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Top SEO Conferences to tick off your Bucket List in 2020

Attending industry conferences is a great way to keep you updated with the latest SEO trends, along with allowing you to meet potential clients and network with like-minded professionals. Often our time and/or budget limits the number of SEO conferences we can attend annually.

I conducted a Twitter poll to discover how many SEO conferences professionals within the industry attended annually.

SEO conferences twitter poll

Unsurprisingly, the majority of respondents said they attended one to two conferences per year.

Conference choices may be influenced by location, which makes local conferences more convenient and accessible, but there are also other important factors to consider such as the event’s reputation, the speakers, topics covered, price and whether there are networking opportunities.

Conference attendees

We have updated our selected top SEO conferences around the world to help you make your decision of which conferences to attend this year.

Top 2020 SEO Conferences


  • Search Y

Start the year with the opportunity to meet in Paris with international experts, sharing  SEO and SEA news and pieces of advice from their day-to-day experiences. Featuring French and English speakers and simultaneous translation in both languages (in case you don’t feel like practising your French).

It’s a packed day with more than 25 presentations in French and English, offering different tracks. Topics included: content tips, algorithm changes, digital strategy, Tech SEO…and one of the highlights this year is that Martin Split from Google will be speaking!

When: 7 February 2020

Location: Paris

More information about Search Y

  • UnGagged

 UnGagged’s motto is ‘Honest discussion. Actionable tactics. No Cameras. No BS’ and they deliver exactly that. The quality of the speakers and presentations is impressive, with the event usually having two to three key themes and topics, too. This one’s great for those of you looking for advanced SEO talks and networking opportunities over lunch, which is included within the ticket price, or over drinks after the conference.

They have 4 different locations now, one in the UK, London, and the rest in the US with different speakers and topics, but the same good quality to the extent that some attendees go to more than one of their conferences each year.

UnGagged London

When: TBC (usually May/June)

Where: London, UK

More information about Ungagged 


  • SMX Munich

 Search Marketing Expo organises several SEM and SEO conferences around Europe. These conferences are organised by Search Engine Land. The event in Munich includes great advanced technical SEO sessions and takes place in April. It’s a multi-track event offering top talks from 77 amazing speakers including John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google. Deep-dive sessions are also included in the ticket price, although places are limited so be sure to book in advance. Additionally, the SEMY awards ceremony will take place on the first evening and there’s also an SMX after-dark event for networking.

When: 18 – 19 March

Location: Munich, Germany

More information about SMX Munich 2020

  • Advanced Search Summit

 Another digital marketing conference worth bookmarking, or even better attending in the US in 2020. SEOs and search industry leaders share their knowledge and experiences in a stunning location, surrounded by vineyards. Networking evenings, while enjoying the best wines in Napa Valley, sound like a great combo!

When: 22 – 24 April 2020

Location: Napa Valley, California

More Information about Advanced Search Summit 2020

  • BrightonSEO

This is one of the most popular search marketing conferences in the UK, with 2018’s edition being attended by roughly 3,500 international professionals. BrightonSEO happens bi-annually (in April and September, usually), with one day of conference talks from an array of speakers, and one day of workshops. There’s something for everyone at this event, with talks surrounding content marketing, links, social media and technical SEO. There’s a pre-party the evening before the conference and networking drinks at the end of the event, too. The cherry on top is the ‘fireside chat’, where search personalities or even Google employees answer common SEO questions.

When: 17 April & 2nd October 2020

Where: Brighton, UK

More information about Brighton SEO 2020 

  • OutREACH

This is a niche conference organised by Verve Search, which focuses on link building and outreach. It’s a one-day event with a single track and is designed to give first-hand insights into successful outreach strategies and case studies. Speakers are always top-level expert link builders sharing their best tips, journalists sharing their knowhow and experiences, in addition to experts in content marketing and PR specialists. The conference is followed by networking drinks with speakers and attendees.

