BrightonSEO key conference takeaways - April 2015 edition

April 10, 2015

BrightonSEO key conference takeaways – April 2015 edition

The team from are here in force at the popular UK digital marketing conference BrightonSEO! We’re covering the most exciting parts of the conference so you can spend more time listening to the speakers, rather than having to take those pesky notes on your pad, tablet or laptop.

If you haven’t been able to make it to the conference, you may also find our running commentary helpful so you can stay in the loop with what’s new in the world of SEO.

When you’re back in the comfort of your office make sure to revisit this post so you can refresh your memory about the key takeaways from the day. And please feel free to drop us a comment if you have any questions about what was covered at the conference as we’re always keen to share our insights and opinions.

Now for the important stuff – what conference topics do you fancy reading about? Click on the internal anchor links below to find what you need quickly…

Social Content sessions

Erica McGillivray: Show Your Flare and Pivot for Social Image Sharing

A quote to remember… “Whoever controls the media, the images, controls the culture” – Allen Ginsberg

Think about these design principles when choosing or creating images for sharing:

  1. Use high contrast – use bright colours and use with black or white to set them off
  2. Make them bold – use thick lines
  3. Unity – their should be flow between elements to capture attention

Some other helpful tips:

  1. Match copy with images
  2. Challenge audiences
  3. Take risks
  4. Establish credibility
  5. Make a human connection
  6. Make sure you don’t confuse users with elements like play buttons on static images that can’t load video content
  7. Don’t repeat text across imagery and text when not needed

Sprout Social has a good reference for social image sizing:

If you post similar images often, create simple and customised templates for easy image and text swaps

Implement Open Graph tags

Erica recommends tool called Rival IQ –

Social images generated an average engagement increase of 468.95% for blog posts on Twitter in case study

Vicke Cheung: Designing Content for Mobile

Lesson 1: We need to completely embrace the meaning of ‘mobile first’

  • What DOESN’T mobile first mean?
    • Mobile first doesn’t mean having a good fallback for mobile, or designing purely for the desktop version then implementing mobile afterwards
  • What DOES mobile first mean?
    • It means that you need to design and build the mobile version FIRST, not afterwards

One problem that you will come across is that space is a premium, so make sure you KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

Start designing with the vital elements of your content – you can then start to add more if needed

Watch out for orphans. On a mobile these can take up premium space, and they’re needless

Let go, plan for change – not every device will render exactly as you designed them

Don’t design for a specific screen size, there are waaaay too many!

Make decisions with context in mind – make sure you don’t just design for the device that you know, or are used to

Make sure to be aware of your design in the context of other operating systems

Test on real devices – use Chrome’s in-built mobile emulator (Right click + inspect element + click on the mobile icon)

Nothing beats testing on the real thing

Remember that you actually sit much further from the screen when designing on a computer, so be aware of sizes

Be unique, but make sure people can still understand how to use the site/app etc. For instance, use simple UX patterns like hamburger menus

Build a bank of inspiration that you can come back, then ask your developers if you can recreate this type of thing

It’s not enough to have content be responsive on a purely visual level – performance is key

Serve selectively – don’t serve the same image file to mobile as you would for desktop. Save different versions of the image in different sizes, then use media queries or javascript to specify when each image size should load

We will always have to be user centric in our designs, so ensure you ALWAYS put your user first, because recognising your user’s needs is paramount to success

Iain Haywood: Making your Competitions Fun

Why do a competition? Revenue, SEO, Social, User acquisition, Opt-in…

Set campaign priorities before you start – a plan could be done in less than 60 minutes

Follow these 3 golden rules for competitions:

  1. There is more than one type of entrant
  2. Your competition is unlikely to be a panacea
  3. Incentivisation fundamentally changes the nature of intent

Think about levels of fun and reliance on incentives to attract entrants

If you’re creating a landing page you can host creatives, entry mechanisms and links to your T&Cs – the benefit is attracting links and branding signals

Utilise Rafflecopter, Cleam, Antavo if helpful

Games don’t need to cost the earth if you use this as an entry mechanism

SERPs sessions

Jon Earnshaw: Cannibalisation – the SEO’s biggest nightmare, and how to identify it

