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Key SEO Insights from Brighton SEO April 2024


A comprehensive overview of our SEO Specialist Lana Foley’s time at Brighton SEO.

Key Takeaways

It’s been just over a week since Brighton SEO April 2024 and it was incredible. Brighton SEO is an international SEO conference that brings Digital Marketers together from all over the world.

As an SEO Specialist, I have experience across the board in all areas of SEO from the last 7 years and I love learning new things in this ever-changing field.

Listening to industry leaders and other people like me share their experiences has been invaluable.

  • Data is essential for making informed decisions and measuring performance.
  • Adaptability is key in the ever-changing digital landscape.
  • SEO is not dead, but it’s adapting. Increasing traffic doesn’t entirely rely on backlinks.
  • Building trust and authority is critical, especially for YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) topics.
  • Build a strong brand identity with consistent messaging and visuals.
  • Earn backlinks through brand recognition and reputation management.
  • AI will play a bigger role, raising the bar for content quality.
  • Search will become more personalised, with longer-tail keywords gaining importance.

Event Highlights

Before I came to Focus Agency Group, I had limited analytics and tracking experience. In the last 18 months I felt that attending some MeasureFest talks couldn’t hurt, and I wasn’t disappointed.

My favourite confidence-boosting quote from the 2-day event was from Kineta Kelsall’s talk on Mastering Thought Leadership:

“To be a runner, you just have to run. To be a writer, you just have to write.”

Of course, it’s not necessarily as simple as that, but it is how you get started. Thought leadership is not about having 20 ideas a day and firing out content left, right and centre. It is about being thought-provoking, starting conversations and being present in conversations that others in your industry start. Push your embarrassment to one side and have healthy conversations.

All of that aside, I’d love to share some of the insights that I gained from industry leaders (from my 5 thousand words’ worth of notes taken 😅).

What is the key to SEO Success?  

There is no one key answer to this question. Every website is different, and every industry is different.

From my personal experience, having a team that works well together and communicates effectively is one of the important ones.

Do you need links to build success? 

In Brighton, I watched a talk from Emilio Takas on Day 1 of the conference about thriving in a competitive niche without backlinks.

“By focusing on content velocity, internal linking, and quality content, your business can thrive without backlinks.”

Emilio’s talk covered a Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) [1] category – the betting industry. The success on their site included a 1410% increase in organic traffic! This was achieved by providing high-quality content, excellent internal linking, and controlled content velocity.

Google are indicating that links are becoming less and less important [2]. Now that doesn’t mean that they’re not important at all, but success can be achieved without them… with the right strategy in place.

Crafting SEO Strategies that last

Paul Ngoie’s talk on Crafting SEO strategies for longevity in a rapidly evolving digital landscape really touched a nerve.

SEO is constantly changing and sometimes it can feel like you’ll never keep up. With changes to algorithms, mobile-first indexing, faster broadband and internet speeds, and new AI tools dropping every day, how do you keep up?

With all this change, there are key SEO principles that remain constant, including:

  • Content relevance and quality
  • Keyword research & targeting
  • User Experience
  • Relevant and high-quality backlinks
  • Technical SEO
  • Adhering to Google’s guidelines
  • Being adaptable
  • Meta Tags & Descriptions

Although the search landscape is consistently changing, SEO is certainly not a dead marketing channel.

  • 53.3% of all website traffic comes from organic [3].
  • In March 2024, the first result in Google’s organic results has a high average CTR of 25.03% on mobile and 31.1% on desktop [4].
  • 40.7% of voice search answers are derived from featured snippets [5].
  • Mobile devices now account for a majority – or near majority – of online searches for almost every major industry in the UK [6].

As SEOs we must think about:

  • Keyword Research
  • Content Quality
  • Technical SEO
  • Accessibility
  • Video SEO
  • Core Web Vitals
  • Content Diversification
  • International SEO
  • E-E-A-T
  • Schema Markup
  • Featured Snippets
  • Mobile Optimisation
  • Local SEO
  • User Experience (UX)
  • Voice Search
  • Social Signals
  • Data & Performance
  • Off-page SEO

With so much to think about, SEOs can’t always be good at everything, BUT an SEO doesn’t need to be good at everything. What’s important is that you can empower individuals within your environment to excel through scalability.