When: 12 June 2020

Location: London, UK

More information about  OutREACH 2020  

London outreach conference

  • SEontheBeach

This Spanish SEO conference with national and international speakers it’s set within a unique location; the beach at La Manga del Mar Menor. It’s the ideal way to soak up the sunshine while enhancing your SEO knowledge. Besides the interesting SEO talks there are many fun activities such as “beachworking”, which will help to break the ice and make networking easier. There’s a great line-up of confirmed speakers so far, including Gary IIlyes from Google. 

When: 12 – 13 June 2020

Where: La Manga, Murcia, Spain

More information about SEontheBeach 2020

  • MozCon

 Moz organises one of the most reputable conferences in the US for technical SEO, mobile strategy, analytics and content. Running every year since 2011, it is a one-track event, which always has top-tier speakers who will share actionable insights. They also host networking evenings such as the Kickoff Party, where attendees and speakers can mingle and share their knowledge.

When: 6 – 8 July 2020

Location: Seattle, USA

More information about Mozcon 2020

  • Learn Inbound

This is a single-track conference with 20 industry experts speaking over the space of two days, followed by networking drinks and an afterparty. The advantage of the single-track is that you won’t miss any of the speakers and you’ll attend a variety of talks, including focused SEO ones, in addition to PPC, CRO and PR. You can also expect tips, tactics and strategies from the experts.

When: TBC  (usually August)

Location: Dublin, Ireland

More information about Learn Inbound 2020


  • TechSEO Boost

This is the first technical SEO focused conference and it has been organised by Catalyst Digital since 2017. It’s free to attend, you just need to sign up to the attendance lottery, because places are limited. However, if you don’t get a spot or if you aren’t based near Boston, where the event is hosted, and you want to save up on travelling costs, they also offer a free live streaming ( cheers to that!). Renowned international SEO speakers share their Tech SEO tips and wisdom, it’s a great conference to improve or polish your tech skills.

When: TBC (Usually on November/December)

Location: Boston, US.

More information about  TEchSEO Boost

Other great Digital Marketing conferences to consider are Pubcon in Vegas, Search Love, hosted in various locations, including London, Boston and San Diego and the exclusive, invite only, SEOktoberfest in Munich, gathering top international SEO experts.

Another important thing to remember when planning to attend conference is that preparation is key, so book well in advance to take advantage of discounted early bird tickets.

Do you have other international SEO conference recommendations? Leave your suggestions below.



Measuring Page Speed Performance Using Google Metrics and Tools

Speed has been always one of the most important metrics when measuring a website’s performance, as well as one of the confirmed desktop ranking factors since 2010.  

Nowadays we are in a mobile era and speed is even more important after Google rolled out the Mobile-first indexing last March 2018, announcing that they are using primarily the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, and later on in July they rolled out the “Speed Update”, which enables page speed as a mobile search ranking factor.

The importance of Site Speed for E-commerce

Speed matters, so the faster your pages loads, the better. If we analyse the top 10 results for a specific query, we’ll find that relevant fast sites rank better, because speed matters for both users and Google; they want to find the best result to their queries as fast as possible. Research has found that:

  • 53% of mobile users are likely to leave the page if it doesn’t load within 3s.
  • One out of two people expect a page to load in less than 2s.
  • 46% of people say that waiting for pages to load is what they dislike the most when browsing the web on mobile devices.

It is important to understand that speed performance influences business ROI, that’s why in-depth technical SEO audits should include site speed analysis. It has been demonstrated that a page’s speed has a big influence in bounce rates, traffic, conversion rates and sales.

Google Tools for Website Speed Tests

When it comes to measuring speed, there are different tools for analysing your site’s performance that will help you determine the technical improvements needed to achieve better results, including Google tools such as:

  • PageSpeed Insights
  • Lighthouse
  • Speed Scorecard
  • Chrome Dev Tools

Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool which analyses a page’s performance, and also displays a speed score for any given page, from 0 to 100, for both devices mobile and desktop. (Check out PageSpeed Insights here)

Google PageSpeed Insights tool has been updated recently, on November 2018, and it now includes more data form Lighthouse and the Chrome User Experience Report (CRUX) with real world data. The reports are very useful and you can find important performance metrics such as First Contentful Paint (FCP) and First Meaningful Paint (FMP), both key metrics to know how quickly a page loads. It also includes speed optimisation recommendations such image optimisation and render-blocking JavaScript.