“Cannibalisation in all its forms in on the increase!” – Jon Earnshaw

Monitor the visibility of your content daily

Never be fooled by a straight line

Always investigate suspicious flux

The 4 types of cannibalisation are: internal conflict, subdomain conflict, international conflict, semantic flux

Internal cannibalisation

Sometimes you need to dig deeper to discover what’s going on

Always check for internal conflict first

Argos saw search term “iPad price” drop out of SERPs due to 4 similar product pages – they are competing with each other for the top rankings

Debenhams saw search term “living room furniture” fluctuate as they had 5 competing URLs

Use canonical tags to tell Google which page is preferred for indexation

Subdomain conflict

The www. version of Tesco Mobile pulled the subdomain off page 1

Mobile phone provided Three had similar issues – there were 3 conflicting pages from www site

International conflict

Hotels Combined rarely visible on page 1 – the .com version stealing the SERPs

Semantic flux

Curry’s competed with PC World resulting in semantic flux

Yorkshire Bank competed with Clydesdale Bank with same consequence

Dave Naylor: Dave predicts the future of Search

Use Google Webmaster Tools to check any issues with mobile; some SERPs are saying ‘mobile friendly’ so providing conflicting messages – which source should be trusted?

Dave prefers to use responsive design as opposed to separate mobile sites to avoid chance of position flux

In his study of 275 keywords, 215 matched position over mobile and desktop. 37 were better on mobile and 23 were better on desktop

He thinks that Google has got really clever with sentiment (addition of “buy” in search term usually means that the user wants to buy something)

Consider the industry that you are working in to think about how users actually use your website across devices – where are they going to find information or convert?

On average, there is a 5.8% conversion on mobile

Websites that performed better had user details stored or a mobile payment provider excelled

Google said build a site for users not search engines, but Dave debates this saying you would fail if you used a flash site, etc.

Users don’t care which page has a hreflang tag or a rel=canonical tag

Matthew Barby : 10 Ways to Build a Link in 20 Minutes Flat

Creating great content is vital to ranking higher, but it’s not the only factor – “Combine great content with great links and you’ll stand a chance of ranking on the first page of Google”

Earning great links isn’t easy, but you can start by applying fundamental link building methodologies to your campaign. Just make sure you modify them to work for your audience

Utilising press requests is a quick and easy way to earn editorial mentions in potentially top publications. There are a number of sites that you can sign up to and you can receive alerts by email (Slide 14)

Wikipedia can be a great spource of easy but highly authoritative and relevant links. There are three elements to look at: citations, broken links, and your own listing

Citations – use a tool like to find articles that need citations
Broken links – Use to find articles marked with ‘dead links’. Recreate the content from the dead link, then update the article, referencing your content.
Your listing – Create a page for your business, but make sure you adhere to their strict guidelines
Vital: Find an experienced Wikipedia editor who can upload your entry (you will likely need to pay for this service)

Get featured in, or supply content to online publications within your nice. The best way is to start small with a larger quantity of articles, before moving to higher authority publications, but publishing less.

Try and utilise BuzzFeed’s community. Youc an create an account and submit an article for ‘community selection’. But make sure you:

  • Don’t shamelessly promote products or services
  • Don’t use keyword rich anchor text
  • Ignore BuzzFeed’s guidelines

You can help your article by:

  • Running social advertising
  • Getting influencers to share the post
  • Sticking to the tried and tested format of BuzzFeed

Adapting raw data is a great way of making boring information interesting. Start by finding data that might be interesting to your target audience, then look for questions based on this topic. From here you can start to get a feel for paint points etc. and you can create content from this that will be helpful/interesting/entertaining etc.

Natalie Wright : The Power of Backlink Discovery

Find a competitor, or interesting piece of content that is ranking #1, and put them in to Majestic (you could also do this is with Ahrefs!). You can then discover who is linking to this content, and whether you might be able to get a link from these brands. You could also consider creating your own version, and outreaching to them.

Use the ‘New’ tab to discover week by week where your links are coming from. This a great way to show a client their ROI. It can also help you adapt your link building startegy.

