129 Takeaways from Brighton SEO 2012

Tim Hopma 8 years ago

With Think Viz feeling like it was only yesterday, the Zazzle team were back on the road to Brighton SEO for more of the latest in the industry. Brighton SEO is a free conference lead by Kelvin Newman from Site Visibility and has quickly grown to become one of the most popular conferences in the UK.

With many well known speakers including Zazzle's own Simon Penson, Adam Mason was busy noting the entire event to ensure we can give you the best bits. Here it is...

Dave Trott
Predatory Thinking

An amazing start to Brighton SEO, brilliant talk that takes advertising down to its pure basics. It makes you realise it is very easy to get overcomplicated with digital marketing when it really does not need to be.

    • Always base your pitch on solving the users problem. They don't care about al the features and benefits they get. They want they need or problem solved.
    • On average, each person receives 1000 advertising signals in a day.
    • 90% of these signals goes completely unnoticed. Always aim to get noticed.
    • When trying to get noticed, use your competitions tactics to spin off and ensure you are noticed over them.
    • Most people see the media as different advertising formats. The TV, radio, the internet etc. Boil it down and the media is the user. The only things that never changes is the people.
    • If you can't explain your model to an 11 year old. You have not fully understood it yourself.
    • When in an agency environment, it is important to have 2 languages. One you use to your clients and one to the general consumer.
    • All advertising decisions, whether offline or online are made using the following three steps.
    • Impact
    • Communication
    • Persuasion
    • The human mind works lik a binary system. Keep it simple but different and it will get attention.
    • People don’t try to be different when advertising as they think there is too much risk. The only risk that is there is that they are guaranteed to fail.
    • There are 2 kinds of consumers, opinion formers and opinion followers. Work on converting the opinion formers to your pitch and they will do the rest of the work for you.
    • Change an advertising problem you cannot solve into one you can.
    • Dave also gave an excellent example of changing a problem into one you can solve. Sainsbury's were given the task to bring an additional 3 billion in revenue. They were completely focused on bringing in more visitors to the store to do this until somebody changed the problem. Instead of  working on getting more visitors, work on getting each one of our current visitors to spend slightly more. This results in the targets being hit faster than expected.

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Antony Mayfield
Do you speak brand

Antony's talk explains the shift that is happening into SEO at the moment and it's shift towards techniques that work on all advertising formats.

  • The time of black and white hat SEO is over. It's all about creating content your users wants. The same as every other advertising media.
  • Techniques have always been compared. SEO vs social etc. Instead, they should be looked at as a single medium and be operated together,
  • More budget is being pushed into digital marketing from companies. For example, Coca Cola has pushed 20% of their marketing budget into digital.
  • SEO is such a powerful tool yet is often under or missold which is why the investment in it is taking so long to shift.
  • More marketing budgets are being pushed into digital and this will continue. But we need to get more organised on how we handle this ad report results as an industry.
  • SEO is one of the best ways to target the consumer at each stage of their decision and buying cycle.

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Stephanie Troeth
Speaking your User's Language

Stephanie was next on stage to into details about the user experience of a website and how it is more than simply making it nice to look at and easy to navigate.

    • Speaking your audiences language is very important. Spend time researching this.
    • When advertising a product, focus on whether you are appealing to the emotional or rational side, or both. Knowing this will make the pitch and conversion rate much easier.
    • Too much information on your homepage can damage the user experience of the site.
    • This sounds obvious but is often missed "the only way you will know what to say to your audience is if you listen first".
    • User listening methods
    • A B testing
    • Usability resign
    • Heuristic evaluation
    • Card sorting
    • Surveys
    • Focus Groups
    • Interviews
    • It is crucial to decide how you want your user to act when advertising to them. Are you igniting an emotion or appealing to them rationally?

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Martin Belam
How to make friends and influence robots.

Martin talks about his experiences in SEO over the years including working for the BBC. He goes on to say how people outside of the industry are lead to believe that SEO is not important. SEO is important but never lose sight of keeping user experience as high as possible.