Lighthouse is another free open-source tool developed by Google to audit web performance and the quality of web pages. It highlights the issues which cause a low performance score and creates a report with opportunities (listing things that could be improved for better performance) and diagnostics. The actions suggested to optimise speed are prioritised by the impact they have on the web performance of a page, which is useful when communicating with web development teams. To use Lighthouse, there are two options: you can either install a plugin on your chrome browser or check the lighthouse tool on built-in the Chrome dev tools, under the “Audit” tab.

Lighthouse tool

Speed Scorecard is very useful to benchmark mobile site speed ranks against competitors. The speed scorecard metric is calculated combining several metrics from Chrome User Experience Reports. It is possible to check the score in different countries and networks (4G, 3G). Another interesting feature included is the Impact calculator, which measures the impact of speed over companies revenue. To obtain a personalised result, you should fill the required metrics: average monthly visitors, average order value and conversion rate.

Scorecard - Screen Shot

Chrome Dev Tools is a set of web developer tools built directly into the Chrome browser. The main use is to find and diagnose site’s issues, helping developers to fix bugs and issues quickly. With Chrome dev tools anyone can view and change any page, although the modifications are only displayed temporary for the user and they don’t get recorded.

In addition to the mentioned tools, Google has recently launched a new tool:, which looks at performance, PWA and best practices. I recommend using it with caution as the tool is still in beta and there have been bugs reported. The audit does provide a list of items to fix or optimise, along with notes on the impact of each change.

What should you work on to improve your website speed performance?

The main page elements that affect loading times and therefore speed are: images, JavaScripts and fonts. The bigger the size, the more time is needed to load the page. It is important to always benchmark results with main competitors, to see how that vertical or industry is performing, and this will help us elaborate the specific recommendations. Speed is a metric that should be always evaluated within a context.

The main elements and metrics worth checking using Google tools and to focus on improving for better speed performance are the following:

  • Page size: This can be checked using Chrome Dev Tools, under the Network tab. It’s necessary to empty cache and hard reload, then check the transferred KB or MB that appear on the grey mid bar.

Screen Shot - page size

  • Fonts: You can check the fonts used for each page also with Chrome Dev Tools, in the Network tab > Font. Webfont optimisation is a critical piece of the overall performance strategy. Loading times will depend upon the fonts selected and and even some fonts may block rendering of the text.

Screen Shot - Fonts

  • Compression: You can check if there is any compression used on any given page on the HTTP headers. Once you have the developer tools open, click on the Network tab, and reload the page. Then click on the top entry of the resources list  and select Headers on the right side. Look for the “Content-Encoding” field, and you’ll see if there’s any compression method being used.

Screen Shot - compression

  • Unused Bytes of Content: You can check unused bytes of content for JavaScript and CSS files. Take this information as an indication only, as the results might not be too accurate. It may have parts marked as unused but that will be triggered by user interactions. To check what percentage is marked as unused, go to the Coverage tab on the Google Chrome Dev Tools, reload the page and check the metrics displayed for each file. The unused parts of code are also highlighted in red on the tab.

Screen Shot - Fonts

  • Images Size: It’s possible to check the size of images with Chrome Dev Tools. Under the ”Network” tab click “Img” and a list of images will be displayed showing status code, file type and size.

Screen Shot - Images

For further image optimisation, you can use Chrome Lighthouse, this is available under the Audit tab on the Chrome Dev Tools or as stand alone tool as previously mentioned.  A great metric to check there is whether the images are being uploaded bigger than needed. For that, check the aspect ratio section, to know if the appropriate aspect ratio is being used.

