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April 21, 2022 Digital communications

Insights from Brighton SEO 2022: Google flexing, Freddy Kreuger and the scent of lockdown

By Karen Lester

Thousands of search marketeers flocked to this month’s Brighton SEO conference for a bi-annual dose of insight-packed talks, Q&A sessions and showcases from the best minds in search. Read our five takeaways below.

From Greg Gifford’s ‘Freddy Kreuger Guide to reporting’ to Alex Hickson’s PR campaign on a budget for his lockdown-scented candle, 'Flaming Crap' (smells like hand sanitiser and banana bread if you were wondering), as usual the line-up didn’t disappoint.

Great content needs the 3 S’s

Scaling great content is far from easy, as many of our clients know. Head of content at Ahrefs Josh Hardwick reminded us that up to 90% of digital content has no audience and delivered his roadmap to delivering great content via what he calls, ‘the 3 S’s of systemisation, standardisation and streamlining.’ Broken down, this is essentially a content plan of what to do, how to do it, and then how to do it better! Josh’s approach consists of a continual process of outlining, drafting and reviewing copy with each step being a job for someone specific. This, he says, should be a continual process of improvement and the steps should be refined over time. Crucially, peer reviews are vital to subject content to the scrutiny of another expert to ensure you are putting out something correct and authoritative.

Ranking is about doing better than the competition

International SEO at BigCommerce, Lidia Infante talked through her comprehensive guide to SEO competitor gap analysis and using competitor data to drive growth. She suggested asking three questions:

  1. Who are your competitors in search?
  2. What are they doing?
  3. How can you do it better?

Lidia highlighted the importance of cross check lists using tools such as Sistrix or Semrush to reverse engineer competitors’ SEO strategy, looking at performance across the three pillars of SEO – technical, content and links. Key metrics, she suggested included: the number of keywords ranking 1-30, estimated traffic per editorial URL, backlinks, link growth and estimated traffic by branded/unbranded, editorial and product. Her top tip was that if you see your competitors have a rapid increase in links, it may indicate they are actively building links so you may need to ‘up your game’ to compete. After all, ranking is simply about doing better than the competition.

You can go viral on a budget

Alex Hickson, digital PR lead at PR agency John Doe delighted Brighton’s SEO audiences this year detailing how he managed a viral PR campaign for his lockdown-fragranced candle ‘Flaming Crap.’ Key to the success of the launch was careful planning and audience identification, consideration of product positioning, brand values, price point and secondary channels. Analytics was critical to understanding prospective customers and how to target them. Equally important, he said, was tying his product into a trend using free social media data (such as hashtags). Drawing inspiration from established brands and other PR campaigns was also helpful. Using tools such as Google trends enabled him to see when the spike of interest was to guide the timeline of launch.

Simplicity is key when it comes to SEO reporting

Greg Gifford, VP of search marketing at SearchLabs, this year inspired with his film-themed guide to reporting. Through his whistle-stop presentation, delivered entirely via film gifs, his main message was clear: SEO reporting should be entirely bespoke for the individual client and simplicity is key. Ultimately, he said, clients care about their bottom line, so reports have to show the most relevant data and metrics that impact this. Client reports need to be easy to understand and analyse. Showing trends over time, he felt, was one of the most valuable metrics and that bad reporting points such as bounce rates, average session duration, percentage of new users and keyword ranking tables should be ditched!

Google changes title tags – because it can

It’s well-known that Google has undergone a new algorithmic change which has resulted in title tag rewrites. Head of SEO Branding at Wix, Mordy Oberstein this year delivered a quickfire presentation on Google’s title tag rewriting, which titles Google is and isn’t rewriting and the reasons behind it. His data showed that Google is rewriting title tags to remove the brand name from titles on mobile devices, provide more detailed geotargeting, removing all marketing speak and adding brand name to 'Your Money or Your Life' (YMYL) sites. Google is doing this, he said, simply to show that it understands our web pages and our content enough to rewrite titles. In short, Google is flexing. Because it can.

Brighton SEO goes online on the 21 and 22 April, 11.55-17,15 BST. It's available to watch for free so catch it if you can.

Learn how we can help you create effective digital content.

Cola Herrero-Driver

Cola Herrero-Driver

Head of Client Services


+44 (0)20 8609 4911

Charlotte Naversten

Charlotte Naversten

Content strategist


+46 73 985 55 77

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