It’s been a few years since I last visited BrightonSEO (pre-COVID and when it was held at The Dome) and it was fantastic to see how the conference has evolved to span multiple days across multiple rooms at the much larger Brighton Centre. There were so many talks covering a wide range of topics across SEO, Social, Content and Paid Media, which made fitting everything into a single day… Well, impossible!
Fortunately though, whilst I wasn’t able to attend all the sessions I’d have liked to, there was an app available to download ahead of time which allowed me to choose the sessions I wanted to attend and add them to “My Schedule”, which made navigating the large venue and being in the right place at the right time extremely easy. Another huge improvement on my previous visits to #BrightonSEO was the wifi – this had historically been a huge issue for attendees at The Dome, but the Brighton Centre had fantastic wifi which easily catered for the huge number of people that were live blogging, video conferencing in breaks and in some cases, trying out some of the more actionable tips live.
For the first session of the day, I chose the social-themed talks, covering organic optimisation of Instagram, LinkedIn and Youtube.
Freya Jones kicked the day off covering “Instagram Tactics to be Seen” – essentially a list of ways to optimise your Instagram Business account to maximise visibility within the platform.
Key Takeaway #1
Instagram: The 4 Pillars of Explore SEO
Whilst in organic search we may look at the 3 main pillars being Technical, On-Page and Off-Site SEO, Freya distilled her recommended areas of focus for optimising Instagram Business accounts into the following 4 pillars:
- Performance of a post with the general public
- Level of engagement a user has with the creator – have they interacted with past posts from a particular creator?
- Level of engagement a user has with the theme – are they likely to be interested in the creator’s content, based on historical activity?
- Connection path of the user – have any of their connections engaged with the creator previously?
Key Takeaway #2
Alt Tags on Instagram Images
Whilst most people are familiar with the concept of adding alt attributes to images on their websites to give search engines more information about the content of the image, Freya gave the (very actionable!) tip of editing the settings of a post once it’s live and entering alt tags – there are 6 slots available to help boost your organic visibility… And why not use a competitor term while you’re there 😉
Next up was Kineta (“like Ryvita” as she made very clear) from Jellyfish who talked about “Lead Generation on LinkedIn” – there were several useful tips on offer throughout this talk but the following were the points that resonated with me the most.
Key Takeaway #3
LinkedIn: Make People FEEL
In order to make an impact on LinkedIn, build a personal brand and share your thoughts – focus 60% of your efforts on BRAND and 40% on COMMERCIALS. By sharing your thoughts and making people feel you encourage engagement, which will then spark conversation and help to build relationships, not to mention appeasing the algorithm!
Be relevant, authentic, committed to the cause and consistent.
Key Takeaway #4
LinkedIn: Questions to Ask/Considerations Before Setting up a Lead Generation Campaign
- Who is the target audience?
- What mindset are they in when on the platform?
- Is there a value exchange? What does the prospect get from this?
- Quality over quantity
- How long is your sales cycle?
- How are leads nurtured?
Next up was my favourite talk of the day by Itamar Blauer – a very confident and engaging speaker (he’s a Youtuber, so that makes sense!), and his talk was packed full of actionable tips for maximising organic visibility on Youtube, which I’ll summarise in one big takeaway…
Key Takeaway #5
Advanced Youtube Optimisation Tips
- Add competitors in your tags – find a video that ranks well for a search term you’re looking to rank for, and add the creator as a tag
- Use keywords in the video & thumbnail filenames
- Comment on competitors’ videos – you may earn yourself a “subscribe” from them and other commenters
- Use cards and end screens effectively to give the viewer a next step
- Set the video’s location – links with Google My Business account!
- Go Live – Youtube pushes live videos, and the view count includes live viewers and those that watch after the broadcast
- Post in the community tab (>1,000 subscribers needed) – polls get the most engagement, and these posts will show in the newsfeed on mobile devices, even if you aren’t subscribed
I strongly recommend hunting down Itamar’s slides as he shows evidence of many of these techniques and the positive effects he has seen using them on his own Youtube channel.
After the morning session, it was SEO for the bulk of the rest of the day, kicking off with Sophie Brannon who spoke about content duplication. Wry smiles of familiarity with the many instances of unavoidable content duplication were evident amongst the many SEOs in attendance as Sophie rattled through some examples, and she discussed some of the ways in which these can be dealt with.
Key Takeaway #6
57.5% of SEO’s would opt for Canonical Tags to solve Content Duplication Issues
After running a poll on Twitter ahead of BrightonSEO, Sophie found that 57.5% of respondents would tend towards using canonicalisation over noindexing a page with duplicate content or completely re-writing.
#SEO world – I need your help with a poll!
What do you do with your content duplication issues?
If you select ‘other’ or want to elaborate further, let me know your techniques for a shout out in my deck at @brightonseo 👀🤩
— Sophie Brannon (@SophieBrannon) August 18, 2021
David Lewis from The Trainline was next to take the stage with a talk entitled “You Deleted How Many Pages? 130 Million, and Here’s Why”. He ran through a case study in which (as the title of the talk suggests). The Trainline undertook a project to delete 130 million low value URLs and remove them from Google’s index. There were several interesting takeaways from this talk, but I’ve included 2 in particular:
Key Takeaway #7
Make sure you have a GREAT RELATIONSHIP with the dev team!
SEO is not always going to be as important to the dev team as it is to the SEO lead within a project, but ensuring that your goals are aligned and maintaining a great relationship with them is imperative in maximising success.
Key Takeaway #8
Delete old sitemaps
It’s not enough to remove old sitemaps from Google Search Console – they may still be crawled, so ensure that the sitemap is removed from the site entirely to ensure unwanted pages leave Google’s index as quickly as possible.
Steven Van Vessum from Content King was next to take the stage, speaking about the importance of Quality Assurance for SEO – a way of preventing mistakes and defects that negatively impact your site’s SEO performance.
Key Takeaway #9
SEO Issues Happen
As SEOs we know that with the best will in the world, issues are inevitable – there are hundreds of potential causes from dev sites being pushed live with a robots.txt file that blocks crawlers and users deleting pages in the CMS without applying redirects, to schema being marked up with the wrong pricing (potentially a very large issue in some industries, eg. medical products).
Key Takeaway #10
Involve Specialists Early On
Perhaps one of the most important takeaways from the day and one that resonates particularly with my own experience – the earlier an SEO specialist is involved in a project (re-branding, UX, new website etc), the less likely these SEO issues are to occur and the less problematic/expensive they will be to fix if they do. Tweaking a title tag or meta description is quick and easy, but a complete change of URL structure or deleting a huge amount of valuable content could prove much more difficult, time-consuming and expensive.
There were several other talks covering everything from Entity SEO through to “The Underrated Powers of Internal Linking” and how to deal with crawl budget, and the slides from all sessions are available to view post-event so I would strongly recommend taking a look through some of the fantastic presentations – I will be doing the same for the sessions I missed and am already looking forward to the next event.
Overall it was a very enjoyable day and it was great to see so many passionate SEO professionals together in the same place. We’ll be taking more of the team next time so we can take even more in, and we’ll look forward to seeing you at the next one!