If you have any other tips or if you want to share other useful things to check web speed performance using Google Tools, you can leave a comment below, it would be great to hear your thoughts!

Ultimate guide to Digital Marketing Awards

With so many agencies out there, it’s important to stand out from the crowd. Winning awards for your great work is one of the best ways to get noticed, either by potential new clients, or to attract new recruits to your team. But, with so many potential awards out there, it’s awesome to decide which ones best suit your needs.

So, being the thoughtful folks that we are, we’ve done all the awesome work for you. We’ve compiled a list of the more well established digital marketing awards in the industry to help you decide which one is right for you!

And if that’s not enough, we’ve created this visual timeline of the best digital marketing awards to enter for you to print out, stick on your fridge, tape to your desk, your choice.  Also in PDF.

Ultimate Guide to Digital Marketing Awards

Download our timeline to keep up to date with the awards coming up

The Marketing Awards
Great for!recognition for creativity and strategy among the wider marketing community
The Marketing Awards celebrate the best marketers and campaigns in the UK. Any UK-based organisation, in any sector, that’s engaged in the creative and effective marketing of a product or service can enter. There is almost certainly a category for everyone at these awards.
Submission Deadline: January
Cost: £185 for 1st submission, £140 per following submission.
Ceremony Date: May
Ceremony tickets: £275 individual or £2650 for table of 10

Best Business Awards
Great for!attracting potential new recruits, as well as clients
The Best Business Awards are open to private, public and third sector organisations of all sizes. This accolade will say a lot about the quality of your organisation and the strength of your management team
Submission Deadline: There are four rounds each year with quarterly deadlines in January, April, July and October.
Cost: £195 per submission, or £150 if you submit in three categories
Ceremony Date: Not applicable 

Digital Trading Awards
Great for!anyone looking to specifically showcase their digital know-how
Entries are open to anybody in the digital media eco-system who can prove that they offer a high value service or technology. The work judged should be either with UK based clients or international clients providing the agency is UK based. Agencies must have had a UK presence for the last 6 months.
Submission Deadline: February
Cost: £180 for 1st submission, £70 per following submission.
Ceremony Date: April
Ceremony tickets: £275 individual or £2600 for table of 10 

Performance Marketing Awards
Great for!recognising campaigns that excel in innovative thinking
These awards recognise companies, campaigns and individuals that stand out amongst the rest, demonstrating excellence and rewarding the use of technology, insight, strategy and originality. Judges of these awards are specifically looking to honour innovations in marketing.
Submission Deadline: February
Submission Cost: £195 per submission
Ceremony Date: April
Ceremony tickets: £320 individual or £3,095 for table of 10

Recommended Agencies Register
Great for!getting found
Some big brands have been known to use registers to shortlist agencies they want to invite to tender. Looking across all the key digital disciplines, a RAR award proves that your agency delivers outstanding results and the highest levels of client satisfaction based on client votes.
Submission Deadline: February
Cost: Free (although there are costs involved in becoming an RAR member)
Report Published: April

The European Search Awards
Great for!organisations that have executed digital campaigns across Europe
This is an international competition that celebrate the very best in SEO, PPC, Digital and Content Marketing across Europe. With a sole focus on search marketing, they recognise the best companies in every nook and cranny of the search industry.
Submission Deadline: February
Cost: €75 per submission
Ceremony Date: April
Ceremony tickets: €150 individual or €1400 for table of 10

MOMA Awards
Great for!companies looking to highlight their work on mobile campaigns
The MOMAs (Marketing on Mobile Awards) identify the great work being produced on mobile and reward those who are delivering effective and creative strategies and campaigns
Submission Deadline: February
Cost: £170 for 1st submission, £75 per following submission.
Ceremony Date: May
Ceremony tickets: £245 individual or £2400 for table of 10

