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16.09.2021

6 min read

Our Top 6 BrightonSEO highlights

It was fantastic to be back at September’s BrightonSEO. It’s easy to forget how energising it is to attend a live event, watch a wide range of talks, and hear from different voices in the industry.

Impression sent an SEO contingent down to the conference on the Thursday to take a break from our all too familiar laptop screens and pick up some awesome new tips, and BrightonSEO did not disappoint.

Read on for our top 6 highlights from the conference.

Ryan Law on opinionated content

Our content team has admired the work of Ryan Law and Animalz for some time now, with many of their articles proving to be insightful, practical resources that we’ve shared around our SEO team.

Ryan’s talk on opinionated content was very much in keeping with the quality that we’ve read on the blog, and it was great to hear him discuss several of the blog’s written themes in one unified talk topic.

The key takeaway for us from the talk was the encouragement to look for unique angles for our clients’ content, rather than relying on general guides and ‘what is X?’ content. Ryan shared helpful examples of where opinionated content can outperform more generic content in search, despite the fact that keyword rankings may be less of a priority for these unique topics.

His discussion as to why opinionated content is helpful and how to judge its success was also insightful. Rather than expecting it to rank for hundreds of keywords, opinionated content is more likely to generate social engagement, meaningful discussion in online spaces where your audience gather, and raise the profile of your brand so as to encourage others in the industry or potential clients to reach out.

While we recommend listening to the talk if you have access, many of Ryan’s themes are also covered on the Animalz blog, which we also recommend checking out.

Helene Jelenc on anthropological research methods in SEO

Helene’s topic was brand new to us thanks to her rare combination of anthropological training and SEO experience. She did a fantastic job of turning a topic that seemed academic and daunting into an accessible, practical talk.

There were so many practical tips from this talk that it would be impossible to summarise them here, but the overall feeling was one of being inspired to try new things to engage with new industries and get to know our clients better.

Some of the ideas we picked up on included:

  • Literature reviews for new fields or those where the landscape changes regularly (one of our team had recently started doing this for a client in the MedTech area and found it really helpful).
  • Use mixed methods to get richer data, for example by combining big survey data with interviews.
  • Find people who understand your focus area and speak to them directly about topics that interest them – they could be a member of your client’s team, a current customer of the client, someone active in a relevant online forum, etc.

There’s was a lot to think about from Helene’s talk, but we particularly enjoyed the way that it matches up with Ryan’s, as Helene’s research methods provide some practical ideas for understanding new sectors enough to write informed, opinionated content.

Lidia Infante on keyword research in languages you don’t speak+

A very different topic but just as helpful, Lidia’s talk on keyword research in languages you don’t speak was a fantastic encouragement to dive into international SEO. She was clear that this process doesn’t replace the need for native speakers to check your work and help in other ways, but as a process for getting a sense of keyword opportunities and targeting in different markets, this talk was spot on.

Lidia has already written up her talk in a blog (read it here) which means anyone can go and look into her tips themselves without us needing to repeat them all here.

We left this talk feeling more confident approaching different international opportunities, and seeing a number of ways that we could use Lidia’s tips to help guide our clients’ global strategies, which is a fantastic result from a 20 minute conference talk!

Dan Smullen on decommissioning AMP

Dan Smullen’s talk on AMP raised many different points rather than the usual ‘but my site is already fast’ around why they chose to remove AMP from their website.

Using data to highlight both the positive and negative changes of removing AMP, this talk provided an in-depth look at how large publishers make decisions with their organic strategy. The most interesting part was how the page experience update in mid-June allowed non-AMP pages to rank in the mobile carousel, which resulted in a good increase in traffic.

We highly recommend checking Dan’s slides out here to get an understanding of how they approached this topic.

How History Hit uses SEO

The first talk in the main auditorium on Thursday came from History Hit where they covered how they use a multi-channel approach to drive subscriptions.

James Carson and Dan Snow gave an in-depth talk on how they approach their marketing funnel and where each of their activities fitted in. They used their content at the top of the funnel and then used social media along with podcasts to get users to convert towards the bottom.

With digital consumption ever-changing it was good to hear Dan Snow’s (BBC presenter) opinion on the changing ways that users consume content and how he’s translating his experience into a more digital role.

Us SEOs are often super focused on our own channel so it was good to hear a more broad strategy and how our work can play a role as part of a multi-channel approach.

Being back at an in-person conference!

Our final highlight is not an individual talk, but we can’t leave this post without acknowledging the fantastic job that Kelvin Newman and the whole BrightonSEO team did in making this event happen. From the first emails that they sent out with information about the event, it was clear that they were as serious about COVID precautions as they were about putting on another excellent conference, and it showed.

Their organisation was brilliant from the start, and the process for entering with negative COVID tests was smooth. All of this meant that we could get into the event and enjoy the talks without feeling uncomfortable or uneasy at being out at a large event.

And the positives go beyond this event. We’re hopeful that it’s success means we’ll be back in Brighton next year and, hopefully, at many more conferences beside. The team showed that a conference can still be a unique, enjoyable experience in the post-lockdown world, and we hope that other event organisers will take note and put on equally successful events in 2022.