Brighton SEO April 2024 | Talk Highlights | Varn


2 May 2024

Brighton SEO April 2024 | Talk Highlights

Last week some of our team were delighted to attend Brighton SEO 2024, the world’s largest search marketing conference. It was a great chance to learn innovative approaches in SEO and stay ahead of the latest industry trends that we can apply in our client projects.

Our CEO Tom Vaughton is a regular speaker at Brighton SEO and after 24 years of working in search and digital marketing, Tom is frequently asked to share his ideas and thoughts on search, Google, website visibility and how SEO is evolving and impacting brands and businesses. On April 25th, Tom opened this latest Brighton SEO conference on the main stage, sharing a talk all about ‘the good, the bad and the ugly of SEO success’.

Tom shared what good SEO really looks like and took a moment to highlight that we all need to reflect carefully on whether, as an industry, we are consistently delivering ‘good’ SEO. Tom was open about his worry that SEO could accidentally become mediocre if we don’t all stay ahead of what’s next in search and what the client’s competition is doing. Or, as Tom explained, (using an amusing and engaging story about his running ability as a young boy!), becoming mediocre can creep on you and mediocrity is in danger of becoming the new ugly of SEO.

Tom posed the question to the audience: “Are you using the same sort of SEO strategies you always have?”  A thought-provoking question, as Tom explained that looking busy and trying hard doesn’t mean that we are doing something of value. Importantly, the talk highlighted to the audience that if your SEO team and digital and search strategies are not constantly evolving, you’ll get mediocre results.

Finally, Tom shared a brilliant quote from John Mueller of Google: when he was asked what the most important ranking factor to consider for a website was, John just said, “Awesomeness”. Tom shared that although this could sound a bit fluffy, Google is always getting better and better at understanding content and websites, compounded with the impact of AI, if you are just doing mediocre tick-box process-driven SEO, you will get left behind. You can view Tom’s slides from the talk here.

The Varn team also attended many other insightful talks this year. Read on to hear our key takeaways…

Lucia Dello: The key to supercharged e-commerce profits

In this talk, Lucia outlined important considerations for breaking the “Built-In Failure Cycle” that often occurs when working with e-commerce, where internal KPIs and the client’s desires do not align.

Key Takeaways:

  • To maximise profitability, we need the complete picture – often, data is scattered across different software platforms, companies, and teams. This needs to be consolidated into one management platform.
  • Solutions for SMEs need to realistically align with the resources they have available.
  • Consider data holistically, (for example, if your average order value has decreased, investigate whether your average order quantity has also changed). Often, explanations for revenue changes are already present within the data; we just need to examine it from a bigger-picture perspective rather than singular, isolated metrics.
  • When setting KPIs, ensure they align with your long-term vision of success. Tactics for temporarily boosting revenue may not align with those for maximising customer lifetime value, and long-term strategy needs to drive day-to-day operations.

John Forth: Creating compelling content in regulated industries

In this talk, John posits that whilst content creators often have adverse relationships with regulatory bodies, it is crucial that we develop better rapport and learn how to work effectively within regulatory guidelines. He outlines six steps towards creating great content that complies with regulated landscapes such as the legal, financial or pharmaceutical industries:

Key takeaways:

  • Know your regulators.
  • Understand why regulations are in place.
  • Match your content to the topic.
  • Build relationships with the right teams.
  • Don’t think of content as “warnings” but as product features.
  • Don’t lose sight of the fundamentals.

Maja Jovancevic: What happens to your website after you go viral?

Maja Jovancevic shared her experience of a gambling and crypto client going viral. The dappGambl’s Dead NFT campaign revealed NFTs had failed due to a dip in interest, and had crashed a market already saturated with low-quality NFTs.

The campaign led to a flood of high DA backlinks and branded search keyword rankings. At first this seemed like a big win for Maja and her team. But, the influx of backlinks led to a dramatic drop in traffic. The choice of anchor text (mainly branded search terms) and destination pages (the dead NFT blog page, rather than the homepage, about us page and author pages). Google’s perception of the website changed, which affected rankings negatively, with the term ‘dead NFT’ ranking at best 50th.