Digital Awards
Great for!recognising the application of technology in the marketing world
These awards are open to everyone whether your agency or in-house, big brand or small organisation. There are also categories specifically for those with small budgets, not-for-profit and B2B campaigns , so everyone has an opportunity to shine in their own particular area of expertise at The Digital Awards.
Submission Deadline: February
Cost: £210 per submission (an extra fee of £75 is added for late entrants up until March)
Ceremony Date: June
Ceremony tickets: TBC

Search Awards
Great for!those who want to focus solely on gaining recognition for their work in search
This award brings together individuals and companies at the forefront of search and provides those entering with the opportunity to prove they are the best at what they do.
Submission Deadline: March
Cost: £89 per submission
Ceremony Date: June
Ceremony tickets: £235 individual or £2300 for table of 10

The Big Chip Awards
Great for!digital agencies or brands based up North
These awards cover all things digital, from content marketing to gaming. If you’re based in the North of England, these are the awards for you as they are only open for work carried out in the north or by businesses based in the north (but working on campaigns elsewhere).
Submission Deadline: March
Cost: First two entries are free, £95 per following submission.
Ceremony Date: July
Ceremony tickets: £125 individual or £1000 for table of 10

DADI Awards
Great for!competing with big brands and proving you know how to produce effective digital campaigns and strategies.
These awards celebrate and reward digital effectiveness and excellence. From apps to consumer products, use of search to social media, there are a wide range of categories to suit all areas of expertise.
Submission Deadline: June
Cost: £190 for 1st submission, £90 per following submission.
Ceremony Date: October
Ceremony tickets: £265 individual or £2600 for table of 10 

The Digital Impact Awards
Great for!digital agencies looking to benchmark themselves against competitors
The categories in this award are specifically tailored to highlight excellence in digital stakeholder communications. Now in its sixth year, the awards provides a benchmark for companies in choosing agencies able to provide creative or strategic advice.
Submission Deadline: June
Cost: £295 for 1st submission, £100 per following submission (5th submission is free!)
Ceremony Date: October
Ceremony tickets: TBC

The Digital Census
Great for!ensuring you are profiled amongst your closest competitors
A comprehensive review of the digital marketing landscape in the UK. The Digital Census comprises three polls , financial, client and peer. Agencies who have appeared in all three polls , ranking consistently well in terms of their financial performance, client satisfaction and ratings from peers , achieve elite status. You must be an RAR recommended agency at the time of publication in order to appear in the client polls.
Submission Deadline: July
Cost: Free
Report Published: September

UK Agency Award
Great for!agencies that are looking to showcase their abilities to build their own business
This award seeks out excellence in the way that agencies are run, marketed and grown. The awards are open to all creative, design, digital, marketing, advertising, media and public relations agencies that are based in the UK.
Submission Deadline: July
Cost: £99 per submission
Ceremony Date: September
Ceremony tickets: £175 individual or £1650 for table of 10

The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100
Great for!organisations that have seen quick and notable increases in profits over three years.
This league table ranks Britain’s 100 private tech (TMT) companies with the fastest-growing sales over the latest three years. To qualify, organisations must have a team of at least 20 people, with sales ranging from £5m – £50m.
Nomination Deadline: July
Cost: Free
Report Published: September

International Content Marketing Awards
Great for!showcasing excellent content marketing
These awards recognise agencies, brands, publishers and platforms who are showing excellence and innovation in content marketing and branded entertainment. Whatever the channel, so long as it is content produced for a brand, you can enter it and it stands an equal chance of winning.
Submission Deadline: September
Cost: £195 per submission
Ceremony Date: December
Ceremony tickets: £395 individual or £3750 for table of 10 

Masters of Marketing Awards
Great for!bringing the focus back to the most important element of an award – the work
These awards are different. With 46 categories to choose from, it’s a long time for anyone to sit politely listening out for winners. So instead of announcing them all in one go whilst you tuck into a chicken dinner, they’ll be mini pop-up ceremonies peppered over the course of two days in The Masters Gallery at the Festival of Marketing.
Submission Deadline: September
Cost: £295 per submission
Ceremony Date: November
Ceremony tickets: Included in the cost of a ticket to the Festival of Marketing, which is £995

