7 mins

Digital marketingSEO

Brighton SEO: A Lockdown Lookback

Date 16.03.2021

London fashion week, Comic Con, Brighton SEO. Okay, maybe Brighton SEO doesn’t have quite the mass allure, but if you’re in the digital marketing game, you’ll know it commands the same level of cult-like following.

Since we’ll be missing Brighton as we dial in remotely for the next instalment of Brighton SEO, join me as I stroll down memory pier and take a lockdown lookback at the biggest and best SEO conference in our industry.

September 2015:
Greg Gifford’s local SEO talk goes down a storm

I travelled down solo to attend my very first Brighton SEO. Back then the conference was held in Brighton Dome. It was an absolute hive of industry bods with queues wrapping around the building as we all waited to file into this impressive, but unsuitably-sized building. This was the last time it would be held here.

I’d heard from a colleague that Greg Gifford’s talk was one not to miss, and she was right. He sped his way through 128 movie-themed slides under the title of ‘Local SEO – A seriously awesome blueprint’.

He spoke about the core differences between traditional SEO and local SEO, taking us through his process to try and get his website to rank highly in a specific geographical area.

2015’s learnings:

  • Create and maintain a quality Google My Business listing
  • Optimise content with location mentions in title tags, headers, and content
  • Include embedded Google Maps.

2015’s food highlight:

  • A tofu scramble burrito down The Lanes (way better than it sounds, I promise!)

September 2016:
Google 360 Suite is the talk of the town

This time a whole bunch of us headed down and we enjoyed a couple of drinks in the evening sun the night before.

The following day we split up to absorb as much information from different talks as we possibly could. I attended my first analytics-centric talk, held by Dara Fitzgerald who told the crowd all about the launch of Google’s new product, the 360 Suite. Billed to “break down the walled garden and integrate third parties better than ever before,” this product came with a price tag of $150,000 and was really geared to enterprise-level companies. At least it was fascinating to learn about this shiny new product.

2016’s learnings:

With lots of advances in unifying data between then and now, our free Google Analytics combined with Google Data Studio and all the integration solutions this brings provides us with more than enough to make tactical, data-driven decisions.

2016’s food highlight:

  • An amazing dinner at Food with Friends

September 2017:
Matt learns about user-driven change

Our head of client service, Matt Bowell, hopped on the train down to Brighton to take in all the latest insights. One of the talks that stuck with him was Duane Forrester’s presentation on user-driven change in digital marketing.

Duane’s talk focussed on looking to the future, using digital usage stats compiled from children aged 8-15. Insights included:

  • Many felt YouTube video creators were more relatable and played more of a role in changing and shaping culture than traditional celebrities
  • 6 out of 10 said they’d follow advice on what to buy from their favourite YouTube influencer.

We’ve seen influencer marketing absolutely boom over the past few years; it’s important to keep in mind that their loyal followers are now growing up, getting jobs, and spending money.

Focussing on how Gen Z are spending their time (and their money) online continues to be sage advice when we look to the future of digital marketing.

2017’s food highlight:

I didn’t go this time, but as Matt did, I’d imagine it was a Gregg’s sausage roll

April 2018:
We learned to love link building again

We’d been reading online from lots of sources that link building was pretty much dead, but this year was full of positive tales and strategic talks, breathing new life into this classic tactic and reassuring us that there was plenty of reasons to pursue link building.

2018’s learnings:

  • Google is too smart for spammy links
  • Focus on intelligent and skilful acquisition through relationship building
  • Local link building is your friend
  • Building up a healthy link profile is a long-term game.

2018’s food highlight:

  • Pizza from Purezza with their amazing mac and cheese side

April 2019:
Featured snippets and confirmation bias

During this trip, I watched Emily Potter from Distilled deliver a fantastic talk around position zero, entitled “Featured Snippets: The Achievable Search Feature”.

Featured snippets are often referred to as position zero, which helps us to understand just how important they are; they even are better than a page one, position one listing.

Featured snippets create confirmation bias; you can ask a question in two different ways, and Google will serve up the answer it thinks you want to see. She gave a great example of this which I’m going to share with you now as this is still relevant today:

Question 1: Do Ferrets make good pets?

Question 2: Are Ferrets difficult to take care of?

You’ll see the answers are actually being taken from the same source (a Blue Cross article) but Google is presenting two different parts of the article to best fit the bias of the questions posed.

2019’s learnings:

  • Present both sides of an argument or topic in the same piece (where appropriate)
  • Use connective joining words, such as ‘however’, to show Google that your article includes both viewpoints
  • Ranking for multiple search intents is your best chance of achieving a featured snippet.

2019’s food highlight:

  • Happy Maki Sushi Burrito, eaten in the rain on the Brighton seafront.

Even though I’ll be dialling into the conference from my office/cupboard this time around, I’m still excited for it at the end of the month. Brighton SEO is consistently brilliant. It’s always bursting with insights and actionable guidance that motivates us to continually evolve and innovate for our clients and ourselves.

If you still need your ticket, book before the event starts on 25 March 2021!

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