4 min read

Our BrightonSEO highlights (Spring 2021)

A few days ago, BrightonSEO took place. As you may know, BrightonSEO is a search marketing conference that brings together some of the best speakers in the industry. It was first held on 19th February 2010 in Brighton and usually takes place twice a year.

Over the years, it has now become a regular appointment for every new or experienced SEO and digital marketer. Our SEO Manager, Manuel Madeddu, attended this year’s BrightonSEO and shares some of his thoughts and opinions on the day, the talks and what the future could hold for Digital Marketing events.

For this year’s event, live participation had to be swapped for virtual viewing due to the current situation and restrictions. This meant waiving interaction with industry peers and missing the opportunity to interlace new connections for many passionate patrons and presenters.

However, the online streaming format presented much greater flexibility: a larger wealth of content was available at the same time so we were able to choose from many talks, book only the ones we were interested in and receive notifications just before they started. This way we were able to follow the talks more easily as we were busy working on something else, as in my case, and more efficiently.

Following what happened in the last year and the impact of the pandemic on the way we do business and organise public events, the need to create an answer to a bigger problem has allowed us to explore new paths and find solutions that not only made it possible to organise the conference (the show must go on!) but presented some comforts. And as for many sectors and areas, it gave the chance to push boundaries and invest more in opportunities that remained unexplored or partially explored till now.

On this occasion too, we discovered that in the midst of every crisis, lies a great opportunity: as well as an increased focus around digitalisation and online marketing, we found out that there are many ways to manage things remotely and that this can present many cons but offer many benefits too.

As usual, the BrightonSEO presentations touched on many topics from different angles: from more technical discussions on specific SEO issues to broader and conceptual themes.

In general, I think there has been an accrued focus on themes that are now more pivotal such as optimisation and opportunities for ecommerce sites, neural networks and NLP, the use of new technologies and data science to improve automation and explore new opportunities for SEO.

On the one hand, as a result of the impact of the recent pandemic opportunities are being explored on how businesses have reacted and converted to digital first, joining the wider environment and now trying to improve performance and visibility over social media, search engines and when compared to their direct or search competitors.

In the modern world, the challenge for many of the experts in the sector is on a technological level and it’s about how to keep up with constantly advancing algorithms which are much closer now to mimicking human behaviour and reasoning, and better processing the data. 

Hence the need to find methods to process ever greater amounts of data, make processes more efficient, keep up with all the latest updates and find new ways to respond to new challenges. This includes increasingly faster sites for mobile, ever richer content and more authoritative unique content, exploration of new platforms and mediums.

Off the back of all the talks, here are a few SEO trends for the next few years:

  • Focus on UX and search intent:
  • SEOs will need to move from traditional best practices as the algorithms get stronger and are more capable of capturing the user intent when presenting search results. But they also take in account user engagement and load speed metrics as a way to directly evaluate how good a page or site is for the end user.

  • Authoritative, unique content:
  • Following the last updates and improvements in Natural Language Processing, there will be an ever higher focus on how good, useful, trustworthy a piece of content will be for a specific audience. A way to outrank competitors will be consistently publishing longer-form content that appeals to Google’s E-A-T guidelines, as well as leveraging emotions or providing useful information to the end user.

  • Automation:
  • The amount of data needed to find wins over the competition is increasing and the time needed to come up with implementation and ideas is decreasing. This is due to frequent algorithm changes, more competitors and sites to compete with but also an extended panorama of possibilities over different mediums and platforms. Because of this, automation will play an ever bigger role in providing successful, scalable and time efficient strategies.

Interesting and noteworthy presentations from BrightonSEO:

  • A deep dive into the depths of DevTools:
  • Chris Johnson, Head of Technical at Bamboo Nine, offered a useful technical Chrome DevTools walkthrough. 

    He presented useful examples on how to best use the tool, discussed common pitfalls when using one of the most used CMSs available – WordPress – and gave tips on how to inspect opportunities to optimise Javascripts to improve speed scores.

  • Website Migration 101, not 404 by Richard Hird.
  • A technical, very detailed and useful talk about one of the most delicate tasks for an SEO: website migrations. 

    Richard Hird, Senior SEO Lead at StickyEyes, discussed initial considerations when approaching a migration (do you know the difference between an offensive or defensive migration?), what to consider when planning a migration roadmap and how to monitor and benchmark results.

    Very useful, very insightful and very clear. Thanks Richard!

  • SEO Audits are (mostly) bollocks – How to make them better
  • Geoff Kennedy, Head of marketing at Sitebulb, discussed one of the most sensible topics for all professional SEOs: how to ensure an audit is not a ticking exercise and full of fluff, but rather is useful for a business, understands its priorities, provide real actions and leads to a real measurable impact for a business.

    This talk provided insights on how less than 50% of recommendations from an audit are typically implemented. Geoff also discussed avoiding spending time on considerations that make no sense for a specific client (or cannot be implemented anyway), rather focus on business priorities, touching SEO fundamentals but also considering the wider search landscape or the specific niche and vertical searches. 

    Main takeaway (and a personal annotation): avoid the perfection trap. Sites don’t need to be perfect, need to reach targets.

  • The New Era of Automation in Tech SEO
  • An interesting talk presented by Ashley Berman Hale, Technical SEO lead at DeepCrawl, discussing how automation creates opportunities and has the potential to make processes more efficient and scalable, resulting in more successful SEO strategies.

    All the examples and case studies are golden nuggets and very useful for when approaching the same conversation internally or with clients.

  • How to build simple Web apps in Python to automate your SEO tasks!
  • A very technical but yet easy to follow talk by Charly Wargnier, freelance BI and SEO Consultant on how to build a simple Python web app in minutes and deploy it in a few clicks and for free, with no front-end or previous coding experience and by using Streamlit – an open-source framework for Machine Learning and Data Science – trendy and much loved by the SEO community. 

    I have to admit, I didn’t know Streamlit before and this opened an entire new world of possibilities to me. And I loved all the memes.

About Manuel:

Having worked over a decade within the digital marketing industry, Manuel started his career managing his own small agency developing websites and helping clients succeed online. From Milan, Italy, over the years he focused on SEO with passion, attention to detail and always open to new ways of reaching targets.

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