    • Always write your headline for your user.
    • Accept that you cannot control the context your headline appears if it gets shared.
    • Don't use page rank sculpting methods. It is only an over optimisation flag to Google. Instead, ensure your navigation is great for users and ensure your services are easily accessible. The bots will find and index them too.
    • 5 things to get right for seo
    • Headlines
    • Make sure these are well written for the user to keep click through high.
    • Navigation
    • Again focus on having the main landing pages easily accessible. Spend time looking at where your users go to see if improvements can be made.
    • Crazy Antics
    • Be careful with any methods that only show to Google you are over optimised. As explained above, page rank sculpting is a perfect example.
    • Site Performance
    • Lots of people look at site speed as a ranking factor. Instead, look at it as a way of retaining visitors. There is a far greater return here.
    • The law of unattended consequences
    • Make sure the right balance is done between SEO and Conversion Rate Optimisation.
    • Spend time analyzing where your user are clicking and were they are navigation to. Small fixes such to a site can really help user experience and increase conversions.

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Rebecca Weeks
Chasing the algorithm: Smart SEO or Hopeless Effort?

Rebecca did her talk based on a case study for a client that they could only improve visitors by off page SEO only. It was a rough start with the traditional methods being swatted down by Google updates. This presented quite a few interesting finds on link building after Panda and Penguin.

    • Building links from local sites with the relevant location based anchor texts work very well.
    • Amending the anchor text on current links had a positive effect against penguin.
    • If the best practice in SEO is not viable. Don't do it.
    • Overall, chasing the algorithm is a hopeless effort. Learn to create good linkable content to be future proof from any further also changes.

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Will Critchlow / Tom Anthony

Tom Anthony was expected to present this but unfortunately could not make it. Will Critchlow stood and presented instead. Will talks us through the history of the Internet and how we will spend less time accessing web pages in the future as APIs take over.

    • 20 years ago: The Internet was just text with no formatting or images
    • 15 years ago: images were brought into the web and used widely.
    • 10 years ago: The web is looking more like it does today. On average, users spend 40 minutes a day online. Compared with 4.5 hours a day in 2012
    • Over the next 10 years, user will not access as many web pages as APIs such as Google Now and Siri fetch the data we need for us.
    • The future of Google and Siri is to truly understand the context of what we are searching for and show us the information for us.
    • It is important to start thinking today how you can open up your sites databases to the semantic web (schema.org)

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Richard Baxter
How to be a better SEO

Richard was next up on stage to discuss the fast evolution of SEO and how to excel in the industry.

1. Decide what your goals are.

2. Get a mentor

3. You have to love what you do

4. Have an entrepreneurial mind

5. Learn to pitch yourselves to clients

6. Think about the perception people have of you

7. Always learn, aim to learn something new every week.

8. Don’t accept how you are doing something now is the norm i.e. methods and tools

9. Self-managing is absolute key

10. Rehearse everything

11. Move out of your comfort zone once in a while

12. Make yourself indispensable

13. Build your own websites

14. Learn to sell anything

15. Show people you care about what you do and they will care about what you know.

16. Communicate your success easily

17. Leadership comes from certainty

18. Work towards making what you do better.

Make sure that the entire team know s the goals of the company. It is important that everyone in the team knows what the company’s goals are and where it is heading.

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Tony King
SEO Deliverance

Tony explains how SEO should be done within a large business and how it should interact with other departments.

    • The search industry is comparable to the music industry. They are both extremely creative.
    • SEO is very often invisible in large companies. They do not have the freedom they need to make an impact.
    • Aim to become the guru, the go to guy that pushes the companies online success.
    • It is not just about natural search, a lot of companies leave out image search optimisation.
    • Research Phase: Make sure you know everything you can about your market, including the competition.
    • Monitor which competitors perform consistently well and more importantly monitor where there weaknesses may be.
    • Ensure that a full SEO audit is run to make sure the simple basics are not left out.
    • Site performance: Make sure speed is a critical factor for your SEO strategy.
    • Keep on top of 404 pages and ensure they are redirected.
    • Free Robots.txt checking tool http://robotto.semetrical.com/
    • Development Phase: Work out your aims and objectives and create a strategy to keep focus on them.
    • Decide what the costs are for all tools that are needed.
    • Project the returns
    • Implementation Phase: Know you market and know your competition.
    • Who are you pitching to
    • What are their objectives?
    • Pre-empt responses.
    • Monitor, Maintain, Perform

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Lynne Murphy
Separated by a Common Language

An interested twist in the Brighton SEO line up, Lynne discusses the English language and how the British often blame Americans for messing with the English language. When in fact the English languages borrows from many others and is constantly changing.