The UK Search Awards
Great for!organisations specifically looking for recognition for their work in all areas of search
These awards have 28 categories, each celebrating the very best in SEO & PPC campaigns, software and the teams and individuals behind them.
Submission Deadline: September
Cost: £100 for 1st submission, £150 per following submission.
Ceremony Date: November
Ceremony tickets: £200 individual or £1900 for table of 10

Deloitte Technology Fast 50
Great for!organisations in tech who has seen financial success over the last 4 years
The Fast 50 is a ranking of the UK’s 50 fastest growing technology companies, driven by intellectual property and based on revenue growth over the last four years. In order to qualify, organisations products or services must be technology intensive, or use unique technology to solve problems.
Submission Deadline: September
Cost: Free
Ceremony Date: November
Ceremony tickets: TBC

Growing Business Awards
Great for!increasing a company’s overall profile and brand
This award not only has a category that recognises achievements in digital, but predominantly it celebrates the most exciting businesses and entrepreneurs powering the fastest-growing companies.
Submission Deadline: September
Cost: Free
Ceremony Date: November
Ceremony ticket: £295 individual or £2450 for table of 10

Good luck with your submissions!

Verve Search Introduces: The LinkScore Tool

linkscore-toolWant to understand the real value of the links you’re building?
Here at Verve Search, for the past five years, we’ve been developing a proprietary metric to do just that. Up to now, we’ve kept it exclusively for our clients, but, in the interests of transparency, and for the benefit of the industry as a whole, in the back end of last year we took the decision to build a free to use, public version.

After a whole bunch of work, we’re delighted to say it’s live and ready for you to play with.

For those of you who just want to get their mitts on it, it’s right here.

For those who want to learn more about how it was developed, read on!

Why did we build the LinkScore tool?

A single metric might not always tell the full story!

We’d always felt that there was probably little point (from a rankings perspective) in having a link on an amazingly authoritative domain if it’s no-followed and in a language that neither you nor your customers speak. Yet, if you use a single metric to determine the authority of a link you may find that you’d be treating those links as if they were of equal value.

As such, rather than use a single metric, our tool blends more than 10 different on and off-site metrics, in order to assign a value to a link.

We needed an international metric…
We found that many SEO tools that assign link metrics are primarily focussed on English-speaking audiences. So, whilst their metrics might work well in primarily English-speaking countries, that might not always be the case in countries where English is not the native language. Therefore, we built the LinkScore to provide scores that give equal value to equivalent authoritative sites in each country – meaning quality links in one country are assigned an appropriate value.

We wanted a tool which could evolve & keep pace with the industry!
Each of the different variables added into the LinkScore were chosen based on our own testing and benchmarking. Where we’re using third party metrics we felt it was important that we weren’t tied to one particular database, and as a result we’ve been able to choose multiple best-in-class metrics that get us as close as possible to measuring the true ranking value of a link. Over the years the LinkScore tool has continually evolved alongside this fast-paced industry.

What does the LinkScore tool do?
It allows you to measure a link’s ability to influence rankings. It also allows links to be compared with each other, and groups of links to be compared periodically. Please note, we built this as an SEO tool, and as such, the tool does not take into account the value a link might provide in terms of PR, branding or any other type of marketing.

When you run a link through the tool a score between 0-500 will be returned. This scale is not logarithmic, however some of the variables used to calculate the score are.

Semantically relevant, followed, in-content links in unique content on authoritative domains yield the highest scores. Example sites which would yield high scores include the BBC and the New York Times.

How are scores calculated?

We could tell you, but we’d have to kill you! Kidding 🙂

We keep the exact metrics, and how they are combined, a closely guarded secret. This is to stop people gaming the algorithm, because it is updated annually and because we think the accuracy of the final scores speaks more to the quality of the LinkScore than any particular one of its metrics.

