BrightonSEO: What We Learnt At World’s Largest Marketing Conference

Posted On: 24th May 2023
Read Time: 6 Minutes

BrightonSEO is the world’s largest marketing conference. What started as a conversation in a pub is now a world-renowned event, selling over 6,000 tickets and gathering people from across the globe to expand their knowledge of digital marketing. This bi-annual event brings together some of the best speakers in the industry – ‘Helping search marketers meet, learn, and do their jobs a little better.’

On April 21st, the digital marketing team from Echo had free reign to attend all the talks that were happening across BrightonSEO

We didn’t want to keep our newfound knowledge to ourselves!

Here, we’re sharing the key takeaways from the conference and how we’re going to apply them to our work to help our clients be better online.

Zak Wattiez, Managing Director

Greg Gifford: The Fast and Furious Guide to Real World Link Building  

Greg Gifford is one of the most popular speakers in the SEO industry, and offered an energetic talk on link building. Time and again, the SEO community highlights the importance of having other websites link to your website. This is a major trust signal for Google, if done in the right way.

Greg’s predominant argument was to think outside the box and not just follow the crowd. If you only do what competitors are doing, you’re going to struggle to make a noticeable difference. 

We all think to hit “send” on a one-size-fits-all email. But, what about reaching out to the local community and your contacts? It’s not just about getting a link, it’s about boosting credibility and brand awareness. 

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  • Sponsor a club
  • Volunteer in the local community
  • Showcase your certifications and accreditations 
  • Try making phone calls for outreach alongside unique and engaging emails that relate to the business you are contacting.

Make sure to keep a tracker spreadsheet to review progress. Keep goals and monitor on a quarterly basis. Thinking outside the box when it comes to link building is certainly something we’re going to be doing more of here at Echo!

Dr Kiran Webster: Why Empathy Should Be a Key Player in Your Marketing Strategy

Dr Kiran Webster is a behavioural psychologist. She offered her insight into how leveraging knowledge of human behaviour can aid your approach to content marketing. One of the key takeaways from the talk was that people feel first, then think.

Depending on the circumstances, it could be worth taking a more emotional approach to your content. Speak to your audience’s feelings rather than just their thoughts. Tap into their pain and pleasure points. 

James Ball: ChatGPT: Localisation Friend or Foe

AI is huge. But if you don’t know how to reign in your use of this technology, it could be a hindrance rather than a help. Used effectively, it could be one of your greatest digital tools and behave more like an assistant. For instance, it can fetch research in a fraction of the time that it would take you to personally browse the internet. In fact, the use cases are endless. But using this technology to get the best results will also become a craft in itself. 

However, there is some confidence-checking that needs to be done. You can ask for rewrites to improve drafts without writing them yourself. You can also translate copy for PPC ads. Word has it that it’s better than Google Translate!  

It’s also better than Grammarly at proofreading (apparently). Just remember to check for things like Americanised spellings, as it might default to this if you don’t specify. That’s the key. You need to be as specific as possible. You will only get a good output if you take the time to input thoughtful instructions. 

Proceed with caution. It can be a great ally for your content creators, but it’s not a replacement for them! You should also avoid using AI for any content that focuses on areas around health or finance. 

ChatGPT Friend or Foe? Here is our SEO Executive, Lewis McCarthy’s take:

Localisation is about more than translationNot good for localisation and translations as it lacks phrases/ nuances
Lacks nuances and local phrases or emotionEU produced readable text but lacked emotions
70% positive perception for AI writing communicationsGood for product descriptions but not long form content
Don’t use for YMYL content (financial, healthcare, etc)People want to disclose when AI has been used, same with Google
It doesn’t give you the best version the first timeGood for proofreading and QA


Emma Gibbs, SEO Content Writer

Carrie Rose: Owning TikTok, Pinterest and YouTube SERPs

One of the standout talks for me was Carrie Rose’s discussion on why you should pay attention to all the channels, not just search engines. She is the founder and CEO of Rise at Seven, a leading creative agency, and featured as a Forbes 30 Under 30 for Media & Marketing in Europe. 

Where are your customers spending their time? This is a question that can go overlooked, but is worth investigating and regularly reviewing. 

