Link Building

Virtual BrightonSEO 2020: what we learned at this year's conference

Author: Iveta Osobová
8 minutes of reading
6. 10. 2020
Table of contents

One of our favourite things about BrightonSEO is meeting lots of amazing people from our industry and just soaking up that geeky atmosphere. Even though this year’s conference was slightly different, it was a thoroughly enjoyable one. As usual, there were so many insightful and inspiring talks about technical SEO and link building. Well done to everyone involved for organising such a fantastic event! 

Here are some highlights of what we’ve learned! 

1. Esoteric SEO Tips I Hope You Don't Already Know - Oliver H. G. Mason 

This was one of the most interesting talks of the conference for us. Oliver shared some great SEO tips that might not be useful straight away but it’s worth knowing about them to avoid our headaches in the future. He talked about cloaking, a practice of providing different content to the users and search engines, when bots can see something different on the website than humans can. He also mentioned a few techniques that not all SEOs know to get more ideas about what to do with expired content (and there are quite few options for this!) or how to handle duplicate content on your website. 

Expired content SEO

You might heard of GeoIP redirects before. They automatically redirect website visitors by their geolocation. So they serve users only one version of the site but bots can access every single version of it. GeoIP redirects are mostly used only for usability reasons. However, they can get you in trouble as Google explicitly tells us to avoid automatic redirection based on the user’s perceived language (as they could prevent users from viewing all versions of your site).

A link that doesn’t appear to exist to Google bots doesn’t get assigned PageRank. Oliver talked about PageRank sculpting, a SEO technique that hides from bots those links that are valuable for users only. One of the ways to stop links from appearing to exist is by deleting them. So why is PageRank sculpting a great idea to hide a page from search engines? It can help to maximize the PageRank of URLs that we care about by minimizing the PageRank passed on to links that we don’t. There are few different techniques for it, such as using intentionally wrong link formats or adding triggers for interactions (such as onmouseover etc.) that Googlebot won’t make. 

He shared some intriguing ideas that Google won’t publicly endorse but it’s a very interesting approach to do something different (remember to not test it on your clients that don’t understand the risks involved). If you would like to know more about this topic, here are the presentation slides to Oliver’s talk:


2. Spying on Google: Using Log File Analysis to Reveal Invaluable SEO Insights - Faisal Anderson

Even though log file analysis should be a part of every SEO specialist’s day to day work, most of them have never conducted one. Faisal revealed some great SEO insights into log files analysis and how it can provide such valuable insights that regular crawling tools or Google Search Console just can’t produce. Faisal also quickly explained how to retrieve logs with free tools and analyse them to measure site health and wasted crawl budget.

What log file analysis is?

Log Files are files that store detailed logs on who or what is making requests to your website server. Every time a crawler or user requests a URL, metadata about this request is stored as a new line inside the access log file. 

Log file analysis helps you analyse how a crawler interacts with the site by looking at how it logs or stores every single time a crawler requests a page. Now, imagine if you could have this information and spy on Google to understand precisely how your site is crawled. This would help you to quickly identify crawling and indexation issues as well as reveal huge wins.  

Faisal talked about how you can spy on Google by using log files analysis to gain a massive insight into your website and help you and your clients improve traffic, crawling and indexation. Take a look at his talk to understand how this six-step process can get the data you need to view the real data:

Spying on Google using log analysis

3. How To Find & Fix Keyword Cannibalization Issues - James Brockbank 

Recording of the presentation: 

This topic is one of the most common SEO issues, yet often misunderstood. 

If you have multiple pages on your website that are optimized for the same keyword, it doesn’t automatically mean that neither can rank. Multiple pages targeting the same search term isn’t keyword cannibalization unless the intent of these pages is the same.

Taking search intent into account is such an important step to tackle keyword cannibalization. If you're targeting two pages, then you are essentially targeting the same customers at the same buying cycle and expecting them to make the same next move. And this is when we’re talking about keyword cannibalization as in this case, you’re effectively competing against yourself:

How is keyword cannibalization seen by Google

James explained why you need to consider the circumstances causing the cannibalization on a page. You should do this on a page by page basis and not making a mistake by trying to sort these issues sitewide. He also advised to consider each keyword cannibalization issue individually as what causes one problem is not probably what causes another one. 

Key takeaways:

  • stop and think about what the intent is, what purpose the pages on your site serve
  • use tools to identify issues (for bulk check you can use our Landing page Miner)
  • take a common-sense approach to fix them 

4. A story of zero-click searches and SERP features - Kevin Indig

Recording of the presentation: 

Kevin shared lots of interesting insights about fundamental shifts and current search trends. 

Google is regularly updating to optimize search results based on user intent (rather than focusing only on keyword matching). 

Many marketers think that local packs are spreading as they are almost everywhere. However, based on the presented data, it can be concluded that local packs are not growing as much as we might expect and they are decreasing over time in the UK. On the other hand, featured snippets are growing in popularity every day. They are increasing especially on mobile but decreasing on desktop. But if you look at the US data, the search results with featured snippets are actually growing mostly on desktop version. 

Featured snippets growth in US 2020

Tab clicks on Google are strong signals for universal search integrations. It looks like traffic on the internet is shifting from search and social to entertainment and most traffic goes to streaming. Now it’s time to invest in your video and audio content as most featured snippets will be replaced by videos. Google clearly wants to make search more visual by including more images and videos in its search results. 

5. Automating Optimisation For Featured Snippets in SERPs on a Large Scale - Polly Pospelova

Polly explained how to automate optimization for featured snippets in search engines results on a large scale and what impact it can have on traffic and conversions. 

A featured snippet is a summary of an answer to the user’s query that appears on top of Google search results. Polly quickly covered what types of featured snippets we have. Based on presented data, it looks like that paragraph and list types of featured snippets are by far the most common (it’s between 12-24% of all queries that have featured snippets in their search results).

Featured snippets take lots of place in search results but do they actually drive traffic? There are very different results for this. However, it seems that they drive more clicks to your site. Polly also reminded us that the value of featured snippets is also in enhanced brand awareness, controlling the messaging in SERPs and a possibility of inclusion in voice search results. That’s why we should think of the use of feature snippets in the present/future of voice-driven searches. 

If you want to know some more useful tips on how to optimize for featured snippets, we recommend you to watch Polly’s talk here:

6. An SEO's Guide to Website Migrations - Faye Watt

Recording of the presentation: 

Launching a new website? Website migration can be a real challenge to SEO and it can inadvertently be a disaster if not done right. Faye talked about why we need a migration plan and what necessary steps we need to take to successfully complete this process. 

Website migration checklist SEO

So, how can you avoid a migration disaster? Faye gave us some expert insights into how the successful migration process should look like: 

  1. Migration type 
  2. Planning
  3. Environment  (designing a custom "404" page)
  4. Launch Day 
  5. Post Launch 
  6. Monitor and review

Slides from the presentation:



Slides from other interesting presentations

7. Automating Google Lighthouse - Hamlet Batista 


Automating Google Lighthouse from Hamlet Batista

8. Hacking Keyword Research - Judith Lewis


#BrightonSEO - Hacking Keyword Research from Judith Lewis


Summary of BrightonSEO 2020

BrightonSEO is one of the largest SEO conferences in the world. This year again brought presentations from interesting names (from around the world) on interesting topics.

I can't wait for the next year (perhaps no longer virtually, but live). See you in 2021!

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