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#BrightonSEO 2014 – Morning Session Round-Up

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The great and the good of the European SEO community once again flocked to the south coast this morning for the biannual BrightonSEO conference. Here are our highlights from the morning session in the Dome Concert Hall…

Keynote speech – How I earned loads of links by ignoring SEO

Malcolm Coles, Trinity Mirror/UsVsTh3m

  • UsVsTh3m gains huge amounts of links without even considering SEO tactics. It does this by creating shareable and clickable content based on current events.
  • Its posts often go viral very quickly, by tapping into users’ interests and desires, and relying on them to share e.g. Its North-O-Meter plays into Britons’ regional loyalties, and its Wayne Rooney realtime salary counter taps into most people’s utter bemusement at how much footballers get paid.
  • What’s more, these often take very little time and few resources to create, representing a sizeable potential ROI. All you need to do is provide your workforce with the right environment, conducive to creativity.
  • Although Malcolm was talking from a publishing background, he states that this approach can work for brands. Just be prepared to take risks, and make things true to the brand and relevant to the user.

Tips for designing great content
Vicke Cheung, Distilled

Vicke tells us content folk how to play nicely with our designers/creatives:

  • Step 1 – Visual research: Spend 15 minutes collecting visuals (not Google Images! Use tools like Behance and Pinterest. Be broad with your initial research, then spend another 15 minutes refining and analysing – share what you like AND what you don’t like.
  • Step 2 – The design brief: Consider brand restrictions – fonts, colours etc. – whether it will it get its own page, if the design should be responsive (it really should…), and set up a template to streamline the process each time.
  • Step 3 – Give feedback: Email is the wrong format – use tools like RealtimeBoard to collaborate in a more visual way.
  • Step 4 – Quality assurance testing: Check compatibility with browsers and platforms, and have thorough tests in place e.g. BrowserStack or Responsinator.

Vicke also provided some tips on design:

  • Audiences are getting better at filtering out the shit, so look at the finer details, such as typography and images used. Stock images lack warmth, so go above and beyond the typically awfully “really stocky” stock photos.
  • Consistency is key. Inconsistency looks unprofessional – the only way to truly get it right is to custom design each time.

Cool shit you can do with WordPress
Patrick Hathaway, Hit Reach

  • Why should we care so much about WordPress? Because the majority of your clients will be using it.
  • You can automate many processes – check out IFTTT and Zapier – and you can integrate WordPress with all of the more commonly used social platforms, as well as other CMSs.
  • It also allows you to streamline your workflow. Patrick gave the example of the Bangor (in Maine) Daily News – the paper used WordPress automation to avoid duplication and mistakes by putting failsafes between the journalists, the editors, and the publishers.
  • WordPress also has countless plug-ins and themes to make your site sexy. For my money, the sexiest of all are the parallax themes, which can turn your client’s site into an animated masterpiece, all from a simple back-end addition.

Do links still matter in 2014?
Dixon Jones, Majestic SEO

  • To paraphrase Matt Cutts in 2012 paraphrasing Douglas Adams, the web is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. And to make sense of it all, Google still relies on links, and will continue to do so for some time.
  • And, in 2014, Matt Cutts revealed that Google has tried to develop a search engine without links, but it just doesn’t work all that well.
  • Links pass on an assumed authority that other metrics can’t. For example, there is a big disconnect between traffic and the quality of a site (for example, see the overwhelming traffic that porn sites get compared to “higher quality” sites, such as local government or news sites).
  • In surveys of marketers by both Moz and SearchMetrics, links remain one of the most important signifiers, as they provide context.
  • So, although certain tactics such as guest posting are now perceived as “frowned upon” by Google, there’s no arguing with how influential honest-to-goodness links still are.

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