Friday brought with it sunshine and an influx of SEOs to Brighton town, all in the name of the first local SEO conference of 2013. The Brighton Dome was host to the biggest conference yet with 2,500 attendees flooding through the door, thirty eight talks from all manner of industry experts, all taking place across three spaces.
Apart from the usual banter and dodgy jokes about penguins and pandas, there were also other recurring themes within discussions across the conference.
The aftermath of Google Panda & Penguin
When it came to Penguin and Panda updates, talk shied away from future predictions of algorithm updates and moved towards the best ways tore cover. A year on from the Penguin update that affected 12% of UK searches and SEOs have had plenty of practice in climbing sites back up the ranking ladder. Whilst it has received mixed reviews across the SEO news sites and forums, most of the industry experts offered that the link disavow is the most useful tool when it comes to Google reconsidering your site.
Neil Walker reminded us that Google reviewers are human, so when applying for reconsideration do all you can to prove that you are trying to amend your ways. Provide Google with proof that you are trying to clean up your back link profile. It takes perseverance, but if you try everything you can, even if that means deleting your entire back link profile, more often than not it will work.
Is SEO dead? Nope, just redefining itself!
There was less discussion of whether SEO is a dying industry and more suggestion that the industry is redefining itself. Ade Lewis highlighted that the aims of the industry have changed. He offered the advice that the industry is now about, optimising a business so that it deserves to rank at the top of search engines. There is a visible move away from link building, the main focus now lies with the sites usability, increasing the chances of content being naturally linked to and shared. A view also shared by Lauren Pope, who urged us to focus on our bread and butter content to naturally improve our back link profile.
More than one speaker urged us to forget the term SEO, with KevinGibbons advising us to work closer with marketing and PR teams to create offsite content that is on brand. There was a definite affirmation that over the last year the goals and working processes of the industry have changed. But there was no mention of it being dead. In fact there was lots of proof that the technical aspects of SEO are still as important as ever, and with the rush towards content marketing bandwagon, this is being all too easily forgotten.
Should we give up on link building?
The major discussion arose from the subject of link building, a year on from the Panda and Penguin updates and link building is already into its second cycle of evolution. Post April 2012 saw panicked SEOs looking towards creative link building as their answer to the crisis, meaning the internet has seen a huge influx in guest posting and infographic embedding. Many speakers at this years conference questioned these tactics. In particular Pete Wails from SEO Gadget,who seemed a little infuriated at the quality of said guest posts and infographics. He offered the advice, it is easier to do marketing and rank for brand than for keywords. He urged the audience to give up on link building instead he told us to find the target audience, understand the brand, then connect the two through amazing experiences.
Who’s your content aimed at?
Content was the top of most speaking agendas, with a focus on why we create it and how we use it. SEOs have been accused of populating the internet with useless, poor quality content. All the speakers I listened to urged content marketers to think about what they are producing. Stefan Hull reminded us of Matt Cutts opinion on the situation, don’t chase after Googles algorithm; chase after your best interpretation of what users want, because thats what Googles chasing after. We were asked to consider the longevity of our content, and listening to what people want was a familiar piece of advice by the end of the day. Tim Grice voiced the general opinion perfectly advising, build content people want to see. This will future proof your site.Consider who’s going to click on your link, rather than creating it for link juice.
A human approach to search
This years conference has seen the industry move towards amore human approach to search. Listening to the speakers there is proof that the industry is moving away from finding ways to manipulate search engines and instead working with them to provide a better user experience via brand awareness and traditional marketing techniques. The tone of the conference was summed up by Propellernets Stefan Hull and Mark Henshall.
Listen to the questions people are asking and use this insight to create relevant and recommendable content ideas, that influencers will engage with (and which you can encourage them to engage with)so that everyone is inspired to search and share, which will deliver a positive business impact.