  • Make sure the correct English is used on your site. I can and will have an impact on the user experience.
  • British English is wannabe French in many aspects.
  • People subconsciously put British accents in a higher social status.
  • People associate accents with intelligence.
  • English thrives from borrowing.

James Little
A decade in affiliate marketing

James spent his talk showcasing his 10 years in affiliate marketing and what changes they have gone through. There was not a huge amount of take aways from this talk but it does explain that in order to survive as an affiliate marketer, you must become a true brand. Generating income from several very small affiliate sites is becoming a thing of the past.

The next session of Brighton SEO moved into several 8 minutes by different speakers. A very quick, impressive, actionable session to end the day.

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Aleyda Solis
7 things you need to know about Mobile SEO

  1. Whats your mobile audience behaviour on site.
  2. Check the site behaviour for mobile search results
  3. What your audience behaviour in Google's mobile search (specific)
  4. Check site behaviour with mobile devices
  5. Check you content works for a mobile user. it may need to be different.
  6. Check you have the technical capacity to build and SEO and mobile site.
  7. Decide the type of mobile web you need.

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Simon Penson
Content Planning in a Post Panda and penguin World

For the second 8 minute, our own Simon Penson takes to the stage to discuss content flow and how it takes more than simply outputting blog posts.

    • Most people think a content strategy is all blog post, blog post, blog post.
    • Content planning has several peaks and troughs.
    • You must build a content strategy with “Regulars” and “Big Bangs”
    • Regulars are the standard blog posts, the Big Bangs are the pieces of content that will create huge traction for the business.
    • Data Visualisation is becoming a big part of content planning and can be extremely effective link bait.
    • Use Highcharts.com to map your content flow across every channel you operate across. This helps you understand where you may need more, or less, to ensure consistent delivery.

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Yousaf Sekander
Social Media Reverse Engineering

Yousaf explains how you should be monitoring what you competition is doing to not copy but realise their peaks and shortfalls in social and content. This will help you put your own strategy together.

  • Content is not king, it is a king maker.
  • Producing sharable/ compelling content is not cheap.
  • Using Yousaf’s new tool “Social Crawlytics” you can constantly monitor your competitions sharable content.
  • When sharing infographics. Use you own URL shortener.

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Berian Reed
Future Proofing SEO on large websites.

Berian Reed, the SEO director from Autotrader shares some actionable methods on link building.

  • Copy and pasting is still the number one method of sharing content.
  • Too: Tynt: A tool to add a href tag to content that is being copied.
  • Use referral traffic to discover where your traffic comes from to build a stronger relationship to increase traffic.
  • Monitor your competitors sites: changedetection.com: Tells you your competitor’s content is changing.

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Sion O’Connor
Client Checklist for SEO

Sion spends his presentation explaining how SEO is perceived from a clients view and how we should communicate it.

  • The impact of SEO is very measurable
  • There rarely is a right answer is SEO
  • Accept that SEO can change overnight.
  • What are the objectives, how effective or efficient will they be.
  • Don’t forget to analyze and research sub category level. This is often left out.
  • Provide regular, full reviews of your client’s campaigns.

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Danielle Fudge
Pinteresting SEO

Danielle presents how we can use the increasingly popular Pinterest to gain new link leads. She announced the new tool Pinalytics that does exactly this for you. It is a tool to monitor how your own content is shared across Pinterest and the sites that they are coming from.

  • 80% of Pinterest users are women
  • Most users are looking for funny images.


BrightonSEO felt like a line in the sand for digital marketing. The moment the industry became a solid part of the wider marketing world. Gone are the days when online marketing was tricks and 'technical stuff to do with websites. Instead it is now, thankfully, a world where highly skilled marketers create audiences and understand audiences for their clients. Digital marketing has grown up and BrightonSEO was the party to celebrate!


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