Use a tool like Majestic (or Ahrefs) to discover your bad links. To clarify, a bad links is:

  • Irrelevant
  • Low authority
  • Exact match anchor text

Backlink discovery helps you prioritise your SEO tasks, and ensures that you can be proactive, instead of reactive with your links. It can also help you improve your rankings

By monitoring your links carefully and diligently, you can make informed decisions in regards to opportunities, as well as reporting on your ROI. It will also help you to maintain a healthy backlink profile

Samuel Scott : Stop Thinking About Links. Start Thinking About Publicity!

Unfortunately we weren’t able to attend this talk, but there’s a summary of his slides on Samuel’s website here:

Technical sessions

Kirsty Hulse : Schema, JSON-LD and the Semantic Web

Rich snippets + knowledge graph = does this increase click through rate? Probably

Ticketmaster are good at owning their brand SERP

If brands don’t implement structured markup, competitors could steal the limelight

Only about 0.3 percent of domains are using schema markup on their websites – Searchmetrics study

Linked Data video available on YouTube:

Google recently endorsed use of JSON-LD as a way of doing mark up

Add JSON-LD using Google Tag Manager

Structured markup doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or require development resource with GTM

Datalayer is scalable, flexible, resolves security issues, measurable

You must keep JSON-LD in sync with what appears on the page

Video credit:

Mark Thomas: A 10 Step Technical SEO Game Plan

Search might change in it’s nature, but technical SEO will remain fairly similar throughout time

If a site is technically flawed, it doesn’t matter how many links you have etc.

How to be the backbone with the 10 step technical SEO game plan:

  1. Engage – what are the objectives of the business, what are individual teams prioritising, is there a team that is blocking implementation? Engaged teams support recommendations because they care more.
  2. Comprehensively audit – there are two main KPIs – number of unique pages, crawlability. Identify thin content on your site to find quick opportunities to make improvements
  3. Solution sell two key wins
  4. Share architectural insight
  5. Anaylse impact 
  6. Automate – spend more time doing real work
  7. Start making history – make sure there is always someone who can answer technical questions that influence the business success
  8. Be there in the hour of need – all site releases should be pre-tested, migration can be tricky
  9. Share and communicate – do this through clear reporting with APIs
  10. Control the future – be the person that people come to when it comes to thinking about what happens next

Jono Alderson: Doing an Awesome Site Audit

Technical SEO is hugely important yet consistently terrible – users get poor experiences which harms reputation and can reduce overall profit

Fixing things is big and complex. Can fix things but it is important to sort out why they exist in the first place – focus on the source of the issue

Site audits are for identification and prioritisation of issues

Important to avoid audits being thrown to the side and not used – nobody wants an audit, they want success. It should be there to make things happen

Anticipate objections – who will be receiving it? Multiple audiences have different needs so know your audience (c-level, management, marketing, tech, finance, legal, third parties)

Audits should be presented in different formats – quick wins, long-form editorial piece, spreadsheets with itemised issues, cheat sheets, storyboard style presentation

You will need exhaustive keyword and market research, performance/commercial data

Content Marketing sessions

Rebecca Lee : A supercharged approach to PR SEO success

Hannah Smith : Jaws in Space (How to Develop & Pitch Creative Ideas)

It’s easy to get wrapped up in formats – a guide is a format not an idea (the same goes for videos and infographics).

People share ideas, not formats!

The relationship between social shares and links is not as linear as you might think

Try to distill your thinking, so that you can communicate why your ideas are right for your client

People share content that:

  • Makes them look smart
  • Makes them look cultured
  • Makes them look like they care about being creative

Results don’t just happen – you need to promote your piece tirelessly

For an adorable round up of Hannah’s presentation that puts the AW in Jaws, watch the video below!

Video credit:

Krystian Szastok : Using DIY Data Visualisation to Fuel Your Content Marketing

Fireside Chat with Apprentice winner Mark Wright

The last thing on the BrightonSEO agenda is to listen to Apprentice winner Mark Wright. He’ll be talking about his experience on the BBC programme as well as telling us about what he’s learned along the way. We will definitely be listening to this one, which we’ll summarise below with embedded tweets.

Mark Wright – Fireside Chat

[Image credit:[email protected]/859842214]

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