SOME STUFF I LEARNED AT BRIGHTON SEO LAST MONTH
As I made my way from Reading > Brighton on the morning of Friday 27th April, I found myself wondering; "What is in store for me at this wildly popular event for SEO-ers?", "Will I learn anything" and "Will they do flat whites?"
The answers were:
"An event brimming with millennials? In Brighton? Why did I even wonder."
The atmosphere was buzzing with the sound of people conversing about all things digital, the agenda reassuring diverse and topical, but with a delegate population disconcertingly younger than me.
So without further ado, here's a quick run-down of my takeaways* from this - my first expedition to Brighton SEO.
*Bearing in mind I'm mainly a content marketer, and not an SEO specialist.
#1 - Standing still is not an option
Berliner (thought not in the 'doughnut' way) Marcus Tober (Founder and CTO, SearchMetrics) reminded me about About.com during his slot.
Remember About.com? The place we all used to go to find out the best way to do x or y, or even find out what x and y was in the first place? With smiley SMEs fronting each subject matter area? Yeah them. They had a sh*t-ton of content on their site, and they enjoyed a lot of success and popularity in the SEO stakes for a time, but things evolved around them and they didn't adapt quickly enough.
They went from ranking really well for lots of things, to not ranking very well for lots of things.
Eventually they reacted by splitting About.com into different sub-brands, which I believe still exist today (e.g. thespruce.com), but really - who remembers them. The lesson is: Adapt, or slide off into the black hole of the unranked.
#2 - Don't be scared to delete content
Now this is one thing I wasn't comfortable with hearing. I admit it. People like me pour a lot of love and attention on crafting and editing and releasing content - we nearly give ourselves a hernia getting it out on time - and the fact you're telling me I should maybe think about burning it on a virtual bonfire upsets my insides.
However, I thought about it, and it makes sense, Eleni Cashell, UK Editor at Hotcourses.com. Obsolete, unwieldy and / or duplicated / spare content is bad for business. Niche, relevant, quality content is the way forward. Also, thanks for the Copyscape tip <adds to bookmarks> - really handy.
#3 - People are sharing via social media... less
Buzzsumo's Steve Rayson (Director) was on hand to talk us through the aforementioned company's Content Trends Report 2018; one of the main hooks being that people are actually sharing stuff on Facebook, Twitter et al, far less than they used to.
Instead, the largely BAU (in that we do it regularly and without a second thought) practice of 'dark sharing' has begun to surpass public sharing. Dark sharing being links shared via apps and sites like FB messenger, Slack, Whatsapp, etc. In fact, one of the key stats highlighted during Steve Rayson's slot was that 17% of industry news was shared via Slack (this was from a Hubspot report).
It's stuff that's notoriously difficult to track - and Google likes to throw it into the 'direct traffic' bucket in your Analytics stats when it can't identify the source.
Also, it appears that Clickbait is starting to lose its grip. And, in a world of continuous content overload and topic saturation, this can only be a good thing.
#4 - Search Console is your friend
I've always treated Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools, I believe) like some kind of scary, sleeping animal. I tend to poke it a bit, stand back, and see if it does anything. Sometimes it does, and you feel a wave of "that. was. the. right. thing. to. do." relief - whilst at other times it can be like: "WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST DO".
Well, I've decided I'm going to make more of an effort with this tool from now on. Fili Wiese (SEO Expert at Searchbrothers, and ex-Googler) has reassured me that I can tame this clunky, clonky beast with a bit of care and effort and do some great things with it. I think he's right. As well as the features I already knew about (e.g. setting a preferred domain, indexing your site), there's also some interesting stuff to learn about setting URL parameters + deciding which actions Google should take, not to mention looking at past crawl logs with a view to identifying and fixing errors.
I, for one, am keeping my eyes peeled for ticket release for Brighton SEO's return in September 2018.