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The rise and fall and rise of SEO: notes from Brighton SEO 2018

The Brighton SEO search marketing conference began, as many know, in a room above a pub, and it very often ends – at least for some – with skinny-dipping in the sea. Those facts don’t change, but the SEO landscape certainly has, and Brighton SEO’s second event of this year catches search on an upswing, with plenty of live topics to address and advertisers’ attitudes to SEO freshly rejuvenated.

Organic search’s fortunes have fluctuated over the years in the eyes of marketers, usually in direct proportion to the amount of data Google makes available. With visibility on keywords and traffic lately restored, SEO is back at its best, challenging for the top table again by proving its strength at delivering quality and breadth of traffic for brands.

The ups and downs of SEO

Directly and indirectly, Brighton SEO has charted the ups and downs of organic search over the years, and the current vitality of the channel is reflected in the shift back towards data and technology in its speaker sessions.

In leaner years, content marketing and ecommerce moved very understandably towards the top of the agenda in Brighton, while SEO discussions tended to slide towards Google and the fact that, where search is concerned, the house always tends to win. But although content and e-commerce are still certainly being talked about, Brighton SEO this year seems set to derive its thrust from the technical SEO side, as brands once again address themselves to the nuts and bolts of using search to maximize visibility.

Notes on this year’s Brighton SEO

The main auditorium gives a solid impression of the editorial mix, with a morning of content marketing and content strategy and an afternoon of SERPs and ranking factors, rounded off with SparkToro founder Rand Fiskin’s keynote on how SEO’s future will be played out on the results page, rather than in driving traffic to websites.

That session SERPs, as well as those on SEO reporting and crawl management, which variously touch on such issues as featured snippets, contextual optimization and auditing your rel=canonical configuration, get to the heart of the matter for specialists. Mind you, the fact that a disproportionate amount of the more technical sessions appear to take place in the early afternoon spot makes a good case for lunchtime discipline at the Brighton Centre bar.

It’s sometimes overlooked – blame it on the name – that Brighton SEO has long aimed to appeal to more than just hardcore SEO techies. So, delegates are well advised to browse the schedule carefully and spread their team, if they have one, across a range of sessions, including those outside the cavernous Auditorium 1.

Session options abound

For newcomers or all-rounders, there are plenty of sessions addressing fundamentals of SEO and content, as well as insights into millennials and social media, the subtleties of Google search in French, voice search, budget link-building and the importance of ‘the long click.’ Some of the chunkier technical discussion happens on the fringes too, and old hands tend to find their experience gets richer the more they branch out.

At the heart of good SEO lies the combination of new techniques and old ones – link profiles, using different types of links in pages to gain wider and more varied visibility, harnessing competitive links, focusing on long-tail links – all with the aim of increasing performance for marketers. In an SEO world where improving brand visibility is, more than ever, a highly achievable ambition, we’re looking forward once more to another day on the south coast.

Eoin O’Neill is CTO Global Head of SEO at Tug

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