Brighton SEO is the biggest SEO conference in the world. And once again, it lived up to its reputation. 

Although online this year, Brighton SEO 2020, was packed to the brim with great talks from speakers that really know their stuff. 

Like every other time following the conference, our heads are now bursting with fresh digital marketing and SEO knowledge. 

It’s always interesting for us to see the overall themes that emerge from the conference, as this indicates where SEO is right now and where it’s heading.

This year, there was a strong bias towards these topics:

  1. Content marketing
  2. Link-building / online PR 
  3. Technical SEO
  4. SERPS visibility 

Our key takeaways from Brighton SEO 2020

Here are our key takeaways giving you some easy to implement actions for you to apply in your business today.

Optimise for featured snippets

Polly Pospelova, Head of Search at Delete and winner of numerous awards including The Drum Search Awards, UK Search Awards and European Search Awards 2017, gave a talk on featured snippets and how to optimise for them at scale.

What are featured snippets?

Featured snippets (otherwise called Answer Box) are a brief answer to a user’s query, shown at the top of Google search results, under the ads.  They may appear as  a list, paragraph, table or more recently video, with paragraphs being most common.

Example of a featured snippet

Featured snippets are styled differently from the rest of the search results so they really stand out.  These snippets are stealing clicks from the No1 organic listing so they’re prime real estate on Google. 

12 – 24% of search results now have featured snippets

Polly gave an example of a client that saw a 20.5% CTR on their featured snippet and their organic traffic increased by 125%

According to AH Refs, a featured snippet gets on average 8.6% of clicks for the page.   Making them even more desirable is the fact that 40% of voice search results come from the featured snippet.

How to get a featured snippet

First off, look for results that already have featured snippets. Then you know that Google wants to show one for that search phrase.

Your web page will need to be already ranked on Google page one for a search phrase to be in a position to be ranked as a featured snippet. 

Monitor featured snippets

It really helps if you can monitor featured snippets for your search phrases in your keyword tool. SEM Rush and AH Refs both show featured snippets in their reports.

Look at the competing featured snippet

Look at how the competing page (the page with the featured snippet) content has got the featured snippet. Is it a list, paragraph, or bullets?

Then copy the same format. For instance, if it’s a list, make sure you’re creating a list in your content with the list wrapped in the <li> tag. Code not your thing? Don’t worry, developers can easily take any script to convert it into a structure that Google wants to see. 

Next step, make sure your content is better i.e. longer, more-in depth, more up to date etc. than the competing content where the snippet was sourced.

Kevin Indig, VP of SEO & Content at G2 who gave a talk on zero-click searches and SERP features, shared a great tip on writing for featured snippets.

Kevin described using an inverted pyramid tactic where you start with the answer, then build the context and then the background

Here’s an example from Moz, grabbed from their Whiteboard Friday video on writing content for featured snippets:

How to optimise for featured snippets at scale

For many of us, the process explained above may be perfectly adequate, but optimising for featured snippets at scale requires something different. 

Polly used an example of a university client with a lot of outdated course content. She described how they converted their content to enable editing in the way the client is used to, by creating new dynamic templates.

These templates are formatted in a way that Google loves for example – How to become a [primary school teacher, personal trainer etc].

You can read more about the process of optimising at scale in the Delete blog.

Treat link building as a marketing channel

Laura Slingo, the Digital Campaign Manager at Seeker Digital, said something right at the start of her talk that really stood out for us.

“Link building is a marketing channel”

Be honest, do you treat link building as a marketing channel? 

Link-building is a major factor in how Google ranks web pages and yet a survey of 500 marketeers by Clutch found that only 44% of businesses even have SEO as part of their marketing strategy. 

Maybe because, as Laura says: 

“Link-building is hard.”

Laura goes on to say that link building to product pages is the hardest form of link building

As a marketing intelligence SaaS provider, we were especially interested in this talk from Laura. So, how do we build links to product pages without looking like a spammer?

Guest blogging

Guest blogs are a fantastic way to get links to your product pages. 

