On Thursday I travelled to Brighton to attend an e-Commerce roundtable hosted by SiteVisibility. If you’re ever invited to participate in one of these discussions I would recommend that you attend. I found the opportunity to discuss issues being experienced by others in similar in-house roles to me to be reassuring. The roundtable lasted for approximately 1.5 hours and that’s about all I can tell you (why?).

After the roundtable I headed out for a few beers with @stukerr, @dkoblintz and @brightonrob. This provided an opportunity to experience some of Brighton’s nightlife and discuss some more specific SEO related issues.

#BrightonSEO – The Speakers

For me the standout presentation of the day was ‘Predatory Thinking’ delivered by CSTTG’s Executive Creative Director, Dave Trott. A close joint second were ‘SEO Deliverance’ by Tony King, SEO Managing Consultant at Semetrical and ‘How to be a better SEO’ by Richard Baxter from SEO Gadget. Here are some key points from all of the day’s presentations:

Dave Trott | CSTTG

“Predatory Thinking”

  • Pure Creativity: art and poetry – they typically have no use, but help to progress towards Applied Creativity.
  • Applied Creativity: films and advertising.
  • Bauhaus design principle – form follows function. Understand the problem to be solved before doing anything else.
  • 90% of advertising last year was not remembered / noticed. 90% of everything, including SEO is not noticed.
  • Practical creativity involves killing the competition to make the consumer remember you and not the wallpaper (competition).
  • How do you make your ad stand out? How do you solve this problem? By turning it into one that is easier to solve.
  • Analogy: 2 guys are in the jungle and they spot a hungry tiger. The first guy pulls out some running trainers to which the second guy says: “…you’ll never out run that tiger”. The first guy replies “…I don’t have to, I just need to outrun you”.
  • Most people don’t understand the media. 90% of the media doesn’t work!
  • What most people think of as the media: TV, radio, online, the latest gimmick – isn’t actually the media; the human consuming these mediums is the media.
  • Everything you do is a conversation and it has three elements:
  1. Impact
  2. Communication
  3. Persuasion
  • Most ads die at the impact stage so they never get the opportunity to communicate with the target audience or even persuade them.
  • Most agencies spend time focusing on persuasion when they should be focusing on the impact.
  • Remember that if you focus and get the impact right, the persuasion might be wrong, but at least you have a chance of the persuasion working. If no one sees your ad because it doesn’t make an impact then nothing happens.
  • Complication is weakness and simple is strength. The problem with creatives is that they have a fear of the obvious. They want to be different.
  • Einstein: if you can’t explain it to an 11 year old then you don’t understand it yourself.
  • When communicating it’s important to remember who you’re communicating with. You need:
  1. A client language – to give yourself credibility.
  2. A consumer language – to help persuade them in your language.
  • Edward de Bono: complexity means distracted effort, simplicity means focused effort.
  • How does the mind work? Everything in your mind is either: ‘me’ or ‘not me’ – just like Freud’s ‘The Ego and The Id’.
  • The mind is a grouping machine. The mind pre-selects from groups.
  • Imagine you have 20 ads in a newspaper, one of them is yours, but it doesn’t stand out. Therefore you can only expect to acquire 5% of the reader’s mind share at best. Now consider that your add is radically different to the other 19. You can now look forward to a possible 50% mind share.
  • So how do I make an impact? By being different!
  • There are 2 types of people: opinion formers and opinion followers.
  1. Opinion formers want to stand out and like to talk a lot. If you go into a pub, they’ll usually be the ones leading the conversation in a group.
  2. Opinion followers don’t want this kind of attention – it would embarrass them.
  • Get opinion formers to disseminate your message to the opinion followers. Opinion formers like to be given things to talk about – conversation fuel.
  • Remember that you cannot do the same as everyone else and expect to stand out.
  • Predatory thinking is just applied creativity. Work out what drives people.


Anthony Mayfield | Brilliant Noise

“Do You Speak Brand?”
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  • We live in post penguin, post panda times – what else can we do in marketing to be useful?
  • SEO is a broad church and SEOs like to categorise themselves e.g. “…I’m a white hat and you’re a black hat”. This is nonsensical to clients.
  • SEOs are starting to split out into three main camps:
  1. Data
  2. PR and Content
  3. Black Hat
  • We should start fusing SEO with different disciplines, particularly as SEO is weakened when undersold and/or miss-sold.
  • Search is dependant on other disciplines within earned media: social media, content, user experience and PR.
  • Earned media budgets are too small. Fortunately we are beginning to witness a shift in budgets from traditional advertising over to earned media. Coca-Cola is switching 20% of their advertising budget over to inbound marketing.
  • When selling earned media use stories to help demonstrate how it brings in customers and increases reach.
  • Rehearse 3 to 4 sentences about what SEO is and why it matters to a business.
  • Search is a database of insight into the consumer’s intentions.
  • Story: Lucky 7. A lady used to get really annoyed with the same old boring companies appearing at the top of the SERPS. They all looked the same and offered no value to her. Her solution: skip to page 7 in order to bypass all of the optimised results.


