8 min read

Highlights from Brighton SEO 2018

iThinkMedia spent the Friday this week at Brighton SEO. 

Celebrity of the SEO world Rand Fishkin from Moz appeared at Brighton SEO for the first time, delivering a passionate controversial bold insight into the future of SEO. Clark Boyd shared some insight into Visual Search and Greg Gifford delivered a hilarious Samuel Jackson presentation on Local SEO for Voice Search.

There is much to talk about, here is a quick recap of what happened this Friday.


Technical SEO Audit Top Tips for Beginners with

Helen Pollitt

Helen discussed some basic tips which may seem too top level but proved to be helpful tips that even some fairly experienced players in the game may not do.

Test your website:

  • There are still people that use Internet Explorer – check how it looks on there
  • Turn off javascript to see how it performs without it – Security concerns cause some users to turn it off
  • Don’t redirect all 404 to the home page

Useful tools:

  • Ayima Redirect Path


  • Check your site for HTTP resources – make sure images etc are pulled from HTTPS otherwise your overall site won’t be as secure.

XML Sitemap:

  • Upload to XML sitemap to Screaming Frog (or other dedicated crawlers) – make sure you only have 200 code pages on sitemap


  • Do not block JS or CSS

How to Optimise for Visual Search with

Clark Boyd

This proved to be a very enticing talk as we have recently talked about visual search.

It was very interesting to learn more about visual search, something that is on the horizon.

Here is what Clark discussed.

What is visual search:

We partake visual search every day and Pinterest are leaders in visual search.

Take a pineapple, you may come across it in a supermarket. You might want to know about a recipe or where you can get it cheaper, image search makes that possible.

Visual search turns your smartphone camera into a visual discovery tool.

How does visual search work

Query understanding: Object shape, size color. Annotations help connect this to Pinterest inventory

Normally we type something. Now the image is the query, it is the text.

Why does visual search matter for marketers

“Shopping has always been visual, we’ve just been told to do the opposite online”



Google search is dominated by younger audiences. Younger generations more likely to engage in brands through visual search

Visual search extends the journey by taking a color pattern and suggesting products. But it also shortens the journey by allowing you to immediately buy.

Search is going towards all variety of technologies. Search companies are aiming to be more immersive.

600M visual searches via Pinterest lens every month.

How to optimize for visual search

  • Upload image sitemap and XML sitemap. Have product inventory on social media platforms
  • Go to Pinterest blog to understand visual search
  • Map Keywords to images
  • Order images based on stylistic aesthetic relations

Image Best Practices for Visual Search

  • Don’t use stock photos unless it’s been edited to make it unique
  • Remove clutter from images

Ways to Definitely Get Links for Your Business with

Charlie Marchant

Charlie shared some interesting link building success stories and case studies.

Before you link build

  • CTA that are worth clicking on
  • Make sure your site is trustworthy
  • SSL cert
  • Reviews
  • Keyword Research that pulls out high opportunity keywords
  • Expertise authority trust
  • Make sure your author bio shows relevant exp and qualifcations
  • Go on Majestic and check domain authority – trust flow etc – root domain
  • Identify backlinks with similar or higher domain trust flow – they key is getting quality backlinks

Giveaways can triple Facebook likes and twitter followers.

If you are a photographer or have anyone that does, make your own Flickr gallery. – Writers can use your photos if they provide backlink to your site/image.

Gambling Case Study

Gambling is a hard topic to get links from due to the nature of the topic.

However, Charlie found an opportunity on something that is outside of the gambling topic but is related to gambling.

Video games are making a killing by selling loot boxes. Huge amounts of Children take part in this, it’s seen as underage gambling by many.

Charlie and her team did some research and found a unique stat – 60% of brits asked in favor to regulate loot boxes.

They made an article on this – relates to gaming and gambling. Received a great outreach response.

The Guardian picked up and linked because of their unique stat found in their article.

Pitched to gaming sites, used their stat from their study of 60% of Brits voting to regulate loot boxes.