Data & Analytics

Using evidence in the process of setting your strategy

In a talk from Tom Mansell, the Director of Organic Performance at Croud, he discusses that in SEO, it does not depend.

It depends” has been a running joke in the industry that sometimes outcomes will “depend” on a myriad of contributing circumstances. While this can be the case, as we know at Focus, data is everything.

I watched a talk from Hannah Rogers at Brighton SEO in 2023. She covered the topic of “Making SEO accountable”. I walked away with more confidence in forecasting and understanding how to make it “not depend”.

No-one wants to be sat in front of their client saying, I don’t know why A or B happened.

From our learnings, we were able to predict performance more accurately. If something doesn’t quite go how we expected it to, we can now see why that is and adjust our strategy if needed.

Without data, you can’t quantify the efforts of your client’s investment in your services. To build trust in SEO as a valid marketing channel, we must be accountable.

How to use GA4 to track & optimise SEO performance

Leigh Buttrey, the senior PPC strategist at forank, had her speech opened by the moderator and he shared a quote from her:

“Without data, you’re just an idiot with an opinion.”

Leigh stated that conversion tracking for SEO is undervalued. At Focus, conversion tracking is at the heart of everything digital, or else how do we know that the efforts we’re making are ACTUALLY working and providing a return on the client’s investment?

The answer is, if you don’t collect data, you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t.

Things you should optimise in GTM containers

Gareth Beck, the Senior Web Analyst at Torchbox, gave a great talk on optimising your GTM containers for web. Gareth rightly pointed out that GTM containers can cause issues because, who owns them? Is it the marketing team, the analytics team or the web team?

As SEOs, we are responsible for the performance impact that these tags have on our client’s websites.

Gareth pointed out that he found a client container with 100 tags in, and this was 91% full! This was causing their PageSpeed to run at over 4 seconds. So, not terrible, but not good either.

Torchbox reduced this down to 20 tags, 30% full and their PageSpeed dropped down to 2 seconds. That is the impact that a bloated GTM container can have on your website.

To summarise, keep your containers simple and light to ensure they don’t impact performance.

Validating your Google Tech Stack

Following on from Gareth Beck’s talk, Mike Fong from Observepoint gave a talk on “Validating your Google Tech Stack”.

As we’ve discussed, collecting the correct data can create well-informed decision-making. Validating your Google tech stack can also ensure that you’re putting data and privacy first.

So, what does it mean to validate your Google tech stack?

Google measurement tools (GA4, GTM, etc.) form your tech stack. Validate it by auditing tags: presence, necessity, and duplicates. Ensure only authorised users can edit tags (remove old agencies or users that don’t need access anymore).


There’s no question in my mind that Content is King in SEO, but that doesn’t mean that everything else should fall by the wayside.

Without a holistic approach to all areas of SEO, you’re unlikely to have meaningful growth, and creating content for the sake of putting out “new content” also doesn’t work.

Here at Focus Agency Group, we work with some YMYL clients.

What is YMYL?

Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) topics are those which can affect a person’s health and medical situation, financial situation, or have societal impacts on large groups.

For example, The Mortgage Centres offer financial advice on mortgages. They would be considered a YMYL brand because if the information on their website is inaccurate, it could cause harm to someone’s financial health if they put that advice into practice.

Why is this so important for SEOs?

This is important for SEOs because it adds additional weight to E-E-A-T. If you’re unfamiliar with E-E-A-T, I’ll cover this further down the page.

The PPC ads for YMYL topics are often lower down the SERPs because of the nature of these subjects.

Furthermore, it’s more likely in these industries that if you have a lot of older, outdated content, it will affect your site as a whole.

How to your leverage SEO for YMYL industries?
  • Create a satisfying amount of high-quality content.

This doesn’t mean you need to post every single day or just create content for the sake of it.

