Brighton SEO

Last Friday I made the trip down to BrightonSEO and what a fascinating time I had. I’d like to share a small selection of those insights here.

As a WordPress design/hosting company we are obviously very much aware of the overall landscape of SEO, though I make no bones that we don’t do deep dive SEO activities such as keyword research etc – when clients need those activities, we have trusted partners we can recommend.

That aside, it’s really important that Glass Mountains maintains a broad view of everything that’s going on relating to websites. Which means that, whilst we’re not looking to be SEO agency, forewarned is forearmed – we always want to be in the best position to offer recommendations to our clients; allowing them to focus on their business instead.

Takeaways

That being the case, I’d like to run through some of our key takeaways from the conference.

Disclaimer: the conference is huge! 4,000 people attending and there were eight (yes eight!) tracks giving just under 90 talks in all. Suffice to say, unless you can be in multiple locations at the same time, you simply cannot see them all, so this is very much a personal view of the conference.

In particular we were impressed with talks from Greg Gifford, Tim Soulo, Becky Simms, Kenda Macdonald, Rory Tuesdale, and Paige Hobart. Rather than trying to summarise each talk, I’ll present some of the themes which kept on coming up.

Write for Humans

Many people look for a shortcut to writing web copy; thinking there is some magical pixie dust which, if they sprinkle enough of it on their web copy, will immediately boost their website to #1 in Google; sadly the world is fresh out of pixie dust!

 

Instead, what needs to happen is for people to write copy in clear language that succinctly conveys their messaging. Messaging that addresses the problems which the reader may have. That’s not to say copy has to be simple; no, it needs to be at the appropriate technical level for the desired audience. The language you use to explain to a child how to tie their shoe laces is different to a technical blog post about the industrial production techniques for manufacturing ultra thin fibres.

Also, the days of stuffing more and more keywords into your website text in the blind hope of influencing Google, are increasingly long gone. That’s not to say that keyword research is therefore over, No. But we do have to be aware of the fact that there is more to top search engine rankings than simply ticking off a list of words which your competitors use: if it doesn’t read well to your audience, you’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water.

Structured Data

When Google first started, their search engine (which matches the queries that people type in, to search engine results listing out web pages), was fairly primitive. So primitive indeed that it didn’t initially understand the context of words and what they related to. For instance, it wouldn’t understand an ocelot is cat.  So if you were searching for pages on wild cats, a page about ‘ocelots’ would be harder surface, because Google didn’t know they were related.

A (beautiful) Ocelot

Google are now much, much smarter. They have known for a long known time that, for example, an ocelot is actually part of the cat family, so the search problem highlighted above has already been fixed.

The key point here is that Google are moving away just looking at what is on your webpage, and more towards what Google thinks your web page content actually means.

Now this topic of meaning and ‘structured data‘ quickly gets bogged down with lots of terminology but the key takeaway is that Google are trying to understand the context behind what we search for. And they do this so that they can show more useful search results.

For example, Google have the concept of ‘Rich Snippets’ – these are all about trying to surface the hidden structured data in our website content.

Here is a list of Rich Snippets that Google currently support (and this changes all the time):

We won’t go through them all but let’s take the “Recipe” one as an example:

If you have a website which showcases recipes, then if you do not use Google Rich Snippets for ‘Recipes’ then you are leaving it up to Google to have to guess that the web page it is crawling is actually explaining your mother’s fantastic method for cooking spaghetti meatballs. On the other hand, if you do use Google’s Rich Snippets, then you are indicating to Google, right from the get go, that “hey! I’ve got loads of recipes here!”. You are conveying to Google more about the meaning of your content; which allows them to do more.

But what ‘more’ can Google do with recipes? Well, look at this screenshot below, heck, try a search yourself on Google – notice how visual and highly prominent they appear? Think they get more clicks?

Example of Google’s Rich Snipper for recipes

Rich Snippets are only part of the landscape here (for the purpose of this short blog, I’m simplifying), Google have other methods to indicate whether your data is (for example) an event, or  a job listing, or frequently asked questions etc. Think for a moment, how can these help your your SEO?

Google My Business 

This very much follows on from the above point. Google My Business is a method so that you can directly tell Google who you are and what your business is about.

You’d be forgiven for dismissing Google My Business as useful only to local coffee shops etc but I would urge you to think again. Bare in mind these two points:

  • Google My Business is all about us telling Google more structured data about your business (rather than it having to guess); and we already know the benefits of that.
  • At BrightonSEO, this point came up time and time again: Google My Business indicates the direction of travel of Google in terms of how they want to model the world. Get involved now so that you familiarise yourself with that world.

Even though Glass Mountains gets the bulk of our work from the US, BrightonSEO certainly made me think about how my company can enrich its Google My Business listing.

Final Thoughts

This is only a shallow dive into some of the insights but I hope it gives you food for thought. BrightonSEO runs twice yearly, and we’ll certainly be going again.

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