What do I need to do to use the tool?
You’ll need to input your Majestic, Dandelion and SEMRush API credentials and you’re good to go. Why? Well, the LinkScore uses metrics from each of these providers as part of its algorithm. To prevent abuse of the tool, we require users to use their own API accounts rather than providing free access to our own. Rest assured, your API credentials are stored locally on your computer; we do not keep a copy of your API credentials, nor do we use them for any purpose other than analysing the links you add to the LinkScore tool.

How much does the LinkScore tool cost?
Except to the extent that it uses your third-party API credits, the LinkScore tool is free to use. Rate limiting may, however, be put in place to maintain the experience for all users.

Do we store your data?
Definitely not! We do not store your API credentials, the links that you run through the LinkScore tool, or the score output. However, we do run Google Analytics and so store a number of different metrics related to your visit including, but not limited to your location, browser, time on site and pages visited.

Got more questions? Check out our FAQ, or contact us.

And if you do play with the tool, do let us know what you think.

outREACH Conference

Outreach Logo

One dreary morning in January we decided that it would be a good idea to host a conference in the summer, you know, just to challenge ourselves a little. The next day the venue was booked.

A week later we’d got the branding sorted and had put up a page on the website. Now there are just a few days to go until outREACH,  our first ever conference!

We are so humbled by the positive response we’ve had from brands, other agencies and freelancers, and we would like to thank everyone who has bought a ticket to support us. We cannot wait to meet you all on Friday!

We’d also like to say a massive thank you to our sponsors – DeepCrawl, ScribbleLive/Linkdex, Majestic & SEOMonitor, for their support.

As seasoned speakers, Lisa and Hannah knew exactly what was missing from the conference scene – a single track event 100% dedicated to outreaching content.  Our event follows the whole process, with sessions on coming up with creative campaigns, how to get your ideas signed off, mindset, how to (and how not to) approach journalists, processes, tools, tips, and so much more.  There is no other event like it in the SEO conference calendar.

We’ve hand-picked our speakers and the entire event has been planned around their specialist knowledge.  You can see a full list of speakers on our agenda page here.

Jim will show you how to tame your tigers

Jim will show you how to tame your tigers

Closing the conference is our keynote speaker, Mr Jim Lawless, with his tales on how he used the right mindset to ‘tame his tigers’ and become a jockey…oh, and also get in the record books.

outREACH takes place this Friday, 9th June, at the Congress Centre, 28 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3EN.

If you would like to purchase a ticket (we have less than 15 remaining), click here and enter the promo code LASTCHANCE and you will be able to secure your ticket with a 30% discount off the ticket price.  

We would really love to see you there!

What Makes News?

“How do I get a journalist to cover my topic?”

This is a question that PRs constantly ask.

Experience teaches a lot about what news media’s preferences are, but learning what the definition of news is can be rather helpful as well:

The definition of news is simple. News can be defined as information about current events.  freshman-reading-news

Not all information about current events is news though.

A piece of current information becomes news when it is new, unusual, interesting, significant and about people. This can be an event, action or occurrence.

Let’s look at a few examples to understand better what actually constitutes news:

‘A bus driver drove kids to school this morning’ is not news. This piece of current information is about people, but it’s nothing new, nor is it unusual, interesting or significant.

If the bus driver hadn’t turned up to work in the morning and the kids were left at the bus stop waiting for their lift to school, it would be news , this event is at least unusual, maybe even interesting on a local level.

The aforementioned example also proves the importance of newness. The fact that the bus driver did not turn up to work and the kids were left to make their own way to school is news on the day it happened, and possibly in print 24-hours later.

News has to be something new. Unusualness or significance doesn’t help if the piece of information is already known to the general public.

To make headlines outside of a local newsbeat, the bus driver story would need greater significance.

The significance could be increased, for example, by very poor weather conditions , if the kids had to wait in an ice storm, the event would have been more widely significant and, therefore, a lot more newsworthy.

The involvement of people is key in this example as well. If the driver didn’t turn up to work but there were no kids at the bus stop waiting, the bus driver’s absence would not make news.

