On Friday 12 September, I attended BrightonSEO; one of the largest and most respected search marketing conferences in the UK, which takes place in – you’ve guessed it – Brighton!

The day finally arrived and so did our long journey to Brighton (starting with a 5.30am train from Birmingham New Street!) We finally arrived at 8.30am and our first priority was food. As we sat in Côte Brasserie devouring our breakfasts, (smoked salmon and scrambled egg on toast with a pot of tea, in my case) we started to get an idea of the scale of the conference. Quite possibly the biggest queue I’ve ever seen was winding its way around the streets of Brighton and our excitement was building…

The day kicked off in the Old Courtroom with a really interesting presentation from Gary Moyle, Head of SEO at NetBooster UK in which he shared a study from NetBooster into how click-through rates in natural search are changing in 2014.

Top tips

  • Using search query data from Google for a range of leading brands based on over 1.2 million unique search queries, NetBooster gained insights into how CTR in natural search has evolved.
  • NetBooster’s click curve for non brand search queries highlighted that we need to think beyond the top 10. Customers are getting more savvy and are far more willing to scroll below the fold and even on to the second and third pages.
  • Branding plays a huge part in CTR – around a 10% difference on page 1 click-through. It’s important for smaller brands to know when and where and when to fight their battles.
  • CTR studies such as this one are useful for forecasting, benchmarking and opportunities.

The third presentation of the morning started with a round of sweets (always a winner for me!) delivered by David Whatley and James Robinson. This gave a useful insight into where you need to put your energy for successful local SEO.

Top tips

  • Local is, compared to organic, relatively simple.
  • It’s quite simply all about NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency!
  • You can rank without a website as long as you have a physical address and a unique phone number.
  • Unfortunately, there aren’t any shortcuts to local SEO – you just have to make your way through citation after citation and as with organic search, it’s all about quality over quantity. Note – make sure you fix all of your current listings before you add any new ones.
  • Categories in local search are vitally important. However, Google is always updating the categories, so it’s important to keep up-to-date with the latest changes.

After a quick refreshments break, the second batch of presentations started.

Aleyda Solis; the highly experienced and widely recognised International SEO consultant and founder of Orainti, shared her insights on leveraging content curation, building links and growing your search visibility.

Top tips

  • Create content quickly and effectively with content curation, which consists of finding, grouping, organizing and sharing the best and most relevant content about an issue.
  • She highlighted 5 curation models; aggregation, distillation, elevation, mashup and chronology.
  • Curation provides more content sources, better content ideas and topics, friendlier content format, which in turn influences 2 SEO KPIs; links and rankings.
  • You should start by carrying out relevant searches in Quora, Reddit, Alltop, Slideshare, Tumblr, Listly etc and monitor using RSS and Google Docs. You can set up Buzzsumo alerts to get email updates on the best, most shared content in your niche.
  • Remember to optimise the content from a technical and content SEO perspective, share it in social networks and link to it from relevant website pages.

Kirsty Hulse, Head of SEO at Found discussed how to understand and define your audiences to shape your content marketing.

Top tips

  • Set up Demographic and Interest Reports in Google Analytics. These reports are invaluable in finding out which demographics are important (i.e. converts).
  • Remember – online personas are often different from offline personas.

Top tools

  • Similar Web provides a demographic information for free.
  • Social Mention is a good social analysis tool (and it’s free).
  • Give Me My Data is a really quick and free way to start segmenting up Facebook data to help with your persona development.

After a quick trip to Handmade Burger Kitchen, the afternoon sessions began…

Founder and CTO of Searchmetrics, Marcus Tober, delivered the final presentation of the day, which was based on the “Evolution of search in a Post Hummingbird Era.”

Top tips

  • Why is Hummingbird so important? Because it is getting better and better over time, actively learning from users.
  • The Hummingbird update has three main elements: contextual search, conversational search and semantic search.
  • Google is way smarter than just reading keywords; build your pages around topics rather than one landing page for one keyword.
  • Site speed is now THE biggest game changer in ranking factors within Google.

The final break of the day consisted of caffeine, cupcakes and networking and then it was time for the last session of the day – “The Greatest Tips Session,” in which all of the presenters shared their one favourite tip of the day. My favourite tip had to be this… Facebook Graph turns Facebook into a search engine. Although it’s not currently available in UK, you can get insights by simply changing your language settings to US!

We finally arrived back in Birmingham at 11pm after a truly fantastic day and collapsed straight into bed!

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