With October’s in-person BrightonSEO wrapped up, Croud’s SEO Executives, Mathew Gargan and Jack Tudor look back over the three-day conference at some of the most inspiring, insightful and thought-provoking talks attended by our SEO team.
Delivered by leading industry experts to over 8,000 search enthusiasts at The Brighton Centre, topics ranged from leveraging zero-click searches to mastering faceted navigation – and everything in between. Read on for a recap of our favourite presentations.
Chasing an elusive high-volume trophy keyword may seem like the logical first step to outrank your competitors, but as SERPs (search engine results pages) evolve, so should your ranking strategies.
Despite nearly 65% of Google searches now resulting in zero clicks, Jon insists that newer ‘zero-click’ SERP features such as ‘People also ask’, ‘Refine this search’ and ‘Related searches’ tell us more about user search intent than traditional search volume data ever could.
For example, when a user searches for ‘men’s aftershave’, Google’s ‘Refine this search’ feature suggests a further set of keywords including (at the time of writing) ‘men’s aftershave gift sets’, ‘best aftershave for men’ and ‘men’s aftershave expensive’. These longer tail keywords essentially reveal extra search context, further opportunities and more achievable ranking goals that – if you were to target – are far more likely to move the needle in search performance.
In summary, we should no longer fear the ‘zero-click’ SERP for luring traffic away from the classic 10 blue links. Instead, topic expanding features should be embraced as tools (that sit higher in the SERP and yield more effective results) to inform and supercharge our search strategies.
Why we liked it:
Jon boldly insisted that “SERPs are no longer question and answer, but a voyage of discovery”, and this message resonated strongly with the Croud team when so enthusiastically communicated in person.
We are now inspired to stop chasing trophy keywords and start asking: ‘Do I belong in the SERP?’, considering how many doorways zero-click SERP features can open along the journey to dominating page one.
Croud’s very own Rachel Ellen was channelling her inner Ricky Martin in the ‘Livin La Vida Local’ talk she gave on both days of the conference.
When you think about local SEO, most SEOs will picture map listings and reviews. However, Rachel explained that it is so much more than that – it’s about meeting the local demand of what’s needed there and then, providing research opportunities that lead consumers to a physical store or location, and connecting to the local community.
Rachel covered how the ‘A Game’ can be used to improve your steading in local SEO. She explained that you can Assess how the local landscape is shifting through factors like the growing demand of ‘open now near me’ searches and Gen Z’s shift to visual content.
Then by doing this, you can Adapt your strategy to better fit into changes that Google is making to the SERPs, allowing you to stay ahead of the curve and dominate the local landscape.
Finally, once you know how to Adapt, you can Act on a local SEO strategy by prioritising GBP, engaging with reviews, and so much more to help unlock your local potential.
Why we liked it
The ever-changing world of local SEO can be daunting so by breaking it down into your ‘A Game’, Rachel was able to clearly show how businesses can make the most of the local SERPs to drive even more footfall and demand.
She also discussed what the threats to Google’s local dominance were and what changes they were making to stay ahead of the game. This made it clear how you could be proactive to allow your client or business the best chance of long-term success.
The cost of living, recessions, lockdowns and post pandemic life are all impacting search behaviour for better or worse. In these times of uncertainty – when less and less people are leaving their home – Chris reminds us that digital is nearly all that marketers have at their disposal, meaning household brands should be taking notice of SEO now more than ever.
Staying present through times of trouble was a key message throughout this talk, and using ‘the momentum snowball’ analogy, Chris likened SEO to a small unassuming snowball running down a mountain. Achieving little at first, the SEO snowball eventually creates an avalanche of dominance given its increasing momentum. But to achieve this feat, brands must always remain discoverable.
With visibility in mind, forward-thinking brands are therefore waking up to the fact that search is the most current research tool available – it provides instantaneous feedback and insight surrounding consumer wants and needs – the kind of data that was traditionally collected via research groups and other time-consuming methods. Unlike those long-winded methods, search tells us what matters to customers right now and that’s what will help brands stay in the limelight.
Furthermore, brand awareness is intrinsically linked to the consumer buying journey, which is no longer linear. Whereas the buying process was traditionally more straightforward, consumers now “go from A, to B, then to L, back to B via a short four hours stop off on the Daily Mash”, as Chris put it. As a result, brands are realising that they need to be constantly present for when the modern consumer unexpectedly revisits their personal buying journey, and that’s why search is increasingly important. Essentially, brands need to be present for highly relevant non-brand search terms at every point; whether long tail, behavioural or demand driven, these search terms hold the key to discovering brands and successful SEO.
Why we liked it:
Chris effectively emphasised the growing importance of search in an ever-changing world and his key takeaways were easily digested.
- Search is the market – search can inform us where the world is going next and how to stay ahead of the curve.
- Search enables us to be always present – the buying journey is complex and brands need to be seen when and where it matters most.
- Search is there in times of trouble – come rain or shine SEO drives awareness and this has never been more evident for savvy businesses that prioritised long-term search strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Faceted navigation works by filtering listings on a large category page. Take men’s trousers on ASOS; it contains thousands of products that aren’t all going to be relevant to every consumer. This is where faceted navigation, or filtering, comes in. People can apply filters like size or colour to narrow down the products into what they’re looking for.
The downside to this is that all of these different filters can create millions of unique URLs that Google can potentially crawl. From an SEO point of view, this could cause big problems. Google doesn’t want to crawl every single URL when the only changes being made are the filters. There is only a certain amount of crawl budget per site so knowing which pages to index and canonicalise is important.
Luke went into detail about how faceted navigation can be perfected by understanding your site’s taxonomy, finding where the keyword demand is, and following best practices when it comes to URL structures.
He gave examples of where faceted navigation can go wrong and how identifying opportunities can transform into more ranking keywords. By knowing how to find these opportunities, it becomes easier to know which pages should be indexed and which you should ask Google to ignore.
Why we liked it
Luke was an extremely charismatic speaker and while faceted navigation may not be the most exhilarating topic, he made it an entertaining talk that was also very insightful.
By providing examples of where sites go wrong with faceted navigation, it made his points on how to perfect it even clearer, even if you went into the talk not knowing anything about the topic. It also helped that the previous talk about product listing pages by Areej AbuAli also touched upon the subject, so Luke was able to call back to her points to further drive his narrative.
With another successful BrightonSEO in the books, we certainly learned a lot from the experts who held talks. There were a large number of insightful presentations made that we’ve not been able to highlight today so we encourage you to sign up for the free virtual conference, which is taking place on the 20-21st October.
Did you manage to go to this year’s conference? Which talk was your favourite?