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12 min read

BrightonSEO: Our round-up from April 2024

Each year, we send a group from our team down to BrightonSEO not only to learn from industry experts but to also deliver talks and provide training sessions. Our arrival in Brighton was greeted with rain and wind, but that didn’t stop us from making the most of it. We delivered training sessions, attended talks and met industry experts during the networking events. In this blog, we will be exploring a variety of talks we attended, summarising them, and providing key takeaways and final thoughts.

What is BrightonSEO?

BrightonSEO is a bi-annual digital marketing conference that takes place over two days in both Brighton (UK) and San Diego (USA). First starting in 2010 in a small pub in Brighton, the event has expanded globally, attracting digital marketing experts in fields such as SEO, PPC, Paid Social, Content, and more. Attendees have the opportunity to attend talks, training sessions, workshops and networking events. April 2024’s BrightonSEO took place on the 28th & 29th.

Netflix ads: the game changer – who needs YouTube? – Chester Yang

Chester started his talk by looking at how Netflix’s advertising offering has developed over the last few years since it launched in 2021, from Microsoft’s winning the exclusive rights to Netflix’s advertising in 2022, to Netflix launching their ad-supported plan later in 2022. He goes on to state that as of November 2023, Netflix’s ad-supported tier reached 23 million global monthly users with 35 million estimated worldwide by 2027.

Clearly, the ad-supported tier has been working since the crackdown on account sharing, and as a result, the ad space on Netflix is becoming increasingly important.

Currently, Netflix’s advertising offering is available in 12 countries including:

  • Canada
  • United States
  • Mexico
  • Brazil
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Australia

Netflix aims for a gradual release of this service in other countries in years to come. So it’s safe to say, Microsoft advertising is not just Bing anymore.

Key takeaways

  1. Engagement and audience: Netflix is not only dominating the streaming landscape claiming 59% of the market share, it is also offering maturer and more engaged audiences in comparison to other online video services such as YouTube. Netflix offers a high level of engagement over a longer period of time (80% vs 66% on YouTube), in which advertisers can make the best use of Netflix’s ad formats.
  1. Ad formats: Currently, Netflix offers 4 advertising forms; non-skippable, pre-roll, mid-roll, and frequency cap. Its unique selling proposition is that you can advertise on Netflix’s premium series and films without minimum spending commitments, this contrasts with other paid channels such as Facebook, which requires minimum spends. Mid-roll ads could be highly useful because, as mentioned above, users are more engaged for longer due to watching longer films and series in comparison to YouTube videos, which tend to have a shorter run-time. Frequency cap ads are designed to limit impressions to avoid ad fatigue.
  1. Netflix targeting: When compared to other channels, Netflix targeting options appear not as in-depth as other platforms with no audience, device, age or gender targeting being supported. Dubbed ‘deals’, an advertiser has the option to select a deal which will determine aspects such as price, targeting and geographics. For example, a deal may allow you to:
    1. Target Netflix inventory with a 30-second ad
    2. Target watchers in the US
    3. Pay a minimum amount per CPM
    4. Target by genre or ‘top 10 shows’

Creating compelling content in regulated industries – John Forth

As the Digital Optimisation Manager for Legal & General, John has extensive experience in the world of financial services and the regulations that come with it. In John’s talk, he looked beyond financial services, to help content marketers work more efficiently and build strong relationships with their compliance teams, whether that’s an agency working with a client in the electrical industry, or an internal marketing team looking to publish content on healthcare, for example. 

John explains that, yes, compliance teams can be a thorn in the side of marketers. The main challenge that marketers face in this type of content is feedback, as they require evidence, correct language use, disclaimers, and specifics. But compliance is there for a reason, and that is ultimately to help customers by being clear, fair, and not misleading. By looking at it from this perspective, marketers and compliance teams can recognise that they’re working towards the same goal.