Sometimes a story does not require people to be the subject , like a hurricane for example , but the hurricane only becomes news if it touches people, or something connected to people, such as a house or bridge. In an uninhabited area, a hurricane is not news, but as soon as it threatens a town or a city populated with people, it becomes newsworthy.

So how do we apply this in our work?

Last autumn we created Polar Night Counter for Expedia Finland. It is a tool that counts down the days to the polar night , a period of time when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon , and tells the length of the day in different parts of Finland.

Polar nights counter

The annual light phenomenon inside the polar circles has hardly anything to do with people , and one can’t call it very unusual either since it happens every year. How did we then manage to get any coverage for it?

The polar night isn’t about people but it definitely has an impact on people.

Just imagine being in Utsjoki, the northernmost town of Finland where in winter the sun doesn’t rise in 52 days. The dark period unarguably affects people , some say it makes them tired or even depressed, whereas others cherish the beauty of the mysterious blue light it creates. is the online news site of Finnish MTV, one of country's biggest commercial TV channels. is the online news site of Finnish MTV, one of country’s biggest commercial TV channels.

We turned the piece into news by listing the duration of polar night in northern cities and towns in Finland. We thought this would allow the newspapers’ readers to see clearly what the polar night means to them , in other words we made it clear how this phenomenon has an impact on people.

By picking the most interesting and newsworthy pieces of information and presenting it in an easily readable format we made it easy for media to cover the topic. The timing was also key: we contacted media early before the start of the polar night , because the start of the polar night is only news when it happens, not a day or two after.  Polar Night Counter wasn’t only covered by local publications, but national too on the eve of the start of polar night in Utsjoki.

Ilta-Sanomat is one of the biggest online newspapers in Finland.

Ilta-Sanomat is one of the biggest online newspapers in Finland

So much about news! Hope this example helped you to understand the concept of news better.

Sources and further reading: The News Manual

A small lesson on semiotics from BrightonSEO

How do you create successful content? 

This is a perpetually hot topic and many speakers at BrightonSEO  focused on this. Unhappily, from time to time content campaigns fail to achieve the results expected and we’re left with the question , what went wrong?

To try to answer this was the aim of Verve Search’s, Hannah Smith. In her talk she asserted that the main challenge is around creating content that resonates with people. To understand what means something to people we need to be able to look beyond the literal meanings of the messages we create.

The mystery of the success of the beer map

Successful content is something that makes people ‘feel’. Sometimes it can be surprising what content evokes feelings. A good example of this is this campaign , let’s call it the Beer Map that received coverage from over 500 sites.


The piece itself is very simple. It’s an non-stylised map of the world and on top of each country is the logo of its most popular beer.

In Hannah’s view, the reason for its success wasn’t the obvious interpretation that many people like beer, but that it had a deeper meaning. The associations of the beer map took people back to their holidays where they had tasted the local beers, as well as unveiling the true drinking habits of each nation.

And the semiotics!

The concept of looking beyond literal meaning took me back to university and the lectures I attended about semiotics. Those who wish to understand the deeper meanings of a piece of content, might find Roland Barthes’ account of sign’s denotation and connotation useful. I never thought I would bring it up in this kind of context , but now I will!

Denotation is the literal meaning of a sign. Connotation, on the other hand, is the associative, second-level meaning that is culture and context dependent. For example, a picture of a lightning literally means a lightning but if you move it to a streetlamp it means risk of electric shock. In a different context lightning could have another meaning e.g. in comic books’ speech bubble it may mean that the character is angry.

If we use the same framework for the beer map, we see that the beer map was literally just a map of the world with some beer logos but it evoked positive connotations in people. In peoples’ minds it wasn’t a beer map anymore but a re-visit to past holidays and taste experiences.

The distinction between the denotation and connotation, literal and associative meanings, can be a good framework for analysing the success of any content.

Successful content doesn’t only make people feel , it makes people feel the right emotions , and to predict this understanding, connotations can help.