About BrightonSEO 2021

BrightonSEO is a bi-annual SEO conference with training courses and talks allowing search marketers to meet, learn and increase their understanding of specific SEO topics. Although it didn’t take place in person this year, there were some really interesting, engaging virtual talks. Our very own SEO Director, Eilish Hughes, delivered an excellent speech on “Developing search strategies for new product launches, when search volume doesn’t exist”. Her wrap up blog is coming soon! As Tug is a sponsor of BrightonSEO, the SEO team thought we’d share our highlights and key takeaways of a few of the talks we enjoyed: 

Digital Accessibility and Compliance: Essential for Users, Good for SEO

Lea Scudamore Aimclear

Lea Scudamore gives us an essential talk on accessibility, designed to help digital marketers understand what digital accessibility is, how it relates to search visibility, how to create a data-centric business case for accessibility, and outlines her five steps for keeping up with website accessibility.

3 Key Takeaways:

  • It is a legal requirement in the UK to make websites that are accessible for everybody, however – 70% of websites in the UK and 90% of websites globally do not meet the bare minimum standards. If you ignore these standards you are making your website inaccessible for 10-15% of the global population (and your audience).
  • If that (somehow) doesn’t make you care about accessibility, then the fact that Google cares deeply should. Google sees the websites it serves up as an extension of its user experience. If you don’t live up to these standards, then competing websites that do will have a significant advantage in organic search.
  • Brands are already preparing for Google’s page experience update and it’s likely that digital accessibility will be one of Google’s next useability focuses. If you’re already preparing for core web vitals, it’s a good opportunity to review and improve your accessibility as well.

Lea’s key recommendations for accessibility success

(W3.org’s Website Accessibility Initiative

  • Step 1, and the most important step, is having a Digital Accessibility Statement – have one on your website.
  • Complete preliminary testing on your website without tools – e.g. can you use your website with a keyboard alone and no mouse? Can you dismiss pop-ups without a mouse?
  • Alt text on images helps with accessibility and is essential for this reason – but Google also uses it to understand what images are about.
  • Test on mobile – does your website function horizontally and vertically? Does pinch & zoom work well? Can you see it in bright sunlight? These are all small but important useability tests that anyone can do without tools.

The Tug Take:

It’s easy for marketers to talk about the ethical side of accessibility and then quickly put it to one side when there are targets to hit. However, Lea has clearly shown in her presentation that there is a significant business opportunity in catering to people’s accessibility needs, and that even major multinational brands are losing money from not meeting the minimum standards when it comes to digital accessibility.

The Underrated Value of Internal Linking

 Jamie Grant Blue Array

Jamie Grant’s “The underrated value of internal linking” talk provided excellent advice on why effective internal linking is the key to unlocking the full potential of a backlink profile. Though internal linking is critical for page discovery and effective crawling, it is also important for passing authority from informational content pages to transactional pages, that lead to conversions and purchases.

Key Takeaways

  • It is important to align internal linking strategies with your PR and backlink strategies, as no one has full control over the target locations of backlinks. The majority of backlinks go either to homepages, or informational content pages that provide value to readers.
  • Internal linking is the best tool to use to pass authority from these informational pages to transactional pages, and therefore conversions and purchases. This means that new and old informational content, used for PR and link building, should contain unique body links to these transactional pages to pass on page authority, alongside the ‘boilerplate’ menu, sidebar, or footer links.
  • Having too many body links will, however, dilute their value. Though there is no magic number, it’s important to use common sense and ensure there aren’t too many. When adding internal links to new or existing content it is vital to ask, “is this link relevant?” and “would this make sense to users?”.

Link Building in 2021 (When You’re a Bit Crap at PR)

Stacey MacNaught MacNaught Digital

Stacey McNaught’s “Link Building in 2021 (When you’re a bit crap at PR)” talk offered some very useful advice on how you can build high quality links without spending hours on outreach or digital PR campaigns. Stacey walks us through three excellent ways you can build your client a natural link profile full of high quality backlinks.  

Utilise Reactive PR 

  • Reactive PR is all about responding to journalists’ requests for stories. It does not necessarily mean that you or your data will be the centre of the story, but you will be supporting the story by offering your own expertise or statistics. Usually, as you provided valuable information to the journalist, they will link back to your site.
  • Find source opportunities through tracking #journorequest on Twitter, HARO or ResponseSource. 

Tip: Deadlines are tight! Ensure you’ve got your data, insights and images all ready in a Google Folder for when an opportunity arises. 

Link Bait

  • Stacey calls this type of content ‘Link Magnets’ or ‘Link Bait’. The idea follows that if you create interesting content around statistics and research, publications will naturally want to write about what you have found.
  • To come up with ‘link magnet’ content, make use of keyword research tools to find the topic that people are currently interested in. Journalists and readers are constantly looking for data that gives them statistics, trends, calculators, downloads and templates. 
  • Look at what is already ranking, and if the content has acquired links do they seem to have been acquired naturally? This will guide you when coming up with content that will attract interest and links. 

Tip: Once decided on a topic, consider how you can improve on it by utilising better images, better data and presenting it in a new and improved way. 

Stealable Assets:

  •  Journalists are always looking for images for specific topics, however, there aren’t always quality images to choose from.
  • By searching for images made with a Creative Commons License, you can start to see what is already out there for your industry and decide on whether you can improve the imagery available. 
  • This offers an opportunity to create your own stock images and upload them to the Creative Commons License. Under Creative Commons License, publications are obliged to include an attribution, however, often they won’t. Send a quick email asking for a backlink as recognition. 

