Although it’s way more than just a search engine optimisation conference, Brighton SEO hasn’t forgotten its roots, the underlying theme is that it’s still very much focused on organic search marketing.
Rather than talk about the takeaways of individual sessions, (as there are many excellent posts already), I’m going to talk about the running themes of the conference, and share a few things that I learned during the day, (and night) sessions.
(But if you’re looking for a commentary, check out this one by Koozai.)
Paid links just aren’t cool anymore kids
The overall theme of Brighton SEO 2014 focused around the evolution of organic search and the impact it’s had on the fate of business’ websites. Search algorithms, new technology and risk aversion all mean that sites that are using black hat techniques to rank on Google won’t survive for very long at all. After the two-year long onslaught by Google against link spam (in the form of Google Penguin), the risk to businesses using black hat tactics to manipulate rankings, is now very well known and anyone wanting a sustainable long term organic search visibility cannot afford to buy links, unless they are prepared for the consequences; the worst case a site-wide link penalty in Google. This basically means not showing up for your brand name anymore, as well as all other commercial search queries.
So what does SEO in 2014 look like?
Good question, and if I’m honest I don’t think anyone really knows! I received a muddle of answers during my interrogation of speakers, and attendees at this year’s Brighton SEO. I think many people are still finding their feet, unsure which camp to raise a flag under.
I believe that 2014 is the year when SEO continues even more to be all about specialising in what you do best and have passion for, rather than pretending that you can do it all yourself. This was very much backed up by the variety of presentations at Brighton SEO.
People who are good at understanding the role SEO plays as part of a wider marketing strategy, and can integrate it, will be the main winners in 2014. While people who refuse to break ‘SEO campaigns’ out of the silos of; technical, content and (dare I say it!) link building 🙂 will ultimately lose if they fail to acknowledge the bigger picture.
Think things not strings – it’s finally hitting home!
SEO is no longer about mere pages, websites and keywords. It’s all about the Knowledge Graph, that Google uses to increase search relevancy by understanding how people, facts, places and things are all connected. The truth is, Google rewards brands and brands are part of the knowledge graph. So to be in the knowledge graph, you need to become a brand.
Although the reality of real life campaigns is that they usually lag somewhat behind the ideals of conference land, many of the delegate conversations were about adding value to the knowledge graph and building brands. Producing great content for sustainable organic search campaigns, which fits side-by-side with excellent technical understanding and implementation of knowledge graph optimisation will be key to the success and visibility of campaigns in the future.
For more info on the ‘all-knowing’ Knowledge Graph, Andrew Isidoro, SEO Manager at Go Compare described how it is possible to optimise knowledge to be included within the Knowledge Graph in his session – Hacking the knowledge graph. (The Slidedeck is available here).
SEO gems to keep in your pocket for 2014 (if you are not using them already)
To round up, here are a couple of precious gems that we’ve collected from the conference to help you with your own SEO strategy. We’ve even included links to some of the presentations so that you can flick through the slides too. Aren’t we nice?
1. Lower Your Bounce Rate and optimise your images
Visitors can get bored pretty quickly and leave if your site is taking too long to load, but your bounce rate could be significantly reduced if you just shrink images down. By shrinking images we mean that you can keep that crisp resolution and just reduce image size by simply compressing them with a tool like Kraken.io. A handy WP plug in means you can quickly and easily integrate this with a WordPress blog. With the rising popularity of Pinterest and high-quality visual content, this tool is crucial if you want to keep attractive imagery without compromising on load speed.
2. SEO Auditing, Checklists and Processes
Peter Handley, Technical Director at theMediaFlow gave some top tips on how to monitor your SEO strategy. First check that your site can be crawled and is indexed by using an SEO crawler then eliminate internal redirects and broken links to the correct destinations. Lastly sieve through your outbound links to find dupe domains and scraped content. Peter’s slides have step by step notes on how to optimise your site after you’ve cleaned it up too.
3. How to Deliver Cheap (Not Nasty) SEO
Matt Fielding from Custard Media gave a great talk on how to ‘respect your website enough not to hand control to the lowest bidder’. This means that getting big results for clients doesn’t necessarily mean spamming with as many links as you can get. No, no, no. Simplicity is key. Check out his slideshow to see why.
If you’re still curious about what went down in Brighton then you can find all the presentations right here. You’re welcome 🙂