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Brighton SEO: Our Outreach Team’s Key Takeaways

Brighton SEO is undeniably the ultimate pilgrimage for digital marketers across the UK and beyond. This September, we sent members of our Outreach team and Insights team to find out the latest must-knows and must-tries in search marketing – and a few dozen pages of hastily scribbled notes later, they’ve returned to share some highlights with you all.

With particular emphasis on creating, promoting and measuring digital PR, here are four key takeaways from Brighton SEO 2019.

  • PPC can be for PR, too

Something that came up in talks from both Stacey MacNaught and Laura Hampton was the idea of using PPC to support and boost newly launched digital PR campaigns.

In ‘Content Marketing for Links: Stretching Smaller Budgets’ Stacey spoke about giving link-worthy content a helping hand through PPC as well as manual outreach. Combining the two not only drives relevant traffic to your new content before it begins to naturally rank, but also increases the likelihood of ‘organic’ link pick up from people who aren’t necessarily on your outreach list, but who are searching for and citing the kind of information you can offer. 

Laura Hampton brought us back to that point in ‘How to get more from Digital PR (without mentioning AVE)’, which was another brilliant talk, this time looking deeper at the varied benefits of a digital PR campaign outside of simply building links.

Laura reiterated the importance of having digital PRs operating hand-in-hand with PPC teams where relevant, in the early days of their campaigns. For top-of-funnel, longtail informational keywords, there may be opportunities for low-cost, easy wins. She also discussed the ways in which digital PRs find themselves competing with both traditional PR teams and fellow SEOs in the current landscape. 

  • Digital PR isn’t just about links

Generally speaking, digital PR is employed as a link-building tactic. But where traditional PR is all about awareness and link-building is all about SEO, we’re reminded not to undersell the benefits and big wins of a digital PR campaign by only reporting on the number of links it has built.

Laura Hampton’s presentation looked at the owned and shared goals of digital PR, from number of links, quality of links, topical relevance and position within the publishing site (owned) to ranking improvements, traffic and revenue growth (shared).

Laura Hampton Digital PR

She reminds us that awareness, visibility and changes in sentiment are all outcomes of a successful digital PR campaign, measurable through branded search increases, traffic to target pages, share of voice and – if you’re very clever – attempts to measure sentiment through Google’s Natural Language Processing API.

Following this, Frann Griffin’s ‘How to actually measure the impact of digital PR coverage’ continued on the theme of digital PR as the joining force between SEO and content marketing; marrying up a site’s technical needs with an audience’s interests, through creative new content.

Frann’s statement that ‘Nofollow does not mean bad’ is an even more relevant point in the wake of Google’s recent update, which sees nofollow links reclassified as ‘hints’ of a site’s usefulness – something we’ve long suspected. With writers at many tier one publications unable to guarantee links, and many publishers still haphazardly nofollowing links in a misguided attempt to hoard PageRank, does that mean link-builders should ignore those sites during digital PR? Of course not.

  • Journalists are busy, so write the story for them

The inimitable Carrie Rose did a fantastic job of working through 120 slides of tips and tricks all within her 20-minute speaker slot, barely stopping to breathe throughout ‘How to create a sexy AF PR pitch to land sexy AF links, no matter your budget or brand’.

Carrie reminded us of just how much noise there is to ‘cut through’ with any new PR campaign, as more than 83,000 PRs compete for the attention of less than 64,000 journalists each year. We know that many journalists report receiving hundreds of pitches each week, but with Carrie noting that some receive as many as 600 per day, it’s clear that being ‘pitch perfect’ is as crucial as having that awesome story that nobody else has shared.

Carrie Rose Digital PR

As well as highlighting how easy it can be to build great video content on a small budget, in order to stand out in a crowded inbox, this presentation gave us food for thought around exactly how much of a journalist’s job to do for them. Though digital press packs have been de rigueur for a while now, it’s still essential to offer writers all the images and quotes they need to write up your story. Carrie even raised the idea of pretty much writing up the article for them too.

A good press release should have everything a journalist needs in order to write up a feature on your news, but that doesn’t mean they’ve actually got time to do it. If it’s true that many writers are now needing to produce six to eight articles a day at national publications, with a maximum of one hour to take your press release and turn it into the day’s news, the benefit of sending a simple email pitch that links to a fully-crafted story rather than a press release is easy to see.

  • Accessible YouTube content is also SEO-ed YouTube content

Last, but by absolutely no means least, Ahmed Khalifa showed us how easy and how necessary it is to spend a little time getting YouTube captions right. (Along with how disastrous the results can be when you don’t put in the time!)

Google indexes YouTube captions, whether you’ve carefully written them up or whether you’ve left it to auto-caption to do your job. 30% of auto-caption text is incorrect, and that’s not just an issue for your video’s potential search rankings. (But can you imagine the damage if 30% of your on-site content was wrong, and didn’t make sense?)

Ahmed Khalifa_Brighton SEO

For viewers who are d/Deaf, proper captioning is the difference between your video content being accessible and understandable, and it being switched off part-way because it doesn’t make sense. That said, Ahmed reminds us that 80% of people who use captions aren’t hard of hearing – and given that we know 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound, it doesn’t seem a stretch to assume that YouTube video captions might be more important than many marketers might think.

In optimising for d/Deaf viewers, you’re also optimising for the huge number of people who are going to watch your videos without the sound switched on, and you’re optimising for Google and YouTube search. Suddenly, taking the time to write proper caption text is clearly a no-brainer, and that’s something to bear in mind when working with YouTube influencers as well as when creating content of your own.

As ever, Brighton SEO was a brilliant event that left us all with plenty to think about. From celebrating the areas where we’re already ahead of the game to jumping right onto the tips and tricks we can use in upcoming campaigns, these key takeaways are just a few of the numerous highlights from the day.

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