Key takeaways

  1. Keep your friends close but your enemies closer: While this may sound ominous, John explained that you should know your regulators, but it is easier said than done. There is more than one regulator per service, per country and per region, such as the FCA, PRA and EBA. But despite being a challenge, it is well worth the reward, being on the same page when you are trying to communicate between teams is key to overcoming this.
  1. Understand why regulators are in place: Regulators are not there to stop businesses, but it’s about making sure you’re doing the right thing for consumers. Compliance builds trust and that is especially important in YMYL sectors, as it’s about reassuring consumers are making the right decisions and they look to you for knowledge and support to keep them safe and to understand the risks.
  1. Don’t think of compliance as warnings, but as product features: John showed several screenshots of how a service is provided on a finance website. He explains that positioning and framing are key, ensuring that you should avoid following up any positives with a negative. Instead, you should be emphasising flexibility, not limitations, explaining your product/service aim, and creating a sense of normality, to make the user feel comfortable in their decision-making.

Build relevant content by researching your audience on all organic channels – Ray Saddiq

A lot of the way we are producing content has changed. Ray suggests that nowadays, we’re turning to ChatGPT to generate content ideas for us, such as ‘generate content ideas for makeup tutorials’. But instead, we should be relying less on AI and copying competitors, we should be instead looking for places with languages that your audience speaks.

Ray says that Google is not just the only place where people are searching. This isn’t necessarily saying that Google is dead or that TikTok is a search engine but that the search journey is growing and that platform diversity is what keeps your content relevant.

Key takeaways

  1. Take a break from the data: Data is mostly historical, instead, we should be looking for 0 search keywords. They’re new and you’d have the first-mover advantage. Don’t fear 0 search keywords as long as you speak the language of your audience, as it will eventually gain traction when they begin searching for this. But this doesn’t always work, it’s best to build this into content clusters and can also provide you with inspiration when you’re out of ideas.
  1. Using social media to inform your zero search strategy: Ray outlines 6 steps to this process;
    1. Investigate your personas, what they search for, influencers they follow and social networks
    2. Pick platforms that have search functionality (TikTok, Reddit) and scroll your feeds with your seed keywords. If you find information on 2 different platforms, it will probably work well on Google. When it comes to creating your content, use the language those people would use on that platform as it would help you build a niche authority.
    3. Manually sort data from the topics you found
    4. Check for cannibalisation on a keyword list

How to leverage subject matter experts to create EEAT-boosting super content – Rin Hamburgh

The extra ‘E’ in E-A-T is a recent addition to the formula that content marketers have been following for a while now. Whilst not a direct ranking factor, E-E-A-T is a guideline for creating helpful content that is valuable to readers. Rin explores what is E-E-A-T and why is it important?

  • Experience: Who are the real people behind the content
  • Expertise: Introduced to Google’s Search Quality Rating Guidelines in 2022, this ‘E’ questions if your writers know more about the topic than the average person.
  • Authoritativeness: Why should readers listen to you?
  • Trustworthiness: Can they trust you?

Having experts in your content is especially important for YMYL sectors, as it reinforces trust and ensures the reader that you know what you’re talking about.

Rin argues that expertise is a positioning strategy and we can find experts both internally (consultants, CTO, product leads, chefs) and externally (partners, influencers, users).

How to leverage experts

Get them to create content
Positives– Takes fewer resources from you (in theory)

– Scalable

– Low cost
Negatives– Harder to coordinate

– They’re not marketers, they wouldn’t fully understand your tone of voice
Action– Sell them the benefits to motivate them to work on the content

– Provide editorial assistance and TOV guidelines

– Create good briefs
Get them to approve your content
Positives– Full control of editorial

– Not reliant on others
Negatives– Little genuine expertise

– Easily replicable

– Needs more writing resource
Action– Develop good research skills

– Use authoritative citations

– Draw on case studies
Get collaborative
Positives– A blend of your and the expert’s skills

– Relevant insights & expertise
Negatives– Takes time

– More writing resource

– Approval process may be challenging
Action– Sell the benefits to the experts to get them on board

– Create pre-briefs to ensure experts are prepared

– Develop your interview skills

Writing content that search engines (and humans) can really understand – Dixon Jones

When it comes to writing content online, you need to consider the human and the machine. The problem is, that we can understand machines, what makes them tick, and the algorithms they use, but humans – people are unknowable, truly.

Dixon starts with a thought experiment; How can we sell electric guitars to beekeepers?

