As SEOs it is often easy to get bogged down in the details of the day to day work, without taking the time to think about how we could do our jobs better, and innovate workflows, to deliver better results for clients and customers.
Brighton SEO was set out to change this, and has grown to be one of the biggest search conferences in the world.
Varn were in attendance this year, with our very own Managing Director Tom Vaughton giving a talk on understanding your competitors in a wider business context.
The Varn team enjoyed a day full of fantastic talks, and below we have provided a summary of some of the most insightful talks and the key learnings and reminders we gathered.
Krystian Szastok: Competitor topical authority audits: the how and why
Developing content that competes and ultimately beats competitors is a key part of SEO, and Krystian went through a fantastic talk which explored the relationship between topical authority and content and how to develop content that can get you higher up the search engine results pages.
Key takeaway: Think about content entities and the knowledge graph, and how you can write content that fits into this.
Matt Greenwood: Spreadsheet sorcery: a Google Sheets guide for the aspiring wizard
Getting the most out of your spreadsheet analysis can seem daunting and many still rely on manual processes, but in a particularly practical talk from Matt Greenwood we went through Google Sheet formulas that you can use to scale up your analysis.
This practical talk dove into some useful formulas for Google Sheets, highlighting some of the ways that Google Sheets differs from Excel. Matt explained; ARRAYFORMULA, a tool that allows you to reference ranges of cells instead of single cells; IMPORTRANGE, a formula for pulling in live imports of data from other Google Sheets; QUERY, which allows you to interrogate a table of data to find specific information; and ORDER BY, a tool to use alongside QUERY to arrange or sort the output data. You can find more Google Sheet insights on Matt’s twitter at @MattGreenwoodGS.
Key takeaway: Use relevant formulas to pull through live data from other sheets when updating multiple documents, this will save you time over the long run.
Martijn Scheybeler: SEO testing: finding out what works for SEO
SEO testing is a key part of any good strategy, Martijn Scheybeler walked us through some of the elements to test and also how to run comprehensive A/B split tests which give you results that can be relied upon.
Key takeaway: Know what to test and when, metadata can be tested to improve CTR, but it may not be worth testing blocking your website from Google to see the results!
Tom Brennan: How to avoid international SEO mistakes
This talk looked at some of the common pitfalls to avoid when considering an international SEO strategy. Tom Brennan firstly looked at how language (and therefore keywords) can change even between countries that ostensibly use the same language. Secondly, he gave specific, practical advice for correctly setting up hreflang. And finally, he advised on the importance of running local competitor scoping – as you will very likely encounter a different competitor landscape in SERPs for each location you are targeting.
Key takeaway: Take your international SEO strategy seriously, and look specifically at countries and competitors to ensure you tailor it where needed.
Evie Collins: How SEO can eliminate friction and super-charge your customer journey
Getting caught up with the SEO focused work can be a mistake, and those in agencies can often fail to take a step back and look at where the work can fit in with the customer journey. This is a key thing to remember when communicating with clients, whilst customer journey mapping can seem basic, it’s the language your clients speak, and we were big fans of the content map from Evie’s talk (see below).
Key takeaway: Present your SEO data and content in clear diagrams that link into the wider business strategy, your clients will thank you!
Fabio Embalo: Where are all the Black owned companies in the SERPs?
Recruiting from a diverse talent pool can be tricky when you are just looking locally, but there are some proactive efforts that can be incorporated into your recruiting strategy to try and create a more diverse workforce.
Specialised recruitment agencies can help you reach a more diverse audience, and offering internships to targeted graduates can also support development.
Fabio touched on some disturbing statistics like, Black owned businesses are 75% less likely to get bank loans and often have no budget for SEO. Adding subsidised SEO services to select businesses can help bridge the gap.
Key takeaway: The lack of diversity in the area allows us to explain why this is reflected in the workplace, however there is more we should do to try and diversify, and to support black owned businesses in general.
Tom Vaughton: Understand your competitor’s business for SEO
Closing out the conference for 2022 was our very own Tom Vaughton, who took us on a journey of competitor analysis, focusing on the tips and tricks we use at Varn to get under the skin of clients competition and how to link this in with SEO auditing and strategy.
Tom talked about the importance of uncovering and understanding your competition’s business model when it comes to competitor analysis. Whilst other websites may be outcompeting you in the SERPs, if an analysis of the financial status or market position of that business determines that they are building on less than solid foundations, they may well not be a competitor over the long run. Tom shared some great advice about being fully aware of all facets of your competitors business model but also to keep track of emerging trends, so you can be aware of potential new competitors creeping up behind you.
Key Takeaway: View your competitors at a strategic level, and not just a search level to outcompete them over the long run.
Attending conferences like Brighton SEO helps us learn more about how we can hone our SEO and wider strategic efforts for clients to deliver better results, and we find it is well worth the investment of attendance.