Brighton SEO April 2015 – Round Up & Key Takeaways

Brighton SEO has grown exponentially over the last few years to become the biggest conference of its kind in the UK. Covering all things natural search, content, technical SEO, link building, user experience and more, it’s somewhere the cream of the search marketing talent in the UK and beyond congregate a couple of times every year to share their knowledge and ideas.


Generate UK were in attendance at the Brighton SEO conference on Friday 10th April. Here are some of the key takeaways from the day of talks:

Social content session

Erica Mcgillivray, Moz (@emcgillivray) – Show Your Flare and Pivot for Social Image Sharing

Erica’s talk mainly revolved around ways to create images that are designed to be shared on social media. She talked about both design and psychological principles, including:

Design principles:

– Using high contrast – opposite colours/blacks and whites
– Clean and crisp precise images
– Strong branding & identity
– Bold images with thick lines
– Unity – including how objects relate to each other and the use of white space

Psychological principles:

– Match copy with images
– Challenge audiences & provoke their thoughts
– Take risks
– Establish credibility (e.g. make people want to be associated with it)
– Make human connections

Key takeaway: 90% of the most shared content on Facebook includes images, so don’t forget about them!
Vicke Cheung, Distilled (@VickeKaravan) – Designing Content for Mobile

Vicke shared her thoughts on creating a content strategy with mobile devices in mind first and foremost. Changing a desktop design to a mobile one means important features need to disappear, whilst working the other way around means you can further enrich the experience for users.

She told the audience to work to the KISS principle: “Keep it Simple Stupid”, and to start with designing the most vital elements first.

She also told us to forget about designing for a specific screen size, given there are so many these days. is a good site to use for comparing specifications of devices, as well as giving an insight into their popularity.

Key takeaway: Performance is key just as much as design. Make sure it works and is fast.
Iain Haywood, The Competition Agency (@iainhaywood) – Making Your Competitions Fun

Iain suggested that a typically successful competition campaign idea can be formulated in less than 60 seconds, and that it’s important that the priorities and end goal are determined as early as possible.

He pressed the idea of there being 3 golden rules when running a competition:

1. There is more than one type of entrant – one is interested in winning the competition, other is interested in your brand

2. Your competition is unlikely to be a panacea – i.e. it won’t change your business no matter how many shares it gets, and it’s important not to get carried away by vanity metrics

3. Incentive action fundamentally changes the nature of intent – i.e. you are changing the reason why they may want to engage

Key takeaway: 90% of DNA between today’s games and promotions are shared, so consider using games – you’ll avoid giving stuff away, gain passionate users and a better understanding of them

SERPS session

Jon Earnshaw, Pi Datametrics (@jonearnshaw) – Cannibalisation – the SEO’s biggest nightmare, and how to identify it

Jon talked about cannibalisation in the SERPS, how it is on the increase, and showed some interesting examples he had discovered during his studies.

The four types of cannibalisation he looked at were:

1. Internal conflict – this is where two or more pages on the same website are trying to rank for the same keyword. To avoid this we should decide on one page to rank for and pass all relevant authority from the website through to it. Site structure plays an important part in this

2. Subdomain conflict – this is where a subdomain and the main domain are conflicting, e.g. and Content should be very different if using a subdomain to avoid clash of pages, whilst a canonical tag should always be used

3. International conflict – e.g. a and .com domain trying to outrank each other for certain keywords. Using a canonical tag is the best way to avoid any issues here

4. Semantic flux – Very similar websites and/or businesses, e.g. Currys and PC World, regularly knock each other out of the SERPS, showing it is important that the content is unique to each website

Key takeaway: Always investigate a suspicious flux in your content’s visibility and check for internal cannibalisation first!
Dave Naylor, Bronco (@DaveNaylor) – The Future of Search

Dave mainly focused on mobile search, and emphasised the importance of checking Google Webmaster Tools to monitor any issues with your website on a mobile device – some sites have a ‘Mobile Friendly’ tag in the SERPS but still end up getting WMT warnings.

However he also said not to panic too much about mobile optimisation – on average there is only a 5.8% conversion rate on mobile websites. It very much depends on the industry you are in whether you need to rely on mobile traffic.

Key takeaway: Although Google says to build a website for users, it is still important to build them for search engines too – you would still fail in the SERPS by relying on Flash for example.

Technical session

Kirsty Hulse, Linkdex (@Kirsty_Hulse) – Schema, JSON-LD and the Semantic Web

Kirsty talked about using rich snippets, the knowledge graph, and how this can lead to increased CTR and “owning” your brand SERP. She also touched on Schema markup; which helps search engines understand the information on web pages even better, and can therefore provide a higher level of quality in the search results. Astonishingly, only 0.3% of all domains use any form of schema markup on their websites.

The majority of her presentation discussed “the new kid on the block” – JSON-LD; a way of exchanging data without using markup attributes in HTML. This means that developers may no longer be required to make such changes on site, and that this could instead be the job of the SEO or website manager.

Key takeaway: Google has endorsed the use of JSON-LD as a method of adding markup; this can be achieved through Google’s tag manager.
Jono Alderson, Linkdex (@jonoalderson) – Doing an Awesome Site Audit

Jono opened by saying that technical SEO is hugely important but consistently terrible. Whilst SEO site audits are a great way for identifying and prioritising issues, it is important that they do not end up in the “graveyard” amongst other reports.

The best way to avoid this is to ensure it is tailored to the appropriate recipient, e.g. C-level, management, digital marketing manager etc., as all with have different requirements concerning the level of detail they need. Different formats include quick wins, long-form editorials, spreadsheets with the identified issues itemised, and simple cheat sheets.

Key takeaway: When carrying out the audit, focus on the cause, not the symptom. Find out why the issues have occurred and find a way to fix them.

Content Marketing session

Hannah Smith, Distilled (@hannah_bo_banna) – Jaws in Space (How to Develop & Pitch Creative Ideas)

Hannah talked about generating good ideas for content, and spoke about her S.U.C.C.E.S.S framework for making ideas stick:


She emphasised that people will share things to help them look like better versions of themselves. Generally, content is shared because:

– It makes them look smart
– It makes them look cultured
– It makes them look interested and interesting
– It makes them look like they care about being creative

Key takeaway: Hannah said it was important to focus on the idea, and not get caught up on the format that the content is going to be published on, e.g. video, images, written text.

At the end of the day, conference organiser Kelvin Newman carried out an interview with the winner of 2015’s The Apprentice, Mark Wright.