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#BrightonSEO September 2014: The Ultimate Write-Up

BrightonSEO is by far the biggest search marketing conference in the UK and its long awaited September 2014 edition did not disappoint. The Verve Search team attended and came away with some fantastic tips and tricks on Content Marketing, Analytics, Link Building and SEO! Below is our Slideshare deck which covers the main highlights and takeaways of the day. For the avid reader, a more in-depth account of each speaker’s presentation is covered underneath.


This is a collaborative post by the awesome Verve Team who attended the conference: Areej AbuAli, Manil FernandoJames Finlayson, Matt Lindley, Glen McMurry, Elina Eronen Piper, Anastasija Timoscenko & Luke Walmsley

Don’t forget to check out our BrightonSEO 2014: Exclusive Video Footage featuring behind the scenes video interviews with the speakers and highlights of the ‘Greatest Tips Session’.

Here’s a more in-depth look at each presentation, in chronological order:


Iana Miller.jpg Ian Miller

Predicting the future of Google, and why it’s no longer a search company

  • Google owns you and all of your data, it’s only going to get better/worse. They are buying every technology ever, at least $16,711,000,000 recently, and that is just what we know of
  • They are trying to understand things rather than just index them. Structured data is an example of this, along with their purchase of wavii for over $30 million
  • Google doesn’t want to be the company that didn’t react or change as a business
  • Content isn’t king. Context is. It will matter more where your users are and what they are doing. Content will still be important but it will all be relative to context
  • Google will know more about your customers than you do. It will know if you are at home, it will know what kind of things you are interested in based on emails you open, it will know your eating interests

MattRoberts1.jpg Matt Roberts

Why we all need to study momentology

  • SEO teams should be working with media buyers to optimise the entire search funnel
  • The purchase funnel could include the discovery phase, buying phase, leaving a review
  • Any purchase that happens doesn’t just happen on your website
  • It’s important to think about what other pages the user will be visiting at each stage of the buying cycle
  • Launched a dedicated website to further the knowledge in momentology

Stephen Croome.png Stephen Croome

Illustrated marketing concepts

  • SEO is a two sided education coin with learning on one side and teaching on the other.
  • To be in SEO, you have to be really good at learning. We’re all good at learning but we aren’t that great at teaching
  • If you really want your client to understand something you need to walk them through it step by step, not just spew everything at them at once
  • Attention needs curiosity and focus
  • Doing something with someone is a great way to pass on knowledge
  • Work to get lightbulb moments from your clients
  • Facts vs. wisdom. Take your client through the journey of learning by writing on the chalkboard, not showing them the finished idea on the chalk board. The idea is to start with a blank canvas and add to it, learn step by step – use the element of white space to make a point.


gary-moyle.jpg Gary Moyle

One Click Curve to Rule Them All

  • Catalyst CTR study is the most up to date, but just looks at the first page
  • Data shows that people are far more willing to scroll below the fold and even on to the second and third pages.
  • Branding plays a huge part in CTR – around a 10% difference on P1 clickthrough. Smaller brands need to know where and when to fight their battles.
  • CTR studies are useful for forecasting, benchmarking and opportunity analysis
  • NetBooster looked at 1.2 million unique search queries, 65m clicks, and 311 million impressions from 54 brands – involving the collection of 100k csv files over 4 months
  • The new CTR data shows decent CTRs past the first page – the full whitepaper will launch soon.

alec-bertram.jpg Alec Bertram

What’s wrong with the current CTR curves

  • CTRs used for forecasting is vital – both in winning business and working out what’s feasible.
  • How can one CTR curve work for informational, transactional and navigational searches when the intents are so different? They can’t.
  • Launched OpenCTR  a project to create anonymised open CTR data

david.whatley_mishoplocal-e1407818352394.jpg David Whatley and james-robinson.png James Robinson

Local SEO VS. Organic SEO

  • Local is, compared to organic, relatively simple
  • It’s all about NAP (name, address, phone number) consistency
  • There aren’t shortcuts to local, just make your way through citation, citation, citation
  • Categories are vitally important – and also frustratingly something that Google’s constantly updating.
  • When a branch moves, if you don’t change Google last you’ll end up with duplicate listings.


dipesh.jpg Dipesh Pattni

Programmatic Content: Is this the future of content?

