If you read my last post about my second day at Brighton SEO, you may have noticed my subtle hint that I’d meet a few people. And I did!
The first was someone from the very first agency I’d ever worked for – my first ever writing gig – and it was great to hear about the amazing things they have been up to in the six years since we worked together.
The second was a former colleague I had trained with at another agency, and once again, hearing how much she was enjoying her new job was wonderful!
And I also met someone for the very first time….I’ve spoken to him on Twitter (I think we all have) and I’ve had the honour of him attending one of my online presentations when we were in lockdown. Have you guessed who it is? Shameless selfie coming!
That’s the thing I love the most about attending Brighton SEO in person. You get to bump into some really terrific people, even if it does start to feel like a ‘Rebekah Conway, This is Your Life’ type deal.
Anyway, back to the Brighton SEO presentations, today was a shorter day for me as I had a heck of a way to travel home, but I did manage to catch some fascinating talks before heading to the train.
The second day was far less about hands-on SEO and more about self-care and taking care of the planet as part of your daily job – two things that I am incredibly passionate about (my colleagues must be so sick of me talking about sustainable marketing!)
Menstrual Health in SEO
Speaker: Chloe Smith
Firstly, I’d like to give a shoutout to all the men who attended this talk. As Chloe pointed out, in the digital marketing industry men outnumber women by 2:1, and it was great to see so many people taking this important topic seriously.
How menstrual health impacts the workplace
Here are just some stats relating to how menstrual health influences the workplace, based on a survey that Chloe created:
- 53% of people surveyed have taken at least one sick day as a direct result of menstruation.
- 69% have gone to work instead of calling in sick.
- 55% have lied about the reason behind their sick day, rather than admitting it’s due to menstrual health.
- 54% feel they can’t talk about menstruation at work.
- 50% said that their workplace does not provide free period products.
What can digital marketing workplaces do to help?
In addition to highlighting the problems that need to be addressed, Chloe helpfully offered some solutions:
- Put period health on the agenda – This is something that really needs to be addressed by the whole company. Just as with any other policy that’s implemented, business can always do more to understand how they can support team members who menstruate and ensure that this is communicated to everybody.
- Provide free period products in the office – Sometimes irregularities happen in cycles and surprises happen. Being able to deal with it quickly and discreetly can help people feel much more comfortable.
- Introduce menstrual health days – Similar to mental health days, this will help break the stigma attached to a natural process.
How to Take Care of Yourself When Researching and Writing About Difficult Topics
Speaker: Kat Nicholls
At a public speaking event, I once spoke about how writing a particular piece of content made me cry. And there are certain topics that I hope never to have to write about in my career but there will always be some that are unavoidable.
As a writer, I wholeheartedly believe that words matter. While I aim to elicit emotion from my readers, that ultimately means I’m feeling a lot when writing. So this talk really caught my attention.
Kat gave some really simple but incredibly useful advice on how to take care of yourself as a writer both before, during and after a project:
Before a project
- Outline why you’re writing about this topic – What can make it more meaningful, how can it best solve a problem or give the reader comfort?
- Preplan breaks – and make sure you take them. It might help to set an alarm to remind you when it’s time to step away from the screen and get your bearings.
- Set boundaries – And communicate these to the wider team (if you have a wider team). This may be requesting not to take on more than one ‘tough’ project at a time, or even asking for other tasks to be put on hold so you can concentrate all of your attention on this piece.
During a project
- Remember your why – Keep in mind the reason behind the piece of work.
- Check in – Regularly contemplate if you’re ok. If not, think about what you can do to take care of yourself. Make a list of ‘decompression’ activities, things that aren’t at all connected to your work or the project.
- Take breaks – The ones that you preplanned. Don’t skip them or push them back. During your breaks, try and do something entirely different and/or creative to take your mind off your work.
- Maintain your boundaries – and keep checking in on yourself.
After a project
When you’ve proofread your last sentence and have sent it to the relevant person, there’s still stuff to be done:
- Celebrate – Don’t just tick it off your list and move on the next task. Take some time to feel proud that you’ve completed a project and take a little break before hopping onto the next task.