Stephanie Troeth | Mail Chimp

“Speaking Your User’s Language”
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  • Language is an essential part of user experience (UX).
  • Instead of asking what is UX? Ask what makes a unique, great product?
  • Remember that it’s your brand that differentiates you from the competition. So how does a user experience your product?
  • When a user first loads your site they ‘feel’ before anything else. How do you want users to experience you?
  • When planning your website try wire framing and start with the mobile version of the site, then work backwards to the desktop. This will help you determine what’s really important.
  • Talk to your user! Close ended techniques are great for refining and discovering patterns: a/b testing, usability testing, remote testing tools and heuristic evaluation.
  • Open ended techniques are good for discovering if people really understand your brand: surveys, card sorting, focus groups, interviews and listening labs.
  • Are you evoking an emotional reaction or a rational act with your website? Look at the language you use: tone of voice, placement and context.


Martin Belam | Emblem

“How to make firends and influence robots”
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  • Behind every query there’s a human with a need. How clickable / attention grabbing are your headlines?
  • Navigation. How spiderable are they for search engines and how usable are they for users?
  • How does the user flow around your website? Use cards to represent content on your site and then invite users to re-organise them based on how they’d expect to see them.
  • Wording on your website sets the tone.
  • Stop using nofollow for internal page sculpting. This is like a red rag to a bull (Google). Think more about those using your website – what would they expect to see?
  • Loosemore’s law – people get more frustrated with delays the faster their internet connections are.
  • A faster page loading speed builds credibility and trust. Work on this.
  • Look at the green signup button on Facebook’s homepage. The wording used, the size, shade of green and positioning on the page are all determined by data.
  • Do a/b testing as well as SEO. It’s about getting the balance right.


Rebecca Weeks | Manning Gottlieb OMD

“Chasing the Algorithm: Smart SEO or Hopless Effort?”
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  • Without good content you will only ever close the gap between you and your competition.
  • Trying to optimize a rubbish site is like adding a great conservatory to a crappy house.
  • If you’ve got local pages that need optimizing then build local links to them – this works!
  • Reliable, long lasting SEO techniques work better in the long run compared to black hat techniques.
  • Chasing the algorithm isn’t recommended. Smart SEOs focus on learning and adapt to Google’s changes gradually.
  • Penguin – analyse your back link profile. Does it look natural? At the time of OMD’s experiment 80% of their backlinks were on exact match keywords. OMD retargeted these to domain, brand and brand plus location.
  • Learn from mistakes to develop a stronger strategy.
  • Best practice SEO is not always possible – in these circumstances walk away.


Tom Anthony | Distilled

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Due to sickness Tom was unable to present his slides. @willcritchlow from Distilled presented on Tom’s behalf.

  • Over the next 10 years the majority of users will stop using websites. Instead they’ll use their phones – we should be designing for this.
  • Websites have evolved from the days of text only and now incorporate videos and social elements.
  • We’re consuming the web everywhere we go.
  • It’s still a good idea to be in the ‘right’ type of web directory.
  • Search is starting to add additional context, for example, the weather, authors, football results, etc
  • Searchers are interacting differently with the results. The days of 10 blue links are over.
  • Search has moved from the general to the specific. For example, “I’m looking for a hotel in London”.
  • Traditionally the customer would interact with the website and/or customer service team to extract their information from the company database. Now they’re using APIs more and more.
  • API: Application Programming Interface.
  • Artificial Intelligence will bring about a decline in the number of webpages viewed.
  • As SEOs you need to be looking towards the future: Google glasses / augmented reality.
  • Natural language processing is the future – not Siri.


Richard Baxter | SEO Gadget

“How to be a better SEO”
Link to Blog Post

  • What are your goals? Define them.
  • Get a mentor or copy someone you respect.
  • OK isn’t good enough. If you don’t love it, it isn’t ready.
  • Learn to pitch yourself and seek the most elegant way to communicate.
  • You want to be perceived as the authority in your space.
  • Learn something new once a week.
  • Create a positive feedback folder, then analyse each item and ask what could I have done even better?
  • Always look to develop a new process and try to do things differently.
  • When walking out onto your stage (your office) act like it’s your best day, even if it’s dreadful.
  • Rehearse! Everything!
  • Step out of your comfort zone!
  • Make yourself indispensable by learning a specialisation.
  • Pitch for the job that you want. What is your goal?
  • Learn to sell anything.
  • Make people realise how much you care about what you do.
  • Know your figures – always!
  • Communicate your successes regularly – company email.
  • Leadership comes from certainty which comes from confidence.
  • Give your boss good news..
  • Turn amazing into exceptional by working on yourself a little everyday.