He also points out a few absurd ideas that exist in real life;

  • Why are diamonds valuable, when they’re not particularly rare?
  • Why is there a surfboard shop in the middle of the Nevada desert?

Much like a neural network, we have a hidden layer, one which is unknowable. But there must be a way to sell electric guitars (input layer) to Beekeepers (Output layer), as shown below.

The answer is that it’s about the stories we sell (and the ones we can’t live without).

Dixon then looks at portfolio theory and tribes and how tribes are the portfolio theory for humans. A tribe is like an asset that marketers can invest in as a buyer persona, and by appealing to multiple tribes, you then create a buyer base (like a portfolio). In this instance, Dixon uses Facebook groups and podcast watchers as an example of a tribe.

But like the hidden layer in a neural network, the unknowable is how we turn those tribes into conversions. Dixon suggests that we need to draw on senses and feelings to drive decision-making.

Dixon then begins to draw up an idea for a piece of content on how you can sell electric guitars to beekeepers using this logic.

  1. Bees have a positive charge. Bees are drawn to flowers with a negative charge. This relates to the topic of electricity. 
  2. From this we can then look at specifics, such as ‘Do bees react to sound?’ and, as it turns out, they do at 500Hz. Surprise surprise, guitars can hit 500Hz too.
  3. By using a fun topic backed by scientific evidence (and experts) we can create a story to help us sell electric guitars to beekeepers.

Whilst this may sound silly, Dixon emphasises that this is only successful if you talk to the tribe in the same language. Dixon then provides a structure to make this process actionable.

Creating the perfect article for machines and humans alike

  1. Collect and cluster your site’s entities: This is like creating a knowledge graph of a site which you can then turn into a table.
  2. Find close incremental ideas: Use those entities to find incremental ideas, such as through Google Suggest.
  3. Collect entities of competitors & create a gap analysis
  4. Create a content plan to prompt ChatGPT
  5. Remember to keep or add the human touch: This includes tone of voice, positioning and ensuring you’re talking to the tribe you’re targeting in their voice.

How to diagnose your Brand SEO health issues – Annika Haataja

Have you ever come across a site which is impossible to outrank? This is how Annika kicked off her talk on the power of brand SEO and how it can help you stand out in today’s cluttered SERPs. She started by comparing what she meant by Brand SEO against what we usually think when we say SEO.

ContentContent createdMessaging and positioning
UXWebsite design & UXVisual identity
TechnicalTechnical site performanceProfessionalism
LinksLinks earnedContextual associations

Annika explains that SEO can help brand through:

  • Improved visibility,
  • Reputation management (mentioned by Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines several times),
  • Integrated messaging,
  • Leading to, Brand awareness

This can work vice versa too, with the brand helping SEO through:

  • Competitive advantage
  • Authenticity
  • SEO results
  • Leading to, greater SEO efforts
Annika uses AirBnB as an example of brand marketing success.

One of the main keys behind this, Annika suggests, is brand signals, which SEO can reinforce to support organic growth. These signals are cues that help search engines understand your brand’s purpose, trustworthiness and value proposition. One example Annika uses Apple as an example of the power of brand signals. When we Google Apple, we are shown the corporation, not the fruit.

To measure your Brand SEO health, she breaks down her audit into 3 categories:

  • Site Metrics
    • Branded vs Unbranded traffic
    • Brand page engagement
    • Lead/traffic quality
    • Conversion rate
    • Returned visitors/buyers
  • Qualitative Analysis
    • H1 & meta tags
    • Site Tagline
    • CTAs
    • Tone of voice
    • User testing
    • Heatmaps
    • The Grunt Test
  • External Signals
    • Brand search visibility
    • Brand search popularity
    • Brand search behaviour
    • Brand mentions
    • Online Reputation
    • Brand consistency
    • Competitor brand gap
    • Social signals
    • PR value and link profile

Do you own your SERP real estate?

The sign of strong Brand SEO is being able to use the SERPs to control your brand. This includes brand search results, image results (what users see of your brand), news features, video results, and a knowledge panel & about the source. However, you must also be aware of what users are saying about your brand off-site, including forums and what can AI generate about your brand – these are difficult spaces to control.