What it does mean is that content you create should be factually correct, with high-authority sources. For example, if you’re linking to advice on how to do your self-assessment, you’re probably best linking to a website for a chartered accountant.

  • Match user intent

Create content that matches your user intent and purpose. For example, with a YMYL topic like “diabetes treatment”,  user intent can vary depending on the user’s background, specific condition, and urgency.

Understanding these nuances is crucial for creating high-quality YMYL content. By catering to these different user intents, YMYL content creators can ensure they are providing valuable and potentially life-saving information.

  • Showcasing E-E-A-T

E-E-A-T is, Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness.

Adding author information to your posts shows that you are showcasing truth from an actual expert. If your work is fact-checked by an expert, note these too, with links to proper profiles that include the relevant schema markup.

Linking to high-authority sources will always help you increase your authority. For example, would you trust a guide on a travel blog about renewing your passport, or are you more likely to trust the Government website?

You should also ensure that your content is free from spelling and stylistic errors. Ask yourself:

  1. Does it feel like it was produced with intent, or does it feel like it was produced in a rush?
  2. Does your content display well on mobile devices?
  3. Does your website, as a whole, function well?
  • Check & build your reputation

To ensure you’re not being dragged down by an unfortunate piece of news in the past, find out what people are saying about your brand online. Check for external reviews that sit outside of your standard review platforms, like Trustpilot or

Take control of the narrative about your business and build your reputation through digital PR and reputation management. If your author doesn’t have much information about them online, work on creating it.

How videos can elevate your rankings and improve your E-E-A-T:

E-E-A-T and YMYL are not new concepts, but they are becoming more and more relevant within organic marketing.

In a talk from Benjamin Szturmaj, an Executive SEO at SIXT car rentals in the US, he covered how videos can elevate your rankings and improve your E-E-A-T. Benjamin pointed out that video is mentioned 106 times in Google’s Search Quality Guidelines  so it’s definitely an important factor.

Benjamin needed a solution to people being able to find the car hire outlet at LAX airport. He also needed to understand where a video fits into this scenario. Some people like to read, some people like to look at photos, and some people like to watch videos.

He undertook some keyword research for “LAX car rental directions” and came up with 0 search volumes. BUT, intuitively, he stuck with his gut and filmed a simple video on his phone, of him walking from the terminal to the outlet.

The video received 23k views on YouTube in just 12 months. Another video for Orlando airport received 10.5k views in just 12 months.

He learned from this that search data is terrible for creative video ideas and there is no “real” YouTube search volume data!

So, how can video help boost rankings and improve your E-E-A-T?

Simple, think about where a video could really help your users. Think about where a video can give additional context to words and photos and create short, easily digestible video content that can address the potential pain points.

Bye SEO strategy, Hi organic strategy: how E-E-A-T is a revolution for the industry

SEO is an all-encompassing marketing channel, but it is changing and it’s not just about search engine optimisation anymore. Carmen Dominguez, Head of Organic at Hallam, spoke about how relying on traditional SEO tactics is not the only way to get traffic anymore.

So, in a world where user behaviour is changing fast, SERPs are full of AI-generated content, SERPs are changing from one day to the next, and search engines are prioritising user generated content, what do we focus on?


Google isn’t the only way people are consuming content anymore. I for one consume a silly amount of Instagram reels and many people are consuming video content through TikTok.

Prabhakar Raghavan, Senior VP at Google, suggested that younger users are looking for places to eat on TikTok and Instagram, not Google Maps.

We’re now undertaking organic search optimisation and not just search engine optimisation. These new platforms present new opportunities for organic reach, outside of Google search.

With AI content flooding the web with generic content, how do we help ourselves and our clients to stand out?

Utilising E-E-A-T principles to create trusted and authentic content is becoming more important than ever. Human perspective and thought leadership are becoming more of a precious marketing. resource.

Pushing content that showcases E-E-A-T to all your platforms helps customers discover your brand wherever they are online.

Brand SEO

According to Annika Haataja, the SEO Director at Seeker Digital, if you find a website that you’re finding it impossible to outrank, their secret is likely Brand SEO.