Here are Laura’s top tips for your guest blogging:

  1. Use a tool such as the ah refs content explorer tool to help you find guest blogging opportunities.
  2. Post on a website that is relevant to your product or service
  3. Check the website has a good domain ranking (DR)
  4. Produce linkable assets such as a calculator 
  5. Create an on-trend story 

Laura gave an example of their live chat software client, acquire.io, that wrote a guest blog on a sales processes blog, PandaDoc. 

Here’s the target page on acquire.io:

Acquire live chat website screen grab

Excerpt of a blog post on UX

And here’s the extract from the blog where the writer linked to the product page:

The link to ‘live chat software’ was one of many links within the article, so it didn’t appear at all spammy.

Seeker has shared their link-building checklist here

A helpful tip from Hana Bednarova, Digital PR Director at Bednar Comms, when you’ve got minimal content to work with is to put together data-based content using public data.

Public data sources:

  1. Office for National Stats
  2. Statista
  3. IMDb
  4. Health and Safety Executive – example of sector-specific source

You can also use Freedom of Information Requests (FOI’s) for data.

Content marketing – streamline your processes

As digital marketers, we’re always looking for tools and techniques to make our jobs that bit easier.  We need tools that simplify our processes and enable us to collaborate and share the results of our work with our colleagues. After all, that’s why we created Beacon – digital campaign management and intelligence platform

The talk by Gareth Simpson, founder of Seeker Digital, shared his top five tools that we can use to streamline and improve our content production process. 

You may be using some or all of these already. However, it’s always reassuring to know that you’re on the right track.

Seeker Digital’s top five content tools 

  1. G-Suite – Great for managing campaigns from start to finish. Google Docs enables easy commenting by editors and authors. It also has a great templating feature. Google Sheets are perfect for a content calendar. 
  2. Surfer – on-page optimisation tool
  3. Page Optimizer Pro – on-page optimisation tool
  4. SEM Rush – all-in-one digital marketing tool 
  5. Zapier – connect your apps and automate workflows 

Seeker have shared their slides and their content production system for you to download and copy here – seeker.digital/content-production-system

Panelist discussion

Finally, the Pitchbox on-site discussion with From The Future, Kaizen, Delete, Greenlane, Orainti and StephanSpencer.com provides a neat wrapping up for our key takeaways.

Each panelist was asked what they see as exciting innovations in the world of SEO.

What’s hot in SEO right now?

Impact of structured data

Adding structured data (AKA schema markup) to your website can give you a significant SEO boost and increase your rankings. The panel especially liked how it can be used to add FAQs and How-to information. 

How-to search results in Google will show searchers step-by-step information on how to accomplish specific tasks directly in the search results. Similarly, with FAQ’s, structured data enables Google to show questions and answers directly on Google Search results.

There are a few things to be aware of:

  1. You can’t use structured data for both FAQ’s and How to’s on a page, so decide which is best for you
  2. If a searcher can get the full answer directly in Google search results, they may not visit your website

Video SEO / video search

Videos can appear not only in Google Search results and Video Search, but also in Google Discover and even Google Images. Use video rich snippets to appear in Google search results.

Core web vitals 

Core Web Vitals are a set of specific factors that Google considers important in a webpage’s overall user experience.

AI-produced blogs

The average human can’t tell the difference between AI and humans now as proven by ‘‘This blog does not exist’ ranking AI blog that managed to fool the search engines (now removed).

Some of the panelists are using AI machine learning for content generation and content taxonomy and tagging.

Meaning cloud – meaningcloud.com

Meaning Cloud has a new text analytics tool for text mining and voice of the customer.

Final thoughts

The Brighton SEO conference provides an enriching and inspiring day and is a must for anyone involved in digital marketing. It’s not just for SEO techies!  

Take a look at Brighton SEO where you’ll find links to all the speakers and can pay for access to their talks.

About Beacon

Beacon combines all your marketing campaign data into one beautifully presented dashboard with bot identification and blocking ensuring your budget is spent on attracting humans, not bots, to your website.