The Oncrawl team recently attended the 25th (yes, there have already been 25!) BrightonSEO conference. For those of you who couldn’t make it or for those of you who were there but couldn’t attend all the sessions you wanted, we’ve written up a brief recap of what went on and our top highlights from the event.
BrightonSEO usually takes place twice a year and is one of the biggest search marketing events in Europe.
The event, which brings together search marketers and SEO industry members from all over the world, is built around conferences, training courses and workshops that aim to help SEOs meet and learn more about the industry and their jobs.
BrightonSEO conference highlights
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the last couple of sessions have been exclusively online. This year, it was clear that all the participants were happy to be back in Brighton and attending the conference in person.
The event definitely had a more international feel than in previous years. According to Areej AbuAli, Founder of @TechSEOWomen, “BrightonSEO continues to set the standard for conferences ❲in regards to the❳ diversity in speakers, with over 50% being women and by welcoming new speakers and providing training.”
Read on for our top highlights and takeaways from the conference.
Aleyda Solis – Goodbye SEO f*ck ups! Learn to set an SEO quality assurance framework
Aleyda’s talk about quality assurance primarily focused on how SEO errors prevent us from making progress. She explained that, “SEO errors are a blocker to progress because they prevent us from implementing what we intended to improve.” Ensuring a quality assurance check is in place helps SEOs to make sure they aren’t stuck fixing errors, but actually building and implementing an SEO strategy.
She also explained the essential tech SEO principles: give the whys, make sure stakeholders understand the value, make checklists and workflows that are realistic for each participating team.
Another key takeaway from her talk: she emphasized that SEO should encompass education, validation and monitoring.
In regards to the feedback Aleyda received after her session, she shared that what she heard from the audience wasn’t actually a surprise to her.
“The feedback wasn’t something I didn’t already expect. It was actually something I saw when I asked the audience how many people were suffering from SEO bugs or issues. About 99% of the audience raised their hands! It was a confirmation of how important this topic is and sadly, it’s not a topic that I see being tackled more. So I’m glad it was a full session with speakers sharing their experience about it.”
Take a look at her full presentation here.
Koray Tuğberk Gübür & Rebecca Berbel – The secret life of queries: parsing, rewriting, and SEO
Rebecca and Koray gave a really interesting talk about search intent. If we had to sum up their presentation in one sentence it would be this: Google does not use the text you typed to search for results.
Throughout the talk, they explained that Google used to use queries as keywords and SEOs used to use keywords wherever they could in SEO strategies.
However, search engines have since evolved and they now use different core algorithms. Additionally, updates like PANDA or Hummingbird have changed the way they interpret queries.
They went on to discuss how search engines parse a query, rewrite and then search queries based on determined search intent. The whole process basically helps Google to reduce the number of steps to find the question a searcher is really asking.
So what does that all mean for SEO? Rebecca and Koray concluded by saying that old SEO strategies don’t work or work by accident. New strategies require SEOs to build topical relevance, consider neural matching and think about search intent.
This was definitely a BrightonSEO highlight. You can read the presentation here.
Mickaël Serantes – The top overlooked data points that add value to site audits
This was Mickaël Serantes’ first time talking at Brighton and he gave us a key takeaway right out of the gate, “‘Traditional audits have little added value. We can do better!’
He spoke about ways to add actionable and meaningful data to SEO audits in order to reveal rare and valuable insights.
Throughout his presentation he walked the participants through the top underrated data points that people tend to overlook, and explained the value that they add and how they can be used in cross analysis to extract valuable information for clients.
He also asserted that it was important to go beyond the classic KPIs and sources of information, and look instead at what really moves the needle for each website. We highly recommend checking Mickaël’s slides out here if you’re interested in learning more.
Jess Peck – How to build your own crawler, and why you should give it a try
During her presentation, Jess Peck took a very comprehensive, but also easy to understand approach to talk about crawlers, why they are useful and how to use them or build your own.
She showed participants step-by-step, what a crawler is, how they work and actually how to build one. Even if you aren’t a coding expert, the session was interesting and well thought out: there was a good mix of insights for those who don’t code and practical information for the more advanced.
You may have missed out since the room was packed past capacity. If so, check out the slides from Jess’ presentation.
Greg Gifford – Freddy Krueger’s guide to scary good reporting
Greg Gifford’s trademark during his talks: one conference = one theme. The theme of his session this time around was the key metrics to include in client reports which he ❲obviously❳ linked to horror film references.
