Last Friday saw the 13th Brighton SEO conference take place. Having outgrown the Brighton Dome, this year and having ‘come a long way from a room in a pub’, the conference was held at the Brighton Centre. If you’re not familiar with Brighton SEO, it’s a place where all forms of SEO geeks can gather and discuss all things SEO.
On the programme this year there were several speakers from around the world talking about all manner or SEO topics, from the importance of local SEO to the future of SEO and the potential dystopia associated with it.
Due to the sheer amount of information on the day I’ve decided to break it down into a nice list of the top 9 takeaways from the conference (in no particular order):
NEVER STOP LINK BUILDING OUTREACH
Even once you’ve hit your target number of backlinks to a page, article, post, don’t stop – there are many sites which will still link to you and not including them is just causing you to miss out. Local and regional press are a prime example – often freelance journalists write for multiple papers and sites, both local and national. By providing continued outreach and building relationships with sources, you can open doors you never thought were there.
SITE MIGRATION DOESN’T NECESSARILY ALWAYS HAVE TO A BIG IMPACT ON SITE PERFORMANCE
Whilst often site migrations result in lower rankings and visibility, this is usually the result of poor planning and not involving SEO from the offset. As we and other agencies have found, instances where SEO is well implemented from the start and is involved in the design process show far more consistency in performance across the migration. SEO and 301s needs to be integrated early on.
THE EVER INCREASING IMPORTANCE OF LOCAL SEARCH
Local search is becoming more and more important to Google and other search engines, and as a result they are starting to put more weight behind local listings. This has led to a huge increase in the number of tools and services available to help manage listings and to capitalise on this ever growing sector – many of which featured at Brighton.
GOOGLE DON’T GIVE CONSISTENT – OR EVEN CORRECT ADVICE ON HOW THE ALGORITHM WORKS/IS BEING DEVELOPED
This is something that we’ve seen before, and at Brighton plenty of other agencies were also talking about where Google’s advice on things such as backlinks and 302s etc. simply aren’t borne out by the results.
THE CONTINUED DIRECTION FROM GOOGLE (AND OTHER SEARCH ENGINES) IS TO PULL THE DATA THAT USERS ARE LOOKING FOR INTO THE SEARCH ENGINE RATHER THAN SERVE PEOPLE TO A DIFFERENT SITE
Ecommerce is moving in this direction too and we expect the ultimate goal to be where the products of Tesco, Asda and others are pulled into Google and the entire journey, including payment, is kept within Google – in a manner closer to Amazon or eBay. With Google’s phenomenal reach, this would place the search engine in an exceedingly powerful place across all ecommerce.
OUR JOB IS INCREASINGLY BECOMING THE ROLE OF A SCIENTIST
The algorithm is too varied, inconsistent across sectors and quickly evolving to implement ‘best practice’ any more. This was a main topic of a very good Keynote speech by Will Critchlow at Distilled. For us as an agency, we are moving away from an ‘audit to pass on to clients’ model and more into a proactive way of working with clients where we can implement most of the changes ourselves, keep on top of changes to the algorithm and test what we work on with clients, making the amends needed as we go.
CONTENT DUPLICATION FOR ECOMMERCE IS A BIG NO-NO
Whilst this might seem common sense for most sites, it is often overlooked when it comes to ecommerce and shopping and can even result in a penalty from Google if you’re not careful. Unfortunately for ecommerce, canonicals won’t cut it either, so avoid duplicate content at all costs! If you have a product that covers multiple categories, it’s recommended to use long-tail flat URLs e.g. www.upriseup.co.uk/Black-Silk-Evening-Maxi-Dress as opposed to having both upriseup.co.uk/Black-Dress/Maxi-Dress and upriseup.co.uk/Evening-Dress/.
DESCRIPTIONS ARE CRUCIAL FOR SHOPPING
The 150-character Product Titles are what’s going to entice the user to click on your ad or product, so they need to be fully utilised and filled with relevant info and keywords. By using an ad redirect option on the Merchant Feed you can also send top-of-funnel searches to a ‘category page’ to direct users to the top items. Speaking of which, by ensuring that the most relevant top-selling item is the most relevant item you’re able to further boost potential sales.
THE FUTURE OF HTTP & HTTP/2
Currently, if your website is performing badly on HTTP, the upgrade to HTTP/2 isn’t going to fix your site – it will still perform badly. To even be able to use HTTP/2 your site will also need to have HTTPS so if you’re thinking of making the jump, this is a big deciding factor. Many agencies have described the move from HTTP to HTTPS as essentially a new site migration which can cause massive issues down the line if not implemented properly. You can see the effects of HTTP/2 here.