Carrie recommended using a tool called Glimpse, which advertises itself as a super-charged version of Google Trends. It’s useful for seeing a breakdown of where users are searching for your products. There could be a reduction in the numbers of people searching for your product on Google search, but there could be an increase on social media platforms, such as TikTok or Pinterest. The bottom line is that to truly dominate the SERPs in 2023 and find your crowd, it’s important to pay attention to the multiverse of channels!

Leveraging user-generated content was another powerful marketing concept which Carrie Rose has applied to great success! By creating a buzz around a beauty cream product, with a little help from influencers, she was able to help her client climb their way to the top of Google’s search results. Result! 

Niki Mosier: The Value of Featured Snippets

Kicking off the content talks in Auditorium 1, Niki Mosier, an SEO consultant from Colorado, took to the stage to delve into the tried-and-tested formulas for bagging featured snippets. These are the text and image snippets that appear at the top of Google search results to help answer user queries. They are a fantastic way to increase click-throughs to your website and can boost brand awareness – so if these are in-line with your goals, it’s worth incorporating them into your campaign plan.

Here’s a rundown of the key takeaways:

  • 90% of search engine result pages (SERPs) have a featured snippet
  • Best practices for optimising featured snippets include:
    Start with ‘why’ – 70% of featured snippets start with this
    – Use ‘is’ or ‘are’  in first sentence
    – Content should be fresh (2-3 years old max)
    – Look at already ranking keywords in positions 2-5 with high search volume
    – Remember to track in Google Analytics

Lewis McCarthy, SEO Executive

James Brockbank: The Traditional Approach to SEO Is Broken. Here’s How to Prioritise Your Efforts and Drive Rapid Growth

James Brockbank is the founder of Digitaloft, a multi-award-winning search marketing agency.

He argued against an initial one-size-fits-all deep-dive audit. In his own words, this approach is broken. It should be tailored more towards a business’s unique requirements and goals. That’s where the true value lies. As a company that offers website audits, this certainly gave us some food for thought. No two businesses are the same, so we shouldn’t approach SEO audits with a single formula.

The key takeaway? Stop saying what can we achieve and start saying here’s what we need to achieve. Have clear goals in mind from the offset. By prioritising our efforts, we can boost the value we bring to the businesses we work with.

Zahid Mahmood: Programmatic SEO with Next.js

Zahid Mahmood’s talk was a little more on the technical side, but shone a light on how a little bit of code can go a long way. 

If you’re wondering what on earth Next.js is, it’s a coding language. It can be used to build tailored web pages for user search queries. An example could be someone searching for the ‘best 24 hr commercial locksmith in Cambridge’. By adding some code onto your website, a page displaying this exact phrase can be automatically served to a user, reflecting the specific service or product they are searching for. 

This is a fantastic way to boost organic traffic and on-page conversions for longer keywords – and with minimal effort too! You will need a trusty web developer to help set this up, but once that’s done you can reap the benefits of serving bespoke landing pages that speak to the exact needs of potential customers. It’s the smart way to personalise your content.

Will Dardis, PPC Executive

Claudia Higgins: Breaking Down Silos: How Integrated Data Sets Enhance SEO Strategies

Claudia Higgins’ talk expressed the importance of merging different data sets (think Analytics, Search Console, etc.) rather than treating them as separate entities. She argued that this can be an effective way to enhance your SEO goals and objectives. In fact, keeping CRO, SEO and PPC as separate entities could mean that you lack important insights! 

My key takeaway from the talk was how PPC and SEO can go hand in hand. She gave an example of meta descriptions, and how on a Responsive Search Ad you can have four different descriptions, while on a web page you only have one, so this could be an effective testing tool. 

A multi-data strategy is crucial. Something to think about going forward in terms of PPC strategies we can use to help boost SEO for our clients.

Tanesha Austen: Create Local Content & Adverts Your Customers Actually Want to Read

Tanesha Austen’s talk highlighted the benefits of using personalised language in ad copy. In particular, she focused on the five love languages (minus physical touch – obvs!). This isn’t something you’d immediately marry up with a marketing strategy, but she made a case for its effectiveness at engaging your potential customers. 

Reminder of the love languages:

❤️ Words of Affirmation

❤️ Acts of Service

❤️ Quality Time

❤️ Giving Gifts

These sentiments can be leveraged to craft positive statements about your business, highlighting unique selling points in a more engaging way. It’s a more personal method that could lead to higher quality leads.