  • Content factors can be summed up in the Content ARC:
    A: Audience
    R: Relevant
    C: Compelling
  • Content has to relate better to the audience in a compelling manner
  • Programmatic Content is another layer of content that is geared towards engagement
    • Audience -Through Google Analytics to understand your performance
    • Relevant – To enhance content tagging
    • Compelling -To ensure that content is being served efficiently
  • Paid media is using programmatic content; for example: utbrain, Taboola, yahoo
  • Content is not just a traffic generator…it’s how you keep the visitor on an accelerator!

dan-patmore.jpg Dan Patmore

How to get your boss to care about canonical tags: A lesson in SEO Persistance

  • SEO is an abstract keyword and can be limiting to use within a digital marketing industry
  • Driving presence wherever it can be organically driven is vital
  • Technical natural search should be prioritized
  • Put your customer hat on -Think of the customer’s struggles and needs
  • Consider if you are using the right language to communicate with your clients

jon-earnshaw.png Jon Earnshaw

Cannibalisation: The SEO’s biggest nightmare and how to identify it

  • There are four types of Cannibalisation:
    1. Internal Cannibalisation
    2. Subdomain Conflict
    3. International Conflict
    4. Semantic Flux
  • Internal Cannibalisation is when Google is not sure which page to return
    • How to fix it?
      • Decide on the page you want to return and give it authority
      • Theme it uniquely and well
      • Get your structure right
  • Monitor the visibility of your content daily
  • Always investigate suspicious flux
  • With subdomain conflict – rearchitect or agree ownership
  • Be aware of semantic cannibalisation – it’s increasing!


Aleyda-Solis-SEO-Internacional-e1402452629637.jpg Aleyda Solis

How to leverage content curation, build links and grow your search visibility

  • Content curation is a great way to create content quickly and effectively
  • The 5 types of content curation are aggregation, distillation, elevation, mashup and chronology
  • Curation provides more content sources, creates better content ideas and identifies friendlier content format
  • You can search for good content on Quora, Reddit and Tumblr and set up RSS feeds where possible
  • You can set up Buzzsumo alerts to get email updates on the best, most shared content in your niche
  • A good example of a content mashup is
  • A good example of content aggregation is Aleyda’s own


laura-crimmons-e1403676614709.jpeg Laura Crimmons

Breaking SEO out of silos with PR & marketing

  • Why should one work with PR and Marketing? Because good relationships with social media teams mean more people will see your content which, in return, equals to more publicity and, therefore, links.
  • Relationships across agencies are really important
  • PR agencies are rightfully worried about engaging due to SEO’s history of spam
  • Talk to PR teams in terms that they care about – brand awareness, spill over into traditional press etc
  • Use SEO tools to show changes in traditional PR metrics – e.g. FreshWebExplorer to show change in share of voice

kirsty1.jpg Kirsty Hulse

Earning links through audience segmentation

  • Earned content is all about risk – there’s far less risk in it than old-style link building, but there’s a new risk – a concept flopping. That’s why it’s so important to understand your audience.
  • Making sure that you’ve got Demographic and Interest Reports set up in Google Analytics is invaluable in finding out what demographics are actually important (i.e. converts)
  • Similarweb provides a decent chunk of demographic information for free
  • Online personas are often different from offline personas – not because the people are different, but instead because they behave differently online.
  • SocialMention is a good social analysis tool (not as good as Radian6 etc but it’s free)
  • is a really quick and free way to start segmenting up Facebook data to help with your persona development.


