Some of the No Pork Pies team took a day out of the office to attend BrightonSEO on Friday. BrightonSEO has become one of the most popular SEO events in the country and has come a long way from its humble beginnings when it started as a small meetup in a pub four years ago. This time there were more speakers than ever, as the event was split over three venues with three different tracks, ensuring there was an even wider range of talks than normal.
The No Pork Pies team managed to cover most of the talks between us and we’ve put together our highlights of what was another great event.
Luke Hay, Insight Analyst – Being analytically minded the second session stood out to me as there were talks about The Future of Google Analytics, Call Tracking, Cookies and Useful Google Analytics Tools. The most interesting talk for me was from Dara Fitzgerald who spoke about Next Generation Google Analytics.
His talk covered Universal Analytics, which I had heard a bit about, so it was interesting to get his take on it. With Universal Analytics, you can collect more types of data and improve your data quality so that you can get a better understanding of how visitors interact with your business at every stage – advertising, sales, product usage, support and retention. Dara’s talk focussed on how we should “optimise for people, rather than sessions”, looking at how you can get data for individuals irrespective of where they are or what device they’re using. This is becoming increasingly important with more and more people using mobiles and tablets. Universal Analytics can also be used to monitor offline behaviour too, this video shows.
Ryan Hooker, Marketing Assistant - The chat with the ex-Googlers was interesting as people from the audience could ask questions towards three ex-Google employees; Fili Wiese, Jonas Weber and Alfredo Pulvirenti.
They spoke about the structure of penalty responses, explaining that there were multiple stages of the process. Leading on from that there were questions were about the ‘disavow tool’, such as “how does Google deal with these requests?” They answered with; at the moment nothing is being done with the disavow data and they are unlikely to do so for a while. A quote that stuck with me was “Don’t play games with the reconsideration team!” They explained that Google are very clever people that have many solutions to an issue, one being the Disavow tool.
Jonas Weber said that SEOs think too dirty, which got a few laughs! The main tips consisted of creating relationships with relevant but strong sites who you can exchange links with to keep some consistency throughout your site. Overall the main key points I took away from the session were:
* Remember that Google tracks everything you do in Chrome
* Solve users’ problems with relevant content to gain consistency
* Make sure your being smart and efficient with your spam reports
Kristian Bannister, Creative Director – Hannah Smith from Distilled looked at why mediocre content is unlikely to get the returns needed for competitive verticals these days. She talked through us through a content strategy for Simply Business, a company who sell small business insurance.
The talk acted as great case study on why gambling on big content is worth the risk. The results of their strategy spoke for themselves with each piece of content with each piece of content earning between 50 – 200 linking root domains, as well as being featured in high profile sites like Lifehacker and The Content Marketing Institute.
While I thought the talk was excellent, I do believe there are some issues around big content that weren’t addressed. Big content is suited to big brands with the resources and budget available to carry out such activity. Hannah spoke about big content taking 40 plus hours to create. For a small company paying an agency for a day’s work a month, that would mean investing over five months into one piece of content, which would be a hard sell regardless of the potential for returns.
It also concerns me that size is being used to judge the quality of content. What we could end up seeing is a lot of bloated content being promoted just to try and stand out from the crowd. A great piece of content shouldn’t be judged based on the amount of time it took to create. Instead think about being original, providing useful information, problem solving and engaging with your audience, and then decide what piece of content is best going to tick those boxes.
Lauren Hudson, Business Development Executive – Having never been to a BrightonSEO conference before, I was looking forward to spending a day mingling with digital evangelists from all over the UK, watching some insightful presentations discussing SEO, (not forgetting the free cupcakes offered by some of the stands!) and I was not disappointed. For me, the highlight was undoubtedly Dave Coplin’s presentation, ‘Future Forward’. Naturally engaging with the audience, he considered the impact of technology on a modern society, and questioned how digital has (or hasn’t) transformed the way we work within the past 50 years. He discussed the QWERTY keyboard and how it was designed to slow us down, ironically, so that we weren’t ‘too productive’ and used (real!) cookies to talk about website data.
Overall, the presentation was compelling and thought provoking, as others also proved to be. I’ll definitely be looking forward to the next BrightonSEO event.
Digby Killick, SEO & Site Analyst – The most interesting talk for myself was Alex Moss (from Three Door Digital) discussing social markup. If you’re unsure what markup is it’s the meta data (unseen code) that tells other sites what information to pull through in their snippets. You may have noticed that sometimes when you see a link to a website on Google+, Facebook or Twitter it looks like a simple link, while other times it will feature excerpts from articles, images and even full videos in the post. As Alex pointed out there are several clear advantages to marking up your website so that when featured on social networks additional media and information is presented alongside them:
* An increased click through rate and engagement rate
* You can tailor the information displayed to different networks (you’re Google+ audience might not like your informal Facebook manner)
* More ‘real estate’ i.e. takes up more space on the webpage
* If you don’t do it, it can look messy (especially if everyone else is doing it)
Alex broke down the markup options available for the three main networks mentioned above (no mention of LinkedIn though) and the possibilities within each. The one that I found most interesting, and see the most potential with, is Twitter cards, which already allowed for embedding of videos and images, but have recently expanded to feature image galleries and custom thumbnails on videos.
It was a really interesting day and the No Pork Pies team would like to thank Kelvin and his crew for organising another excellent event. We’re already looking forward to the next BrightonSEO later this year.