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BrightonSEO Technical Takeaways

It’s taken me longer than expected to get around to writing this little doo-dad for which I apologise.

Like a lot of you lovely folk I attended Brighton SEO on the 12th of April this year and this post is here to provide you with a goodie bag full of takeaways I picked up from the day. This post is also a little bit of a follow up to my other excited mess of a post, a post in which I rambled about what I was looking forward to most at the event, you can check this out here.

After manically handing out a few stacks of Brighton SEO agendas, (yes that was me at the entrance complaining about how much my arm hurt and singing “I like it when you call me Big Daddy” w/ @MrsHomburg) I stuck true to my word and spent the entire day at the Corn Exchange.


Session 1 Takeaways
Session 2 Takeaways
Session 3 Takeaways

Session 1 “On-Site”

The first session started at 11am and was full to the brim with people, so much so they had to add extra chairs for every other session held here! I managed to snag a table right at the front to watch the three speakers Aleyda Solis, Alex Moss and Alan Cairns.

Session 1 Takeaways

1. Ask yourself 3 questions before pursuing international SEO.

Aleyda Solis BrightonSEOAleyda really made the process of “going international” clear by separating her talk into 3 questions, these include:

“Do I have international potential?”

Which Aleyda answered by suggesting we check our analytics accounts (to see whether a large portion of traffic is coming to your site from a different country), check our Google Webmaster Tools accounts (to verify pages which may already be driving traffic from other countries), and set up alerts for countries and languages (to help measure the time it takes to truly “go international”).

“How can I target an international audience?”

Which Aleya answered by suggesting we check Google Trends (to verify country seasonality which you can react to accordingly), obtain support from a native speaker (to help with slang terms to ensure high quality content) and check out TNS Digital Life (to research behavior of countries online).

and finally

“How can I develop an international site?”

Which Aleyda answered with an explanation of language targeting, country targeting, correct ccTLDs, hreflang tag, localised on-site elements, how to give the user a choice to switch to a preferred language of a site and geolocation settings in Google’s Webmaster Tools.

Check out the slides here

2. Sort out structured data for your social networks

Alex presented a really clean cut deck introducing structured data available for social networks including Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. He stressed the improved click through rates received by cleaning up structured data on social networks, the need for content to be tailored specifically for each audience on each network and how you can gain page real estate by implementing structured data properly across all social accounts.

What was really great here was to be introduced to some of the available tags used on each social network and the links he gave which pointed me towards support for said tags. I was able to see that Facebook Open Graph has a huge amount of tags available whereas Google+ only has 4.

Some great insight into the future of socially structured data was given too, how G+ may evolve their own data set or pull in page Schema for example.

Alex also shared a little tip: G+ and Twitter both revert to Facebook Open Graph before META declarations.

Alex also supported the importance of socially structured data by showing the how visually different SERPs can be, it was a real eye opener on something we too often take for granted.

Check out the slides here

3. Don’t underestimate the power of properly marking up your pages

I’ve been twiddling around with websites for years so markup is no unfamiliar territory for me, but Alan Cairns really opened my eyes to another thing we often take for granted (seeing a theme here?) and that was: the importance of certain tags in html markup.

We’re all banging on about and how crucial that mark up is, to which I fully support, don’t get me wrong. But what Alan spoke about was how definition tags and unordered list tags often appear in SERPs. These tags are often used but usually not for search benefits, sometimes they’re even overlooked and simply styled using different tags, so it was a refreshing moment when Alan drew my attention back to them.

Check out the slides here

Session 2 “Data”

The second session started at 11.30am and was full to the brim with Google Analytics, yay! My favourite speakers from this session were Dara Fitzgerald and Anna Lewis.

Session 2 Takeaways

1. Remember that Google Analytics still isn’t smart enough to connect the 1st and 2nd visit from the same user if they use a different browser or a different device both times. This has a considerable effect on the data we use and the decisions we make.

2. The “last click wins” mentality is a biased view, any engagement steps get no credit

3. Must remember that sites are multi-purpose. A user may visit the site once to download a brochure, a second time to sign up to an email and a third for the phone number however this leads to a 0% conversion rate even though the user engaged.

4. Universal Analytics improves on all of the above by moving away from the current reliance on cookies in Google Analytics. We are moving towards a visitor centered view instead of a visit centered view.

Check out the slides here

5. Separate your (Not Provided) traffic by following this path in Google Analytics:Traffic Sources > Sources > Search > Organic > Secondary Dimension = Landing Page

6. Dashboard: Technology used to view your site

7. Dashboard: Site Performance

8. Conversion Rate Optimisation in Google Analytics by following this path: Content > Experiments. All takeaways from Anna’s talk were hands on solutions to problems I encounter every day but this CRO tib-bit was the most useful for me, it provides a great way to test and measure different CRO tactics.

Check out the slides here

Session 3 “Scale”

Dan Patmore BrightonSEO

The third session started at 2.30pm and was all about the scale of SEO. My favorite speakers from this session were Berian Reed and Dan Patamore.

Session 3 Takeaways

1. Do 20% of the boring stuff and 80% of the interesting stuff!

2. Set up custom intelligence alerts in Google Analytics for all sorts of things including twitter drops/spikes, traffic drops/spikes etc. This means you can react to anything immediately without having to worry about it in the mean time.

3. Use the Tynt Plugin to add a link to your content whenever anybody copy and pastes that content.

4. SEO Tools Plugin for Excel

Check out the slides here

5. On-site is a massive challenge for huge clients like Argos

6. Clients like Argos often priorities SEO recommendations to try and push the most important through a huge process map.

7. You really need to fight a battle to prove the importance of on-site SEO when you are a member of an in-house team for a giant client. Bust the idea of SEO being “voodoo” by explaining as much as possible.

Overall the entire day was a huge success not just for everybody that went but for Kelvin Newman, the guy who put it all together. At no other conference, paid let alone free, can you ride a bucking bronco for 29 seconds after having 3 free pints.

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Natalie Wright is a Freelance Search Engine Strategist. She is incredibly fond of technical SEO and can often be found speaking at digital marketing related conferences. She also has no idea why she's speaking in third person right now. Find her on Google+ or Twitter.

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