Greg emphasized that it’s important to remember reports should be directly connected to the client’s business goals. Reporting anything else is useless information. The reports should be easy to comprehend, otherwise clients don’t know if the SEO measures put in place are working.
One very clear takeaway from his talk were the metrics that we shouldn’t report on:
- Bounce rate
- Time on site
- Pages per visit
- Percent of new visitors
Curious to see how horror films and SEO mix? Take a look at the full presentation.
Lazarina Stoy – How to incorporate machine learning in your internal linking audit
Lazarina spoke to a full house, over 600 people in her session, about creating topic models and using machine learning for internal linking.
Relying on her background as a SEO and Data Science Manager and her in-agency experience, Lazarina shared a well thought out and easy to follow presentation for any level SEO that doesn’t have extensive coding experience. Her talk focused on:
- Why you should have an internal linking strategy and how to audit your existing one
- The role of content clusters in SEO and how you can use ML to implement it
- How to find the best places on your site for linking
- And how to measure the impact of your strategy
The talk was a great mix of SEO and data science and the topic is very useful. Lazarina has already shared her presentation slides, but you can also find the detailed write up on her blog.
Oncrawl Events & Webinars
That’s a wrap on BrightonSEO
Overall, BrightonSEO this year was a big success. Not only because of the great lineup of speakers and presenters, but also because of the overall atmosphere and energy that was palpable.
Jamie Indigo summed it up really well when she said, “BrightonSEO 2022 has a really fun energy because most of us haven’t had a chance to see each other. The panels are amazing as always, but I think there is so much to be said for the community being excited to see each other again. That’s the big vibe of 2022, the unity in community.”
Overheard at BrightonSEO
In case you’re still suffering from Brighton FOMO, here are a few soundbites from the attendees.
“I’m so stoked for my talk! Also terrified, but so excited! Please don’t show up for my talk, but, yes it’s going to be awesome”
– Lidia Infante, Senior International SEO Manager, BigCommerce
“I’m here because I want to learn from other cool people.”
– Lazarina Stoy, SEO & Data Science Manager, Intrepid Digital
“Heart surgeons use checklists. You’re no better than them, use a checklist!”
– Myriam Jessier, SEO trainer, PRAGM
“Do you know that feeling you get just before you fall asleep? I get that feeling before a presentation I’ve already prepared, so to prevent myself from being in autopilot, I bring my octopus”
– Gianna Brachetti-Truskawa, VP of SEO, Startdowns.de
“I’m looking forward to seeing Koray Gübür. He is possibly the smartest person I’ve ever met in my life. He’s astonishingly smart and what I like is that it’s practical, implemented intelligence.”
– Jason Barnard, Digital Marketing Consultant, Kalicube
“As a moderator, I get to see Crystal Carter tomorrow who is the most enigmatic, wonderful person that I think I have met in recent history.”
– Paige Hobart, Head of SEO, ROAST
“Content should live forever! But that only happens when you repurpose it.”
– Chima Mmeje, Content Strategist and SEO Copywriter, Zenith Copy
“I’m so far really enjoying myself, meeting lots of people that I haven’t met before. It’s good!”
– John Mueller, Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google
“My favorite part was at the end of the day, ❲the session by Mark Williams-Cook❳ there was some crazy stuff on zero volume searches. I’m really excited to get back in the office and do it!”
– Amy Cousins, SEO Content Marketing Manager, Newcastle University
“I sat with a bunch of people and traded war stories with people who have been doing SEO for 20 years. I guess we both have a long list of things of what not to do in SEO.”
– Robin Allenson, CEO & Co-founder, Similar.ai
“I’m looking to network with a lot of people I haven’t been able to see for a while because of Covid. On the other hand, I’m really eager to see a few amazing presentations later today. I think there is a fantastic blend of different presentations. It’s wonderful to see how you can learn not only things directly connected to your area, but from many different areas that are relevant to the SEO process like local SEO, or PR, or taking a more strategic approach to SEO.”
– Aleyda Solis, Founder & International SEO Consultant, Orainti
I love being here. It’s so good to be back here. I can’t wait to see Kirsty Hulse’s keynote later. She gave me my first speaking opportunity, so I’d like to see her do the keynote here.”
– Dan Morehead, Senior SEO Analyst, BBC