‘Keywordless Searches’ consumers are 80% more likely to engage with content with a relevant image attached to it.

We already know image search exists, but as AI becomes more sophisticated so will search results and integration with other platforms. Google acquired Moodstocks at the end of last year with exactly this in mind. The idea is you can take a photo of anything to search it. Pinterest has already evolved from a search and discover tool to a search discover and buy tool. You can ‘Shop the Look’ and ‘Find Similar Items’ all within one platform.

Image optimisation is essential in order to maintain visibility and ensure your brand can be found. And, the growth is rapid, in 2001 there were 250 million images indexed by Google, in 2010 there were 10 billion. Gen Z communicates with images and multiple screens are growing from two for millennials to up to five for Gen Z – high quality and engaging imagery and multimedia content is going to be essential for any marketing campaigns to maintain a search presence. 

(Quality) Content is King

It was very telling that the auditorium was completely packed for this session. Starting my career as a PR, I know the value of good content and when Google stopped sharing keyword content with SEOs the game changed for website optimisation. Ever since then the focus has been more and more on quality over quantity, which is leading a natural convergence of PR and SEO.

Two key things to keep in mind as highlighted by Marcus Tober, in ‘Why SEO and Content Marketing must always be data-driven’ is that 80% of content is invisible to Google. So sometimes less really is more. Do you need all the content on your site? Does it have a purpose? There are different stages of the buying funnel, which content appeals to which stage and has it been appropriately optimised? You can’t target every search term around your keyword, so you need to make it targeted. Likewise don’t just write content and leave it to sit there. It needs to be updated and refreshed – keep it relevant. Can you update or rewrite a page rather than creating a new one?

But good content is only part one, as Chris Cemper later highlights in ‘5 Years of Google Penguin, the fight against spam is still on and you still need to make sure you disavow any bad links that might bring you down.

International SEO

Personalisation seems to be a marketing trend we forget about when it comes to international content, especially on our websites. It’s not one size fits all and you can’t just do a like for like translation of your content. It needs to written and optimised for the search behaviour in that country. Google isn’t the number one search engine in each country, so you wont have the same search authority for your target keywords in each region. This was a key theme throughout the conference. 

Will Cecil in particular talked about ‘Transcreation’ of content keeping the intent, style and branding of your content but working with a linguist to it works in other countries. Whilst Webcertain’s hosted room featured a drop in clinic and a number of practical sessions on how to improve International SEO.

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