International Linkbuilding – How To Scale Continental with SEO

Dennis Akkerman Seeders Agency

Dennis Akkerman’s “International Link Building – How To Scale Continental with SEO”, talk walks us through the differences in international link building depending on what country you’re targeting, and what to consider before creating a link building strategy. 

  •  Make a decision on behalf of your international site structure when working on an international link building level. Cctlds structure is most common to use from a geo perspective and to target local markets (domains that use .uk, .de, .fr etc.). One language domain such as .com domains is recommended for international link building and targeting English links.

Link Building in European Countries 

  • One key point is that link building differs a lot between European countries.  For example:
  • Germany works a lot with paid articles. Algorithms are more strict and Germans are careful in building their link profile. 
  • Spain: There are a high number of blogs and online media, however, links are often paid for.
  • France: Work a lot with Digital PR. They often require a “sponsored” label, which makes SEO work difficult.

International Digital PR tips 

Implementing outreach may look different depending which country you’re in. Make use of Digital PR to get local branded links and ensure you work with native writers. Common tools and tactics to utilise include: 

  • PR databases. These are databases where you upload your own data press materials for journalists to use. 
  • PR Portals: Upload articles and get a link immediately. Low quality, and not news related.
  • Pay for placement: Create content for placement. This is used for many European markets 

SEO Strategy: Using Sentiment Analysis to Rank Higher

Saroosh Khan Get Known Inc

  • Saroosh Khan’s “SEO Strategy: Using Sentiment Analysis to Rank Higher” talk presented an analysis of over 1700 sentimentally skewed keywords that showed no correlation between sentiment and ranking.
  • However, mapping out customer journeys with sentiment can help to identify new content and keywords to improve rankings and conversions which in turn attracts customers from different phases of their consumer journey.
  • Sentiment can also be useful for link building and can support a page to achieve a specific emotional goal. For example, links which stimulate curiosity before booking a holiday could help to drive additional traffic to a specific page.
  • There are a number of tools on the market for sentiment analysis, however it is easy, and potentially more beneficial, to create your own NLP. Investing some time and continually building and improving it will help to stay ahead of competitors. 

Key takeaways:

  • No correlation between sentiment and ranking overall.
  • Sentiment differs through a customer’s journey and can therefore be used to influence the content written, and ensure it strikes the right tone and emotion.
  • Don’t need to buy tools to do sentiment analysis. 

SERPception: A story of an indexed internal search results page

Csaba Szabo Klikkmania

Csaba Szabo’s “SERPception: The Story of an Indexed Internal Search Results Page” talk, follows the problem with a job posting website who had their internal search result pages rank highly in Google, even outranking their dedicated category pages.

Indexed ISRPs are rarely optimised to appear in SERPs, because:

  1. Site owners have limited control of what would appear on Indexed Internal Search Results Page (ISRPs).
  2. ISRPs usually have non-optimised meta tags and on-page content, which can be hard for SEO to manage and rank.
  3. ISRPs might have lower conversion rates because they’re not designed or optimised to drive conversions.

 Key Takeaways/Solutions

  • A very common way of dealing with indexed ISRPs is by completely de-indexing them.  Robots.txt, htaccess, no-index in meta tags or HTTP headers, can all do the trick. 
  • The interesting part of Csaba’s story is answering the question: what made the ISRPs rank higher than the dedicated category pages, therefore driving traffic away from the job posting site? The answer to that question, unsurprisingly, is that those ISRPs were generated for specific user queries (i.e. job titles or job descriptions), and therefore keywords are featured in titles, descriptions, texts, headers and repeated multiple times. 
  • He also found a few external sites linking to the search results pages. The category pages, however, are optimised towards only a small number of keywords, such as types of jobs. So even though the ISRPs might not be optimised by SEO professionals, given that the key ranking factors were being satisfied through the inclusion of targeted keywords,, they easily outranked category pages.

At the end of the story his client decided to change the homepage links from category pages to ISRPs, because ISRPs seemed a better version to users.

Psychology Principles to Power your Digital PR Success

Abi Bennett Digitaloft 

Abi Bennett’s talk focused on how to use psychological principles to run a successful digital PR team. She highlighted that in order to help your digital PR work at their best you should focus on activating the neural network in the brain called the ‘seeking system; the neural pathway that releases dopamine when certain triggers are implemented. 

As the digital PR space becomes increasingly fast-paced and competitive as the ratio of journalists to PR’s decreases, it’s all the more important to ensure your team is motivated to work their hardest and explore all the creative possibilities available. 

3 Triggers that Activate the Seeking System: 

  • Self Expression: The key to getting the best work out of your team is focusing on the strengths and what each team member enjoys doing. People are more likely to work harder when they feel like they are good at the task.
  • Experimentation: It’s essential to create psychological safety at work by highlighting the fact that digital PR is full of trial and error. A good place to start is by making sure brainstorms and ideation sessions are free of judgment. 
  • Purpose: A study by Adam Grant found that creating purpose in people intrinsically rather than extrinsically (e.g. holidays and work parties) is far more likely to lead to better team results. Consistently reminding the team of the impact their individual work and effort is having on the bigger picture can be a great motivator. 


BrightonSEO is one of the highlights of our year every year, and although virtual, 2021 was no different. With such a wide range of interesting topics, from digital PR to sentiment analysis, there are talks that appeal to everyone regardless of their SEO expertise, from those just starting out in SEO to specific insights for the more seasoned search marketers. We had a really great day and can’t wait to be back in person for the BrightonSEO autumn conference!