The Lowdown on April’s #BrightonSEO Conference

BY:
Chris Shadrick

It. Was. Awesome. I’ve been attending BrightonSEO for a few years now and each year it continues to grow in numbers, attracting some of the finest folk in Digital, as well as experts who have had hugely successful careers at Google, Bing, Moz and many more. If you’ve never been along and you have an interest in Digital Marketing, make sure you’re attending in September!

So, what stood out for me? 

Confessions from former Google Search Quality

Ex Googlers Fili Wiese & Kaspar Szymanski provided a great insight into the Google Search Quality team and recent changes to the Google algorithm.

Learnings from this talk?

  • Manage linkbuilding effectively – don’t buy links and manage your domain authority to understand any previous issues your website may have faced with backlinks
  • A website needs to have a unique proposition – what makes it different? Stand out? Ensuring there is added value i.e unique content will help to improve Google rankings
  • No matter who you are (big brand or small), Google will rank your website fairly, based on the quality of your website and the relevance of your content for specific search queries
  • Google will favour original, unique content based on time. If other people steal/reuse your content, Google can understand where it originated from

Linkbuilding

Oh yes… Linkbuilding isn’t dead. SEO isn’t dead, please stop thinking it. Linkbuilding still plays a role in your Digital Marketing strategy and good quality links from credible sources still help to boost organic rankings. This should be in tandem with your other Digital Marketing activity and fit in with a wider content marketing plan, after all one of the most effective ways in generating links is through editorial and PR.

Tools such as Open Site Explorer by Moz allow you to analyse your domain authority and find out who is linking to your website. Found a poor quality link? You can disavow links within Google Webmaster Tools after performing a link audit to let Google know you’re no longer associated with the third-party website. Note: be careful when disavowing links, if you include a wrong URL you could damage your search rankings.

BrightonSEO

Schema markup

There was a lot of talk around increasing trust within Digital Marketing. Why? Well, trust leads to an increased click through rate in search results, an increase in social sharing and other engagement on your website such as purchasing a product.

How do you achieve trust through Schema markup?

Schema allows you to enrich your search listings to show reviews, specific product information, last minute offers, prices and other rich information. This increases visual impact and we all know that users search out reviews before making a purchase – according to a survey by BrightLocal, 85% of people read online reviews, forming an opinion faster than they would have done only a few months earlier.

An increased click through rate can also lead to an increase in Google rankings as well because Google will identify that a website is delivering relevant results and achieving a good amount of engagement.

Increased exposure = increased CTR = fulfilling KPIs.

Site Speed for Content Marketers

Probably one of my favourite talks from the event. SEO strategist Tom Bennet covered off why you should be optimising your website and content to ensure it loads quickly.

This included best practice such as not uploading large images (obviously) but also more technical factors such as server load times, font sizes i.e if you use Google Fonts and third party applications. Tools such as Pingdom and Google PageSpeed Insights allow you to identify areas of your website that are loading slow and make recommendations to optimise the website on desktop and mobile.

Here’s a fact that will make sure you consider site loading times…

When Walmart improved their website speed by every 1 second it lead to a 2% increase in conversions. Site speed matters.

Three SEO Steps to a Safe Redesign 

  • Make sure your new design has no obvious SEO pitfalls – If you are changing your old design for a new one, make sure you satisfy all basic requirements in terms of SEO. Typical examples of suboptimal design trends concern AJAX and searchboxes. HTML-based pages remain a safer and easier to optimise choice in terms of SEO. Javascript is sub-optimal also for navigation. During their discovery process, search engines typically browse the Web from page to page by discovering and visiting the links they find. However they may have problems with complex JavaScript-based menus and searchboxes.
  • Make sure your new design is faster and better structured than the old one – Don’t compromise your users’ experience and ultimately your rankings. As a redesign may involve changes to both in the front-end and in the back-end, before launching a new design it is always advisable to extensively test. Google Pagespeed Insights can help provide specific advice to improve on site speed and functionality.
  • Watch out for internally duplicated content – Since changing a site’s design basically means changing the way in which pages are composed, a redesign can result in the same elements being used across several pages and essentially duplicating content. This can damage the site lowering its perceived quality – especially in the eyes of Google’s Panda algorithm. A tool which can help you to assess the risk in duplicated content is Siteliner. 

Other talks included On-site SEO for E-commerce Websites, How to Build Useful Audience Personas to Guide Your Digital Strategy and How Afraid Should SEOs be of JavaScript?

Coolest thing I heard on the day?

10 days ago, Google filed a patent that impacts rankings from your eye expressions.

What next?

If you’d like to keep up-to-date with the latest trends, give AB a follow on twitter or sign up at the bottom of this page for our exclusive monthly email highlights.

WHAT NEXT?

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Author: Chris Shadrick

Chris leads on Digital Strategy and works with our clients to enhance their online communications and uses insight to better understand business challenges. His enthusiasm for new technology and digital means he can lead and develop a clear Digital Marketing Strategy for all our clients and has experience working across multiple sectors. Chris is Google Certified, which means he knows his Panda from his Penguin and runs digital campaigns that achieve results. He also runs a fast-growing digital networking group in Exeter and will also be lecturing at the University of Exeter on Digital Marketing in 2017. Chris enjoys escaping for long walks on Dartmoor and is often found getting creative in the kitchen.

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