Brighton SEO: Key Takeaways from the Autumn 2021 Event

By Evolved • 18 October 2021 • minutes reading time

Last month saw the return of the in-person Brighton SEO conference, with an insight-packed schedule full of brilliant talks, Q&A sessions and showcases, along with the usual merriment that those who’ve attended in the past will know well.

We sent a lucky bunch from the team down to Brighton for this Autumn’s event and in the spirit of knowledge sharing, asked them to compile their personal takeaways and the learnings they’ll be putting into practice.

Some of the Evolved Search team on Brighton Beach - BrightonSEO 2021
L-R Autumn, Lucy, Jordan, Bekki and Beth

First up, in-person speaker, Lucy Dodds shares her top takeaways from Brighton SEO 2021:

A Practical Guide to Content that Generates its Own Links – Liz Gration

Take a quieter approach to link building

Discover the ‘dark horse’ of link building: passive links. But to gain links passively, you need to shift your mindset and take a different approach.

These passive link-building content pieces are unlikely to win any awards; they are quieter and without sensationalist headlines.

What’s more, this content doesn’t require a lot of outreach, if any at all. That’s because the content is found through search instead (i.e., by ranking well for the keywords your piece is targeting), so links can be gained naturally over time.

Create data-led assets, not headlines

Statistics pieces, trends pieces, templates and calculators are some of the assets you need to create for passive link building to work.

The most successful assets are data-led, as this gives journalists the opportunity to create their own stories backed up by your research.

Make your assets relevant to the site you’re working on. As an example, for a health and wellbeing site, you could produce an asset around the topic of stress.

By creating a data-led piece on that relevant topic, targeting keywords like ‘stress statistics’, journalists will find your research through search when they go to create their own content – and to credit their source, they should link to your site.

Spend less resource, but be willing to wait

Passive link building comes with time, but minimal resource is required. That means you don’t have to spend a lot of time or money on creating your piece of content.

There are initial costs, such as a survey to collect your data, but then your production and outreach time should be very minimal.

You already have a unique hook with your original research, so there’s no need to spend a lot of your resource doing anything else. Get your content ranking for your target keywords and wait for the links to come in naturally for years to come.

Senior Content Marketing Consultant, Bekki Ramsay, picked the following as her top talk of the event:

Inbound PR: Less Cold Outreach, More Links Please – Stacey MacNaught

Gaining zero links for a campaign is more common than you thought

Despite what the world of Digital PR Twitter will have you thinking, having a digital PR campaign fail is more common than you thought.

In fact, Aira found that almost a third (31%) of PR’s have launched a campaign in the past 12 months that has generated zero links. And 60% of PR’s have launched a campaign that generated between 1-9 links.

Taking a methodological approach with your pitch is more likely to make it land

Stacey polled her PR Twitter followers and found that nearly two-thirds (62%) of PR’s feel that it’s getting harder to build links. However, whilst many parts of your jobs as a PR is hard and out of our control – you can make some aspect of your job easier.

Whilst it’s common knowledge that journalists receive hundreds and hundreds of emails per day, you will have more of a chance of your campaign being covered if you’re strategic in your approach. For example, you should only send a pitch to a journalist that you know will 100% be interested in the pitch. Whilst this may make your seeding list smaller, you’ll have a higher success rate and are more likely to kickstart off a positive relationship with a journalist.

If you’re unsure whether a journalist will be interested in your campaign, check out their most recent articles as well as their Twitter for hints of what they are and are not interested in.

However, inbound PR can generate more links and stronger relationships with journalists

If you’re measured on organic search performance and, therefore links – you shouldn’t rely 100% on cold outreach (as mentioned above) to achieve them.

Instead, Stacey recommends in-bound PR. This is where you respond (on behalf of your client) to a request from a journalist. For example, a lifestyle or interiors journalist may look for someone to provide tips for getting rid of spiders in mating season. If you had a gardening client, you could provide expert commentary on their behalf.

What’s more, providing a helpful expert comment is a good way of building a relationship with a journalist as they’ll see your client as a reliable source. They may even start coming to you when you need an expert comment from your client – generating further links.

Stacey also shared her favourite tools to look out for these opportunities:

Make sure to stay strategical with your inbound PR, too

However, Stacey also highlights that you shouldn’t spam journalists with in-bound PR, too. After asking a journalist, she discovered that an average of 60 PR’s reply to a singular expert commentary opportunity from a journalist – and that less than 5% of these are used.

