We reached Brighton at around 19:00 on Thursday Evening, beer in hand (which was needed after the three hour journey and two changes to get to Brighton). I wish I could tell you that we partied all night at the beach front with the freshers who were out exploring the city, but the truth is we went for a curry and headed back to the hotel.

Waking up on the Friday to our Seaview was a great start to the day, being from Birmingham we rarely see beaches (we got a little bit too excited). So sitting on the balcony of our hotel room, with coffee in hand the wind in our hair, we soaked up the last bit of the summer sun.

Okay, enough about us and our weird obsession with beachfronts. Brighton SEO rocked, and take this from a ex-intern who three months ago had a limited knowledge of the digital marketing industry.

We first went to the Online PR talk which focused on various different aspects of the art, such as how to package your news story, the trick to building high quality links through newsworthy content and how to target journalists with news stories.

Highlight 1:
Shannon McGuirk focused on “News Hooks: what are they and how can you make the most of them in your digital PR and link building strategies?”

In this talk Shannon shared her 5 point checklist on how to create a great story that both audiences and journalists want to read.

Timeliness: This can be anything from awareness days to understanding what is happening in the news. Content always needs to be relevant and planned in advance to deliver results. Be sure to not tie the content in 100% as this content could be used repeatedly for different events.

Shannon used the example of a drinking campaign she worked on which showed the top ‘booziest’ countries. This campaign could be used just after the Christmas and New Year festivities as well as for St. Patricks Day (3 very drink fuelled events).

Credibility: As expected people want opinions from knowledgeable and powerful people, but this isn’t always possible and is generally budget dependant. Shannon shared insight on how to get credible opinions without breaking the bank.

There are various charities with spokespeople that are readily available to comment (either free of charge or for a donation). Furthermore, she emphasised the need to use the people around you. If your brother in law or old university friend is a doctor and you are working on a health campaign, then pull in some favours, don’t be shy!

Prospecting: When it comes to packaging your story you need to be realistic about who would be interested. Many agencies and companies will build a journalist database of between 200-300 journalists, they will know very little about the journalist and just send out a story hoping that at least one of them will pick it up. But is this really effective? Well, apparently not (and I have to say I agree) Shannon suggested that instead you should build a database of around 50 journalists.

Each journalist on your database should have a profile, so you know their likes and dislikes, how they liked to be pitched to and what their last movement was on social media. You could even go as far as to see whether they are a dog person or a cat person. This way your stories can be tailored to certain journalists and they will be more likely to pick it up. Remember quantity isn’t always everything.

Tension: While everyone says any publicity is good publicity, this isn’t necessarily true. Your content will always either approve or disapprove other content that is out there, so can be considered as slightly controversial, but no worries, as long as it is monitored closely and isn’t too controversial then it will be considered as positive disruption. And positive disruption is good disruption helping you to get your brand out of there.

Be Different: Your content needs to be different! No one wants to keep reading the same content over and again (unless you’re featured in it), so while you need to be timely and get in on the action of awareness days and seasonal events, put your own spin on it, come up with something that nobody has even thought about.

 

Highlight 2:
Stacey MacNaught spoke about “Tactical, Practical Keyword Research for Today’s SEO Campaigns”

I found Stacey’s talk was very interesting. She noted the change in the search landscape with an increase in voice search through phones and other devices. It is predicted that due to this change, companies should try to be positioned in the top 3 search engine results if they wish to stand a chance in the voice search landscape.

This isn’t the only change either, more and more people are searching on various platforms such as Amazon and Ebay so companies are facing more pressure to be relevant on these platforms as well. No pressure, then.

Stacey explained how companies need to move their focus away from trying to solely drive organic sales but instead be aware of what consumers want before they start looking. This consists of scrapping a small report and instead creating a 20-30 page document that tells you everything you need to do about what consumers are searching. This more in-depth analysis will help your company not only rise through the ranks but be relevant to what people are looking for.

How do we do this?

Well first think about triggers, how will your product benefit the customer? Stacey used the example of a broken washing machine:

How to find your triggers? Through a short and sweet survey.

These triggers can then be turned into keywords, which you can test out in tools such as Soovle, Answer the public and so on. Through these tools you can see how your potential consumers think when they are searching for certain products. Handy isn’t it? Even if those consumers aren’t buying now they may do in the future and it is better that they think of you when they do.

Second step, who is the market leader? Go onto Amazon click on their products and filter out all other reviews except for the 5* ones and put the information into a tool like Wordcloud. You need to figure out what makes people give products 5* reviews and what elements your product also has. This can then be incorporated into your own strategy.

Now it is time for the creative and fun part, experimenting! Play around with different keywords in your page titles and landing pages and monitor the progress through good old Google Analytics. This way you can see what works and what doesn’t. But remember nothing is ever a quick job and it is constantly changing, so keep updating and monitoring your strategy.

Stacey reminded us that no matter whether you are a traditional marketer or a digital one, audience is key!

You can see more of Stacey’s examples and her Brighton SEO deck here.

 

Highlight 3:
Dawn Anderson on “Generational Cruft in SEO. There is Never a ‘New Site’ When There’s History”

Dawn talked about a part of SEO that is rarely touched upon, Cruft, more specifically Generational Cruft. She spoke about the ideology that more is best. However, in reality, when it comes to user generated content, as with most things, sometimes less is more.

Similar to your Mum in an argument, Google never forgets. Dawn touched on the need to be careful when it comes to creating URLs and low quality content pages as they will never fully disappear and will creep up on you when you least expect it. URLs are there forever so you need to have a full picture when it comes to the history of your site.

XML Sitemaps are your best friend when it comes to Generational Cruft. XML Sitemaps indicate to Google the content and architecture of your site, so Google can better understand the page and content of your website, increasing the chance of these pages being indexed and regularly crawled.

If you want to read more on Generation Cruft, you can see Dawn’s slides here.

To summarise, the overall message and thinking at this years Brighton SEO was, always think long term!

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