Brighton SEO 2022: our key takeaways

At the beginning of October, Hallam’s SEO and content marketing teams made the annual trip down to the coast for the Brighton SEO conference.

By train, car and even air, our team were in situ for the industry-leading conference, listening and scribbling down notes over three days of insightful talks delivered by several wonderful speakers.

Coffee in hand and breakfast suitably taken care of, it all started on Wednesday with the Online PR Show, before the main event unfolded on Thursday and Friday. Didn’t get to attend? Here, our team shares their top takeaways from Brighton SEO 2022.


1. Alastair Thompson, SEO Consultant, attended ‘How to use GPT-3 for keyword research’ by Danny Richman

Danny delivered an eye-opening education on leveraging GPT-3 to automate a number of SEO tasks that would otherwise be very time-consuming and tedious.

What is GPT-3? Danny explains it perfectly for the layman as a “pre-trained machine learning language prediction model that generates original language from a user-defined prompt. You just tell the model what type of output you need, provide a few examples and let GPT-3 work its magic!”. Incredible, right?

His examples demonstrated GPT-3 AI classifying keyword context or conversion potential when conducting keyword research; users are able to generate complex Google sheet formulas and Regex statements by simply describing in English the desired formula or filter, which GPT-3 then generates instantly. Mind = blown!

Alastair’s key takeaways:

  • GPT-3 is a revolutionary language model and its capabilities are limitless, however it’s already out of date due to the rapidly evolving nature of AI, and also due to the fact that the model was only trained until the end of 2019.
  • Example scripts demonstrated by Danny will save SEOs a huge amount of time and headache once they’ve got to grips with it.
  • Danny has kindly provided a collection of Google sheets and scripts for digital marketers to use for free!

2. Callum Wooldridge, SEO Consultant, caught ‘How to do a content audit for thousands of URLs’ by Lucy Dodds.

This talk was all about providing a step-by-step process to follow when you have been left with the difficult task of a large scale content audit. Lucy took us through an in-depth 10 step guide to tackling a content audit for websites with over 5,000 URLs to make all our lives easier!

  1. Brand research: outlining the purpose of your content
  2. Audience research: customer research to ensure your content is relevant
  3. Content audit statement: set out the aims of your audit such as identifying underperforming content or pages with poor conversions
  4. Categorise: dividing your content into categories along the marketing funnel (discovery, awareness, consideration and conversion)
  5. Pull your data: use various tools such as SEMRush, Screaming Frog, Google Search Console and Google Analytics to provide data on each piece of content
  6. Go beyond search: don’t just rely on search and check performance for content on other channels
  7. Highlight trends: use conditional formatting to highlight your content in order of importance and performance to identify strong content and content for improvement
  8. Start cutting: using the data choose whether content should be kept, improved, merged or removed
  9. Work in batches: don’t try and do everything all at once and work through a set amount of pages in each batch
  10. Check internal links: ensure there are internal links to every piece of content remaining on the website and check they are working

You can also find Lucy’s content audit template here.

3. Laura James, Senior SEO Consultant, attended ‘On-page optimisation 4.0: from intention to conversion’ by Felipe Bazon.

The traditional marketing funnel has been reshaped: it’s no longer a linear path from awareness to conversion. The new buyer’s journey is far more unpredictable, with each user discovering your brand and content in different ways, through different mediums and devices, often at the same time. 

In short, traditional thinking about intent and the buyer journey is outdated, but ensuring you show up at the relevant touch points is more important than ever. 

Laura’s key takeaways

  • Your website’s own site search is still a recommended treasure trove for content ideas. Use this regex to quickly find FAQs. If your website has a site search function but you don’t currently track queries in your GA data, follow these simple steps to set it up. 
  • Bazon introduced us to the ‘Conversion Index’, a mathematical framework for analysis the conversion path to help SEOs understand where best to focus their resource. Thankfully (for me, anyway), Bazon also shared a practical example of the equation in practice, which you can view from page 35 of his slideshare
  • Topical authority and the ‘Skyscraper’ technique: seasoned SEOs will have an understanding of both but when used together, they prove to be a powerful ranking tool. The general point is if you’re going to take competitor content and make it better, make sure you put your own authoritative spin on it or offer insight that no one else has. 

4. Rachel Holey, SEO Consultant, attended the Commerce platforms PDP content strategy: Amazon and beyond talk by Margo Howie, Senior Associate Director of MediaCom.

Margo highlighted how the majority of shoppers start their buying journey on Amazon, as opposed to search engines, so we need to understand how to capitalise on other ecommerce platforms from an organic perspective rather than rely solely on Google.

Rachel’s key takeaways:

  • 63% of shoppers start on Amazon as opposed to 48% on Google, so we could be missing out on a lot of customers if we focus on just search engines
  • An Amazon Product Details Page (PDP) can be optimised in the same way as you’d optimise a product or category page of a website – you don’t need to learn anything new for Amazon.
  • Some best practices include:
    • Use various keyword research platforms to discover highly searched for terms, specifically for organic Amazon
    • Treat your product titles like page/meta titles
    • Use quality images, roundouts, lifestyle, visible labels
    • Videos that have a clickable thumbnail, subtitles and mobile friendly
    • Use enhanced content like comparison grids, infographics, brand storytelling
    • Include as much info in product descriptions as possible
  • Just like websites, once you’ve optimised, don’t just leave them to it. PDPs are also prone to break and other things can happen that might negatively impact their performance. So it’s important to continuously audit, monitor and review things such as broken images and negative reviews which may go left unresponded to, just to name a few!

