Last Friday (2 September), PerformanceIN joined 3,500 digital marketing enthusiasts at BrightonSEO – Britain’s flagship search conference, which this year was held at the Brighton Centre.

This year’s speaker line-up included Telegraph Media Group’s Malcolm Coles, who talked about key differences between regular and news SEO, Purna Virji from Bing Ads, who looked at the future of voice search, and seasoned BrightonSEO feature Greg Gifford, who explored how to market to a local audience through Facebook ads.

It was a special year for the event, as highlighted by BrightonSEO’s founder, Kelvin Newman.

“We’ve gone from hosting BrightonSEO in a pub to having 3,500 people at the Brighton Centre for what was the stand out conference so far, in more ways than one. It was a memorable moment to take a rhetorical step back on the day and take a moment to drink it all in and soak up the atmosphere.”

The conference presented an opportunity to learn about top tips and best practice when it comes to the numerous areas of SEO, but it also highlighted some of the trends of the future.

Bridging the gap in local search

Among talks about pitfalls of SEO within e-commerce and feed hacks for Google Shopping, a noticeable topic turned out to be local SEO and bridging the gap between online and offline retail.

Local search, claimed MiShop.local’s David Whatley, is the bridge between a physical shop and website. He claimed that local presence is a strategic asset for local search and leveraging it can drive huge amounts of traffic to a website.

Users tend to run search locally for opening times, directions, store phone numbers and often websites, according to David, although it’s not usually their primary intention. This is why a good, locally-optimised store page can raise awareness of a brand’s capabilities. From a SEO point of view, David lauded local search as a goldmine.

Personalisation key in content strategy

Content strategy was another point well-covered at the event, which saw a number of experts offer advice on tying this to SEO. With a strategic vision considered a must-have, personalisation was celebrated as the key to success in the space.

According to Kirsty Hulse from Many Minds, over half (52%) of marketers see content personalisation as critical to success and 75% of consumers would like to see more of it. With online experiences becoming uniquely tailored to individuals, and content being more and more dynamic, Hulse stressed the importance of personalisation as part of the content strategy, and a need for SEO to be part of this conversation.

SEO driving social

In a similar vein and under the content umbrella, we heard from speakers who had achieved success by linking their SEO to social media.

All social networks are now video platforms, announced Wistia’s Phil Nottingham, and because all are different, the content needs to be adjusted for each one. According to Nottingham, whether it’s Instagram, Periscope, Twitter or Snapchat, it’s key to have a clear strategy to target the right audiences on the right site.

Nottingham’s graph below, centered on active browsing, shows some considerations for doing so.

Away from organic and onto paid, Facebook’s growing ad business was a key point of focus for Greg Gifford, whose sessions at BrightonSEO have become the stuff of legend.   

It was here that Facebook was cited as a fine example of how thorough brands can be with their targeting, taking into account things like users’ real-life events, friends and political beliefs. Going one step further, Gifford stated that local awareness ads highlighted the importance of local SEO as well as the depth of data available to the platform.

The next hot trend

Voice search echoed across sessions and conversations at BrightonSEO. Within the analysis, we found out who’s using it, the ways in which they were getting involved, and how to take advantage.

Microsoft’s Purna Virji predicted that by 2020, 50% of searches will come from voice. Such a bold forecast means brands may have to rethink their keywords and localise them for an even greater push on mobile. “The time to adapt for voice search is right now,” stated Virji.

It’s said that 20% of Google’s and 23% of Bing’s searches now come from voice. If the forecasts are to be believed, Microsoft’s search engine may be a key talking point for BrightonSEO events in the very near future.  

Hear from BrightonSEO exhibitors:

The next BrightonSEO conference will take place at The Brighton Centre in April 2017.

Watch other BrightonSEO interviews here.