Gaming sites backlinked them.

They received 250 backlinks.


Voice Search

Marketing in the AI-era of search: your guide to creating exceptional customer experiences with

Purna Virji

Purma started off by saying that voice search is overhyped. She asked, how many times have you tried to do something via voice but quit because the CX (Customer Experience) was not good?

She showed these stats:

Over 70% have never used voice search to buy something.

Only 6% chance a voice app user will be active in the second week.

However, when designed correctly, voice search can save money. When using conversational interfaces the CX must be better than any other existing options.

The science of CX and why it matters

Laziness is entrenched deep in our nature

If there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will gravitate the one that takes least time and effort.

How we make choice:

Fast, emotional, intuitive, – Homer Simpson

Logical, deliberate, slower thinking – Lisa Simpson

We most of the time think fast like Homer, only think like Lisa when stuck

We want customers to stay in homer stage. Where it’s easy and seamless. People are impatient and don’t have the time or want to think.

Thinking slow can bring negative thinking, skepticism. Bad for sales.

Problems with traditional online exp – sites hard to nav

Can’t get an answer to questions

By 2022 voice shopping is expecting to grow to $40B

Success = Keeping the conversation moving smoothly and efficiently

Principles of conversation design

Clarity, Compassion, Character, Correction


  • Less time trying to figure out how to do it, more time thinking about what they want to do.
  • Clear choice and concise questions
  • Write sample dialogs and role play interactions


  • People prefer virtual agent with an easy to perceive personality
  • Should be clear they’re talking to a bot. More forgiving when talking to a machine with limitations
  • All voice should a persona, whether we intended for them to or not. Humans associate a personality with a voice.


  • Make bots better understand and resonate with humans
  • Encountering small talk is common for a bot but where a lot struggle
  • Build small talk sceneries


  • No too many sorrys
  • There are ways to correct an error with saying sorry
  • Offer alternatives
  • No peppermint left – offer would you like spearmint instead



  • Focus on clarity
  • Add suitable character
  • Embed empathy and compassion
  • Have quad rails for correction

A Voice Assistant Investigation with

Stuart Shaw

A Study in Speech

Search has come full circle

In the early days of search, searching was done in full sentences – engines didn’t always understand

Then search changed and adopted keyword searching.

But now we are moving back to full sentence.

Stuart thinks that the commonly talked about “50% of searches will be done by voice in 2020” stat will be mostly informational searches.

He went on to display a chart showing that most devices are used in cars – 40%

Stuart was quick to reiterate that although Voice Search is an ever-growing technology, he still thinks it’s overhyped.

It’s not all google…

Alexa is powered by bing. Cortana is powered by bing.

Siri and G assistant use google.

Why is voice important

Conversation is the most natural way for a consumer to engage with products

People mostly use voice for questions, music, weather, setting alarms and calendar appointments

Used mostly for

researching products

Adding to shopping lists

Track a package

How to optimize

  • Find out if large sites are dominating your category
  • Keyword Research
  • Heading paragraphs
  • Dropdowns
  • Schema markups
  • Not all snippets are the same – It’s not always headers and paragraphs
  • Google likely has a preference so do your research to find the right format for a type of content to get featured in a snippet.
  • Ranking in top 5 will give you a high chance of getting in the voice result.

Do I need a separate page for each wording?

No, Alexa isn’t stupid

Cars are introducing Alexa and Siri


How to use local to rock in mobile and voice search with

Greg Gifford

Greg Gifford’s talk was by far the most entertaining and engaging conference. He was like a standup SEO comedian genius. All of his slides were Samuel jackson themed. His slides moved fast, but here is a real rough breakdown of his punchy speech.

