Going big at Brighton SEO

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BrightonSEO is Europe’s largest search marketing conference, taking place twice a year in the famously colourful seaside town. Businesses, agencies and industry experts get together for a jam-packed day of talks and training sessions on a huge range of topics spanning from content strategy and user experience to advanced technical SEO and eCommerce advertising. 

With more than 4,000 marketers travelling from all corners of the world, it is one of the most attended marketing trade shows of 2019.  We’ve pulled together some of the key takeaways from BrightonSEO to share with you.

1) Simple is smart. Complicated is stupid. 

In a rousing keynote speech, we heard from advertising legend, Dave Trott, who concluded the conference with the sobering fact that we marketers have complicated things that should be simple. 

We take briefs and create labyrinths out of them to impress our clients and audiences and to beat the competition, because we believe complexity proves our intelligence. This isn’t true and in fact it is killing our industry. 89% of advertising each year is simply forgotten. Not remembered negatively, but forgotten. We take things which are simple and make them complicated but real intelligence is being able to go beyond the complicated, to make things simple to everyone. The complicated language we have become accustomed to in the marketing world is a turn-off to your average target customer and that, fundamentally, is who we are trying to engage with. Keep things simple, speak to your audience. 


2) Ignore Amazon at your peril.

If you’re in eCommerce and not advertising on Amazon, you’re already being left behind. 54% of product searches now start on Amazon and their new A9 algorithm is set up to put the customer first. With keyword-less ranking strategies, ensuring your shop is properly set up, maintained and customer-centric is essential to ensuring high rankings and algorithm-favouritism. 


3) Consider the human behind the search term.

Are search marketers too quick to let search volumes dictate their tactics? As our digital marketing efforts have become more and more measurable, we need to ask ourselves whether this focus on numbers is making us lose sight of the person behind the search term. It’s important to remember that we don’t just want to drive people to our website; our ultimate aim is to spark action from them. And for this, we need sticky, memorable content that evokes an emotion.

Instead of creating dull, flat content that seems to tick all the boxes for search engines, we need to balance the need for optimisation with the needs of our users. Practically speaking, this means considering the search intent of the user, putting them at the centre of our content rather than the brand, and making our copy more engaging and exciting by incorporating visual, auditory and kinaesthetic language.


4) Improving wellbeing in the digital industries is vital if we want to attract and retain talent.

Wellbeing. In 2019, it’s a word we all know and might even be sick of. But the reality is, more than ever, employers need to put an emphasis on their employees’ wellbeing if they intend to retain a motivated and passionate workforce. With Gen Z now prioritising work-life balance and wanting to feel passionate and valued in everything they do, ensuring their career is tailored to them is essential. 


5) Entities are the future of search. 

As machine learning becomes increasingly central to Google’s search algorithm, ranking for a particular keyword is no longer a simple keyword matching exercise. Thanks to updates like the introduction of the Knowledge Graph and the Hummingbird algorithm update, Google has laid the groundwork for entity search, moving from keywords towards truly understanding search intent and knowledge of real-world entities and their relationships.

But, what actually is an entity? An entity is defined as a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable. It doesn’t have to be a person or an object; it can be a date, a colour, a time or even an idea. It’s also important to note that entities exist outside of language. For instance, although there are hundreds of different words across multiple languages that are used to denote mother, they all refer to the same entity. For this reason, Google gives entities number IDs so that they are not tied to language. 

And what does this shift mean for us as marketers? Put simply, ranking will become more about real world signals that can’t be faked. Link building and keyword targeting individual page elements will become less important as Google gets better at understanding entity signals. The focus will move back to old school brand building and creating online and offline experiences that keep the customer satisfied.


6) Facebook Groups are a powerful marketing tool.

It’s been common knowledge for a while now that social media marketing in the traditional sense is in decline. Marketers are finding it harder and harder to reach their audiences organically and, with ever tightening client budgets, we need to ensure we are getting a return on our activity. This is where Facebook Groups come in. For years these have been used for social purposes between communities but now brands are turning to them to create more personal and engaging conversations with their followers. With great examples of how groups should be used from HBO and Peloton, brands are not only getting a more intimate, rich experience with their followers, their followers are essentially doing a job for them by being un-appointed advocates for the brands. In an age where media budget determines your success, groups are the way to go. 


7) AI will be a key part of your team, not a replacement. 

As our time becomes an increasingly valuable commodity, AI will become more and more integrated into our daily lives. But the advance of AI doesn’t necessarily mean we’re set for the robot singularity apocalypse that Hollywood blockbusters have portrayed. In fact, the truth is likely far more pragmatic than it is terrifying. The AI that we’ll see more of will be more narrow and task-specific – and tech giants like Netflix, Amazon and Apple are already using it to enhance their services, for instance, by using facial recognition to unlock devices. 

Instead of viewing this as a race between man and machine, we should instead see it as a race between companies to see who can leverage these technologies the best. As digital marketers, we should be embracing AI as a tool to automate monotonous manual tasks and to drive innovation. We need to work in collaboration with AI and rest assured that the real magic is, and will always be, in the human touch.


If you want to find out more about digital marketing trends and how Union Digital can help your business stay on top of them, you can contact us at uniondigital@union.co.uk.