Saturday, April 27, 2013

BrightonSEO Conference Insights - Google Penalties, Content & Collaboration

The Webscape team and I recently attended the latest BrightonSEO conference in, well... Brighton. Here is my personal round-up of the key Search Engine Optimisation trends which appeared to emerge from the event.

The Shock of Google Penalties
A lot can certainly change in six months. At the last BrightonSEO in September all the talk was of blogger outreach, social media signals and a degree of trepidation over the impact of the latest Google algorithm updates.

This time round a constant theme of the day was how to recover from penalties imposed by Google, with slightly shocked speakers telling tales of submitting numerous reconsideration requests after being dumped out of the SERPS or even abandoning work on sites tarnished by Google penalties.

It was perhaps no coincidence then that the day started off with a fireside chat between Kelvin (BrightonSEO Brainchild) and three former Google search quality team members. They gave some interesting background on how the Big G is all knowing when it comes to detecting unnatural link profiles (i.e. too many links with spammed anchor text and not enough branded or nofollows links). Then of course conversation inevitably turned to handling warnings, disavow requests and reconsideration requests.

Now this was all a little alien to us at Webscape, as we haven't actually had any clients who have incurred Google penalties thanks we assume to out particular approach to link building. But as the day progressed and more and more discussion revolved around this subject you could almost start to feel a bit left out - as if you hadn't been invited to the illicit teenage party wherever everyone else got busted for getting up to no good!

Great Content Cures All?
But it seems this wake up call to the SEO industry has at least highlighted the importance of some other more positive and ethical techniques. One of the most predominant of the more positive techniques discussed was that of using quality content for SEO. Fortunately the debate has moved on from merely trying to crudely rebrand SEO as content marketing, a fairly meaningless label in my view.

Now the discussion around content includes looking at the audience of a business or website to identify what sort of content might be of interest, finding ways to genuinely help your audience by solving their problem with great content, ensuring the web content you are going to promote with an SEO campaign is actually good quality so that it converts, and so on.

To Outreach...
Hand in hand with great content goes outreach, a term which seems to have evolved from a noun to a verb in just 6 months. Instead of describing the practice of blogger outreach now SEO's talk about ‘outreaching content’ once it's complete!

Outreach certainly seems to have grown up and now appears to be adopting some of the principles of the long established PR sector, such as building relationships with key influencers on blogs and social media and feeding them regular content even if it isn't client or campaign specific, just to keep the relationship going.

In Summary; SEO Needs to Reach Out
The last word should maybe go to one of the final speakers of the day who described SEO as having a terrific set of values to boast about, such as being adaptable and results focused. But the key purpose of SEO is to create great content and connect it with a relevant audience.

And in order to achieve this SEO needs to continue developing its relationship with other partners and disciplines like PR, content, social, paid search and brand.
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