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4 key takeaways from brightonSEO


BrightonSEO is always an event you can rely on to leave you feeling inspired, and in some cases, wondering “why didn’t I think of that?” 

Though it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few key points, there were so many brilliant tips and tricks shared at the most recent edition of brightonSEO that it would be wrong not to try and collate a few to share here, too.

From applying forensic psychology to the conversion process, to working a digital PR mindset into search-led content strategy, here are some of our highlights from this year’s autumn conference.

1. Reactive is a term that should apply to your on-site SEO, as well as your off-site

StrategiQ’s Search Strategist Oli Hearsum shared a fantastic presentation on the untapped potential of new search terms, which highlighted the immense traffic potential in targeting breakout terms, rather than only those with historic search interest.

Using some clever free tools, he showed us how to monitor new impressions and emerging search trends in order to create useful content before the competition has even considered it. 

There were great insights into just how impactful this tactic can be, and it was a brilliant example (perhaps unintentionally) of how digital PR tactics can be used in ‘traditional’ SEO to great success. 

We’re always shouting about how important it is to be reactive in a digital PR context, and Oli’s wise words mean we’ll now be applying the same logic to keyword-led on-site content as well.

2. Opinionated content isn’t just for PR: it can also turn your search-led articles into a viral success

Ryan Law, Director of Marketing at Animalz, showed us another way that the tactics we use in digital PR can be applied to search-led content to great acclaim. 

His presentation, How to Turn Wild Opinions into Traffic, Backlinks and Social Proof, left us inspired, and drew on philosophy studies to get us thinking about how Hegel’s thesis, antithesis, synthesis model can be used to create innately interesting, shareable content.

So often when writing for SEO, people get bogged down in the technicalities and forget that great writing is not just about ticking the boxes required by algorithms. Through the seemingly simple task of adding contrarian opinions into your content where possible, and challenging assumed intent, Ryan demonstrated how to achieve success in the SERPs through reconsidering so-called truisms and offering expert counter logic.

3. Cognitive bias can really f*&k up your conversions

Forensic psychologist and Automation Ninjas founder Kenda Macdonald absolutely nailed her talk on How Cognitive Bias is Ruining Your Conversions, which imbued us with all manner of interesting knowledge.

Presentation by Kenda Macdonald

From confirmation bias and ambiguity bias to anecdotal fallacies, the peak end rule and the availability heuristic, Kenda’s presentation can only be described as a masterclass.

While we’re not forensic psychologists–meaning much of the information in this talk was new–it was also a solid reminder of some important marketing practices which can get lost in the fray. Repeating messaging throughout the buyer journey, and keeping it simple, clear and memorable, are just a few of the ways we must optimise for the human brains we’re targeting. 

4. Some of our audience research methods are in line with academic anthropology, and we’re smug about it

Helene Jelenc’s talk on Using Anthropological Methods in SEO was one that cemented the value in many of our current practices, alongside introducing new ones.

Presentation by Helene Jelenc

Thinking carefully about the ethical considerations involved in consumer research, Helene talked us through cultural relativism, participant observation and the use of mixed methods to produce better, more reliable research.

We’ve long been fans of arranging individual interviews where possible as part of qualitative research, along with lurking relevant social media groups and forums to observe the audience in their natural habitat, so to speak.

But aside from being pleased to know that we’re ticking some of the same boxes as professional anthropologists, it’s important to note that Helene gave us plenty of insights we’d not yet considered, along with a great tip on how to use QDA Miner Lite to analyse social media output and find valuable content gaps.

And this is only scratching the surface of what we took away on what was a whirlwind of an event. Now comes the fun part of actually implementing the techniques we learned to our clients and their accounts.

If you missed this autumn’s brightonSEO, you can still watch recordings of the full lineup of talks on their website. And if you’ve got any questions about how we plan to put these new learnings into action, you know where to find us.

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