Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to attend one of the most important Search Engine Optimization conferences in the world, which was a wonderful experience that provided many insights. This conference takes place every year in Brighton, a wonderful seaside town, characterized by the beauty and grace of its people who make you feel right at home.

A Gathering of the Brightest Minds in the Search Experience Industry

I was surprised by the number of attendees who came from all over the world to learn about the latest information and updates in SEO. More than 3,000 people attended the event, with so many talks and topics on different aspects of digital marketing. For SEO specialists, BrightonSEO is one of the few places where people actually understand you when you tell them what you do for a living!

The conference was well organized, and we had the opportunity to learn about the latest SEO and digital trends and techniques, in addition to meeting our SEO counterparts from all around the world and exchanging experiences. I was happy to meet some of the brightest minds in SEO today who are constantly reshaping the industry.

Some SEO Insights for 2017

The Rise of Voice Search

One of the talks that I attended was talking about “The Future of Search”. The main topic of this thought-provoking session being “Voice-based Search”. Speaker Raj Nijjer talked about how the adoption rate of voice assistant systems such as Siri, Alexa, Amazon eco, and Google Home which was launched in UK on 6th of April, has increased by 140% YOY. They are predicting that by 2020, 50% of searches will be voice searches.

So what types of questions are people asking when they use voice search?

  • What is the weather today?
  • What is the closest restaurant?
  • What is the most popular restaurant?
  • What is the best coffee shop?

Voice searches are used on mobile which offers a different experience from desktop. On mobile you get a wealth of great data to give you exactly the information you need such as location, address, phone number, menu details… So, you need to focus on having structured data in your content, while having customer reviews will also help you to stand out from the crowd.

The Challenges of International Digital Marketing

Speaker Will Cecil spoke about how International digital marketing offers a huge opportunity, with its own set of new challenges.

One of the core challenges posed by targeting more than one market, is the need to create more content to serve these markets, as we have more platforms to cater for and more competitors to deal with. So, to overcome these obstacles, you must accept this challenge, learn from your competitor’s mistakes and focus on three main factors:

Localization – Avoid literal translation and adapt and modify content from one language to another to suit the local audience and language, whilst maintaining its original style, tone, context and intent.

Content – You need to do relevant market research and avoid assumptions that aren’t based on data. Focus on the quality of content, and claim the backlinks to your content.

Technical – The speed of your website and load time really matters and directly affects the conversion rates on your site. Avoid IP redirects and implement hreflang tags correctly on your website because if international visitors land on the wrong version of your website it will cost you and negatively affect conversion rates and revenue.

If you want to go international, don’t optimize only for Google, as it is not the only search engine in the world. You need to know how different search engines behave and the market share of each for every market you target to develop a proper strategy.

Mr. Cecil also touched on the topic of reporting, and pointed out that it should take minutes not hours. Time should be spent efficiently – on monitoring the data and making actionable decisions and improvements.

I liked this keynote at the end of his talk:

“The Future lies in Automation – The first rule in any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency.

The second rule is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency”.

Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines

Speaker Jennifer Slegg shared some very interesting SEO insights from Google’s search quality rater guidelines for high ranking sites. Slegg spoke about Your Money Your Life (YMYL) websites.

What do we mean by YMYL websites?

These websites offer advice on topics such as medical issues, legal insights, financial advice. These topics should naturally come from authoritative sources in these fields and must be factually accurate to be beneficial. So because Google wants the users to trust the results in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) when it comes to related searches, it applies the highest rating standards to such websites.

You need to ensure you are showing the right expertise on your website such as an author’s biography. You also should be careful while advertising on your website and maintain a good user experience, avoiding pop ups and avoiding stuffing adverts in the content every 1-2 paragraphs.

The most important thing is the content. You should avoid having poor quality content on the website. Regarding the content length, it needs to be long enough to fully answer the user’s question.

Try to get customer reviews as well, as this will give additional signals to Google about your websites. The reviews need to be natural and come from real customers, even if you get some bad reviews sometimes. Jennifer Slegg said that Getting thousands of 5 stars’ reviews without a single negative comment, or having overwhelmingly negative reviews might harm your website however, as the first might indicate review manipulation by the brand while the second affects the user and search engines trust in it.

So, these are some of the insights that we brought back from this year’s Brighton’s SEO. Over the past few years we have seen phenomenal growth in the depth and insights we gain from the event. It has truly developed into a highlight in the calendar for the search industry worldwide. This is an exciting time for digital marketing with fast and substantial transformations happening across the industry and we’re looking forward for what new innovations and changes the next Brighton SEO Brings!

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