A Few of My Favourite Bits at BrightonSEO Spring 2012

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Matthew Read, Matthew Oxley & Kevin TaylorLast week, we visited BrightonSEO, one of our favourite conferences to attend, as we get to meet and catch up with familiar faces in the industry and also get to listen to fresh and interesting content from different types of people. It’s a conference that people from all over the world travel to, as Kelvin, the organiser of BrightonSEO, discovered that there were attendees all the way from Thailand and America! I’ve picked out a couple of my favourite bits, as there is far too much to write about:

Ask the Engines

BrightonSEO kicked off with an “Ask the Engines” panel discussion, which included Pierre Far, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, Dave Coplin, Director of Search for Microsoft, Martin McDonald, SEO Strategy Director at Expedia EAN, Rishi Lakhani, Online Marketing Consultant and Tony Goldstone, Head of Search for Fresh Egg. It was a chance for us SEOs to ask questions (and grill) representatives from Google and Bing.
After reassurance that SEOs will always have a job (as long as search engines are around), Google were asked what SEOs should do if they are penalised by bad links and Pierre’s answer was that they need to show Google that they are making an effort to remove bad links and to not pay for links as they are against their guidelines. However, it was then pointed out that most people buy links to stay competitive (although everyone denied buying them, of course!).

Social and Search

Glenn talked us through schema mark up for rich snippets, using his Yorkshire pudding recipe as an example (which made my tummy rumble) and explained that it was reported that click through rates had an increase of up to 30% from rich snippets! As expected, it was also said that rich snippets can be messed around with by spammers/fake reviews, which if reported would be removed by Google. It was also mentioned that in the future, fake snippets may lead to loss of site rankings. It’s definitely something I want to learn, although I’m sure it will be a challenge as I’m not a techy person. Also, was I right in hearing that Google said keep it cool and if you see spam report it?!

Roland Dunn – Searchbots: Lost Children or Hungry Psychopaths?

Another interesting presentation was from Roland Dunn. We all know that searchbots crawl our websites, which is why we make our sites accessible for them, but we don’t actually know which sites they land on.
Roland accessed his server logs for one of his websites to see which content the searchbots landed on and found that in over 2 months, 40% of Google searchbots only requested 2 URLS, on a website with approximately 40,000 URLs in Google’s index! Roland concluded that searchbots do not request all content, can use their time inefficiently and can become distracted. Therefore we need to treasure the time they crawl our sites and may need to help them focus. Roland suggests that we should embrace the logfiles as they are full of useful information, check searchbot behaviour and if we find that they are distracted, alter the website’s internal linking and navigation, robots.txt out or take an expensive approach and alter the URL construction.

I also found his thoughts of how Google and Bing’s searchbots would sound quite entertaining!

Dom Hodgson – I appear to have started a sweetshop (and advertising company)

Ok this presentation may have been quite off topic compared to the other presentations but it was a good end to the day and certainly caught my attention. Dom Hodgson talked through his online sweetshop business and the ups and downs that he had. Here’s what I learnt from his presentation:

• Everybody loves pick n mix, but people like to have a choice of different sweets and will complain if they don’t.
• Giant snakes are expensive.
• Fried Eggs are the most popular.
• If you put a squirrel on a website, make it wink.
• Don’t put a squirrel on your website, it confuses people.
• If you have a brilliant business idea, just go for it (while your other half is away of course)!

Dom also officially launched his new advertising company at BrightonSEO and got people on the stage celebrating the launch with him with party poppers. He certainly knows how to entertain the crowd!

We finished the day with drinks on the pier. BrightonSEO was awesome this spring and we are very much looking forward to the next conference!