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Main Takeaways from BrightonSEO

BrightonSEO Main StageBy Stephen Hudson - Digital Marketing Consultant. 

BrightonSEO is one of the biggest and most popular search marketing conferences in the UK and it is also, from a personal point of view, the first digital marketing conference I've attended. Held in the heart of the quirky seaside town of Brighton, BrightonSEO attracts search marketers from across the globe and offers practical talks on the current and future trends in the digital marketing world.

The agenda was full of exciting talks on everything from the future of Google to the secret of newsworthy content. With talks taking place in sets of 3, it was unfortunately not possible to attend every presentation, although I would have if I could have! Thankfully this year's conference added a new 'Greatest Tips Session' at the end of the day so that everyone could get key takeaways even for presentations they weren't present for. As this was my first conference, I was both excited and nervous about meeting new people and learning about the latest trends from across the industry, and this was also a great opportunity for me to have a go at live tweeting, when the Wi-Fi permitted! If you've missed Brighton SEO, then I would like to share with you some of my highlights from the talks I attended:

Google is no longer a search company

The Brighton DomeIan Miller, Search Director at Crafted, delivered the first talk I attended, and in his presentation, Ian spoke about the future of Google and how the famed search company is quickly becoming a data platform. Since Google was founded in September 1998, the company has spent over £16.7bn on acquisitions such as Nest, Emu and more, while investing heavily in new technologies such as Google Car, Google Glass, Google Chrome and Google Fibre. According to Ian, the reason behind these acquisitions and investments is that Google is continually trying to collect as much data on us as possible. Why? Not because the company is evil, but simply because Google wants to become your cybernetic friend and better understand you, so that when you search, it can offer a more accurate and contextualised set of results.

Make sure you go further than your own domain optimisation

Matt Roberts from Linkdex delivered a very interesting talk on "momentology'' and why businesses need to ensure that they do more than just optimise their own website. In his talk, Matt highlighted that organic search is huge and that consumers tend to look in multiple places for reviews and prices before making a purchase. As a consequence, digital marketers need to ensure that they place consumers in the middle of their SEO plans and understand that it's not enough to just optimise their own domain: things such as profiles on review websites should be optimised too. Matt finished by saying that consumers don't just buy products on one website, therefore, a company should consider advertising on other websites where similar products are found, and make sure that if a company's product is available on another website, that listing is properly optimised to avoid any negative feedback.

Building relevant links

Building links is still an essential ingredient in SEO, and it's getting harder to do. Google has made it very clear that fresh, engaging content is the best way to attract earned links. However, during the conference, Kirsty Hulse, Head of SEO at Found, discussed why companies shouldn't solely focus on creating interesting content, but should make sure to create content that is tailored to an audience. She explained that segmentation allows companies to better understand their audience and what makes them tick, which can help a company to create better and more engaging content that can attract more relevant 'earned' links. Companies can get access to data on their audience from sources such as Google Analytics and Hootsuite, but Kirsty warned against these figures as they can be distorted as online personas are different from real people! Therefore, she suggested that companies try surveys and Facebook's Graph Search as a way of segmenting their social audience and gathering data to create content targeted at the audience they wish to interact with.

Curating content rather than creating content

Creating fresh content is a vital aspect of digital marketing success as it helps increase search engine visibility and build trust and authority. However, John Hutson from DigitasLBi explained that content curation and commentary can be just as effective to gain traffic, coverage, links and authority. He recommended that companies not only create original content, but also curate content, be that on their own website or on external websites. John said that creating a weekly or monthly roundup of the biggest news and opinions can help a company supplement exciting and new content to ensure a website is frequently updated – something Google is very hot on.

2014 is the year of paid traffic

Networking at BrightonSEOMatt Beswick ended the day with a very interesting talk on how PPC traffic can enhance any search campaign. In his talk, Matt mentioned that if you want traffic in 2014 you have to pay (which wasn't taken very supportively amongst those in attendance!); he used Facebook's organic reach as an example, showing that over the past few years, Facebook's organic reach is declining and the social platform is slowly encouraging users to pay to ensure the visibility of posts. Matt also discussed alternative PPC methods such as Taboola (a content discovery platform that can distribute content for a small fee) which can bring cheap traffic to a website, but he warned that these platforms (while effective) don't always work. He finished by saying that SEOs no longer exist, rather we are all now digital marketers and we shouldn't be scared to merge the world of organic and paid to achieve results.

In conclusion, BrightonSEO was an amazing experience for me and I really enjoyed meeting like-minded individuals and learning from some of the most experienced professionals in the industry. While I cannot compare BrightonSEO to other conferences, I would highly recommend it to anyone in the industry looking for a hands-on and enjoyable conference that focuses on the world of digital marketing, oh and make sure to try the fish and chips on Brighton Pier, they were simply divine!

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