  • Longtail
  • Focus on user intent
  • No one will buy a car from alexa
  • Only ever buy basic stuff like toilet roll stuff they buy all the time
  • Moment they have to browse they will not buy
  • Strongly reiterated that no one will buy a car using voice search
  • Local seo has been around for years and it was always been niche, but now it’s become so much more important with the explosion of mobile
  • Thanks to mobile and voice searches, local SEO is important
  • Local SEO is 100% always about entity signals
  • Snippets from authoritative content
  • Make sure content is actually about your business and actually local
  • Reiterated that content has to be actually local
  • Use schema!
  • Stop obsessing over a handful high value keywords and start writing great conversational content


Optimize for Local SEO

  • City in Title Tag!
  • City in H1!
  • City in Page content- sound natural
  • City in URL
  • City in image alt text
  • Embedded google map
  • Local phone number – huge local signal
  • Citations are the foundation for local SEO – Not as powerful as they used to be but still powerful
  • Voice search come from local pack
  • Citation has to be right to get in local pack
  • Has to be consistent


  • Reviews are a massive to local signal
  • Reviews are social proof you’re a local business that people like
  • Get more reviews than your competitors
  • 4.5 average
  • Respond to every review
  • Google alerts reviewers
  • Respond to negative reviews too, the rest of the world needs to see how you respond to angry customers

Your GMB is your new home page

A lot of consumers using voice search will follow up by calling your business. GMB is a big part of this.

Upload amazing photos

Control QandA’s. Ask and answer your own. When someone asks voice search a question, if you have the answer, Google has the answer and reports it back to the voice user. Do it or someone else’s business will.


Rand Fishkin: The future of SEO

Rand delivered a passionate and controversial speech that I’m not sure anyone saw coming.

Rand was introduced on stage to a huge round of applause.

“We work for Google but are not paid by them

In return we get clicks, we get business from appearing on their site. That’s the deal.”

“Google’s free traffic was a trojan horse”

Rand had debates in the past where he strongly disagreed about this statement… Until now.

Rand Admits ultimately he may have been wrong overall that Google has their content creators best interests at heart.

“With 3-4 big search engine competitors in 2004, Google couldn’t afford to pi** off content creators”

But once they had 90% market share… Google doesn’t care anymore.

And even better results wouldn’t make people switch away – In a 2013 case study, Bing results were swapped with google but the Google logo was left on bing, and the bing logo was left on the google results, secretly. From a survey, users preferred the one with the Google logo. “That’s power”.

Google has monopolized the industry and because of this, they are starting to put themselves first despite who it destroys. They made a huge change to organic clicks for SEO for perhaps the first time ever late 2017. By February 2018, he showed these stats:

On mobile 2018: Paid 3.12%, Organic 38%. 61% no click searches.

Feb 2016 Mobile: Organic was 58% – that’s a 20% drop.

“This wasn’t part of the deal!”

He showed many examples of how Google’s own services have taken reign over organic results.

  • All videos searched for on google now show YouTube videos.
  • Flights – will always load up google flights. Even when you specifically type japan airlines, it will still load up google flights over Japan airlines own page.
  • Sports
  • Hotels
  • Famous people

They’re all showing Google services at the top, not organic results.


Everything is biased towards Google’s own services on SERPS. Google have gutted organic results ranking top and putting their own services at the top for every major topic.

Google is driving users to scroll along their site, and not click onto your site.

“Google used to have two types of users –  content creators and searchers

Now they only have one (Searchers)”

He did offer some solution and did say he doesn’t want this presentation to be all doom and gloom.

  • If Google is biased to google own properties – we have to accept it and create content for those platforms.
  • When KWs show aggregated answers, influence the publishers below to get listed.
  • If you are using featured snippets – Entice the Click! Leave a cliffhanger in info. (20 accents *ranked*) Ranked entices the click (what there are better accents than mine?)
  • If other sites can rank but you can’t, use barnacle SEO
  • SEO will be around for at least 10 years

Rand discussed many factors that I think will have SEO experts and agencies alike talking. It certainly puts a spanner in many 2019 SEO strategies.

We will be going into more detail later revealing more on what he said, and what we think of it, so be sure to check back to our blog section.

I hope this small preview has given you a little insight and overview to what went down at Brighton SEO. This year has several talking points and we will be discussing more in further detail soon, so stay tuned for that.

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