brightonSEO 2022 – Thoughts, Insights and Ideas

Ahhh, Brighton. For some, a place for a family-friendly beach frolic. For others, a chance to hit the clubs and pass out on the sidewalk. But twice a year, it’s a destination for over 8000 passionate search engine optimisers to share in their geeky love of keywords, web pages and clicks. 

Early in October, our team headed down to Brighton Centre for the day to bask in the conference fun, learn about new and upcoming SEO trends and get to grips with recent Google updates as a collective. 

We thought the sessions were so good it would be rude not to share, so have a read and learn from the best at brightonSEO! 


Should we worry less about Google’s updates?

While Chima Mmeje provided some great tips on on-page optimisation, she delivered the most impactful statement I heard during the day. Chima hilariously brought us back down to earth with her thoughts on Google algorithm updates. In short, she made the valid point that google is never going to release an update that goes against good content- content that satisfies user queries and is useful to people. And she’s right. 

Sometimes us SEOs panic when we see a new update being rolled out. But if we’ve been doing our jobs well, and ensuring our outputs include useful content, then we shouldn’t need to worry.

Of course, we can’t fix every piece of content on every website we work on, but honest and decent efforts will be rewarded. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with admitting we don’t get it right every time, but if we look at where we went wrong, we try again. We should put users first, scale back on unnecessary freak outs, and we’ll see more progress!


Get technical with content optimisation

Google has been evolving how they understand NLP (natural language processing) pretty much since it started. But the defining moment was the introduction of BERT in 2019. Though Google has since released MUM, BERT laid the foundations.

At brightonSEO, Josephine Haagen of Journey Further spoke about just how relevant BERT still is, and how we can consider NLP in our content strategies. In NLP optimisation, there’s no need to get overly techy, and we’re not spending any time re-learning how to do SEO. We are simply taking a slightly different approach. 

With any content in SEO, we choose our keywords and create useful content to satisfy intent. Optimising for NLP is largely the same, but we rely less on our own interpretation and instead look to saliency (relevancy) to drive our improvements. 

Ensuring content is relevant ensures it is useful to people – simple. But there are a few guidelines to keyword selection, such as a limit of three words per keyword, including an adjective, and excluding numbers and nouns that can also be an adjective. 

With Journey Further’s SALIENT tool, we can enter content with our chosen keywords to see how relevant it is, and how it can be improved. The tool uses IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding to show us what is relevant, and allows for creativity in content structure where keywords are placed to maximise the relevancy for our users. This could be a really powerful addition to our SEO tool belts!


Maybe SEO is maths?

Getting buy-in for SEO can be really hard, but with tips from the experienced Andrew Charlton and just a little bit of maths, we can quantify SEO more effectively. 

Most ideas and tests in digital marketing are based on risk and reward, and SEO is no different. We can create solid estimates which can be used to get sign off for new SEO initiatives by multiplying potential reward by a probable outcome to get an expected value. 

To get an expected value, we just need to know a few data points. These vary depending on the task at hand, but could include easily accessible data such as historical click, impression and CTR data for similar pages to those we wish to create, and average search volume for target keywords. We could also gather data about competitor performance where they have done something similar to our plans proposal and include that.

Why not go one step further and strengthen our estimates with real business and market data, such as growth. We should also be clear about uncontrollable external factors that could affect our plans, such as a crisis in the market or algorithm updates, as well as any dependencies required for the best chance of success. 

At no point should we have to 100% guarantee that the work we do will pay off, or in contrast, be super flimsy and non-committal about the success. Instead, with informed data behind us, we can be honest and upfront about potential success, which builds trust among both clients and in-house stakeholders. As the UK faces a financial recession, we urge all SEOs to quantify their plans as much as possible to provide data behind your great ideas!


Expand into industry verticals for better visibility

In SEO, it’s really tempting to focus competitive efforts only on direct search competitors, which makes sense, right? These domains rank in the same keyword search landscape we want to be in, and they offer the same service. 

Sometimes we look at indirect competitors, which also exist in the same keyword search landscape but offer something slightly different. But, we don’t always consider looking at domains in our wider industry vertical, which occupy a different search landscape and offer a different service. And why would we if we know we can’t offer anything better than them? 

At brightonSEO, Nicolas Basoalto at Ticketswap made an interesting point about queries in the music industry. They offer great levels of search volume with plenty of potential to grow visibility, and perhaps are something our direct competitors have not considered tapping into. 

Now, Nicolas wasn’t suggesting that his website, Ticketswap, could rank number 1 for a band name. But by looking into keywords related to that band name, Ticketswap could start to gain traction in long tail queries and verticals it hadn’t before been seen in. And that’s exactly what it did! The potential behind these newly uncovered opportunities was too much for his team to disregard and with a lot of teamwork, they achieved great results. 

Simplifying Nicolas’ in-depth case study to its core point: perhaps we should all look at the keyword spaces business in our wider vertical exist in. While we can’t knock these domains off top spots for the best keywords, looking in hidden corners for related opportunities can help us find and unlock new and creative ideas to increase organic visibility for websites of all sizes.

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