Key takeaways:

  • Without clear anchor text and destination page strategies, you may be affected by the detrimental effects of backlinks.
  • Cultivate relationships can help request updates to anchor text or destination pages.
  • Create a game plan in case a campaign goes viral to mitigate risks and potential negative impacts on the website.

Giorgia Piccolo: Preparing for cookieless data

In this talk, Giorgia shared tips and best practices on preparing for the end of third-party cookies. Google will phase out third-party Cookies by the end of Q3 2024. This will have a range of impacts for marketers, including reduced targeting accuracy, measurement and attribution issues, cross-site tracking limitations, and problems with controlling ad frequency in target audiences.

However, marketeers should embrace the shift to first-party data, which allows us to benefit from data ownership and improved data accuracy while respecting user consent and privacy, which is becoming increasingly important.

 How to build a 1st Party Data Strategy:

  1. Identify the goals.
  2. Define which data matters.
  3. Define data sources.
  4. Assess internal resources for data management. 
  5. Collect the data.

Leveraging 1st party data allows us to benefit from tools such as customer match lists to optimise audience targeting to drive higher quality conversions. But how do you find new users in order to collect their data? 

  1. Leverage AI and machine learning.
  2. Use tools built into marketing platforms, such as LinkedIn Predictive Audiences and Meta Advantage+.
  3. Combine this with other strategies such as contextual advertising, strategic partnerships, and influencer marketing.

Cathryn Stormont: Performance Max for Lead Gen

Cathryn shared a talk explaining that Performance Max is well geared for e-commerce advertisers. Tracking revenue values allows Google to feed itself more information, with which it can optimise even further and drive even greater revenue. The online sale is a fixed endpoint, and Google can tell when that action is finished and understand its value. However, Lead generation for B2B advertisers is not the end; instead, it is just the beginning of the sales qualifying process. So, how can we get ahead and ensure we are still driving quality leads through Performance Max campaigns? 

Key takeaways: 

  • Tell Google the outcome of your lead and its value.
  • Link your CRMs into Google Ads to feed that data straight in.
  • Add other conversion points earlier in the process, such as website, email and social interactions.
  • Use market or persona studies to guide your campaign and enhance audience signals.
  • Exclude poor-performing locations.

Performance Max shines with its use of Machine Learning tools to optimise performance. However, this often results in there being less control for the advertiser, and less levers to pull. There are still aspects of Performance Max we can control to drive lead generation through it: 

  • Set focused campaign goals.
  • Refresh your assets to keep them new and test new combinations.
  • Trial new landing pages.
  • Upload account-level negative keywords.
  • Exclude placements based on impression reports.
  • Adjust signals based on audience reports. 

Kapwom Dingis: SGE & the future of search for publishers

In this talk, Kapwom spoke about what SGE is, the key challenges that it will pose to websites and actionable tips that can help you adopt your SEO strategy to prepare for SGE’s release. 

Key takeaways:

SGE poses many challenges as search traffic clicks could decline as much as 30%. Nevertheless, there are still actions you can take to help your content rank well in Google and be reached by the right users. 

Key actions to take to prepare for SGE:

  • Ensure content is helpful to users.
  • Proving depth of knowledge and first-hand experience is important when writing content on your site.
  • Use the power of digital PR to build your brand, a trusted brand will improve your overall EEAT score.
  • Include good images/media. SERPs are moving to having more media in them and this also applies in SGE.

Gerald Murphy: Search Engine Omnipresence: Why SEOs need to look beyond Google

In this talk, Gerald spoke about how SEO is evolving past just Google. You also need to take into account the landscape on other large platforms, such as TikTok, especially when targeting Gen Z users. 

Key Takeaways:

  • SEO needs to be Google first, not Google only.
  • Use the trends on other search platforms to inform your search strategy. For instance, a viral TikTok trend often translates to an increase in Google search queries on the same topic.
  • You can use this type of information to create relevant and up-to-date content that will rank for these new queries.

Why do we attend Brighton SEO?

As the world’s largest search marketing conference, Brighton SEO is a must for our calendars at Varn. Every year the team come back having learnt new things, met inspiring people and are energised to make an even bigger impact in search for our clients.

If you want to learn more about SEO, get in touch with a member of the Varn team today.

Article by: Jess, Senior Technical SEO Executive More articles by Jess

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