Along with Ben from the team, whose own account you can read here, I attended BrightonSEO last Friday. My first time in Brighton for over 30 years (my mum tells me I enjoyed the dolphinarium last time, if that is a word), I found it a nice place to be, despite the hipsters (some great links in this Guardian article if you want to be distracted).
I really enjoyed Dave Trott’s talk on predatory thinking, containing enough profanity to amuse whilst delivering some serious messages about the failings of most advertising and how to re-engineer a problem into something you can solve. I haven’t had chance to go through it much yet, but I expect his blog is worth a subscription.
The day then proceeded to slightly more directly-related content (in the main). Rather than review/precis everything that was said, I thought I would just list the things I took away and the links I think might be useful:
- Stephanie Troeth spoke about user experience and pointed us to Aarron Walter’s Design Personas template, a handy tool to arrive at the personality your website should have.
- As you have to decide on the hierarchy of content on a web page, try wireframing the mobile version first – it’s a simple tactic to force you to think clearly about what’s important.
- Martin Belam spoke about user experience vs. robots (to paraphrase) and made a couple of good points, including how website navigation sets the tone of the website – look at the Guardian’s menu v. the Daily Star’s for example.
- He also made a good point about page load speed – the faster internet connections become, the more frustrated users get when they have to wait. Speed is part of the user trust decision.
- Becky Weeks gave a case study of chasing keyword rankings for a client without the ability to alter on-page content. Her conclusion: “Without good content you are only ever going to close the gap.” A sound point in these post-Penguin days where a boatload of easy keyword anchor text links is a recipe for sinking not swimming.
- Standing in for the ill robot Tom Anthony, Will Crichlow from Distilled gave a presentation that is essentially replicated in this SEOMoz post by Tom from the other day. Bottom line – providing a way for other sites/systems to access your online data is likely to give you a headstart as search becomes more about presenting data in the results than sending traffic on its way through links.
- Aleyda Solis provided some good points on mobile SEO – identify your mobile audience using Analytics (keywords used on mobile, landing pages etc.), use the AdWords keyword tool mobile filter when doing keyword research and test mobile behaviour with things such as Fetch as Mobile in Webmaster Tools and checking page load speed for mobile users in Analytics.
- Simon Penson spoke about content flow and visualisation (essentially an having editorial calendar and analysing the “peaks and troughs” of everyday content and big bang pieces). He pointed to a couple of interesting sites: Google’s Chrome Experiments is a good example of data visualisation, whilst Highcharts.com is an open source chart visualisation script you can use in websites. Great if you have a dataset you want to turn into something nice and interactive!
- Yousef Sekander showed off his Socialcrawlytics tool, which allows you to find your competitors’ most shared content – this means ideas for your own content and a list of people who are likely to share it! He also mentioned a few other tools for analysing who shares what online: Backtweets searches out who tweeted a given URL; Topsy does similar but over multiple social networks and ranks users by influence; Datasift is for people with money to burn who want to analyse huge amounts of social conversation data.
- Berian Reed looked at future-proofing SEO, mentioning the Tynt service that appends link information to copy and paste actions on your content, i.e. if somebody grabs content or a URL from your site then pastes it, it will include link (and optionally social) information back to your site, giving you credit. We normally run it on here, but we had to disable it because it was cocking up the “copy and paste this embed code” bit of our new eConsultancy blog post infographic – the Tynt WP plugin needs a “disable by post” feature!
- Berian also pointed to a handy bit of Google Analytics customisation that will show you the full referrer URL in reports (rather than just the domain or first part of the URL). Finally, he explained how he uses ChangeDetection.com to see what his competitors are up to in terms of new content – this tool notifies you when content on a given URL is changed, so it’s handy to see what people are adding to their homepage, news sections etc.
- Danielle Fudge announced Pinalytics, a tool that tries to show the value of Pinterest activity and shows the sharing activity of pinned images on other networks, along with the originating URL of the image with Domain and Page Authority metrics from SEOMoz. This could be a really handy link building tool!
- A final note from Tom Lewis, who spoke about conversion attribution (the art/science of attributing value to the part each traffic source plays in a conversion). He made a good but obvious point right at the start – don’t attribute value to branded keywords and direct traffic, because the work has already been done. If someone knows you by name/URL, something else must have done the hard work marketing to them!
So they were my main takeaways. Clearly I have missed a number of speakers off this list, which is not to say that they weren’t of value or interest, but as always there are some things you already know or things that are too complex or nuanced to put in a couple of bullet points. I did enjoy Lynne Murphy’s talk on American vs. British English, but I’m not sure how it makes our SEO better!