Sophie Jackson, Digital Marketing Account Manager

Amanda Jordan: Opportunity Is Knocking: How to Identify Growth & Expansion Opportunities With Local SEO Data

Before suggesting an expansion to a client, conducting proper market research is key. This should go beyond search results analysis and also consider spend vs ROI predictions to determine whether it is worth investing in. How much will it cost to expand into this location and how much revenue would be expected from the expansion? Is the market big enough/not too competitive for it to be profitable?

Anissa Temimi, Digital Marketing Lead

Jon Moore: The XPath to Discovery

The biggest highlight for me was learning more about web server SEO and also using XPaths to pinpoint technical SEO fixes that go beyond a standard website crawl. This not only makes SEO more efficient but also helps your web developers make changes. 

Ash New: Web Server SEO: Make Your TTFB Faster

Key takeaway: The Time to First Byte is the most important area of PageSpeed, so this should be prioritised on your Core Web Vitals (CWVs) report. Where possible, marketing should audit tasks such as site speed/CWVs before passing them to the web team to cut down on testing time.

Hinde Lamrani: Congratulations! You Have Now Gone Global. What You Wish You Were Told About International SEO

Hinde Lamrani is the Director of Digital Marketing Services at Acolad Group. She gave invaluable tips to get your international SEO efforts off to the best start.

The advice included checking if your tech stack is compatible with multilingual content. 

Transcreation is another important consideration, as AI translation can work with facts but is not so good at understanding cultural or creative nuances. 

Global search engines have different ranking criteria than Google. It’s worth noting that some new search engines are powered by Bing, such as Ecosia. 

It was also found that AI can display some unconscious bias. That’s where confidence checking is vital to make sure that discrimination doesn’t creep into your marketing. 

Laurissa Gould, Digital Marketing Executive

Claire Carlile: Google’s Local Knowledge Panel – the CMS You Never Knew You Had

Google My Business (GMB) is a great tool to attract users to your website but can also be treated as a homepage as well. GMB listings have evolved over the years and Google can pull data that you’ve not manually added through your account. 

Adding schema markup to your website for events, social media, product information and more can encourage Google to build on your listing to provide users with more details about your business.

It’s also an effective way to put right any incorrect information that is being displayed on your listing. Instead of constantly talking to Google to get them to fix it, it’s empowering to know that we can do it ourselves with a bit of patience!

Leah Bull, Digital Marketing Manager

Ashleigh Noon & Sunny Matharu: Your Metrics Are My Metrics 

Ashleigh Noon and Sunny Matharu were from the same mortgage advisor company, but specialised in different aspects of marketing. Through sharing their goal setbacks, they demonstrated the importance of considering both SEO and CRO for EVERY website change – no matter what stage of the campaign you are in. By consulting both your SEO and CRO experts, you can avoid costly mistakes and pave the way to success.  

Key takeaways included remembering to use SEO-friendly pop ups and incorporating call-to-actions in the right way.

Chloe Smith: How Content Design Impacts SEO and Accessibility

While it’s more than OK to create elaborate, detailed graphics, guides and videos, when it comes to the actual layout, it is always best to keep it simple. It’s best to adopt the tried-and-tested methods rather than going against the grain. By all means, try A to B testing where appropriate, but keep in mind that if the user has to put in effort to navigate your content, they will leave. 

These were the actionable takeaways from Chloe’s talk: 

  • Keep in mind the classic F-layout for your web pages.
    F Website Design
  • Write for the average reading age of 12-23 – clear, simple, concise. 
  • The Helpful Content Update isn’t just about more content, it’s how it’s communicated. 
  • Use clear headings and short paragraphs.  

In summary

The digital marketing team all agree that it was an inspiring day in Brighton, and we certainly had a lot to takeaway from the event. We look forward to putting these insights into practice and helping our clients achieve the digital marketing goals that matter to them. We look forward to next year’s BrightonSEO!

Need help with your website or digital marketing? The Echo team is happy to help you grow online.

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Emma Gibbs at Echo Web Solutions
Emma Gibbs
SEO Content Writer
Writing is something that Emma has always loved, and enjoys using her passion for the written word to help businesses create easy to understand content that drives results.

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