5. Stanley Dunthorne, Senior SEO Consultant, attended ‘Improve crawling and indexing with user-friendly log file insights’ by Steven van Vessum.

Steven van Vessum, co-founder of ContentKing (which we’re big fans of), ran through how log files can be used to improve crawlability and indexing of content. Log files show all the requests a server receives from bots and the response to those requests, so log file analysis allows us to see the behaviour of crawlers. 

It’s tricky to get content crawled and indexed. Factors like the increase in AI content and Google’s increasing focus on high quality content play a role. Organisations often approach content the wrong way, aiming for quantity over quality and without a proper understanding of crawlers’ behaviour. 

Log file analysis can help improve content quality as it gives us detailed information about just how Google is crawling and indexing URLs. 

As it is usually performed, the efficacy of log file analysis is limited as it’s something rarely carried out and generally quite time consuming.

Coupling CDN log files with the actual content on your site using a real-time tool like ContentKing makes analysis much easier. We can easily see things like how quickly Googlebot crawls new pages or changes to pages, and understand more detailed things like whether the most recent version of an xml sitemap has been crawled, and whether old sitemaps still get any attention from Googlebot or not. 

Stan’s key takeaways:

  • Logs are important and we should all be doing more log file analysis
  • Coupling up log files to a tool to do it in real time and pull out insights can make our lives a lot easier

Content Marketing

1. Jacqueline Martin, Social Media Consultant, went to see Jon Mowatt (Managing Director of Hurricane) to see him share his expertise on driving behaviour change through emotive video.

In this talk, Jon noted that the crucial ingredient to making true connection with your audience is emotion. Video makes for the perfect format to carry your chosen message – a powerful yet digestible medium. Having the capability to influence consumer behaviour, brands can look to use emotive video as a tool in their marketing efforts.

Later, Jon explored the human psychology behind viewing emotional videos. That is, what goes on in your audience’s brain that leads to an emotional reaction and change in the follow up action. He talked about why these pieces of content work so well and how businesses can utilise them for growth and conversions.  

Jacqueline’s key takeaways:

  • Everyone cares about emotional stories, not so much your facts. Storytelling is ingrained into human thinking, evidence for as far back as 130,000 BC. We naturally create narratives from what we see when we don’t have the full context. Jon used this amazing yet simple video example from Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel 1944 to illustrate this. 
  • Our brains make approximately 35,000 decisions a day – and 227 of them are about food!
  • No matter your brand, product or service you can create emotive video content for it. You can get a consumer to feel emotionally invested through video with the framework of emotion, fact and action.
  • The shorter the video, the better the results – attention spans are limited. However this can vary according to what stage of the marketing funnel your customer is at – further along, the longer the video can be. 

2. Alice Preece, Digital PR Specialist, caught Stacey MacNaught’s talk on ‘Journo Requests: how to get more placements with less wasted time’.

This talk highlighted that if you want to reply to a journo request, you’ve got to be more than just fast: you’ve got to pre-empt what they’ll need before they even ask for it. 

But how can digital PRs do this? 

Stacey’s top tips included: 

  1. Sign off can be the biggest barrier to getting a comment, so Stacey has created a pre-campaign launch strategy so to combat that, she’s got a folder she calls ‘Good to Go’ (not to be confused with the food waste app!), where anything that’s in the folder has already been signed off and they have permission to send it out to journalists with no further approval.
  2. Stacey explained that in the news, there are some things that are always certain: death, taxes, divorce and infidelity, celebrity weddings and engagements, celebrity weight loss, business going out of business, strikes and extreme weather events (to name just a few).
  3. To identify recurring news events that are relevant to her clients, Stacey looks through ResponseSource, Twitter and Google News (e.g. “according to” “nutritionist”) to find where journalists have previously asked for experts in her client’s industry, and what they were asking for comment on.

3. Tom Bestwick, Digital PR & Content Marketing Consultant, opened his BrightonSEO experience with ‘Time to give a sheet about data and Excel in Digital PR’.

Delivered by Gemma Flinders from Impression, this was a deep dive on how PR professionals can get to grips with software like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. 

Not all PR professionals are blessed to have access to an insights team and, as a result, we have to learn the hard way if we want to build data-led campaigns: as Gemma plainly put it, that means getting stuck in. 

Gemma’s talk provided a useful platform to help anyone wanting to learn get started.

Tom’s key takeaways: 

As well as being inspired to really get my head into the world of Google Sheets, Gemma’s parting message was that for a data-led campaign to work, you need to have at least four different angles; four different threads that complement each other but also can be pulled on in various different ways depending on the publication you’re targeting. 

One final parting insight was that if you’re not already using as part of your data gathering, you really should be.

With so many talks, so many rooms and so much to digest, hopefully this handy one-stop-shop of our favourite talks and main takeaways from the latest instalment of Brighton SEO has been helpful for those who couldn’t make it. 

If there are any talks you want to catch from start to finish then you can find the recordings from the three day event here.

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