Top Ten Actionable Tips From BrightonSEO 2012

Posted by Steve Lock on 16 September 2012

BrightonSEO is probably my favourite UK search event, which in recent years has been growing like wildfire with attendance this year reported at over 1,500 people. This would mean that Kelvin Newman's event that started with a few people in a pub, has evolved into one of the biggest search conferences in the world, nipping at the heels of some of the hugely popular US events, like SMX and Search Engine Strategies.

The format has been tweaked and changed and this year many of the talks felt shorter, punchier and more actionable. This meant there were a lot of really good tips flying around, but don't worry if you missed the event (or drank too much the night before – there were an INDUSTRIAL amount of hangovers!). Here are my ten favourite tips from the event including some new tools, some really niche and underutilised techniques with a sprinkling of research...

1. Pinalytics.co.uk

Forward3D released a new free tool that has helped their productivity in link building increase by 500%! The tool scrapes data from Pinterest via keyword and combines with APIs to add additional metrics meaning you can find people (and lots of bloggers) who are really passionate about their subject matter. One key advantage is because Pinterest is relatively new much of the content is really up to date and actionable because the data is so fresh. It can even help you with uber boring keywords like “sheds”. The tool is free, but requires an invite, however all you need to do is head over to Pinalytics.co.uk and drop them an email. They promised me the tool will always be free in some form and its currently in beta (however unfortunately reliable API access normally does cost money).

2. Tynt Publishing Tools

I first learnt about this tool via Seer Interactive where I heard that some websites had been implementing a system where if you copy and paste content from their pages it appends a link referencing your webpage. This makes it infinitely more likely that if someone is doing research or copying and pasting a reference from your website you will get a link back. Major publishers have been generating as many as an extra 10,000 links per week using this technique and incredibility its free (although I do believe they are capturing data for research). However if its free and gets you thousands more free links for adding a snippet of JavaScript then why the hell not? This tip came from AutoTraders experienced search practitioner Berian Reed.

3. 89% of All Advertising Spends Are Totally Wasted!

Dave Trott the events keynote shared some incredible advertising stats that show us nearly 90% of all adverts are completely forgotten by their audience. This can make sense for advertisers like Direct Line who spend over £83m, because when you have that kind of budget you can afford to speak to everyone (and even shake their hands!). The best insight was that for those of us with less epic advertising budgets you need to focus on opinion formers, not opinion followers. This means your message will disseminate through your target audience, where your message will spread (like the gobby guy in the pub, whos the world leading expert on football!). This is the most effective way to spread your message, but requires much more edgy and daring content. It has to be worthy of starting a conversation with your audience. If it doesn't hit people and cause an impact your message will be forgotten and a waste of time like the other 90% of adverts nobody can remember.

4. Customer Decision Journeys from McKinsey

This tip came from the Brilliant Noise presentation from Anthony Mayfield. Bizarrely enough I have only ever read two copies of the Harvard Business Review, but one of them was the one he referenced! It published a piece of research from McKinsey that shows two main things; in these journeys search is often the most important channel and search is often the most underutilised channel. From memory I also recall their being a new trend emerging around activity after purchase where surfers will look for reviews to confirm they have made the right decision. This is a new touch point brands need to optimise for and the insights from the research are like gold dust for anyone currently selling SEO related services.

5. Social Crawlytics

This is a new tool released that has attracted more buzz than any recent tool I can remember from Yousaf Sekander. The free web app is particularly strong for analysis of content marketing research and what is being shared. You can even run the tool across domains such as The Telegraph, Guardian or even The Next Web to get creative inspiration for ideas on what content is working, in terms of being shared on social media channels. An even better use of the tool is to run it on your competitors sites and emulate their most successful content.

6. Learn From Your Competitors Mistakes

I would actually consider this quite an old school technique, however the way Berien Reed explained this was first rate. SEO's should be constantly testing and learning, however AutoTrader like to learn from their competitors mistakes through analysing keyword ranking reports, then checking what changes have been made through ChangeDetection.com. Berien reverse engineers why his competitors have dropped in rankings, which could be due to algorithm updates, penalties or over optimisation, then makes sure his team doesn't make the same mistakes.

7. Shape Your Skill Sets

In recent years I have been fascinated with developing my own skills and researching ways to become as specialist as possible, this has included adding to my search skills with other disciplines such as Linux, Python, Prince2, analytics and many more. Anthony Mayfield expanded upon ideas I first read about over at Econsulatancy where digital marketing is evolving in requiring practitioners who are “T-shaped”, in other words they have one very strong digital skill such as SEO, with a broad understanding of all the digital disciplines including analytics, social media, content, PR, PPC, UX and email marketing. Anthony described ideas that built on this research including variations such as flat, square and even table shaped skill sets. This is a really interesting way to consider both your own digital marketing skills as well as developing both teams and staff members.

8. Leverage Your Own URL Shortener

In a rather “cheeky” example as Yousaf Sekander put it, by getting your own URL shortener you are able to gain granular control of the links that are passed through it, so you can potentially route links to different pages other than the authors intended target. This would enable the site owner to spread authority to other pages across the site as they needed it and would potentially work really well with infographics for example. I wouldn't recommend this technique for any client sites, as it could be seen as manipulative, however its always interesting to test things and understand some of the more experimental and advanced techniques the search community are using.

9. Free Google Analytics Dashboards

From the last talk of the day delivered by experienced analytics practitioner Anna Lewis, she was kind enough to give away seven Google Analytics dashboards including SEO, email marketing, PPC, affiliate and much more. You can grab them all here. I would particularly recommend these to people who are less experienced with analytics to get a head start in the right direction!

10. Video Interviews FTW!

Interestingly while hundreds of search practitioners were scrambling around trying to blog through one of the most hammered internet connections in the country, Analytics SEO took the initiative (and my brother!), to become opportunists and churn out video interviews all day. I would expect them to be publishing them very shortly over at their blog. I am a big fan of both video and interviews as content, as although it takes some investment and effort, you get a lot of fantastic content for your blog. You can also read a great review of the SEO tools workshop from BrightonSEO here. The interviews included Ralph Tegtmeier (Fantomaster), Richard Baxter, Dom Hodgson, Dixon Jones, Kelvin Newman, Ned Poulter, Alex Moss, Nick Garner, Kristal Ireland and yours truly ;-)

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