gisele-navarro-e1404701284309.jpg Gisele Navarro

72% of Internet users do not speak English: International outreach

  • Translation, tone and outreach are very different in different markets
  • Getting cheap translation can really hurt a project
  • Depending on a country’s beliefs a piece can be received in radically different ways – be aware of how it will be received in that country before outreaching and modify your targets accordingly
  • Create different propositions for the different markets – provide access to different people, data and visual assets.
  • If you don’t have an international team and want to test this, you can start by outreaching in English – most journalists will speak it anyway.
  • Best tips for international outreach:
    1. It’s ok to do outreach in English for foreign media.
    2. Be confident – international outreach has less competition so you are pretty much guaranteed success.
    3. Start with the best English content that can later be translated if needed.
    4. Stay flexible with the campaign and outreach – but remember not to contact all the sites you come across, focus on sites that already have a voice on your topic.


Aaron-Friedman-Jerusalem-Headshot-e1402454455384.jpg Aaron Friedman

Bringing sexy back: How a story can enhance your data and client relationships

  • Know the story you want to tell with your data
  • Make it approachable for a client, they don’t have time to interpret what you mean
  • Visualize your data in cool new ways.
  • Think outside of the box

emma-haslam-e1406244892566.jpg Emma Haslam

Do you know the real story you data is telling you or are you still stuck reading a fairytale?

  • You must trust your own data; you can’t do anything if you don’t think your data is correct
  • Objectives, KPIs, and targets are very different things; treat them as such
  • Planning is crucial, even with data. What will you need? Who will be asking for it? Who will pull it?
  • Talk to each other – ask about new functionality, tell others about how you do things

alexandra.tachalova_1393163386_08-e1407232829632.jpg Alexandra Tachalova

Advertising analysis: Beyond the numbers.

  • Look at what triggers emotions and causes actions
  • Trust is one of the most valuable emotional triggers
  • 70% is the most effective motivating discount when dealing with value hunters
  • Instant gratification phrases work – with ‘book now’ working better than any other.
  • Research competitive adverts to find out what’s working and what you can learn from.

Here is Alexandra’s slides

dan-e1404701477250.jpg Daniel Kershaw

I’m Drunk … Karaoke Drunk #donttryspellingksraokdrunk

  • 40% under reporting bias when self reporting drinking habits
  • 65+ year olds drink most on a Monday, far more than any other age demographic
  • There is a big increase in drunk tweeting leading up to Christmas
  • Tweets including the word “hungover” statistically lag 12 hours behind other drunk tweets


tom-bennet.jpg Tom Bennet

Log file analysis: The gateway to assessing crawl behaviour

  • Crawl budget: number of URL Crawled
  • Higher Authority = Higher Crawler Budget
  • Filter by User Agent (GoogleBot) using tools such as Gamut and Splunk
  • Investigate:
    • Crawl budget waste
    • Most and Least Crawled pages
    • HTTP Response Code
    • Robots.txt
    • Sitemap – Which pages are crawled less than you would like;
    • CSS/JS – Are those files observed?


adrian.jpeg Adrien Menard & annabelle-bouard-copie.jpg Annabelle Bouard

How well does Google know your site?

  • Active and inactive pages
    • Crawled pages ratio
    • Active pages ratio
  • Explore all pages
    • Get GoogleBot queries from Logs
  • Extract organic visits from servers logs
    • Map this info and get complete image
    • Consider pages for what they are worth
  • Measure SEOefficiency
    • Prioritise SEO actions on daily basis
    • Distinguish between valuable and useless crawl

tom-whittam.jpg Tom Whittam

Proactive measures for good site health

  • Link Monitoring
    • Negative SEO
    • Ahrefs New/Lost links
    • GWT link dates
    • Most common anchors
    • Keep a record of link numbers
  • Getting hacked
    • Security issues/content keywords GWT
    • Update plugins
    • Routine backups
    • Regular password updates
  • Referral Spam
    • Identify problem sites in GA
    • Block bots in Robots.txt
    • Exclude in GA & block bots at profile level

