Posted by Justin Hogg on Apr 11, 2022

Technical & non-Technical SEO at BrightonSEO

I was fortunate to be able to make it down to Brighton to spend a day listening to some great technical and non-technical talks on SEO at BrightonSEO 2022. I was particularly impressed on how many people attended the event and the quality of the talks.

It was interesting to see and hear key speakers so passionate about what they do so it was great that some opinions went against the general feeling that content with intent is king. It was good to hear how obtaining backlinks is a difficult job for everyone and how Digital PR, contacting journalists, is a huge part of successful back linking.

Technical Track Takeaways

Louise Towler speaking on improving website vitals for WordPress and some suggestions for doing so. Even though Louise’s agency focuses on WordPress websites the three core vitals to focus on will apply to all websites:

  • LCP, Largest Contentful Paint: This measures how long it takes for the largest piece of content to appear on the screen.
    • Host fonts locally
    • Use ‘poster’ attribute on the videotag to load in a still image - <video poster="URL">
  • FID, or First Input Delay: This measures how long it takes for the site to react to the first interaction.
    • Remove unused Javascript
    • Use defer, delay, minify with Javascript
    • Fix pages with common HTTP Error Codes (4xx & 5xx)
  • CLS, or Cumulative Layout Shift: This measures the visual stability of your site.
    • Specify dimensions for images, videos, iframes, ad banners.
    • Swap font with a similar font while the font loads in.
    • Animation use CSS transform: translate()

Some tools to use:

Please take a look at the great work and blog written by Jim Maclean on how we improved
MyBuilder website performance.

Crystal Carter, from Wix, gave a great talk on how security can impact site speed. Crystal spoke how consistency of the journey is very important and that it is very important to use the best quality SSL. DNS lookup time, server connection time and server response time is paramount. Crystal spoke passionately about serving secure Url’s and avoiding the HTTP -> HTTPS redirect as this impacts site speed.

Some suggestion for improvement were:

  • Enable TLS 1.3
  • Start thinking about HTTP/3 as it is way more efficient

See how your sites grade on security headers with the following tools:

Creative Track Takeaways

I did join a creative track just before lunch and was interested in the talk by Max Hoppy on how they teach you to be creative at Google. Max is a great presenter and the talk was engaging. He spoke of how the environment you are in is the foundation for creativity. Max went through some survey stats that found people have more creative thoughts when they are exercising, showering, sleeping and even on a toilet break. Stressful work environments are found not to be conducive to creative thinking. I did like his golden rule that expansive thought should be with many people and reductive thought should be with fewer people and that it is important to split these out.

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Track Takeaways

After lunch, I spent time in the SERP track and the advice from Jon Earnshaw’s talk, the hidden power of the SERP come away with the follow advice, The SERP landscape is ever-changing but using PAA (People Always Ask) and thinking beyond the primary search term is vital. Jon showed the opportunities of thinking beyond the primary search term and that zero click does not actually mean zero click.

One of the most interesting talks was in the afternoon with Will Critchlow and the lessons from hundreds of SEO A/B tests. It was interesting to think about how SEO A/B testing is very different to user A/B testing where one focuses on splitting users the other splits pages. Will went through a few recent tests and most of those results surprised the audience.

The lessons learnt from all the tests Will has performed are:

  • Google is getting better at understanding Javascript.
  • User experience is of growing importance.
  • Hidden content is still a big deal ie using tabs or accordions.
  • SERP appearance makes a huge difference.
  • Structured data can move the needle.
  • Internal links are important and powerful.
  • Content quality
  • EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) is important.
  • HTML ordering, loading main content first and using CSS to reorder other sections can have an impact.

Conclusion Track

Overall there was plenty to take away from my day in Brighton, and it was especially nice to be back at a conference with people. I did not manage to get an answer to my question around soft 404’s and why perfectly good pages with a 200 status but with negative terms (e.g. ‘no’, ‘not’) are deemed soft 404’s. Maybe a topic for another blog.

It was great that I was able to spend the day learning more about SEO and thanks to our SEO partners and MyBuilder for providing annual personal development grants and days off as part of our benefits package. If you are interested in working for an awesome company, with great growth and learning opportunities, please have a look at our open roles at MyBuilder careers.

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