Tony King | Semetrical

“SEO Deliverance”
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  • What is SEO deliverance? How to deliver SEO change at big brands.
  • Review your situation in the business – you want to be seen as ‘the Guru’.
  • You need influence in the business.
  • There are 3 phases to deliver change:
  • Research phase – know your market, know your competition and know your website.
  • Development phase – know your objectives, know your strategy and know your limits.
  • Implementation phase – know your audience, know your plan and know your shit.
  • Who are your competitors and how are they performing?
  • Get to know your market through keyword research.
  • You can also assess the SERPs by looking at image and video results.
  • Crawl your competitors’ website – what’s their architecture, how do they achieve rankings? What are their weaknesses? DeepCrawl.co.uk can help with this.
  • You need to understand your site. Use SWAT analysis, review your analytics, run a crawl, review your architecture and initiate an SEO audit. Schedule regular crawls and then use all of this data to monitor your site post implementation.
  • When auditing your site look at: robots.txt, xml sitemaps, URL management (upper / lower case variations, parameter ordering, trailing slashes), site speed, domain management (redirection status, canonical setup and domain renewals) and 404 error handling.
  • What’s your company mission? How does this fit with your website goals and objectives? Is your tracking setup correctly? What’s the value of each goal? Are objectives aligned?
  • Do you have the staff and resources to deliver the required change?
  • When defining budgets allow for seasonal trends. Consider a financial calendar. What are the projected returns?
  • Know your limits. Build and develop a search team (read, debate and innovate).
  • Identify departmental advocates.
  • Define and assign responsibility to your team. Evaluate and then provide feedback.
  • When pitching change consider who they are, what their objectives are and consider your deliver mechanism. Pre-empt responses.
  • Know your plan: start with a business case. Let the figures speak for themselves – don’t try to blag it. It’s all about the ROI. Money talks and bullshit walks.
  • Deliverance is only the beginning. Now you need to : monitor and maintain performance.
  • Quantify changes and then you will see returns when rankings increase.
  • SEO is a long term strategy. You don’t get immediate rewards.


Lynne Murphy | University of Surrey

“Separated by Common Language”
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  • Lesson 1. Just because you dislike something, doesn’t mean it’s an Americanism. Defoe was using the phrase “face up” rather than “confront” back in the 1700s.
  •  Lesson 2. American English is no less logical than British English. -ise instead of -ize, colour instead of color and herb instead of erb are all French influences on the English language added during the Victorian era.
  • Lesson 3. If you’re looking for logic in vocabulary you’re looking in the wrong place. The Victorians replaced the word egg-plant with aubergine back in the 1800s. It’s not easier to spell or pronounce.
  • Lesson 4. Americans have saved the English language. The correct and original pronunciation of the word herb is erb. During the 1800s the British became obsessed with class distinction and so added the h. Anyone who dropped the h was considered common and of lower class. To this day the Americans correctly pronounce the word herb – erb. So in a way they have saved the English language by continuing to use it correctly.
  • Lesson 5. Back-lashes are ugly. Arguing over pronunciation and spelling, and criticising and deriding others for the way they use language doesn’t benefit anyone. All it does is create tensions between groups of people.
  • Take away: Let’s acknowledge that English is a living language that thrives on borrowing and which is constantly changing.


#BrightonSEO – The Lightning Sessions

Aleyda Solis | Orainti Search Marketing

“7 Things You Need To Know About Mobile SEO”
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Simon Penson | Zazzle Media

“Understanding Content Flow Using Visualisation”
Presentation Transcript and Deck


Yousaf Sekander | Rocket Mill

“Reverse Engineering Your Competitor’s Social / Content Strategy”
Link To Blog Post


Berian Reed | Auto Trader

“Future Proofing SEO On Large Websites”
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Sion O’Connor | Vanquis Bank

“Client Checklist For SEOs”
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Danielle Fudge | Forward3D

“Links Using Pinterest”
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Tom Lewis | DC Storm

“Attributing Beyond The Last Click”
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Jason Woodford | SiteVisibility

“The Business Of SEO & How It Can Make The World A Better Place”
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Anna Lewis | Koozai

“Quickfire Analytics – 7 Freebies In 7 Minutes”
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Thanks for reading my BrightonSEO overview, I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to share this post with those who might find it interesting. If you were at the conference feel free to say hello and leave me a comment.