- Check in – Are there any emotions or stressors lingering from that project? Do you need to talk to someone, do another decompression activity, step away and go for a walk?
- Note learnings – Humans are incredibly complex beings, if you’ve learned something about yourself during a project, make a note of it.
If all copywriting teams adopted this approach, I think the entire sector will be happier and more creative. I’m lucky, at Boom, if I need to step away and grab a cup of tea, take a walk or even have a slightly longer lunch break, it isn’t questioned. In fact, it’s recommended.
My manager has actively told me to take more breaks. Being able to step away when needed helps me to take care of myself and ensure I’m not burning out my creativity. This talk has only made it clearer to me that these steps are important and should be worked into every tough project I take on.
Staying Sane: How To Prioritise & Manage Your Mental Health As An SEO
Speaker: Charlotte McIntyre
Charlotte perfectly summarised the state of SEO last year in one sentence.
“2021 [algorithm] updates were a B-word.”
I may be paraphrasing slightly but the sentiment is there.
Last year was hard for everyone and the sheer number of Google updates we saw was just the cherry on top of a pretty crappy cake. (In fact, if 2021 were a muffin, it would be a savoury muffin!) But if anything, it highlighted the fact that we all need to take care of ourselves before we can do a good job at work.
Here are some stats she pointed out:
- One in Four people experience a mental health problem.
- One in Five people have suicidal thoughts.
- In 2020/2021, 50% of all work-related ill-health were related to anxiety, depression and stress.
She also highlighted some aspects of the industry that can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing:
- The sheer number of algorithm updates – I know I’ve mentioned it once but it was so mammoth I think it needs to be typed again.
- Ranking fluctuations – being so hyper focused could be causing more stress than is necessary. Maybe we should be looking more at the bigger picture rather than getting so fixated on specific terms?
- Unrealistic expectations – I feel like this is probably the case in all industries.
- Unmanageable workloads – See above.
- Lack of buy-in and support – Continuously fighting for your expert opinion to be heard or for things you need to be pushed through is physically and mentally exhausting.
Charlotte then went on to explain how to better manage day-to-day SEO work and still enjoy it:
- Draw clear boundaries – something that was already touched on in an earlier talk.
- Step away from updates – Let them do their thing and then analyse and make a plan.
- Try not to get too bogged down with things that are out of your control – This one is a toughie!
- Ask for help – Another toughie, but one that is so important.
- When you’re worrying about something – Ask if you’ll even be thinking about it in a week/month/year. This is a great way to get clarity when you’re in the weeds.
These may be useful tips, but it’s important to bear in mind that mental health is different for everyone, so if you need additional support, I highly recommend you seek it out.
Charlotte also requested that managers look to put infrastructure in place to protect their employees.
Web Design For People And Planet
Speaker: Tom Greenwood
As I mentioned earlier, I’m a huge fan of bringing sustainability into digital marketing. I’ve also been involved in most digital departments throughout my career, but never web design. Although it’s something that I’ll always admire. So, I was really intrigued by this talk.
First, Tom gave some pretty harrowing stats:
- Data Centres use 200TWh of electricity every year – the same amount as the entire country of Spain.
- The internet is almost twice as polluting as the aviation sector.
- Even though most products and services become more efficient over time, website load times haven’t really improved at all.
How to reduce waste in web design
The first piece of advice Tom gave in reducing the amount of waste there is on the internet is to ask yourself:
- Do we need this?
- Can we achieve the same thing with less?
- What can we remove before we implement it?
Next, he suggested looking at the images we use. I think that as an industry we’re encouraged to use images every chance we get. The more the better. But if we took an audit of the images on a website, would we find that 100% of them add value? Or that they’ve just been put there to break up content without actually improving the user journey and experience.
I know I’ve been guilty of this.
He also made an incredible point that I personally had never considered – the more data our website’s use, the less people we can reach. Not everybody is data-rich and this is something we should definitely be considering when marketing client products and services online.
He then followed this up with some advice:
- Compress your images where you can (an oldie but goodie).
- Hand optimise your SVGs. (Animated SVGs are more carbon-efficient than videos, and any text you include can be read by the search engine bots).
- Contemplate using system fonts as these (though they may look boring) are zero waste.