To land your journalist in the 5% that is used, Stacey recommends being selective. You should only offer an expert comment if you have absolutely the right person. For example, “I’m looking for a vet” does not mean that you can reply on behalf of your client that is a pet insurance business.

She also recommends responding as quickly as possible as chances are, another PR will get in before you. Once the journalist has what they need, they’re likely to stop reading the other responses.

Our Senior Content Marketing Consultant, Lucy Dodds, taking on the main stage

Forget everything you thought you knew about relevancy in Digital PR – Beth Nunnington

Selected by our Digital PR Consultant, Beth Watson, Nunnington looks at the significance of relevancy within a Digital PR campaign and the mistakes and misconceptions still seen frequently.

The importance of relevancy in Digital PR

Relevancy is more important than ever in Digital PR – there’s been evidence to suggest that Google is no longer just looking at the body of links but rather the relevancy in the content linking to you and how relevant those websites are to you.

As Digital PRs, it’s so easy for us to focus on the number of links as the biggest indicator of success for a campaign – but Beth highlighted the importance of looking at other factors to measure how well a campaign has done.

Is your campaign idea relevant to your client?

Beth made an excellent point of highlighting that we often create pieces that are created for the sole purpose of receiving large numbers of links, but may not be 100% relevant to the client’s product offering. Beth shared that this could have actually an impact on keywords that your client ranks for.

You can ensure you’re working on relevant ideas by going back to the drawing board and focusing on what your client offers. What service do they offer? What questions are asked in relation to that product? Using this as a basis for brainstorming future campaigns means that you’ll never stray from high relevancy.

National coverage isn’t always the solution to moving the needle

The Digital PR industry is a huge fan of regional and national coverage and there’ll always be a buzz when you realise the Daily Mail has covered your campaign.

However, Beth shared that lower DA websites with a smaller readership could do more for your client’s search visibility than coverage from our favourite nationals. To determine if a website is relevant to you, look at the keywords it ranks for. If it keywords are similar to what your client is going for, you’re on to a winner. 

Why Is Your Organic CTR So Low? – Hannah Rainey

Newcomer to our Technical SEO team, Jordan Murray, picked Hannah Rainey’s talk as his key takeaway. Here’s why:

Ranking highly for a term doesn’t guarantee that you’ll always get the traffic. There are numerous ways you can improve your CTR such as:

Optimising Meta Data 

Your title & description are the storefronts to your website from the SERPs. As the first thing your potential customers see it’s important to be attractive, accurate and to the point.

Target Customers at Every Stage of The Buying Journey

Attracting customers at multiple stages of the buying process is the perfect way to bring in customers without ranking for the ‘top-level money terms’. Consider what makes a customer look for your product. 

Create Informational Content as Well as Transactional

Customers looking to buy a product will often do research before and after their purchase. Capturing them at this stage will help to promote your brand assist them throughout the sales funnel.

Our last pick of the sessions comes from Content Marketing Consultant and another newbie to our team, Autumn Wiberg-Roberts:

Reactive SEO: The Untapped Potential with New Terms – Oli Hearsum

Keyword research looks back not forward, but 15% of Google searches are new. This opens up an opportunity for reactive SEO to capitalise on emerging search terms as new trends become popular.

Benefits of targeting new keywords:

  • Low competition
  • High volume of new searches every year as different trends and products emerge
  • Brands can be there first
  • Free
  • Every site can take advantage

Even if keywords have zero search volume right now, this is likely to increase as the trend peaks.

How to identify an opportunity for reactive search:

If your page has gained significant new impressions for a new search term, it could signify an opportunity for reactive SEO.

Tools to help with Reactive SEO:

Google Search Console

An increase in impressions in Google Search Console could be because of ranking changes or because a term is beginning to trend. Compare clicks and impressions over specific time periods and monitor the terms with the highest impression growth. Keep track of new terms to appear in Search Console, too.

Google Trends

Displaying real-time search interest, Google Trends can be used to identify emerging trends or check the popularity of terms you may have identified from Search Console.

Exploding Topics

An alternative to Google Trends, Exploding Topics shows you trends for different topics over a given timeframe, so you can see which ones are ‘exploding’.

Rising Retail Categories

This intuitive tool from Google shows you the trending retail categories on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis in a selection of countries. It shows the change in search interest as a percentage.

Social Media

When looking for an answer, some people will turn to social media first. Look for trending discussions around topics related to your business or product offerings. These conversations could turn into a potentially lucrative trend.

If you’re intrigued by Brighton SEO and want to read more, check out Eva Cheng’s blog post summarising her digital presentation (thanks, COVID!) from this Autumn’s event. See you at the next one!

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