gerry.jpg Gerry White

Hacking Google docs to detect and diagnose penalties

  • If something hits a certain threshold…getting notifications is essential
  • Google Docs  can be used to monitor clients
  • Splitting the data up by medium
  • Google Sites can create dashboard for google docs data
  • Using google docs, the following can happen:
    • Can create the mother of a dashboard
    • Compare multiple sites quickly
    • Make an awesome tool
    • Export files in different forms


matthew-brown.jpg Matthew Brown

Structured data and rich snippets: What’s left

jan-willem-bobbink-e1403676316896.jpg Jan-Willem Bobbink

The semantic web & structured data, a journey into the unknown

  • Semantic web is a collaborative movement led by international standards body the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
  • Fill Freebace with your client’s data. You get followed links and it is still the main source for information for Google’s Knowledge Graph
  • Best Buy used structured markup on all of their products and got conversions of 5-11 times higher than without
  • Standardize markup data. Recently there have been numerous markup languages that have been verified by the big players in the industry but we need to get this down to just one accepted language (
  • Facing the challenges of semantic web
    • Create more cases
    • Standardization of markup formats
    • Develop platforms to ease adoptions


dawn.jpg Dawn Anderson

The Owl and the Hummingbird: Make ontology work for you

  • W3C chartered the OWL (Web Ontology Language) Working Group as part of the Semantic Web activity in 2007
  • The lexicon (bank of keywords) was THE most important part of Google’s algorithm. When Hummingbird came in the Lexicon advanced to include grammar and understand meaning semantically
  • Hummingbird is a complete re-write of Google’s algorithm
  • Organize your site like a library to make it easier on Google. Take a good look at your categorization
  • Fuzzy ontology is a domain or knowledge representation which is unclear and imprecise in nature as to what it relates to
  • Ontologists are working on ways to measure fuzziness with measurements of logic
  • You don’t need to go to battle over links if you win on relevance
  • A page beats a page, not a site beats a site

marcus-tober.jpg Marcus Tober

The evolution of Search in a post Hummingbird era

  • SEO is the glue between all the different areas; management, marketing, editorial, development
  • SEO has become more of a strategic element within the company
  • Hummingbird is important because it is getting better over time, actively learning from users
  • Hummingbird update has three main elements:
    • Contextual Search
    • Conversational Search
    • Semantic Search
  • Checklist SEO has to go away. Google is way smarter than just reading keywords; build pages around topics rather than one landing page for one keyword.
  • From 2013 to 2014, site speed is the biggest game changer in ranking factors within Google
  • If you want to have good rankings and you use information to bend your relevance, then there is a possibility that Google will no longer rank you in the future


Andy Miller Andy Miller

The secret to newsworthy content


 John Hutson

Becoming a publisher: Creating high quality content at pace



2010-05-nikki.jpg Nikki Rae

Auditing your Analytics Set Up

GA Project Stages:

  1. Initiation
  2. Analysis
  3. design
  4. Implementation
  5. Testing

Where does audit fit in?

  • Understand the business problem
  • Understand the knowledge of client
  • Specify issue
  • Specify tasks
  • Write recommendations
  • Propose further opportunities


lukazs-e1403677459468.jpg Lukasz Zelezny

Effective visits – why they are more important than visits

  • Effective visits = Visits – (visits * bounceRate)
  • It represents a real quality of traffic and value
  • It reflects to: on page optimization and conversation rate optimization
  • Tools for keyword research: Searchmetrics, SEMRush
  • Tools for traffic tracking and data extraction: Google Analytics, omniTure discover
  • Tools for page optimization: SEOmoz, ScreamingFrog

And that’s a wrap to our comprehensive BrightonSEO September 2014 write-up! If you’ve made it this far, then congratulations and thank you. Now please leave us your thoughts in the comments below on all your favourite bits of the conference (including the after-party) and your key takeaways!

See you in BrightonSEO 2015! :)