- If you use subset fonts, think about stripping out any characters that you aren’t going to use.
- If you use CSS, regularly clear out any colours that you don’t use anymore.
He also referred to the Sustainable Web Manifesto for anyone who’s interested in finding out more.
Search In The Metaverse
Speaker: Kara Thurkettle
OK so, when I first heard about the metaverse I was super creeped out by it. So I went to this talk to find out more and to know when it might make it’s way into digital marketing.
Turns out the answer to that question is right now!
Brands are already selling their products and services in the metaverse and, according to Kara, by 2026, 30% of organisations will be selling their products and services within the metaverse.
By then, One in Four people will be spending at least one hour per day in the metaverse.
Why use the metaverse?
- 71% of AR users said that, with the help of AR, they would increase shopping.
- The tech improves conversion and ROI – think of retail, in the metaverse you can ‘try on before you buy.’
- With that in mind, returns can be reduced.
How to optimise for the metaverse
Ironically after the talk that immediately preceded Kara’s talk recommended we contemplate using less imagery, Kara said that image optimisation is going to be more important than ever when it comes to optimising for the metaverse.
Other tips she gave include:
- Consider utilising AR modifications for your target search terms such as ‘try on’.
- Carry out a competitor audit with the metaverse in mind.
- Create dedicated landing pages for shopping in the metaverse.
- Think about a visual strategy.
As with all new tech, there are risks that need to be considered and measured. Kara said that the top concerns at the moment for the metaverse (taken from a survey) revolve around security, privacy and safety.
Therefore, if this is a sector you’re interested in exploring, it’s worth consulting both accessibility and cybersecurity experts.
SEO In A Sustainable Future
Speaker: Eilish Hughes
This was the last talk I’d get to see at Brighton SEO before heading home, and one that I was the most excited about.
Just as with Tom’s talk, Eilish began by outlining some of the issues marketers are facing when it comes to operating sustainably:
- Using a smartphone for one hour each day results in 1.25 tonnes of C02 being released into the atmosphere each year. That’s equivalent to 13.8 million more cars on the road.
- Google, in their sustainability efforts, are reducing their refresh crawls, which can cause issues with measuring the impact of our changes.
How can SEO’s work more sustainably?
This is something that I’ve been researching a lot lately, and the recommendation she made is something that I’m using right now in one of my hub optimisation tasks:
Reduce the amount of unnecessary content that isn’t performing or serving a genuine purpose, and reuse and recycle content where you can.
Why do SEOs need to embrace sustainability?
There is so much I could and want to say here, but I’m just going to focus on what Eilish spoke about.
- Google is highlighting sustainability in the SERPs – They’ve already published green hotels. Implementation of pointers like this are likely to continue.
- Rankings – Eilish expects that sustainability will become a ranking factor. That’s something I’d happily welcome.
- Ecosia – If you haven’t heard of Ecosia, I highly recommend taking a look.
- Universities are using it as their default search engine.
- Optimising your site for Ecosia as well as Google can improve your rank and quality score for Bing and its Partners.
- Meta descriptions are longer, and Ecosia interprets search intent differently.
- Whether you use Ecosia or not, it is assigning brands with a leaf icon if they believe it is operating sustainably, and a coalmine icon if they believe you’re operating unsustainably.
- Britons have become more concerned about environmental issues since the pandemic – According to a survey, and that concern isn’t going to just disappear.
- Sustainable shopping is on the rise – 40% of searches are seeking sustainable companies.
- We are all responsible for sustainability and saving the planet.
Thankfully, she also gave additional hints and tips to get us started:
- If you’re thinking of investing in a server, consider a carbon neutral one.
- Talk about how your brand is sustainable, and what short and long term goals you have, but be careful not to greenwash.
- Include green search terms in your pages, but again, make sure you aren’t greenwashing.
- If you are involved in eCommerce, look at the materials your products are made out of and their end of life cycles.
- Be realistic, it’s likely going to take many small changes to make an impact.
And that’s all folks! I grabbed my swag bag of Brighton SEO goodies, hopped on a train and thought about all of the amazing things I’d learned on this trip. I hope these recaps from day one, day two and day three have been beneficial to you too.