Brand SEO is SEO activities that can reinforce brand signals, and in turn support organic growth. Brand signals are cues that can help search engines to understand your brand’s purpose, trustworthiness, and value proposition.

Seeker Digital expands on the three core SEO pillars and uses four. CULT: Content, UX, Links and Technical. Brand is a part of all those pillars on some level.


When creating content, it should be created in line with your brand tone of voice, messaging and positioning. This is an opportunity where brand guidelines really come in helpful.

UX (User Experience)

User Experience is probably the biggest part of Brand SEO. It is the visual identity of your website which is often the visual identity of your brand as well.


Links earned are contextual associations to your website. What websites are you happy to link to your website? Do you manage your link profile well?


Technical SEO is the professionalism of your brand. A website that performs well for the user is a strong signal of the professionalism of your brand.

So, why is Brand SEO important?

SEO can help brand by creating improved visibility and managing reputation, which in turn creates brand awareness.

Brand can help SEO by creating a competitive advantage and creating authenticity.

Search Engine Result pages are becoming more and more cluttered, and it’s hard to stand out from the crowd. Brand signals are extremely important. Annika searched for “apple” using Google, and the first organic result referring to the fruit was sitting at position 51 in the UK.

In the Google Search Quality Rater Guidelines, they mention “reputation” 199 times. A truly holistic SEO strategy integrates both unbranded and branded targeting.

Becky Simms from Reflect Digital said:

“A true brand connection relies on Human Connection.” 

Brand is also important when it comes to SEO because:

  • 76% of customers will buy from a brand over a competitor when they feel connected to a brand.
  • 71% of people expect a brand to understand their needs.
  • 90% of people state that authenticity is a factor in their brand decision.

Becky also states that consistency is key. Achieving brand consistency means that everyone creating content and assets for your business should be on the same page.

Making Brand SEO work for your business

In my opinion, the best thing about SEO is that you’re providing a service or product to a customer who is specifically looking for it. As Becky Simms stated in her talk, “we’re meeting on the customer’s terms”.

We’re answering their query in search and providing them with solutions.

Google is all about people-first content. It is our job as SEOs to ensure that we’re helping the customer. Questions that we should ask ourselves are – is our brand truly acting in a human-first way or are we just chasing sales? Just chasing sales can be really damaging for a brand.

Customer experience is everything. In Becky’s talk she showcased a great example of what happens when there is a disconnect between customers and designers.

In this image, an architect has spent time designing this space to help people get from one space to another. Yet, people came along and forged their own path through.

Those are the paths that we, as digital marketers, need to know and care about. Not the one that we want to design, but the ones that the users actually want and need.

We can do that by matching the user intent with the content that we create. We can’t be mind-readers all the time and that is where navigation comes into play.

To do this, you need to better understand your audiences, who they are and how they search. Becky demonstrated how a traditional marketing funnel can be translated into a human funnel, so that we can understand what the user is thinking or feeling at each stage of the buyer journey.

Identifying a need

Raising awareness

Create Memories

Disrupt, grab attention & evoke emotions

Researching options

Consideration / Evaluation (Learning)

Build a relationship

Demonstrate knowledge, be helpful & build trust

Buying / Enquiring


Make it feel like the right decision

Make it easy to convert, reaffirm they’ve made the right decision, delight the customer.




Stay in touch, be helpful, continue to grab their attention and evoke emotions


The digital world is noisy and brands need to be memorable to stand out. Memories are more likely to be created when someone feels something for your brand, when evoking emotions.

Understanding your audience can be difficult if you don’t have any data.

Audience surveys, social listening, research, and client persona workshops are a great way to create persona and user journeys that can then feed into and inform your brand and digital strategy.

SEO Support 

If you want to get your products or services in front of the right customers, SEO should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. Get your SEO campaign off to the right start by implementing the best practices throughout, and, most of all, make sure you take the time to plan properly throughout.

If you require an SEO company for SEO management, we are the SEO agency for you. We can help improve your website performance with our SEO services.

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